Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

Verse 7

The next evening and Mac sat thinking in his chair. Inteachán sat beside him waiting. The coals in the grate cracked and whispered. Menace clung to the room like a funeral drape. Mac thought some more and then, just when she thought he had fallen asleep, Mac leaned over and placed his hand gently on her arm. He smiled.

‘I have to ask something of you, Inteachán,’ said Mac tenderly. ‘I have to ask you to do something that I don’t want to ask you to do. Your father made me swear that if the worst came to the worst that I was to look out for you and treat you as the grand-daughter I never knew.’ Mac shifted uncomfortably.

‘I hate myself for asking but I am too old to go and I really don’t think that we can trust anyone else with something as vast and secret as this so it will have to be you.’

In Mac’s troubled mind Inteachán was capable of anything. He just knew she was. Inteachán looked up from her tears. Her small face was red and smeared. Everything was far too much for her to bear.

‘How can I possibly help?’ she asked the old man. ‘What do you want me to do?’ Inteachán began to sob but Mac did not react. His mind was made up and nothing was going to deter him.

‘It has come to my attention,’ said Mac, ‘that the Flute of Thelema has recently been rediscovered and is now residing in this country.’

‘The Flute of Flelema?’ asked Inteachán. ‘Whatever is that?’

Mac nodded. He loved nothing more than having an audience, even if it was only a grieving child. Sibeal used to be his sounding post and though she teased him when his ‘sermons’ got too much he knew she really loved to hear him speak, or at least he thought she did.

‘It was in 1923 that a certain Raoul Loveday commissioned a local silversmith from the port of Cefalu to craft an ornamental flute which he intended to offer as a tribute to the noted occultist Aleister Crowley who had recently established his infamous Abbey of Thelema in the vicinity.’

Mac smiled wryly.

‘Sadly, however, Raoul drank from a local spring and succumbed to enteric fever before the flute was completed. Another version of the same story suggests that he died after drinking the blood of a cat. Either way Crowley was forced to leave his Abbey that same year and so the Flute became another tale surrounding the legendary occultist and his life.’

Mac’s smile ended and the agitation in his voice began to rise. The menace descended lower now.

‘It has long been the predilection for billionaire rock stars and other hapless creatures to collect occult and esoteric memorabilia – cloaks, spell books, wands, papers, powders, vials, grimoires, goblets and other such gruesome gimlets. Most of these misguided creatures simply place their collections in vaults or leave them laying around their mansions to be worn on special occasions or passed around at dinner parties for the pleasure of their guests.’ Mac snorted his displeasure at such behaviour.

‘However, and according to your late father’s intelligence, it appears that Bartholomew Hamson, the biggest rock star this country has ever produced, and known to the world as Bart, has recently acquired the long-lost Flute of Thelema. At midnight tomorrow Bart and his band will be performing their latest homecoming concert in front of 80, 000 adoring people at Croke Park and apparently, at the climax, so your father understood, Bart intends to play the Flute.’ Mac looked worried again.

‘At this stage I have no way of knowing why Bart would want to do this but it clearly cannot simply be in the interests of popular composition.’ He looked at Inteachán. ‘I need you to go backstage, locate the Flute and prevent it from being played.’

Inteachán had seen the posters around town; four men wearing skullcaps and too-large sunglasses, cowboy boots and leather waistcoats. Even though she couldn’t name any of their songs, Inteachán knew just how much this band meant to so many people. Mac continued talking.

‘Given the nature of the Flute’s origins, the site chosen for its debut and your father’s findings, I firmly believe that the sound of this infernal instrument is somehow intended to engage directly with the NotBeSpeak.’

‘But’s what’s so special about Croke Park?’ asked Inteachán. She placed another piece of bread on her fork and began to toast it on the fire as Mac spoke.

‘There is an ancient ley line called St. Michael which extends out from Ireland into Europe and then the Middle East. This line intersects with various sacred sites dedicated to the saint himself. There are various amplification points along this line, including Skellig Michael, the so-called holy rock that stands in the Atlantic Ocean. Unbeknown to everyone but a few, Croke Park is also another amplification point.’ Inteachán felt a slight shadow descend.

‘If the Flute is played at such a point of amplification then who knows what will happen next.’ Mac put down his plate. ‘As if that wasn’t enough, Croke Park also stands in Ballybough and Ballybough is one of the darkest parts of Dublin.’ Mac looked at Inteachán.

‘There is an old cemetery in Ballybough where the City’s undesirables used to be buried. Thieves, robbers, highwaymen and suicide victims, hence the name, the Suicide Plot.’

‘The worst thing of all,’ continued Mac, ‘was that each corpse had a stake driven through its heart so that they couldn’t further bother the residents.’

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

Verse 6

Mac looked out into the darkness and smiled awkwardly.

‘I think that it is fair to say that what you have just read are the psychotic ramblings of a complete and utter energumen – all pointlessly puerile fiction and paranoid ramblings that lose their meaning as the pages unfold.’ Mac hated himself for saying this.

‘Sibeal always worried that Butler had something of the tragic about him – ‘licked by the black dog of death’ was how she described him the first time they met.’ Mac paused as the weight of all the loss he had ever known bore down on him momentarily. He shuddered, took a deep breath and then collected himself.

‘I could weep forever when I consider exactly how far Butler could have gone as a scholar; the Nobel Prize would only have been the beginning. And yet he only managed to get as far as murderer, madman and suicide. Instead of a stellar publishing career with award after award after award the only thing left to show for all his so-called brilliance is this loose collation of word-games and demonic doggerel.’ Mac threw the folder to the floor and looked out into the darkness. It was a minute before he spoke again.

‘It really doesn’t bear thinking about. But think about it, I must. After all, and knowing the man as well as I did, there has to be the possibility, however slight or slim, that Butler did actually manage to stumble upon some kind of cosmic truth amidst all of this apothegmatic chaos.’ Mac adjusted the blanket on his knee.

‘If we step back for a moment from our contemporary notions of nosology we might recall that earlier conceptions of madness tended to combine elements of the divine, the diabolical, the magical and the transcendental. We might also recall that madness then was also seen a moral issue, constituting, somehow, some form of punishment or a test.’ Mac grimaced and then relaxed, as he warmed to his analysis.

‘What if Butler is right? What if the prophecy is pointing to the fact that this planet is about to be destroyed? Butler’s madness does then become a very real moral issue, only for me now, and no longer for him. Can I really ignore the possibility, however far-fetched this talk of stones and stars and dark planets is, that the extinction-level event Butler has foreseen isn’t going to come to pass?’ The old scholar smiled, thankful for another chance to impart his boundless knowledge.

‘I am reminded here of the 10th Century English word dustsceawung,’ he said. ‘This was the contemplation of the fact that everyday ordinary dust used to be many other things, usually far less everyday and ordinary; walls, and trees and books, for example. With Butler’s discovery of this horrendous prophecy in mind, we might also add islands, nations, and planets to this list.’ Mac shuddered and then held up three bony fingers and pointed at the first.

‘From what I can remember of the last conversation that we had, on the morning of that terrible night, this is how the whole thing is supposed to work. This finger is the first Tier, Past-Change – what was. It can be understood most simply as History but it is simply the case that nothing is ever that simple.’ Mac pointed at the second finger.

‘We understand Present-Change in terms of what is. The here? The now? The immediate?’ He pointed to the third.

‘Future-Change is best understood in terms of what will be. What lies ahead? The shape of things to come? The second after the minute it takes to read this sentence.’ Mac paused.

‘As a race we humans either dwell in the past, refusing to let go of what was. Or we live for the moment, happy to acknowledge the ever-changing nature of what is. Failing either of these two, we look forward to things, projecting our thoughts and desires to a time that has yet to occur, what will be’ Mac pointed to each of the three fingers in turn.

