My mother stands on the dock, her hands cradled in front of her as if in prayer. She wears a gray smock, the same as all the other women, her white hair pulled back into a severe bun. I wonder if she’s done it to iron out the wrinkles and creases in her forehead; if she has, then she has failed.
Once the ferryboat is tied off and the warped gangplank has been thrown ashore, I follow her through the streets to her cottage. She nods to a tall, bearded man who sits mending nets on the quayside, but otherwise she ignores the frothing sea of bodies around her, each welcoming their own loved ones to Tromisle.
You asked so I’ll tell you, but you won’t believe a word of it. You’ll read the reports and assessments, the opinions of doctors and social workers, and you’ll take their theories as facts. And yet my story – the story of someone who lived through this, and lost his world because of it? That, you’ll dismiss as fantasy.
So be it. You don’t have to believe me. Just listen.
'The High Priestess' in Great British Horror 7: Major Arcana (ed. Steve J Shaw, Black Shuck Books)
They’re on holiday when he sees the cottage. Julie and Nico are bickering in the back seat, Maggie searching through the glovebox for something – anything – that might shut them up for five minutes. He rubbernecks as they pass it at speed, pulls into a lane half a mile up the road.
“What are you stopping for?” Maggie asks, feeding an audiobook into the stereo.
“Nothing. Just want to check something out,” Rob replies.
It was with some surprise that I received an invitation card to dinner at No.472 Cheyne Walk. While my own health had been good lately, apart from occasional spells of arthritis brought on by the cold, it was common knowledge that Carnacki had been unwell. His Cheyne Walk residence was not what it used to be, and a severe case of damp during the spring had ushered in the respiratory illnesses that too often afflict men of our age. I hadn’t seen him since May the previous year.