At Mayfaner House
by Eoin O'Neill
THE JOURNAL OF GEORGE MAYFANER
October 3rd, 1933
A flag displaying our family’s coat of
arms hung above the doorway.
The image of a silver owl, wings spread, perched upon a black shield
bearing eight unique moon shapes should have impressed me -- but it
didn’t: our father has never been one to boast the family crest, and we
have shared his sense of humility.
“Flags,” he said as we arrived at
Mayfaner House. “What good has
ever come of one?”
Years have passed since I’ve kept a
journal of any sort. My friends
maintained that they were for girls, as if a boy had no business
recording his thoughts; but Violet, my twin sister, encouraged me, she
having kept one since learning to write. She’s writing at this very
moment, no doubt, in her room on the second floor. She was drawn to
this particular room, she says, and it would appear to have belonged to
a girl before her. I chose mine because it’s up here, on the third and
(There is a black cat lingering outside
my door as I write. She
meows as if to shoo me.)
We have travelled to Mayfaner House in
the wake of our grandfather’s
death. The house is currently under the ownership of Lady S, a
mysterious woman to whom George I left what remained of his
estate. The Lady politely refuses to divulge any details regarding her
history or the nature of her relationship with our grandfather, but has
welcomed us warmly upon our unannounced arrival; and though we had come
here with the intention of confronting her, our father has demonstrated
an uncharacteristic placidness in her presence, going so far as to
agree to our family’s assistance in the restoration of the house.
(I should note that I find the Lady’s
accent completely unplaceable,
as does Violet.)
Mayfaner House was built in the early
18th century on the cliffs of
Co. Clare. As it stands (which it barely does) the house is an utter
wreck, all three floors and the attic ready to become one at any
instant. I needn’t describe the house in detail, as I’m sure Violet is
busy doing just that, weaving a beautiful inky tapestry to illustrate
how truly terrifying it is -- she reckons it’s haunted; and
though it’s not nearly as bad as she’d have you believe, let it be said
that if this house were a story it would be written by [MISSING
George I spent his final years
here, never travelling so far
as to lose sight of the cliffs upon which his house is ludicrously
perched, drinking wine of his own making. He died of natural causes,
Violet was here, taking the opportunity
to read and critique my
journal while I was busy disposing of the cat. She says I should
provide more details about the house and Lady S, and that I do little
justice to my years spent at Belvedere with the quality of my writing.
The house stands no more than twenty
yards from the cliff’s edge.
Facing west, it seems to ponder the wide ocean. Tales of brutal storms
are told upon its walls, old brickwork revealed where stucco has worn;
this gives the house a wretched, decayed appearance -- one I might
liken to that of diseased flesh -- to which the interior corresponds.
To inhabit this house is to inhabit the belly of a wounded beast: it
creaks and groans as if in agony, or to will itself over the edge of
The Lady S, the current owner of
Mayfaner House, is an attractive
woman of middling years whose pale complexion holds in remarkable
contrast to her raven curls. Her eyes, emerald green, possess a look I
find both alluring and unnerving; and while myself and Violet agree
that she’s in some way dangerous, I can’t help but feel a rush in my
gut as I write of her, a stirring in my loins. Perhaps it’s because
she’s the only woman here to whom I’m not related -- but I am
nonetheless drawn to her.
October 4th, 1933.
There are mirrors everywhere.
I spoke to the caretaker, the gregarious
Mr. O’Connor, this morning.
Beyond a brief introduction yesterday afternoon, I hadn’t had the
chance to properly do so, and I was eager to question him regarding
Lady S and the general state of the house.
“What’s on the cards for today, Sir?” I
asked after an exchange of
“A lot to which I’m not used, lad,” he
replied. “Your grandfather
preferred to keep the house in a state of disrepair, making my life
easy. I was ordered only to assist him in the making of his wine and
the drinking of that wine -- making life easy. … The Lady S, however,
is heart-set on restoring the house to its original glory, which makes
life somewhat difficult!”
