So you tumbled down this foul trench, ay?
Reading these words means you have asked for help ONE too many times. Not appreciated, bait worm!
The law and rule of goblin shack is, don’t chirp like sad lost birds! But don’t worry. We’re not l-i-s-t-e-n-i-n-g. And we don’t care! It’s hard to hear sobbing over these groaning cauldrons all choked with ash. And we’re not really looking out for you.
This cracked iron skillet is where you’re going to meet your finish, if we hear you screeching! Feel the gnawing urge to complain? We like whining pipsqueaks! Adds more savor to this boiling, cinder bucket stew!
Usually, it’s bad news for squawking beggars in the torture chasms. Need something? Ha, see — we can’t hell-pit.
But, you unspeakable lumps keep calling! “O, please STOP grinding our bony legs! We don’t belong, and want to go home!” You losties think we’ve all got it wrong? Dunces! None of your old, wrinkled grannies can save or spare us in this rot-hole of bleak and endless fright.
But what’s my story? Not that it’ll bring any savor to your stew, but I’ll say it goes way back, and then again it runs far forward, right smash into the stone door at the end line for all of us. But starting long in the past, before any written thing.
They tried to stop me nabbin’ sows, they never could. I snuck ’em, dark night or yellow sun. I snatched purses plump with coins, yanked right from the chubby mitts of rich old Sallies. Neither them or their hounds could come near.
I dashed like lightning through briar, barbs and rocks, walls, brick and steel, through ice and water, maelstrom, gale, and hurricane.
Even swiping bread from bakers and candies, nothing stalled my demonic speed.
How quick? Ha! I could pick a swift peck from a sweet, ripe tart in summer, before she even knew the wind was blowing!
The Jerries chased, and couldn’t catch me on these splendid heels of Mercury. I wore a count’s brisk and thick-cut shawl. Still, I only sped on faster.
I vaulted on so speedily, a hundred years went by. The lonely village was only forlorn sticks! Precious livestock? Long since etten — all except but one or two stray grandchilds of a great grandsire, so long ago picked through, its bones were ten feet in the sludge.
Decades ripped by like flung arrows that only barely skimmed the whiskers. Generations of babes sprang and faltered until the buildings all looked strange. Unrecognizing, I flew like intrepid oracles, stopping every other moment just to catch a look outside a window. Unbelievable lights! Fast and foreign carriages? I could outrun them too.
Thieves chased me. Gaunt horsemen. Wizened corporals. Bloodthirsty mariners couldn’t lay an oily hand! But I got their silver herrings, sword, and codfish.
So much time went on, the stars burned out. The trees all died. The skeletons, now all just crumbled bits. Only Death remained. I saw Him, always haunting at the edge of entropy. All that lush green ground was dirt. Each shed and rusting hovel, ground down slowly in the wink of an old owl’s eye.
Even the recollection of sound was gone. You couldn’t tell if a world of voices in memory were the imprints of all their sacred songs, or if these were just some phantom echoes that a lost mind simply conjured for their decency.
Time wound down with me chasing it. I thought to the end. Until…
Racing, I caught a glimpse: that garish devil, shirking in the hollow of every half-seen, slinking shadow. But what caught me wasn’t that lurid, bony specter. Hark, I swore I heard the yawning, the crying, of a swarming hoard of voices all sighing out, lamenting.
Maybe 10,000 years lapsed since I ever seen an angel. Everything in the whole world crumbled, but that sky didn’t open. I raced the circle of the globe like a fishing line around a reel. Nothing happened!
But there in the end of it all, I saw that fiend and chased ’em. He was fast, fastest I ever saw. But I never in eternity met one thing I couldn’t catch.
He shot through dead valleys and broken mountains, but couldn’t get away.
Closer I got, the louder I heard it, all that wailing. A noise so succulent, like the precious, loving kiss of springtime.
Deadly torch light washed along those hill sides. I don’t think he even heard me. He was shooting like a dart through time, from dark to darkling light.
I caught his tattered cloak in the mingling of un-lights. The huge, tromping wretch! His gleaming skull like pale glinting ivory, his hollow eyes like oceans of shadow, his piercing vision like a search light in the black.
Possibly the garish duke even did not spy me. Or I was some speck, barely to weigh upon his bleak, calculating mind.
But the door opened just in time, then all the flooding glimmer. The corridor was long, and we tread slowly. Suddenly at a slug’s pace we watched eternity crawl by. Descending a thousand fathoms, I felt time stop and then reverse!
Infernally, the fires all gathered and grew deeper. You could feel thermometers bursting in your veins. The winding stair cut straight on down, twisting like a gash of daylight in a nightmare. Gradually the flickering and radiance all faded. The sound of everything was drummed away, ‘til everything became this churning, blinding darkness.
But if I hadn’t got in just when I nabbed that cobwebbed hem? Can you imagine still running with the last door closed, scrambling like a spider on a thread in the blasting chill of night, amid that gradual decline into disorder? Already I forgot my name, what else could there be lost, when even time runs out?
Not even I would dare to wonder.