The investigation was deemed inconclusive and the other team members lost interest. I still had some curiosity, some sense of unfinished business. I returned to the old bridge, again feeling the sinking sensation in my stomach. It took all my willpower not to turn away.
I stepped onto the bridge itself. I could hear nothing other than the rush of the water. I felt as if I was the only person for miles around, all alone in a world of stone and water.
I fumbled in my pocket for my camera. There might have been a movement in the shadows, some presence felt rather than seen. I spun around, pressing the camera release instinctively.
I panicked and ran, pocketing the camera. It was only later I inspected the snap I had taken. In the picture stood a shadow against the stonework of the parapet, a dark bulky form that could have been any of the investigation team.
At first I thought I was looking at a picture taken during the previous visit, that I had failed to press the shutter. Horrified, I knew that was wrong. It was definitely the viewpoint I remembered and the shadowy figure looked as if it had oozed from the very stones themselves. I realised that the other images showing team members we had taken before were of the same shadow.
I remembered something I had read in the legends surrounding the bridge: the making of a living offering to strengthen the stones, the blood to fortify the mortar. A pagan ritual, a strong young man offered as a human sacrifice.
I could imagine the terror of the victim, knowing that his blood would be poured over the stones and mixed into the mortar, and contemplating his own shadow in the firelight.
Now the stones endure, and his blood and his spirit endure also.
If you have enjoyed this story, then why not take a look at the others in this collection? An eclectic mixture of science fiction and mystery/ghost stories under the title ...Then a Miracle Occurs.
You may also enjoy my earlier collection of fifteen interlinked short stories under the title Four Square Less One. Can you work out the hidden connections between all of the stories?
I am now working on a new series of Private Eye fantasy novels. The first is called Findo Gask - Goblin Detective, featuring the eponymous Private Eye, Findo Gask himself.