Seven Offerings to the Campfire
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Didja know ya can feel bones snapping through briar and hay?

Ya can, in a way. Ya can feel how tha bones give neath yer thumbs and how yer fingers seem to create a space where one never was. Ya shiver, then, ya know? Ya get the shivers, cause what most of da people don’t know, is ya can feel their soul escaping wherever ya kill ‘em at.

Didja know that? Ya can sink a knife into someone, and if they die slow, ya can watch da soul slip out of there. It’s like sweet smelling pipe smoke, ya know, da way it curls up into the air…

And if ya slit a through, ya can drink it sometimes, but it don’t stay. Most people piss ‘em out, which is hilarious. Ya start pissin’, and there’s this soul trying ta get out yer dick. Course, I don’t piss no more anyhow. I’mma startin’ ta think I never did, ya know? Memories are funny like that. What’s dat word? Ephemeral. Like souls.

Oh, but yeah, like I said. I can feel somethings.

Dat’s one.

Nothing quite so morbid, thank you very much.

It's silly, really, but there's nothing I enjoy quite as much as a nice mouse. Hehe… They're delicious, in a way that you silly boys wouldn't really understand. You like to cook things, and roast meat, and have those smells, but… ooh… That warm blood running down your cheeks when you sink your teeth into them. God, I miss walking with all the dreamers.

What? No, no. I'd never freeze dry them. How utterly distasteful. It would ruin them! The little squeaks they make are half the fun.

And that'll be two. How many more do we need?

Well, I can't really offer anything like that. I guess what I love most are missing things.

It's odd. I can't really describe it, but it's like… Know how when you're working on a puzzle, and you can't find the very last piece? But there's the hole. You know the shape. You know what should go there, but you can't tell what it is except by the shape of what's missing. That.

I know that I had a wife because I don't know that I didn't. Ya see? It's simple. It's the jailor's trick, ya know, to make you forget like that. I know I had a daughter, but not a son. I had two, living parents, because I don't not know that I had dead ones. You understand? So yeah. Missing things. Memories around missing memories.

And… um… that'll be three.

I've been… lucky. The jailers probably don't even know I exist. Not very many do.

Sometimes I've gone for weeks without talking to anybody else. I'm not avoiding people, but… Sometimes, it's like people see right through me. Literally, I mean. I try to talk with people and they just don't hear me, or don't see me. Sometimes they never even realize I'm there. It's like… living through a one way mirror. You can see out, but they can't see in.

I mean, it's not so bad. Sometimes it's lonely, but I've learned to live with it. I still like to spend time with people. I know so many little secrets, and I've never told one. It's beautiful to see how people act when they're alone. And… there's something wonderful about sitting and keeping somebody company, without them knowing I'm there. It's like I'm a guardian angel, almost. They might not notice me, but they… notice when I'm gone. I love being missed, I think. That's what I love.

…and there's four.

When I was born, there was nothing. Nowhere. There wasn't any place for me to be yet. Then came the light, and the heat, and the fire.

From the fire came more fire, and iron and dust and more light, and finally you. And you'll be gone soon, like your father was, and his father, and all the way back and all the way forward, and the stars and planets too.

When I die, everything else will have broken down, and nothing will be left but a distant hum of everything that ever was. And me.

There, five. You next.

Me? Oh. Well, a story. A thing. Yes, let me think. Ah, yes! There's one.

There's a place not very far from here. Nothing special, really. It's just an old barn. The farmhouse has already fallen down, you can just see the timbers, and it's nothing special at all, except for one thing that's very special, because, you see, it leads somewhere else.

Not another world. Not in the way you think of it, anyway. It's a place that's part of this world, but separate. It lays on top of it. It's the place where memories go when you're finished with them, and where dreams come from when you need them. It's where your yesterdays get curled up with the next day's hopes, and where shivery little nightmares go fluttering through the air like heartbeats.

I go there, sometimes, but not for very long. It's very confusing, because everyone's memories go there, and it's all muddled and hazy, and you can't think for very long. But if you're careful, and you bring some rope, you can bring things back. That's where I got this coat. It's woven from the memory of a summer in France and a dream of flying.

Well, that's six then. Who's next?

So I guess that I'm last then.

The kinds of things I've seen, you begin to know that there is little to love in this universe. So, I won't tell you what I love. No, I'll tell you what I fear most.

Do you know why we fear the dark? Is it because of the things we can't see? Is it the things that go bump in the night? NO. We can't see them, but we can hear them. But it's not a fear of nocturnal predators, at least not of earth. There is a star in the southern hemisphere. It goes by many names. Some called it the demon's star, although Al'gul took that name later in human history. It also goes by Yuggoth, and Shir'tal. But, in disregard of all astronomical geometries, it is only visible on the winter solstice.

And on that fateful night, somewhere below the equator, a meteor falls. And out of that meteor, made of pitch black obsidian, comes the sound of a sonorous, hateful, flute. That sound, as dreadful, and unnatural as it sounds, is the least of what the dread star brings.

What you ask? Well, I can't tell you, not in good conscience. I'll leave it up to you to decide what it does. Or you could travel south, and see it yourself. The meteors follow a pattern, and this year, for the first time in almost 500 years, should make land fall, somewhere on the shores of western Australia. Seek it out if you wish, but do so at your own peril, for there are things a human mind is not meant to know.

And that makes seven, and the last.

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