"I recall seeing the cursed cloud that was soon to blight my mood almost as it entered the sky and began to move towards me and the Clansman. It was huge, sprawling, almost like a city in the air"
“Tomorrow I'll relate my first full encounter with the astronaut. Am I looking forward to that? Truth? Don't know.”
Now that I’m sitting down to do it, I’m keen to be doing it. The purpose of this blog was to get things straight, to clarify and question. Right? To stay sane by letting stuff out. Even more right. And, when it’s out, it should feel better for being out. Ultra-right! Well, I’ve certainly found that to be the case over the course of the week and a half that I’ve been doing this. Well, that’s something, eh! Isn’t it? Isn’t it something? Am I right or am I ultra-right?
Also, since I’ve started doing this, nothing has happened around me. Now that really is something! You gotta admit – that’s a right real big something right there! No apparitions, no sounds, no bad dreams.
Whoops a freakin’ daisy! Most of that stuff you’ll not really know about yet! Sounds and dreams, you’ll not know anything about, for sure. But I will cover it all. I will, I will, I will! Damn it, I’m pretty darn sure I just kinda will/might!
So to my first full encounter. Here goes nothing.
Let me ask you. Do you ever get that sense that life’s fantastic, that the land that surrounds you is opulent and its air is spiced and its very sensual feel is like slightly-scorched marshmallows, underfoot and under fingers, and well and truly understood by every part of your sweet being? No? Ah, problem.
This country of Scotland can certainly give you that sense. There are days when the temperature is just right, the wind is low level, and every hint of purple, of dark green, of bright blue rises proudly from all other colours and something just scintillates. Everything gathers in agreement to say that they will be in balance, in accord, and collectively they will express the underlying nature, history and potential of this land. I’ve known days like this in Utah, and at the Grand Canyon in Arizona - when the flies aren’t crawling into your ears on muggy days - and in the Mojave desert when you see a mini sand twister coasting across an empty cracked flat-bed of desert. But my first day truly experiencing the scent and muscular sense of this country, since quitting the city’s ‘rut’ race, was also the day of my first full encounter with the entity haunting my home and my life!
"There are days when the temperature is just right, the wind is low level, and every hint of purple, of dark green, of bright blue rises proudly from all other colours and something just scintillates"
I mentioned earlier that there is a high hill to one side of Mordan House. I’d walked, run and scampered around the perimeter of this hill and other smaller hills around it since moving in, but never attempted to climb to the top of that big old clansman in the middle. High hill? Clansman? It probably has a name – I don’t feel I can really call it something perfunctory like Big Hill. Ach, Clansman - that’ll do. So, my energy levels were building, my lungs were feeling slightly stronger, more open to the air, and I decided to pack a lunch, get some sturdy unfeminine shoes on, some loose-fitting clothes, something warm for my head and make a good hearty attempt at climbing the Clansman! As I was putting the final touches to my well-insulated and practical attire, I recalled putting a cloth hat into the bin outside of Mordan House. I did this because I remembered that I’d brought another hat that was sturdier and more ‘me’! Sure enough, I soon began to realise that it was another one of those things that had miraculously ended-up back at my old flat in Glasgow.
So, hatless, I set off. As I passed the house’s refuse wheelie-bin I considered looking in it for the discarded hat, but then I looked at the bright day around me and continued on my way, feeling demagnetised to mishaps – both around me and ahead of me - and thus confident about leaving my curly red locks open to the elements! I think I even smiled. I think I even supplanted a frown with a little laugh-line.
On the way to the base of the Clansman I passed a parked car that I thought probably had to pass my Mordan House in order to get to where it was. I started to think back, to wonder if I’d heard any noise that could have been a vehicle passing over the gravel outside. And I started to peer around to see if there was another road or dirt-track that I’d missed that would have got the car to where it was parked. I could see nothing. I’d nipped into town to get groceries before this day so it wasn’t as if I never saw people – and, of course, there was the electrician who had helped me out, the King of Smells – but it was curious to see a car situated there when I was becoming used to the emptiness of the landscape around me.
