Visitor From Far Away
Completed on 6-27-06
The science of alchemy is the science of the conversion of things into other species”
Dominicus Gundissalinus, scholastic philosopher.
(flourished ca. 1150)
Riversleigh Manor has been left in darkness and behind the Black House in the Gardner’s Shed Mr. Undercroft, The Undertaker from the town of Faraway is packing a bag.
His pale blue face is smiling and his hair is combed back and his suit has been cleaned and ironed and on his work table among the dusty jars and rusted pruning shears and dirt encrusted garden trowels are shiny sharp tools with curved hooks, thin razor sharp edges, jagged edges and bone handles. As he packs he takes inventory of the clean tools with his long skeletal fingers, not his eyes and when he’s done he carefully folds the tools up in a white linen cloth decorated in blue ink.
Then he places the bundle into his black leather case and snaps it shut.
“Leaving us Undercroft” a voice says from the window, “leaving us?”
Undercroft doesn’t look up because he knows there is nothing to see. Instead he looks down and says to the rotted floorboards “not for long, don’t worry I’ll be back.”
“What a shame. We do hate you Undercroft.”
“Likewise” Erasmus Undercroft snaps as he pulls the bag off of the table “likewise to be sure.”
As he leaves the little shed behind the Black House the darkness follows him.
It always does.
Erasmus watches Riversleigh disappear; she’s hidden herself behind an orchard that has been pretending to be green and alive.
No more pretending now.
He can see the windows crack, the marble fountain in the Courtyard crumble and the curtains turn to dust on their rods. Doors are slamming shut and rusted tumblers are falling into place and locking themselves.
Erasmus can hear the floorboards settle and spilt, he can hear support beams crackle and snap and struggle to hold themselves together. He can feel the Riversleigh’s foundation buckle and crumble and turn to dust under the house.
After its done Mr. Undercroft places his hat on his head, and smiles at the dead house and waves a little before he turns and walks into the hills.
It could have been days, or weeks or years or minutes before Mr. Undercroft arrived at the Abbey. On that first night the Black Monks of Fallen passed him on the road up to the gates and he nodded a greeting and they laughed back and one called out, “Good luck to you Undercroft “
Erasmus startled at the sound of his own name. He wasn’t use to being seen…felt but not seen and he frowned a little and started to think…
Mr. Undercroft found his place in the Abbey, he’s in the Catacombs.
In the miles and miles of tunnels, among the bones and crypts and walls that whisper he was whistling and humming and unpacking his bag and when the door behind him swung open “Kamahra!” a voice calls into the darkness, “before we loose you down there why don’t you take the time now to come upstairs and say hello and have something to eat. You must be after famished your long trip.”
Mr. Undercroft doesn’t answer, there’s only the darkness and the sound of his unpacking, then he remembers to say in the dead woman’s voice “ Starving” Mr. Undercroft says as we puts on the dead woman’s face “I’m Starving”.