Thursday, June 13, 2019

Two Pieces on the Internal Being

I rarely used to write this kind of thing. But, since listening to poets read their struggles at open mic nights and the candid yet richly metaphorical lyrics of Twenty One Pilots, I have tried it myself and found that regurgitating my mind's chaos can be cathartic, if generally unfit for human consumption. Most of them are dead-end complaint-style exposition. Like, dear self, why are you such a disaster?
But I wrote one with a pretty metaphor that pleased me. And then I wrote one that wasn't quite an answer to the first, but could be. At any rate, I feel like it's two sides of a coin. It's a negative view and a positive view, side by side. Sort of borrowing imagery from TØP and Björk in a few places, with ships and video loops. So, here they are. Just because. I guess it's for myself; I do too much Hamlet-ing.

Part One: Screaming Creatures and Ships
Sometimes, it's loud inside. As if a small creature is trapped in a dark cave somewhere deep inside. It is wailing, but the sound is lost in the exitless cavern. It reverberates and builds, pressurizing like a steam engine. But there is no outlet,  no safety valve.
Surrounded by others, isolated humans, disconnected,  all pretending. Do they have screaming creatures inside? Or hollow caverns? They may, they may not, but no one will admit it, no one will say, no one will ask.
So we just keep pretending. Pretending we're ok. We remain as islands, isolated by waves of shyness, currents of shame, salted with the savor of safety.
We close off our trade routes and scupper our ships.
What foreign cultures will we develop in our isolations?
I just want to sleep all the time.

Part Two: Circuit-Breaker
You can make yourself a victim. It will feel good. You will be sour with bitter hatred and sorrow. It will feel good. It's not your fault, you have been hurt by others: people, the world, destiny, even another aspect of yourself. Your problems were caused by another. It's not your fault. It will feel good.
But it's a trap. It's a cycle, a circuit you lock yourself into. It feels good to feel bad. You nurse your sorrow like a baby. That baby will grow and grow and become heavier and heavier. One day, it will consume you. It feels good to feel bad. But it still feels bad. It's a trap. It's a cycle. A treadmill you can walk and walk and walk and get nowhere. Step off of it.
It feels bad.
Leave it behind. Abandon the child of sorrow and let it die on the rocks, un-suckled. It won't be easy. But you can release yourself from the cycle. Stop repeating the video-loop. Release play and look forward. You can let yourself out of the trap and leave self-pity behind. Sadness and hardship might not leave right away. But now you have the chance to escape them.

It will feel good.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Cottonwood. A Poem.

This is an utterly random poem/thing I spontaneously wrote today while picking up a load of hay for my sister's horse. We drove by a slough and it had just rained and the window was down. I've always loved the smell of wetlands, water, marshes, rivers, and cottonwood this weird poem was born. If you can call it a poem.

Trees, you grow by the water.
I smell you.
Cold breeze, cold day, moist is the cool cool air on which your scent claws it's way to me, bloody and sweet like the dew of deep sewer gods. A bitter sweetness of rotting things and liquid. Ducks.
Your light reproduction would float on the gentle winds, tufted and soft, but the air is too thick with recent rain.
Trees, you grow by the water and your veins are filled with its fragrance.
Silvery bark and whispering leaves.
I smell you.
Mud is between your toes, oozy and dank like the meme. Dead things are in it and live things, squirming. Life is struggle and tiny lives burrow in the muck, fighting and killing and eating. Between your toes. If you could wiggle them, you would crush millions of lives. And duck shit.
I smell you.
Rotting grass, you are sweet and caress the ankles of the naked tree. Erotic and slimy.
Towering over it all, you grow by the water and clap your tiny, multidunious hands in a fluttering rhythm like Björk. You are not Björk, but a cousin to that pale-skinned saint-tree.
You grow by the water and its music lulls you to sleep so that you do not move your toes and squish the dark muck between them in oozy fountains of duck shit.
Sleep then, and do not kill...until the lightning strikes and your boughs crack and fall down down down through the yards of sparkling air to crash through the rusted roof of a Nissan and crack the ball cap of a scuzzy trailer park red neck.
I smell you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

An 'Official' Announcement


I've been tackling some changes and new challenges in my author endeavor lately and I figure it's time to make an 'official' announcement regarding it.