I told the old man that I’d be glad to
“Your father tells me the same,” he
said. “And Jaysus knows we’ll
need as many able bodies as possible, the Lady being as work-shy as she
is. … Though who can expect a woman of such artistry to get her hands
dirty? She’s better off as she is, painting away in her room or
sketching the cliffs! Have you seen her work? Stunning!”
The Lady is an artist.
He said she’d be away for most of the
day, so I sought out her room,
which is on the second floor opposite Violet’s.
It was locked, of course.
It’s late afternoon and clear across the
sky. I have a mighty view
of the ocean from my window, and the Islands spread northwest. The
winds have calmed; the house is silent. As the horizon prepares to
swallow the sun, I sit down to write of my conversation with Lady S,
the fall, and the dream.
The Lady had returned from her business
earlier than expected,
startling me as I climbed the stairs to the third floor. She was just
leaving the room opposite my own, locking the door behind her. I took
note of her soft, delicate-looking hands -- they could have belonged to
a woman half her age -- and the lavish rings with which she adorned
them. One bore a gem the color of her eyes; it looked like an
eye, and might well have been crafted purposely so, given its shape,
size, and the small black circle in the middle.
She froze while turning toward the
stairs. … My gaze stayed fixed
upon the gem: the black circle had begun to enlarge as if it were a
dilating pupil -- and I could scarcely believe my own. … Grey clouds
parted somewhere high above the ocean, light streamed in through a
nearby window; the gem reflected the sun’s rays, and in a luminous
burst I was cost my vision.
When I regained it, I was no longer on
the stairs to the third
floor, nor anywhere else in the house. I stood alone in a wood at
night, frozen while my surroundings shifted. All was black, all in
motion. The earth trembled and a roving mist spilled between the trees,
the limbs of which throbbed -- the pulse of the living forest.
I began to walk, my blood running cold.
A shape moved swiftly across my path --
a shadow cast from above the
trees. I looked up, saw the glimmer of moonlight reflected by a
burnished surface, heard the beating sound of wings. … A loud thud in
the distance: something large had fallen, landed among the trees. … The
Then I saw her: a figure so white as to appear glowing in the darkness,
she emerged from the mist like a phantom. … The wood seemed to bend to
her will -- trees twisting and contorting, throbbing with greater
intensity, the ground shaking fervently in her favour. Moonlight raced
to her naked flesh, eager to be absorbed. She was the focal point of
this feverish place, and I was drawn the most -- my heart pounding, my
She beckoned me silently.
Then the blackness was truly so, the
vague outlines of our
surroundings no longer visible in the night.
It was only the Lady and I, together in
a void, our bodies becoming
Whole ages might have passed while I poured myself into her.
I awoke in my bed, sweating. The Lady
was here, her voluptuousness
barely contained by a black and crimson bodice. She was patting my head
with a wet cloth, nursing me, whispering my name in soft, warm tones.
“You’re what I’ve always imagined George
to have looked like in his
youth,” she said. “You have his sharp features … and his hair … so very
dark.” (It’s not that dark actually; Violet’s is much more so.)
I asked the Lady what had happened.
“You took a fall on the stairs,
darling.” she said. “Knocked that
handsome head of yours. You don’t appear to be concussed, though, so no
need to worry. A spell of rest is all you need.”
She smiled then, a smile that could have
ended an ice age.
I feigned awe: “You’re a physician
as well as an
The Lady lit up further, the fires of
her eyes burning brighter. “I
have walked more than one path,” she said, speaking as if to impart
some nefarious secret. “Some more softly than others.”
Her smile … her radiance -- and her
accent … Spanish? Galwegian?
I asked to the whereabouts of our
father. The Lady turned her gaze
to a spot above my head, squinted, then opened her eyes wide.
Several moments passed. I dared a glance
or two at her breasts.
“He’s downstairs,” she said, squinting
again, “in the drawing room.
