Have you ever walked a lonely road at the dead of night? When a few leafs still sway on the naked branches, refusing to be whisked away by the wind? When all that is ahead of you, and all that is behind you, is darkness? Making you wonder why you braved such an ominous night, to begin with?
I have, and I wouldn’t have dared such a venture if it wasn’t for the charm that I clutch to my chest whenever I’m out and about. Looking at it now, it’s a strange item, for several reasons: it’s shaped in a perfect sphere with inscriptions in a tongue that look far too foreign to be pronounced. Not that I would be able to read it properly, anyway, for the charm is scorched in black, giving a scent of burnt flesh and lavender… It isn’t a pleasant smell. Yet, it held me strong several times through the forest and back again.
Charms aren’t something a gentleman ought to have, I understand this, for I too was one of those that held such a mind in these mysterious things; a mystery no less attributed to the ones that make them. However, I was lucky to have encountered one and I sincerely hope you’ll too change your mind after reading this: It all started one evening in east part of town where the soot from the factories lay thick on the houses and on the streets. It was not a path I usually took, mind; frankly, it’s the part of town a civilised person ought to avoid. Yet there I was, strolling about for no particular reason whatsoever. I can’t say what was on my mind that day, only that I had a strong urge, or perhaps it was a premonition? Whatever may be the case, the urge led me through the alleys until I found a strange looking shed made of wood that stood out amongst the brick walls and copper ceilings. The shed was heavily dilapidated, too, with loose planks and obvious infestation of fungus, yet, it emitted a sense of cleanliness for the soot hardly touched the shed – as if an aura of country-air emanated from it.
I entered the shed without apprehension (though I should have), the inside seemed bigger than the outside, but not by much. Perhaps it was all the oddities hanging on the walls? The small figurines and jars filled with liquid and strange creatures that made it look bigger than it was? In either case, there was a lady behind the counter, looking at me as if expecting me. I pardoned myself, of course, for I didn’t know if it was a store or a poor home I’d entered. She assured me she was selling. And before I could ask what that was, she brought out the strange looking charm which I now clutch in stormy nights.
She was well versed in the horrors that had befallen the town, almost intimately so for she described vividly what was lurking… Perhaps I should have asked her how she knew this but I didn’t have the sense at the time as I was too enthralled by her words and cunning. I was certain she knew what she was talking about and accepted the charm without hesitation. She didn’t want anything in return, strangely enough. My gratitude, spoken verbally, was all she wanted. I, however, as the gentleman I am, promised to return the next day if the charm ended up working to give her her proper due. But when I returned, every trace of her and the shed was gone from existence, even the memory was gone, except the very fact that it was a woman and there had been a shed of some kind.
I chose not to question what I had seen and felt blessed for the gift. Even my beloved, who has had trouble conceiving, got pregnant a few weeks later. I pray that the child will be healthy and that we one day will be rid of the monsters which stalk our town so my child can move freely without fear, as all children should.
© Christopher Stamfors
Featured image by ChrisCold