I have recently re-released my Weather Casters series as independent ebooks and am in the process of doing the same with the paperback editions and both versions of Ambulatory Cadavers. I'm not ditching my lovely publisher, but they are sadly phasing out of publishing and have very kindly released all of my rights back to me, along with all the formatting and covers, which is why I chose to simply republish immediately, rather than taking the opportunity to re-brand and re-release completely. I have other fish to fry but want to keep my back catalog up and running. Little Bird has been wonderfully supportive and I will always cherish the family of authors I'm now a part of. We're still doing this together. We've got each others' backs.

So, as this new indie route opens up, I'm going to attempt to be more diligent with my newsletter. Yes, I know how that went last time...but there's always tomorrow, and I'm exciting to see what tomorrow brings. I have new books in the works, and although I'm not sure if I will go indie with all of them, or try and land a traditional publisher, I want to share that journey with you.

Yes, you guessed it, this is a newsletter sign-up push. I want my subscribers to be the first to read about new releases (maybe the first to read them, even) and whatever else tomorrow may bring. I also want it to be a subscription of exclusive content. I've written a short (horror?) fairytale that will be in the first issue of my new newsletter, along with some exclusive illustrations. I don't want to spam you with sales, I want to give you gifts. And alert you to sales, of course, but good must come with some evil. I want to reward the faithful few, who will actually sign up for this. If you love my writing, I am eternally grateful, and I love you. So. Sign-up, because I want to show you my gratitude. A writer isn't much without a reader.

Disclaimer: my newsletter will probably not be on any kind of schedule. It will be like me: random and slow. But that means less dings in your inbox and hopefully quality rather than quantity.

McCallum J. Morgan

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A More Positive Piece of Personal 'Poetry'

Happiness has been made into myth.
We seek it, we yearn for it.
We dream of soft, gold-colored days, foggy with impossibility, and tinted with shimmering desire. Always in the future, future-bound.
We say if I had this, I would be happy. We say, happiness is thus and thus, and since thus and thus are missing, happiness cannot be here. Dreaming is good, dreaming gives us hope when it is dark, gives us the ability to move forward.
But if we are asleep: if we dream too hard at all times, we fill our eyes full of glittering gold so bright we cannot see the gold that shines around us.
With our virtual reality headset we see a great golden chalice, brim-full of Mead. We reach for it, but our hand passes through, unable to grasp this beautiful vision, which is not vain in and of itself, but focusing on it at all times prevents us from seeing the shining cup of joy that sits beside it in the real world erased by the vision of the alternate, virtual reality.
Dream. But be content.
Contentment is the secret to happiness, and it is available at any time. Not just tomorrow.
Remember to drink deep the cider of autumn while its beauties surround you, though you might yearn for the sweetness of spring. Remember to bask in the sun-glow of friends while they surround you.
Happiness is now.
Happiness is always there, just like sadness. All you have to do is look.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Here is another piece of personal 'poetry.' It's about my lifelong struggle. As a kid I was outgoing...fearless maybe...weird. All I am now is weird. As a teenager, I longed to belong. I wanted so much to be outgoing, to have lots of friends. I still want that, but to a degree I've given up the fight. I know where I am and maybe even how to get out, but I'm scared to. And that's what this piece is about. I don't normally get personal on this blog, but here it is. No one will read it anyway ;)


I fear being despised above all else.
I will not risk it.
To the point of rejecting others will I avoid the risk of being despised.
To the point of self-destruction.
To the point of no return.
I will hide my true self in a cloak of stolid invisibility. I will cover myself with a camouflage. I will build a wall around myself that cannot be breached. I want to let you in. But I won't.
You might attempt to scale this wall, or find a window to peek through.
I would throw you a rope, I would defenstrate myself.
But I will not.
You are rejected. But not because I do not love you. Not because I do not appreciate your attempt at entering my fortress.
I love you for your bravery. I love you for caring enough to try, even in the littlest way. Even if you only throw stones at my bastions. Even if you only call up to my ramparts with an inquiry: who liveth within?
I wish I could raze this castle to the ground and meet you on the rubble to embrace you. But I do not know how.
I despise this, but will not be despised.
I am too weak.

