Barrow Girl, Chapter 3
Inteachán lives alone in a small flat that overlooks Front Square in Trinity College, Dublin. Fourth window. Fifth floor. Sixth door. A secret gate on Pearse Street. The flat has been in Inteachán’s family since 1804. A drunken game of Faro. A lost bet honoured the next morning. Sealed deeds and ornate key.
Inteachán’s flat does not feature as part of the official tour of Trinity. No gown-wearing students halt crowds of tourists in front of the building and tell them that ‘the world’s one and only hope for salvation lives here.’ A plaque does not sit on the wall. The gift shop does not sell tea towels with her face on them. No key rings. No bookmarks. No feedback on TripAdvisor.
When the rest of her family were lost to the NotBeSpeak it was the obvious place for Inteachán to hide. The only place. There was nowhere else. That was two years ago. Inteachán has been living there ever since. You grow up quickly when you lose everyone you know. You become self-dependent straightaway. You rely upon yourself before you rely upon others. You become quite quite fearless. Inteachán is quite quite fearless.
Barnaby Taylor 2018 – All rights Reserved
This is the story of a girl called Inteachán and the things she does. Inteachán does these things because she is very good at doing them. You might say that she was born to do them. You might also say that she has no choice. Either way you would be right. Inteachán does what she does because she has to. Or else the world will end. Simple as.
Inteachán does not always see things this way. Sometimes she likes to pretend that she is simply ordinary. Uneventful. Unnoticed, even, but someone this discreet can never really exist in a book that bears their name. Perhaps this is something to ask her if you ever get the chance?
The things that Inteachán does are also secret. Hidden. Obscure. Out of view. Unknown to most of the rest of the world. Occult, as in not apparent, but also just occult. They have to be.
Do you really think that the world would knowingly let an eleven year-old girl save it from complete and utter annihilation?
Here’s a test ident for Bara Cailín. I am trying to capture that particularly unsettling feeling that I always associate with British science fiction, supernatural and horror television shows from the 1970s – in particular, Roger Price’s The Tomorrow People (1973-1979); Children of the Stones (Peter Graham Scott, 1977); and Nigel Kneale’s wonderful Quatermass IV (1979).
Mac cleared his throat, opened his Miscellanea 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 stopped reading. He turned to Inteachán. ‘Every civilisation has its own names for spirits and faeries and demons and balrogs and wights. Here we have always tended to use the word ‘Fomhóire’.’
‘We have always known them this way but I now know them as another – the NotBeSpeak.’
‘But what are they?’ asked Inteachán. ‘I don’t understand.’
Mac smiled again.
‘How could you?’ he said kindly. ‘They are Everything and Nothing at once. All and Nought together.’
‘Every infection needs a host,’ said Mac, ‘and the NotBeSpeak need the biggest host of all; the world.’
‘How do we stop them?’ asked Inteachán.
‘How do you stop them,’ Mac corrected her. ‘I am old and my days of fighting inter-dimensional demons intent upon cataclysm are long gone.’
‘How do I stop them?’
‘They can only be stopped by preventing them from taking their final form.’
Mac smiled sadly.
‘If we know what final form they wish to take then that is how we can stop them.’
‘But, I am only now beginning to understand what form their final form will take.’