The Mushroom Glade, said the sign just outside the aperture I entered when I’d been chased by… but nevermind about that right now!
I laughed in scorn. Some cutesy place with your predictable cast of fairytale creatures, I supposed. Nevertheless, some insistent childhood memory made me move forward through the aperture into the one directly opposite it, carved in teakwood with designs that reminded me of the Peranakan Houses of my childhood. As I walked through, I soon found myself encompassed within a bleak landscape.
I stood beneath an overcast sky. I was surrounded by horribly disfigured, decaying and denuded trees, their brown crackling raiment making horrifying sounds in this place…where it seemed that even the sound of my heart beating was a cardinal sin I felt the fine hairs on my neck prickle as though some strange static energy had brushed through them, as though I had not run from a bigger horror, a bigger horror that filled my every thought.
Through the darkness of the trees, I felt a thousand eyes stare at me. I heard the sound of manic laughter. I also heard a sad sigh. I turned to my right and gasped as I saw a figure leaning against a tall, gnarled tree that looked like a crouching being. The figure was robed in an indefinable colour of indigo, no dark blue, no black, that seemed to shimmer and yet be so dark it trapped light.
She was tall and large, filled with a kind of muscled poised watchfulness as her eyes dug deep into mine.
“`Things of value are not seen easily, Kieran Lee,” came her whisper in my mind.
I glared at her, angered beyond reason. I was tired of supernatural things manipulating me. I shouted, “Stop messing with my mind!!”
From beneath her robe she rewarded me with a flash of white teeth.
“There are some who do not believe, and see ugliness where there is beauty,” she spoke in clear, biting tones, “And there are those who believe all too unconditionally and are tricked into seeing beauty when there is none. But you are of the best yet worse of these categories. You believe, yet think that you don’t. You love, but think it wiser to hate. You dream, but scoff at them in the presence of others. That may serve you well in the so-called real world, but not here. If you deny yourself here, then you are truly lost, and the darkness will follow you wherever you place your feet.”
I gulped as her voice rang out in the silence. I felt myself start to shiver with some unnamed fear.
“Choose, Kieran,” she breathed, and then she gifted me with an unsettling smile.
“Choose…,” she uttered again and again in some sing-song chant.
I closed my eyes. I breathed in the sharp, sharp, air. I willed myself to ignore her. Somewhere, an insistent sound buzzed. Impressions of people brushing pass me, staring at me, laughing at me invaded my mind. Slowly, ever so slowly, the smell of baking bread filled the air.
A high, eerie peal of laughter assailed my ears, and a melancholy fiddle wove a song broke my heart. I opened my eyes and found myself on a hillock surrounded by enormous trees, lush with leaves of green. I blinked as I spied movement within the trees and struggled to make out the many shapes that seemed to be peeping at me with their mocking eyes.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” uttered a grumpy sounding voice.
I looked around wildly. A fluttering sound filled the air and a thoroughly disreputable faerie landed before me. I stared. He wore some tattered brown garment that looked like it had never been washed (and that was probably the case). He also wore a pointed leather cap and had glowering black eyes, a stubbled face of nut-brown, a sharp downward pointed nose and long black hair. His age was undeterminable…he seemed old at times and young at others.
“What are you looking at?” he barked.
“No..nothing,” I said, not wanting to be accidentally rude. I averted my eyes.
He laughed. It was short, hard bark, “Typical, you fricking humans think you know everything there is to know about us. You disappointed I ain’t some pretty little sprite?”
I shook my head in confusion. He let loose another bark of laughter and shook his head.
“Come on, then” he said. “It’s time to enter the Mykologosia proper.”
I stared at the tattered brown wings as he hovered before me, and wondered how he could fly on those disreputable things. He swooped down and picked me up as though I was as light as a baby.
(c) Nin Harris 1998 –. All texts are the copyright of (c) Nin Harris. All Rights Reserved.
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