Riding Through Spooky Hollow

The spectre let out a moan. It was not the first time her angst had become unbearable, but what was intended as a sigh, released as a howl, one filled with regret, overflowed with longing. She understood that the living could neither hear nor see her, yet she had the uncomfortable impression that this one had picked up on her plaintive cry; a quick swivel of a head in her direction, the face revealing surprise and suppressed anxiety, as evidence. She had seen the look before, but always as a reaction to the sound of some unseen animal scurrying through the underbrush. This time was different, the canyon quiet and still. The living possessed a wonderful gift in imagination. Yet that ability, which often made life more interesting, could hamper and stifle that same life when it took a more dark and surreal turn. These moody woods fostered that turn, especially when the day was dark with overhanging gloom. When fog or clouds pressed down from above, they smothered the brightness and light. Her mood darkening as the shadows faded from existence.

She was not sure how she came to inhabit these woods, or why or when, though she recalled thinking, long ago, that it seemed like an eternity. There was no measure of time here, none that she was familiar with. The black limbs of trees, crooked and scabrous, never seemed to change. They reached from the ground, clawing their way from the confining dirt. She often thought they were trying to escape this place, but as far as she could tell none ever did. Their imprisonment was the same as her own. As she drifted from hollow to hollow, she would sometimes come upon one with broken back, splintered bones abruptly white against the dark skin. That she could not recall a shattered form at this spot told her time was passing, but the movement was invisible to her.

Occasionally she sensed the presence of other forms like her, but there was never any contact with them. How could there be. She wasn't sure if they suffered the same confinement she did, or if they were able to pass from this place to somewhere else. This place? There was a vague familiarity to these woods, though the word familiarity seemed inadequate. She remembered a word - memory - but she could picture nothing before this existence, and so she sufficed with familiarity, hazy and ephemeral as it was. That seemed appropriate and she could think of no reason for it to be otherwise.

Some nearby ravens made that bone rattling sound deep in their throats. She had come to recognize this as their way of creating mischief; it startled some of the living, frightened others. The ravens were different, though, from the other denizens of this place. All the other animals existed in some shadowy form, they slunk or scurried here and there, seeming to be as unaware of her as were the living. After all, they occupied the same world. In contrast, the ravens were clear and sharp of form, from every curve of every feather, to the crook of every talon, to the depth at the center of their eyes. She suspected this was because they, somehow, could pass between worlds - that of the living, and the one in which she existed. The first time raven flew into her space she was curious, yet shocked and in some way frightened, by the suddenness of their trespass. Eventually, though, she came to welcome their appearance, to look forward to their, what she called, visits. They could see her when no one and nothing else could. They were her one comfort, her one pleasure.

That is until the pain began. More than familiarity, this was memory - clear and unmistakable memory which caused a surge of anguish. Why it suddenly appeared to her, she could not guess at. A rider passed before her as she sat beside the stream (though she couldn't quite be sure sitting is what she was actually doing), and in that instant she saw herself. It was just a flash, a brief moment of brilliant  color before the muted shades of her existence clamped back down. From that first passing she had become increasingly afflicted by the memory. Once again, she recognized the inadequacy of her place of existence, for the word affliction was grossly incapable of describing the depth of the pain and longing she felt. The feelings intensified each time she saw a passing rider until they became unbearable, her moans lost to all but the suddenly indifferent ravens. Or so she believed. What was this place that it created such longing, and why did the longing cause such torment?

The woods through which the trails of Spooky Hollow hide much in their shadowy recesses, much that our mortal eyes are incapable of seeing. Something to give thought to the next time you ride through when the day is like twilight.


  1. Those are great b&w photos. The trees almost look skeletal, probably due to the drought perhaps. Have you heard of the place below ?


    1. Funny you mention the drought. I can't remember seeing so many split and toppled trees there, and was thinking that was probably the cause. I will have to add the Dark Hedges to the list for my next trip to Ireland; pretty dramatic trees there too. Thanks.


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