The Cottage – Part Twenty Four – (Short Story)

Image result for stump in a meadow
Part One | Part Two |Part Three |  Part Four |Part Five |  Part Six |Part Seven |Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve | Part Thirteen | Part Fourteen | Part Fifteen | Part Sixteen |Part Seventeen | Part Eighteen |Part Nineteen | Part Twenty | Part Twenty One | Part Twenty Two | Part Twenty Three

“It is a science as mercurial as whimsy. The tides that pool between the stars are arranged like shifting sands. It is not a thing for the mind of man. That is the reason for intermediaries. A Hessian may master English but neither the English or German or any of the nations fathom the speech of Nu. As is so often the case in diplomacy, the first order of business is procuring a translator.

For this purpose you have the tablets contained herein. But beware, you must first rid the void of interference. You must massage the will of those who detest mankind. For it was from the beginning that they desired to cut us off from conversation with the Most High, considering us a mistake.”

Jim tossed the letter aside taking a shot of whiskey. He still didn’t get it. Though subtle suggestions made themselves apparent like glimmerings of distant stars.

He sighed at the pedantic madness of all that he’d been instructed to do. Place this here, build this there, invoke such and so, on and on it went.

Thinking about it made his head hurt. So, he decided on a stroll.

He walked westward across the meadow. It was late afternoon and characteristically pleasant. Even with the bizarre rings it was so easy to forget esoteric madness in the mellow mountain sunshine. Everything here was pleasant and straightforward. The dreams the ancient landscape engendered were hearty and wholesome.

So, Jim daydreamed. Wondering how different his life would have been had he known these trees more intimately than subways. But, his reverie was not meant to last.

For there, carried unmistakably by the prosaic air, was the blasted eldritch chirping.

Jim rolled his eyes annoyed at the interruption. But his annoyance soon gave way to curiosity. There was something different about it, two things in fact.

It was but one voice. This was not the disorienting call and response chorus he was accustomed to hearing. And it wasn’t intermittent but rather rapid and fevered as if something were in distress.

He gazed in the direction of the noise and his eyes fell on the stump. It took mere milliseconds for a devilish smirk to spread across his boozy cheeks. The trap had worked. The disturbed grass and broken branches were such a satisfying confirmation, that he actually clapped his hands in glee.

This feeling did not last.

Joy was joined by apprehension, and caution followed in their wake. The cries were pleading and insistent. How long had it been there? And how soon before its fellows came to its aid?

Jim shrugged. He was already exposed, and he may as well satisfy his curiosity. He paused one last time at the lip of his trap. What if it was armed? Or poison? Despite all the reading he’d done he still had no idea about the practical characteristics of these things. He cursed his uncle’s mysticism.

‘Fuck it.’ He shrugged again. ‘Somethings you gotta figure out for yourself.’

Peering cautiously into the pit he could at first see nothing but darkness. The bright daylight made it difficult to discern the strange thing among the shadows.

Jim gasped. He gasped because there was a greater darkness in the black. Twin orbs, inky black, threatened to pull his spirit from its coil. Like a pair of collapsed stars the sentient voids swallowed light and something subtler still.

It was speaking to him. Speaking in books rather than words, drowning him in oceans of experience. He clasped his hand over his eyes and again heard its fevered chirping. But he had been stung. He wanted to know more. And so again he looked upon it.

His arm shot down involuntarily and cool smooth fingers closed over his hand. Before the sensation had a chance to produce panic the thing had clambered up his arm and leapt clear of the pit. Jim was too stunned by the novel panoramas of existence he’d just witnessed to be amazed at the feat of acrobatics.

He did not give chase as the imp disappeared chittering into the vast woodland.


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