He’s with Mr. O’Connor. The two have just come up from the cellar.
They’re carrying four bottles each. No doubt Mr. O’Connor wishes your
father to sample the wine. If he’s anything like his own father, he’ll
require little persuasion.”
I asked how she knew this.
“The placement of mirrors in Mayfaner
House,” she said, indicating
the one above my head, “is such that one can see from almost any one
room into another. You may have noticed that the house, with the
exception of certain rooms -- bedrooms, for the most part -- is
open-plan. This was made so by myself that I might keep an eye on dear
George as his health waned. … Mirrors reflect mirrors, reflect
reflections, reflecting again, again and again. … It is confusing,
indeed, to an untrained eye -- but with practice one learns where to
look … how to look.”
I laughed (though it hurt my head). “You
can see all the way to the
“All the way to the drawing room.”
I’d noticed the mirrors, the open plan.
… Is she really able to
I opened my mouth to speak, to ask if
Violet was aware that I’d
“What was your relationship to our grandfather?” I blurted.
And if her smile could have ended an ice
age, her next words could
have started one: “You know I am his lover.”
It’s getting late.
My head’s stopped aching, but I’ve been
writing for ages.
It’s time to
October 5th, 1933.
George I, who decreed that there
be no ceremony whatsoever in
the event of his departure, is buried a half-mile south along the
cliffs, a stone’s throws west of Foghorn Wood. Our visit to his grave
this morning was much overdue -- the mother would surely be livid!
TO THE MEMORY OF
WHO DIED 9th SEPT. 1933
AGED 88 YEARS
EHEU FUGACES LABUNTUR ANNI
Father’s face betrayed no emotion.
Violet shed a tear. Mr. O’Connor
mumbled away to himself. My mind raced with thoughts of Lady S … the
dream … the mirrors. … All the while we stood still, four figures no
less solemn than the stone before them. The silence would have been
unbearable, so I was grateful for the howling wind, the waves that
lashed the cliffs, and Mr. O’Connor.
“Storm’s on its way,” declared the old
man, and you’d think it was
Christmas Eve by the way he’d said it.
I studied the gravestone and the house
looming distant. My
perspective was such that they appeared the same size; I found this
amusing, for whatever reason, and barely suppressed a laugh as Violet
began to speak.
“I want to be burned after I die,” she
There’s not a single crematorium in
Ireland, yet I’ve known a few to
share her sentiment. They tell you that they wish to be burned, and
then go on to say where they’d like their ashes spread (somewhere of
some significance or another); but I suspect that deep, deep down, all
the way down
to-the-drawing-room in our hearts of hearts, we
don’t care what happens to our bodies at all.
As we made our way back to the house we
were treated to tales of
Foghorn Wood as told by Senan O’Connor.
“It wasn’t always called that, you
know,” he said while regarding
the nearby wood, half-buried as it was beneath a cloak of Atlantic
mist, with an expression of fear and reverence clearly worn for effect.
(A proper Gaelic bard of old, he was only short a lute or a harp.)
“Nás na Marbh, ’twas known in ancient times, ‘Meeting Place of
The Dead.’” … He spoke now as if to an audience of small children:
“Stories of Foghorn teem with terror, its demonic dwellers drifting at
night from the deep wood and into the dreams of
Bubbling witch’s cauldrons brim with limb and entrail whilst horned
man-beasts bent on defilement lurk upon the town’s edge, advancing
stealthily forward whenever the night should mists should veil the
“I encountered such a creature, once,
when I was a lad. … It was
late at night, and I’d arrived at the house of Victor du Pont -- a
friend whose father was a frog -- while in pursuit of a shadowy figure
I’d seen scurrying about near the wood. It entered the house through
the front door, which had been left unlocked by the drunken Frenchman.
I followed the beast, knife in hand, for I intended to cut its throat.