Ahead of me was the hill; a gentle gradient for the first half of the climb but then growing much steeper towards the peak. Brazenness growing in me I decided to take these little hot coals of glowing confidence and nurture them – the best way I could think of to do that was to take actual steps. In fact I took great and long physical steps, and drew in deep and luxurious breaths that stretched their own great legs inside, unhesitating airiness striding through me. Although working my way through cold air, inhaling cold breaths, stepping on cold ground, I moved into ever greater warmth inside as my self-belief gradually began to smoulder.
The main thing that I continued to be enthralled by was the brightness of the day. In fact, the day was so bright that I regularly pinched my eyes against the glare. The sky was a conclusive, dizzying shade of blue, while the odd cloud ornamented the richness of its colour with scrubbed and sparkling whiteness. It was a unique day. Cold and warmth, beauty and sharpness balanced as perhaps nothing else has ever been. Occasionally I stopped to take it all in and to see Mordan House growing smaller, or absent behind small lines of trees or small hills. When I stopped and contemplated it all, I was captivated by the splendour. Captivated! Every breath stole a little of the day for myself, every swallow digested some of its essence, every blink imprinted in me something of its nature. At one point, I can recall looking up at the rest of the hill. I amazed myself. I was half-way to the top of the Clansman and my breathing felt magnificent. All of me felt like a great lung moving in and out, finally having figured out how breathing ought to work. I could have giggled out real tears, but I was conscious of the desire to push on and get higher.
Then, something different. A change of mood. I recall seeing the cursed cloud that was soon to blight my mood almost as it entered the sky and began to move towards me and the Clansman. It was huge, sprawling, almost like a city in the air. Its blackness was also colossal. It moved with imperceptible movements, stealthlike. It was clear to me that it contained a torrential downpour of rain and I had no doubt that it would fall on me and this hill. There would be no ghosting overhead, no retaining of secrets – this apparition would unburden, divulge and, if I wasn’t quick to take cover or get off this hill, pummel the new me out of existence with some formidable deluge.
"There would be no ghosting overhead, no retaining of secrets – this apparition would unburden, divulge and, if I wasn’t quick to take cover or get off this hill, pummel the new me out of existence with some formidable deluge"
I decided to try and get down as quickly as humanly possible. If I saw a place where I could take shelter then I’d use it – if not, then, well, I didn’t dare think! So I tumbled over rocks, banks of grass, and avoided patches of old dry mud with deft and quick steps, and slid with great speed down gravely stretches of well-worn path. Nope, never moved so fast! Yep! Never fallen down a high hill so fast before either, that’s also true!
At the same time as seeing the storm cloud I felt a sharp increase in the level of the wind. The change was so sudden that the currents seemed like strong shoves coming from all around me, trying hard and skilfully to knock me off balance.
The first spots of rain were more like the second spots should have been. The second spots were more like that point when you know that you’re in for a real soaking. While the third spots were cold, unnatural, almost painful on my cheeks and the backs of my hands with a landing that was incisive like snapping scissors. The fourth drops I could feel icily touching the skin beneath some of my clothes – and I think you’ll agree that it’s usually only the fifth or sixth spots that should have that kind of ability!
I looked up at the cloud that I had spied heading towards me, to see if it was passing overhead, to see if there was any indication as to when respite from the rain might come. What I saw shocked me. The cloud was a vicious black swirl right above my head, almost churning with dark vapours, almost poisonously brooding, and the whole thing more enormous than I had first thought. Then rumbles came from it, or came from somewhere - deathly rumbles that also seemed to pour down on me.
All of a sudden, it was as if great doors opened up at the base of the cloud and everything it had to give tumbled down in an instant. The thrash of the water through my hair and my clothes, down into my shoes, made me sharply draw in my breath and then let it out in a scream. I kept moving but soon I could see rivulets of rain coursing down the sides of the hill and I began to think it too treacherous to continue. But still I could see no place for shelter.
