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Paranormal Novice
There is nothing like a trip out into nature to clear your head. Harry Thorton stood atop one of the highest points in his little area of the Peak District. He could see for miles on all sides, the colours of the trees stretching out and blurring on the horizon.

Autumn was probably his favourite time of year, and it was sadly drawing to a close. He had ventured out into the Peaks to get away from his family for a while. His eldest, Hollie, was going off to university next year, and she wanted to spend Christmas in Leeds this year, ‘getting to know the new crowd’ she said. He didn’t want her to go. Helen didn’t agree, she thought it was great for their daughter to get out on her own. Harry just couldn’t see it like that.

He always enjoyed going out into the Peak District, it reminded him of going on walks with his dad when he was a kid. It was only when the light started to change to orange and the sun started to set, that he realised he’d been sat with his flask and his biscuit for quite a few hours and he should probably set off home.

It was on the walk from his favourite viewpoint to the car that he first heard the whispering. He thought nothing of it at first, putting it down to voices on the wind. But as the sound got louder, he realised there were no words, no language to the noise. It sounded like an animal in pain. But louder, more urgent. It was terrifying, and chilled him to his core.

He began to search for his car keys, wishing he hadn’t chosen to park so far away. Helen always said they should keep fit so he parked further away to get more steps in. The sound whirled around him again. Louder. He dropped his keys. When did it get so dark? His eyes darted around the ground; he couldn’t see the keys anywhere.

The sound was right on him now. It had changed, become deeper, larger, more threatening. It shook through him. In his peripheral vision, a flash of a figure, like – was that a deer? The noise again, impossibly loud, right in his ear. The figure flashed by his vision again. He was sure they were antlers he saw, but they were taller, his brain couldn’t put together the being they might belong to.

Until he saw it. It was just taller than him, about a foot taller. Its body was just a flowing black shape, a cloak but it had no form – nothing to wrap around. And the head. Its head was close. Too close. It took the form of a stinking stag’s head, bits of flesh and moss hanging from the crevices, the antlers looming over Harry in the darkness.

The beast’s howling stopped. There was a moment of complete, dead silence. Then the ground split open beneath the man as the Sybba claimed another victim for its collection. It keeps order around here, and that man strayed too far into its territory. His body would help to fertilise the Earth and allow another tree to grow in his place. That was the way of things.

Inspired by the lesser-known Sybba mythology of the Peak District nr. Sheffield, UK.