Tourists and curious resident hovered a discrete distance away. Some wondering why there was a parade of shadowy people in Victorian period and plague doctor apparel strolling down the main avenue.
One observant British tourist was especially struck by their tall, rail-thin appearance. On the ones who weren't masked on veiled, he could make out their sharp ghostly faces. Dark glasses hid their eyes and tight leather gloves hid their spidery-looking hands.
"Stand closer Benny and use your stick if they attack, I have my brolly."
"Benny, they simply reek," said his friend Harvey, "do you think they are deceased?"
"Well, they look and smell as though they have been out of circulation for a long time, and I don't want any of them biting me."
"I don't think it's them that's reeking," an elderly lamia woman interjected. "I think it was that Alice look-alike that passed by here a few minutes ago." She pursed her wrinkled lips in disgust. "I used to think some of my little grandchildren's habits were disgusting, but those now look trivial compared to the girl."
The one called Benny was puzzled. "Really? That bad?"
The lamia grandmother scowled.
"Oh, yes," she nodded darkly. "She looked awful, more like a creepy clown doll than an actual human being, and that smell. I remember back in my days as a pre-nursing student, and for the lab portion of the Anatomy Class, we had to dissect a cat. It emitted a very similar smell--this odor of death and preservatives that seemed to cling to everything, very sickening, it was."
The one called Harvey looked concerned. "Shouldn't we alert the police?"
The lamia shrugged and stared over their shoulder. "What good would that do? She's already ready reached the Adh Seidh Bridge."
Both Englishmen followed the direction of her gaze. The vast, arched timbers of the of the immense arched structure gleamed eerily in the moonlight. They expected to see a blue and white form with a bright pink pack walk confidently into the yawning structure—but there was nothing ...just solid blackness, which seemed impossible because the moonlight would pierce the latticework windows in the bridge, revealing the walkway inside.
"Yeah, creepy place, isn't it?" she said, noting their growing looks of confusion and fear. "The locals will make no mention of who exactly built it, its original name or even the exact time of its construction. In fact, almost nothing is publicly known about the circumstances in which that bridge got its infamous history. Whatever the facts may be they are obviously a dark secret known only to those with the inside scoop. No-one knows exactly why the Adh Seidh covered bridge is haunted, or who was it exactly that cast the curse and made it a dwelling place/checkpoint of the demonic Adh Seidh. Yet the fact remains it is haunted and in order for you to get to Faerie from here, you have to cross that thing...and only at night. In the daytime, it's just a regular covered bridge. "
The color had gone from the Englishmen's cheeks, but maybe it was just the really bright moonlight.
"For humans and half-breeds alike, in this part of the world, at least ," the woman went on, " the bridge is a test, a sort of rite of passage. Those with a clear conscience have nothing to fear from the Adh Seidh Guardians of that particular Gate." She gave the Englishmen a piercing stare. "But the corrupt of our society, the one who manage to evade mortal justice on this side of the river, if they even set one foot on that bridge, something horrible will happen to them..."
Benny pricked up his slightly pointed ears. "What thing?"
"Yes, what about their fate?" demanded Harvey, his cat eyes narrowed.
The old lamia shrugged and raised her scaly eyebrows. "I have no idea, seeing as I'm not a terrible person. I haven't even a clue of what these Adh Seidh look like, for they could only be seen by damned and darkest souls. But according to local legends, such people never make it to the other side. They just seem to vanish into thin air--perhaps they are dropped into the deepest pit of Hell or suffer a change of identity in which the punishment fit their crimes."
She glanced at the bridge again and then added in a low voice: "No one really knows for sure what happens to them exactly, but time and time again, traces of them turn up from time to time."
"You mean like personal effects--clothes, watches, wallets?" asked Benny, his eyes now wide as saucers.
"Nuh-uh," the lamia shook her head. "I'm talking about things like hair, teeth, nails, a few small lumps of cured and tanned skin. Nothing really large like what you see in horror movies--a huge bloody chunk of flesh or a severed limb. No, these things would be crafted into some form of jewelry: bracelets, brooches, earrings, whatnot... creepy ,Victorian Memento Mori sort of things, but at the same time, very beautiful, a lot of time and effort was spent making this.
"Some people even collect them, even though it's seen as rather bad taste and a sign of a dark magician. Most people around have enough good sense to let those things lie where they're found, and let the forensic guys collect it. They even have a special storage unit for such morbid things.
"Even when on such rare occasions when the DNA can be identified, and the sinner's love ones (if they have any) are located. The remains aren't even secured a churchyard burial or place on a mantlepiece, rather they are buried on a special bonfire."
Her hard, solid black eyes peered at the listeners between narrowed lids. "They say bits of their souls still reside in these macabre artifacts, and should you touch one of these with your bare hand, that fragment might escape by taking control of your mind."
"You see," said Harvey, turning to Benny. "You can't believe everything you hear in the pub. Especially when its coming from some random dead guy."
"I didn't say I believed him," Benny replied testily. "I just think it's worth looking into, that's all."
The lamia looked a little disgusted.
"Him?" she said sarcastically. "They aren't hims or her, they're its. Do you even know what ghosts are? I mean what they really are?"
"Of course," muttered Benny, giving her a puzzled look. "They're people who've died and can't move on. They've got lost--"
"Wrong," hrumphed the lamia, "they're empty shells. Hollow shadows. Mocking caricatures. They're all the nasty and spiteful bits of the soul that can't get into Paradise or even Perdition. They're just so much slighted ectoplasm with a long memory or a complete inability to forgive. Next time one of the wretched things starts shooting its mouth off, do yourself a favor: stick your fingers in your ears and start whistling the theme tune from Laurel and Hardy. They really hate that."
Behind them, an organized procession was now underway. One by one, the somberly-dressed figures shuffled through the avenue and up toward the looming bridge, where one by one they vanished silently into the darkness. As the last one disappeared, a thick bank of fog rolled in from the Pacific and enveloped the moon. The moonlight quickly faded and the bridge became a looming mass of shadow.