Monday, October 15, 2018

My Status Quo Keeps Me Sane

This is a little piece I wrote one day...week before last...when I was was going through an emotional thing. I don't normally write this sort of thing, and I normally don't share them, but I thought I could throw it up for the last day of October Frights...since it has a Lovecraft reference and is sort of a look at the real-life horrors in our lives/minds.
So, without further ado:

My status quo keeps me sane.
When my matrix rips and I see through the veil of my unreality, I am faced with cosmic horrors the like of which Lovecraft glimpsed.
I resent these rips. They make me furious and I want utter annihilation. When they are pulled closed again and stitched with blissful obliteration, a haunting fear follows me. I know the matrix will rip again someday. I will glimpse that cold place, the abode of Azathoth. I will know that there are many layers to the world and I am but sandwiched snugly in my fragile blanket between worlds.
Time passes and forgetfulness takes over. Familiar objects and places comfort me. I wrap myself in seemingly solid things. I cling to my reality. My status quo keeps me sane and I weave a comfort from the things I associate with my fragile fantasy. I make a web of ordinary. I weave a tapestry of mundane. I am an artist of deception.
Change is not welcome. Change threatens this web. Threatens to take my protection away, leaving me with but that thin veil between me and the void. Change is the antithesis of the status quo. And the status quo keeps me sane.
I will resist change, but it is inevitable. Change will come and rip my web down casually. It will take my cocoon away and force me to metamorphose.
I will be naked in the void, exposed to the freakishness of all the multicolored threads of reality. I will be ejected from the matrix. I will be extracted with bloody tongs and thrown at the foot of Azathoth's throne.
I will rage against him and denounce his tyranny.
I will be sick with shifting, with transformation, with growth, with death, with transmutation.
But change will become normal, too. Every change, once rooted, becomes a new curtain. A new veil. A new layer between worlds.
Change must inevitably become status quo. And the status quo keeps me sane.
I will weave a new web from from familiarities. I will make a new cocoon and begin the cycle again.

And here's the rest of the hop:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Pal'agithon of the Peat

For October Frights, here is a story I started last year, hoping to share it for Halloween. It got shelved, unfinished, and I only just finished it last week. It hasn't really been edited... So here it is, the tale of dissatisfaction and supernatural horror.

