By Charles Eades

What the Stone Sang

Out of the darkness it came
Voice of thunder
We huddled in our cave
When the sun rose
The mountains glowed
Not a bird sang
There on the heath
The marker stands alone

On the third day
They woke to find a stone cross
Where none had been before
Garbed in symbols
Weather worn
As if it had been there for years
None could explain
As they journeyed on
The cross melted away in the mist

When the storm hit
They took shelter in a deep cave
Waited for the rain to stop
Grim faces watched them
Carved upon the walls
Frightened of the dark
They stayed near the mouth
For foul noises came from the chasm behind
The storm would not yield
They slept

The thing that walks is not human
Ravenous, it sings the stone
The land cries out for blood
Faceless figures observe without eyes
You try to run but there is nowhere to go
Rock covers the world
It will always find you
Cower in the dark
Where the dead ones crawl
Lay your face on the stone
It conjures you, drinking you in
A thousand voices whisper your death
The feeders descend

At dawn a red sun rose
The travellers ventured into the wilderness
Rocks littered the plain like scattered bones
Footprints could be discerned in the mud
A buzzard watched from high above
The trail twisting and turning
From behind came the sound of pursuit
We are alone here
Abandoned to the elements
Playthings for something ancient and huge

Beneath younger skies
A traveller of ill repute
Shot a hare and left it to rot
The next morning, he was found
Exposed to the air
Pecked by carrion
The few settlers knew not to offend the land
They said their prayers by night
And stayed indoors no matter
What noises from outside
When industry threatened
They departed for fear of what it might provoke
Now the houses stand empty
Walls like skeletons
The land remembers.


She would not look at me
Turned away as I tried to kiss her
Sometimes all you can do is leave
On the 16.31 from Congleton
I laughed to hide
The world is bigger than this, I thought
In a thousand years, who will care?
A billion souls carve pieces for themselves 
Forgotten in the dust

Should have gone to Magaluf, they said
Beneath empty skies the pain catches up with you
We wander aimlessly, not speaking
Behind us, something laughs
When we return to civilisation
What is there for me?
A cold smile
A look of contempt
Alone here, alone there

Night has fallen
We sit in the dark
Too scared to light a fire
The wind has a voice
Non-syllabic sounds of hate and pain
Fools we were to trespass here
All we want is survival
But what do we survive for?
A few more paltry, fearful years
In this dying world of manipulative lovers
And strangers we despise

The woman in the moonlight is beautiful
I wander if she belongs here?
We go to her one by one
Sink into her arms
The rock is smooth and pale
Music lulls me to sleep
Far away, an owl screams

Follow the gritstone trail…
What trail?
Getting dark…
Trail leads to the standing stone…
There’s no trail.
We’re on it now.
Where are you looking?
Maybe turn back?
Been walking for hours.
How about we stop?
Just here.
Hand me that flask.
Damn, I’m cold.
Can’t be far now.
We’re lost.
Not lost.
Should have gone to Magaluf.
Shut your face.
Any signal?
Should have learned to read a map.
Should have learned not to visit the middle of bloody nowhere.
Remember Duke of Edinburgh?
Best trip ever.
Freezing your arse off in a tent?
Brewing tea with Heather Soulsby.
Oh aye…
There was a bird.
What happened to her?
Married a wife beater.
Took her to Blackpool once.
All them rides. October, it was. Beach was packed, even then. I bought candy floss and we walked by the sea. Watched the sun go down. All them lights behind us. Glittered on her face like diamonds. Best kiss I’ve ever had. After, we went to the arcade…
Do you hear the drums?
…walked, ran, through them lights, so many lights, not like here, now, the dark…
Do you hear the drums?
…gone now, just a lovely face in an old arcade full of light. Wouldn’t recognise her now, I reckon. Are you cold? I’m cold.
They are closer now.
Wish it weren’t so cold.

Now we walk in shadow
Under the gaze of the mountain
When the sun rises
We shall disperse like air
And wander the earth
A hundred thousand years
The rock speaks
Do you hear the drums?
We take hands and melt into the soil
Beyond the peaks
In the ashes of the old gods
Music from the dawn of time
Plays upon the instrument of creation
Sleep now
The song has ended
When the land moves
The world will turn
We will be reborn
Carved upon the rock

I am the Thing Inside Your Dreams

The house remembers
Every word spoken
Every fist raised
Every heart broken
Leaves a trace in the walls
Echoes in the timber
Whispers in the eaves
While we short-lived creatures come and go
The house remembers
Creaking on its aged foundations
Watching the world go by with windows like sightless eyes
If it dreams
Its dreams are troubled

I am alone here
Shut away from the world I no longer care for
No troubles
No distractions
No voices to ask me why
Only dwell here in silence
With the house for company
I pad from empty room to empty room
The walls absorb every sound
I will not speak
Will not break the spell
Wrought by forgotten fingers
In a long dead past
My own fears
Built up over a lifetime
Might finally be smothered
Here in the dark
Where I sleep

Who is the girl at the foot of my bed?
There in the corner, do you see?
Strange, if I look at her directly
She is gone
As if perception would undo her
She’s still there
Watching me
Pale eyes in a pale face
Impossible to read
Perhaps all of them
If I should wake to find I dreamed her, what then?
No comfort there
She may yet return
When next I close my eyes

Something has changed in the house
Maybe something that was always here, dormant, has woken
Footsteps in the dark
Movement just out of sight
Voices whispered
And at night, disturbing dreams
Curious that I am not afraid
Puzzled, yes
But these visions do not repel me
I feel more and more a part of this place
Like furniture
Or a painting on the wall
Perhaps it wants me here
It shows me excerpts from its history
To prepare me for living here
The more I know, the more I want to stay
Tell me more

