Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Magic Falls Part 23

“What do you want?” I ask the eyes in the flame, not entirely sure how or why I am staying calm. Insanity seems like the correct response as a face begins to form around the eyes.

No. Not a face. That’s not the way to describe the thing that I am looking at. It’s too… wrong for that.  It’s a huge gaping maw, and it’s the abyss itself. Death and hatred and hunger and fear all at once, looking at me out of the flame.

The words do not come fully formed. They’re in an entirely other language… something that should be unspeakable, but I understand anyway. The sounds change shape by the time my brain processes them, and change into something more coherent.


I think there are words that he is saying that don’t make sense in our languge. Maybe in our understanding. 

Instead, it comes through as a combination of all of the closest words. I can feel it happening in my brain, and it feels like trying to see around a paradox.

“What are you?” Maria says to the flame, her eyes still locked on the thing behind me, and dark tears still running down her face in the darkness.


“We didn’t summon you.” She says. “We were trying to perform a séance.”


My heart leaps, as I realise part of what it is saying.

“She’s alive?”

The thing looks at me, and for a moment, it falters.


I look at Maria, confidence building within the terror.

“It’s possible that…” she began to say. “A séance for someone who wasn’t dead…”


“Beg forgiveness,” Maria hisses at me.

“I’m sorry,” I say to the flame. “It was…unintentional. We were searching for someone.”


“Yes. We’re sorry for…”


I stiffen, like someone’s flushed ice through my veins. I feel it wash down from my brain through my body.
“I’m not that.”


“Why do you call me that?”


“You don’t know who I am.”


I realise that Maria is looking at me rather than at the thing now, her eyebrows knotted in confusion.

“What’s it talking about, Darren?” She asks, and now I can see that it is blood on her face.

I look around, looking for the long limbed thing that was outside of the circle, that put us in darkness.


“Why do you call him….king?” Maria asks.


“Are you going to kill him?”


“You sound scared of him.”



I feel you.

From down here. Down in the centre of the earth.

My resting place.

I feel you.

Your call to me.

Your song.

I have so far to climb to reach you.

But your song, it moves me, and even in the heat, I begin to move. I begin to climb and push and tear my way through to you.

It will be slow, but I will make it.

For you.

My love.

It has been so long.

So long.

But I am coming for you.

Once again, we will be together.


“Please,” I say. “Can you clarify… my wife… is she alive?”

I’m not comfortable with what it has been saying, but the fact that it has engaged us at all makes me feel less trapped. More like this could go somewhere.

I don’t know what it wants, but if we’re talking, I’m going to use it to try and find out more about what has been going on.

I wish I was more scared by how calm I am.


“What does that mean?”


Maria has her eyes closed, while she tries to clear her head. I can still feel the thing behind me squirming, but it doesn’t seem to be crossing the circle.

“Can you help us find her?” I ask.


“Who could have done this? Who could have taken her so completely away?”




Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Magic Falls Part 22

“Look at me,” Maria says. “You’re not saying what you think you’re saying. Do you know what you’re saying?”

I nod, but I keep saying it.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh cthulhu r’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

“Do you know what it means?”

I shake my head.

“No,” she says. “Nor do I, but I’m worried.”

She looks around. “I’m going to break off the séance. You need to stop chanting, okay?”

I look at her, trying to stop.  But it carries on.

“I don’t know what you’re chanting…what you’re calling, but we’re not in control of this.”

She lets go of my hands. “I want you to concentrate on the candle. Focus your energy on that, and I’m going to blow it out. When I do, I want you to stop chanting.”

She kneels up, and leans forward into the candle to blow it out.

She blows, and the candle flame flickers, but doesn’t go out.

I feel the chanting continuing.

She blows again, and I think of novelty birthday candles, the kind that you blow out and blow out but they keep relighting, and I giggle, but I keep chanting and then…

And then there is a jet of flame rising up from the candle, rising feet in the air.

Maria falls backwards, startled.  She brings her hands to her face, but she’s not burnt.

The chanting stops,  and I feel like I can breathe again, but when I breathe in, it’s hot and sore, due to the heat of the flame.

I scramble around the flame to Maria, to check she’s okay.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t… I couldn’t control what I was saying.”

“I know,” she says. “Something was controlling you.” She gets up, and looks angry. It takes me a moment to realise it isn’t aimed at me.