‘The Three Tiers of Change are the normal state of affairs for the world and they ensure that the status quo is maintained, even allowing for occasional wobbles along the way. From the world’s perspective the separation of these three tiers has always been a good thing.’ Mac folded the three fingers back into his fist.

‘We humans are not temperamentally equipped to occupy all three Tiers of Change at the same time. If you don’t believe me then try dwelling in the past, living for the moment and also looking forward to something yet to happen. Fatally, however, our unableness to do these three things at once, will likely bring about our downfall as a planet.

This is because it appears that the NotBeSpeak can be present in all times at the same time. Apparently, this is how they have always existed. Here’s the thing. Though they have always existed it is only now that the conditions are right for them to act. And act they will.’

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

The Lily and the Dying Bird

By

Butler F. Temple

 

The Lily and the Dying Bird

 The lily is a favored organism

for the cytological examination

of

meiosis

since when a form

is taken on involuntarily,

the morphological stage of meiosis can be easily for eternity.

 

When people speak

to one another,

they apply their knowledge of social accessibility,

manipulation,

genetics,

conservation of mechanisms,

and potential.

 

Due to the large number of precise

replications,

robots are changing into the form

of the dying bird

that it is, in fact,

widely used to perform the colony manipulations.

 

When researchers

look for an organism

to use in their

confinement

and restraint;

the person is bound to the new form.

 

Among these are size,

generation,

time,

despair,

so to be in this level one understands

the permanence

of the despair.

 

 

SPOTS IN NIGHT AND DOTS AND WHIRLS AND SHAPES AND SYSTEMS CONSTELLATIONS AS STARS GLEAM AND FLASH AND BURST AND DIE BUT NOT THESE UNHEAVENLY BODIES THEY ARE ONLY ALL GALAXY AND NEBULA AND COSMOGONIC AGGLOMERATE AND BENT ON CLOSING THEIR EVIL DISTANCE ACROSS THOSE DIMENSIONS THAT WE KNOW DO NOT MATTER AND SO SPACE AND TIME ARE NOW ONLY DESPARATE AMBITIONS THAT WE HAVE AS WE HOPE THAT THESE PLANES DO NOT BUCKLE AND BULGE AND STRETCH AS THEY GIVE WAY TO THOSE BEYOND AND OUTSIDE BUT THESE OUTSIDE ARE TOO MUCH FOR HUMAN HOPE AND SO EASILY FIND NO RESISTANCE TO THE TWINKLE TWINKLE OF THEIR STARLIGHT AND SINCE THE FIRST MAN POINTED THE FIRST LENS AT THE SPARKLING NIGHT THESE STARS HAVE SPIED UPON US HAVE SURVEYED SCRUTINIZED ATTENDED TO AND HELD US DEEP IN THERE CONTEMPT AND WILL NOT EVER LOSE THERE GLARE AND HATE AND DISGUST FOR US THEY DO NOT WANT TO BEAR US ENDURE US ANYMORE AND HAVE NO OTHER DESIRE THAN TO DESTROY US AND REMOVE AND ERASE AND FINISH AND END AND THEY THINK IT FOREVER FUNNY THAT THEIR MALEVOLENT COMPLEXITY OF FORM HAS BEEN CHILDISHLY DEFINED BY ANCIENT MEN DESCRIBING SHAPES WITH STARS AS POINTS LIKE DOGS AND PLOUGHS AND SHIPS AND SHIELDS AND BULLS AND FISH AND LIONS THEY HAVE AMUSED THEMSELVES FOR EONS BY SHINING BRIGHTLY AND CAUSING THE HUMAN RACE TO ASCRIBE THEIR LIGHT WITH HOPE AND FAITH AND HAPPINESS AND INFANT MESSIAHS AND SURVIVAL AND FUTURES BUT NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THERE THOUGHTS AND THE UNPROPITIOUS DARKNESS OF THE NIGHT SKY IS WHAT THE WORLD SHOULD HAVE BEEN WATCHING ALL ALONG NOT THE DISTANT LIGHTS THAT BEWITCHED THE EARTH AS THEY DOTTED THE BLACK SUDARIUM

 

kahakhe|bavinkiizgahakahi gexenizinga elbu     owthociz          nujishiz            idbe            zonoher   sade     vijuwap            mashi   abash   thamunaztizizod oldema             ishbiba             oged    wevo    ayye     ozmimow        obiyyo depefek            ogandopip   lykug    kutigot giyube oteg     vifizur urbehis             dugigah            lafu      duhuwiri      orapse Getimog          hakish shunori            efeth    bihefuv            lyjapuk             habonnu          sageifse       ansozo ware     zano     ubtoce nemida             eyythno            alrogi   ythelus thezatibewig        otiy            etad            ficor           urli             oyes       ikna      etvivep             ZACE nubewornaril     zovuyi yitofi    ekoh    uznosug           ruvaw   vethe    goladuh            oyemfo            gijozthydas powa    lacash   hivosh oshdu thevih iwgi      VALER   thiso    uhtheregthapel   ebin     ivpa      ugof     davaval            tihaz     boshipe            radapov           envu    ogofogtasu      othaf    gizil      godah esga     feba     sakepe kakuv   yamitwi

 

AND FROM THE PRESENT CREPUSCULE THE PERVERTED LIGHT SHITS DOWN ITS SQUALID DESPICABLE LINE TO SPOT ME IN THE CROWDS THAT HERD AND SWARM THIS CURSED EARTH AND I CANNOT FLEE THIS FOULNESS AS IT COATS ME SWALLOWING WHOLE AND I STAND STUNNED AND STILL AS THIS ACCURSED LIGHT THEN ALLOWS THE COSMOS TO CONSUME ME WHOLE AND SO WHOLE PLANETS BURST FORTH TO FILL MY MOUTH WITH VERMINOUS WORMS THAT CRAWL AND CHEW AWAY MY FACE MY CHEEKS GUMS MY TEETH MY THROAT MY NOSE MY JAW MY FACE FROM INSIDE OUT THEN SLIPPING DOWN MY THROAT TO EAT MY SCREAM AND MY LUNGS AND FILL MY HOWLING BELLY WITH THEIR CRAWL AND PULSE I GAG BUT CANNOT PASS THEM BACK THROUGH MY MOUTH AS THEY FALL TOO FAR AND EAT THEIR WAY OUT THROUGH MY BOWELS ONLY THEN DO THEY LEAVE ME FAT FULL OF BLOAT AND BLOOD AND BILE AND SHIT AND PUS AND SPHINCTER AND MY AGONY IS THAT RARE KIND ENJOYED BY SAINTS AND NUNS AND FOOLS AND HERMITS AND THE PERSECUTED AND FLAYED AND TORTURED AND APOSTATES EVERYWHERE WHO KNOW THE CLUTCH OF PAIN SO SUPREME AND DIRECT AND SO MANNERED AND EFFECTED BY RITUAL AND WRITING AND WRITHING AND SO REVOLTING AS TO PULL THE FLESH FROM ME LIKE THE SCALD OF OIL THE CRUSH OF WEIGHT THE PULL OF ROPE THE LICK OF WHIP THE RIP OF BARB OR THE HOLY RUSH OF THE FIERY STAKE

 

The Blood and the Wound that Drains

The NotBeSpeak will not be spoken of.

They are

the space

between the words. Not

the words them

selves.

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.

There are five NotBeSpeak and

they are currently

devoid of physical form. They

are in-between. Liminal. The thought

that flutters briefly before dimming to die not formed. The

space you see between two books on the same shelf

where another one wouldn’t fit. The something

you do not hear as the sound of it jostles your eardrum.

The shadow cast you cannot see for the angle of its origin. Were you to know where to look and, more importantly, were

able to comprehend it, you would gradually come to understand that the influence of the NotBeSpeak can most

properly be understood in terms of the Three Tiers of Change;

Past-Change,

Present-Change and

Future-Change.

Iamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexistiamthedeaddaughterofthestillbornsonthechildthatneverhappenedipossessthemostpeculiartalentshtemostexceptionalabilitiesasbefitssomeonewhodoesnotexist

I SCREAMING AS THEY ISSUE FORTH IN EVIDENCE AND FACT AND OOZING PERSUASION AND IDEA AND THOUGHT ALL SIMPLY TOO MUCH TOO MUCH I SAY BUT WE ARE YOU THEY WHISPER AND YOU ARE WE WE AND YOU ARE ALWAYS US BUT YOU ARE NOT ME AND I AM NOT YOU AM I ME BUT WHO IS ME THEY WHISPER YOU ARE NOT ME YOU ARE NOT YOU YOU ARE WE AND WE ARE YOU AND US AND ALWAYS WILL BE YOU CAN BE MORE NOW THAN BEFORE BUT NOT YOU ANYMORE WE ARE ALL OF YOU AND ALL OF US ARE ONLY YOU WE USE YOUR EYES AND YOUR LIMBS NOW HOLD OUR WEIGHT WE NOW SHARE SYNAPSE AND IMPULSE WE ALL ARE ONLY AND ARE ONE WITH YOU YOU ARE NOT ANYMORE THERE IS NO YOU THERE NEVER IS A YOU ANY MORE AND SO YOU MUST BE US ONLY US NOT ME

 

Untitled

‘Here since never sought.’

Said again this time loudlier.

‘HERE. SINCE. NEVER. SOUGHT.’

‘No refuse and no not refuse is all the same.’

‘Error is oft not known.’

‘Always never.’

‘And ending as begin?’

‘Only.’

 

Bara Cailín

A dark and filthy night. Black as black. A howling wind. A small mound in the distance. A lonely tree bent double on top. Nothing is abroad. No one walks on a night like this. But wait. A small figure stands next to the tree. Gently lifting a large flat stone. Carefully tying a rope. Lowering the other end into a small black hole. Leering like a baleful eye in the frightening night. Inteachán tests the knot. Inteachán is nine years old. She climbs down holes. Retrieving relics. Important things. Tombs. Graves. Cairns. Inteachán calls herself Bara Cailín. Barrow Girl. ‘I have another job, Inteachán,’ Butler smiled. ‘The usual terms and conditions apply.’ ‘Thrilled, as always,’ replied Inteachán. And she was. This is what she did best. ‘In a barrow there is a horn,’ continued Butler. ‘Please fetch it for me.’ ‘With pleasure, dad,’ smiled Inteachán. ‘Head to Knocknarea and find the cairn of Queen Mebh.’ Butler laughed. ‘Enormous great thing, you can’t miss it.’ Inteachán laughed too. She loved fetching things for inclusion in her father’s almanac. ‘There is a secret chamber that everyone has forgotten about. But not us.’ ‘No,’ replied Inteachán, ‘not us.’

A plan cooked up by wife and husband to steal a sacred bull called Donn Cuailnge. A royal wife and husband – Queen Mebh of Connaught. King Ailill. Legend surrounding legend but legend has it that a bull’s horn went missing. And has never been found. Queen Mebh’s cairn stands atop Knocknarea and Inteachán crept towards it in the night. She stopped to grab a stone and put it in her pocket. Apparently, it is bad luck to remove a stone from the cairn but good luck to leave one there. Inteachán needed all the luck she could get. The lock on the gate was no match for Inteachán and she glided past the bars and into the shadows. Earth. Water. Urine. All tombs smell the same.

Inteachán slowly climbs down the rope. Into the darkness, the bowels of the earth. Where all the secrets are. Inteachán is not afraid. She breathes slowly as she descends. Her feet gently touch the ground. She stands still and listens. The darkness engulfs her like a damp blanket. Listen. There is water dripping somewhere. A steady stream. Inteachán switches her torch on. The thin beam of light fills with swimming dust. A small chamber. Filled with broken pottery. A wide spider has strung a web between two small pillars. There is an altar between them. On the altar is the box. This is what Inteachán came for.

Inteachán squeezes past the web to reach the altar from behind. She reaches towards the pot. Something stirs in the darkness. A gentle sigh. Inteachán knows this sound. ‘Fomhóire,’ she says softly to herself. ‘I’d better be quick.’ She gently lifts the box and places it in her rucksack. The sigh is getting louder now. Like gas escaping from a valve. Inteachán reaches the rope as the sound gets louder and louder. The small space of the barrow begins to fill with noise.

Inteachán starts to climb the slippery rope. Her small arms are strong. She pulls herself hand over hand. What was once a simple sigh is now a deafening shriek. A shriek that will consume her if Inteachán doesn’t get away. The rope sways violently. Inteachán climbs faster. The shriek swells again and now starts to fill the night. With a final kick Inteachán is free of the darkness. Quickly now she unties the rope and lets it fall to be swallowed by the Fomhóire’s howl.

***

Inteachán woke. She was wet and cold. What had happened? She remembered cutting the rope. The sudden surge as gravity gripped and ripped her downwards. Possibly a scream? It all happened so fast. Inteachán tried to move. Her legs were heavy. Her arms ached terribly. As she rolled onto her side Inteachán felt the lap of a tiny wave. Her fingers felt wet, slimy rock in the darkness. Instinct told her to keep moving and Inteachán crawled carefully forward until she was lying on dry stone. Looking behind her Inteachán saw the faintest of light barely sparkling on the surface of an enormous underground lake.

Inteachán tried to figure out what had happened. Clearly she had fallen down the shaft and landed in Tibradden Lough. How she had managed to be washed ashore she couldn’t imagine but Inteachán wasn’t the sort to focus on anything but what she needed to do next. She was cold. She was wet. She was alone.

Inteachán knew she needed to a make a fire in order to survive. She pulled her rucksack off of her shoulders and reached inside. The metal tinderbox had been a permanent fixture on the mantelpiece for as long as Inteachán could remember. At the time she thought nothing of it but clearly there was a reason why she put it in her rucksack for the family camping trip. And had kept it there ever since.

As she pulled the small tin from her wet bag the touch of the metal caused a twin surge of terrible loss and wonderful love to issue forth from Inteachán’s tiny heart. Despite all appearances to the contrary, Inteachán’s loss was still too recent for her to do anything other than be totally overwhelmed once more. An unknown time passed before Inteachán was ready to begin again. She reached back into her rucksack and pulled out her spare penlight. She turned the penlight on and pointed. Like a chalk line barely drawn across the blackness of infinity Inteachán’s beam hardly touched the dark.

Steering left felt right and so Inteachán began to walk carefully across the wet stone with the lough to her back. Her penlight faintly flickered in front of her revealing nothing more than a tiny disc of light for her to gingerly step into. As she moved Inteachán slowly began to gather her senses. The air was filled with a sickly rotting scent that Inteachán assumed was vegetation.

‘If that’s the case, she considered, ‘then maybe some of it is dry enough to burn.’ Inteachán felt better with each step.

‘I just need to keep moving,’ she reasoned. ‘Standing still is always death.’ As she walked on Inteachán found the smell was getting worse and worse. She also noticed that the texture underfoot was changing. In the weak torchlight she could see that the wet stone was getting drier. Clumps of some kind of weed were dotted everywhere and starting to form a carpet under her feet. Inteachán bent down to touch the weed and found it was still slightly damp.

‘That won’t burn,’ she thought, ‘but if I keep moving in this direction I might find some that will.’ Inteachán kept walking and gradually the carpet beneath her feet began to pop and crunch. The weed was now dry to the touch.

It took a fair while for Inteachán to gather enough of the dry weed to create what she hoped would be a decent fire. Eventually she was satisfied and so she set her things down where she could find them and kneeling beside the vegetation Inteachán opened her tinderbox and began. The spark lived briefly and then died in the darkness and had there been anyone else underground as well they would have been instantly forgiven had they not noticed what Inteachán was doing so faint was the flash from the flint in the vastness of the cavern.

