The Fog19 October 2004
The tale of a secret town and its fog-shrouded living nightmare.
I love my hometown, but it's a secret- the town, not my love for it. A secret is a beautiful thing. Secrets are all we have to call our own. It makes this town beautiful and terrible, it's secret. The town itself is six hours from Sydney- though if I told you the name of my town, no one would know it. Besides Sydney, the nearest thing to my town, my ignored and backward town, is a mountain. No one, besides some down and out farmers, live near my town. The town is, and has always been, the only evidence of human existence near the mountain. The Aborigines never lived in this area; only white people were stupid enough to try. The mountain is enormous, easily the most ignored body in Australia. The mountain itself is covered in a great mess of bush, yet its hard to tell this, since a rough white fog clings to the peak. From foothill to summit, the mountain is veiled in it. It's an odd, lacy fog that clings to you with almost a sticky sensation, like a child's spit. It makes an effort to cover your eyes as best it can.
When people first started living hear they tried to explore the mountain. They had little luck and eventually gave up. Everyone who didn't live under it forgot about it then. The town grew to a point, and then stopped. It was just that bit out of everyone's way, that bit too small and that bit too odd that meant no one could be bothered coming here. Besides, odd things always happened in the town, especially under the light of the New Moon. Eventually everyone took no more notice of the odd things happening in their town and accepted them- eventually the townsfolk went a little odd themselves. So it was that near the beginning of the last century some infants went missing from a few local families. An effort was made to find them, even called in help from outside the town, but eventually they had to call it quits. No one ever knew what happened.
That is, till I came along. There is a place, up that mountain, where the fog clears and the bush things. You can't see that from the bottom. It's the summit- a flat, wide thing as big as a medium-sized farm. As near as I can figure, missing infants had found their way to the summit and somehow grew to adulthood there. There they grew to adulthood on the mountain- living in caves and holes like animals. They learnt to move through fog and darkness as if it were clear as daylight. Had kids too- I was one of them. They don't recognise me as their own, though. Not any more.
I don't live on the mountain or in the fog anymore. I live on the edge of town, on the edge of the fog. Its white wisps lap at my pretty picket fence, clawing at it like some hungry beast. When I was about fourteen or so I came down from the mountain and made friends with a boy in the town. I saw him a few times, under the light of the Gibbous- when all the other fog-people were busy chanting up Old Scratch. Gibbous shaman's moon- good for stories and sorceries. When I met this strange, civilised boy, I thought he was magic. He taught me to speak as he did and I gave my virgin-blood to him.
My people, they found us out right there in the middle of it. They murdered him, no questions asked. But for me, they had a special punishment in mind. They took my right eye and left the left one. Their way of saying don't come back. It worked. I took his body back to town. Showed it to his Mother and told my sad story in broken words. I didn't expect her to believe me, but she did.
We had both just lost all the family in the world. She took me in and we started a new one. She taught me about God and reading and writing and being a lady and stuff like that. I was always a wild girl by her standards- she understood. I'd grown up on bush living and rune-reading and weirdness- hard to become civilised overnight.
That sly old left eye of mine ached and moaned for months to come. I kept loosing my vision and picking it up again. It was hard to adjust. Getting used to the concept of the television was hard enough. Trying to look at pictures of pure light with a flailing depth perception- that was bloody difficult. She took me to eye doctors and all sorts of things. I had a bad reaction to most, specially after they told me my eye would be like this- vision fading in and out -for the rest of my life.
It wasn't long after that I found out I'd fallen pregnant. Forgot about my eye then. It was exciting but scarier than anything I had ever known. But above all else, it felt comfortable. It tied our little family closer together in a way I could never have imagined. Something about the fact that a part of her son was growing into a life inside me gave us a genetic tie. She raved on about for hours every day. I didn't realise that the ties of blood could be so strong. Then she'd start on about her boy. She remembered every detail about him- I couldn't even remember what my parents looked like or if I had any kin. I began to take long, slow walks on the mountain- in the fog -then.
At first she tried to follow me, but she couldn't. I was born and raised on that mountain; it was my back yard. The fog stopped her from seeing where she was going- it twisted paths and took away any sense she had of direction. She'd just go around in circles at the base of the mountain before going home. She stopped trying eventually. She never stopped worrying. We fought a little then. She was scared I'd go back to my old people. I told her I never could- it wasn't who I was any more. But I still walked on the mountain, never daring to tread too far up. She still worried.
By the time I was near ready to give birth I had become a local hero. I represented a little piece of this big, weird thing that had been brought to bear by civilisation. I was an icon for future victories. I gave birth to my son as the New Moon reached its apex for the night. It was then that the sound of breaking glass could be heard on the floor below. The midwife went to check and see, leaving me and my new mother to bask in my Childs glow. The midwife let out a scream shortly after- that was the last we heard of her.
Before we could understand what had happened a group of young men- 'Braves' I suppose you could call them -from the mountain had burst into the room. They were dressed in crow feathers and kangaroo fur, their bodies' splattered all over in grey mud and runic markings. We knew they were from the mountain because were else would white folks looking like that be from? They overpowered us with ease. They took my child.
By dawn the local priest was ready to lead a dozen of men with guns up the mountain. I was asked to guide them- I was the only one who could find my way through the mist. I was weak and sore, but I did my best. We got halfway up the mountain before we saw anyone. They only sent one out to stop us- an old Witch. He just sat there in front of us, scratching runes onto a tree with a dagger made of bone. They were just marks on a tree till he split his hand open, painted them with a song on his lips. The priest stepped forward with his cross- screaming the Lord's Prayer. He died first, that priest, ripped apart by some twisted Fetch. A living monster from the 'Id'- that's what a Fetch is. Not that it mattered to these town-folk. Some ran, some tried to shoot- about five or so died there and then. I held fast.
I screamed at that Witch in my old tongue. Broken words from a language I barly remembered. The Witch just laughed at me.
'There is more city in your water than there is in your child's, prodigal' The Witch laughed. I tried bargaining, but I was just an outcast who had no clout. The Witch just laughed his withered head off at me. That's when I tried fighting. I caught that old Witch about the knees and beat his face with a rock until it bled black. The old Witch threw me off with a song. He killed my eye with his spirit.
That was about ten years ago now. I've grown now, in the town under the mountain. No ones set foot on the mountain since. After what happened this little town's grew to hate me. They said I brought the Fog-people down upon them. Despite this hate, they never did do away with me. They could never send me back, but they didn't want me anymore either.. They were too scared that the Fog-people would come down if they killed me. They just let me live on the towns outskirts, in a little house near the fog. It was a half-way point. No one dares live near me, and no one comes to visit anymore, not since I started to hear him. Sometimes, when the Gibbous Moon reaches its apex, I hear the songs in the gurgled sorcerous language of my youth sang by a strong, young man's voice. My boy. He has his father's tongue. My boy.
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