Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Finding Farley

Finding Farley
Molecat Jumaway

Farley used to hear it all the time and think it bollocks. 'I’m starting over', 'I’m finding a new beginning' or 'this is the first day of my new life', Blah, blah, blah. It’s not really the first day of your new life, you’re not really starting over and it ain’t a new beginning. This is mainly because what ever has happened to you in the past is brought with you. The fact that you have to escape those emotions by Starting over means that you’re not starting over. You’re ruled by events of the past and you’re carrying concentrated forms of it in little bottles with you where ever you go.
There is such a thing as a change of scene, escaping. Farley stepped off the train and he could not only see the change but he could smell it. He felt immediately good with one deep breath of the mountain air. He felt immediately anxious as he looked around and realised he was completely disorientated.
He had seen the station on maps countless times; he had seen his property on maps countless times. Now it just all seemed like squiggles on paper. He had no idea how far it would be or even at this point in what direction. He stood there on the main road and tried to guess which way was the right way. At this point Farley was quietly disappointed with his idea that travelling by train and walking the rest of the distance would be quaint.

Farley wasn’t a young man; he wasn’t inclined to throw caution to the wind. He wasn’t open to the idea of flagging down a car to ask for a lift, he wasn’t even prepared to ask for directions. By the time he realised that he should have been less prude it was too late. The cars had stopped travelling this road long ago and it was getting dark. It was getting cold, he was wanting his car; the seat in his car; the engine; the heater.
Farley kept walking, wondering what he would do. He didn’t have any baggage with him; it was all in little trucks heading to his newly renovated country house with everything else. He could just keep walking he guessed. Everything was getting so dark though.

Everyone comes to a moment in their life where decisions are a luxury. What should be done or could be done no longer matters. Farley could not walk on; he hadn’t seen any sign of life for hours, no lights on the horizon, no nothing. He’d nearly walked off the road a few times. He was sure that he wasn’t going the right way, he would have gotten to his destination if he was going the right way. It was incredibly dark, he could passed the small red letterbox that marked his driveway ages ago and not realised it. Farley stopped walking and started to look around.
The land was a grassy, hilly plain from horizon to horizon, drained of colour and life in the darkness. Over to his left was a small, rounded hill and on the hill stood a tree. He didn’t want to lay at the side of the road to sleep. At this stage, with his luck a passing motorist would come by and run him over as soon as he lay down. It also seemed very uncouth. He turned and walked towards the tree. When it was light there would most likely be the odd car and he would bite down his reservations and flag someone down for directions, maybe even a lift.
Up close it was a lot bigger than he expected. From a distance, in the vague moonlight the tree seemed frail and insignificant. Up close it was huge and ancient. He felt wretched and uneasy, he stood next to the tree for a while watching the world not go by. He circled the tree and came back to the same spot. The root work at its base was massive and impressive. He finally found a section against the trunk and between two large roots where he could slide himself in comfortably.
He sat there getting sleepy, worrying about spiders and watching the silent landscape. Well he wanted the countryside, he thought. He wanted the quiet life and he certainly got it.
Farley was woken an hour or so later, he didn’t really know how long it had been. It seemed like five minutes but we don’t keep count in our sleep. There was an odd light, devoid of colour as though it came from a dead place. There was a slow sound of scraping of bark and leaves.
Farley sat still and silent watching the scene unfold around him. The light, devoid of life; the slow shuffling beside him; the cold, white petite hand slowly coming into view. Fear had paralysed him; doubt in his senses had made him motionless yet observant. There was a slow sound, like the wind that soon became a voice. A voice that sucked air in rather than expelling when it spoke. It was slow, it was patient and it spoke to him.
“What – do – you - want?” Came the slow rasping voice.
Farley said nothing, this was not happening, he was scared and confused.
“What – do – you - want?” A head with pure white skin was slowly rising into view. Long silver white hair, black enchanted eyeballs, thin and long pointed ears.
“What – do – you - want?” Farley said nothing; he wished that he were in his bed in his new house. He wished that he was still with his wife and she understood him and nothing had come between them.

