The wind outside picked up, moaning and howling; tree branches, like claws, scratching against the windows and thrashing feverishly against the house. I moved quickly, to cover the mirrors, lest they drew in the lightning. The house groaned beneath my feet, the nightingale floors whispering and complaining as I passed.
The rain began, in earnest, grey curtains further obscuring the night.
The waves hammering into the bay echoed the thunder overhead, and I saw in my minds eye the boiling sea, and the house perched above it, a blazing beacon in the night, with all the lights on, to fend off the storm. I saw it, golden-warm as the night grew colder.
Another flash, of blinding light, and the boom of giant’s footsteps, as the thunder raged, as though the sky had shattered and was falling, a jigsaw of broken pieces, crashing into the violent sea.
And then I saw him – a face in the darkness.
The house shook with the resonance of the thunder, and I shook when I saw him.
Hurriedly, I made for the door – the laws of hospitality demanded it – I could not leave him there, in the rain, staring up at the brightness of the house, shivering in the darkness. But why has he not knocked? The question seemed unimportant, compared to the dangers of the bayou at night and the forked-tongue lightning kissing the wet earth.
The door swung open in my hands, forced open by the punch of the wind.
I invited him in.
I invited him in – like a fool.
The house still moans, as I wait for the sun to rise. I’ve been waiting for an age, for an eternity. The house still lies in darkness. The storm has cleared, leaving a blanket of fog to hide the safe path through the forest, obscuring the white-stone cairns that mark out the path. I tried to escape. My breath ragged, clothes torn, boots soaked through. The full moon looms, gibbous and gibbering madness. The house is still in darkness, and I see the flash of his face, reflected in the windows. I can feel him waiting, reflected inside the mirrors beneath the blankets draped over them like corpse-clothes.
I climb again and again the rickety stair, into the attic, which seems to summon me upward, toward the sky and the terrible face of the moon.
I pause now, staring up into the seething darkness that awaits me.
When he calls I know I will answer.
I am only waiting to hear his voice.