There is a hole which none can crawl out of. It’s at the bottom of a garden with too many trees. We found it one autumn while we were clearing bracken, found it and knew they were down there. We heard them whispering weird laments, the whole hidden host emitting a void cacophony. At first, we were scared and stayed silent. We only listened, afraid they would become aware of our presence and appeal to us. So we sat with our ear to the hole, lulled by their strange and terrible music.
After that first time, we came every day. Nobody asked us where we were going and we didn’t tell; we didn’t tell them we’d found a hole in a garden filled with a people who sang a subterranean song. The people were ours now, we didn’t want to share. They belonged to us.
Sometimes, we’d go at night. At night their song was changed. No longer did they hiss and whisper. At night they howled, and if the moon was out, the air was filled with their orchestral rhapsody. It seemed to seep from the soil like sulphur, filling the air and choking us. We could never stay long at night; it was only a short time before we couldn’t breathe. But we went because we saw visions. When the earth people sang at night, our heads were filled with pictures of things that were and things that would never be, and we saw the pictures and felt holy. We liked being holy. It was like a drug, but a drug we knew would kill us. It became a game like we played when we were children, when you got your friend to choke you to see how long you could last, and when you came around it was like you were high. We were addicted. We became shamans under the influence of their sulphuric song.
Days, we tried to entice them out. We tried everything, dangling food above the hole to lure them like a tapeworm. Milk didn’t work; it caused them to slither deeper into their lair. We thought meat might do it, but the scent of it caused a diabolical furore, like the sound of a million locusts bombarding a greenhouse. We tried it once and never again. Thinking we might lure them with alcohol, we left a plastic cupful of wine at the entrance. With the scent of wine, they learned our names and whispered at us through the soil. That terrified us, so we took the wine far away, and soon they whispered our names no more.
We discovered it was better to leave them down there. Surely they could crawl out if they wanted to? We contented ourselves with their earthy music and the highs it induced in us. We got holy and talked to God every night. For short spells. We stuck around as long as we could, but we always had to retreat. After some time, we developed powers. My sister found she could touch someone and discern their entire mind. I could listen and hear things on the other side of the world. We were empowered by the subterranean music.
Then we got bored. We liked being powerful, but we longed for more. The celestial songs no longer interested us. One night, my sister pissed in the hole. The music lost its power, like they’d become drunk and ill-fit for song.
But soon the beauty of their music returned. That’s when I became angry. Angry that they wouldn’t show their faces, angry that we were addicted to their subterranean night music. Angry at God, because he never showed his face for long.
We poured petrol into the hole and dropped in a match. They hissed like wet paper as they burned. We were disappointed that they died so pathetically, without music, without a single ecstatic song. After that night, we heard them no more.
We are still angry, my sister and I. We spend our days on our hands and knees, crawling in gardens with too many trees, searching for a hole amongst the bracken. A hole filled with a celestial night music. One day, we believe we will find it.
‘Celestial Night Music’, by Ultan Banan. Please note: flash fiction, nonfiction and all other content is the sole work of Black Tarn. Ask before republishing.