I left without bloodying my blade, however, having crept up the stairs
only to discover that the beast had been let in by Victor’s
mother. ’Twas her who’d left the door unlocked -- not
Victor’s father, who was likely still out whoring. … What I had
initially taken for the sounds of Mrs. Dupont’s smothering death throes
were in fact her gasps of wicked pleasure!”
(You may be wondering how I can recall
things so precisely. It’s
simply that I possess a perfect memory -- a Mayfaner trait, and one
that I’d happily trade.)
We all laughed, Violet the loudest. The
seanchaidh went on: “A much
greater evil inhabits the wood, however. An evil to which all others
submit! An Mháthair na Coill, ‘The Mother of The Wood.’
Visit The Bloody Bacchante for a drink or two and you won’t be long
hearing a tale! One night, there was a lad going on and on about the
witch mother, how she watched him, watched us all, from her
dwelling in the deep womb of the wood. Her eyes the eyes of our
livestock and the wild ones come begging our scraps, her eyes the eyes
of our children. … He wouldn’t shut up, the fool, so we threw
him out on his arse. But I ended up feeling sorry for him, so I …”
I had stopped listening, turning my
attention to the wood instead. I
shuddered at the sight of the
house place: black, ominous,
forbidding. It stood impossibly still despite the wind, as though Time
itself had turned upon its fringes and fled.
“Elsewhere, in the hunt of man and
woman,” said Mr. O’Connor as if
having read my thoughts. “Easier game than trees. … ”
Our homeward path brought us closer to
the wood, where a small
creature stirred among the trees. Faint though its movements were, they
served to liven that which had seemed so deathly still from a distance;
and though trunk and bough remained queerly unaffected by the wind, I
saw that they were not entirely black, as I’d thought them to be, but a
dark brown perhaps common of a woodland.
“Foghorn Wood awakens in the moonlight,”
said our father gravely.
“That’s what your grandfather used to tell me. And my mother, rest her,
would say, I do wish that father of yours had left the forest in
Clare instead of bringing it with him to Dublin, to which he would
respond, Mary, must I tell you again -- a forest and a wood are
two different things!”
Violet shrieked. The creature had shown
itself. “A filthy black
rat,” as needlessly confirmed by Mr. O’Connor. “Is it me eyes, or is
that bastard the size of a cat?” (He was being ridiculous; it was only
about half the size.)
The vermin observed us from its post on the tree line, beady eyes wide,
whiskers faintly twitching. It looked in need of a good meal, but had
fled before I could find a stone to feed it.
Mr. O’Connor laughed as Violet marched
in the direction of the house
(she was already sour over some remark I’d made earlier, and the
encounter with the rat had proven too much). Our father’s attention was
fixed to a point high in the trees, where low sounds could be heard:
tyst-t--tchk-k … Then, as if suddenly free of its shackles, a
bird shot out from between the branches, croaking madly. It flew
northwest, then doubled back, circling Violet for a moment before
resuming its original course. The croaking had frightened her; she
reversed path, and her gallop was worn to a heaving trot by the time
she’d reached us.
“Turn around, Lady Mayfaner!” our father
teased. “You appear to have
dropped your grace in your mad dash! George, help you sister.”
“Scared of a crow?” I asked her.
“No,” said Violet, who paused to regain
her breath before correcting
me: “It was a raven, actually.”
The storm rages outside, and I have a
pain in my arse from sitting
on this chair. I’m also developing a callous on my left middle finger
from writing. (Our mother’s mother used to say that being left-handed
was a sign of the Devil -- she who might well have been his bride, the
wicked old hag. I could write her name here, but I’d rather not spoil
good paper.) I’ve an ache in my head, too, from listening to Mr.
O’Connor blather on and on. He’s on the other side of my door, talking
to the cat -- Ms. Eldritch. He continually overstates the size
of the rat we saw this morning. First he was as big as a cat. Then a
fox. Next it’ll be a wolf.
The door nearly parted with its bloody
hinges. The old man bastard
had burst in, drunk as a bloody lord, just as I was stashing this
journal. He’d seemed sober enough when conversing with the cat only
minutes beforehand, so I wondered how he’d gotten so jarred.