Pal’agithon of the Peat
I should have been terrified. I should have run. But how could I run back into a tomb that was squeezing the life out of me? Every day trickled by, grey and wasted. I hated my job and I felt trapped in it, trapped in the stability of it, and trapped in the colorless town where I didn’t really live, just pretended to.
Sure, I could spice things up with meaningless weekend bursts of color. But they were empty shows of sparkle and shine. I had no purpose and those brief fireworks were dim compared to the great grey wall of my life.
I guess that’s why I didn’t run from the whisper. I didn’t run because it was a ripple in the earth, a soft disturbance in the foundation of reality that threatened to crack the wall of my life.
I first heard the whisper during one of those brief fireworks displays meant to make my life bearable. I was with some friends, out by a little lake near town. It was late, with nascent stars budding in the murky sky and mosquitoes and alcohol were flowing freely.
I was feeling a little tipsy and decided to leave the vodka-sparkling group on the faded towels and walk off into the nearby heather. I knew if I stayed, I’d end up sleeping with Jerry. The fact I feared this showed I hadn’t quite given up hope: Jerry was king of squatters in this town of squatters and ending up with him would be like chaining myself to this place. Not that he was in any way undesirable.
Slurred calls of “Where you goin,’ Siobhan?” followed me but I ignored them, slipping into the night like an escaping princess.
I stumbled onto a trail I didn’t know was there and followed it through the sparse trees. I gazed at the stars, willing them to suck me up into their twinkling clime, or to fall and burn away my mundane hell in apocalyptic transformation. They did nothing but cheerily wave at me from heaven.
The trees thinned out and the ground rose slightly. An acrid scent tingled my nostrils. As I swerved onward through the heather and starlight, a chilly dampness wrapped its viscous arms about me and lapped at my ears.
My flip-flop came off and my bare foot squelched into pungent mud. Acid danced in the odorous air and my fingers found prickly, wet moss as I searched for my flip-flop. I took another step into the chuckling darkness and my foot splashed into a dank puddle. I stopped. Something flickered in the back of my blissfully buzzed brain.
I looked up at the gentle hump of murk outlined against the starry heavens. It seemed to breathe, exhaling bygone centuries and inhaling the present, tugging at my single-buttoned plaid shirt.
Bog. There was a peat bog close to the lake. I remembered hearing about it. One of the last peat bogs that hadn’t been cut up and drained. I looked at it and it looked right back at me, daring me. Daring me to what, I didn’t know. Not yet.
But it was quiet and I rested in the apparent peacefulness, unable to put my finger on the unholy pulse that underlay the mystic night. I breathed in the bitter air, the confounded rot, the frozen death that did not decay.
They had taken perfectly preserved mummies out of bogs like this, I recalled. Sacrifices by ordinary people looking for extraordinary lives. Believing in something beyond them that made the mundane bearable. The grass rustled softly in a tentative breeze and the stars glinted like a thousand eyes, watching me.
I could have stayed there forever, listening to the bog breathe, exhaling the fumy fug of the past.
The perfect mystery shattered. Someone was looking for me. I didn’t want to leave. I was rooted to the spot, roots twining down from my toes and sucking up the acid of the bog.
You do not have to go back
It was just a whisper, and not in English, or any other language I thought I might have recognized. It was an ancient rasp, secret, soft, grating, but utterly private. Somehow, I felt what the words meant in my core. And I understood where they came from. I stared into the bog, heart pounding. The bog. Yet I somehow wasn’t surprised. I knew I should be. I knew I should be terrified. Knew I should run screaming back to Jerry and let him comfort me with vodka-flavored kisses. But I stayed there and listened.
There is no need to surrender to your life
I’m drunk, I thought.
You can be free
I trembled. Maybe it was cold. Maybe I was terrified. Or maybe I was thrilled.
I’m afraid I was thrilled. Here, at last, was something, if not color, it was a different, indescribable shade in my life of grey constricting stone. It wasn’t the hole in my Great Wall. The bright explosion I had hoped for. It was a frightening, undermining tunnel beneath, with a scary hint that maybe the wall was there for a reason.
But there it was. And I stood still and waited. Waited to see if this was real. Shivers ran up and down my arms and legs.
Reluctantly, I turned, looking back at the shadowy bushes and the night-clad trees. I heard crashing foliage. Someone was coming. Suddenly, I was loathe to be found here, in this strange, magic place. This dark place.
Unwillingly, I turned and stumbled back towards the trees and the sweaty arms of Jerry with his drunk breath.
I was hungover the next morning. Not bad. But it made my Monday that much more hellish. There I was at my desk with my retirement plan and my headache, wishing to be anywhere else. I kept thinking about the bog and wondering, was it the vodka? But I’d never felt such a strange sensation from alcohol. That subtle shift in the fabric of reality, that whisper.