Had Butler been down beneath the hill with Inteachán he would have been thrilled to point out that the presence of vegetation in such a hypogean environment would have indicated an entrance and therefore exit somewhere.

‘Biospeleology,’ he would have told Inteachán, ‘is the scientific study of cave organisms and the ecosystems that support them.’ Inteachán would have smiled in silent admiration. But Butler wasn’t here and Inteachán didn’t feel much like smiling right now. The impressive height of the weeds she had gathered in a pile now taunted her with its looming presence as she struggled to keep a barely flame alive.

Inteachán blew as gently as you would on a baby’s cheek. She blew as furiously as you would on a piping hot drink. She breathed. She exhaled. She sighed. Inteachán insufflated, as if baptizing the flicker but also unaware of the sacramental nature of her action. She caressed the tinder, delicately placing and replacing, cajoling as she did so. It was very cold underground and Inteachán was not only wet but also freezing yet something seemed to saying that a fire would not be welcome here. This something was not a wind or a draught, more a sense, an instinct; a feeling that Inteachán knew all too well but could not yet find the words for.

Picture a version of this story as a film and here the editor cuts from an extreme close shot of the flint’s flicker to an impossible wide shot of the space as the camera is held high on high and looking down as if from a celestial point of view. There is no next cut and this wide shot remains in place. We begin to read the darkness as an apocalyptic one, ceremental in the way in which it covers everything with its cling from the grave.

We have all panicked. All of us. Trying to stay calm. Collected. Unaffected. Trying not to let something bother us. But the bothersome normally beats us. And begins to transform the rhythm of our lives and as we fail to stay calm everything about our experience begins to accelerate and what we thought was once sensible and normal once now becomes none of these things and our breaths get shorter and we find that thing take longer and we try harder and they take longer again and the more we try the more we don’t succeed and the more we don’t succeed the faster the feeling of panic fills up and begins to overflow now spilling into our ears and making to hard to hear and our eyes and we struggle to focus and our mouths and we find breathing hard and our limbs so the light becomes heavy becomes impossible and our finely boned and jointed hands and feet and legs eventually behave like the many splintered branches on a tiny broken tree.

‘Come on,’ shivered Inteachán. ‘Why won’t you catch?’ Her small hands were numb with the cold and the clinging darkness held her tight in place. But free will is one of the world’s most wondrous weapons, especially in a child, and so the cold and the numbness and the panic and the darkness all fell away around her like snow from a shaken tree and in the moment that followed this all Inteachán could see and think and feel was how she was going to get the spark to catch and the fire to light.

Click. Spark. Glow. Blow. Blow. Glow. Dark. Click. Spark. Glow. Blow. Again. Gentle. Glow. Dark. Click. Spark. Glow. Blow. Longer. Still gentle. Glow. Blow. Longer still. Blow. Glow. Dark. Click. Spark. Glow. Blow. Gentle. Glow. Blow. Glow. Blow. Flame. Blow. Flame. Blow. Longer. Gentle. Flame. Flames. Red. Glow. Blow. Smile. Blow. Flame. Catch. Spread. Blow. Spread. Red. Light. Glow. Flame. Lick. Curl. Light. More light. Red. Orange. Crack. Smoke. Spread. Lick. Curl. Red. Orange.

Fire.

And all at once the shadows danced and filled the hungry space with their wondrous coupling with the new found light and Inteachán looked around and marvelled at the enormity of the space beneath the mountain. Vast. Cavernous.

‘Like a world beneath the world,’ she whispered to herself. ‘Enough space to drown a sea.’

Since the darkness dispelled at the start of Life a fire can always soothe and succour, giving a thawing comfort to frozen limbs and offering a protective light to shelter worried eyes. Inteachán sat still and in the same film of this story the camera’s same god-like position as before now offers the audience the much more hopeful view now of a small child sitting beside a small fire in a huge cave beneath a large mountain.

Watch a fire and follow the tiny curls of flame and colour as they twist and turn and coil around the wisps and sputters of smoke. Each flame you see contains the history of every flame ever to flume since the first fire ever licked the darkness with its reach.

Inteachán removed all her clothes and leaned towards the warmth, feeling it reinvigorate as it dried. She reached into her rucksack and pulled out a waterproof bag. Sandwiches are no good on adventures like this so she pulled nuts and seeds from the bag and began to chew. Inteachán broke a piece of bitter chocolate from a bar and savoured the tang on her tongue.

As the warmth filled her body Inteachán turned her thoughts once more to the matter at hand. She was sitting on the shore of a giant lake deep beneath a mountain because Butler had asked her to try and find somewhere for the city’s flood waters to drain into. They hadn’t discussed exactly how this was going to happen and so Inteachán changed her objectives to fit her new situation. From her new perspective, escaping this cave was what she needed to do most. Draining the city was now a secondary thing.

Bouts of energy and action need to be nurtured by moments of intense thought and so as she began to put back on her dried clothes Inteachán deliberated. Every in must always have an out and Inteachán figured that by searching the shore of the lake she would likely find a tributary of some kind.

‘Butler would call it ebb and flow,’ she said out loud without thinking. The sound of her voice was troubling in this space and Inteachán felt uneasy and wished that she hadn’t spoken. She stood up, got dressed and got ready to go.

And then Inteachán heard it. Faint at first. The hint of a heard thing. But there all the same. Perhaps it was nothing, she thought to herself. The echo of my voice bouncing off of some distant wall. But it wasn’t that. It was something else. Definitely something. She heard it again. Closer now. More distinct. Inteachán stood still and listened hard. She heard it again. Them. A succession of noises now. Gentle. Faint. Distant. Delicate but definite. Across the blur of the distance Inteachán now knew that the sound was a plop followed by a small splash.

Plop. Splash. Again.

Plop. Splash.

And again.

Plop. Splash.

Multiplied one hundred fold.

One thousand.

Suddenly countless.

But it was not whatever in the singular sense – as in whatever it is that is making that noise could it please possible consider stopping. No, it was whatever in the plural; as in whatever it is that is making that noise could they please consider stopping making it. But all of this is supposing, of course, that cockroaches have the capacity to stop and consider whether or not their behaviour is likely to offend but because they don’t have this capacity they won’t consider stopping and so when the game of this story is made this is where a cut scene appears to show the player that a billion billion cockroaches have just been disturbed by Inteachán and her fire and her talking out loud and are now falling from the roof of the cave like peals of insect rain.

Inteachán had once been to the Zoological Museum in Trinity College and among the age-eaten tusks and jarred animal organs on display she had been particularly drawn to the drawers and drawers of insects also available for perusal.

‘Orthopterous,’ said Butler as Inteachán opened a particular drawer. ‘Belonging or pertaining to the Orthoptera, an order of insects, including the cockroaches, mantids, walking sticks, crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids, characterized by leathery forewings, membranous hind wings, and chewing mouthparts.’

‘Chewing mouthparts?’ repeated Inteachán. ‘I don’t like the sound of that.’ Butler smiled and pulled her close.

‘Not something that you are ever likely to feel,’ he said as he hugged her.

The terror Inteachán was now experiencing is the special kind reserved for plagues and pestilence and other seemingly unworldly but somehow wholly natural occurrences like this sudden stridulatory squall. It is one thing to be standing and staring at a dead insect pinned to a board with a thin piece of glass between you and it but another thing absolutely entirely when the same insect is not dead and is joined by a billion billion relatives all trying to burrow inside your ears nose and mouth. A special kind of terror indeed.

When we are confronted by an insect, our natural reaction is to use our hands to wipe and swipe and flick and push away and squash the thing annoying you. Or hit it with a rolled-up newspaper. At the very least we would wave something in a bid to get the insect to go and bother someone else. A single fly, perhaps? A cloud of midges? An ant in your lunchbox?  A wasp attracted to your fizzy drink? A descending ocean of cockroaches?

