Sunday 4 July 2010

This Unholy Place

This unholy place is more than superstition. It is not a place where the imaginations of fearful yokels have been spurred on by misty moon-phantoms cast wanly through drifting, shifting cloud; where lightning has thrown shadows leaping and clawing across gravestones; where crepuscular creatures have become the uncomfortable shifting of the restless dead. This place, though it is also eternally shrouded in mist and cast in deep shadow by the valley walls, is hell-touched in ways plain to see.

Hold tight the reigns of your superstitious human mind as you approach, resist the very real sense of dread and the desire to flee, but do not get too close. Stop, and observe, and you will see the hands thrust upwards from the loose soil. Red, gnarled things, unnatural skin taught to the bone. Twisted roots these are not, watch them flex in anticipation, they know you are close. And should some unwary rodent stray too near while you watch you will see it taken, snatched up and torn apart as if in a feeding frenzy, all the nearby hands grabbing for it, snatching it from each other, wanting a piece of warm flesh, hot blood; a piece of the life they are so much a sacrilegious facsimile of.

Deeper into the mists you might think you can see the baleful eyes of some fearful, unknowable beast, watching you, leashed only by its dark savouring of your terror and unfathomable motivations. What stands between its immobility and its thunderous charge through those grasping, hungry limbs? What stops it devouring you, with the sound of your blood slapping against rough stone only hidden by the sharp cracking of your bones shattering between its jagged teeth. Or maybe those eyes really are a trick of the light, some distant gem gleaming in unnatural ways. You would have to go closer to know for sure. If you could. If you would.

But horror surrounds you. So the approaching figure seems wholly inappropriate in this place, in as much as he seems wholly unbothered by it. He fits though, somehow. He has about him a mightiness. Swathed in a dark cloak his power and build are evident even through the concealing cloth; his gait may be casual but it conveys a comfortable strength, a dangerous strength; you could imagine him on the field of battle, calm amidst the slaughter, yet orchestrating the worst of it.

The ghoulish hands still as he approaches, though in apprehension or expectancy it would be hard to say. Do they fear his might or desire to consume it? He steps amongst them and they quiver, then relax, strangely acquiescent. They reach for him, but only to touch his cloak. It seems a sense of reverence has overtaken this place that knows only the irreverence of life and holiness. He takes a step or two more, then pauses, and looks behind himself. At you.

Looking straight into the depths of his hood you can at last see his face, or rather the bleached skull that sits atop his broad shoulders. An icy brightness sits in each eye socket, more piercing than any stare, they are like the pinpoints of stars – burning yet cold, distant yet immediate. There is no desire to flee in you now, there is nothing but a certain sense of your own inevitable doom.

He turns from you and walks on.

You do not feel spared. You know your life is his. You know one day he will claim it.

(author commentary)

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