When the candlelight began to die down, the shadows grew wide and indistinct as they joined with the larger body of darkness that flooded the under-church, and still I sat upon the stone floor, wondering. After the first night the light completely passed away, leaving only my memory of candlelit spaces to illuminate the basement. Though the blackness had become absolute, I could still feel the cold shadows of eighteen crosses pushing softly against the currents of flowing darkness, refusing to melt back into oblivion. When the second night came and went, I was still sitting upon the floor, losing myself in the cool stream of silence that poured from corpses and cold candlewax, from old books and dried blood.
Interpreting silence was one of the first lessons my mother taught me. I was barely a child of four. In the middle of the night during one of the fiercest thunderstorms I can remember, I was huddled in the corner of a room, wincing at the thunder. My mother knelt down beside me, placed her lips almost upon my ear, and whispered, “It’s not the thunder you should be listening to, but the silence it leaves behind. Before there was anything, there was silence, and after everything is gone, silence will remain. All that ever was, or could be, whispers its soul into the sound of silence—and the only thing you will ever need to do, to know anything at all, is listen to it.”
Under growing piles of aging quiet I imagined the thing that held me in its sight, driving me onward. I conjured images of the Shepherd with the red crook, standing tall and solemn upon a cresting and frothing wave of hungry wolves. Later I fantasized a secreted dark queen of murder, deep in her hive far below the earth. She wore a bloodied crown and held an ornate rusted knife in each of her many crimson-dripping hands. She was surrounded by her retinue of worker-killers, orchestrating the red business of murder. I smiled when I thought of her looking like my mother. But beyond my imaginings, I couldn’t help but feel shameful, for I had brought an untimely end to a wonderful dreamer, who had waged as fierce a war against the Mother of the Dead as myself. Yet as before, I could feel purpose behind my actions—a grand scheme that moved within and without me, gathering strength beyond death, preparing. Whatever the reason behind my new calling, it grew all the more wonderful and terrible when I found small, familiar lists of names in the pockets of both The Crucifier and the hunter he had slain. Yet most important and perplexing of all—my own name appeared on one of the lists.
A familiar silence drifted down beside me, put its lips almost upon my ear and whispered, “The wolves are coming, son.”
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