“What the Hell is going on?” I ask.

“I don’t know.”

On the periphery of my vision, I see one of the candles to my right, outside of the circle, go out.

And then a second is extinguished.

“That’s…not good,” I say. “I don’t know much about séances, but that’s a bad thing, right?”

And then a third.

Maria is looking over my shoulder.

“Darren…” She whispers, her outward calm covering whatever she’s feeling inside

The rest of the candles go out. Except the one in the middle, burning more than it’s possible to burn.

But the light of it, while piercing to look at, doesn’t extend past the circle. I can still just about see out of the circle, but the light from the candle stops. We’re sat in a large, round, beacon of light.

“…there’s something behind you.”

I freeze. “Where?”

“Behind you, to your right. Outside the circle. It’s difficult to see, but it’s there.”

I go to turn. “No!” She says.


Her eyes are swimming now. “It hurts to look at.”

I turn anyway, but she’s right. Something about what I see hurts my eyes, and I can’t quite focus on it.

I turn back a little. “What is it?” I whisper to her.

“I don’t know.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see it better now, in the darkness.

And then I realise it’s been there for a lot longer.

It’s been in the darkness.

It is the darkness.

I can only see the shape of it, but it’s inconsistent. It looks like a man in a plain black suit, but I can tell it isn’t.

It’s too long. It’s arms, its limbs, they’re too long.

They’re really all I can see. It’s limbs.

Long. Slender. And just slightly moving. But not in a jointed way.

More like tentacles.

Something ageless and old and dark, something inhuman, wrapped up in a man suit.

“What’s it doing?” I ask.

“It’s just looking at you,” she says, and she’s crying now. “I think.”

Her tears are darker than they should be. In this light, I can’t tell if it’s her mascara or blood slowly trickling down her face.

“You think?”

“It doesn’t have a face, Darren,” she says, and she’s shaking now. “It doesn’t have a face!”

I can see its arms moving slowly around the side of my vision, and I am filled with dread. Its arms outstretch and they repulse and comfort me at the same time.

Its arms call to me.

Its eternal embrace.

Calling me home.

And then, while Maria is transfixed on the faceless thing behind me, I look back at the flame.

I can feel the heat scorching my face, but the flame calls to me.

It flickers red and yellow, dancing upwards, but in the centre of the flame is darkness. And that darkness is growing.

Growing larger as the flame grows. Inside all of the brightness and heat is a pure black centre.

And it opens its eyes and looks at me.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Magic Falls Part Twenty-One


“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

I look into the black eye, and I cannot look away. I continue to chant.

“Isis Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

It draws me in, as Maria begins the invocation.

“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

The words begin to feel formless, but I keep saying them. I am unaware of what Maria is saying, but she has explained that she is calling on the dead. Calling on them to answer.

To help me find Nina.

“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”


“I wouldn’t have taken you as the kind of guy who believes in séances,” Maria says as she arranges the room.  Large cushions on the floor, with a candle between them. She lights a number of candles around the room while we speak, but she leaves the one in the middle alone. I have been forbidden to touch any of them. Not because of her Wiccan beliefs, but because she just does not let me touch any of her things other than those she hands to me.

“What kind of guy would you have taken me as?” I ask.

“More the arrogant atheist arsehole type,” she says without pausing. “The kind who would come up with some pseudo-psychological explanation for what actually happens if they can’t explain it any other way. Perhaps involving some patronising element about shared hallucinations or something like that.”

“Remind me why we split up?”

“We split up, my love, because we couldn’t stand each other as a couple. I’m far less likely to kill you as a friend than I am as a partner.”

“That was it. Along with you being generally annoying,” I say, trying not to smile.

“That was deliberately cultivated,” she says, closing the curtains and dimming the lights one-by-one, until we’re entirely in candlelight. The room is large – although it makes up roughly half the size of the flat. “If I’m not allowed to stab you repeatedly, I at least relish being able to get under your skin easily.”

“There are times I’d rather you stab me,” I say, unable to hold the smile back any longer. “That’d probably have healed by now, whereas you’re still annoying.”

“Does she really not like me?”

“She doesn’t know you.”

“That doesn’t matter. I want her to like me.”

“Maybe if you didn’t call her a skinny bitch all the time? That’s just a suggestion, you understand.”

“Where would be the fun in that? It’s a term of endearment.”

“Skinny bitch is a term of endearment?”

