The Phantom Beast

The Mine stack atop Kit Hill on the Horizon as seen from Kelly Bray framed by dark trees

Rob Mitchell was walking home along the road from Callington. Trees grew from the hedges and spread black threads against the sky. Dark clouds rolled across the moors and settled behind the trees.

Rob thought perhaps he saw a flicker of a bat melting as a snowflake into the dark. Movement within the shades of darkness could have been a fox; too quick a shadow to focus into form. He kept his eyes strained nervously in front of him. Then the very clear shadow of a giant cat lithe and alert, quivering but silent stood before Rob in the middle of the road.

The predator paused and glared at Rob with gorse yellow eyes before crouching to leap the hedge and was away across the fields. Rob got out his torch thinking he might find a claw print beneath the hedge or a snag of fur but the hedge was high with vegetation, climbing up the bank he imagined a fair few stems of bracken were bent across the field. A cold wind pushed into Rob's back and he swung round with his torch shining down on the empty road.

Next morning, Rob went for a walk round about to see who he could tell. It's a good story this one, he thought with excitement. He had met the Beast, a phantom beast, even better. However everyone Rob met that day to tell his story of the phantom beast had also seen the beast in their lane, behind their car or up the moor and one even had a cast of the claw print it left in their garden.

retold by Anna Chorlton

  • Caradon