Of the Maddening Notes of Flutes and Ravens

I have seen things, in my dreams that I care not to describe to any man for fear of madness. I cannot describe them, for no matter how forcefully I will myself to do so, my body rejects the idea. It seems parallel to suicide. Yet I have also seen things. Real things, in the waking world, the everyday world. Such things that could not possibly exist. I fear they mock me.

I fear they wish to kill me.

I see them as if in the corner of my eye, that should you turn they would disappear, but these things remain!

I sit here in my study, surrounded by tomes and texts centuries old. My research. My life! By the light of one mere oil lamp I scribble down information that someone may find and be warned not to wander idly the path I have all these years.

Weeks have passed since I purchased this one tome from a private collector. He seemed glad to be rid of it. Oh God! I realise now why he had done so and why he was driven to suicide that very night! I still remember the newspaper. How he had set his home alight. Yet they had never found the source of fire… I know what; I know who did this to him. I know, for he is the only one of them who can walk the earth when the stars are poisonous to his maddening brothers and sisters, those that sleep, deep in tombs beneath the ocean or turn their gaze from this sphere. We are safe now, but the threat of this chaos is still real enough!

I hear the flutes often, only scarcely, and I catch the silver lining of his swirling cloak from the corners of my eyes.

The wind gibbers with madness, carrying the notes of flutes that make no sense. I rush to close the tall window as the wind bellows and howls through them and, locking them tightly, pull closed the dark curtains in a furious sweat. The light of the lamp has gone out and I stumble to relight it. I do not wish to be alone in the darkness, please God no! I strike the match again and again, sparks highlight my hands mockingly. Is He doing this to me? Is he here now? No, no no no! Please light!

The lamp glows with a small orb and proceeds to fill the room, far too slowly I think to myself, and I am relieved to find my heart still beating and my flesh intact with bone.

In my quest for knowledge I read that cursed, maddening tome. I did not heed the warnings scribbled upon its cover. I know all man had to teach me. Everything! My thirst had taken me to the arcane and esoteric, of ancient magick and ritual. I started to question religion, and now I do the same again. But should I accept the words of God, I am forced to think that should God have made everything on those fabled seven days, all those that man has known and seen, surely there must be other things, other gods, which created things in the void that go unseen and crawl amongst the darkest corners of the earth?

I curse Alhazred, the damned author of this unholy tome! I should have burnt it at the merest sight of it! I turn quickly to the book, and a clap startles me suddenly. I turn to find the heavy oak door to my study open, and a great black bird rests upon a bookshelf. It commands a wide view of the room, directly above the table that ill fated book rests upon like some corpse washed ashore. It squawks, and flaps its wings infuriatingly as I rush to close the door. The bird soars across the room, knocking over books stacked high in my fits of reading. I fall to my knees.

My hands reach my head to stop the screaming and I realise I cannot stop. But it is not my screaming, it is the black bird that destroys my work! Towers of dusty volumes fall as Troy did so millennia ago. I scramble through my study’s workplace, mentally demanding the flintlock I carry with me in these dark and recent days of paranoia and mad acknowledgement.

There!

I pack in the powder tightly, panicking, and drop the ball inside in desperation. I turn, ready to fire the small lead bullet, the violent bringer of peace in my hand will at least delay the insanity I can feel boiling inside of me.

The bird has gone. Neither the windows nor the door are open, yet the blighted creature has gone. I collapse into my chair and drop the gun onto the floor, defeated for vigour to remain standing. I lean forward and take in the view of fallen manuscripts that litter the floor beneath nigh empty bookshelves before I shrink my vanquished head into my hands. My face is warm for sweat. No. Not sweat.

Blood.

I scream out in sheer horror as the raven rushes straight at me, claws missing my face and thrice gouging my already trounced body. My arm knocks the lamp to the floor, where the oil fire immediately finds the fuel it needs to become an inferno. Suddenly the entire room is engulfed in flames, and futile screams rage against the devastation of my life work, my entire life. I reach for my pistol and shriek the name of my tormentor.

Dragging myself to my feet with a desperation afforded to cornered animals, I pull back the flintlock mechanism and take aim at the beast. I stop, motionless, and see the cloaked figure before me, his head cocked to one side as if listening to music. Where his face should be there was none, and all light was absorbed by the incredible void. I feel the stare of ages.

Horrified, I bring the pistol to my temple.

– by Kier Sparey

© Copyright Kier Sparey 2013

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