Barrow Girl – Tomb Raider meets the Book of Kells – Chapter One

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Barrow Girl

Chapter One

A dark and filthy night. Black as black. Like Evil settled as an inviolable sheath. A foul wind keens. In the darkness of the distance sits a small mound barely-glimpsed from here. A lonely tree bent double on top and aching from the endless torment of its exposure. Nothing is abroad. Nor ever should be. No one walks on a night like this.

But wait. A small figure stands next to the tree. Delicate amid the destruction. Gently lifting a large flat stone with a rusty crowbar. Carefully looping a rope around the waist of another stone. Tying it off. Lowering the other end into a small black hole that leers like a baleful eye in the frightening night. Pulling the rope. Testing the knot.

Inteachán is twelve years old. She climbs down holes. Retrieving relics. Important things. Tombs. Graves. Cairns.

Inteachán calls herself Bara Cailín.

Barrow Girl.

© Barnaby Taylor 2018 – All Rights Reserved

Bara Cailín (Barnaby Taylor, 2017)

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A dark and filthy night. Black as black. Like Evil settled as an inviolable sheath. A foul wind keens. In the darkness of the distance sits a small mound barely-glimpsed from here. A lonely tree bent double on top and aching from the endless torment of its exposure. Nothing is abroad. Nor ever should be. No one walks on a night like this.

But wait. A small figure stands next to the tree. Delicate amid the destruction. Gently lifting a large flat stone with a rusty crowbar. Carefully looping a rope around the waist of another stone. Tying it off. Lowering the other end into a small black hole that leers like a baleful eye in the frightening night. Pulling the rope. Testing the knot.

Inteachán is eleven years old.

She climbs down holes. Retrieving relics. Important things.

Tombs. Graves. Cairns.

Inteachán calls herself Bara Cailín.

Barrow Girl.

‘Every infection needs a host and the NotBeSpeak need the biggest host of all, the world.’ – Terminal Transit (excerpt)

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Terminal Transit, Book I, Verse 4.

‘I have known you and your family for an exceedingly long time now,’ said the old man in the shadows of the winter evening.

‘In fact,’ Mac continued, ‘I have known your father since the very day he was born.’

Inteachán sat still as Mac told his tale.

‘He was always marked as different to me somehow and from his earliest days I recognised a lot of myself in him.’

Mac smiled at the memory. Inteachán listened intently. She had never heard this story before.

‘Your father was vibrant and inquisitive and life-bringing in everything he did. He was hopelessly in love with the eddies and whirls of the everyday.’

‘Eventually,’ Mac continued, ‘and after some extremely distinguished undergraduate and postgraduate work in physics, geology, archaeology and classical literature, your father and I started to work together here at Trinity.’

Mac paused and Inteachán could see that the old man was troubled by a recollection.

‘Sadly, it seems, your father was just too good and too thorough and far too gifted and so it was that during the preliminary stages of his academic career that he stumbled upon something so vast and so awful that it ultimately destroyed him.’

Inteachán was fast asleep in bed on that dreadful night and suddenly woke to find her father standing over her. He was crying hysterically and holding a strange curved knife in his hand.

‘Dad,’ she whispered, terrified. ‘What are you doing?’

Her father held the knife above his head. The darkness made him loom even taller over her. He started to chant in a voice that was and wasn’t his at the same time.

‘THe stONEs cRieD ouT As tHE dESERt fELL TO BLAck aND In THEir aNGUisH ThE sTONes reTURNed TO DuST.’

Inteachán lay petrified.  Her father kept on with his recitation.

‘WeEP nOT Said THE StaRs FOR YoUR tEars ARe aLL aS nAUGht.’

‘THE siLEnCe laUGhEd As iTS eMPtiNesS fELl liKe fOUl mATEriAl uPoN tHE pLAnEt’s FAcE.’

‘OnlY eVEr nEVEr NoW aND foREVeR mOCKed THe sTArS.’

Inteachán saw a brief flash in the darkness as the knife came down towards her but stopped just above her breast. She couldn’t breathe. Her father began to shake violently as he wrestled with his conscience.

‘I am not your bloody Abraham,’ he screamed. ‘I will do not your bastard bidding.’

He hurled the knife away and pulled the frightened child towards him.

‘Listen to me, darling. Listen to me. You must go now and never come back. Never ever come back.’

The poor man was in hysterics. He shook Inteachán.

