Shows reccomended in the episode:
The run back to the station is all a blur now. I remember the pain in my chest, the cold air against my skin, the sound of my feet against the forest floor. I don’t remember stopping to rest, although logic tells me I must have. The screams behind me faded away as I ran but the stench of the smoke never left me.
I reached the edge of the woods ragged and raw. The sky was dark above me – I had no idea what time it was. I passed over the metal ring and fell hard to the ground. My strength was gone. I lay there, on the damp ground, shuddering with my breath, when the roar of the creature came from within the trees. It had been following me.
I was unable to move, the adrenaline burned away. I lay on my back and watched as it emerged from the treeline, the burning red light casting shadows across the meadow and reflecting back against the metal ring. It turned to face me and charged.
It hit the ring like a solid wall. Debris flew off it and over me – a sharp piece of metal sliced against my leg and bits of rock and wood hit my across my body as I lay there, but the bulk of the thing, the burning center, stopped short.
I rolled away, pulling myself into a ball and covering my head, so I didn’t see it’s reaction, but I heard it. It screamed so loud I thought it would deafen me.
Then it was gone. I heard it retreat and dared to move my head to check. I saw the glow of it moving away, around the perimeter of the metal ring. It was checking for any weak points, as it had been that first night. I hauled myself up and considered my next move.
The ring meant something. It had to. There was a connection between the station and the creature – the weapon. This place had made itself immune to the thing’s attacks. It was clearly no ordinary station. Lots of places had been taken over by the military during the war, it makes sense given its location, that the station would be one of them. But I had been living there for days, I thought I had explored the entire compound. Was the ring really the only trace of the station’s wartime past or had I missed something?
I began to move through the outbuildings, one by one, checking them for any clues. Last time I had only been looking for equipment to help set up the station. This time I looked at everything. Outside it grew lighter and I could hear the creature in the distance moving around me.
I found nothing. I hadn’t missed anything, there was nothing to find. I stumbled between the buildings, feeling increasingly panicked. I headed back into the station building, aching as I pulled back the doors. The space felt familiar, but outside as it grew lighter I could see the shape of the weapon pacing along the meadow and knew I couldn’t relax. I needed to think.
I found myself heading down into the cellar again, as I had done that first awful night that I saw the weapon. This time daylight filtered down from the door above as I sat heavily on the packed earth floor and wracked my brains.
The ring must mean this building was important. It had to. It would explain why this part of the countryside was still so empty, why this was where the weapon was hunting. If it had been built here or stored here then there must be something left, surely. The weapon was unlike anything I had ever seen but if the ring could stop it that meant that at some point it was at least thought to be controlled.
I learnt back heavily against the wall, knocking my head against the stone. It echoed with the impact. I turned and knocked it with my fist, scarcely daring to hope. The sound came back hollow. I tried the other walls and compared. The sound was duller. There was space behind that wall.
I moved along it, trying to find any way of opening it up. My fingernails caught at the rough stone as I grasped along. But there was no secret door, whatever was hidden had been bricked over. I retrieved the poker and brought it down to the cellar. I jabbed it into a loose looking gap between two bricks and began to work the mortar loose. I was soon covered in sweat from the effort but to my delight the bricks began to slowly move out of place. I rammed the base of the poker hard into the spot I had loosened and with a dull thud a brick slid back, leaving a dark gap in the wall.
What I found there, after I made a hole big enough to climb through and brought down a lantern, changed everything. There was plenty I didn’t understand, in the dusty, bricked up laboratory, but one thing stood out. A mechanism, made of the same gleaming metal as the ring. And on it, a lever, labeled ‘on’.
The sun was setting as I stood on the railway platform and stared out across the meadow. The creature stared back from the treeline, a red glow that was blending into the shadows as the sun dipped lower. I went over my plan in my mind. Lure the thing in. Trap it. Don’t die. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage that last part.
I walked down the steps onto the tracks and took a breath. Then I carefully stepped over them and up to the ring. I looked up. It hadn’t moved, but I felt like the red glow was almost brighter. I stared straight at it and stepped over the ring.
It started moving so fast that I jumped, almost losing my footing. I turned and ran headlong back up the steps, praying they wouldn’t give way beneath me. I didn’t dare turn to look back. I threw myself across the platform and through the station doors.
I reached the cellar door just as it crashed through the platform, splintering the walls of the station behind me. I fell with the force of the impact, hitting the cellar steps and landing painfully on my back. Above me the ceiling creaked, then gave way. I screamed, holding my arms uselessly above my head as the station fell into itself from the weight of the weapon and heavy floorboards landed on top of me. I lay pinned, staring upwards, as the red glow of the weapon beared down on me.
