Faith is a wondrful thing, but there's nothing like a big old dollop of proof.
The first light of dawn is arm-wrestling the street lights for control of the sky as we emerge wearily from the tunnel. We've just spent six hours investigating the paranormal in an underground bunker. There may have been caffeine involved.
Well, that was bizarre, I mutter.
No kidding, murmurs arch-genius Dr. Max Tunguska edgily, as he dusts the chalk from his jacket; we're all bearing the marks of the seemingly endless chalk tunnels on our clothing.
Can somebody tell me what just happened? asks Abbey quietly. My fiery-haired neighbour looks gaunt in the twlight, her calcified bare feet only just outshining the paleness of her face.
I think it's safe to say that we were not the only intelligence in that room, rumbles Bear. His fur is spattered with what looks like - for want of a more scientific description - translucent goop.
Half an hour earlier, we prepare for the final phase of the evening. We've already taken some unnerving-if-not-entirely-inexplicable flashgun photographs in the depths of the tunnels, held a near-comical séance with an unconvincing and somewhat-theatrical medium, and scanned the whole complex with paranormal detection gear to no avail. A bit of a mixed bag.
But this is different. A dozen of us are gathered under the high vaulted roof in the deepest reaches of the base, and there is a real sense of anticipation in the air as five of us move nervously forward. We stand in a ring around the focus of the ritual, and stretch our hands forward in preparation for the finale. Our fingers brush together, and after exchanging encouraging glances we slowly let them drop together onto the warm, coarse surface.
Beneath our hands, the pig grunts.
Swine-o-mancy is an all-but-forgotten mystical technique. In Roman times, it was common for simple country folk to divine the future by examining the entrails of sacrificial animals. However, the pork farmers of Roman-occupied Britain - deeply superstitious, but without a chicken to their name - were reluctant. To them, a prematurely-slaughtered pig would always be an omen of a difficult winter. So, in a practice that eventually evolved into Ouija, they would drag a recalcitrant old boar into the centre of a wide circle of flat stones, each of which bore a letter of the alphabet. Then, after placing hands on the animal and summoning the spirits, they encouraged their late ancestors to move the pig and spell out words.
And hoped for the best.
Back in the now, I carry the scent of pig sweat on my damp hands.
I think you did a great job of setting the mood Bear, I say, seeking a positive spin, nice and calm and encouraging. If I were a spirit, I'd like that, I think? I feel almost mean when I add, Though maybe your question was a bit vague?
Not at all, replies my massive companion, somewhat testily; I guess it's been stressful for all of us. I asked them to tell the future of one of the participants. He shrugs. I just didn't pin it down; it never pays to know too much. This is typical wisdom from the seven-foot black bear.
Well, I was pleased about that uncertainty at the time, whispers Abbey. When the pig moved to the letter B, I thought that he was going to spell out B-L-O-O-D! She blows her nose into a hanky. I've no idea why. And, that said, she walks away to a nearby patch of grass and starts wiping the chalk from her feet with the help of the dawn dew.
Max sighs. When it added the letter A, I immediately expected the word B-A-N-J-O. I frown at him, bemused. He cracks a half-hearted smile, Well, I was thinking of taking it up!
I move us along from that unsettling thought. Well, I wasn't at all surprised when it added the letter C. I figured it was spelling out B-A-C-K-P-A-I-N. The others nod, knowing I've had some twinges of late.
Tho of course, grumbles Bear, when the next letter got us as far as B-A-C-O-, the pig panicked and trampled me and made its escape. He flicks angrily at his shoulder with a paw. And got drool all over me!
I hand Bear a tissue. And there was me thinking it was ectoplasm.
In a nearby bush, a blackbird breaks into the first few bars of the dawn chorus; I guess it's a bit early for dogs to be barking in the distance.
Over by the grass, Abbey's stifles a giggle.
Smart creatures, pigs, says Max.
And of that, we no longer need proof.
This blog entry is protected by copyright © Indigo Roth, 2012
smart creatures indeed. =)ReplyDelete
i love this!
so nice to see Bear is alive and well - and in his usual mood.
Hey Eolist! I've not seen much of Bear of late. Which is a shame, as he could have been a real help during the business with the cuttlefish. I really must get around to writing that tale. Indigo xDelete
I know you actually did have an adventure of this sort, and I wish I had been there!ReplyDelete
Hey Blondie! Hey, it sounds like you think I'm making this stuff up! As I always say: Life delivers, I just write it all down. Indigo xDelete
Nah - sounds like a bit of a porkie to me Indie.....ReplyDelete
Hey Alistair! It was a huge porkie, believe me. Any bigger, and Bear would have needed Kevlar. BTW, I've just noticed you're missing from my sidebar; must have happened during the domain change. Apologies, I'll put that right. IndigoDelete
Are you sure it wasn't talking about Bacolod in the central Phillipines?ReplyDelete
Hey Joshua! It didn't strike me as a well-travelled pig, so I can understand its alarm. Though it's travelling well now; it was seen approaching the Scottish border this morning. Perhaps it hitch-hiked? Oink, IndigoDelete
Pig ; snorts, snuffles, sniffs. opens one eye. thinks; nah fuck off; goes back to sleep; dreams of places without fences.ReplyDelete
Hey Davoh! It's like you were there. Spooky. IndigoDelete
Hey, just realised I've read this twice now and failed to comment. Very remiss of me, but I have spent the last week possessed by the ghost of a pickled onion.ReplyDelete
Hey matey! I think you were channeling the great Aubergine Deity on the evening, with a side order of Sprouthulu. I still can't pick anything in a glass up, as it keeps moving. RothDelete
Whew! I'm so glad the pig escaped. You had me really worried there. Another wonderfully charming tale.ReplyDelete
Hey Jayne! Thanks, I too was pleased. Lovely creatures, pigs. Not as wise as bears or as clever as badgers, but great to have about the place. Along with a shovel. Indigo xDelete