Horla Fiction (June 2020)

 

THE SEASONS

by ANDREW FERGUS WILSON

 

I THINK it must have been late October when I first saw a change in her. Not long before Halloween. A police car, or maybe an ambulance, sped by the house and its blue flashing lights momentarily illuminated our dimly lit room.

In that moment, a wash of blue-white light froze her face and I saw… Well, I’m not sure. It was somewhere between fear and incomprehension but strangely inhuman. In that moment her jaw seemed thicker, her teeth sharper, her green eyes nearly yellow. Regardless, she looked different. The moment, the car, ambulance, whatever, passed and the room had a soft, candlelit glow once more. She turned and said, ‘Must be drunks somewhere,’ and I mumbled an affirmatory noise and tried to shake the sense that beneath that familiar face was someone else, a shadowed self.

I forgot about it; I convinced myself it was the beer or maybe that little bit of weed we’d found and put it out of mind. It wasn’t until mid-December that I was reminded of it. One of the things that had drawn us together was a love of the outdoors; I guess we’d both ticked a box indicating a liking for ‘Country Walks’ on the dating app and it was one of the first things we’d swapped messages about. We had our favourites; ones that changed with the seasons. On this occasion we’d gone for a shorter walk but one that took us uphill, rapidly away from the villages below and into the stony hills. I always thought of this bit of the walk as ‘The Barrows’ because it passed by, and over, a couple of old burial chambers. Not much remained except small mounds. Victorian antiquarians had long since removed the bones of the millennia dead and the possessions they had been buried with.

‘Oh my god, do you remember when we last came here and I cut myself?’

I did, kind of, I remembered her hurting herself but not how. I remember the day itself clearly though. It was September and the late Summer light had played off the limestone that broke through the grass. ‘Oh yeah, but how did you do it, I’ve forgotten?’

‘What? Really? You nearly had to carry me home,’ She laughed in that careless way that made me feel warm, nervous, and excited. ‘I was over there, on that mound when I got my foot caught in some sort of hole. You thought it was maybe a rabbit hole or something. Like Alice.’ That laugh again.

‘I remember, you cut your ankle on a piece of stone.’

‘And I made you kiss it better, lick it clean like a doggo.’ More of that laugh. She was laughing like that when I kissed her ankle. It had made me so horny, that uproarious laugh and lapping at her broken skin. It had affected her too and we had hidden among the mounds and fucked each other.

‘And then we…’

‘Did the only thing possible,’ she smiled. It’s odd to think that we did that. It’s certainly out of character for me but as she said, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world at the time. Since then, from time to time, we’ve only had to glance at each other and know the other was thinking about that moment. There was something else, more than sexual, that had happened that day. I wish I understood what it was.

‘You’re blushing and looking pensive, what is it?’ I shrugged and kicked a rock, it did not yield and I felt a shock of pain. I hid it.

‘I…I don’t know.’

We walked in silence for a while and I felt a cold breeze begin to bite my face. Apart from the whisper of the wind, it was eerily quiet and I could just about make out sounds carried by the wind and murmuring within it. Or could I? I don’t know. Dogs barking? Children laughing, we turned a corner and was that laughter a woman’s screams? Much further away: A… a melody? We passed the thorny, twisted trees on the hilltops, bent over by decades of winds stunting them; bladed hunchbacks twisted by the elements.

‘I said, “Are you okay, Ian”’ Her voice jolted me and I stopped and turned to her. She hardly ever called me by my given name, making up pet names according to her whim. She was looking at me curiously, concerned. More than that. I don’t know if it’s the right way of expressing it but it was as if I could feel her examining me on some level I was unaware of. And I saw those shadowed features again. For a moment I was frozen, her whole being had changed, it was primal and predatory and I was transfixed.

I was shaken by it all and gripped by a lack of certainty. Who was she? In a moment, familiar and then not. My breath caught in my throat and I coughed. I am normally in control of things – my feeling, the situations I find myself in but, God, I keep thinking the same thing: I don’t know. I don’t understand. Disoriented, I felt afraid.