Oh, that whisper. What had that been, then, if vodka did not speak? How could a bog? Maybe I was just going crazy. But I couldn’t get the sound out of my head. Or the smell out of my nostrils. I drank another cup of coffee and tried to focus on the meaningless tasks I was being paid to do.
It was like prison. “I want to be free,” I muttered, echoing the unknown words in my head.
I looked up the bog. There wasn’t much information on it. There was a trail to it from the lake. It was protected. It was a peat bog and a small one at that.
I resisted the urge to go back to it immediately after work. I was terrified that if I went there, I would feel nothing. That the grey, impenetrable mundanity of my life would be irrevocably proven after that unfair glimpse of dark depths beyond.
My phone chimed, a fake sparkling noise, an empty promise of unicorns and magic. It was a text from Jerry.
“You feelin ok, babe?”
I scowled. How sweet of him. And observant. He’d been pretty drunk last night to notice how I’d been thrown off-kilter by the whispering bog. I don’t want another reason to like him. Another reason to trap myself with him in this pre-technicolor town. But if I don’t reply, he’ll keep texting me in concern.
“Ya,” I texted, “made it to work on time minimal headache.” Foolishly, I didn’t stop there. “How bout you?” I kicked myself.
“U seemed off glad ur feeling better,” Jerry replied. “I’m fine thanks. Have a good day.”
I sighed, my phone chimed again and I hold my breath.
“You wanna do something tonight?” panic grippped my stuttering heart.  No, I can’t say yes! But what do I say? Can’t, I’m busy. Busy doing what? Researching bogs.
Many of them were depleted in the 1800s, the peat cut and dried to burn for fuel. Not many animals lived in the water scape, besides birds and myriad insects…
And the sacrifices. I skimmed over all that—the supposed history. They couldn’t say for certain. Had it really been such a wide-spread practice?
What would that be like? To be heaved into the bottomless mud by your friends and family? Alive, kicking and screaming. Or would you calmly accept your horrible fate, knowing that your village would have a good crop that year? I shivered, imagining cold mud oozing up my arms to my neck… and I still hadn’t replied to Jerry. Could I ignore him?
If I could keep from going to the bog tonight…even as my fingers hovered over my screen, my phone chimed.
“How about the Stone Circle?”
“Yes,” I replied, not sure if it’s the Druidic connotations of the club’s name that seals the deal or the fear of the pull of the bog drawing me back.
But I found myself at the Stone Circle at eight-thirty in a white dress, Jerry’s arm around my shoulder. In the back of my mind I realized this was a date. The panic was dull at first, but mounted as the club’s door opened. Throbbing electro beats folded around me as I entered, like the drums of an ancient ritual.
Jerry grinned at me, oblivious and happy. His eyes sparkled as he took me in, under the pulsing lights of this thrumming festival.
The smells wrapped me in their arms: cigarette smoke and sweat. The laughing fruity drinks with their alcoholic undertones, sparkling in the flashing lights of a cheap strobe. It was chaos and somehow oppressive. Like I was in a box, being shaken violently. It’s a box full of glitter and sour odors.
I longed for quiet, for open spaces, for the smell of grass…and peat.
Jerry sat me at the bar and ordered us drinks.
“You look grim,” Jerry said. I tried to smile. Just to keep him out. “You’ll feel better in a bit,” he promised, handing me a fluted glass full of twinkling intoxication. I knocked it back and ask for another. I need it, to keep off the gloom of this squalid party palace and its desperate attempts to laugh at the grey life it can barely mask.
This world is living death.
But the sparkle was brighter now, after the third drink. After the fourth, I let Jerry lead me onto the blaring dance floor. Then we’re moving our limbs. Jerry was close and his body brushed mine in these crude movements that were skewed by the very substance that gave them life. Our alcohol fueled dance should've exhausted me, but instead I was dazzled. The lights shone stupidly bright and the music throbbed a ritualistic groove. The kind of drumbeat to drown out the screams of the child sacrifice. And I had another drink in my hand and I was laughing. I couldn’t be sad. I couldn’t be glum. I was so full of life, but the life wasn’t mine. It wasn’t real.
But Jerry was holding me close and I was stroking his arm and we were swaying on the dancefloor again, not gracefully, like in a story, but drunkenly, like in a club. But it was real and was now and I wouldn’t remember it in the morning. I kissed Jerry.
The beat kept thrashing through the floor and up my legs.
Then a whisper softly wound through the chaos and fake-life.
I can set you free.
And I knew, if I let Jerry take me home tonight…I’d never be free. I needed fresh air. But I couldn’t seem to walk. I couldn’t get out of this club.
I stumbled into several people and one of them laughed, but the other snapped at me and I burst into irrational tears. Jerry guided me out of the club. I don’t know how much he’d had to drink, but I passed out in the car anyway. I want to be free.
I can set you free. Come to me.