There was…pain. The heat of the thing was overwhelming. It had sunk over me and as I struggled to move it was already pulling the debris of the station into itself. A long arm snaked over me and flipped one of the boards holding my body down back into the flame. Then, as I twisted to free myself, a second arm caught me by the leg. I screamed and yanked away from it, but it was too late. The arm crunched down on the bone and I heard a snap. Then it began to move back, hauling me in.
I dangled uselessly for a moment from my broken leg, then, almost instinctively reached up and grabbed onto the arm, pulling against it, trying desperately to free myself. If I lost now, this was all for nothing. I grew closer to the flames, burning bright with the fuel it was feeding itself. My coat began to smolder and I threw myself away from the heat in fear, crying as my skin began to burn. My arm hit out at something metallic and I grasped at it. The poker.
I jammed the point of it between my leg and the arm, levering it with my bodyweight. The pain made me. scream again, but the arm let go, snapping at the poker and hauling it out of my grasp. I didn’t waste a second. I threw myself around and dragged myself across the floor towards the lab.
Most of the wall between the lab and the cellar was broken by the weapons descent but there was enough cover left that I managed to roll myself against the mechanism and pull myself out of sight of the weapon. Then, with a shaking arm, I pulled the lever back into the on position.
What was left to do but wait to die. The arms were already reaching into the lab. I moved backwards, along the wall, some part of me desperate to live as long as I could.
I closed my eyes and waited – an almost familiar feeling now. Then, against my raw, burnt skin, I felt a soft, cool breeze. I reached behind me – and felt wood. A door.
It was small, built into the far corner of the lap and only big enough to crawl through. I pulled it open and found myself looking into a tunnel. An emergency exit. I began to cry. Behind me, the thing seemed to realise its prey was getting away. It screamed and began to jam itself further into the lab, but it’s engorged body, newly huge with the parts of the station it had already consumed, hindered its progress. I crawled into the tunnel, gave it one last look, and slammed the door shut.
I reached the outside world and felt the cold air rush to greet me. I shoved open a trapdoor and pulled myself through onto damp grass. The destroyed station was about 100 yards in front of me, glowing red from within. I let myself lay down and watched. The thing exploded out of the cellar and began to move wildly, this way and that. It spotted my in the meadow and threw itself towards me – and crashed into the invisible barrier. I watched as it threw itself again and again, desperate howls tearing through the night. I began to laugh. It made my chest ache but I couldn’t stop, gasping for breath as the weapon tore through the station compound, trying to find a way out. Then, at long last, everything faded to black.
A complete account? But…it’s not complete! She must have recorded her further research somewhere, she even mentioned it at the start of this report! Are there pages missing? She doesn’t even explain how she evaded arrest! I don’t understand how she did it, the military hospital reported that her injuries were…extensive. Well, we may still be lucky. The most damaging information is here. When I think about what could happen if this report got in the wrong hands – if the truth about the massacre in the woods was made public – that it was our abandoned weapon that killed those people and that our soldiers were unable to contain it, well, it could start another war! She must be caught. She has the entire army out looking for her. We can only hope they’re not too late.
Tracks was written and produced by Libby Thomas. Narration was performed by Libby Thomas. The epilogue was performed by the wonderful David Pellow. You can hear more of his work on Middle Below and the Tower – two incredible, atmospheric shows that take the listener on journeys far beyond the everyday. And while we’re on the topic of amazing shows, let’s mention a few more that shouldn’t be missed! Folxlore is a new queer Scottish horror podcast that balances the poetic and the terrible. The Antique Shop is another new Scottish show by Ghostly Thistle, the creator of the McIlwraith Statements. Both of these shows are beautiful eerie stories that will take you down dark pathways towards the unknown. And Some shows I’ve mentioned before – A Scottish Podcast, Tales from the Alethian Society, A Night of Horror, The Prickwillow Papers and Caledonian Gothic are all favourite shows of mine that deserve a listen. If you want to listen to more Scottish audio fiction, any of these shows is a perfect choice.
The music in Tracks is all from Kai Engel and can be found on the free music archive. Sound effects are all listed on the website, as are links to all the shows I’ve mentioned.
Well, here we are, the end of the line. I really hope you enjoyed this story – my first attempt at writing something properly dark. I’ll be on hiatus while I work on my next project, but if you want to keep informed with what I’m up to, please follow me on twitter and tumblr at glasgow ghost stories or at the website – glasgow ghost stories dot wordpress dot com. If you liked the show, then please get in touch! I really love to get feedback, or leave a review wherever you listen to the show. Thank you so much for listening.