Shared by the Highlanders

BOOK: Shared by the Highlanders
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Shared by the Highlanders

 

 

By

 

Ashe Barker

 

Copyright © 2015 by Stormy Night Publications and Ashe Barker

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Stormy Night Publications and Ashe Barker

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Published by Stormy Night Publications and Design, LLC.

www.StormyNightPublications.com

 

Barker, Ashe

Shared by the Highlanders

 

Cover Design by Korey Mae Johnson

Images by Period Images, Jenn LeBlanc, and Bigstock/JayDeeSweden

 

 

 

This book is intended for
adults only
. Spanking and other sexual activities represented in this book are fantasies only, intended for adults.

Chapter One

 

 

Helvellyn, Cumbria, April 2014

 

I lie back, resting my shoulders on the springy heather beneath me. It’s good to relinquish my backpack, if only for a while. Lightweight aluminium is a vast improvement on the bulky scouting equipment I used to be saddled with when, as an eager teen, I first embarked on my enduring love affair with the wild outdoors, but still it’s a relief to set it down for a few minutes.

I stretch out, gazing up at the deep blue of the spring sky above me. A few clouds hover up there, but nothing to cause me concern. It’s a cold, clear April day, the air crisp and fresh. Perfect for hiking. I have two, possibly two and a half hours of decent daylight left before I should set up my tent. My plan is to spend the night up here on the upper slopes of Helvellyn and complete my hike down into Glenridding tomorrow.

I’m alone, and happy to be so. Solitary hiking is my passion. It gives me the space I need to think, to clear my head, to recharge. I can savour the glory of the wild, rugged Cumbrian landscape at my leisure and my pace. No one to share it with, it’s mine. All mine.

I sit up and peruse the far horizons. I can see clearly for perhaps fifty miles, though I always find distances difficult to judge, despite my years of experience tramping these hills. It’s a vista both timeless and constantly changing. A shift in the weather, different light conditions, the seasons, all combine to create an ever-shifting scene. Yet still, it has a permanence about it which I find solid, comforting.

There are those who would claim this is to be a vast, wild country, untouched by humans and the better for it. I understand that sentiment, though it is not especially accurate. Dry stone walls crisscross the hills, evidence of the optimistic but ultimately futile attempts of previous generations to contain nature. The sheep have always known better, scrambling effortlessly over those puny barriers. Still, I suppose the now derelict walls denote ownership, marking out boundaries if those are needed.

The hand of humankind is even more apparent in the ribbon of shiny tarmac snaking across the hillside on the opposite side of the valley. The occasional car traverses the distance, crossing the Kirkstone Pass in this interlude between blizzards. That particular road is impassable for several weeks every year, and indeed was only reopened a couple of weeks ago following the last heavy fall of snow. It came late in the season and hopefully it will be the last we see of that for this winter, but the weather is unpredictable to say the least here. That’s one of the reasons I love Cumbria; you never know what mood you’ll find her in. Today though, she is balmy and fresh, the temperature a comfortable thirteen degrees.

The Kirkstone Inn is just visible, a popular watering hole for travellers and hikers alike. I’ve gazed over this hillside where I now sit from the comfort and sanctuary of the taproom at the Kirkstone Inn on many occasions. The view is breath-taking, and I defy anyone to find a more dramatic location for a pub.

Lifting my gaze, I can just pick out the rhythmic sweep of massive turbines, the tips of the blades briefly visible on the horizon. Wind power is a fact of twenty-first century life, though there are many who would protest the despoiling of this landscape with the majestic presence of these huge structures. For myself, I sort of like them. The past is always with us, preserved in these ageless hills. But the graceful swirl of those glimmering wings is a reminder that the future beckons, and is all the richer for the care we take of our environment now. We owe it to the generations who went before, and to those yet to come.

Other manmade landmarks, unobtrusive but evidence of the symbiotic relationship between civilisation and these untamed hills, nestle among the rugged uplands. A farm, the old stone built structures now dominated by the huge metallic barn and slurry tanks, lies at the foot of the slope. A small and much older structure is situated a few hundred metres from where I sit, a one-room square building, presumably an animal shelter of some description, left behind by a century long passed, and now abandoned. The roof is gone, leaving the interior open to the elements.

The remains of a huge, gnarled oak tree cast a dominant shadow over the building, which seems to almost cower in the space beneath. I wonder what happened to cause the demise of this mighty tree. A lightning strike most probably, snuffing out in an instant a life that had continued untroubled for hundreds of years. The carcass of the tree retains its dignity still, a tall, thick trunk stretching upwards, and an errant side bough spreading across the ground, embracing the ramshackle shed.

I lift my gaze to once more scan the horizon and as I watch, the turbines disappear before my eyes, swallowed in a bank of mist rolling across from the opposite hills. Fog descends in moments here, and is no real cause for alarm. I know exactly where I am. I have my compass and can find my way back in close to zero visibility if need be. It won’t come to that though. I’ll just make camp earlier than I intended, and wait it out.

I stand, hoist my backpack across my shoulders again, and secure the waist strap. There’s a preferred camping spot of mine about a mile uphill, and I’d like to reach that before calling it a day. There are those who would say that one patch of moorland is much the same as another, but the availability of fresh water available from an underground spring and a modicum of shelter afforded by a clump of trees makes all the difference as far as I’m concerned. I set off again, determination in every step.

