Friday, August 19, 2011

The Philosopher's Coprolite, part 001

See if you can spot this one...

"Who is Jongalt?"

The light was ebbing, and Edwil could not distinguish the beggar's face. The beggar had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked straight at Edwil, mocking and still -- as if the question had been addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him.

"Why did you say that?" asked Edwil, his voice tense.

The beggar leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky.

"Why does it bother you?" he asked.

"It doesn't," snapped Edwil.

He reached hastily into his purse. The beggar had stopped him and asked for a copper, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the problem of the next. Pleas for coppers were so frequent in the streets these days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations, and he had no desire to hear the details of this beggar's particular despair.

"Go get your cup of grog," he said, handing the copper to the shadow that had no face.

"Thank you, sir," said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned forward for a moment: a goblin. The greenish skin was wind-browned, cut by lines of weariness and cynical resignation; the eyes were intelligent.

Edwil walked on, wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread without reason. No, he thought, not dread, there's nothing to fear: just an immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object. He bad become accustomed to the feeling, but he could find no explanation for it; yet the goblin had spoken as if he knew that Edwil felt it, as if he thought that one should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason.

Edwil pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self-discipline. He had to stop this, he thought; he was beginning to imagine things. And yet… Had he always felt it? He was thirty-two years old. He tried to think back. No. He hadn't; but he could not remember when it had started. The feeling came to him suddenly, at random intervals, and now it was coming more often than ever. It's not a foretelling, he thought; it’s the twilight. I hate the twilight.

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