When I woke up, I was relieved to find myself in my own bed. My head hurt, and I’m still wearing my smelly, smoke-scented clothes. But this was my own bed, and Jerry wasn’t in it. I did remember last night…vaguely. I remembered the kiss. And I remembered liking it. I like Jerry. But I just couldn’t….couldn’t do this. Not when the walls press in. I couldn’t tie myself to this place…this fake-life.
I remembered the whisper.
Come to me.
After suffering through work with another hangover—a worse one this time—I drove out to the bog.
I parked by the trail head and paused, glancing through the shrubs at the placid lake, gleaming in the late afternoon sun.
My heart thunked like a ceremonial drum. I knew I was going to be disappointed. This was foolish. I couldn't really believe I was going to hear voices in the marsh, did I? I'd only heard it when I was drunk. It wasn't real.
But I headed down the trail anyway, water bottle in hand.
I was trying to convince myself that it wasn't real...but part of me kept wanting it to be real. Wanting to hear that...voice.
The trail wound through some of the same thickets I'd traversed on that first night. The trail began to lose focus, breaking up into many little routes through the grass and soft earth, which gave way to moss and mud.
I stopped and looked up.
The gentle mound of peat rose before me, mossy and exciting.
I wanted to run up to the top and laugh like a madwoman. The mound tugged at my thumping heart and my bones shook like tambourines.
This was place of death and also of celebration. The sun shone on the moss and marsh grass, lighting up their green membranes as if from within. The water was too dank to shine.
The acrid smells of mud and decaying plants rippled on the breeze with the hum of insect-song.
No whispers in my head though.
I made to step closer, but my feet were heavy, they would barely move. I looked down and my heaet spluttered. My feet were sunk into deep mud.
I yanked on them and with a sucking sound they slurped out of the muck, bringing up fresh odors of ancient rot--of death and also of new life. I slopped over to a drier clump of weeds and sat down, unscrewing my water bottle lid.
Just being here, out in the sun, surrounded by the trilling bird-life and peat-scented air, was refreshing. But my heart still drummed, unsatisfied.
A gleam at the base of the bog's mound made me drop my water bottle. It was as if a bell had chimed, timed to my drum-heart and tambourine-bones.
I stood, and hopped from clump to clump, somehow guessing where the solid patches were, moving in an almost ritualistic manner to the song that pulsed beneath the earth.
I came to the edge of the mound and the gleam danced in my eye, shimmering.
With eager hands I plucked it from the mud and carried it back to my water bottle. A good rinse revealed it to be a solid chunk of gold with weird markings on it.
Some ancient alphabet of jagged lines. But I knew what it said.
'Return tonight, Siobhan.'
The strange music of the day was suddenly gone and I was steeped in eerie silence. My heart still hammered and my limbs still shook, but the song was gone and the birds were quiet.
I slipped the gold chunk into my now-empty water bottle and hugged it to my chest as I made my way back along the trail.
My phone awaited me in my car, blinking with messages from Jerry.
It was too late for Jerry. I had chosen. I would not let myself be backed into something I didn’t want: into the concrete void of this small town cesspool.
I ignored his messages and his calls. I drove home and I waited for night to come.
But what was I choosing?
“What’s the matter?” Jerry asked when I answered the door.
“Nothing,” I lied.
“You didn’t answer my calls,” he said.
So you show up at my door? You come to claim me before I can escape? I tell myself he’s a creep…but is he? I had been afraid of him, afraid of what might happen when we were drunk and how we would end up together…he’d only ever been a gentleman. He’d taken me home when I was wasted. As far as I knew, he’d never behaved inappropriately, even when buzzed…
But did I know?
And were we not in a relationship already? Unofficially. Panic gripped me and his earnest gaze tempted me. Tempted me to give in to life.
“Yeah, my phone died,” I lied.
“Oh,” he said with a sigh. “You, um, you good then?”
He wants me to invite him inside.
“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, sorry. You want to come in for a bit?”
“Yeah, sure,” he said.
I had to do something. He’d stay late…we might end up…no. I had a date with the night. What to do with Jerry?
I’ll get him drunk. That’s always the common denominator. Our relationship was built on alcohol. And it will end with it.
