On the Friday afternoon of September 16 2016, 27-year-old Huytonian Ralph Winnington was already close to oblivion as he and his nine friends careered from bar to bar in the city centre of Liverpool. 

The stag night hadn’t even started yet and they had plied Ralph with a myriad of leg-numbing mind-erasing shots concocted from permutations of absinthe and tequila, Creme de Menthe and the highly dangerous 95% alcohol Spirytus Rektyfikowany. 

They laughed as Ralph complained in slurred speech that they should be staying on lager so the stag night could start in the evening, and the four girls called him an old fogey because he told them in disjointed sentences that girls should not be allowed on stag nights and should never be the ‘best man’.

One of the offended girls on the stag,  Magda, was a trainee tattooist and she promised Ralph that once he went out like a light, she would tattoo the name Rita (his first crush when he was fifteen) on his manhood. 

A horrified and highly intoxicated Ralph shrunk back in shock at the threat and said he’d sue her and everyone fell about laughing, and then from Ralph’s point of view the world turned black and he was gone.

He awoke in the middle of nowhere with no clothes on in what seemed like the countryside. He was sitting up against a thick oak and the amber September harvest moon was on the rise. 

He recalled Magda’s threat and looked down and saw she had put the name of his first crush where she said she would. 

He panicked then seethed and got to his feet swearing, and fell back against the tree. 

He thought they might tie him to a lamppost on Dinas Lane with just his boxer shorts on but this was extremely cruel for a stag night prank. When he married Kristine in the morning, how on earth would he explain who Rita was and why it was tattooed there? 

He stormed off, and the cold evening air seemed to sober him up. He passed through a wood where he heard voices chanting a nursery rhyme he vaguely recalled from his childhood: “Hector Protector was dressed all in green, Hector Protector was sent to the queen; the queen did not like him and nor did the king, so Hector Protector was sent back again!”

Ralph thought whoever they were, they would lend him some clothes and he could get back to Huyton, but he stopped in his tracks when he saw about a dozen people on horseback, all wearing those red coats and black hats and white trousers tucked into black boots - a fox hunting party - but they all had on weird animal masks; one of the mounted figures had the face of a cat, another had the visage of a sinister-looking fox and so on. 

The one with the face of what looked like a wolf saw Ralph and he pointed to him and shouted “Look! Tally ho!”

As Ralph turned to run, he heard one of the ‘huntsmen’ blow a horn. 

He looked back briefly as he ran through a field of wheat and saw some of the hunting party had whips and one of them wielded a medieval spiked ball on a chain. 

The thought that these deranged people might be his friends pulling off some elaborate prank briefly crossed Ralph’s mind, but he knew that this was not them, and he ran off screaming for help. 

He could not outrun horses of course, and they toyed with him, and he was whipped hard against his back, and only when he saw his own blood trickling down his arm did he think they might actually murder him - but why? 

With his adrenalin pumping through his bloodstream, Ralph raced through a gap in the circle of huntsmen and as he ran, he though he saw a motorway in the distance.

He felt he was somewhere north of the East Lancs. 

If he could make it to that highway someone would notice the weird hunting party in their red coats. 

As he bolted through the wheat, there was a mighty crack and the whip coiled around his neck in a moment of horror, choking him. They all dismounted and chanted the Hector Protector rhyme, and they held Ralph down. The one dressed like a cat produced a small golden sickle and said, “I am Hector and now I remove your staff of life!”

Guessing correctly that the masked cultist was about to cut off a cherished piece of his anatomy, Ralph screamed “No! Help me somebody, please!”

The cat-faced maniac halted and said, “Oh we can’t have this one, it’s spoiled.”’

They all started kicking Ralph, and then they got back on their horses and left him black and blue in the field with only the moon as a witness. 

When he finally got home he thanked Magda for saving him from a bloody fate. She said she had only used a marker-pen and had not tattooed him at all. 

If you are male, you should stay well away from a certain swathe of countryside north of the East Lancs at the time of the Harvest Moon, for those cultists on horseback are still seen from time to time...

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