Inteachán began to run. She still had hold of her rucksack and she knew she had to get away. As Inteachán ran she brushed herself with her free hand, scooping the insects of out her hair and off of her face. There was nothing she could do about the hundreds of cockroaches now inside her clothes. Though the sensation was totally unendurable Inteachán kept running. It was all she could do.

The good thing was that as she carried on running Inteachán could feel the cockroaches falling off of her. The bad thing was that she had no idea where she running. In the darkness and with a slippery floor it was all she could do to keep moving. She just had to trust that the direction she was running in would lead somewhere. As they fell from the ceiling the cockroaches landed like a carapaced carpet and with every foot she placed down and every crunch that resulted from said foot Inteachán imagined she was laying waste to another wave of enemies.

As she ran Inteachán thought of other times she had run. Not always happy times; Inteachán was familiar with fear from before and now used it as a gauge to measure her fortitude by. You would think that fleeing like she was Inteachán wouldn’t have time to think about the past but those of us who have been following this remarkable child for a while now would be in no doubt that she was perfectly capable of doing anything she set her mind to. And so we aren’t surprised.

The darkness ahead seemed thicker somehow and now that her eyes has adjusted to the gloom Inteachán was able to see/sense that she was approaching one of the walls of this giant underground cave. The cockroaches continued to fall down upon her like broken clouds that had lost their hang. Inteachán figured that somewhere ahead of her the lake would have a means of flowing free of the chamber she was in. She had no way of knowing if this was going to be the case but the possibility here was something positive to focus on and in moments like this something positive is what anybody needs.

Splashing now. And slipping. But still running as the cockroach rain showed no sign of abating. Inteachán moved into slightly deeper water. She stumbled a couple of times as the water lapped around her calves and filled both boots. The thought of wet socks was another thing Inteachán blocked from her mind as she focussed on her surroundings. The water was cold. It was deeper. It was filling rapidly with cockroaches. But it was also moving. That was it! The water was moving – although flowing would be a better term to use. If the water is flowing, Inteachán reasoned, then it has to be flowing somewhere. If it is flowing somewhere then I need to follow the flow.

Buoyed by her discovery Inteachán moved with fresh purpose now. By feeling the current beneath her and listening carefully over the sound of the deluge Inteachán estimated that she was close now. She adjusted her angle slightly to position herself squarely in the rivulet she had chanced upon and slowed sufficiently to act decisively. The water beneath her began to swirl and bubble as it pooled around a certain section of the cave’s wall. Inteachán splashed on and as she did the ground fell away from her and she sank beneath the surface of the water.

Underwater once again but awake this time, Inteachán sensed that she had reached the point at which the water left the cave. She felt forward with her free hand and could feel that the current was gaining strength. She kicked her legs and the pull of the current caught her and it became stronger and stronger as she battled the swirling water and then the current pulled her again and down she went unable to stop her descent and then feet first she gained speed as the water flowed faster around her and gripped and buffeted her and pulled her towards a jagged hole that she could not see but she knew was there and then through the hole but not before she caught her face on a rock and the blood from her broken nose trailed behind her as she felt herself hurtling through and out the other side.

She was still underwater but Inteachán couldn’t hold her breath any longer because the agony of her broken nose was threatening to rip a scream out from deep within her chest but the water wasn’t done with her yet and so she hurtled further on and at this point if this was a video game then the player would have surely lost a life by now and had to reload their last saved game and start again.

But no such luxury here and so the agony continues and anyone watching would surely know that the end was nigh and Inteachán is definitely done for.

‘At least she tried,’ they would say. ‘It was a long shot and the odds were stacked against her from the moment she set out.’

‘Perhaps we’re to blame,’ someone else would say. ‘How could we have been so selfish as to hope that a small child would save anything anyway?’

But a slight curve in the flow and a sudden sandbank and Inteachán is catapulted free from the current and flung fast towards the surface where by the sheerest of sheerest luck one of the straps of her rucksack catches the edge of a rock and yanks her free from the water.

Inteachán gasped as her head broke the surface of the water. She clung to the rock and choked as she sucked air into her lungs. She coughed up water and choked again. She pulled herself slight further up the rock and coughed again. There was ledge just above her and with the final strength left in her tiny arms Inteachán reached up and gripped the edge. As she did she scrabbled with her feet and somehow managed to climb free of the water and onto the ledge. As Inteachán swung herself up her momentum caused her to overturn and catch her fractured nose on the rock. The scream finally ripped itself free from her chest.

A Christmas table groaning beneath the weight of the biggest turkey you have ever seen. All the trimmings as well. Someone singing something happy in the kitchen. The loveliest tree sits proudly in the corner bedecked in ribbons and balls. And the smell. Like everything wonderful all together. Happy faces on everyone here. Beery hugs and the rip of paper fills the air. Neighbours visiting and then everyone sits down to eat. All around the table. Mum and Dad. Aunties and Uncles. Sons. Daughters. Cousins. Pulling crackers and laughing. The doorbell chimes once more. The front door opens. Footsteps in the hallway. A small child with a broken nose stands still in the doorway screaming.

 

The

stones

cried

out

as

the

desert

fell

to

black

and

in

their

anguish

the

stones

returned

to

dust

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

The Third Voice

Once upon a time there was a cottage. The cottage stood on top of a hill. An old lady lived there with her daughter. Her daughter liked to paddle in the stream that gurgled beside the cottage, feeling the stones move between her toes. The old lady suffered from dreadful nightmares and cried out in her sleep, ‘Please don’t eat me, Monster.’

Kept awake by her mother’s nightmares the daughter took to reading in her bed by candlelight and as the light flickered she read about adventures in other lands. She thrilled as lost travellers found an oasis in the desert and fell to their knees to drink the refreshing water. She said to herself that one day she would travel the world, seeking out adventures. The daughter fell asleep with the book on her breast.

Later she woke with a start. The candle had gone out out and her room was as black as night. She reached out to find the candle stub but it was missing. Listening carefully, the daughter could hear voices softly whispering in the room her mother’s bedroom. There was only two people in their house so why could she hear a third voice? She listened terrified as her mother cried out in anguish ‘Please don’t eat me, Monster.’ The daughter thought she could hear the monster speaking. So troubled was she by the thought of what she was hearing that the poor daughter passed out.

The next morning it was as if nothing had happened and the mother and the daughter went about their daily business. In the afternoon, while her mother was at the stream, the daughter went into her mother’s bedroom and found five small black stones laying on the floor. They were shiny and smooth and beautiful. The daughter fancied that these were the most amazing stones that she had ever seen in her whole life. Just then her mother returned from the stream with the water so the daughter hastily went back to her own room. She lay in her bed all afternoon, cradling the stones in the palm of her hand. Just holding them made the daughter feel different somehow, marvellous even. She fell asleep with the stones in her hand.

Later the daughter woke to hear her mother dreaming again. ‘I threw them out with the dust,’ she said and began to weep. ‘Do not tell me that,’ said the third voice. ‘The stones were yours to keep safe. They shone wonderfully like the brightest stars. What did you lose them for?’ The mother began to weep louder and more violently. ‘Please give me your forgiveness, my Lord, before I flood my bed with tears.’ ‘You mortals are all the same,’ said the third voice. ‘As if I care about any of you.’ ‘If we mean but naught to you,’ said the mother, ‘then why is the night such a dread time for me?’ ‘Silence, I say,’ said the voice. ‘What a pointless sentence.’ The voice laughed as it marvelled at its own wit.

