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A Dangerous Descent
by David Sparenberg
2016-10-31 07:18:48
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A Dangerous Descent
a telling told out of nightmares

The moon was cut and the land was cold.  The wanderer on the roads came to a place.  It was a ruined place with nothing standing but broken stone upon ruined stone and ruined stone upon broken.  There was a stairway going down, only no door to cover.  And the poor man went in.

Bdavy01_400_01ut there was no light whatsoever underground.  The poor man had to foot the cold, black corridor with use of his hands along the walls, his eyes being useless.

By and by the traveler came to a room.  It was a strange room too.  No door was at the doorway, no furnishings were within.  There was only a single bed.  And the bed was atop a mound of fresh dug earth.

Now the visitor thought of resting, being weary to his bones.  So he laid himself down upon the bed and drew the coverlets up to his chin.  There was a smell of must and mold and the odor bothered the sleeper.  Whether he slept or not cannot be said.

By and by there was a light, but only a gleam of a light.  It was a strange light, too, all gray and green.  And the light showed pale as twilight and poverty down the corridor beyond the doorway without a door.  There in the paleness was a dense shadow.  And the shadow was that of a woman it seemed, tall of statue and menacing.  There was an eeriness to her that sent a shiver.  And the dreamer could tell the intention held nothing good, as the figure came on toward him, petrified there like one buried alive in those rank sheets of that moldering bed.  For the waif moved with a stalking motion but a will not its own.  And she walked like a body bereft of her soul.

There and then, when the man needed to cry out most desperately and challenge the specter, the shadow stopped and vanished.  Whether that came from being seen too soon or not cannot be said.  But it was a good thing.  Because the traveler’s voice was frozen inside.  His tongue had the weight of lead.  His chest was tighter with fear than the lid of a tight sealed coffin.

But lo and behold, there was a new terror at hand!  Scarce had the phantom disappeared from before the threshold when the turned dirt around the bed began to quake and give way.  Up out from the trembling earth the haunting climbed, naked, ghastly and breathless, with a green reek on her rotting skin.  She pushed straight up with eyes rolled back and open maw, and toppled down, falling stiff as a plank and heavy as stone, hard onto the bed and the poor man prisoner upon it.

Then horror seized the dreamer to the depth of survival.  With a strength that was all he could muster and desperate too, he struggled to be free from the crush of his corpselike assailant.  He sat up in the unholy bed with his eyes bugging out, wet with a sweat from the scream he was screaming.  The stalking thing was gone.  And the wanderer on the roads was alone in the underground room, with darkness only to behold before him.

After a heartbeat or a second at most, the poor man again began footing his way down a cold, black corridor.  His hands were his eyes while his eyes were strained to blindness against the impenetrable pitch.  The black of the hallway was as dense as a tight wound shroud.

By and by the traveler saw a light in the distance.  The light was a pale light too.  It lead the sleepwalker down into yet another room. It was a strange room.  Here there was nothing but a narrow bed set up inside the doorless doorway and the covers of the bed were turned back.  More than this in the chamber, there was not a thing but only two.  And the two women were disputing, although over what could not be said.

But at a stroke the two broke it off.  One of the two was a genteel lady, tall of stature but as pale as a wasting sickness.  The lady crossed over and laid herself out on the narrow cot, drawing the coverlets up to her chin.  She lay flat on her back, with hands crossed atop her chest.  Her eyes were fixed and motionless, staring at the ceiling above without even blinking.

The second of the two was of a different sort.  Heavy boned and hard on the eyes, she was short and stout, with swart skin and a mole or two and a wiry whisker.  She muttered viciously as she hastened from the room and disappeared.

The traveler went up beside the pale lady alone in her bed.  Being weary himself with weariness close to death, the man wondered should he climb into the sheets as well, to give his flesh a bit of reviving rest.  But first he asked the pale damsel, “What ails you lady, and why are you here in a state close to death?”  Then it seemed the woman answered without a word spoken.  Somehow the man knew there was a curse upon her and the one who had fled was the one casting the curse.  The ire of the visitor rose at understanding this injustice.  And he vowed in his heart and soul to deal with the evil and set the lady free.                                                                       

Along and along, and he was again, eyeless and hand with foot, down a cold, black corridor.  Then by and by there shown a light.  And it was a weak light too, flickering ahead, like the light of a starving fire.

The traveler followed the light to its source.  There he came to a place where one side of the stone of the hallway wall was hollowed into a cavern.  In the shallow was a floor of sand like the waste of a desert.  On the sand burned a ring of fire.  Beside the fire sat an impish idol, as ugly as ugly could be.  And there the fetish fed the fire, but poorly, with bits of twigs and the dry, brittle skeletons of broken and desiccated leaves. 

To one side of her familiar, but turned away, sat the squat dame, performing her foul work by muttering curses and spells of malediction.  Her clumpy hands kept busy too and heavy breathing mixed with the sounds of bones being rubbed against bones and stones being pounded on stones.

When the idol at the fire spied the intruder looking in, that impish lump of bad manners scowled its worst scowl and howled its loudest howl.  But the wanderer on the roads had a power and charm of his own. With a word he silenced the jabbering little demon.  And there and then the fiend was frozen as quick as a chunk of ice.

There followed next a battle the likes of which is seldom known.  On one side pious prayers were intoned. On the opposing side countering curses were spewed.  The battle went from fierce to fiercer then from fiercer to fiercest.  Yet not once did the dread one budge or flinch or arise and turn.                                                  

At last, the dreamer summoned all of the strength he could and desperate too.  In a voice he might have borrowed from Heaven, for it had the power of a cherub to it, the man commanded the dame to be silent.  He ordered her straight off to quit the place and lift her curse from the pale lady now and forever.

Then just when a body might think that goodness had victory in hand, a terrible reversal happened.  The hair of the evil was clumpy black strands as thick as a hangman’s rope.  Here, like a work of hell, several of the coils rose up and shot from the hag’s head.  With fearsome speed the thick coils flew too.  In their flight the strands changed from hair into snakes.  The black serpent’s jaws were open wide and poison dripped from their exposed fangs.

On they flew at the poor man’s head and the reek of their hissing was licking his face. In fear of this nightmare death, he stumbled backward and fell away to save dear life.  And falling away, the sleeper awoke.

Now here he was when his eyes opened, huddled beneath a thorny bush.  Dew was on his skin and a chill was in his bones.  The sky was like the shell of an egg, with sun barely breaking through.  It was crack of dawn.  From gray twilight the shadow of a raven passed over the land.  The flapping of the raven’s wings was a clear sound.  And in the near distance the poor man heard the pounding of hoof beats.  The galloping was eerie and seemed to be that of a six legged horse.

Then it was the traveler knew he had gone down into the realm.  It was a dangerous descent too; death had been there with him.  So the wanderer on the roads rose to his feet.  He crossed himself and turned westward.  For there is one matter known by all who wander and that truth is this: The shortest way through night is to walk east and the longest way through day is to walk west.  Either way, there is dreaming.  Only some dreams come from the devil and other dreams belong to God.



Check David Sparenberg's NEW BOOK
THE GREEN TROUBADOUR A Source Book of Performance Ecosophy
is online now and you can download for FREE HERE!



David Sparenberg has also 2 more Books in the Ovi Bookshelves,
"Life in the Age of Extinctions volume 2 – Threshold"
Download for FREE HERE!



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