“You’re a man. You wouldn’t understand. In my experience, for all the rubbish men talk about being the more logical gender, your penises seem to act as a more irritating Jiminy Cricket. Just with a libido instead of a conscience. Sit down there.”

I take a seat on the cushion to my right, where she gestures. “That’s actually not a bad description.”

“I am marvellous at descriptions. Which is why I’m going to repeat myself for a change, and point out, again, that you do not strike me as the kind of person that believes in séances. No, sit cross legged.” She sits down easily and demonstrates.

I try to fold my leg the way she has, but it seems surprisingly difficult. “I’m not. Not usually, anyway.”

“What happened? Your right ankle goes underneath.” She gets up again, and continues the preparations.

“Thanks. I spent three months in the faerie kingdom. It changes your perspective somewhat.”

“Very funny.”

“It’s not so much about what I believe,” I say. “I think it’s more about the nature of belief. And right now, I believe that this could work.”

She looks at me, and for a moment, I think she’s going to call the whole thing off. But then she bends over, and in a more dignified manner than you’d think possible, starts drawing a large circle around the two of us. 

“That’s basically what this is,” she says.

“What is?”

“The whole point of the trappings, of the ritual, everything like that. It’s about focusing belief. That’s the point of the candle and the circle. It’s not important what you do, except that it helps you to focus belief. Whatever the explanation is for what actually happens during it, a lot of it is about the shared experience.”

“That sounds like my atheist arsehole explanation.”

“Isn’t that strange? It’s almost like it’s both, isn’t it?”


She sits down and lights the candle with a match. “Look, here’s the thing. Tarot cards don’t tell the future. Only charlatans and frauds pretend that. What they do is help you explore the present. One way of looking at it is that the Tarot gives you an empty canvas to project cold reading onto. Another is that, by forcing the connections between the cards, you’re forced to think more about the question you want to ask.”

“That’s what I’d always assumed.”

She looks at the candle, and, satisfied, settles back. “But here’s the thing. If I sat and tried to cold read someone without them, I don’t think I’d be able to do it. You can perform tarot with a deck of playing cards, more or less. But if I try to do it without the deck I usually use, I can’t do it.”

“But you’ve had multiple decks. I’ve seen you use different ones.”

“I know. I only use one at a time, and I have to go through a ritual for them to work. Is that because they won’t work without the ritual and the belief, or is it because my belief in the ritual stops me from being able to do it? I’ve tried doing it with different cards, and it just doesn’t work for me. Whether it’s causation or correlation, it doesn’t work.”


“And it’s the same for a séance. I haven’t done one before, but if we didn’t do it properly, we’d just be sitting in a room asking ghosts to talk to us, and only crazy people do that.”

“Well, that’s reassuring.” I say, and smile. She smiles back, and reaches her hands forward.

I take them, and we hold our hands on either side of the candle.

“So,” she asks me. “Do you believe?”

I think of Nina. The rest is easy. “I believe.”

“Then look at the candle,” she says. “And the first thing we’re going to do is to call on the goddesses to protect us. So you need to repeat after me… Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

“What is that?” I ask.

“It’s the names of the Goddess. We’re appealing to her to protect us, and chanting their names to honour them while I start the ritual. Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

“Isis, Istarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Khali,Iyanna.”

“And again.”

“Isis, Istate, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Khali, Iyanna.”

“Keep doing it,” she says. “I’ll do it for a while, then start appealing for a guide to help us find someone with information about Nina… if we can’t find Nina herself on the other side.”

I do so. I concentrate on the flame, which is red on the outside, then yellow, and then black in the middle.

The black draws my eye, and I find myself staring at it while I chant.


The blackness seems to grow larger. I want to blink, but I can’t.

I keep chanting.

I become aware of Maria, who is talking.

“Are you there? Are you there? I need to find someone, and I’m asking for your help. Are you there? Are you…”

She looks at me. I can see her on the periphery of my vision, in somewhere that is not the dead eye of the candle. The words continue to form on my lips.

“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”


I try to look away from the candle. It won’t happen.

“Darren, you need to stick to the chant. Please, for both of us.”

I try to tell her that I am, but I can’t stop myself from chanting.

And I realise that my chant has changed.

“Isis, astarte diana, hecatagen, fe’nglooee, miglu aknaf cuth ooloo, relyeh, wagar, nagal fetagen”

“Darren, stop.”

