Scotland - Urquhart Castle - Present day
"Everyone walk this way, please," the guide said as she herded the group of tourists off the bus. "This way, please."
Kenna MacKellar grabbed her Nikon D40 off the seat and hung it around her neck. She had to admit that she was ready to get out and walk around. Her back felt stiff and sore from all the traveling she’d been doing lately. An old Army injury to her back made it hard to move sometimes.
She had spent the past 20 years focusing on her career as an MP in the United States Army and that had been hard on her body, too. She’d only been injured once in a firefight and felt blessed that God allowed her to live. Her partner hadn’t been so lucky.
Kenna had enjoyed the Army life and was proud to say she retired as a Sergeant Major with 4 tours of duty to Iraq ; 1 to Afghanistan , 1 to Germany , 1 to Korea and 1 to Hawaii . She’d seen a lot of beautiful parts of the world and was now ready to travel for pleasure. Without any family to worry about, she was free to just go and experience life. She didn’t have to report for duty and she could choose to get up at O’Dark-thirty in the morning or not. And thank God, there were no more uniforms and Kevlar to worry about!
She sighed as her feet touched the ground, and then looked up to see a breathtaking view of the castle ruins and Loch Ness. She raised her camera and began to take pictures. Laughing to herself; wouldn’t it be funny if she caught Nessie in one of her shots!
“Ok, everyone. Before I let you go exploring the castle for yourselves, I need to give you a few guidelines to follow.” Everyone looked towards the guide to listen. “First of all, because the Urquhart Castle is in ruins, you need to be careful where you walk. Secondly, smoking on the grounds is prohibited. Thirdly, enjoy your afternoon and if you happen to see a ghost or two, don’t be scared. They come out from time to time to greet their guests!” She concluded with a twinkle in her eyes.
Smiling, Kenna took off down the path towards the castle in anticipation. Over the past three days, she must have seen a dozen castle ruins, so why was it she felt her heart leap into her throat with this one? She stopped just shy of the gangway crossing to take a picture. Her chest tightened and she felt a rush of adrenalin coming on; the beginnings of a panic attack. She’d not had one of these since that night in Iraq . She closed her eyes and lowered her camera as her eyes were having a hard time focusing.
“Come on, soldier, it’s just a bunch of stones for crying out loud,” Kenna scolded herself. Then a little voice inside of her head said, “Yes, but a bunch of stones that the infamous Edward Longshanks and Robert the Bruce treaded upon.”
She opened her eyes and started across the gangway where the original drawbridge had once stood. Halfway across the narrow bridge, she felt it shake and heard horses galloping and screaming towards her. “Out of the way, Lass!” She heard a man’s voice call out as she ran the rest of the way across and moved to the side only to find nothing behind her except an old woman who was moving slower than a seven year itch.
With her heart still racing, she looked around to see if anyone else had heard the horses. Everyone was going about their own business, taking in the castle.
Kenna felt as if she was losing her mind. “Great!” she said to herself. “I survived 20 years of service and now I go crazy!” Convinced it was just belated jet lag, she continued towards the castle.
Kenna entered the main gatehouse and noticed a doorway on the left hand side. Out of curiosity, she walked across the room to open the door. Inside, there was an exhibit of a few artifacts that had been uncovered at the castle and a tiny prison cell with a mannequin that represented a prisoner.
“Why do those mannequins have to look so creepy?” a young teenage girl asked her father. He didn’t have an answer for his daughter so he just smiled at her and said, “So young hooligans like you will behave themselves.”
She nudged his arm and exclaimed, “Oh, Dad!” The two laughed and then moved on. Kenna took a few pictures of the cell. She could swear she heard the whimpering of a female voice from inside. Feeling a cold shiver move down her spine, she, too, moved on; not liking the atmosphere of the room.
Kenna found herself in the middle of what looked to be the great hall. The upper floors and ceilings were now gone and you could see the remains of the fireplaces on each floor. One in particular drew her attention. She knew it wasn’t possible, but she was seeing it as it once was. She blinked her eyes a couple of times, yet it still looked new. This time, she rubbed her eyes and again looked back at the ruin. She really was more tired than she thought. She brought her camera to her eye and clicked.
All of the sudden, she felt the ground shake violently. The winds picked up as thunder and lightning engulfed her. Kenna’s head began to whirl and her stomach churned and she felt as if she was going to vomit. Never before had she felt terror like this. She felt her camera drop away from her hands as her feet left the ground. She let out a blood curdling scream as she felt as if her body were being ripped apart; the winds whipping and swirling around her, tearing her clothing to shreds. The thunder rolled louder and with a final scream, and a harsh blow to the side of her head, all went black.