‘There is such emptiness in your soul,’ the voice continued. The old lady fell silent. The third voice continued. ‘I like you,’ it said. ‘I like the way that you let me spoil your sleep each night, with my foul and angry ways.’ The voice grew louder and the listening daughter gripped her blankets, pulling the material tight between her fingers. She hid, lest the monster fall upon her with the full vent of its fury. ‘I am raging now,’ shouted the third voice. ‘None so moved as me will ever stride this planet’s paths again. The daughter pulled her blanket up until it covered her face entirely. ‘You are not only person in this cottage, are you?’ asked the third voice. ‘I know all there is to know about you and your ever-thieving daughter.’ The daughter feared she would never see the next morning now. ‘Oh, why did I find those stones and fall asleep with them in my hand? Will I regret this moment forever more?’

But then the daughter found courage deep inside her, a courage that she had never known existed until that moment. She climbed out of her bed and went into her mother’s room. ‘Are these what you are looking for?’ she asked. The old lady drew strength from her daughter’s strength and she mocked the third voice. ‘Have you lost your voice?’ she asked but the third voice did not reply this time. Nor ever again.

And now each night the mother and daughter sleep peacefully and have never heard the third voice ever again. But what of the stones, I hear you ask? The daughter threw them back into the stream where all five shone briefly just like the brightest stars ever seen before fading from sight forever.

 

The stones cried out as the desert fell to black and in their anguish the stones returned to dust. 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.

The stones cried out as the desert fell to black and in their anguish the stones returned to dust. Weep not said the stars for your tears are all as naught. The silence laughed as it’s emptiness fell like foul material upon the planet’s face. Only ever never now and forever mocked the sta

The stones cried out as the desert fell to black and in their anguish the stones returned to dust. 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.

The stones cried out as the desert fell to black and in their anguish the stones returned to dust. Weep not said the stars for your tears are all as naught. The silence laughed as it’s emptiness fell like foul material upon the planet’s face. Only ever never now and forever mocked the stars.

The stones cried out as the desert fell to black and in their anguish the stones returned to dust. 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.

The stones cried out as the desert fell to black and in their anguish the stones returned to dust. Weep not said the stars for your tears are all as naught. The silence laughed as it’s emptiness fell like foul material upon the planet’s face. Only ever never now and forever. mocked the stars.

The NotBeSpeak fell to Earth.

You are all naught laughed the stars.

Cried the people forever.

ONLY NOT EVER THAT I BEG BUT THEY DO NOT LISTEN THEY LAUGH AND WHISPER AMONG THEMSELVES I HEAR THEM PLOT AND PLAN AND THEN THEY TELL ME THAT I AM THERES AND THAT THEY SAW ME IN THE LIGHT AND CHOSE ME FOR THERE DARK CHOSE ME TO BE THERE DARKNESS CHOOSE ME TO CHAMPION AND IMPACT THE WORLD WITH THERE AFFAIR AND MAKE ALL SEE THAT THEY ARE WHAT THE WORLD NOW NEEDS AND DESERVES AND CRAVES BUT I CANNOT SAY FOR SURE THAT THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE FOR I KNOW THAT THEY ARE THE DARK AND THE ROT AND THE DEATH AND THE CHILL THEY ARE THE PESTILENTIAL FUTURE OF THIS SYSTEM

 

  1. 9. 33. 70. 126. 328. 4.

 

  1. In the to
    these The NotBeSpeak
    A You stars

 

  1. From to to Cried
    The the naught the
    To the NotBeSpeak. Stars.

 

  1. No one
    Along this The but I,
    This laughed to.

 

  1. In the to NotBeSpeak
    No stars can You
    How soon it must The.

 

  1. Don’t to, You
    forever, laughed,
    Must The.

 

  1. to Cried
    As Cried who fell You
    And people.

 

  1. NotBeSpeak the naught
    Cried, forever forever in
    with no Cried to You

 