‘My darling, you mustn’t be here with me for I am not sure how much longer I can hold out.’

Her father tore a large clump of hair free from the side of his head. He sobbed violently.‘I have fought Them forever. They cannot have you. They will not win.’

 

Terminal Transit, Book I, Verse 5

‘Your father told me that he had uncovered something so terrible that it meant the end of all existence as we know and understand it,’ said Mac as he rummaged among the folders on the top shelf. Mac pulled an envelope from the folder, opened it and pulled out a single sheet of paper.

‘Here it is,’ he said to himself.

Mac slipped his glasses on and started reading.

‘The NotBeSpeak will not be spoken of. They are the space between the words. Not the words themselves. The pause before the sentence. The sigh that follows. The NotBeSpeak are ancient. Timeless. Dangerous. Alien. The NotBeSpeak are shapeless. Always shifting. Drifting outside of definition. Beyond boundaries. The NotBeSpeak are not evil. This is not a word for them. No words really are. The NotBeSpeak need shape now. They need form to form their dismal plan. The NotBeSpeak seek a host. Like a vacuum needs a vessel to empty. Blood needs a wound to drain. Darkness needs a light to extinguish.’

Mac stopped reading. Inteachán shivered as she thought about her father writing this crazy-sounding stuff. What was he talking about?

‘But what does it all mean?’ she asked Mac. ‘I really don’t understand.’

Mac smiled and put the piece of paper back into the envelope. He then put the envelope back in the folder and the folder back on the shelf. He walked stiffly back to his armchair and slowly sat down. He looked at Inteachán.

‘Here’s what I think I know,’ he said hesitantly. ‘Or what I think I think, if you see what I mean.’

Inteachán waited quietly for Mac to carry on. He duly did.

‘Every infection needs a host and the NotBeSpeak need the biggest host of all, the world.’

Inteachán looked confused.

‘Blood, and wounds and infections,’ she said. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I have absolutely no real idea,’ said Mac truthfully, ‘not even the slightest notion but I do not doubt the cataclysmic severity of your father’s discovery. If it is true that the NotBeSpeak do exist it would then follow logically that they are looking for a form that will allow them to engage with the world.’

Mac smiled sadly.

‘If we knew anything about this likely form then we might have some idea of how they could be stopped.’

Mac paused and Inteachán shivered again.

‘But, I have no idea what form this likely form will take.’

Mac coughed. The shadows cast from the fire leapt around the room. A spurt of gas curled from a coal and hissed its dying pyrolysic breath for a tiny moment before vanishing forever. Mac readjusted the blanket on his knees. Inteachán was still very upset and began to cry loudly. With no thought to comforting the child, Mac continued.

‘Every civilisation has its own names for spirits and faeries and demons and balrogs and wights. In this country we have always tended to use the word ‘Fomhóire.’’

Mac smiled.

‘We have always known them this way but, and thanks to your father, I now know them as another – the NotBeSpeak.’

‘But what are they?’ asked Inteachán. ‘I still don’t get it.’

She really didn’t understand anything that was going on. All she knew was that her father had killed her mother and tried to kill her because ‘They’ told him to. That didn’t make any sense.

‘How could you ever understand?’ said Mac kindly.

He cleared his throat, picked up a section of his Miscellanea which lay nearby and started reading.

‘Fomhóire means ‘from the sea’ and is the name given to the divine powers, or gods of night, death and cold. The Fomhóire were misshapen and were believed to have the heads of goats and bulls. They also were believed to have only one leg and one arm each, and these grew out of the middle of their chests. The Fomhóire were the ancestors of the evil faeries and, according to legend, of all misshapen persons. The giants and leprechauns are also said to belong to the Fomhóire.’

Mac looked up.

‘This is the standard history, so to speak, the approved version that we peddle to tourists and schoolchildren when we speak so fondly of our quaint customs and traditions and superstitions.’

Mac paused somewhat dramatically, as if he was back in the lecture hall after all these long years.

‘But what if these tales and creatures and histories and versions stemmed from a different source, one far more foreign and outside and clearly much less quaint and more deadly?’

Mac looked at Inteachán and the flames from the fire caused his eyes to shine momentarily.

‘One not attributable to the life and legend of this planet in anyway whatsoever?’

Later that evening, and with Inteachán thankfully finally asleep, Mac sat in his chair and watched the fire die down to almost nothing. He remained deep in thought for what seemed like the longest time and then he looked out into the night that now gripped the world and began to speak.

