Another short story this week, but unconnected to any of my series or current writing worlds. It's just this weird thing I wrote one day and saved in a forgotten corner under the memorable title of Silence and Stillness Thing. I have a lot of these sorts of short stories, written down with a vague idea of maybe continuing them one day.
This one is unlikely. It's strange and dark, and I think it works well enough as it is. It has rocks in it. I like rocks. I spend a lot of time tramping over Dartmoor in search of Bronze Age ruins and megaliths. This is what happens when I find them.
Approx: 700 words.
Silence and Stillness
THEY CALLED IT the Still Mire. For once they were right to do so, for this pool was undisturbed by the tides of fate or the passage of time. No matter how windy the days grew, or how heavily livestock trampled past, nothing disturbed the dark waters of the mire.
Ever flat, ever black, it lurked on the landscape, an inescapable presence that marked the beginning of the marshes. But it was a border to more lands than just this.
All these things were strange enough to make the Mire a thing of fear and wonder, but then there were the stones. Silence and Stillness they were called by the people who knew them best. A pair of standing stones, far above the height of a man, they stood in the waters a few body length’s from the shore. And they were the only things that the Mire reflected.
Grey, weathered, tall and so very solid, they stood together through all the ages of man, back beyond memory. Whether they had stood there first and the Mire had grown up around them, or if some unseen giant hand had placed them in the waters, none could tell. Silence and Stillness were just there. Unknown, unchanging.
Between them was a gap, large enough for a horse to be ridden through, perhaps, though none had ever attempted it. For this was no mere gap, it was a Gate. The whole Mire was a passageway to other worlds. To pass those stones was to go before, or beyond, above or below. It was said that Silence and Stillness led to all worlds and all times. The Still Mire was a gateway to eternity.
They also said that if a body should touch the stones, or pass between them, than their soul - either living or dead - would be sucked through. There was no spirit strong enough in any realm of men that could fight such a compulsion. The stones were strong, and the Mire knew its purpose. The souls went on, while the bodies and bones sank down into the deep mud, becoming part of the world that was. To lie there unchanging through all the ages of the world that will be.
So it was in times of passing that the bodies of the dead were brought to the waters. On slender boats of woven reeds the dead were placed on the dark surface and pushed slowly out over the uncounted depths. But it was bad luck to watch them pass the stones. Some said that those who watched a soul pass on would be taken through themselves.
Such sights and gates were not for folk to look upon. The other worlds were no sights for living eyes to see.
So when the dead were given to the waters, all turned their backs and went away. Only at dawn the next day would they return to give offerings of thanks to the stones and the water. By then the dead would be gone, no memory of their passing remaining except, perhaps, a stray reed or two floating from the sunken raft.
But there was one thing the folk did not know, amongst the many mysteries of their sacred Mire. There was one legend about Silence and Stillness that had never been spoken.
Perhaps it should have been. Perhaps someone should have remembered, or written in down, or simply passed on a warning. But in those days there was no writing. Nor had there been anyone left to gather the memories, nor others close enough to hear the warning.
There had been none left back then. No one to remember.
So when Silence and Stillness stirred once more, there was no one to know what to do. No one to turn to for help or advice.
They did what they could, but they were only human after all. And the bodies and souls of the dead are but crumbs when a feast is so readily at hand.
STILL MIRE THEY call it. It lies there still. Black waters never moving, standing stones ever waiting. The gate lies open between them, but there are none who remember that now.
But Silence and Stillness are patient. They have stood through all the ages of man. They stand there still. One day, perhaps soon, they will wake.
And none will remember.