‘I don’t know,’ I snapped at her. I was primarily annoyed at my own lack of clarity. Where we anyway? ‘Where are we?’

‘We’re on the other side of Nether Edge. You said you wanted to stretch it out a bit.’

Had I? When? ‘I don’t recognise where we are.’

‘Look, don’t worry. I grew up round here, remember? We’re just above The Wickun.’

‘Of course I do. Have we been up The Wickun?’ The Wickun was a rocky, steep cut into the hillside that I always worried about slipping down. But it was miles further West into the hills than I would have expected to be. Had I climbed it whilst I was listening so intensely to the voices on the wind? Surely not. I hate that path.

‘No silly, we need to go down it to get to Mire Smithy.’

‘What? Why are we going there?’

She laughed that laugh again and I was caught up in its rising and falling cadence, ‘We were always going there. We’re staying the night! Surely you can’t have forgotten that? Are you sure you’re alright?’

‘Of course!’ I was saying ‘Of course,’ to it all. To being alright, having not forgotten another thing, to spending another night with her. But I felt realisation collapse down onto me. I was carrying a rucksack, I suddenly knew it was full of overnight things. It had been the plan, but I was sure we’d set off for just a short walk. I had to sit down. What the fuck was going on? I felt my feet give way under me. No, actually, I swear it was the path. It buckled and threw me down. Panic and horror as I felt gravity do its worst. A flash of excruciating white pain in my temple and then nothing.

***

I felt around me, thoughts lurching back into the focus of consciousness and then an agony behind my eyes as I instinctively tried to open them. Oh my god. Shut them again. And suddenly her voice, close and warm, ‘Sssh,’ (Had I cried out?) ‘Take it easy but try and sit up a little.’ Fresh constellations of pain burst into light behind my eyes, abstract flashes of colour, as I struggled to my elbows. I felt her rummage behind me, fussing, piling pillows to support me. Fingers down my cheek. ‘I’m going to give you a little water, are you ready?’

I rasped an answer, suddenly aware of how dry my lips felt. I imagined them cracked, blistered. The hard rim of a glass was pressed against them and I marvelled at the cool of the water slaking my thirst, revelling in its clarity, the pleasurable chill of tiny rivulets running down my face, dripping onto my chest. I must have been feverish because I was feeling this all so intensely. In the distance a bell was tolling.

‘I’ll be back soon,’ She whispered, her lips then kissing my cheek, grazing my skin with promises. Warm plum skins promising yielding flesh. The rush of sensations of the cool water and the warmth of lips sent spiralling eddies of sensation up through my head and the pain reasserted itself. I might have moaned as darkness wrapped velvet night around me.

***

I dreamt deeply but slept shallowly. I kept awakening in a state of confusion, pulled between worlds. I don’t recall the dreams but I did hold onto feelings from them: of ephemerality, of having a gauzy existence stretched out on an invisible web, pulled thin and punched through from one place to another; configurations of stone and wood winding me ever further outwards over dark hills and winding me tight into dark, meagre clearing in dense forests, sunlight a rumour from beyond vertiginous, hurtling evergreens.

I woke up and threw up onto the wooden boards by the side of the bed. Blood, spittle, and a noxious green watery mess seeped into the gaps between boards and the blind eyes of wood whorls long since lost. I pulled myself back into the bed and sat up. My head was clear. The pain gone. I had to do something about the mess I’d made.

And then I saw the sweat-soaked bedding, sweat, blood, and unknown stains of various hues. And the smell. Like I had rotted in here. Oh, what had happened to me? I tried to get up. Ugh. I’d stepped in the wet pool of vomit. I staggered toward what looked like the door to an ensuite and pushed it open.

I woke up in the bed again. The sheets and the air were both much cleaner. I think I was too. I opened my eyes and she was there on a chair by the end of the bed. ‘You’re awake!’

‘I think I am’

She smiled, ‘Welcome back. I was beginning to get really worried, it’s been two days since we got you down from hill.’

‘We? Who’s we? Are we? Where am I?’