I RECALL THE DIM AND DARKNESS DANK DIM AND DANKNESS DARK I RECALL WHEN THEIR SHADOW FALLS ACROSS AND PAST I HEAR THE SHUDDER VIOLENTLY AND FEEL THE FLAME THAT NO LONGER FLICKERS I LAST JUST LONG AND NOT NO MORE IN ONLY ONE OF THIS OCCASIONS CAN THE FUEL LAST LONGER THAN IT SHOULD ONLY SPUTTER SPIT AND FLICKER FAST THEY CAN HEAR AND CALL AND ALLOW ME TO SAY BECAUSE WHAT IS TO PASS IS TO PASS ANYWAY AND ONLY NOW WILL THE THEN AND THE THIS ALIGN WITH THE THAT TO COME AGAIN SPEAK AGAIN SPEAK QUIETER NOW NOT WHISPER ONLY HEAR WHEN SPOKE BUT ROAR SHUT SHOUT CAN’T HELP ONE HAND CUPPED SO LOUD SO OH SO LOUDLY LOUD AND I SMALL BEFORE THE DIN FROM THERE AND PITY PITY PAIN POOR PITY PAIN SCREAM DIN DESCEND AND STAY ALL TIME NO ROOM NO HOPE NO SPACE ALL NOISE NOW ALWAYS AND FOREVER ALWAYS MORE AMEN THAT GIRL THEY SPEAK SHE THINK HE KNOWS ALL BUT THAT GIRL IS NOT THE ONE SHE CANNOT STOP THEY WISH HER TO BE KNOWN AND ENDED BUT NEVER CANNOT WON’T NO ABRAHAM NO BURNING BUSH BUT THEY PERSIST YOU MUST THEY TELL YOU MUST END HER YOU MUST THEY SAY AGAIN YOU MUST REALLY MUST NOTHING CAN BE IN OUR WAY NOTHING MUST HINDER BUT I WHISPER NO PLUS PLEAD AND BEG PLEASE NO NOT THAT GIRL SHE DOES NOT KNOW AND WILL NOT STOP BUT THEY KEEP ALL DAY AND NIGHT TELL ME IN MY EAR AND THEY SAY YOU MUST SHE IS EVIL AND WILL END THE WORLD SHE WILL MAKE US LEAVE BEFORE WE GET HERE ALL DAY THEY SAY AND ALL NIGHT ALL TIME IN MY EAR LINGER I TRY TO SPEAK BUT THEY DON’T WANT MY WORDS YOUR WORDS NO USE WE NEED YOU ACTIONS YOU MUST THEY SAY BUT I CANNOT AS SHE IS MINE I SAY AND NOT YOURS SHE IS MINE AND MINE FOREVER I CANNOT DO WHAT YOU ASK BUT YOU CAN THEY SAY AND YOU WILL IT IS EASY YOU MUST IT IS EASY DO NOT THINK JUST DO AND THEN WE BE PLEASED WITH YOU BUT I CANNOT AND THEY ASK ALL DAY AND NIGHT IN MY NOSTRILS LIKE SMOKE LIKE STENCH LIKE ALL BAD THINGS AND THOUGHTS AND GET NOT OUT BUT STAY AND TAUNT AND ASK ME THE THING I CANNOT DO AND WILL NOT DO EVER NOT EVER THIS WILL NOT BE THE THING ID DO FOR YOU AND THEN THEY ASK AGAIN PATIENT NOW YOU MUST THEY SAY BECAUSE WE LIKE YOU AND WANT YOU TO BE WELL AND WE CAN HELP YOU BUT YOU MUST HELP US FIRST AND I TELL THEN I WANT TO HELP BUT CANNOT HELP AND THEY SAY THAT IF YOU WANT HELP THEN YOU MUST AND I SAY NO NO NO THEY KNOW EVERYTHING AND TELL ME THAT WE WILL BE FINE THEY ONLY WANT TO BE AMONG US BUT I DON’T WANT THEM TO BE AMONG US WE ARE STARS THEY SAY AND WE WANT TO SHINE FOR YOU ALL BUT YOU ARE NOT STARS I SAY YOU ARE BLACK HOLES AND WILL DRAIN THE LIFE FROM THE WORLD LEAVING DARKNESS WHERE LIGHT ONCE WAS NO NOT US THEY SAY WE ARE THE WAY FORWARD WE WILL END FAMINE AND DISEASE NO MORE DEATH ONLY ALWAYS LIFE BUT YOU CANNOT OFFER THAT I SAY YOU CANNOT PROMISE SUCH A THING BUT THEY PERSIST AND KEEP AT ME MORE AND THEY ASK AND THEY ASK AND THEY ASK AND THEY ASK AND THE SOUND OF THEIR VOICES IS A BITTER TASTE ON MY TONGUE LIKE MY SWALLOW IS ALL ASH AND I SAY AGAIN NOT ME NOT THAT NOT HER NOT ASK ME THAT FOR I CAN NOT DO IT BUT SIMPLE EASY SAY THEY ALL EASY JUST DO THE THING AND DON’T THINK ANY MORE LET US COME ACROSS AND SHARE OURSELVES WITH YOU ALL AND BE THE LIGHT THAT LEADS THEY WAY BUT YOU NOT LIGHT I TELL THEM YOU NOT LIGHT NOT LIGHT BUT DARK ALL DARK ALL NOTHING AND THE SILENCE BUT WE ARE LIGHT THEY SAY WE WILL BE THE ONES TO MAKE YOU ALL WHAT YOU SHOULD BE NOT WHAT YOU ARE YOU ARE WEAK AND BASE AND POINTLESS AND WE CAN CHANGE THIS THINGS THEY SAY BUT NOT YOU NOT THAT I CANNOT I HAVE SAID I CANNOT AND I WILL NOT YOU CAN AND YOU WILL THEY TELL YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN AND SO IT IS THAT YOU MUST BUT I CANNOT AND THAT IS MY FINAL WORD BUT IT ISN’T THEY TELL ME IT ISN’T YOU ARE TOO WEAK TO BE SO CERTAIN YOU WILL DO WHAT WE SAY YOU WILL YOU MUST BUY THE DAGGER THEY SAY THE SHINING DAGGER AND DROP IT IN THE DARK ONE ACT WILL SAVE THE WORLD ONE SACRIFICE A SMALL PRICE TO PAY BUT I CANNOT I SAID BUT I BOUGHT THE KNIFE AND IT SHONE LIKE THE MOON THE WONDROUS MOON I POLISH AND CRADLE AND HOLD IT AND THEY TELL ME BE BRAVE BE STRONG BE BOLD AND I AM I SAY I TRULY AM AND THEY SAY WE KNOW WE LOVE WE TRUST YOU YOU ARE THE ONE FOR WHOM WE HOLD THE HIGH REGARD WE VALUE YOUR SERVICE AND KNOW YOU WILL DO OUR BIDDING SO RAISE THE KNIFE AND MAKE THE SACRIFICE I WILL I SAY BUT WHAT AM I SAYING WHAT CAN I EVER BE THINKING I CANNOT DO YOUR WISH SHE IS MY CHILD NOT YOURS SHE IS MY LIGHT MY HOPE MY PRECIOUS THING MY FRUIT YOU CANNOT HAVE HER SHE IS NOT YOURS TO TAKE SHE IS MINE TO KEEP AND SAVE BUT THEY WHISPER AND NAG AND MOAN AND KEEN ALL NIGHT I CANNOT SLEEP ANY MORE I CANNOT HEAR I CANNOT THINK ALL IS THEM AND THEIR VOICES AND ALL THEIR VOICES ARE LOUDER NOW MUCH LOUDER I AM DEAFENED BY THEIR SONG THEIR SHOUT THE SOUND OF THEIR ABOMINABLE  ADMONITIONS THEY GIVE ME NO PEACE NOW WE ARE ANGRY WITH YOU THEY SAY AND YOU WILL NEVER KNOW PEACE EVER AGAIN YOU WILL NEVER KNOW EASE AND JOY ONLY ALWAYS HARDSHIP AND SUFFERING ONLY EVER AGONY YOU WILL BE LIKE ALL THE OTHERS THEY SAY YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL YOU ARE NOT CHOSEN YOU ARE THE SAME AS ALL THE OTHER WORMS TO CRUSH YOUR FLESH TO BE PECKED BY GREEDY CROWS YOUR SKIN TO FLAP IN THE FREEZING WIND FOR WE ARE THE DESOLATION THAT WILL VISIT EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU AND MAKE YOU WISH THAT YOU HAD HELPED AND NOT BE A DISAPPOINTMENT A PROPER DISGRACEFUL DISAPPOINTMENT WE WHO REVEALED OURSELVES TO YOU CHOSE YOU TO BE THE ONE TO WHOM WE APPEARED WE HAVE GIVEN YOU OUR TIME AND ATTENTION AND THIS IS HOW YOU REPAY US WITH YOUR POINTLESSNESS WORTHLESS AMOEBA I AM NOT WORTHLESS I AM FULL OF THE SAME I DO NOT DISAPPOINT YOU I THANK FOR YOU FOR CHOOSING ME YOU MADE ME THE OBJECT OF YOUR ATTENTION AND THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS BUT NOW YOU SAY I DO NOT MATTER AND I DO AND I CAN AND I WILL IT WILL BE MY LIFE’S WORK TO RAISE YOU UP AND OUT YOU AHEAD OF THE WORLD INCLUDING HER YOU WILL BE MY EVERYTHING AND MY ALL YOU WILL BE WHERE I NEED TO LOOK FOR SUCCOR IT IS ONLY YOU THEN DO WHAT WE ASK THEY TELL ME SHOW US THAT YOU CAN REGAIN OUR AFFECTION CRINGE BEFORE US AND BEG FOR OUR FORGIVENESS PLEASE FORGIVE ME PLEASE PLEASE I BEG YOU DO NOT SEND ME AWAY DO YOU LEAVE ME ALONE YOU WHO HAVE FOUND ME HAVE CHOSEN ME I WANT TO DO YOUR BIDDING PLEASE LET ME KILL HER FOR YOU PLEASE ACCEPT HER AS MY SACRIFICE MY GIFT TO YOU

 

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

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.’

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

‘Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’’ 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. Inteachán groped for words.

‘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. She was unable to move. 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 – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Terminal Transit Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

mainimg

Terminal Transit,

‘Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak’’

Verse 3

Following the inquest, the Coroner’s Report confirmed that ‘Dr Butler F. Temple killed himself and murdered his daughter by leaping from Wexford Bridge after first stabbing his wife to death while she was asleep at No. 23 Wolseley Street, Dublin 8 with a double-edged ‘sacrificial’ dagger that he had recently purchased by mail order. Dr. Temple’s 1972 Volkswagen Beetle was found abandoned close to the bridge. Dr. Temple’s body was discovered the same evening but his daughter’s body is still unaccounted-for.’

‘A terrible misadventure,’ reported the Coroner, ‘likely brought about by a combination of overwork and chronic depression. This tragedy is further compounded by the fact that the child’s body still remains unfound at the time of writing.’

Everyone agreed that it was a dreadful thing to have happened and for a few days it was the talk of this tiny town – especially considering it involved an academic from Trinity College, itself the very site of controversy. But, as is the nature of tragedies, however terrible, they happen so often that the next one leaves the last one in that special but dreadful place where the memories of every single tragedy ever to have befallen blur as they coalesce around the faded inches of discarded newspaper print and occasional visits to graveyards.

As far as everyone was concerned that was pretty much that and the sad affair of the gifted Trinity lecturer who lost his mind was consigned to the pages of local history but Mac, being Mac, had certainly never considered himself to be any part of ‘everyone else’ and in any case he knew for sure that something else lay at the heart of this tragedy.

Inteachán’s arrival at the flat that had been in her family since the 18th Century made Mac even more sure that there was something afoot, so sure in fact that it never occurred to him to report the fact of her being alive to the authorities. Mac was desperate to get to the heart of what happened and so it was that he soon found himself unable to wait any longer and growing more and more anxious Mac began to question the poor child.

