Author: Aaron Davis PM
The light dawns the darkness purrs and magic keeps on singing.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Supernatural - Chapters: 5 - Words: 15,074 - Reviews: 4 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-12-13 - Published: 02-13-13 - id: 3100723
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It had smelt of rain for weeks, but the sky refused to shed a tear until the woman's first contractions came. Her own water broke with the sky, and the world thundered with her cries of pain. The labor was long, almost two days now. The howling wind, the tree branches knocking against the roof, to say nothing of the occasional flooding of the small cellar, did nothing to ease the stress of the event.
The husband stood there, in the small wood-cabin, mouth resting against a tight fist, terrified. The Moonwife sat on the bed beside his own wife, dabbing her head with a cloth while the town priest, known as the Curan, waited for the emerging child.
The dark wood and lantern light played sinister shadows across the walls as the mother screamed again, trying with all that was in her to deliver her child into the world. The Moonwife gave the husband a soft pat on the shoulder inviting him to trade places with her as she tended to the small fire in the unpolished stone-indent along the far wall.
The husband took his wife's hand, remembering how happy he had been when he'd first heard the news...
She had been promised to him since he was eleven years old and even then he thought she was the most beautiful creature on earth, her comely hair, her radiant complexion, even her odd green eyes had always entranced him. Unlike some arranged marriages, their feelings were mutual; thus, by the time their marriage was consummated, they had already spent a significant amount of time together... they'd sat beneath the old rowan tree, the very same which now wrapped against their ceiling, speaking of dreams for the future... children, a house on the land handed down to him by his father... it's why they'd chosen this spot for the cottage.
The home had come, easily enough, but try as they might they did not conceive until eight cycles of the seasons had come and gone. When his wife was finally found to be with-child they leapt for what would be a short-lived joy. The pregnancy offered its own obstacles. First she became weak, unable to walk more than a few paces without having to catch her breath, then fevers would touch her every full moon, so severe on several occasions, that both the husband and the Curan feared for her life.
When the labor finally began, he was at first relieved, but now feared many of the signs along the way were pointing to a terrible end. He watched her there, dripping with sweat, biting down on a woven chord, eyes closed in pain, fighting for what could be both her child's and her own life... He loved her more... he blamed himself... he hated being so powerless...
A strange sound snapped the husband out of his worry, a new sound, a high pitched and piercing noise what touched him to the heart. He looked up, there, the Curan sat, holding something small, dirty and wrinkled in his arms.
The husband looked to the wife, she was crying, tears of relief, rather than pain (well perhaps a bit of both). He dared not believe for a brief moment... she was alive, their child was alive, the Moonwife helped the doctor perform the necessary post-labor rituals, and finally turned to the parents.
The wife was still recovering, crying tears of joy and trying to catch her breath from more than forty-eight hours of work, so the Curan decided to let the husband hold the child first.
The husband wiped his own brow with an already damp handkerchief, before reaching out to take the screaming child, his own screaming child. As the doctor placed her in his arms, the husband was awed by how small and how light she was, like a bird. She cried and cried as he looked at her, she was a pale thing, with an already full head of matted black hair. He reached out and stroked her hair which made her start and look at him.
The child opened-wide strange emerald eyes, which on closer inspection by the father, had an odd hue of purple around the Iris.
She stopped crying.
The father stood very still, his hand still resting on the side of her face. Something was wrong.
There was something about the way she was looking at him that wasn't right. Some instinct was sparked by her stare, something about those eyes, alien yet instantly familiar... a memory, maybe not his, a warning out of the past, a warning eons of his ancestors had learned not to forget. The feeling so was so visceral it was almost instinct and made his whole body straighten and tense.
It was something he'd only felt in slight, once or twice when seeking refuge by the fire on long hunting trips, hearing shadowy figures move beyond the light...
Or once, now that he tried to think of it, he'd felt more clearly... One night, when stalking a forest gazelle to a glade, he had unexpectedly found himself with competition. Looking across the clearing he chanced upon two terrible bright green eyes amidst the dark cover of the forest. He had frozen, never having seen eyes like that, so intent, so focused, so clearly intending harm... not malicious, no... too cold for malice, but purposeful. Those eyes had shaken him just in the beholding. Counting himself lucky that the green orbs were trained upon the gazelle and not himself, he had decided to take the better part of valor and not wait around to discover the identity of his competition, rather, hastening a quiet retreat.
Her gaze, the creature in his arms now, was not the gaze of a child. The only thing he could compare it to was the gaze of that thing in the forest. Cold and hot at the same time, purposeful.
The father cringed instinctively, and the child turned in one quick moment, far too strong and coordinated a movement for a newborn. The animal that looked like a baby, grabbed his hand by the thumb and opened its mouth wide... sharp fangs emerged with lightning speed from where a normal child's canines would one day be. Before he could react she bit down hard, piercing his skin and sinking her teeth down to the bone.
The husband shouted, and both his wife and the Moonwife screamed as, without thinking, he let go of the infant.
She fell. There was a soft thump. His wife now sat up in bed, starring, horror struck. The Moonwife covered her mouth with her hands as the Curan looked away, not daring to fill his mind with the image.
The realization of what he'd done finally began to dawn on the husband... had he really seen what he thought he had? Was he delirious from the stress? His hand felt numb as he applied pressure to the wound. It had happened, but who would believe him? Perhaps the Curan could examine the body? Perhaps he could find the fangs and prove that the child was... wrong? A monster?... but a greater monster than a man who murders his infant?
His head was spinning, he leaned over the chair by the bed and vomited. The silence was palpable. The storm had died down and no longer howled. The lack of the natural noises of the night was simply due to the nocturnal creatures seeking shelter from the rain, he knew, but at that moment it felt ominous. The darkness knew. The quiet judged him.
For the second time that night an unexpected sound shook him from his well of fear. Not a cry this time, but something else... something incessant... something grotesque and wrong amidst the horror...
He turned. There on the grown lay the child, her blanket pulled away from her as she looked from person to person with that same unnatural strength and coordination a newborn infants' neck should not be capable of. She wasn't giggling or making the strange gurgling noises of a regular child, no, she was laughing, a hearty, manic, strong laugh... a laugh that wasn't reactive, but forceful... imposing... the laugh of the grieving or the hysteric... a laugh which divorced itself from sanity...
She looked at him... no, laughed at him... demanding his attention... there on the floor, staring at him with her large, bright, green eyes.