8 Guides to The Road to Naseberry Hill
Here are 8 guides to reading this excerpt from ‘Return to Naseberry Hill’. In the novella by Lorna A Fraser, characters return to Naseberry Hill to face and overcome their fears.
Just for fun, read this post and follow the 8 guides below to find out how well you might rate against them, as you face your own ‘Road to Naseberry Hill’.
1. NASEBERRY HILL IS A PLACE THAT CAN BE EASY TO FIND, IF YOU CARE TO SEEK DIRECTIONS
The bus shed gleamed dully in the gloom as Winsome picked up her bag from the iron seat which ran the length of its back and set off to walk the rest of the way to her destination.
Her mind ran over the directions which she had received from the conductor. There’s three kilometers of straight road just off the main and then there’s a signpost would signal the start of the climb to the place which was called Naseberry Hill. “Is Uncle Francis’ home easy to find?” she had asked him, a bit uneasily.
“O yes,” he had answered, looking at her meaningfully. It should take you straight to Busha Francis’ house, the grounds, the work sheds… You just have to walk up the hill. You’ll be there.”
2. THE ROAD TO NASEBERRY HILL MAY BE MORE DEFFICULT THAN YOU THOUGHT
Winsome had to walk for about a mile before she reached the first landmark.
Why is it taking so long to reach the signpost, she thought. The conductor said it would point me on my way! Shortly afterwards, the signpost gleamed dully in the half-light. By then, Winsome was out of breath, although she was accustomed to walking up the hill to Fairdale Gardens. Let me just lean against it to steady myself, she thought.
She had to strain her eyes to read the letters which were rapidly becoming invisible as the darkness intensified. But she was satisfied that she was in the right place. Resting the bag on the ground beside her, Winsome remained there immobile for a time, straining her eyes into the darkness ahead of her.
O gosh, I can hear things, but I can’t see anything, she thought.
Nevertheless, the sounds of the country bush caressed her ears with the whispering, chirping croaking and whistling that had been peculiar to Fairdale Gardens after nightfall, so that her thoughts expanded with joy.
3. ON THE ROAD TO NASEBERRY HILL, LISTEN FOR DIRECTIONS FROM THE SECRET LIFE OF NATURE
Oh, I’m so glad I’ve come! If only to listen to these sounds of the secret insect life!
If only I had a little bit of moonshine to guide me the rest of the way, that would be like a crown on this day’s adventure! But I am not afraid, she thought, as she walked on with her bag once more hanging from her arm.
Nevertheless, a spot of fear, at first no larger than a little brown penny, but which kept widening indiscernibly until it was the size of a five-pound note, remained with Winsome as soon as she reached a stretch of road which she knew was bordered by a pond. The pond had a smooth surface which at certain times of the year gleamed faintly at night. One might think that the reeds raising their heads stiffly out of the water were growing in shallow water.
However, although that spot was not overly deep, its benign nature only extended to about a third of the way in. Winsome had also heard about Danger Ground which lay just beyond the pond. Although she was born and bred in the city, she shared the superstition of the country folks. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! Danger Ground is a place where Evil waits for someone like me, someone innocent, unsuspecting… but I’m not going to let it get me, she thought.
4. SOMETIMES NASEBERRY HILL’S DENIZENS OF FEAR COME ROARING AT YOU
When you pass the pond and set foot on Danger Ground you keep your head looking straight ahead. So, if anything comes up out of the depths it can’t catch your eye and compel you to follow it back to the bottom…
I heard that it did exactly that to at least half a dozen animals and one child which mysteriously disappeared from this district.
Winsome tried to shake off her maudlin thoughts. But I’m here now, and I’m going to stay. Now I am past the pond. Now I’ve set foot on the hill. Now I’m walking more quickly so I can be there fast. What lies in store, I don’t know, but whatever it is, I am ready!
5. BE READY TO FACE YOUR GREATEST FEAR ALONG THE ROAD TO NASEBERRY HILL
Was Winsome ready? As she approached the next bend in the road, her heart began to pound heavily.
The road wound around the white rock face of the hill and she thought she glimpsed something white and shining just beyond. During all this time Winsome was getting closer and closer to the bend, until she was actually in it.
Run run run, run some more. It was like when she was a child and had been troubled by a dream of herself bitten by the gallowasp that lived in the trash at the back of the house in Fairdale Gardens. Somehow, she had to reach water before the creature or she knew that she would die.
This was no different, except that it was a waking dream. Driven by fear, Winsome did not stop to ask any question as to where it went or why it disappeared suddenly, nor did she even realize that she had come to an opening in the rock face and passed into it.
6. ARE YOU FAST ENOUGH TO OUTRUN YOUR FEARS AS YOU TRAVEL THE NASEBERRY HILL ROAD?
Run run run, run some more. Winsome rounded a corner and two male figures fled as she approached.
Without thinking, she began to follow them and would have pitched straight down a sheer fissure of rock if a voice behind her had not yelled, “Stop!”
STOP! The sound reverberated over and over. Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stoooooooooooooooooooooop!!!!!! Winsome covered her ears with her hands. Then she gasped as something touched her and her fear intensified at the thought of coming face to face with an unspeakable horror.
She spun herself around with every muscle taut…But she saw only a young man about her age.
He was neatly dressed in brown khaki pants and a plaid cotton shirt, tidily tucked in. He carried a knapsack on his back…now he pulled it off and held it out towards her. “I was behind you all the way, calling for you to wait for me, but it seems you didn’t hear me – is this yours?”
“No – And you are…?”
“Sean Gooden. I work in the cannery at Naseberry Hill. I’m coming in this evening to help Mr. Francis as he said his niece might be coming to stay with him.”
“He told you that?”
“No, my mother was supposed to do it, but she’s sick so she asked me to come instead, at least let him know.”
7. DOESN’T IT FEEL GOOD TO THINK YOU’VE PASSED THE WORST PART OF THAT ROAD TO NASEBERRY HILL?
“So, you’re the niece!”
“Yes.” Winsome smiled and extended her hand, showing long brown fingers, the colour of the ripe bananas that they used to eat sometimes at home when they got tired of ripe naseberries. Far below they caught a glimpse of something glistening. It was water, an underground lake linked to the Devil’s Pond…
“That way seems rather uncertain, even dangerous, so let’s agree to go left,” he said.
“At least it seems to be a level surface,” she agreed.
As they turned to leave, however, they were astonished at what happened next.
First there was a skittering as of rat’s feet scattering leaves, then a high, shrill and somehow disembodied voice sounded. Was it a bat’s squeak, or maybe a real ghost this time?
“Please… don’t go!”
“Did you hear something?” squeaked Winsome.
“It must have been an echo, or possibly another prankster,” said Sean bravely.
8. YOU NEVER KNOW HOW YOUR ‘NASEBERRY HILL’ ADVENTURE WILL END
“We can’t just leave. We have to go and investigate,” whispered Sean.
This is the end of the excerpt, which is just a way of saying that it’s good to seek out ways of overcoming your worst fears.
You can get the book on amazon.com. I would really appreciate it if you leave a review.
© Lorna A Fraser
Kingston, Jamaica, 2015, 2018, 2022
Public domain images courtesy of Free Images.com
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