It had been nearly a six months since Farley had moved out. He’d rented a little room for a few weeks and then had all his stuff shipped off to the new house he’d bought in the country. Maryanne never knew he liked the countryside. She’d felt a little out of sorts when he’d bought a house in the hills. She’d been the one talking about moving to the county and as soon as they split up off he goes. Buying her dream home, living the life that she always wanted.
It had been nearly two weeks since he’d finally moved up there. Since then Maryanne had felt out of sorts. She had heard not a peep from him since he left. She missed him, the things she had hated a year ago were now the things she yearned for. The first week and a half since he moved she spent an hour here and an hour there staring at the phone hoping it would ring. It never rang. The last few days she’d spent ringing his number, it just rang out. No answering machine, no nothing. She wasn’t even sure she had the right number, she’d gotten it from one of his friends. With a sly grin his old friend had written down the number and even the address on some scrap piece of paper.
Maryanne was now holding that scrap of paper, had barely let it go for the last two days. She tried the number written on it one last time and let the phone ring out. Tried it again just to be sure and then walked out the front door and into her car.
The drive would have been a nice one if she had not been gripping the wheel the whole time like it was going to grab its own car and have its own vacation. There would have been lovely scenic moments that she would have enjoyed greatly if she had not of stared so intently at the road ahead of her. She would have had a great time listening to all her favourite CD’s if she hadn’t been grinding her teeth for the whole journey.
She came into the town, which consisted of a station and a convenience store. She would have appreciated the old world value of it all if she were not so preoccupied. She asked someone for directions and read him out the address. Instead of directions he gave her a story on how to get there. There was no go left and the right at the high street and keep going until you see a red mailbox. Instead she got something that was accompanied with fish like hand movements. She tried to keep up but couldn’t. She managed to grasp the part about high street and the red mailbox and then tuned out all the rest.
“If you see a big ol’ tree standing alone on the top of a hill then you know you’ve gone too far.” She nodded and he kept talking. There was a story about the tree, fairies and all. “You know that the Fae are the dead, damned to the ground?” She was already driving off she heard something about As long as they pay their dues but she wasn’t listening.
High street was easy enough; it was the only street that went from horizon to horizon. She turned into it and drove, keeping her eye out for a red mail box and maybe a big tree on top of the hill and then maybe some fairies.
It was hard to miss, that bright red letterbox. She came to a halt at the side of her husband’s driveway and found herself staring at the tree on the hill in the distance. There weren’t many trees in this area and its gnarled silhouette almost trapped her there. She shook it off and stepped out of the car. Suddenly it was as though hours had passed while she had been standing there. The sun seemed to be setting, the sky filled with colour. She averted her eyes away from the strange tree on the distant hill and concentrated on Farley’s house.
The long driveway to the small cottage was quiet. She walked up slowly, nervously and came to the front door. There was a stillness about the place that not only rejected the idea of someone inside but invalidated the idea that the air even moved. She knocked on the door and waited, there was no answer, no movement. She knocked again and waited, knocked again and waited. She took a deep breath clasped the door handle and opened the door.
The place was a mess, it looked like it nothing had been cleaned up for weeks. Books and papers lay everywhere, on every surface. The place had been sealed up tight and the air was stale. She tried the light switch but it seemed the power was out. She was about to give up, turn around and go back home when she realised that her husband that she now suddenly missed terribly may be still in here dead. She raced ahead determined to search the place hoping that he wasn’t here. In the lounge room she found her husband in a chair, sprawled over the table in front of him.
She stood there staring at his slumped over body wondering whether he was dead, wondering what had happened to him. His hair had gone from the rich brown it was to a silver colour. There was no sign of movement, not even breathing. She ran over to him and was about to shake him but the noise of her approach woke him with a startle. He jumped up from his chair with a startle and started backing away from her. There was pure fear and terror in his eyes. It was as though he could not see that it was Maryanne, no matter how she tried to explain the matter. She knew that they had not parted amicably but this was not the expected reaction. Especially when she had travelled all this way to make up with him.
She grabbed at him and he made a small whimpering sound. She grabbed at his hands and he retracted and ran off, out the door and into what was now, inexplicably the night

