A Dark Tale by John Bryant
Where do the bones lie?
Not in the castle, immutable as sin. That’s where the Baron dwells, where the bats spill forth, where the howls of chained monstrosities splinter the night.
Nor on the road that snakes from under the castle gates; the road that pierces the countryside, and lies in wait for travelers seeking refuge from the dark.
The specter calls, lone wanderer; oh yes, she calls. “I am so lost, sir. Will you help? My father awaits me. Our village lies there, see, beyond the ridge. The chill? ‘Tis only country mist that settles between the barrows. A moment is all I ask, a moment of your time.”
But a moment is an eternity, along the leftward path, the sinister path.
To the town you flee, across the fields, beneath the trees that sway and bend and snatch at your cloak. Quick, quick—flit unseen through the streets, the darkling streets, amid oak-beamed dwellings, basements cradled like secrets, doors bolted against the night.
Don’t pause, don’t stop, don’t listen. For you will hear the scuffling of leaves that might be footsteps; the settling of timbers that might be groans; the slap of wind-driven banners that might be a harlot’s punishment.
Pound on the cathedral door, though sanctuary is a false promise. Pace the aisles beneath leering gargoyles. Step lightly past the marble crypts. Tarry not lest the liveried knights, and serpents, and dragons burst free from the stained glass windows.
Hurry past the alleyway without a glance. Don’t look into the eyes that weep and plead as she lies in the muck, spread-eagled, while his scalpel probes.
Press on, press on, across the bridge, above the purling blackness that swirls and sucks and drops to the pool, where hands in sinuous fronds reach for the unwary.
Then scurry, at last, into subdivisions of grey conformity, where Romance ends and Gothic splendor fades.
Creep to the curtain, peer through the crack. Father and mother sit silent over dinner. He yearned to emigrate and try his hand at farming. She thought she had a chance in fashion.
Now they have a son and a daughter: one, long past curfew, snorting oblivion; the other locked in her room, inconsolable. Who knows why?
Mother knows, and father bears the shame.
That’s where the unnamable is named.
That’s where the bones lie.
John Bryant is a novice writer who lives and works in the Pacific Northwest. He mainly write speculative fiction and horror.