‘Mire Smithy. Not exactly as planned but we made it.’ Of course, she laughed that laugh and it made me smile despite all the pain that had left its ghosts in my bones and the residual feeling of dread the past few days had stirred up in me. ‘You made an awful mess but Uncle Harry says he’ll forgive you if you help him out over the next couple of days.’

‘Unc-’

‘Uncle Harry! Oh my gods! Do you really not remember anything? We were going to stay with him. We are staying with him in his pub. Seriously, I think we should get you to a hospital. I’m not sure which will be closer, Derby or Sheffield?’

I put my hands up in mock surrender, overcome by the wave of words, ‘I’m sure I’ll be fine now,’ I laughed.

‘You didn’t see the state you were in.’

‘I got an impression from the state things were in before the bed was changed. And I’m cleaner. Did I make it to the shower?’

‘Hahaha! No, sponge bath for my favourite patient!’

‘Oh! You were the naughty nurse?’ I think I tried to leer and move towards her but she moved faster than I could and gently pushed me back onto the pillows.

‘Now, now, my favourite patient needs to recover first. Besides, we had to use Harry’s potions on you. He fancies himself as some sort of local medicine man. Cunning, he says. And they’re bound to leave you feeling a bit woozy still. Fuck knows what he puts in them.’

That gave me a start. ‘What do you mean?’

‘He knows a few old tricks to help with fevers and relieve pain, that’s all. I definitely think they helped. Whenever you were still enough to get you to swallow one we gave you one of his mixtures.’

‘What are you telling me? That you were giving me fucking new age bullshit cures when I was seriously ill? You could have fucking killed me, you twat!’

‘What? We. Were. Helping. You. You ungrateful little shit.’ Each word an accusation and then she was gone.

I sat, deflated. I should have…well, look, the aftermath of every argument is full of self-justification or recrimination. It would get me nowhere to dwell on it. I needed to find her. I wanted to say sorry. I was being cranky; yes, I’d been through a very disorienting experience but I should have realised how upsetting it must have been for her.

I made it through the bathroom door this time. I didn’t recognise the pyjamas I was wearing and they suddenly felt uncomfortable against my skin when I realised they were someone else’s. Probably a man as they were too big for me and I’m not short nor thin. I didn’t want them on me. Maybe it was an after effect of the concoctions I’d been fed but I began to dwell on the idea that I’d been wearing things in which another human had dreamt. I felt revulsed, suddenly afraid that their inner worlds could have leaked from their pores into the material and then into mine, infecting my unconscious mind with their deepest thoughts and feelings.

In that moment I was conscious of a hawthorn tree, bent over by decades of wind on a hilltop.

I had to sit down. I realised my heart was racing and my breathing was ragged. I could hear the blood pounding in my temples and a wind picking up low whistling notes in my ears. I sat, put my head between my knees and breathed deeply. My head cleared and my heart slowed to a normal pace.

Slowly, I got to my feet and began to inspect my body in the mirror. Bruises, grazes and scratches were interlaced across my skin. As I did, I remembered the thorn trees on the hilltops that I’d seen before I fell. I smiled at my own suggestibility and shook away the idea of breathing in another’s thoughts through my skin. What on earth was I thinking? I’ll bet her uncle was some kind of old hippy who thought magic mushrooms could cure anything and I’d been fed mug after mug of ‘healing tea’ or some shit like that.

I showered hurriedly, grateful for the feeling of the cleansing deluge running over me, I felt renewed by it. Stepping carefully out of the narrow cubicle I saw that some clothes had been laid out for me. A favourite T-shirt and jeans. I was thankful and felt a pang of guilt again for having shouted at her. I put the clothes and went back into the bedroom. Sitting down to pull my trainers on I looked at my feet and nearly fell forward onto them. Dizzily, I closed my eyes.

I was walking down the hill, ‘We’ll be there soon,’ she said. I staggered up, turned, it was, it was not, was it her? I felt confused, suddenly sick, my throat swollen inwards, I gasped at the air and held tightly on to the bad frame.

