Witches Quarry

I had arrived at Witches Quarry.

Pushing the heavy gates open, the touch of the iron bars, as cold as ice, seized up my hand completely. Even though I could feel the unevenness of the muddy path beneath me, they were smooth in contrast to the crunching of the odd dead leaf that I stepped on. Carrying on up the path the grass carried on forever into the horizon, a dull grey colour as if it had lost the will to live and stopped growing altogether. I shuddered with a sense of impending terror.

One lonesome oak tree stood by the rock swaying in the wind; and as it swept by, the tree whispered to the air and its surroundings. The moon shone bright white, in the cloudless sky; it was the only source of light that could be seen for miles. Owls occasionally fluttered by overhead, their silhouettes passing over the grass. The air was cold and numb...

If you consider the previous two paragraphs of a superior prose to that which I usually write, it’s because someone else wrote them. I got them from Essay Empire, a site frequented by feckless high school pupils who can’t be bothered to write their own stories. The whole costs $12, but the first few paragraphs were free. Witches’ Quarry is a real place, however, and is just a mile or so from Salem Chapel, at Twiston. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with Old Demdike and the Chattox. It’s just a disused quarry enjoyed by climbers in order to perfect their sport. The warning signs found there do not caution against devilry or occultic trickery, but ask users to park their cars considerately. The old stone structure by the road is no shrine to Baphomet, but a redundant lime kiln- interesting enough, but otherwise unworthy of acute contemplation.

Too many Christians, especially of the Pentecostal variety with whom I still consort, see the devil under every bush. One, I remember, would not pray aloud, lest Satan heard her words and derailed her requests. Another was personally tempted by him each week. In truth, Satan is as real as the quarry, but he is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent. He leaves most of us well alone. As well as cutting his losses by generally ignoring the redeemed, he knows our old sinful natures can do just as much damage to our faith without him lifting a finger. There are no hags and warlocks strutting among those old rocks, casting spells on the unwary; yet the rocks are dangerous enough in their own right. Climbers beware.