Farley ran and all she could do was follow, it was growing cold and dark. The Fairy tree was silhouetted by the large rising moon. It all seemed too magical for Maryanne, the tree, the sudden night, the story she heard in town, her husband’s appearance and manic demeanour. He was running a lot faster than she could manage. She could not keep up with him and was getting puffed. There was seemed no point trying to catch him, she knew where he was going and slowed down to catch her breath.
She found Farley on his knees in front of the tree crying and hysterical. His fist was clenched and he was pounding the ground, sobbing and wailing like a child. She stood there and watched him and realised that she had to take him from this place, get him some help. She did not know what had happened, she did not know why he was like this, why his hair was silver but he needed help desperately.
She went up to him and put her hand to his face.
“Omigod, you’re so cold.” His face felt like marble. She did not know whether it was the moon and the deathly cold night but his skin looked pale and slightly blue.
“Come on.” She said trying to lift him. “We need to get you out of here.” At that he stopped moaning, stopped wailing, stopped flailing and beating the ground and looked up at her. The moon got brighter behind them. Farley’s eyes diverted from his wife and looked ahead. He started to whimper a little, much like a dog.
Maryanne turned to see that the light was not from the moon but from the tree. It glowed with a meek blue that seemed to issue from inside. There was a thin, long, delicate hand that seemed to spring forth from under the large roots. It grabbed at the ground and soon she saw the top of a head rise from the ground. Silver hair, like Farley’s that shone in the blue light. The eyes rose up from above the ground, black balls of nothing enclosed in white dead skin. A wind rose and it seemed to come from the rising lady; it did not blow from her but pulled all else in. The wind was filled with a voice, a voice that pulled at her very soul.
“What – do – you – want?” The wind rasped.
She looked down at her husband, cowering and then back to the creature. It was fully out of the ground now. It did not stand upright but the woman’s body was on all fours, not like a mammal but like a spider. Its silver hair was long and dragging along the ground. Her husband’s hair was the same silver. She looked back down at him and he looked up at her, his eyes small black balls of nothing, like staring into the night. It was coming towards them, a naked, deathly white female. Coming towards them on hands and knees like it knew not how to walk.
“What – do – you – want?” The woman was coming forward on all fours. Maryanne was mumbling to herself.
“Don’t answer, don’t answer, don’t answer.” As she back away from the terrifying scene that unravelled in front of her. As the white woman drew close to Farley he seemed to cower in her presence like a beaten dog.
“What – do – you – want?” It said and every time Maryanne felt a little bit of herself sucked away.
“What – do – you – want?” It pulled at her and kneaded her will, it cajoled her sanity. This isn’t happening, she wanted this moment to be over, she wanted everything to be okay. She wanted to come over to Farley’s and spend time with him, maybe make up and everything to be okay with the world. She didn’t want this.