"The thrash of the water through my hair and my clothes, down into my shoes, made me sharply draw in my breath and then let it out in a scream"
In fact, I could barely see anything. My eyes stung with wind and water. More than that, however, the elements around me were so whipped up, so feverish, that they also impeded my vision. Curiously, though the cloud above was dark like night, daylight was still present as if it held out beneath the onslaught in a ghostly fashion - dead, remembered light, that cast a misty sheen through the particles of wind and rain.
My steps were becoming ever cautious and ever deadly. Worse, inside, my embers of self-love were soaked and not even old smoke recalled where it had burned.
This image was, however, all taken in with the quickest glimpse as the rain battered my eyes and my eyelids and the wind wielded little wet daggers all about me. A growing numbness caused by cold and rain-pricks was beginning to cover my face. Also, things were starting to look unfamiliar. I knew I was still heading down, but nothing was like anything I could remember passing on the way up. How far was I from the bottom? I had no idea. At some point I started to cough and I realised that the raspiness of my breathing must have been increasing for some time without me being aware of it.
By now I was so wet and disoriented that I could have dropped to my knees and given up. More thunderous claps sounded, more wind lashed me, more rain beat me. I recalled the car I had seen at the bottom of the hill and longed for someone to call out to me and tell me to come over here, quickly, quickly, to take shelter, hurry, come on, you’re nearly there, yes, now come inside, here take this blanket.
No sooner had this thought come over me than I slipped.
I had no real idea that I was going to slip down the muddy embankment – I was sliding before I realised it. Even as the mud covered me I was more aware of how I might land than the fact that I was sliding. But when I did come to a stop I felt that I couldn’t move. A congealed mixture of fatigue, tightness of breath, heavy rain, thick and sticky mud, thick and sticky disappointment, welded me to the wet earth. The rain still cleaved into me, the sky still spluttered and groaned and the wind still lacerated my face.
But then I glimpsed relief, at last. It was a light and I realised that I was probably at the base of the Clansman, close to where the car had been parked. I could almost raise my hand to take hold of the help and assistance that was so close; the voice of someone calling out to me to tell me to come over here, quickly, quickly to take shelter, hurry, come on, yes you’re nearly there, now come inside, here take this blanket.
The crackle of a radio. Of course, a car radio. I looked towards it, as best I could through the endless rain and wind. Yet it was not a car, nor was the light from headlamps. The crackle was more like a death-rattle, although monophonic, dry, flat and distant. Just staccato bursts of static, precise yet guttural in feeling. My heart almost stopped, my lungs almost withered in an instant. I knew quickly that this was no natural sound. Liquid dread joined the icy cold water in my veins.
"Staccato bursts of static, precise yet guttural in feeling. My heart almost stopped, my lungs almost withered in an instant. I knew quickly that this was no natural sound. Liquid dread joined the icy cold water in my veins"
I tried to look at the source of the light. All I could see was that it hovered behind me and above the ground. It was much closer than before when I saw it above the treeline outside of Mordan House. Also, now I could make out some of the horrible and lifeless detail, though my eyes ached and every blink stung them even more. I could see its unnatural glow of whiteness, but I could also make out grey dirty patches of grime all over it. An oxygen tank was just visible rising up from its back and just above its shoulders. The most prominent aspect was the ghastly blackness of the visor on the helmet. It both reached out with a devouring emptiness, while also stretching down into itself and some demonic vacuum therein. As it hovered, it was also terrifyingly still. While the elements raged around us both, and while I was bruised by its every twist and turn, this lifeless form of a spaceman hovered above the ground on Earth, impervious to it all. Too damned and too damning to be affected perhaps. Between us, sheets of rain descended as if dead themselves and lifelessly tumbling. I knew, however – and perhaps this was why I tried desperately to scramble to my feet, to get away, regardless of all the impediments that kept me back – I knew that it meant to take me.
All of a sudden, I felt my arms flailing, my legs kicking out, my head buckling painfully as the image of the dead astronaut disappeared from my eyes and I realised that the ground had disappeared from beneath my feet.