By Don Webb
(For Elizabeth Berkeley)
I stood on the high balcony, looking eastward to the rising sun. The pillars were deep-red and the roof slightly curved, suggesting “China ” to me. But it was not China – at least, not the China of now. Below me, the grass glowed slightly, a bluish-green, and I could feel the throb of the waterfall. Its rush dominated and canceled all other sounds. The fall was gigantic and it had been cutting into this mountain for generations. I could feel it through my sandals, through the cold, black marble upon which I stood. I realized then I couldn’t think of the name of this place, and part of me knew that if I remembered my where or when, I would be full of fear.
Despite my mind’s fear of its own contents, some strange and archaic words came to me. Was this a “dream”? I knew that “dream” was a very old word and a very bad word. I think it also meant “trauma”. But that couldn’t be right; when did “dream” become a taboo word? I knew it belonged to another time, to another mood.
I walked around the balcony. I shivered and not merely from the cold. This temple was a forbidden place. “Temple”, itself, was an old word, like “dream”, a bad word. I looked down at the mist-filled valley. I began to remember something. The mist in my mind hid something the same way the mist in the valley hid Something. We all trained ourselves as children not to think of its Names. With the Name, you might see it. It liked to be seen. It had made humans see it in dreams for millennia after the ice had melted the first time.
I knew that I did not want to see what the mist hid. Why had I come here, the place where It could be seen? There was. There was another. Her name was…Her name was “Lover”. She had stood here and looked down and was no more. She.
She had come on the day of the Red Sun, a day when the old sun suffered. She had seen and was no more.
We had quarreled. It was over some foolish thing, some old fight. We had quarreled and she had come here. At first, she had watched the thousand reddened rainbows that the waterfall made every day, as it ate the earth. She had waited and fought the call of the west. Then she walked to the western side, as I have done. She looked down. By then, even the Red Sun had cleared the mist, so she saw.
I looked up. I could see the old sun. The sun was not having a good day. Scabrous storms boiled brown on its surface. I knew the creatures that crawled on its crust were fighting today. I could see the blue-green lightning. In the time of my ancestors’ ancestors, when “dream” was not a bad word, you could not see the creatures that lived on the sun. It was white and young.
Even in its old age, it could still drink the mist. If I tarried long enough, mist would no longer hide It.
I remembered Lover.
I steeled myself. I would look down. When the sun had driven the mist away, I would look.
Bio: Don Webb has been writing Lovecraftian fiction for 25 years. His stories have appeared in Eternal Lovecraft, Black Wings II and Cthulhu’s Reign.