Maryanne woke up in bed; the early morning sun shone through the cottage windows and hurt her eyes. She looked around with a startle as if shocked by something and then could not remember what it was. She looked down in the bed beside herself at Farley and smiled, everything was okay. She was so cold though. Farley had found her dream life during their separation and here she was waking up in it. I guess there would be some down side; the countryside is always a little colder. Men are warm though and Maryanne snuggled into her husband to find some of warmth. There was none though, he was as cold as she was.
Something nattered at the back of her brain but she could not think of what it was.
She got up and put on some clothes. The electricity was off for some reason but the gas still worked. She walked around his house, it was a mess. She turned on the heater in the lounge room and stood there in front of it trying to warm herself up.
The state of the place was quite unlike Farley, he was a bit of a prude and always put everything away. He would have also made sure the power was on before he moved in. There were books and papers everywhere. She picked a book and looked at the title. Folklore and Faeries it read, she made a little questioning noise and put it down. She picked up another book, The old ways was the title and she opened it up. It was about old Scandinavian tales about the dead and fairies. This did not sound like Farley at all. She even went to his bedroom, book in hand to look at his face to make sure she had been with the correct man that night. Yeap, it was Farley alright.
She looked at all the books and they were all about old tales and lore relating to Fairies. She shrugged and picked up the one she thought seemed more realistic and sat down by the gas heater to read. She did not feel any warmer though but at least she had entertainment.
She found the book interesting; it dealt with the tales on fairies on a realistic level but also gave details on the lore. She huddled, deadly cold by the fire reading the book. It wasn’t the version with the little creatures with the wings. It was a dark account of creatures that belong to neither heaven nor hell but are not of the land of the living. As they don’t exist in the world of life and are shunned by heaven they are forced to pay a duty to hell, the book described it as a kind of tax. The best tax was human souls and thus the old folk would ward off fairies with all sorts of methods, various herbs but iron was the best guard.
Maryanne was tired and thirsty and still cold. She wandered into the kitchen and wondered if anything was in the fridge. She doubted that Farley would store stuff in the fridge with the electricity yet to be turned on. She opened it anyway and fell back three steps. The fridge stank and she shut the door on the odour that was issuing forth. This wasn’t like Farley at all.
She had to go to town, get some goods. Something to eat and drink at least. She went back to the bedroom and found her shoes. She sat on the bed and put them on, Farley did not even mutter as the overly soft bed fell in and out again. She looked over at him sleeping, deeply and then resumed to put on her shoes.
Something was gnawing away at the back of her brain.
She grabbed her bag and made her way to the front door, it was still morning and even though there was not a cloud in the sky it was as cold as death itself. She walked down the driveway, rummaging around in her bag for her keys. She looked over to her little car and saw the strange tree on the hill. She stopped walking and stared at it.
All reason went from her, she felt as if her whole being was dropped into a void. She stood there swaying in the wind, staring over at the hill in the distance. It took all her might to recover; a screaming voice was in her head. The same voice that gnawed and nattered away at her was now prompting her to recover, to recover fully. She found herself averting her eyes from the tree, she found the sky darkening, colour blooming through the landscape as the sun started to set.
She rushed back into the house, through the hallway, through the lounge room and into the bedroom. She was hoping she would be wrong, she was hoping everything was all right. She stood at the entrance of the doorway staring at her husband, his pale skin, his thin frame, his silver hair. She rushed to the mirror and looked at herself. Mostly, her hair was the colour it had been yesterday but silver streaks were strewn through what was once a colourful, rich blond.
She went over to her husband and shook him desperately. He moved but only slightly as though caught in the throws of sleep, as though caught in the depths of a spell. She went to the living room and looked around, wondering what to do. On the outside she was doubting herself, on the inside she could not come to any other conclusion. She was damned, her husband was damned. She needed to think, she needed to find some strength from within her.
In the lounge there were two fireplaces, one side was replaced with a gas heater, which was still pointlessly on, but the other side still kept its original fireplace. She went over to it, bent down and fetched the poker. She wondered whether it was iron but as she clasped it she felt the heat, she felt the pain that it bore. She was enchanted; iron was as much her enemy as it was of the fairies. It hurt to hold but she clasped it tightly, the more it hurt the tighter she grasped it. It was now her only link to the human world.
“What’s up?” said Farley from the door scratching his head and recovering from a very long sleep.
“We’re damned.” Replied Maryanne, it was nearly completely dark and she had not time to explain. Why should she explain anyway, she’d been reading his books.
“Huh?” Said Farley scratching his silver hair.
Maryanne marched herself to the front door, iron poker in hand. Farley followed. She swung the door open and strode out into the night towards the tree. Farley came with her on her heals with questions that he should of known the answer to. Within twenty metres of the tree he stopped still, staring at the huge enchanted tree. Maryanne kept going without him.
At ten metres the show had started, she now remembered it fully though she did not remember how she got back to the house. She stood, three metres from the tree, poker clasped firmly.
There was a sucking of wind, there was no questions voiced now, just a rage. She had disturbed it, it had what it wanted it no longer needed their attendance. It had pulled itself up from the ground and was stalking towards her like an insect. Its pale fingers clasped the very dirt and it seemed not to walk on all fours but to spring from spot to spot. If it killed her she would be damned, her and her husband. She took a step back and raised the iron poker. She saw it and stopped there stationary, her mouth opened in a hiss. The wind pulled from behind Maryanne but she held firm. She took a step forward; the naked woman with the silver hair and black eyes took a step back.
“Yoooouuuuuudoooonoooottneeeeedthaaaaat!” came the voice that pulled and pulled at her very bones.
“Oh yes I bloody well do!” Said Maryanne with determination. She was not going to be cajoled or manipulated, this thing had her soul, she would not get any more from her. The thing looked over behind Maryanne and she heard Farley getting up and walking towards her. She gathered that this thing had more control over Farley than it did of her. She did not know whether it was because Farley was caught in the spell for longer or because he was the opposite sex. She gathered it may be a little bit of both.
“You don’t need that.’ Said Farley as he staggered towards her, his eyes were as black as the night’s sky.
“Farley wake up!” She screamed to him as she backed away sideways from them both.
“Give me the poker.” Said Farley, his mind seemed to be far away. He was right up to Maryanne now and he reached out and grabbed the iron. As his hands grabbed the iron there was a sizzling and a smell of burnt flesh. Farley’s eyes turned slightly to colour. The thing on four legs jumped at the two of them and Farley wrenched the poker from Maryanne’s grip.
Maryanne thought that this was it, her death, her damnation. She closed her eyes, she did not have the poker anymore to protect herself, to kill the beast and the beast was upon them. Springing in the air towards its prey.
There was nothing. No death, no damnation. It would have happened by now. She did not know how it would have happened, could not have imagined it in her wildest dreams. All she knew is that it did not happen. She opened her eyes and found the creature, still in mid air with a poker through its chest and Farley holding it. Farley dropped the fairy skewer to the ground. It was dead and cold which by no means is any different from how it was before except from the fact that it was no longer moving.
Farley dropped to his knees and Maryanne ran over to him.
“Farley!” She screamed and took him in her arms. There was a warmth that both of them had now but it was inconsequential. It was minuscule, it was fading. She held him and he held her.
He found her cheek and kissed it, tears poured down from Maryanne’s eyes as she realised what was happening.
They had broken the spell; they were no longer damned to hell. There was no longer a tax to be paid with their souls but they were both already dead. The walking dead were no longer the walking dead, the enchantment was over.

The tree was avoided by the locals until it started dying. It had been in books and fables for years so when it started collapsing the residents of the area withdrew from their fears and investigated the matter.
They found a couple, dead for a week at the most, clutching at one another tightly and an iron poker a few metres off. They made up their tales of love, redemption and a broken spell, very much like this one.
Except the fairy of the tree wore a dress.