“I see you’re relieving your pen of its
duties, lad!” he said, and
gestured me to silence before I could respond. “Is that your hand done
for the night, as well, or have you the Lady on the brain?”
I’d not seen her today, and told him as
“That’s not what I asked, boy!”
“I’ve forgotten the question!” I spat.
“Now, what do you want? I’m a
“No matter,” he grumbled, a shade of
sobriety infecting his
features. “Here ’tis the answer to a query that counts, never mind the
original question -- which is to say-y-y-y-y-y, be careful your answers
and manner in which you deliver them. … I mean to warn you of the
mirrors, lad, and the Lady’s lip-reading abilities. A stunning
creature, she is, but devious! I’d plenty warned aul’ George, cautioned
him often enough. But do you think he’d ever listen to me? Stubborn
aul’ fox. … I warned her about his son, as well, that father of yours,
and the pretence he keeps with her. But she’s much too self-assured,
the Lady. … Ara but don’t be mistaken, lad, you’ll get nowt
past her -- nowt at all!”
The old man’s words trailed off, rain
and thunder assuming their
“Ara,” I hissed in mimicry,
“would you feck off? We’d
already sensed as much, myself and my sister. We needn’t have some
drunk aul’ eejit telling us what we already know. Now, yourself and
Missus Eldritch, piss off!”
That riled him. “Your grandfather was
quite the scholar,” he grated.
“And a marvellous writer, too. I do hope that if I were to open that
journal of yours I’d be met with language more graceful! Aul’ George’d
turn in his grave at the talk of you!”
Ms. Eldritch meowed. Mr.
O’Connor crossed the room, knelt
before a chest of drawers and began to search through them, mumbling
indignantly. “The talk of him! … Cheeky little hoor!” A sharp intake of
breath marked the end of his rummaging, and I watched as he withdrew a
manuscript from the bottommost drawer with such scrupulous care as a
field surgeon might employ when removing lead from a fusilier’s back.
“Well then,” I said. “It’s a crumpled
manuscript. How impressive.”
The old man cradled it as if it were a
newborn child, and the music
had gone from his voice when next he spoke: “Tell me, like a good lad,
with what do you reckon your grandfather occupied himself in his final
years? The making of his wine? The drinking of it with me? Enjoying the
lovely Lady Stygia? … We drank to escape the ravages of our superior
intellects! And though he frequently indulged in the Lady’s flesh, he’d
never allow me the pleasure!
“I’ve told you about the winemaking,
haven’t I, lad? But I haven’t
told you what I’m going to tell you now. … This-s-s-s! ” --
he indicated the manuscript -- “George’s masterpiece, though his only
work at all, and unfinished. He began writing it long before your
father’d ever suckled his mother’s teat -- a stunning creature, she
“Enough about that,” I said. “This work
of our grandfather’s, what
is it? Our father once told us he’d written poems and short stories.”
“Well,” began Mr. O’Connor, “this is
merely a portion of it.
Fragments. There are pages in places scattered all over the house --
closets, drawers, escritoires. … Ah-ha, look here! I hold in my hands
the title page!”
“Give it here,” I demanded.
“Such is your right!” the old man hissed
as he hobbled to my
bedside, where he assumed the manner of a Medieval pauper. “At once, my
liege! At once!”
“Now, Mr. O’Connor!” I bellowed
authoritatively (though my voice
broke), and he presented me with the manuscript.
“ Careful, boy.”
‘THE SHADES OF TARTARUS’
Tales & Recollections Written by The Dead
“Upon the timely death,” explained Mr.
O’Connor, “of his father,
Ignatius Mayfaner, your grandfather inherited this, old Mayfaner House,
and chose it as the place he’d finish his masterpiece.”
“Which he never did?”
“Which he never did.”
“Tales & Recollections Written by
The Dead,” I read.
