Stewart's assignment this time was to write a tale of up to 1500 words containing the line, "I see things in darkness that no one should see by light of day." How i wish I'd had another thousand words. Both in tone and content, that line could only evoke the following...I See Things in the Darkness
The house was a cabin, build of old rail road ties and smelling of creosote, but it was enough for what I considered to be a weekend writing studio. The lot was three wooded acres, behind which was a four hundred acre area owned in common by those twelve of us who held property along that stretch of the Maniwong River. I was a new comer; this was my first autumn.
I had four sets of wind chimes ranging from tiny brass cylinders that tinkled like a celeste at the slightest breeze, through a set of somewhat heavier brass strips and a chime made with a metal ball that struck tuned steel rods. The biggest was a heavy iron triangle and it took a hell of a wind to get that one going, but I loved its song and the four of them together made great music on a windy night.
It was the Friday evening of a long holiday weekend and I was clearing brush away from the south side of the building. It was a chore that needed to be done and was a useful excuse for not writing.
“That’s a smart thing to do.” I heard the voice, but I hadn’t heard the foot steps of the speaker approaching. I turned.
“Yeah,” I said. “Less chance for fire damage if I get this brush out of here.” I held out my hand. “I’m Clement,” I said. “Clement Dixon.”
We shook hands and there were more than a few extra seconds before he said, “Malcolm.”
“Pleased to meet you,” I said. “I’m pretty new here and I need to get a few things squared away. This place has been vacant for quite a while.”
“I know,” he said.
“Maybe later,” I went on, “I’ll do some hiking in the back four hundred.”
“You’ll want to be careful about that. I don’t think that’s something you ought to do much of.”
“Why not? I mean we own it. Why not check it out?”
Again there were several seconds of hesitation. “Bears,” he said.
“Well, I guess there might be a few around,” I said, “but I think if I’m careful...”
“We don’t much like people tramping around back there.”
“We?” I asked.
“My people.” And again an overly long pause, “Think of it as a burial ground.”
“Your people? You’re an Indian? Native American?” That seemed the least likely of all possible national origins for this fellow. He was short with washed out eyes, so pale blue I could hardly tell where the iris stopped. And his hair, what there was of it was a whitish blond. He was mostly bald but with an enormously thick moustache and beard. It tangled in oily dreadlocks down his face and below his chin.
“I suppose you might better say Native American. Not Indian.”
“No offense meant,” I said.
“No problem,” he said, “but it is an important distinction.”
“So there is what, like a cemetery back there? Nobody told me. Well, trust me, I’ll be careful not to desecrate anything.”
“Yes,” he said. “Be careful.”
With that he left me to my brush and a lot of questions. Of course now I had to do some exploring.
By noon I had done as much yard work as I was going to do. I went into the cabin, ate a sandwich and sipped a beer. This Indian burial ground thing was stuck in my head. I finished my beer and put on some heavy leather walking boots.
The four hundred acres began just past the power lines and where I entered it was just ankle high ferns and weeds and a few sprouts of pine trees. Past that low meadow, the forest began. There were a few deer trails and other open areas, but always off to every side, the blue dark cover of the pine. There were also a few huge maple trees and it was at one of them that I stopped for a rest. I sat on the needley ground with my back against the trunk. I pulled a can of beer from my light pack and took a few deep swallows. It was nice to rest. Some of the needles poked at my butt and I reached back to brush them smooth. I noticed the splayed roots of the giant tree and idly poked at the nearest one. There was a bit of a hole between it and the ground and I continued scraping until my finger scratched against a buried rock. I dug. The rock came out. But it wasn’t a rock. It was a small stone figure, no more than five inches long. It looked for all the world like an elephant, but a very weird elephant; there were carved indications of a dozen trunks instead of one and other incisions on the creature’s body seemingly meant to represent hair. I fingered it for a while and then slipped it in my pocket. I took it home and set it on my dresser.
I napped that afternoon, or rather started to nap. There was a knock at my door. It was Malcolm.
“You shouldn’t have gone,” he said. “Was it to spite me? Hadn’t I just warned you?”
“Hey, I went for a walk,” I said, and added, “on my own property.”
“You’re name is on the deed,” he said. “Ours is on the land. Your only saving grace was that you went in the afternoon. I’ve seen things in darkness that no one should see by light of day. You’ve done a wrong thing, Mr. Dixon. See that you don’t do any more.” He turned to leave and said over his shoulder, “Return the doo-dad.”
My face flushed. I hadn’t done anything wrong. It was my land. It was a hateful accusation. The doo-dad? Maybe I had taken something associated with a native burial. So what? I thought. I sat until early evening facing the blank bright blue-white of an unfilled computer screen. I was pretending to write, and failing even at the pretense.
The sun had set and the sky was barely violet when I heard the crash. I looked to the north where the thudding sound had come from and saw, above the line of the trees, a shimmer of light, no brighter than an aurora, with colors shifting through an impossible range of blues and pinks.
My first thought was a plane crash. I pulled on my boots and headed out, hoping my strong flashlight would steer me into the growth. I’d trust my compass to guide me out. I got deeper into the woods than I had that afternoon, but I heard nothing more. The aurora-glow had lessened too, with only a few dim clouds of sparks sailing slowly over the trees. Then, suddenly, to my left the glow brightened and I saw from the corner of my eye, a shape. It seemed to be running, but also looked to be about five feet above the ground. Impossible. It moved in a jagged line, right and left, up and down, before it disappeared.
Then I heard the chimes. In a mad chorus I could hear them, although I was hundreds of yards from the house. And then another sound. Not a chime; a gong, deep and hollow and ringing through the forest. And there was no wind.
I turned and ran, falling over stumps and tripping over the reaching ferns. I stopped to check my compass and each time I was heading in a slightly wrong direction. I looked up and saw the aurora lights, bright and dancing. I checked my compass and headed straight toward it. I knew the lights were over my cabin.
I made the clearing of my house and saw, from every window, that fantastic spectrum, flashing bright as a strobe. Then the light lowered and there, loping away was the same bear-like shape I had seen earlier. It turned to me and I saw it was no bear but the very figure of the stone carving I had found. It shook its head and from its face the dozen trunks or tentacles shook.
I hunkered low until the light had entirely gone. Then I crept back to my home. The entire south west corner was gone. I inspected. There were tooth marks. It had been chewed away. I entered through the gaping wreck, nearly slipping on some kind of mucous or drool on the floor. Some of the furniture had been knocked aside, but the damage ended at my dresser. The statue was gone.