The Knockers have the upper hand. We hear them in the village at night, their laughter cruel and child-like, as they break into houses looking for us. Every now and then they find one of our friends, or our family, who couldn’t find shelter, and we have no choice but to listen to their screams as the Knockers drag them back to the mine. We hear the Knockers ripping into their still-living flesh, the crack of bones, and have to wonder – who is it this time? Is it someone we know? Someone we love?
The Knockers draw it out. They’re trying to anger us, to provoke us into being rash and charging into a foolish rescue. I know this because it happened, to Stannis no less. His sister was taken; God knows what she was doing out there. We told him it was too late, we held him there, but Stannis is a big man and for as many of us as there are, we are weak and starving, and couldn’t hold him for long. They tortured her for hours before he finally took his chance, and he just managed to escape from the attic before they took him. They must have been on the roof.
The Knockers feasted that night.
My hand shakes as I write this, for I know that our time is running out. There are six of us left; an unlucky number, and normally I would not be so superstitious, but these are times for superstition and magic. The Knockers are on the roof again, clawing at the clay tiles, trying to get in. They call out with human voices, trying to lure us out, then cackle at their own cunning. They have learned our names, somehow, and call out to us using them, including the children.
I won’t let them take us. I won’t let the children be tortured by those godless things. I found an old half sword yesterday, hidden amongst the junk of this attic. It’s best to make it quick.
This will be the last time I write. If anyone should find this then please, forgive us our trespasses. Forgive me mine. God help my poor soul. God help us all.
© Matthew Sloan
Matthew Sloan is a 24 year old writer from Northern Ireland. He is a graduate of Queen’s University of Belfast, holding a BA in English and an MA in Creative Writing, and is working on his first novel. His first story was published in the Spring 2011 issue of Wordlegs.com.