THE witch's boon
Located 4 miles south of Dethry's largest town (population 271) This public house has been derelict for years. Part of the cellar collapsed into the winze of a copper mine on Wednesday the 14th of May, 1976. It had been thought that much of the Victorian mine was flooded with highly acidic water. Yet, for some reason, the part below the pub remained bone dry. Luckily, no one was unfortunate enough to fall into the hole that day, and the pub stayed open, with staff cheerfully working around the inconvenient void.
Drunk folk are historically brindled, in the sunbeam and shadow of brilliance and evil. During the August of that year, people began to toss things into the open shaft. At first, it was just the odd glass, dog ends, McCoy's bags, dead animals, tissues and tampons. Men pissed into it from upstairs. The expected detritus of enlightened humanity. Then, as they often do, drunk folk got grisly.
Tam McGillivray threw his wife Mildred in, during the October of that year. She was still holding her gin and tonic and her reaction which had begun with playful laughter, trailed to a horrible caterwaul, like a pig being slaughtered. It could be plainly heard that her body struck a wooden obstruction some distance down, as a splintering, straining impact was noted and promptly, her scream was silenced.
It was difficult to examine the hole carefully, as the edges were uneven and unstable. Like the trap of an Antlion, if one got too close to the edge, one would tumble in, with the added effect of widening the hole.
At least two local children, Ann Jeffries, and Waldon Hunt, disappeared during the late autumn, and it was always assumed that they had become lost along the treacherous coastline between the Trailin' Rags, but others were not so sure. Both parents drank at The Witch's Boon.
During the early summer of the following year, Margot Binnie, the figurative landlady, fell into the hole whilst grabbing a keg of McCaffrey's Golden Stout. She took the keg with her, and scrabbling wildly for purchase, dragged part of the ruined carpet in as well. Punters arriving as usual that evening, were greeted with the sound of distant sobbing upon investigation of the open cellar. They could tell it was Margot, but she was too distant for her words to be discerned clearly, and it seemed either she did not have the strength, or she had already abused her ability, to shout.
Of course, as is often the case, a communal nonchalance seemed to gather hold. They continued their festivities, with Margot still crying pathetically, presumably trapped on a ledge somewhere far below. Of course, the sounds she made were easily drowned in the cantankerous hullabaloo.
Margot Binnie, nee' Laskowska, was a Polish immigrant no one knew particularly well, which was true even for her husband, Grant Binnie, who by all accounts was perpetually drunk, had several local partners, and never seemed to fully understand what exactly had happened to poor Margot.
Lindsay Bethany, had taken it upon himself to act as surrogate barman, and as he tidied up later one night after folk drifted away (of course, the pub no longer closed, a horrifying 'shift work' had now taken hold) he again noted Margot's plaintive cries and wails. How delicate and vulnerable she sounds, noted Lindsay. What a shame that none can help her. She could not, or would not take hold of our lowered rope, and her English is as jumbled as ever, poor thing.
It was at that moment, that he heard something else, another voice down there. It seemed to be conversing with the first, as we know, presumably Margot's. They appeared to be discussing a matter of some importance. The other voice was, a sort of insistent, and venomous whisper, and though higher in tone to that of hapless Margot, it was even more difficult to discern.
The curious thing was, Lindsay made sure word got round, that was his nature, he could not resist a blether. But no one would believe this. How ridiculous! Repeatedly he was asked how many salty drams he'd had that night.
That said, a knot of the local throng partying there that night sat with a tray of cocktails, as close to the hole as they dared, and listened carefully.
Silence! Until 11:42. Then a solitary female voice, thought to be Margot's enunciated clearly for a final time: "I can't tell which is me", with a definite note of panic and delirious fear.
It was said that the whispering voice replied, but none could make out what it said.
Later that night the entire floor caved in, luckily during a rare period when the place was truly empty, and the next day Gary Kleibold and his apprentice boarded the whole place up, drunk as skunks.
"But why the "Witch's Boon", why call it that?" Captain Morar looked Randolph in the eye quizzically.
"It's that old apocryphal tale, isn't it" he replied. "The witch, the devil, an ogre, whatever, the crux is the same. A favour is offered to a mortal, in return for a "boon". Which is a blessing, which of course is a term interchangeable with curse in folklore. This return favour usually either concurrently kills the hapless victim or enslaves him in some creative fashion to the evil creature in question, for all eternity.
The pub is situated on the original site of the town of Fume. Abandoned in the 1880s, because of the dangerous mine shafts located below many of the buildings, the public house was the only place still used as before.
"Some say IT'S the boon, a trap, from a long since forgotten trade" continued Randolph. "It draws people in, despite the dangerous location. I mean, there are plenty places to drink in town, built on solid ground" He smiles. "But then, where's the thrill?"