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Words: W. Swaytooth
Music: S. Erebus
Between the big house and the outlying barns the mud is stiff and frosted. The harsh light of the winter sun lends no warmth as it bleeds through the gun-metal clouds that race with an unsettling quickness over the big skies. The stores dwindled as the harvests diminished.
Our employers vanished. All that remained was the foreboding skeleton of the big house, where the gales shot through the empty main doors and the mortar crumbled. The only clue as to the life therein, was the silhouette of the laird in the topmost window, framed by cascading vines. But then, one morning, he was gone too.
Weeks after the laird failed to appear on his rounds, the young master finally emerged. By day, he would take to his scabby horse and scuff around the empty fields. His tattered cloak whipped in the foul breeze, bone-charms clacking, a troubled look of shell-shocked dismay hanging from his face.
As the famished landscape darkened, we would witness the emergence of small fires glowing on the surrounding hilltops, then the frenzy of dance would ensue. The presence of my malnourished co-workers fell away.
The moon-drenched ceremonies gathered frequency, the masters echoing sermons resounded through the emptiness, the bonfires systematically lit up his hastily constructed crosses, from which the half-devoured carcasses of the disappeared labourers limply hung.
Those of us who had endured in our fragility, huddled in the straw and shit, trembling as we awaited the young master's scythe. Days became weeks, the skies bruised, and finally we saw it.
The master's animated corpse, strewn with cogs and gears, wired up to turbine and battery. He tracked us far and wide with combine blade. I alone escaped. I alone bore witness to the horror that drove him.
Through dead wood and bracken I had been chased back to the big house, to what I thought to be my last refuge. There she sat at the head of the table, in a precise nest of terminals and radio-transmitters. The young master's twisted mother sent out the signal to him as he appeared behind me.
Now, from this cage I scrawl these notes, I am fed by the young master on flesh of unknown origin, the matriarch looking on. Night and day she croons with that same damnable song...