The moleman came and took away my children. I didn’t want him to. They were entertaining were my children. I liked the way they ran around screaming at the smallest thing. It only took a pinch or a bite from one of the smaller ones and the room was quickly full of tears and snot. Actually, the snot was not so fast – that usually came later. Sometimes there was blood.
Truth be told I don’t actually miss the blood. Oh sure, it was fun to collect. I once read that some famous man saved every piece of rag he blew his nose on. I didn’t go as far as that. I was more of, what you might call, a casual collector. Just an amateur. But still, it’s fair to say that my collection of children’s blood was the most impressive in the village. Until the moleman came that is.
It was Thor’s day. I remember the light flitting through the treetops. I thought it was the sun as I moved through the forest below, but when I stopped to look, shading my eyes with a spare hand, it was still moving.
I don’t always have spare hands. I usually carry a bird, sometimes an animal but never a pig – they disgust me. Usually, one of those things hung from my left hand, while my right was holding the means to catch it. I take my contribution to the pot very seriously.
As it happens, it had been a slow day in the forest. I wonder now, as I look back, whether the light and the lack of animals was connected to what happened next. Maybe they sensed it.
My children were home and safe within the house. Since their mother had died, I had … but no, I’ll not tell you about that. Enough to say I raised a good amount of blood that day.
The trees began to tremble, as if afraid. The ground beneath my feet, usually so strong, thrummed. I had once touched a vibrating drum. The earth became so.
I couldn’t help what came next. I would perhaps do it again if time were rolled back. I raised my weapon and fired.
Fear puts a man in a strange state of mind. It unhinges. I felt my bowels loosen. Time slowed and I saw the bolt arc towards the light. It had by now breached the branches and made itself into a shape. It was a dark light. Art has no power to show you her form.
Innocent as I know her now to be, she swam towards me straight and then met the shaft I had loosened. And she exploded.
Not blood beneath the bounds of that skin. Not even ichor, or any other substance you could name. It was … it was beautiful.
I had seen, at the big man’s celebration, in the gathering place, a show they called fireworks. Into the sky fled streamers of light – far, far above. My neck could crane no more as I followed them up and I almost lost them. Then there came a new day. Such colours as I had only seen in the meadow, where the flowers bloom wildly in their haste to praise the sky. That is what I saw that night.
And this is what I saw this day as she took herself off into death. Not the kind of death that I understand, but a type of death that the moleman told me about. Afterwards. He made me listen. He held my head in fingers of sharpened flint. He made me watch his eyes and his tears. I had no choice.
We came to an accord, him and me. I could no more have disagreed with him than stop my heart by will alone. Of course, it stopped anyway – but that’s another thing. In exchange for all our lives, he would take my children. In lieu of a rage and a gouge – there and then here, at the house, he would content himself with taking my young ones. Forever.
I would not have let them go to pain. If that were to be so, I would have chosen the quick and angry death. But the moleman made me a promise. They would be cared for as he had cared for his own daughter. He knew my heart. That is why he was able to take so much from me without a whisper of ‘no’ on my part. That is how I came to sit here now.
A silent house. A house defined by what is not. Not laughter, not shouts, not tears, not a single heartbeat to echo my own solitary pulse – slowing now – soon to stop.
I will lay down this pen and you will find me here. You will read my words.You will perhaps even sigh. Just remember that I had nothing left. And now I have less.
Look after my blood.