‘Listen’, he said fearfully. ‘I need to speak to all of you out there about a matter of great urgency.’

He looked out into the expectant darkness.

‘I am a dying man and I need to tell you some really important things straightaway. Otherwise the events you are about to witness will make very little sense.’

He paused.

‘If I tell you all everything now then I won’t have to go through everything ever again. I just don’t have enough time to keep repeating myself.’

Mac started to look worried.

‘Inteachán’s father stumbled upon a plan to destroy the entire country and, indeed, the world. I have absolutely no idea how he came about this knowledge, as he was certainly very secretive towards the end, perhaps afraid that my knowing would place me in danger as well.’

Mac exhaled ruefully.

‘From what little information I was able to glean from him, this terrible plot has always been in existence – hence my thoughts on the Fomhóire – but the very recent and extremely well-documented man-made disasters endured by Ireland’s economy have created certain metaphysical and, indeed, metaphorical conditions by which the architects of this terrible plot have been able to revive their dreadful ambitions. Or had their ambitions revived for them? As you can hear, I am still not totally clear.’

Mac looked out into the darkness.

‘I fear that I may not ever know everything but I do know enough to know that it is now time for you all to find out about the NotBeSpeak.’

He picked up the folder.

‘Here is the final ‘research’ paper written by Inteachán’s father. I didn’t want to alarm her earlier but it doesn’t make pretty reading.’

Mac grimaced.

‘Clearly, the poor man’s discovery caused him to lose his mind.’

He winced.

‘See for yourself.’

Bara Cailín – End of Book 1

Hi Everybody

And so yesterday’s post brought to an end the first book in the Bara Cailín series. Episode 1:1 was published on July 8th 2015 and every day since then Inteachán’s battle to save the planet from the evil machinations of the NotBeSpeak has led us all to this point.

I am currently preparing Book One for publication and I hope to have more news on this very very soon. I am also working on the cover and again I hope to be able to post more on this as well as soon as I can.

Book Two of Bara Cailín is also currently in the planning stages and will be underway very shortly.

How will Mac, Gilly and Iseult fare?

Is Terminal Transit really the end of mankind?

Will Inteachán ever make it back to save the world?

All will be revealed in Book Two.

I am absolutely thrilled that so many people have been kindly following, sharing, liking and commenting on Inteachán’s adventures – it really means a lot to me to know that people do actually read the things that I write so I would like to say a very big ‘Thank You’ to all of you.

I have really enjoyed interacting with you all and I look forward to this interaction continuing. If you have any thoughts or feedback on Bara Cailín then please feel free to leave a comment in the form below.

You can also find Inteachán and follow her on Twitter here @BaraCailin.

Starting tomorrow I have a brand-new series starting for you all to enjoy but until then I would like to say many many thanks once again for all your support and kindness and loyalty.

Kind regards

Barnaby

 

Bara Cailín 5: 50 ‘an upturn in this planet’s fortunes’

As I lay beneath this ragged tarpaulin after a hard day’s destruction I struggle to find the strength to keep writing this account but someone has to do something and though I know that they will shoot me when they catch me I have to keep writing so that maybe someone one day will find it and read about the time that the world still had hope.

Because all the while that I can write then all is not lost.

And all the while that all is not lost then the whole world can still wait and hope and pray (if that is your thing) for that time when it may well be that all this waiting and hoping (and praying) will bring about an upturn in this planet’s fortunes.

End of Book I

Bara Cailín 5: 49 ‘the chaos and the screaming’

Amidst the chaos and the screaming and the suffering and the hatred and the horror and the hopelessness and the gunfire and the pleading and the taunting and the sheer futility of it all a small child works alone in Front Square. A small child with a broken nose who works all day, using a household hammer to smash bricks until her arm burns and she cannot lift it any more. Spent and close to collapse, this small child then falls asleep near where I am laying. No one pays her any mind.

Bara Cailín 5: 48 ‘even in the darkest darkness’

And yet existence can live alongside the very destruction of the same and though the notion of life here is clearly finite in its duration it is the same life that resolves to sing as the firing squad takes aim or signal eternal defiance with a shout from the scaffold and until there is no-one left to hear the song or hear the shout then there is always the hope that even songs and shouting might actually signal something more than simple silent resignation. And even in the darkest darkness ever to have descended from way beyond on-high there are still voices to be heard. They may be single. They may be strangled. They may be shortened. But they are voices all the same.