This is from Steve Kilbey's 1999 book Nineveh/The Ephemeron. You can still order a copy by sending 7.50 pounds sterling ($14US) to Erskine Music and Word, 69 Hodcliffe Rd, Leighton Buzzrd, LU78JR, UK. Make IMOs or UK checks payable to T. Boyd (boydnet@compuserve.com).

 

Excerpt from The Ephemeron

Caught out and soaking wet, Erskine comes to a clearing in the trees where gravestones drop onto the green wet grass. A rusted iron fence disappears into weeds. But the names on the graves have either worn off or were never there. Across the graveyard in the clearing sits a something; a thing, an indescribable thing. Erskine watches the indescribable thing out the corner of his eye, unwilling to confront its nebulousness. It gets up and slowly comes towards him, through the headstones. A lightning flash lights up the sky and once again the great bird falls, hundreds of leagues away.

The thing advances until it is only about ten feet away from him. Summoning up all his shaky reserve, he jerks his head towards it and confronts it, trying to assert himself, but not too much, because Erskine is not over fond of indescribable things. It resembles sound, if sound had a smell; it resembles an inside out, upside down empty room. It is like nothing, yes?

How long did they stand there, quite quietly puzzled by the other? The forest silently goes on luxuriating around them, presiding over this meeting like a solicitor who leans back into a soft chair and drifts into a daydream. The forest is the judge, too, as Erskine, drawing on all his great powers, utters a word, perhaps something out of Robert Houdini's grimoires, or a necromantic word from an Egyptian tomb ... ?

"Hello" he says.

This incenses the thing to be completely motionless. It stands there, hardening and cracking, before his very eyes, while time drones away in the heavy forest, in this clearing. Eventually, all that remains is the suggestion of indescribability, because the thing, in becoming what it has, has also lost its strangeness and charm. How ironic that it should stand here in the quiet place, this sad place, mistaken for something quite ordinary.

1999 Erskine Word and Music and Steve Kilbey

 


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