The Bells of Campden

Written by Miss Smiley

bells_lone

Living, breathing bells? That’s horror, for sure. Image // Vladimer Shioshvili

Campden was a small province. It was peaceful. It was a sweet place – a place you’d want to raise your children. It was practically crime-free. A place you’d want to retire to and live out your life in. It was alive. It felt alive. There was none of this dead metal people tend to surround themselves in. The land breathed and danced. And then there were the bells.

To say that they rang would be an understatement. These bells didn’t just ring – they lived, they sang, each note a clear, precise, and weirdly organic sound. Their range spanned further than a normal church bell’s, their notes singing out whole provinces, calling them into church and court in the morning, ringing out long after they’d been struck.

If you believed the myths, the bells were alive. In back streets and behind closed doors, they whispered about them.

If a man was tried in court, he was tried before the bells. Mostly it was formality, they said. But every now and then, a bell would ring by itself during a trial. And that man was guilty – guilty as sin. The lawyers knew better than to speak for their client then. Once, a lawyer had protested and no one liked to talk about his story. That wasn’t the kind of thing you wanted your children to accidentally overhear, and who knew when they were listening?

It was worse to whisper about what happened to the guilty man, though. It was a story that each child heard, just once, when they were old enough. No one ever wanted to be told twice. No one ever needed to be told twice.

You see, the bells were alive. And everything that lives needs to eat.

Miss Smiley’s short story was submitted as part of a past HHC entry, with a Horror theme. It’s possibly more suited to October’s upcoming theme “fear”, but we liked it too much to consider leaving for too long. Besides the performance from the bells is particularly enthralling. If you liked Miss Smiley’s piece, and are utterly terrified of those bells, make sure you check out some of her other tales of sneaky horror, such as “Fetish” and “Rosebed“. 

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