“You want a drink?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said.
He tried to follow me into the kitchen but I waylaid him at the couch. “You look tired. You must have worked hard today?” I pushed him gently onto the couch.
“Yeah, I guess.”
“You wait right there, I’ll be back, what do you want?”
“Surprise me.”
Will do.
We drank cocktails and chatted about work and local gossip until the sun hung on the horizon, tinting the entire sky like blood.
Jerry’s eyes were already drooping.
“Just a sec,” I said, rising and setting down my cocktail—the only one I’ve had all evening. “I’ve gotta go get changed.”
“Changed for what?”
“You’ll see,” I said coquettishly and pranced off to my room.
I showered first, and put on a red dress I’d never worn before. And red shoes. I put a fake rose in my hair. When I slipped back into the living room, Jerry was still. His eyelids were closed peacefully.
I left him there and dashed out to the car, grabbing my water bottle with the gold message in it.
It was night!
It was night.
I sped to the lake and only remembered I’d forgotten my flashlight when I faced the dark trail…black and whispery and rank with marsh smells.
But a flicker caught my eye and I held my breath. What was that? Clutching the water bottle, I stepped forward and the flicker blossomed into a white light, sparkling in the night. I took another step and the light seemed to move further away. Another step and the same thing. The light stayed the same distance away…but…I took several more steps…it also seemed to follow what I remembered of the trail.
My heart was beating, drum-like again, ceremonial. This was my night, this was my guiding light. I followed it through the thickets, slowly at first, but faster as we went along, until I was plunging through gorse and heather, ripping my dress and losing one of my red shoes…just like I’d lost my flip flop that first time. We weren’t exactly following the trail.
My heart thrummed faster and ahead, I saw more lights flickering, almost dancing to the beat in my soul. And then I heard real music.
There were drums in the swamp! And tambourines and flutes…I panted, racing faster through the underbrush, chasing that magic light. I lost my water bottle. I lost my other shoe.
And then I was there.
I was really there.
The bog loomed before me, black as night, untouched by the ring of white torch flames that surrounded it. The torches were carried by robed men with white beards who swayed to the music, which was played by dancing, naked flautists. The drums thumped nearby but I couldn’t see who played them. The tambourines were in the left hands of the torch-bearers.
They all turned to me and the music and motion stopped.
No one spoke. I stared about at the strange people. I couldn’t see any of their faces: all of them were cloaked by shadow.
Welcome, Siobhan.
My eyes went to the bog. Black and putrid. But perfect. Preservation. Peat.
Pal’agithon is my name. Pal’agithon of the Peat. Will you join me? I have been alone for so long, the flesh of sacrifice has been absent. Give me succor and I will rescue you from your life. Grey and tasteless.
I hung back. I’d already made up my mind. But sudden fear tingled along my spine.
Come twine with me in the muck.
And what awaited me there? Silty sentience. Magic. I was out of time. My old life was dead. This was life. In the peat that preserved.
The drums began to beat.
Boom…boom…boom. I stepped forward. The drums increased their tempo.
Boom, ba, boom, ba, boom.
The tambourines shook and the flute chirped in ecstasy.
Boom, ba, da, boom, ba, da, boom, ba, da, boom.
I stepped into the mud.
The torches swirled in the dark and the peat remained black…blacker than night…blacker than fear.
Boom bada boom bada boom bada boom.
I waded out into a shallow pool and up on to a tuft of moss before the mound of peat.
Come to me.
I jumped.
A flute cried like a lost bird and I fell face first into mud.
The peat folded itself around me and pulled me in, sucking, drinking, pulling, engulfing, muting the drums and my heartbeat.

The police report on Siobhan Ryan’s disappearance didn’t contain much. She had vanished, presumably near the old peat bog. Her shoes were found in the bushes between the lake and the bog. And a water bottle that inexplicably held a chunk of gold with old ogham hieroglyphs that we're translated as ‘Return tonight, Siobhan.’ The artifact was carbon dated to the second century A.D.
Her boyfriend, Gerald Harker, was found in her house, dead from drinking a poisoned cocktail. The lake was dredged, but no body found. The bog will be investigated, but carefully, as it is still protected as one of the last surviving peat bogs.

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