The Cold Hand

I was posting recently about my Dad and the stories I sometimes steal off him. Here’s another one of those stories. This one concerns one of the most terrifying events of his younger life.

So be warned!

Many years ago, he was a keen fisherman - trout and salmon mainly. He and his friends used to travel quite a bit to compete in lake-fishing competitions around this time of year. That meant they would often be driving home along the strange dark Irish roads very late at night.

One such night, he and his friend happened upon a very recent car crash. The car had ploughed through the roadside hedges and fallen down quite a drop into the field beyond. In fact, the car was so far down they wouldn’t have even known it was there, if not for the skid marks and the freshly broken section of the hedge.

It was pitch dark down in the field where the car lay ticking away quietly. The headlights from up on the road could not reach down there, it was pitch dark. All that he and his friend could do was feel their way along the car to get their bearings.

The driver side door could not be opened but the passenger side obliged. No internal light came on, which was not surprising given the horrific state of the car. Gradually, their eyes were adjusting to the dark and they could now make out that there was indeed a body in the driver seat, crumpled and still. It was clear that there was nobody else inside.

The body made no movement when the men shouted in. It seemed likely this person had not survived the crash. Neither of the men knew any First Aid but he came up with the best suggestion he could.  "You go and find a phone and I’ll wait here," he said.

His friend ran off to get help, leaving him alone with the motionless body in the car.

"Can you hear me? Hello?"

There was still no response, no movement.  He threw the passenger door open as far as it would go and climbed into the passenger seat. Once inside, the car door slammed heavily shut. Some mechanism jammed as it did and he found that the door would not open again. Luckily all the windows had been shattered so the feeling of being locked in was somewhat lessened.

In among all the broken glass and sticky upholstery, he turned to the person in the driver seat and spoke to him.

"Don’t worry," he said, "the ambulance is coming… we’ll get you out… you’ll be all right…"

There was nothing else he could do.

He sat there, hand resting on the person’s shoulder, repeating his reassurances over and over again as the engine ticked slowly down, then stopped. And the darkness seemed only to get deeper and deeper and deeper.

Time passed. It was difficult to tell how much, there was nothing to gauge it by. There was only the darkness and the still motionless body by his side.

Nothing happened.

But, after a time, something did.

Without sound or warning a cold hand fell unerringly onto his hand and gripped it tightly. The hand did not belong to the body in the car – it had come from the other side.  He was too terrified to move, too frozen to speak.

A low drone began. Perhaps due to the shock induced by this hand-from-nowhere, this drone was indecipherable at first, a hoarse throaty mumbling, tubercular and flat.  Then it became recognisable, familiar.

"… kingdom come, ‘will be done ‘earth as t’is in heaven. ‘Give us this day…"

"Eh, Father," my Dad said, shakily, "It’s not me that needs you, it’s him over there."


Jena Isle said...

He he he, really Ken, you always make me laugh with your stories...simple and straightforward. I like them a lot. It just flows unobstructed...thanks for sharing.

CelloBella said...

I wasn't expecting that - not given the very scary photo.
Thank you... and thank your dad!

Waterrose said... got me....

Francis Scudellari said...

Hi Ken,
Beautifully re-told, and a pitch-perfect ending. Kudos to you and your dad.

Jon said...

Excellent, was gripped right up until the end.

Ken Armstrong said...

Thanks guys - didn't expect such positivity!

Interesting reaction, I wasn't really trying to fool anyone. This is just what he says happened, well... pretty much.

Good pun Jon, 'like it!! :)

Rachel Fox said...

Excellent! I do like a story with a corpse.

Ken Armstrong said...

Hi Rachel. Funnily enough, according to my Dad, the dormant person the driver's seat was not dead and went on to make a full recovery.

I was suprised too.

Sea Glass Things said...

Hahaha... I was on the edge of my seat - you got me!

Dave King said...

Smashing Ken - but you didn't say whether your dad went on to make a full recovery!

Matthew S. Urdan said...

All, thanks for stopping by and commenting on Jean and my review of Prince Caspian!

It's a fun movie that I'm sure you will enjoy. After you see it, it would be great if you could comment back here and let me know what you thought of the movie.

Catherine and Ken, thanks for your kind words, and yes, it's a lot of fun collaborating with someone else on a blog post. Jean and I had a lot of fun doing this.

Courtney, I'm glad you were paying attention. It's true, Peter is the High King, but don't worry, I can take a little ribbing. ;)

Ken Armstrong said...

I know I wouldn't have *ever* recovered, Dave.

As some long-gone cartoon character used to say, "Not ever, never!"

... now who *was* that?

Jim Murdoch said...

I'm not sure why, but I could picture the late Les Dawson telling this story, although Les would have struggled not to throw in a few asides to let you know you were in a joke. There is a definite skill to packing a joke like this. Chick Murray, also deceased as it happens, could have carried this one off to perfection.

Ken Armstrong said...

Yeah, Jim, my Dad and Les might share some things - including an ability to be 'deadpan' in their delivery.

It is interesting though that I wasn't recounting this story as a joke.

Dad tells it as a true story (although I'd be suprised if there were not at least *some* apocryphal elements to it).

I have also put my own 'spice' on the story. And I always will do this - unapologetically - to any story I write, if I feel it makes the story more accessible/better.

It all goes back to Truth and Lies, doesn't it? :)

I think I will post another of my own personal 'memory' stories next and then in a few days break down the truth within it - just for fun.

Anonymous said...

Magnificent story, I really enjoyed this one. Everything is there - mystery, suspense and the gift for telling the story. Wow.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.