The dreams grow clearer
I wish they hadn’t
A child weeping on the stairs
Hands raised in anger
An agonised cry
Animal or person, I cannot tell
Dark, cold water pulling me down
Filling my lungs
Drowning the light
I trust this is not the result of a restless mind
The girl returns every night
She seems more tangible, more solid
I have never seen her blink

I have found the water
A pool on the edge of town
Like a great wound in the earth
Nothing to see beneath its black surface
Someone drowned there
A child of twelve, fifty years ago
It might have been an accident
She’s still down there
Too deep to dredge
I wonder if in her watery grave
She dreams of the house
As it dreams of her

I am beginning to feel unwelcome
Sleep gets harder every night
Bringing such terrible nightmares
I fear to close my eyes
Days are consequently wearisome
I catch myself nodding
Amid a strong sense of being watched
The house seems afflicted with damp
Water accumulates where it should not
Wet footprints
A maddening drip, drip
The source of which I cannot locate
I know when I am not wanted
The house will no longer force its tormented memories on me
There is no shame in running away
Time to go

She will not release me
She follows me to a drab hotel
I see her in puddles
Even bathwater
I avoid water like a hydrophobe
Never leave the tap running
Hide from the rain
Still she comes to me
Every night 
As I wake from horrific dreams
The house calls me home
What to do but answer?

The house welcomes me back
Like an old friend
I do not sleep
Walking the corridors at night
Every step echoed by another close behind
Though I am alone
Who whispers my name in the dark?
Who takes my hand
Leads me out
Through the empty streets
To the lonely pool
Draws me in
To the cold, black water
Further and further
Away from the world I shunned
Wraps its arms around me
Fills me up

Now I belong to the house
And while you short-lived creatures come and go
I remember
Creaking on my aged foundations
Watching the world go by
When I dream
I dream of you
Somewhere in the future
Months, years, decades
We can wait
Sooner or later, you will come
I will watch you sleep
I will fill your head with horrors
I will take your hand and lead you
To the dark, cold place
We will walk there together
For we are the things that haunt the house
And when the house dies
We will be free to haunt the Earth

The Heart of the House

And who drew the sea in this time capsule?
Long nights in primordial stillness
Gone are the days of adventure
Like frightened children
We huddle from the dark
Dream of happier times
Why hope for better
The light will not penetrate
Where the door is closed
The black cat in the window
Has not moved for twenty-eight years
Owls shriek in the darkness
Naïve, we think we keep the world at bay
An illusion of control
The universe is huge and full of terror
Life ends
Too swiftly
In pain and despair

I can remember aged nine
Hiding in the bathroom one night
Afraid to go back to my dark bedroom
For fear of what I might see
As adults we still fear the dark
We chase it away with electric light
Because we know deep down
The power will not last
And when the lights go out
All we will have is ourselves
Along with the real monsters
Within our minds

A storm that melted the Earth
Fireworks out the window
Visiting my grandfather shortly after he died
Evil spirits haunting my school
A naked girl in the water
Monsters in the corner shop
A meteor from the far side of the universe
The family cat coming to see me
Months after we buried her
A dinosaur watching me
The wolf in the hall
The king materialising through the floor
A room where many died violently
Dead babies in a stagnant pool
A slight detour into a war zone
The spider that could fly
A brief glimpse of heaven

The first time I put pen to paper
I wrote of superheroes
We grow out of such things
A thug in a cape no longer holds much appeal
Yet we still think of heroes
As athletic men with super strength
Tight suits
Mostly white
Who never seem to get hurt
Who always triumph in the end
Why does it seem patronising
To say the real heroes wear uniforms
Dry tears
Hold spoons
Grow crops
Teach children
Without reward, thanks or praise
In a society that doesn’t care

Looking back on games I played as a child
I wonder how the toys might have felt
Recurring violent death and endless conflict
Could be wearying
If you had the sentience
To understand what was happening
But then my characters have gone through worse
I never stopped to think how they might feel

Where were you the day the world ended?
I was in a classroom
Wondering what was for dinner

Is there anything more magical than a kitchen radio?
Here I can listen to the planet burn
As I drink my morning coffee
Music drives away the terror
Bruce Springsteen reminds me of home
Smell of bacon frying brings comfort
Life is short but not without pleasure

I can remember
Sitting on the sofa
Listening to my dad
Read about lions, witches and wardrobes
I have never felt as safe
Or as happy

A child goes down to the cellar
Only a candle to light her way
The stairs creak underfoot
Shadows flicker on the walls
Rats scurry beneath the floor
A black cat watches in the gloom
A voice whispers from the darkness
She reaches for the bucket of coal
The handle coated with slime
Something crawls over her foot
A claw gently brushes her face
Laughter echoes all around
She drops the bucket 
Turns to flee
A hand grabs her ankle
She falls
Screams for help
None can hear
Tomorrow another child will come down to the cellar
There’s always another
The cellar can wait

In pain and despair
Too swiftly
Life ends
The universe is huge and full of terror
An illusion of control
Naïve, we think we keep the world at bay
Owls shriek in the darkness
For twenty-eight years, the black cat in the window has not moved
Where the door is closed
The light will not penetrate
Why hope for better
Dream of happier times
We huddle from the dark
Like frightened children
Gone are the days of adventure
Long nights in primordial stillness
And in this time capsule, who drew the sea?

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