“The Shades of Tartarus,” uttered the
old man. “Indeed, they visit
from time to time. …”
October 6th, 1933.
I awoke this morning, shaking and
sweating, from a dream in which I
toiled to comprehend some incalculably great number. … I am ill. Ill
Noon brought a visitor.
“That witch,” hissed Violet, who
sat cross-legged at the end
of my bed. “You know me. You know what I’m like, George. You know I
don’t regard most people highly enough to show them the least bit of
respect, no less be offended by the things they come out with -- but
that woman has managed to insult me every time we’ve spoken! Well,
George, what do you think of it? Be honest with me.”
It was beautiful: a soft silk dress,
loose-fitting, green with blue
flowers. She rose from the bed as lightly as an acrobat and tiptoed to
the west-facing window, where she was greeted by an ocean breeze that
swept through her hair before kissing my fevered brow.
“The dress is beautiful, Violet. Don’t
“Thank you, George,” she said, a smile
blossoming on her face as she
welcomed the breeze in return, her eyes closed, their lids quivering.
“He wrote a story for me, you know. At least, there’s a story in that
stack with which I share my name … or perhaps it’s the other way around
and I’m named after the story. … I had a read of it
while you were asleep -- you appeared to have been having a nightmare,
George.” She turned to face me. “Do me a favour, will you? Hold onto
the story for me. I don’t want to keep it for myself -- though it’s
hard to say why. … ”
I told her it would be safe with me, and
that I’d meant it when I
said the dress was beautiful.
The rhythms of her feminine footfalls
echoed on the stairs, landing,
and between the walls of my skull, where they danced a jig with an ache
renewed with fire. I’d have cursed the others -- even my sister -- but
granted all pardons to the Lady (Lady Stygia, as the old man had
called her); and my heart, too, danced a jig. Here she was coming,
unexpected: clip-clop-clip-clop … I sat up, fixed my hair with
my hands and cleared my throat to avoid of the adolescent croaking to
which my voice is accustomed despite my twenty-one years.
Enter the Lady, beaming, carrying an
“Good afternoon, darling,” she cooed,
and her voice was like honey
in my ears. “I’m ever so sorry to have missed you yesterday. How’s the
“I’ve been much better,” I said
philosophically. “Not in the full of
my health, as the uncle Joseph would say, but open to good company.” (I
don’t know why I mentioned my uncle Joe.)
She crossed the room, placed the bottle
on my bedside table next to
a glass lately drained of water. There was melody in her every motion,
an elegance for which I struggle to assign words -- she could have been
seen to feed from a trough and still have retained her grace. … Her
perfume was of such luscious potency that I could practically taste her
when she leaned down to gauge my fever, the soft warmth of her palm
upon my forehead expelling the ache as if it had never been; and as I
could think of nothing beside burying myself in her bulging bosom,
which once again threatened to burst from her bodice (this one a
striking chartreuse green), I gave silent praise to the thickness of my
“You’re burning up, you poor dear,” she
sang in tender tones.
“Luckily for you, I’ve just the elixir.”
She reached for the bottle and set to
uncorking it with a screw
seemingly produced from the air. “You may thank your grandfather for
this,” she said, and pop of cork from bottle preceded the music of
pouring wine. The smell of it, so bitter as to burn my nostrils, was
enough to usurp the Lady’s fragrance.
“Your sister,” she remarked while
filling my glass, “wears such
lovely clothes. … There you are, my dear. Have you got it? Good boy.”
Christ. The smell, the fumes --
that acrid fetor. Here I was
accepting the Devil’s chamber pot as if it were the bloody Eucharist;
but I, the thorough gentleman that I am (another Mayfaner trait),
endeavoured to silence my misgivings as the Lady urged me to drink.
