Like most towns, Ridgeware has a dark history. Its inhabitants know of the history, apart from newcomer Gary Strand. Strand has recently moved from London to experience the "quiet life" and finds there is more to the town than meets the eye.
David Dawson is a family man, and like other residents, knows of the dark history surrounding Ridgeware and the woods, and the infamous story of Killer Kelly. To the adults, Killer Kelly was a character from years back that massacred his family. To the children, Killer Kelly is a ghost that is still present and lives in the same shack where he killed his family, which is situated on the common hill, between Ridgeware and the woods.
Ridgeware was a small town on its own surrounded by woodlands, farms and private lands, and in the northwest of the town there was an estate, scheme or neighbourhood that was situated not far from a place known as common hill. The last street in the northwest of Ridgeware, known as Churchill Street, overlooked a playing field; on the right of the playing field was a dirt path that was situated parallel to the field and eventually veered right which led to the bottom of common hill, or to the children of Churchill Street, it was simply called, the common.
Young children loved the common in the winter or even in the summer. In the winter, children would grab their plastic sledges--or if they were really unfortunate--grab a plastic sheet or carrier bag and head with friends to the hill passing the dirt track to the right of the playing field, turning right facing the bottom part of the hill and eventually making the arduous climb.
Despite the effort of the climb itself, each child would have an immense sense of satisfaction and relief knowing that they had made it to the top. At the top of hill was where the merriment activities began, this is why they punished themselves to climb the hill; this was the highlight of their holidays. Just as the children would approach the downward slope of the hill, they would line up patiently ready for the descent. Some of them sat on their sledges, and some sat inside their plastic sheets.
Other activities included football in the playing field if an adventure onto the common was off the list. The football field was another environment that was regularly used, which was situated behind the back of the houses that belonged to Churchill Street. It was perfect entertainment for close friends Neil Warner, Steven Dawson and Alan Miller who only lived yards away which was advantageous before a meal time, if they simply could not be bothered walking up the steep common hill. The three boys had known each other from the ages of two--although Steven was nine months younger--and had played together in the street for years, they went to nursery together and were now attending the same school.
When the trio had the energy to climb the hill, they would often look into the direction of the archaic wooden house, that could almost be seen behind a selection of ungainly looking trees that it was surrounded by. The wooden house was enveloped in mystery, and children, especially from the Churchill area, seemed to be obsessed with the wooden house. Adults who rarely took to the common, apart from joggers and dog walkers, seemed unruffled by the eerie sight of the run down establishment.
Some of the children who were brave enough to have gotten nearer to the house, noticed that the only protection it had was a small four-foot fragile wooden fence that even they could break through if need be. But most of the time the children wouldn't see anything. There would be no sign of life. No sign of the old man. But they wouldn't dare trespass. Nobody was stupid enough to trespass.
The house had looked like it had years of repair that needed attending to; a lot of the wood was decayed due to the usual bad weather and the constant hunger of termites that had left the outside of the house looking worse than it should have been for its age.
To the left of the wooden establishment was a small wooden shed that looked brand new, but the owner had no padlock on the shed, and the small sealed off area of land where the house was situated was only half a mile from the outskirts of Ridgeware's Churchill Street. Behind the house was acres of land owned by a local farmer whose house was situated another half a mile away.
The shed looked to be in better condition than the egregious living arrangements itself; a tree stump sat about fifteen yards away from the house in the long neglected grass which was quite near the dark brown wooden front door. The two front windows looked slightly tinted but it was actually dust and neglect that had tinted the windows.
These were the only windows that could be seen as the back of the house was completely covered with trees and the garden had been cruelly ignored over the years. It looked that the only time the windows were washed was when the heavens opened, which in the middle of England was a regular occurrence. But not this summer, it was July and it hadn't rained for two weeks and temperatures were soaring to thirty-five degrees Celsius, an average day in Spain, but this was considered a heat wave in England.
Even in blistering temperatures, the house windows still remained closed and the unmistakable smoke bellowed, as it always did, out of its decrepit chimney.
People had talked about the house for decades. Younger people claimed that some sort of bogeyman lived there, but the older children claimed it was the home of an old man that had been known for years, even before they were born, who was known by the nickname of, Killer Kelly.
Some declared that they had seen the old man chopping wood in the backyard, others claimed that he sometimes could be seen peering out of his window with the curtains pulled slightly back, revealing just half a face showing his long grey matted hair that matched his straggly beard, with his deep almost black eyes that coincided with his black disintegrating crumbling teeth.
Others also claimed to have been chased by Kelly, who held his gleaming trademark axe as he ran after the annoying trespassing youngsters who were far too expeditious for the old man to catch. Sometimes, for the younger children, the sight of the bellowing smoke alone would prevent them from continuing their journey, as fear would temporarily paralyse them. Stories that were constantly told by the older children about Kelly did nothing to quench that fear either. It was tradition that the teenagers would put the fear of God into the infants, by feeding their heads with macabre stories about Kelly, a tradition that had been passed down many a time, helping to keep the story alive and fresh throughout the decades.
Once the years passed, the sight of the bellowing smoke didn't seem to affect the children as much as they became older, and even a glimpse of the run down house that brought back some of their apprehension, didn't stop them, as long as the youngsters were with the big boys, they felt quite protected and their anxiety would be eased once they had made it by the house and into the woods.
Once the children had gone by the run down dwelling, they were greeted by a steep hill leading downward known as the jungle of nettles. The jungle of nettles could easily be avoided; as to the left side of the downward hill was a dirt path that was shaped in a semi circle, which eventually took the individual to the bottom of the hill near the woods. The path led to the outskirts of a small town next to Ridgeware called Red Hill, and if a person decided to veer left through some trees rather than following the path that led to the woods, it would take them to a small secluded wooded area that had available car parking spaces, which was mainly popular with picnic goers and lovers--especially on a night time.