Voltaire - To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.Her hands dug deep into the moist and dense soil. It had only just stopped raining, and the ground was so wet, she could feel the water drench her clothes at her knees as she sat on all fours at the base of the hill. The great tree that she had taken refuge under, to sit out yet another Electric Storm, had wept; its old bark had cracked and tears of resin had trickled down to its base. She had an awkward sense that it was tears of resentment, and rushed to her feet. She touched its resentful resin, and it burned to her touch. Sucking on her sore finger she thought she heard a voice: a child’s voice, coming from the base of the tree, no, from beneath the roots, rising up and reverberating through the bark's cracks and resin pus.
The old voices had stopped since she had crossed the river. This voice was of a new order, sounding innocent yet compelling enough for her to pay serious heed. She knew she had no place there, amidst the strange nature, the twisted nature of past, of longing, of yearning, there, deep in the Forest of Forever. She knew it even before she decided to cross beyond the silver river and penetrate the unknown North, but the Gray Wolf left her little choice. He had seized her thoughts, entering her mind at his will, during the dead of the night, and she often could see through his auric eyes, images of frustration, of chase, of want, of desire. She would wake each time thirsty and hungry to venture into the Forest to seek the questions, to which she already knew the answers.
“Hurry, follow the Moon”.
She was still under the weeping tree, lost in thought, remembering the eyes, the golden blazing eyes, and her legs felt like lead. Heavy and almost comatose.
“Hurry, follow the Moon to the House”.
She looked up, between the tree’s thick canopy. She could not see the Moon. She needed to see its command, through its celestial smirk, its behest. With great effort, she took three steps forward placing herself barely into the clearing. The familiar moon shone down on her in all its lunar glory and showed her the path that started at the bottom of the hill.
She felt the bell of urgency ringing through her body and so started to trek up the slope. In some un-human way, she had reached the top with astonishing speed. She did not even need to catch her breath, and she realized to her surprise that at the top of that hill there was no breeze, not even the slightest sensation of wind, she could hardly feel the air around her. It was as if she was in a vacuum and nothing moved. Feeling queasy, she looked down from the precipice at which she stood; she could see no ground, no weeping tree, only a most peculiar thick fog that made her shiver as she could see eerie dark figures dancing in it, hissing and whispering. She did not recall any fog when she was at the bottom of the hill. In fact the air was perfectly clear as she had looked up at the Moon only a little while ago.
The nature around her at the top of the hill was dead; lifeless, livid and diseased. She looked up at the Moon again for council to see that its shade had darkened into a silvery crimson, and she felt uneasy. She must hurry.
She turned and faced away from the foggy abyss below, and in her sight lay what she could gather as being the back of the House on the Hill.
Unlike the contrasting state of the nature in the scenery before her, the House was very much alive. The walls shook and the windows fell into a sudden tremor at each step she took closer to it. She lay still for a while, completely uncertain as to what she was to do. Where was the Gray Wolf? Why was the Moon testing her? What was the Question? The Question now was whether she would approach with boldness in her heart or face the Crimson Moon’s wrath. The Electric Storm would soon come and there was no weeping tree to protect her from its strike. She dared not plunge into the fathomless forlorn nothingness that took the place of what was the bottom of the Hill. Now it appeared that she had no choice.
Biting her lip she took forceful strides towards the House, and as she drew nearer, its image swayed and evaporated at every orifice as vicious vines strangled it from every angle. And so it shook and shuddered, window panes clashing and tiles from the roof tumbling down. Yet she held her pace with tears in her throat and walked round its eastern wing to get a better look for the entrance. On the eastern side, the House seemed to have changed. It was steady, unmoving, and clean. Still old but clean and it reminded her of a time when houses like that were the norm to be surrounding her, and the people she once knew having made their homes and lives therein. She felt wistful and the sentiment built up inside her choking in her throat once again. She kept going until she could see the other face of the House that boasted the main entrance.
The sky started to scorch. The lighting started to well up in the clouds. The Moon’s veins pulsated bloody red and its previous silver glow had paled and waned as the impending Electric Storm was imminent. A chant; a deep trance-like chant filled her ears in a tongue she did not recognize, in voices she could not discern and immediately her mind raced back to the torment of nightfall, again and again when the voices came to taunt her, to drive her insane. Amidst the shrewd dry shrubbery in front of the House there appeared silhouettes that slowly took form. For a second she cringed at the idea that these were none other than the eerie figures of the fog below. Then she saw clearly. She saw women, old, wild, weathered women, about half-a-dozen, some scantily clad, others stark naked in a revelry of deep mantra, moving in a wide circle, holding hands. She watched them as they chanted louder and louder until her ears bled at the abominations being uttered. Though she could not comprehend, her guts quivered at the waking of something evil. Something she should not become witness to. With her back against the wall of the House, she moved sideways, quickly and silently, closer to the main door. Her feet were still on the barren ground and she dreaded the moment she had to step onto the old wooden floorboards of the porch. Would they crack under her tread? Would it break their wicked transfixion, and if it did, would they swoop like a flock of rabid harpies on her, under the auspices of the Blood Moon? And the question that burned her skull time and time again: where was the Gray Wolf?
She must take the chance, the Storm was upon them, and she begged in her heart of hearts that the door to the House would open at first attempt. It must! Two steps on the crackling floorboards, she closed her eyes shut and twisted the door knob. It latched open at once and she pushed her weight against its dated resistance to leverage its alliance. Chilling shrieks and resonating thunder belted as she slammed it shut behind her, her eyes still tightly closed. She was inside.