I closed my eyes, held the brim to my
lips and braced for the
further charge of my senses -- but they were spared by a sudden change
in the constitution of the room, as current after current of crimson
light flowed in from the landing, setting the walls a-fiery-glow,
sending the shadows of bottle, lamp, lad and Lady clawing for the
cornices. “A fire,” said the shapely silhouette before me, “has been
lit in the drawing room. … No need to worry, now, dear. Have a little
She held still among the dancing shades.
A warm, tickling nausea
gripped me. “Drink it up! Drink it up!” whined Ms. Eldritch.
“The mirrors,” I said as I raised my
glass. “Of course. … Sláinte --
An obnoxious rap on the open door. Enter
Mr. O’Connor carrying a
“Welcome, Senan,” chanted the Lady.
“Ah-h-h-h, without such smiles as yours,
my Lady,” gushed the old
man, “the world would be barren of song, deprived of poetry. I thank
thee on behalf of all mortals!”
I neglected to shroud my disgust: “Not
so much as a note from you,
Mr. O’Connor. Lay a finger on that fretboard and you’ll crawl from this
“O!” he cried, raised his instrument,
took a step forward and cried
again. “O! With such queer afflictions does malady burden! The softest
melodies scorch the ears! The sweetest nectar sears the throat! The
warmest company is met with frost! The --”
“Now, now, Mr. O’Connor,” spoke the Lady
as if to an insolent child.
“Young George is ill, and I think it best that he mend in silence.
Don’t you agree? Do you not remember when the elder George lay upon his
deathbed? Did you come barging in with your mandolin then? Fevered ears
are sensitive, Senan.”
Mr. O’Connor lowered his instrument and
hung his head in mock shame,
muttering a mock apology. “I’m sorry, my Lady. I only meant to humour
the lad, to abate his symptoms with song. … Apologies, lad. It’s
obvious that I’ve intruded upon yourself and the Lady. … We’re all
subject to her charms, all of us under her spell … with the exception
of that father of yours -- he’s what we call a ho-mo-sexual. …
And that’s to say nothing of your sweet sister, who tends toward all
manner of depravity.”
I allowed his affronts a beat to settle
… then forced a sigh while
the Lady shook her head. “Senan, Senan,” she soughed in lament. “Senan,
you old drunkard. You are much too mad to fall fully under my spell.”
I spoke coolly: “I’m not typically given
to outrage, Mr. O’Connor,
but this assault upon my family’s character is without precedent and
will end this very instant. Now, there’s the door. If it weren’t for
present company,” I said with a courtly nod toward the Lady, “you’d be
leaving through the window, so you --”
Thick, blood-laced spittle coated my
cheek as the Lady’s poise was
betrayed by the abrupt attack of a cough; and like birds dispersed by
the toll of a church bell, my lust was sent a-scatter. She recoiled
before I could bend to her aid and sank gracelessly to the wooden
floor, where she was overcome by her fitful bark. Mr. O’Connor howled
with laughter while Ms. Eldritch wailed her meows: a dreadful
chorus led by the Lady’s whooping death throes, a macabre anthem to
which the shadows grew and danced more madly as the fire burned
brighter. Death! Death to the witch! … Her bodice finally
succumbed to her breasts -- two rotten, pendulous sacks from which
oozed a foul, tar-like substance, a viscous trail of which followed the
creature as it clawed its way to the window. “That filthy fucking
faggot!” it spat, its long, talon-like fingers outstretched. “Filthy
faggot lit a fire! Filthy faggot fled to the wood!”
“With axe in hand!” added Mr. O’Connor,
now strumming his mandolin
with vigour. “You’ve been bested, you have, my Lady!”
Indeed, as madness reigned at Mayfaner
House, our father, somewhere
in the deep black womb of Foghorn Wood, hacked away at her roots.
© 2017 Eoin O'Neill
Bio: Mr. Eoin O'Neill is a professional video editor/sound
technician from Dublin, Ireland. His writing is influenced by Gene
Wolfe, Yeats, Lovecraft, Joyce, Jorge Luis Borges, and Flann O'Brien.
E-mail: Eoin O'Neill
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