The Dark Side of the Hill

From the journals of Layla Lotawn

(Read out in the trial of June 25th, 2021)

On first meeting, Troy had the appearance of a down on his luck eccentric. Sometimes his dress bordered on tramp. Throughout the summer and the early autumn, he was always in shorts and a T-shirt. Some days it was obvious that the same clothes had been worn too many days in a row. He was painfully skinny, not a part of his body had a layer of fat. Yet he was not physically fragile, there was a sinewy strength to his body that suggested something alive and strong. He had the look of someone who needed a woman to look after him, to care for him. Working out in all weathers as a builder he had a leathery wind harassed face. Sometimes bearded and sometimes clean shaved, as if suddenly remembering his appearance was important, if not to him, to someone else.

However, his speech suggested something entirely different. He was well educated, erudite and sharp witted. A sharpness that could cut you down in a few words. Dangerous, a dangerous kind of wit. It was something that I could not reconcile with his outward demeanour, the eccentric tramp and the cruel narrator. Two sides to his character, clothes that gave the impression of kindness and another, words that gave the impression of a cruel manipulator.

Chapter 1 – Troy Buckley

When Troy first set eyes on Layla at the bus stop that summer morning he was fascinated by her. She was almost ethereal – not of this world. Not really living in the real world that was for sure. She seemed untainted by all the trappings of society. But she was also the most unapproachable woman he had ever encountered.

And it was then, as he looked at her that something cruel and feral roused itself in him. He wanted to bring her down to the dirt, to smash her, to destroy her, to make her just like all the other women he had encountered.

“Faint heart never won fair maiden.”  Never truer a saying was that on that first morning he encountered her. She barely spoke to him just raising her head from the book she was sitting reading. Later he saw that book on her kitchen work surface and remembered the title and the front page – “The Terror”, with a depiction of a cold artic landscape with ice trapping a ship.

At the time, he didn’t give it a second thought. Of course, she would hide her head in books, because she certainly didn’t seem so good at making conversation. What surprised him at that first meeting was how she affected him.

Troy was down on his luck, he was desperately in need of a daft, single, woman, living on her own whom he could smarm his way in to her life and ensure that he was in a warm, comfortable place for winter. Someone he could manipulate, mess with their head and control.

He could see that Layla was not that woman. She had a coldness about her, but also a strength that he thought could and ultimately would defeat him. She was not the easy way out and yet he wanted her. Suddenly it was such a powerful need in him, greater than his need for alcohol. The demon that ruled his life changed to something of a more curvaceous and sensual form.

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