The Haunting of Thomas Davies

Elias Owen, in his book, 'Welsh Folk Lore', tells of a fantastical tale he was told by Thomas Davies, a native of Rhyl.  During the middle of the 19th century, Davies of Ty Coch in Rhyl was employed as a hunter of foxes, paid half a crown by the parish for the head of every fox he killed.  It was with the intention of making a few bob, that Davies entered a nearby wood one evening, known to be the remains of an ancient forest, and wandered a while, searching for the sign of a den.

It did not take him long, before he spied in the near distance the entrance to what appeared to be a den of some size. Congratulating himself on the find, since it would appear there were likely to be cubs within, Davies looked about for a spot to wait.  He spotted a large oak, with forked branches, sizeable enough to take his weight.  Shouldering his rifle, he climbed the tree, determined to wait until nightfall and the vixen to emerge to forage, before shooting it dead and making a start on digging out the den and taking the cubs.

It was not long after he took up his position in the boughs of the oak, settling back into a place he could easily see the mouth of the den, that Davies heard in the distance a horrible moan.  It was a disquieting call, piercing but distant.  It carried in the still air, in a way that Davies, an experienced woodsman felt was unnatural. He could not be certain, but he felt the words were, 

‘Oh, oh!’

Davies had spent many nights in the woods and forests of the area, and knew the noises well enough.  He did not scare easily.  But.  There was something about the call that sent a twist of a shiver up his spine.  He was unnerved, and found it an effort to keep his attention on the den.  He would often glance away from the den and try to peer through the murk, squinting into the gloom.  But there was nothing, and it was silent…and that itself was strange, since Davies knew well enough that the woods were rarely so silent, unless the life within that wood were ill at ease…

He forced his eyes onto the den, but almost immediately, the cry again, this time nearer and clearer.

‘Oh, oh!’

…and it was nearer, of that he was sure, and was it darker now, a thicker, unnatural dark?

Davies peered into the woods, from whence the cry seemed to come, and thoughts of the den were gone. He found himself tensed and taut, his eyes slits as he tried to focus and pierce the increasing blackness. The cry came again, 

‘Oh, oh!’

And this time the call was so full of an indescribable pain that it seemed that it came from the soul, from a deep place, and worse still it  came from within the darkness, and the darkness was but a few yards into the trees.  Davies wanted to throw himself from the tree, wanted to run and run and run, but he was as a stone, petrified.

From the darkness came a truly horrible sight.  A nude creature emerged and flames burned in the cavities were its eyes should have been, and it moaned and staggered forward, arms twisting by its sides, and it crouched and leaned forward and wrenched itself erect, but never once took its flaming gaze from a horrified Davies. 

Completely unmanned, Davies could not raise himself to any action, and as the creature brokenly staggered towards him, the hellish fires of its gaze refused to release him.  Davies thought his life was done, but not knowing how his end might come, he forced himself to close his eyes.  But the moaning continued and now he could hear the flames, and so he opened them again, since the sound was so much worse than the sight.

The creature had reached the foot of the tree and made to grasp the trunk and Davies was sure that his time on this Earth was over.  It was going to climb, it was going to take him and drag him to whatever vile, hellish place it had emerged from…Davies closed his eyes once more and tried to make peace with the sure knowledge of his death…but as he did he heard a cock crow…In the distance, a cock crow, and the horrible moans immediately stopped, the shuffling sound of staggering feet gone.

Davies opened his eyes, his jaws slackened and he breathed – it felt for the first time in an age – and the creature was gone.  For it is well known that the crowing of a cock will banish all evil of the night.

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