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And In the Darkness, Find Me

by C.M. Silas about a year ago in urban legend
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And We Shall Be Free

They told me how much they would miss me. They held me tight. My

father’s hands shook with Parkinson’s that had so viciously taken

over. Like the venom of a snake after it plunges eager fangs into its

victim, the disease had robbed his body of free will. My aunt’s arms

had to be peeled from my cracking ribcage. What was that look? It

was frightening, especially coming from her typically warm, gray

eyes. It makes me wonder now, as I scan the once-bustling Grand

Central Station, what did she know? There are no signs of life, save

for the conductor who brought me here. I think back to that day one

year ago when I left my father and Aunt Caroline in this very spot.

Little did I know then as I set off from the station that I would return to

a city more barren than that which I left behind in the Outback. I took

in a final sweep of the station, looking pulled apart and throttled with

the rage only criminal disregard can instate. Sheets of fractured glass

covered the worn floor, still holding the echo of men’s dress shoes

hurrying across. The past year’s events were with me in the form of a

battered, black journal. The stains of these memories were black ink,

grubby on my weathered hands. My blood chilled within me when I

heard what I first believed to be singing, reverberating from within a

darkened corridor closed off with yellow caution tape. Long, soft

words flowed out of it like angelic moans, but I could not understand

the request - or perhaps command - of the hauntingly beautiful voice.

I only needed to be nearer to it. I craved it, as though I could hold the

spoken words close to myself, but I feared it almost as much. Almost.

4:43 P.M. – Outside the gates of my former home, Schreiber Manor.

My hands clasped the cold iron as I gazed up the winding hill toward

the manor. It was an old Victorian home that my father had painted a

deep, royal blue. This was meant to resemble our home in Scotland

where I spent the first seven years of my life. I remember as a child

my father telling me, behind the flickering glow of candles, that the

Bean Nighe would be visiting us that night. “A quarter past midnight,”

he whispered, “she will pass by. Right over there,” he pointed toward

the river bend on the edge of our property, “she will be.” His voice

drifted, almost dreamily, and a strange smile rested upon his face.

“Don’t you come out of this room, Brahms. Mind your Papa,

understand?” He said, a gentle inflection in his tone. I nodded. Years

later - and thousands of miles away - as I prepared to leave the home

we had later made in New York, my father gave me a gold, heart-

shaped locket. Inside, it held a picture of a beautiful woman. “Your

mother,” he said. “Never lose this. Someday you will know-”, but he

faltered. “Don’t lose it.” He said with finality before walking away,

leaving me standing in my room with all my suitcases ready for the

year-long trip in Australia.

I shook my head in confusion at the memory. I reached into the

pocket of my coat, becoming heavier by the minute in the falling rain,

and grasped the gold locket. I opened it and gazed at the second

picture he had sent me while I was in Australia. It was the only picture

we had of her. Anna, my little sister, was exactly one year and seven

months younger than me. It was her picture that now rested inside

the locket, opposite of my mother’s stoic face. As I wrestle curious

thoughts, I am brought back to my surroundings by the lightning that

crashed in the distance amongst rumbling thunder. My heels are

bleeding from the ten-mile walk from the station to the edge of

Schreiber Manor, and no one but myself has kicked up dust on this

gloomy path in days, possibly weeks. I can feel the blood in my boots

as I pass through the gates and make my way toward our decrepit yet

lavish estate. “Let it only be us,” I hear a voice say behind me. My

heart burst into my throat as my pulse began to throb terribly. “Who

was that?” I said with a shameful squeak. All I could hear beyond the

pounding droplets of rain was the whipping breeze that picked up

rapidly then died down with as much haste. I took a few more steps,

crunching the muddy gravel below my feet. “Take her with you. Keep

her safe.” I froze. There was no doubt this time. This was not my

frenzied, active imagination or muddled thoughts consuming me from

outside the confines of my mind. It was, without question, someone’s

voice. It was strangely familiar in cadence, though I felt unable to

perceive to whom the voice belonged.

The next strange occurrence did not come until later. It was nearing

twelve-fifteen at night as I sat upon the leather armchair in my father’s

study, flipping through the dusty, yellowed pages of Chaucer’s

masterpiece. I heard the distinct turn of a key in the front door. My

hand that gripped the mug handle tightened, causing the coffee to

leap over the brim and scald me. I bridled my cursing tongue to

silence and kept a steady gaze on the doorway of the study. Yes, I

knew this was my father’s house, and it would usually not alarm me if he

was returning home, but this was not a normal night in a normal city inside

a normal house. Indeed, there was nothing normal about this night as

I had spent the last several hours becoming more certain that I was

very much alone. Two distinct footsteps approached, one was heavy-

footed while the other was soft and airy like a ballerina’s muted

leaps. I stood, prepared to use the stoker next to me as a weapon.