‘I said, you should leave this room soon, get some air,’ she was there in the doorway. Light streamed from a window in the stairwell behind her and I could see the outline of her body through her gauzy dress.

‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean, I, look, my head isn’t right. It must have been that knock, I…’

I trailed off as she walked purposefully towards me. She put her finger on my lips. I could feel heat radiating from her and I was aware of my breath quickening, cock thickening. ‘Calm down, I’m not sure you’re ready for me just yet,’ and she laughed again and took my hand. I closed my eyes for a the briefest of moments and felt a vertiginous pressure as I imagined myself walking down the hill again, my mind, my legs not my own. Eyes opening, I caught myself. ‘Steady,’ she said gently, ‘We need you in one piece.’

***

I followed her downstairs, still unable to shake the feeling that underfoot was grass and earth not carpeted wooden boards. I thought I felt it yield. She was leading me into the pub. I could hear the low hum of conversation, the warmth of bodies and the musty smell of beer in the air. She opened the door and I braced myself, feeling overwhelmed by the sudden presence of strangers. The noise broke like a wave and I was confronted by a room of people, mostly men, frozen, all staring at me. It lasted only a couple of seconds but in those brief moments I saw them all, each one, with stunning clarity. Light glinting off tooth enamel, a thick brow furrowed, a stretched line of spittle from lip to glass, a rheumy eye staring blankly at me, on and on these fractured vignettes of every soul there.

My eyes fell on a couple by the pub’s main door, their backs to me. Nothing of the man could be seen behind a protective layer of waterproofs, backpack and the accoutrements of a ‘serious walker’. She was less covered and curling tresses of russet hair fell down her back exactly in the same as…I felt something in my head snap and in a flash of dazed confusion there was suddenly life and movement in the room. Uncle Harry’s hand was in mine, shaking it vigorously, ‘How are you, youth? Fancy a bite? Soup of the day’s mushroom,’ He exploded into laughter glancing at his niece. She laughed with him, sharing his glance and looking at me with a twinkle in her eye.

‘I hope you don’t mind, love, I told him about you freaking out before,’ she tiptoed and kissed me. I couldn’t argue, I felt too rotten. But had I mentioned mushrooms to her? I, I don’t know. I felt like I was shrinking inside myself, I was losing control of the situation and I didn’t know what to say. What was the right thing to say? Were they laughing at me? I should join in. I laughed and then felt myself frown when I realised they’d stopped laughing. Oh god. ‘Yes, haha, that sounds great’. Except my voice was small and apologetic.

‘Come on, let’s sit you down,’ she led me away to a small table. I glanced back and saw her uncle staring after me, his face undecipherable behind a huge beard. Had I just made an idiot of myself? He glanced at her and they exchanged a look. I think. Perhaps it was just paranoia? All of a sudden, I wanted to cry. A sigh shivered through me.

The table she had chosen was near a fire that was burning coal. A mangey dog, a hound of some sort, warmed its straggly grey hairs. Its head rested on its front legs which stretched out before it. Orange-amber eyes looked up at me and I felt pity emanating from it. She motioned at the dog with her head, smiling.

‘Robin’s nearly as old as me.’ She said, laughing. ‘We called him Robin because he was always stealing scraps from the tables. I made him a green felt hat when I was girl. He tried to eat that too’. The dog seemed to sense it was being laughed at and let out a harrumphing noise before standing and clicking its clawed paws across the stone slabs on the floor. It wandered elsewhere.

‘Are you okay?’ She asked.

‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘I feel okay on the whole, but I keep feeling, I don’t know. Look, I really am sorry about freaking out before, I think…’

‘Hush, don’t worry about it. You banged your head, it can do the weirdest things to a person.’

‘But that’s exactly it. I feel okay but…’ I paused and stared into the fire. She let me think. I was enjoying the warmth of the fire. It was something tangible, a blanket wrapping around me. It made me think of my childhood and the crocheted multicoloured top blanket, the fleecy faded blue one beneath and the orange floral sheets, hugging me against the night. I could see the floral swirls growing, glowing in the spaces between the coals.

