The boy slapped a dog lead nervously against his leg. It cracked through the constant rhythm of rain on the moor—the third day running of ceaseless rainfall. The girl’s eyes clung to a wavering torch beam, the only source of light. The moon hid beneath a cloud-padded sky, unlikely to find its way out tonight. No matter. The man knew it was there. No need to see it.
The girl lost her footing and stumbled hard into the sodden ground. She rubbed at her knee then frowned as blood stained her soaked jeans and glove. The man shivered. The boy urged her on toward a pale shape in the distance.
The targeted sheep did not react when the girl shone her torch on its flank. The boy gripped it by the scruff of its neck, digging frozen dripping fingers into its heavy coat. The sheep lurched awkwardly dragging the boy several feet through the mud before he pinned the beast. The girl scoffed. The boy struggled to stretch the dog’s lead about the sheep’s thick neck. He twitched.
‘Told you it wouldn’t fit,’ she mocked through chattering teeth.
The boy settled for wrapping the length of the lead around the sheep’s belly then looping the collar through the handle. Even so he had to keep a controlling grip on the back of the creature’s neck. The sheep felt warm beneath the boy’s fingers. He buried both hands in its fleece before half dragging the sheep along the path indicated by the girl’s torch beam bouncing across the turf.
The stone circle was difficult to make out in the driving rain and darkness. The boy, the girl and the sheep headed for the largest of the standing stones. The girl pulled a phone from her back pocket. It washed her face in pale blue light as she checked the time. Boy and girl snuggled against the biggest stone, which offered some protection from the fell wind and rain. They wedged the sheep between them, and waited.
‘He’ll be here soon,’ the boy insisted with stubborn confidence.
The man stretched and entered the stone circle. He was naked to the waist, tall and lean muscled with a heavy crown of grizzled hair which dripped around his face like melting wax. Boy and girl leapt to their feet pulling the reluctant sheep with them.
They weren’t sure how to address the man. They didn’t really know his name. The boy felt like bowing or possibly kneeling respectfully. Boy and girl remained frozen with fear and cold.
Don’t hesitate. One thrust and it’s done.
‘Don’t hesitate,’ she repeated. The girl looked down at the sheep struggling under the boy’s grip. It did not want to be there.
‘I can’t,’ the girl stuttered.
‘We have to,’ the boy hissed.
‘You do it.’
‘He said it had to be you.’
‘Don’t want it to be me.’
‘This were your idea.’ There was silence then she whispered.
‘I changed me mind.’
Isn’t this is what you wanted?
‘Yes, of course.’
Then see it through.
‘See it through,’ she echoed. The man knelt in the mud before her.
I swear to you this won’t hurt a bit.
Rain pelted against his bare, grey chest. The girl lifted a trembling hand and spread her fingers wide over where she knew the man’s heart would be. As easily as digging through thick mud to find a buried stone, she pressed her palm through his flesh. Her searching fingers wrapped around a thumping knot of muscle and tissue. She pulled.
His pulsing heart heated her trembling fingers surrounding her in a veil of steam. Hot blood mingled with the rain staining the dark moorland. The boy straddled the panicking sheep and wrenched open its jaw while the girl stuffed the man’s heart into the mouth of the protesting beast. The boy clamped his hands together over the wet muzzle to keep the sheep from spitting it out. The man caressed the sheep’s throat with forceful stokes.
That wasn’t so bad now was it?