The mist reaches me in minutes, enveloping me in its damp chill. This is a cold one, the freezing temperature seeping through my thermal layers. It’s thick too, and I am quickly reduced to navigating by compass and GPS alone. I crouch to study my map, calculate an accurate bearing and follow it. I value the easy simplicity of GPS, but there’s nothing to beat the timeless certainty of doing it the traditional way.

My progress is slow. I can be sure of finding my campsite by compass, but the instrument won’t alert me to trip hazards and other obstacles lying in wait for the unwary lone hiker. The last thing I need now is a twisted ankle, or worse, so I have to watch where I put my feet.

I lose track of time, but I know I must be nearing my destination. I stop, crouch again to spread my map on the ground, and recalculate my current position. About a quarter of a mile to go. I straighten and strike out again.

Then I stop dead.

Voices. Up ahead. Close by. Male voices, two of them I think, though the sound is muffled by the fog. And something else… horses’ hooves?

Silence falls again. I wait, peering into the fluffy whiteness surrounding me, my ears pricked, listening for anything, any sound at all. Was I mistaken?

Seconds pass, stretching into minutes. I hear nothing else. The quiet all around is heavy, oppressive almost. For the first time I can recall I feel uneasy, up here on my own. There’s no reason I should be; the hiking community is friendly enough. I’m not seeking company, but neither am I averse to it, within reason. If some other group is also making for my preferred spot I can live with that. We’ll share, maybe pass a pleasant enough evening, then go our separate ways in the morning. I give myself a mental shake and continue to pick my way forward.

Several minutes pass, and I hear nothing more to alarm me. The occasional rustle of windswept bracken, a ripple of breeze, all normal enough. If there were other walkers close by at one point, and I’m now beginning to seriously doubt that, they must have moved away again, out of earshot. My plans for the night remain unchanged.

I stop and set down my backpack again, convinced I must be at my site by now. I dig in my pocket for my phone to check for a GPS reading, shivering in the biting temperature. This is no ordinary freezing fog, I’ve never known cold like it. I stand, lifting my phone in search of a signal. I turn on the spot, peering at the small screen.

Suddenly, I’m seized from behind. My throat is paralysed by the shock, I open my mouth to let out a shriek, but no sound comes. My phone flies from my hand, and my stupid, irrational, irrelevant thought is that I’ll never find it again in this damn fog. I hit the ground, and the wind is knocked from my lungs by the weight of a heavy body rolling on top of me. I lie still, disbelieving, then panic sets in and I fight. I fight for all I’m worth, for my very life.

I strike at the unseen shape pinning me down, and bruise my knuckles on hard, solid bulk. Somehow I manage to find something resembling my voice.

“Get off me, you bastard,” I croak, all the while pummelling the unrelenting mass above me.

“Yield then, laddie.” The answering voice is tinged with a soft brogue, Scottish, I think.
And, laddie?

“Let me go. Get off, you’re hurting me.”

“It’ll get worse, lad, if ye don’t cease that wriggling. We have you, and ye’ll not be getting away.” If anything the grip pinning my shoulders to the earth below me tightens. The huff of warm breath against my cheek is terrifying yet reassuring too. Solid, and real. And this man is quite immovable. I see no alternative but to do as he says. I yield.

My assailant seems to know the instant I give up the fight. He lifts his weight from me, and I can breathe again. I suck in several lungsful of oxygen, my mind racing.
Who? Why? Where did he come from?

“I have ‘im. Ye can stop cowering over there in this bloody fog like a startled toad. Come and give me a hand.”

“Ach, are ye struggling to subdue one wee laddie then? I always kenned ye for a weakling.” A movement to my right catches my attention. I turn my head to see a pair of booted feet emerge from the mist. Behind this newcomer, almost obscured by the swirling white fog, is a pair of horses, their breath adding to the pea souper blanketing us all. I shudder, the extent of my predicament deepening.

One attacker is bad, but I might have a chance. Two is a different story altogether. They have clearly mistaken me for a boy, probably due to my unisex weatherproofs and my hair being covered by my hood. I don’t disabuse them of that notion.

“What do you want? Please, let me go. I won’t say anything about this, not to anyone.” A ridiculous promise, but I’ll try anything. I can hear the tremor in my voice so they must too. That irks me. I don’t want them to know how scared I am.

“More to the point, laddie, what is it
you
want, sneaking around the moors in the mist? Were ye thinking to steal from us, maybe ye have an eye on our horses…?”

“Horses? Why would I want your horses? I’m a hiker, not a bloody jockey.”

I should learn to think before I speak, and a hard cuff around the side of my head shuts me up. My ears are ringing, though I don’t think he hit me especially hard. The horror of being thumped is enough to quell my brief flirtation with defiance though. I don’t need to see this man upright to be certain he’ll dwarf my five foot four, and his companion is equally tall. I know better than to provoke them if they are handy with their fists.

The mountain on top of me eases himself to the side, then gets to his feet. He extends his hand down to me, and I take it without thinking. I’m hauled to my feet as though I’m weightless, to stand shivering in front of him. The other man is behind me, blocking any chance of escape, even if I could see more than a yard in any direction.

“Will ye be keepin’ a civil tongue in your head then or do you need further convincing?”

“Let the lad be, Robbie. Can’t ye see he’s scared? If he was a thief I think we’ve maybe cured him of that notion. Am I right, boy?”

I nod, then shake my head, not sure what the right response would be. “I’m not a thief. I’m a hiker. I just want to be on my way, and, and…”

BOOK: Shared by the Highlanders
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