“You have reached your destination,” the Sat Nav cheerfully announced.
“No we haven’t,” Simeon replied.
“Stop arguing with her, you’ll never win.” Taylor killed his bike engine.
“The Sat Nav says we’re in Pentref Ysbryd. The map says we’re in a lake called Llyn-Y-Dyffryn.”
“As there’re no air bubbles escaping from our mouths I’m guessing the map is lying.”
Church bells rang through the empty streets. People wearing black filed out of houses and lined the road. Black tears streaked the women’s haunted faces. Six men approached the church, carrying a coffin. Seconds later, six men bearing another coffin, walked in time to the bells.
Simeon and Taylor shadowed the mourners along the cracked pavement.
“Why are we gatecrashing a funeral?” Taylor hissed.
“I don’t know.”
The bells lamented the lives lost as Simeon and Taylor slipped inside the old stone building. The pew at the back creaked like a gallows bearing the weight of a hanging man. The pallbearers walked down the aisle and placed the coffins at the front.
“We just saw that, right?” Taylor asked.
“Yes. Or we’re both crazy.”
“I’m certified sane. The jury’s still out on you.” Taylor jogged towards where the coffins were laid. “Nothing. Except someone’s carved the floor with ‘memento mori’. Whatever that means.”
“‘Remember you must die’.”
The organ came to life. Ghostly voices sang about redemption.
“Time to leave,” Simeon said.
“I was just thinking that.”
They hurried out. The mourners were gathered around two open graves. Some tossed flowers in, others sprinkled earth.
“Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
They turned, staring with lifeless eyes.
“Do they look…dead to you?” Simeon whispered.
The priest crossed himself. “Memento Mori.”
“Memento Mori,” the mourners repeated, abandoning the graves and approaching them. “Memento Mori.”
“Whatever happened to ‘welcome’?” Taylor muttered as they backed out of the churchyard.
Simeon yanked the gate closed and they sprinted towards their bikes, fleeing the village.
They arrived at the church again. The villagers had gone.
“You have reached your destination,” the Sat Nav chirped.
They took a different route and followed a road sign pointing the way out of Pentref Ysbryd.
And ended up by the church.
“You have reached your destination.”
“No we haven’t!” Simeon switched it off.
“I’ll go left, you go right and we’ll see who escapes.” Taylor flicked down his visor and sped off left. Simeon sighed and went right.
They met at the church. The villagers gathered at the gravesides dispersed through the graveyard, fading as they walked.
“Though you walk in the valley of death, fear no evil.”
They turned and saw the priest. Behind him, were the villagers.
“We just want to leave,” Simeon said.
The villagers seized them and the world went black.
Taylor jerked awake to find himself imprisoned in a metal cage. It creaked as he moved. Across the road, Simeon was trapped in an identical cage.
Flanking the street were rusted gibbets, each containing a corpse. In pairs, the corpses ignited.
Their gibbets swung as they fought to escape. Simeon inserted his bike key into the lock, wriggling it as the corpse two gibbets from him burst into flames. His door sprung open and he jumped out, racing across the road. He forced Taylor’s door open and wrenched him out as the corpse beside him blazed.
Taylor hit the floor. “If this is how they treat guests, I’d hate to see their gift shop.”
“We’re getting answers.”
Scraps of clothing littered the street, the stench of burning flesh poisoning the air. Water bubbled from a drain, seeping towards them. Wind caressed their faces as they walked in the mourner’s phantom footsteps and stopped by the open graves. Coffins rested beside them. The graveyard was empty of living souls. The church’s stained glass windows glowed like demonic eyes. The glass shattered, falling to the ground as though the clouds had shed tears of jewels. Fire flickered, its flaming arms embracing the church and condemning everyone to Hell.
They sprinted for the church. Taylor kicked the door open. Through the smoke and flames, the organ’s haunting music played. Taylor grabbed the nearest woman. His hands passed through her.
She smiled. “Hell’s fires are burning for us. Our rotten souls will be cleansed.”
The parishioners rose, opened their hymn books and sang as the church burned around them.
“Run! Before we die with them.” Simeon dragged Taylor out and they stumbled onto the street, coughing.
The church bells announced the tragedy to the damned village.
They gunned their engines, escaping from Pentref Ysbryd. The fire spread from the gibbets to the houses, claiming every soul promised to it. Tortured screams haunted their ears as they left the village to burn.
They stopped on a hill and glanced back.
Water flowed through the blackened streets, seeking anyone who’d escaped the fire’s wrath, the village drowning beneath the deluge of water.
A large lake dominated the area where the village had stood.
“That was quick,” Simeon said.
“That’s what she said.”
From the lake’s dark depths, the church bells tolled in respect for the dead.
They turned right down a fork in the road, passing a floral shrine on a blind corner. They arrived at the church.
“You have reached your destination.”
“You’re not even on!” Simeon thumped his GPS.
“We just watched this place flood!”
People wearing black carried two coffins into the church. They stalked them in and sat at the back, avoiding everyone’s dead stares. The organ started, the mourners rose. And vanished. Simeon and Taylor headed for the graveyard, lurking in the shadows as two coffins were lowered into the ground. The grievers stared at them then faded back into the past. Taylor nudged Simeon forwards. They flanked the graves, staring at the coffins.
Rain exploded from the clouds, drowning the villagers as the church slowly burned.
Church bells echoed through the lake, hinting that beneath the still waters, the village was still alive.