‘I, I don’t know if my head’s okay.’ I blurted the words. There was fear in them, I could hear it. But it was true, it was real. I was shit-scared that I’d damaged my brain and my thoughts and sensations were leaking into one another. Was this the beginnings of dementia? A stroke? I realised I was gripping the tabletop, my knuckles white.

‘I’m having difficult separating my thoughts from reality. Flights of fancy strike me as real and I keep drifting off into daydreams that feel as real as sitting here.’ I sighed heavily, deeply. I looked away from her and back into the fire.

She reached across and gently but firmly prised the fingers of my left hand from the table, took my hand in hers, and interlocked her fingers with mine, her thumb stroking the back of my hand.

‘It’s fine. You’re going to feel a bit odd. You’ve been out of it for days and in a world of your own. Now you’ve joined the rest of us and it’s taking a bit of getting used to, is all.’

Joined? Why didn’t she say, ‘returned to’ or ‘come back to’? What did she mean by ‘joined’? I didn’t have time to gather my thoughts as her uncle came to the table with two pints of thick, dark ruby coloured beer.

‘Two pints of Robin’s Best; I hope you like this, city boy. I’ll bring some pork pie and pickle over’

I kept quiet as she answered him, ‘Thanks Uncle Harry’

As he left, I whispered to her, ‘Robin’s Best? Isn’t the dog called Robin?’

She laughed a laugh that filled our corner of the room and I swear the fire burned brighter for a moment. ‘Looks like you’re getting your sense of humour back,’ I wasn’t entirely sure I’d been joking but she continued, ‘Harry was just jesting, it’s really Robin’s Breast Bitter; they do a lighter pint called Wren’s Ale, you see?’

I wasn’t sure I did but Harry had appeared with a hot slab of closely-packed pink meat encased in thick pastry with clear jelly running from it. Beside it was a congealed, aphotic heap of gooey lumps and dark-veined onion puckered with vinegar. I approached them cautiously with a fork whilst she talked about fermenting, malt, and hops.

They tasted sublime. We had another pint. I began to feel uplifted by the beer, by her beauty, the pub warmed and I felt slowly enveloped by the camaraderie that had seemed to exclude me when I had walked in. We drank into the night, sang songs whilst a toothless man drooled and played accordion; the room seemed to shake as the each of the revellers banged a foot in time to the music. As the songs continued, I looked at her and caught a suggestion in her eyes. We hurried upstairs and fucked long and hard in time to the rhythms of the night.

***

The morning was not what I expected. I felt refreshed, elated even, by the night before but there was more to it; something else lifted me. The air…no, not just the air. The day itself felt charged with possibilities. Through a gap in the curtains, light poured into the room, onto the wooden floor.

Motes of dust shone like diamonds suspended in the air. The hairs on my arm stood as if responding to a static charge, I could almost taste the electricity that swam the aethers. My skin felt taut on my body, I felt poised. I. I. I felt more aware again but this time I allowed it to embrace me. I closed my eyes but could still see the room. Iridescent shimmerings suggesting forms. Like petrol spilt on a wet garage forecourt, unfamiliar colours made sense as they faded in and out of view. I didn’t question how or what I was seeing, it was simply there. As I opened my eyes the two worlds merged and the beam of light from the window sparkled with fresh intensity.

My jaw hanging open in wonder, I turned to ask if she could see it all but there was only her absence filling the other side of the bed. But I could see an echo of her; taste her breath and body in the air. I got up and showered slowly, marvelling at the exploding lances of water bouncing off my skin. I felt fucking wonderful. I dressed and descended into the world, expecting it to jar me from my beatific state. It was kind, though, and welcomed me gently.

She was waiting in the seats by the fire with a bowl of simple porridge, a smaller bowl of honey, and a glass of water. ‘Simple fare but honest,’ she said with a wink. I’m sure she was implying something more than I’d picked up on but I was suddenly ravenous and fell on the food gratefully.

She waited until I finished and then took my hands, looked me in the eye and asked me if I remembered what she’d asked last night. My mind was suddenly filled with images of her limbs, the inward curve at the base of her belly, body heat and lost hours. And amidst it all,

‘Wait a minute. You weren’t joking?!’

