Katy chose the Weekword this week, and picked the very Hallowe’eny ‘eldritch’. Check out her blog to see who else is playing this week.
I looked up the derivation of ‘eldritch’ and it comes from words meaning ‘other’ or ‘strange’ and ‘realm’ or ‘world’ – so, strange and otherworldly. Hallowe’en, of course, is the time when the ‘other world’ is closest to ours and things unspecified can move between them – ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.
So, here is a little something otherworldly that’s been in my head. It’s not really a story – more a snippet of one. I’m not sure where it came from or what, if anything, it’ll turn into, but to make a change from my normal posts, here it is.
For as long as she could remember, she’d seen pictures. When she was little, she would lie in bed and stare at the flowery paper on her bedroom walls until she saw castles, horses and ladies with incredibly long, flowing hair. She had always seen patterns and pictures in the clouds – maps of strange lands, unicorns, even giant water lilies floating above her. Faces would appear out of wooden panels – a knot hole would become an eye, an uneven surface a jaw. She saw pictures in puddles of oil on wet roads, the tracery of bare branches against a grey winter sky.
So it was natural that as she lay on her stomach in front of the fire, she started to gaze into the flames, looking for pictures. As the wood in the grate spat and crackled, and the red and orange flickered, she started to see shapes form – first a mountain, which fizzled away as a log shifted. As she lay by the fire, more pictures appeared, moved, and faded. And then a new image formed – a face. She continued to stare into the flames and watched as, instead of disappearing, the face grew clearer, more defined. Although definitely still part of the flames, it seemed somehow to be more than that – more solid, almost three dimensional. It was a man’s face – lean and long-jawed, with heavy eyebrows. She started to feel a bit uneasy – this was not the sort of picture she was used to. Another log shifted in the base of the fire, and the shape of the flames moved, but the face didn’t flicker. It remained there, looking out at her as she lay, frozen, looking at it. And then, slowly, it closed one eye.