Black Static magazine.
'The Climb' was inspired by its setting, Pendle Hill in Lancashire. Even without the stories of the Pendle Witches, it's a strange, grim place: that part of north-west Lancashire is a harsh, desolate landscape, where the old milltowns are almost like island communities, separated by miles of bleak, empty moor and hill, swept by wind and rain.
Going across those moors - especially on a cold, wet autumn day (or better still evening) - it's all too easy to imagine this part of the world as it must have been a few hundred years ago, long before electric lights, telecommunications and the internal combustion engine made it a little less isolated from the rest of the world. And all too easy to understand how easy it was to believe in werewolves, witches, ghosts... in a whole dark world of deadly and unseen things.
Pendle Hill forms the setting for much of my first novel, Tide Of Souls. Tide Of Souls is a zombie apocalypse novel, complete with Biblical-scale flooding; 'The Climb', though, is a more traditional piece, on a much smaller scale, as Bryan, a widower, attempts an ascent of the hill. Bryan's on his own... or is he?
Here's the story, anyway. To spare you all the ultimate horror of looking at my face for fifteen minutes, it comes with a montage of pictures of Pendle and the area around it. If the story doesn't give you some sense of the eeriness of the Hill.
So turn down the lights, put on your headphones and press play. And whatever you do... don't look behind you.