She laughed that laugh and I felt myself swelling again. She must have sensed it, laughed again and said, ‘You’re ready for some memories but not all of them, eh? C’mon, it’ll be fun!’

I wasn’t sure what she meant; I know what I thought would be fun but then a semi-serious arching of her eyebrows told me she meant my promise. The village were celebrating what she called The Beginning End.

It sounded a lot like a what I’d heard called ‘The Wheel of the Year’ by some friends who practised what they called the old ways. It was some kind of festival of renewal; it was Midwinter although it felt warm for the time of year, and the lengthening of the days demanded some kind of observance. I’d said as much but she just laughed, reached down, squeezed my crotch, and said it was older than the wheel. I’d realised this was not time for a discussion of the reliability of the oral tradition. I was happy enough to go along with it.

There’s a certain natural poetry to it and the rhythms of the year demand our attention no matter how distorted the changing climate may make it all. So I’d agreed. With her hot, wet womanhood inches from my face and demanding to be fed, I’d have agreed to anything. She’d said I was to have some kind of role in the ritual. I’d be, ‘one of the four seasons, the four that make the one, and bring down the Renewer who Ends All Things And Remakes Them’. She’d said it with such force that I’d heard the capitals.

Again, that laugh! ‘You know what you promised on, don’t you? I don’t think you’ll forswear that in a hurry. Haha!’ I smiled, what else could I do?

‘Of course not.’

‘And you remember the costume, right?’

***

I climbed the path I’d slipped on a few days earlier, the Wickun. Although truth to tell it felt like weeks. And I was wearing ‘the costume’. I suppose it looked quite good; it’d definitely have gone down well on social media, #pagan. Long, white robes and a wreath of berried holly and mistletoe on my head. Sunlight glinted off golden bands that were strapped around my midriff. I felt utterly stupid. But at least I was not alone.

Three other ‘seasons’ walked with me, spread out by a gaggle of celebrating locals, drummers drumming as they walked. We were a diverse bunch; if my pagan friends’ wheel was at all relevant, I’d guess we were meant to represent the North, South, East and West. My pale skin and hair made me the North, I’d guess. The colours gave away who was who, green Spring, yellow Summer, and orange Autumn. Each of us walked with a village girl; they looked like sisters. Each wore a simple shift of cotton. The sun revealing the silhouettes of their bodies beneath. It was warm, too. Unseasonably, like I said.

Away on the horizon what looked like storm clouds gripped the land but our little procession was wreathed in sunshine. It didn’t feel like midwinter. It was more like midsummer and with the drumming and occasional lilting whistling and pipes it could have been a bunch of hippies on their way to a forgotten free festival. The villagers were no hippies, though. I don’t suppose there was an adequate way of summarising them. Varied in height, build, gait, and complexions across the human range they were, perhaps, unified only in the conservative nature of their fashions: tweed and corduroys predominated with the odd hat sporting pheasant and crow feathers here and there.

Every pocket seemed to carry a unlabelled bottle which would be uncorked and passed around as we made our way to wherever we were going. I didn’t really know; we might even have just been walking the boundary of the village. The bottles all had the same sharp, bittersweet brew; it was some sort of spirit that burned as went down but gave me a happy buzz. We walked on, merry and half dancing our way on the levels.

And then we stopped. I’d not followed the route very carefully and I wasn’t sure where we were. Which was odd because I knew my way around there pretty well. We’d stopped by a stone circle. Which was even more odd because I scoured the Ordnance Survey maps for every prehistoric site I could find; I’d walked over pathless and indistinct moors looking for ancient rock art on boulders little different from the hundreds of others that littered the area. I’d trespassed, been chased, known joy and disappointment hunting these sites but I’d never seen this. One circle banded another, smaller rocks, the height of a child, outside an inner circle of adult height stones.

