Something fell out of my head again. I wish that’d stop happening without warning. I think I must be in a slightly M R James sort of mood today.
As the sun slid behind the hills, and the sky turned the colour of freshly-spilled blood, the old man told us a story of the devil.
This story wasn’t like the others. The other stories of the devil are stories of passion and pride. Stories of lust and conflict. Stories of a star that burnt itself black.
This was a different story. It was calm, and it was quiet. It invited reflection, and left those who heard it with a sense of peace, with the knowledge that there is an order to things, and that even the devil has his role to play.
It was a good story, but afterwards, walking home through the deepening twilight, I wondered about it, “what if it were true?” Suddenly, the devil didn’t seem like such a remote figure.
The moon was high in the sky when I reached home. It was a cold, cold night, and the moonlight on the frost made it seem colder still. I closed and locked the door behind me, and settled down by the hearth.
Several times during the night, I was woken by a sound outside. A crackling, wheezing, spitting sound. A spiteful death rattle torn from the throat of a dying animal. The sound stalked around the outside of my house. I had the sense of something watching, waiting…
I lay there, and stared into the glowing embers of the fire, afraid to move.