Monday 23 May 2016

The Prince of Exiles, 6

I can see a figure appear, briefly; it raises a hand. I reciprocate and the figure withdraws. I push a lock of hair from my eyes, and begin to make my way down the valley wall.

As I cross the valley, the sky begins to display a range of vibrant colours, stripes  rising and falling, one after the other. Reds and pinks, oranges and yellows, shades of mauve and violet. I imagine that far away from here, the world is in upheaval. And half a day from here, a thousand or more bodies begin to decay and the birds circle. Distant catastrophe and nearby slaughter reflect in light and colour that paints the rocks in light, in the malacholy beauty of dusk.

It isn't fair, I think.

But then, what is?

The cave, by the time I'm halfway up the face – it's easy going, with here and there steps and footholds cut into the stone – sheds a warm light. A smell of cooking meat.

I linger outside. Voices. The throaty, androgynous voice that called me:

"D'you think they'd come back here? After?"

Another voice, a woman's, high, calm: "That's a bit naïve, don't you think?" They're not speaking any language I know. I understand them perfectly. When I open my mouth this will be the language I speak.

"Huh. Maybe." A pause. "Hey, Eagleman. Don't skulk outside all night, man. Come on in."

I relax a little, look around the cave mouth, as the other voice says, faintly amused, "You have to stop calling him that."

"Have to call him something," says the first, a woman sitting by a fire, turning a short spear on which is impaled the skinned haunch of a dog, or wolf.

[Collected Writings Index