The Monolith in the Highlands

See also The Monolith in the Graveyard

All was peaceful in the Scottish Highlands.

The birds sang, the Highland Cattle mooed, the Stags walked around merrily, and the Proclaimers blared out from speakers at the top of Glasgow Castle.

“It‘s good to be home,” native Scot Jo Whitley said as she walked up to the imposing yet homely castle.

“I’m sure it’s glad to have you back too,” Aileana, Jo’s mother, said as she also walked up to the Castle.

Although she’d lived most of her adult life amongst the Sassanachs and currently lived in the most Sassanach* village imaginable with the most Sassanach group of Sassanachs you were ever likely to meet, Jo still felt connected to her Scottish roots, and felt like she was coming home when she visited her parents.

And, to celebrate Jo’s birthday, her parents decided to take her to the Duke of Glasgow’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations at his castle.

“Didn’t you say Lower Strangling is on land owned by the Duke of Glasgow?” Ewan, Jo’s father, asked her as they watched some men in kilts toss a caber.

“Yes. The McDougall’s have owned the Hundred of Knightlow since the 13th Century.” Jo said. “We pay him tax every year.”

“I know,” Ewan said, “I was just wondering whether that tax goes towards these celebrations.”

“I wouldn’t put it past him,” Jo said, “he’s a staunch nationalist. The only reason he still goes ahead with the whole Wroth Silver thing is to wind up the English.”

“And then uses their money to fund an elaborate celebration of Scotland on its national day.” Janet, Jo’s girlfriend, added. “Sounds about right.”

Just then, there were suddenly a load of gasps in the crowd. The men in kilts stopped tossing the caber, realising everyone wasn’t looking at them and instead looking at something else.

“What’s going on?” Ewan asked, then he saw it.

There, at the far end of the Duke’s extensive parkland, was a large metallic monolith.

“No.” Janet said. “It can’t be. That looks like the monolith that appeared in Lower Strangling this time last year before it mysteriously disappeared.”

“I don’t think it was ever found out what the monoliths were. They just came and went.” Janet said.

Jo gasped. “I thought that was someone’s art installation.”

“Is this going to happen every year in different parts of the world?” Jo said.

“Perhaps it’s a sign, a foreshadowing of the apocalypse?” Ewan said.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Jo said.

“Well, it’s as plausible as anything else that’s going on in the world right now.” Ewan said.

Suddenly, a load of people walked towards the monolith.

“Something’s going on.” Janet said, before leaping out of her seat and rushing in the direction of the monolith.

Jo leaped up and followed her, Aileana followed suit.

“Why are we running towards it?” Ewan said. “Surely we should go the other way?”

When they arrived at the monolith, they saw the reason why everyone else was walking towards it. A caber tosser lay on the ground; lifeless.

Janet knelt down and felt the man’s pulse. She wasn’t a doctor so she couldn’t save him, but she was a detective so she could successfully figure out who murdered the poor guy… if anyone.

“He’s dead.” Janet said, prompting audible gasps from the crowds.

“What happened?” Janet asked.

“We don’t know.” One woman said. “The monolith just suddenly appeared, then that man walked towards it and suddenly had what looked like a heart attack.”

“That’s it.” Ewan said. “We’re leaving. Clearly that monolith has been brought down by aliens.”

Janet rolled her eyes. “For goodness sake, Ewan, it’s just a monolith. The heart attack was probably a coincidence.”

“Well, I suppose none of us have died and we’re all close to the monolith,” another man said.

“Did this monolith just appear here right now?” Janet asked?

“Yes. Well, we don’t know. But we certainly haven’t noticed it until now,” a man said.

“Alright, everyone. Calm down, the Duke’s coming through,” Alasdair McDonald, the Duke’s long suffering land agent, said as he pushed through the crowds.

“What is going on here?” A man said in a strong Glaswegian accent. “Why has everyone stopped being merry?”

Just then, Angus McDougall, the Duke of Glasgow, appeared in front of the crowds.

The crowds stared at him in awe. It was like Jesus had returned.

“What the hell?” The Duke said, looking up at the monolith.

“It looks like some kind of metal column, sir.” Alasdair said.

Angus closely examined the column.

“I’d stay away from that thing if I were you, sir,” one of the crowd said. “The last person who went close to it died of a heart attack.”

Angus ignored the person and continued to observe the monolith.

“This is mostly likely the doing of the Chief Sassanach.” Angus said.

“Not everything is Boris Johnson, sir.” Alasdair said.

“Aye, perhaps. But it’s still possible.” Angus said.

“Perhaps it was put up by some activists who were angry by the fact we’re having a large gathering despite a new COVID variant.” Alasdair said.

“Aye, forget about that.” Angus said. “We can’t let invisible forces stop us from having fun forever. People died before COVID, people will die afterwards.”

“Ok, sir.” Alasdair said, knowing when to humour the Duke.

He then turned round to see the crowds.

“Ok, nothing to see here. We’ll have this thing removed. Enjoy yourselves. Haggis and Neeps will be served at 13:00.” Alasdair said.

With that, the crowds went away, and the St Andrew’s Day celebrations continued.

“I wonder what it is?” Ewan said, eating his Haggis as he watched the monolith be removed by people in hazmat suits and kilts.

“We may never know.” Janet said. “We never got to the bottom of the one that appeared in Lower Strangling last year. We just assumed it was an art installation by a Banksy type.”

“Maybe the one in Lower Strangling returned?” Jo said.

“No.” Janet said. “I called Simon, he’d completely forgotten about it. The monolith isn’t there.”

“That one over there could be the same one.” Aileana said.

“From what I remember, it looks the same.” Janet said. “But I don’t know why someone would just plant monoliths everywhere for no reason without people knowing.”

“I personally don’t think a human planted that thing there,” Ewan said. “You heard what those people said, a guy died of a heart attack.”

Janet rolled her eyes. “That was probably a coincidence.”

“Well, the people down there don’t think so, since they’re wearing hazmat suits.” Ewan said.

“I guess they’re just making sure.” Janet said.

“Perhaps.” Ewan said.

And so, Ewan, Aileana, Janet, and Jo continued to have their Haggis and Neeps, and the crowds of people continued to celebrate their Scottishness into the night without any more interruptions, extraterrestrial or otherwise.

*English people

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