Fetagen, fengluee, mglu aknafcuth, ooloor’lyeh, wgar, nagal, fetagen.”

“Darren, stop” She screams, but I can’t.

“Ph’nglui, mglw’nafh, cuthooloo r’lyeh wgah’nagl, fatagn”

I try to move, but I can’t.

The words keep forming.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh cthulhu r’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

Monday, 3 June 2013

Magic Falls Part 20


“I’m not convinced this is a good idea,” Maria says to me.

“I know,” I reply.

“I can do it if you want, though.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

“And I thought it was because you’d seen the newspaper coverage, saw that I’d had a haircut and came running with erotic thoughts of hopefulness.”


“Yes, yes, I know, don’t joke.”


“I joke when I’m nervous.”

“And you’re nervous now?”

She looks at me, and sips her tea. “Darling, I’m utterly bloody terrified, and if you knew what was good for you, you’d be terrified too.”


Three months, I was down there.

Three months.

When I came back, the world had changed. Not much, but little by little.

People were beginning to accept that magic may be real. It was happening slowly, but it was definitely happening. You could see it from the papers. Belief was flying around, and the more belief there was, the more magic. If you knew what to look for, the stories were there. More and more stories about unexplained phenomena, not to mention the continuing case involving the stage magician that had uncovered a murder during a mind-reading session.

But the biggest change was that Nina wasn’t responding to my messages.

I don’t remember much of the evening after I got out from the faerie realm. After I found out how long I’d been down there, I passed out, and woke up in a hotel room in Leeds. If I’d been conscious during that time, I had no idea what I was doing.

When I came to, the first thing I did was try to phone Nina.

“I’m sorry, the number you have called is unavailable.”

Her phone didn’t ususally do that. Even out of signal, it would normally default to an answering machine message instead. This suggested she’d changed her number.

I looked up her facebook, to find that had been deleted. The same with her twitter.

Nothing. They’d obviously both been deleted.

I called her parents, but, again, nothing. The number just rang and rang. Again, it didn’t go to the voicemail it normally would. I tried their mobiles, but nothing.

Trying to choke back my own concern, I started trying to contact her friends, but nothing. My calls just either rang through, or they were “unavailable”.

Google News. Emails.

Mutual friends’ social media accounts.


On the way back to London, while I tried to figure out the best thing to do, I checked my bank account. I was concerned that I’d obviously missed quite a lot of work.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds had been deposited into my account.

I had no idea where it had come from. It had been put in there not long after I’d left.

I got back to London, and started trying to track down people that knew Nina, but something strange started happening.

I tried to go to one of her friends’ house, and I couldn’t remember the way there. Despite the fact that I’d been there dozens of times.

When I thought about it, I knew where it was, but when I started travelling, I couldn’t remember. If I wrote it down, the words stopped making sense within minutes.

Something was stopping me.

I was frantic. And I needed information.

“So, you’re sure,” Maria said. “You don’t think skinny bitch will just turn out to have gone to South America for a few months of shopping for products for her irritatingly perfect skin and just neglected to mention it to you? That sounds fashionable, so it’s probably the kind of thing she’d do.”

“Maria, if I had anywhere else to look, I’d have done it. In fact, I probably already have done it. I’m coming to you as a last resort.”

“A last resort,” she said, lighting a cigarette. “Well, that’s me put in my place, isn’t it? She has no breasts, you realise that, don’t you? I have magnificent breasts, capable of knocking a man out if I turn around too quickly. My breasts alone should afford me more of your time.”

“Can we just do it, please?”

Her eyebrows crease into a frown, as a tear forces itself from her eye. “Darren, I’m bloody scared, okay? Just give me a minute or two.”


She stands up, and takes a deep drag from her cigarette while walking over to the window. I know her well enough to know that me seeing her scared will make her furious at me, and I need to keep her onside with this. “I’m sorry for pressuring you,” I say to her.

“Oh Darren,” she says. “Damn you for being one of my best friends. I wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t you.”

“Thank you.”

“You think she’s dead?”

“I don’t know.”

“If she is, you’ll know. But if she isn’t… I can’t control who we may end up speaking to, and they may be liars.”

“I’ve got to take that risk.”

“I know you do.”

“Let’s not wait around any further then.”

She smiles again, her face clearing with false bravado. “Then let’s start a séance.”