It was Professor Mac an Bhaird who heard Inteachán sobbing late on that awful evening.
Who left his door open in case she needed someone. Who woke to find Inteachán curled up asleep at the end of his narrow bed. Who smiled and didn’t speak. Who allowed Inteachán to just sit. Until she was ready to talk.
‘You may call me Mac,’ he said kindly.
Now they talk all the time.
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.
Only one person knows about Inteachán and her flat and that is Professor Amhalgaidh Mac an Bhaird who lives in the flat next door.
Professor Mac an Bhaird is elderly now, almost ancient. He is an Honorary Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Trinity College.
Professor Mac an Bhaird has devoted his life to the study of what he likes to call the ‘small things that we forget to remember very quickly.’ He sits in his armchair all day working on his life’s work, Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea. Over thirty-three thousand dusty pages.
His handwriting is terribly terribly tiny.
Inteachán lives alone in a small flat that overlooks Front Square in Trinity College, Dublin. The flat has belonged to Inteachán’s family for a long long time. Since 1794.
When the rest of her family were lost to the NotBeSpeak it was the obvious place for Inteachán to hide. The only place. That was two years ago. Inteachán has been living there ever since.
You tend to grow up quickly when you lose everyone you know. You become self-dependent straightaway. You rely upon yourself before you rely upon others.
You will become quite quite fearless.
Inteachán is quite quite fearless.
This is the story of a twelve year-old 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.
Inteachán does these things because she has to. Or else the world will end. Simple as.
Which is lucky because if she didn’t then we wouldn’t be here reading about the things she does.
The things that Inteachán does are also secret. They have to be.
Do you really think that the world would let a twelve year-old girl save it from destruction?
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.
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 dark.
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.