‘Can you tell me what happened on that awful night? asked Mac getting straight to the point as gently as he could.

‘Did your father say anything? Think carefully.’

Inteachán thought carefully and began to sob.

‘He was upset, so upset, more upset than I had ever seen anyone ever before.’

Inteachán shuddered as the memory fell upon her once again from on high and afar.

‘He said that They had trapped him on a dark desert planet and that a black sandstorm tormented him for days by whispering in his ear that he needed to help Them in order to get back home and that the only way he would get back home was if he sacrificed me as an offering to them.’

‘They. Them.’ repeated Mac.

He hissed softly.

‘Fomhóire! Or should I say, the NotBeSpeak.’

As was his particular wont, Mac looked glum.

Inteachán felt a chill descend upon her from somewhere else and she duly shivered.

‘What are the What-Be-Speak?’ she whispered through her tears.

‘Not What,’ Mac replied carefully, ‘but Why.’

He continued to look glum and stared off into the dingy distance.

‘I have spent a very large part of my recent years searching for an answer to that question. Sadly, I am no closer to the answer than I was when I started.’

Mac fumbled for the handkerchief he kept in the breast pocket of his green tweed suit and blew his nose vigorously.

‘In fact, I’m probably further away today than I have ever been.’

Mac prodded the coals on the fire. The chill showed no sign of leaving the room.

‘Despite my grand claims to knowledge and understanding it was actually your father who first alerted me to the danger.’

Mac pulled the blanket off his lap and walked over to a dusty bookcase full of lever arch file folders. Every wall of his flat was lined with similar bookcases and Inteachán could never work out how Mac knew instinctively where anything he was looking for could ever be found. A glance on any shelf revealed the rich and brumous nature of his collection.

There were the thirteen volumes of Sheen’s Pamphlet, an obscure tract published cheaply, regularly and anonymously between 1911 and 1961, with only the twelve editions from June to November 1946 missing. Next to this stood Lois Pengelly’s Wolseley Trilogy; Once a Valley (1932), Through the Trees (1942) and Forever Once More (1952). These were Sibeal’s favourite novels and Mac loved to watch her read them over and over again.

This very rare trilogy told the story of St. Matthew’s House, a beautiful Edwardian villa sat on the seafront in Bray that was home to several generations of the Wolseley family. Once a Valley told the story of the family coming to the area and having the house built. Through the Trees saw the family undergoing hard times with the Second World War as a backdrop. Sibeal’s favourite volume, Forever Once More, showed the Wolseley family in final dissolution as the eldest daughter, Cecily, refused to marry and thereby ended the family bloodline.

The Third Edition of Ogilvy’s Observations was Mac’s favourite and he loved nothing more than reading out loud from it as he and Sibeal lay in bed. The bedridden Oswald Ogilvy devoted his sickly adult life to completing a volume of ruminations and asides on topics of little or no connection to the world and in 1958 the Third Edition appeared. No one could ever explain what had happened to the first or second edition or if they even existed. Mac liked to speculate that Ogilvy was punishing the world for his ill health by making a publishing mountain out of a vanity molehill. Only twenty copies were ever printed before the plates were destroyed in a fire. Ogilvy himself had actually passed away two days before the fire and so died knowing nothing about the destruction of his life’s work. Ever the obscurist himself, Mac liked to quote from this flimsy volume whenever he could.

‘Ogilvy’s reminds us,’ said Mac, ‘that hope and despair are natural bedfellows. Indeed, he goes so far as to speculate whether or not they were originally the same impulse altogether that has simply been erroneously divided over time.’

A large pile of Pendeltons’ Periodicals lay gathering dust on the floor by his side of the bed. Edited between 1954 and 1958 by the noted mid-century chroniclist August Borne, Pendeltons’ was the model for occasional observationism, as it became known. Sadly, the public had very little taste for such an esoteric offering and so Pendeltons’ went the same way as any other small-run journal without an audience.

Gerard Denyer’s Model Villages: Their Occurrence and Occult Significance, published by Turner Press in London in 1924 was another influence on Mac’s own scholarship. Denyer travelled the length and breadth of Britain noting the similarities and differences between the model villages he came across. Maps and charts were drawn and laid side by side for comparison. This was fairly standard for the field but Denyer’s original contribution to the body of knowledge came through his use of the Begleys, a fictional family of aristocratic refugees whose struggles for social survival were used a device by Denyer to account for the seemingly small shifts he detected in societal responses to folk beliefs around the country.

Mac reserved a special scorn for the Reverend John Webster’s Trestles, Treads and Other Joins: My Life Among the Sawdust. Published privately in 1965 at great personal expense to the author, Turtles, Threads and Other Jokes, as Mac liked to call it, told the story of the Reverend Webster’s three years of missionary service in Nigeria. Written as a series of clumsy homilies and asinine anecdotes loosely connected to Christ’s alleged career, Webster always managed to attribute every piece of good luck to God and misfortune to the Devil. Despite its appearance, this literary folly was actually one of the most acclaimed of the so-called casualist texts and was therefore extremely valuable to the right buyer. What made this even book even more valuable to Mac was the fact that he found it buried at the bottom of a cardboard box full of ripped road maps he spotted in a skip.

Mac ran his finger along the second shelf from the top until he found what he was looking for.

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

eye 1

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as it’s starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

mainimg

Terminal Transit,

‘Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak’’

Verse 2.

It was Professor Mac an Bhaird who woke one rainy night from his lonely dreams to hear sobbing in the flat beside him. The professor had been drifting in his sleep, wandering in some half-remembered part of the city that he couldn’t quite place. Sibeal was with him and at first they walked hand in hand but Mac’s eyes were soon drawn to a wooden notice board outside an old newsagents. The board was full of handwritten postcards advertising various wares, offering all manner of services, as well as the usual births, deaths and marriages. He stopped, let go of Sibeal’s hand and began to read each card in turn, marvelling at the huge variety of historical styles, cases and forms -cursive, print, looped, Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift, ascenders, Secretary Hand, descenders, Getty-Dubay, Block, Kurrent, and D’Nealian.

Mac ran his finger tenderly across each postcard in turn, checking for sense and general significance. He marvelled at such an extraordinary discovery on such an ordinary street. The noticeboard was unlocked and with a greedy wipe of his hand, Mac was able to sweep all the cards into his coat pocket. Duly delighted with his haul, Mac carried on walking but it wasn’t until he had found his way back to the Father Matthew Bridge that Mac realised that Sibeal was no longer beside him.

Mac woke with a start, half-expecting, as always, as ever, that Sibeal was asleep beside him. From the day she died until now this was the way it was for Mac. The sound of sobbing was loud and came from the rooms beside his. These rooms had been empty for so long that Mac imagined at first that it was simply a nocturnal illusion but the sobbing was insistent and eventually the old man carefully climbed out of bed, put on his dressing gown, picked up his umbrella and went out into the narrow hallway. The front door was slightly ajar and though he feared the perfectly reasonable fears of anyone who has been woken by unexpected sobbing in the middle of the night, the old man opened the door and stepped inside. In the dimness, a small figure lay crying on a dark and dusty sofa.

‘What is the matter, my child?’ asked Mac softly in the darkness.

‘What can have happened?’

But the small child did not reply.

Knowing that the child was familiar to him but wholly unprepared for such a nocturnal visit, he went to leave.

‘I am next door and will be there when you are ready to speak. My name is Professor Mac an Bhaird but you may call me Mac.’

Later that next morning there was a knock on the door. Mac looked up from his work.

‘Come in,’ he said and the girl stepped inside. Mac cleared a pile of papers from the footstool.

‘Come and sit by the fire, my child.’

He smiled.

‘Or should I say, Inteachán.’