There was soft giggling and the gentle thunder of an adoring man’s

chuckle. The footsteps came to a halt before the study door. I

swallowed, my throat too constricted to utter a warning to the

intruders. The gold handle turned, and as I lifted the stoker above my

head the door was thrust open and before me stood my father, and a

woman whose face I nearly choked upon seeing – my mother’s. Her

face was as young as when her picture was taken all those years

ago, when I was almost a year old and she only showed the slightest

signs of a bump on her belly. They stood before me smiling with no

explanation. I heard the voice again. It was their voices echoing in the

soft light of the room, though their lips were closed in a warm smile.

The shattering ruckus that broke my paralyzed thoughts was the

coffee mug cracking and dispersing across the floor in a mixture of

shards and steaming liquid. My mother held out her pale, skinny arms

and I saw upon her flesh the symbol of the Bean Nighe – her symbol.

The images of that night when my father told me of the Bean Nighe

coming to visit began to spin about in my mind. I remembered - not

what I thought I remembered, but what else happened. He told me to

stay in my room, but I needed to gulp down that childish rebellion and

see what this Bean Nighe looked like for myself. It was a strange

bedtime story to have become the ritual every night before I was put

to sleep. Now I understand why my father was so fond of the tale and

why his eyes often would well up with tears when telling the fate of

the Bean Nighe, who passed away during childbirth. There was

always a comforting tone in my father’s voice when he would tell the

story of this beautiful creature, who could transform herself haggardly

to those she warned of their time coming to an end.

It was then that I saw it, like a vision flashing before my mind’s eye. I

saw myself as a child watching out the cracked doorway when my

father went down to the river bend to meet the Bean Nighe. That

night I saw her. He called her by a name that I did not recognize, and

she knew his name, spoken in soft adoration. “Tell me what your

three wishes be, but then have patience – til we can be free.” She

said to him. He replied in earnest, “Let it only be us when our freedom

comes, and for those who plot evil, strike down by our Love.” He

pointed to the window where their little girl slept. It was coming back

to me now like a waterfall crashing rudely over peaceful waters. I was

one year and seven months old when my mother gave birth to Anna.

She was the one – the child whose life snuffed out the mother. And

this was the mother, my very own, whose fate was then to become

the Bean Nighe. Where did Anna go? I wondered. I could not recall a

single memory of Anna. If she lived on, and the infant picture burning

within the walls of the locket proved it to be so, then where had she

been all these years? Images of the conversation I witnessed that

night many years ago were still playing in my mind’s eye. “Take her

with you. Keep her safe. Don’t let her see the evil that exists in this

place. I will join you both later, though I don’t know when. I will feel

you and hear you in every gust of the wind! We can go far away, yes,

so far and be free! Happy and free - something they’ll never be!

Please grant this, Bean Nighe, this wish number three. And in the

darkness, find me.”

My hands were as cold as ice when I finally uttered my thoughts,

“Anna,” I choked out. “Where is Anna?” I asked, my eyes turning

upward to the nursery painted pale yellow nearly twenty years before.

“She stays with me, hidden away in my lair,” the Bean Nighe

whispered, “don’t fear, my child, it is safe for her there.” I staggered

and fell back into the armchair. “Safe from what!” I exclaimed. “This

world in which we live,” my father replied. “Didn’t you notice anything

strange when you arrived at the station? How few people there were?

None, in fact, besides the conductor, correct?” He asked, a shimmer

dancing across his eyes from the leaping flames of the crackling

fireplace. He continued, “There has been a Great Reckoning, and

souls are finding their resting place as we speak.” I look into the

flames then back again. “Why were we left behind then?” I asked as

the grin spread across my father’s face. “It was my wish,” he

breathed. “Three wishes you are allowed when you come face to face

with the Bean Nighe – don’t you remember that, Brahms? – and mine

have been granted, in due time.” He held up one finger. “That we be

left in peace – myself and my beloved wife, the Bean Nighe herself –

when the Reckoning was over. As well as our baby girl and little boy.”

He pointed at me then held up two fingers, “That all who have plotted

evil against my Beloved because of what she became will be struck

down, for she is not the Gatherer but the Messenger.” He then held

up three fingers as he spoke once more, “That in the shadows which

fall upon the earth, after the Reckoning and before the Rebirth, that

she find me. And far away we will flee. So far away, we are free.

Because in the darkness, she found me.”

urban legend

About the author

C.M. Silas


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