The inner was about thirty paces across and in the middle, four stones in a row, an arm span between each one. By then, I was well under the influence of the spirit and it somehow helped me understand. As one, we Seasons stepped forwards to the central stones and stood, backs against them and extended our arms outwards, fingertips touching. It felt… thrilling. Energy pulsing between us. I realise it may have been the spirits but I could sense the other Seasons and we knew what to do.

Someone among the revellers let out a wild cry and the music started in earnest, a heavy rhythm with a lilting melody trilling above it. It like some kind of world folk music; I wasn’t sure if it I could hear Celtic, Nepalese, Balkan, Senegalese in it. It intoxicated me further. I stood with my fellow seasons as dancers began to fill the circles. Arms still extended, the stones felt warm against our backs where the stone should have been cold. I could feel a shared anticipation quickening our hearts. I… We… I was growing less sure of the boundaries; I could sense them as extensions of myself. Like flames of the same fire.

The light began to fade and it looked as if many more people were dancing than had walked the path from the village to the stones. From among the crowd, she stepped forward and walked seductively towards me, in a line with her sisters. I heard voices from the crowd, amidst the music, ‘The brides! The brides!’

The music and light faded until I could see nothing but her, she was walking towards me radiant. She slipped her simple dress from her shoulders and I felt my body respond. I felt three other echoes. Desire radiated from us, from the Seasons, from the stones. As she drew close, I, we, dropped our arms to hold her waist, her back, and pull her to me, us, to press her lips on mine. I was heedless of the dancers who, moments ago, had been mere feet from us. She lifted my robes from me and pressed herself against me, reaching down between my legs to grip me and rub me against herself. She was wet. She let go and jumped up in the air, I amazed myself with my sudden strength and agility; I caught her thighs and she pushed down, uncannily accurate in mounting me. We began to fuck. Collectively, we began to fuck. I could feel it. Sexual energies building and accelerating each other. Somewhere distant a rhythm could be heard and we shifted to meet it.

I was no longer holding her, it was as if a hinge in the ground had opened and I was on my back, she was riding me, head back, exultant. Her jaw jutting, brow low. Ancient, impossibly powerful, devastatingly gorgeous. My head was lost in the pounding of the bodies, of the drums, my brother Seasons caught up in the same rhythms. And then my head opened.

Cascading torrents of personality rushed through me, collapsing into my growing awareness of the heartbeat that we all shared, the exhilaration, the joy of abandonment to the transformation into more plunged me fourfold into Her, valleys and woodlands, wolves howling through my backbrain, my bloodstream, ecstatic life rampant and free once more. There was no ‘I’ only this whole rush of being in the here and one now stretching, engorged with possibility.

There was an infinite cosmos and it lived inside me! Pouring out stars and galaxies from my body into hers, the moment came, filled with lifetimes and lasting an eternity. The End and the Beginning.

And then He came and I started screaming. A presence with no name only an infolding of the infinite; a contorted face stretched out across cellophane space. I, we, gasped and our openness became a way in.

I felt her grip me inside her and she pulled me in. Her sisters pulling in my brothers and we were stretched and broken. Torn apart and flayed across the universe, stretched so thin. We were inside everything. And it was terrible and it was beautiful.

And we were remade. We were one.

And then we were four. But not the same four.

Four who are one.

Brothers born of their sisters.

And now it is time for us to go abroad and remake fresh seasons. The year is turning and the female is ascendant. She will come and find us. She will love us helplessly. And we shall take her to the centre of it all. And it will turn again.

And the joy of it all fills us with a laughter that we cannot stop. Even as our minds, all pressed together, struggle to make sense of it all we cannot stop laughing at the joyous madness of it all.

 

***

Andrew Fergus Wilson writes both fiction and non-fiction. He describes his fiction as ‘inflected with themes taken from cosmic horror, folklore, and hauntology’. His non-fictional work is mostly academic material relating to belief, marginality, and extremism. In both his fiction and non-fiction there is revealed an enduring interest in the way that we all engage in multiple layers of meaning simultaneously. He lives in Derbyshire, England, and likes to find time to explore its hidden corners and forgotten histories.

Title photo credit. Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

Horla standard disclaimer: image has no direct connection with the fiction