Chapter 6

Chapter 7: Hirten Erst Kundgemacht

Jack shone his torch over the spread of the yew. The tree, over its many years, had broadened itself by putting down shoots to quadruple its chances of survival. Now, four extensive and knarred trunks pushed themselves outward from their shared parent roots. He let his fingertips drift across the toughness of its tight grained wood feeling the press of the years embedded on its trunk like wrinkles on an old man the tree too bore its life scars.

Without removing his hand he asked, “what do you see, Gwen?”

Gwen scanned the area with her light. “The tombstones flanking the yew seem to lean towards it, they also appear to be much older than the ones we passed nearer the gate.”

She walked to an angled headstone and, crouching down, began rubbing it with her freehand. “I can just make out the date.” She paused tracing the impressions with her fingertip. “I think it’s sixteen eighty-one.”

She stepped away and wiped her gloved hand on her jeans, for a moment her thoughts settled on the root system beneath her. Was it feeding off the bodies gifted to it by burial? She shuddered moving her feet away from the arc of a knotted root. She let the soft beam of the torch strike the twisted bark, faces seemed to appear in its weave whispering through the crown of leaves for her to go home.

“Gwen!” Jack’s brought her back.

She dipped the light towards him. “I’m sorry, I thought I saw…” She shook her head.

“What?” he asked shinning his torch back to the yew.

“Faces.” She swallowed.

Jack followed the shaft of light, he saw nothing but the knit of the bark and yet…

There was something more.

He moved round to the open space at the centre of the wooden columns. He touched his Bluetooth. “Tosh, what’ve you got for me.”

“The rift device is registering zero activity.” He heard her tap the keyboard. “I have some information regarding the yew situated in the churchyard, um, several botanical studies have concluded that it’s over three-thousand years old dating its origins to the prehistoric Bronze Age…”

At last we’ve found something older than Harkness!” Owen’s voice cut through Tosh’s narrative.

She sighed. “In ancient times the yew tree was considered sacred and came to symbolise everlasting life because of its capacity for longevity and regeneration. Many cultures believed that it was a natural gateway between our world and that of the dead. Apparently shaman used to inhale the tree’s vapours to gain visions and receive messages from the Otherworld.”

It’s bloody poisonous,” Owen cut in again. “The seeds and the leaves contain an alkaloid which suppress the heart’s functions…”

“‘Slips of yew, silvered in the moon’s eclipse“‘. Jack quoted into the cold night. He winked at Gwen. “Okay then, no eating the berries.”

Frankly, sir, I was hanging on for fish and chips,” Ianto retorted.

Jack looked at Gwen. “It’s gonna be a long night,” he said with a roll of his eyes.

Gwen smiled and relaxed a little watching as Jack stepped into the heart of the tree where its four broad arms fused. He looked around as if he was expecting something to happen. With a shrug he jumped to where Gwen was stood.

“What do we do now?” she asked rubbing her hands together despite her gloves.

“We wait.”

“If anyone’s interested…” Tosh began.

No!” Owen barked.

“Go on, Tosh,” Gwen countered as she began to pace against the cold.

“There are also two Eighth Century pillar stones which stand at the south side of the church; you might be able to make them out from where you are Owen.” Her voice rose slightly.

It’s fucking dark, Tosh, we’re in a graveyard, there are loads of bloody stones.” His words ricochet off the interior of the porch he and Ianto were sheltering in.

“Well, just out of interest, they have two roughly incised crosses on them.”

And I left my wax crayon and tracing paper at home!”  Owen exclaimed.

“Thanks, Tosh”.  Jack’s voice cut through Owen’s bluster. “Let us know as soon as you pick anything up.”

“Will do.”


Owen exhaled loudly watching his breath against the night. “God its fucking cold,” he stated jiggling about in an effort to warm up.

Ianto watched him from the stone seat running down the side of the porch, wondering, because of their location, if the statement was directed at him or the higher power. He looked to Owen’s short leather jacket and gloveless hands. “Perhaps you should have dressed warmer,” he offered settling back against the hard stone.

Owen glared at him. “Who do you think you are, my mother?”

Ianto considered a response but thought better of it choosing instead to dwell on floor.

Owen continued to shuffle his feet viewing the notices pinned to the glass covered notice board.

“Bet you were a choir boy,” he said with a chuckle.

“Sorry?” Ianto looked up sharply.

“I can see you now flouncing about in a floaty white dress…”

“It’s called a surplice you ignorant prick.”.

Owen snorted. “Whatever, choir-boy.”

He pulled up the collar of his coat. “This is madness, us freezing our bollocks off.” He looked over to Ianto. “Well me at any rate.” He blew into his cupped hands.

Ianto stood up. “Would you do it any differently?” he asked.

“Well, if I was in charge, I wouldn’t be babysitting you,”

Ianto shouldered passed him looking out on the graveyard. “Well, you’re not, anymore,” he added.

The silence settled on them both except for Owen’s constant movement to outwit the cold.

Ianto sighed, his focus remaining on the irregular rows of lopsided stones. “Do you ever think about it?” he raised on the curl of his breath.

“What?” Owen tried to suppress his impatience.


Owen shrugged moving closer to the Welshman. “Nope.” The lie echoed around the arch of stone.

Ianto glanced in his direction. He knew at some point they had both longed for it, entertained it, and that he himself had fleetingly touched its long shadow. Death and Torchwood were synonymous.

Owen too was left pondering his own mortality as he looked upon the graveyard teeth. He snorted. “Oh, don’t worry tea-boy, I know one day I’ll end up filling one of those tasty silver boxes back at the Hub but I enjoy the job too much to dwell on it.” He hoped he sounded convincing.

“You revel in the adrenalin rush.” Ianto turned back to the burial ground.

“Better than sex,” Owen replied with a smug smile.

He moved in closer. “But you wouldn’t know too much about that would you?”

Ianto ignored the taunt as Tosh’s voice cut through their exchange. “Jack my readings just went off the…”


Copyright RMC Dec 2017

Chapter 8

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