By: Miles Estrada | Writer (Fiction)
November 9, 2017
Of late, in the town of Herefordshire – which had its foundations set on an expansive patch of greenery that looked up at the first insinuations of the Welsh Black Mountains – there had been a brief, feverish period of upset. The source of which was primarily attributed to an anomalous tradition that was in turn adopted by the town without its consent, in which every night, someone, whose identity was kept anonymous, went out of the town’s limits to ascend the premier Black Mountain with the intentions of inscribing a garish message in cotton bandages about its crown, only for the message itself to be seen by the whole of the town’s populace the following morning.
These missives would often be quite frivolous in their constitution, taking on the forms of miscellaneous arrangements of numbers ( the most common of which being the number of whatever given year it had happened to be at the time – starting at ‘17 for the year 2017, going up to the present year of ‘38 for 2038, and in anticipation for many more years to come), or even of intricate figures and designs the likes of which acquired a particularly punctilious eye to create, such as depictions of the constellations, queer mythological creatures of ancient Greece, grotesque characters from the works of Poe, Lovecraft, Le Fanu, and the like. In the extreme, this banal custom might seem to anyone innocuous, and was generally regarded as such by a majority of the townsfolk; though there were a few persons who found the matter wholly irksome. And perhaps the most churlish of these individuals was one Ms. Wimbley.
Now for many years, Ms. Carroll Wimbley had been the most respectable and good-natured woman in all Herefordshire. She had come down there from Canterbury in the “nineties” of the last century, and had been an absolute pleasure of everyone’s existence in the town ever since. She was of a stately stratum, substantial build, and raven’s visage, and was of a generally sanguine character when in the company of others at tea and garden parties. Of her proclivities, they were a veneration. She was perhaps the most devout person in town, attending sermon every Sunday at the cathedral stationed near the north head of town, and her most collegiate of relations were had with Reverend Scofield. It was with he that she shared her confidences of spurn for the routine decoration of the hill, and daily visitations were made to his house because of this – and for the fact that she was a very lonely woman as well. And when she was not with the Reverend or out appealing to the participation of myriad hosts and hostesses, she would be shut up in her house at the very edge of town in close proximity of the cathedral, reading through the voluminous works of Chesterton, Lewis, Perkins, and other renowned theologians of days gone by. But all in all, her chief vocation was to assuage her temper of the aforementioned custom in every which way she knew how.
The custom itself, in truth, did not at first perturb Ms.Wimbley. In the early years of its practise ( back when the arrangements on the hill were more ingenuous in nature ), she had thought the business all very well and fine: in fact, one may say that she found them perfectly ingenious! There was one occasion where she made an indefatigable effort to locate the very creator of these queer malformations so as to share with them her pleasantries – her endeavors was of no avail. It was in the latter years, the years in which she succumbed to senility, that Ms. Wimbley had come to loathe the contorting cloths of the Black Mountain.
When she turned seventy, in 2028, the arrangements, miraculously, started to take on new, unsavory forms, the likes of which were often times portentous – even a tad lewd in some cases. These invidious illustrations varied in constitution, from the numbers 666, to tantric ignudi of men and women (of all of them, Ms. Wimbley had detested these the most), to the limpid likeness of Beelzebub himself, making up the general compendium thereafter; and though the people of Herefordshire took little notice of them – they thinking that the contortions haven’t metamorphosed in the slightest – Ms. Wimbley had communicated her revolt of them to Reverend Scofield. Of his opinion on the matter, he was all but indifferent, despite the implications of the Devil – he was an Anglican reverend – and, with a sagacious nod of his leonine head, would assure Ms. Wimbley that eventually, without promptitude, the whole fuss would dissolve. Ms. Wimbley would have to settle with this adventitious injunction, relating to the Reverend that she would try and wait it out. But on the interior , he rampant coal fire of detestation burned with especial radiance, more so than the others of her distinction ( though to be fair their coal fires were all but reduced to charred, flaky embers, having been lulled by the consoling words of the Reverend, making them supercilious to the subject as a whole), and she vowed that she would live to see the day when this imprecation was wholly eradicated; even if she had to bring it on herself. Little did she suspect that her call for change would be answered far earlier than she had anticipated.
On the first night of June, when Herefordshire was vacant of mischief, the moon was unusually low to the ground, and the contortionist – whoever he was – came out of his house at the southern end of town to make his nightly arrangement. The present design on the Black Mountain was that of a child, a boy, rather crudely set up, with his head cut off – very funny indeed, especially at the time when the schools were let out – and the contortionist had devised for this night something special; death of a kitten (a boot stomping on the thing’s head in all its gruesome detail). Yes, it was this that he intended to engender; he even brought extra bandages and a pot of red paint so as to create a malefic ambiance. With this thought in his mind, he scampered across town, passing the cathedral at the town’s head, and ascended the hill with every bit of caution that he could muster. Upon cresting the hill, he began to disassemble the cadaverous boy, disinterring each bandage well enough. Then, he started his work on the moribund cat. But alas, he only lived long enough to finish off the accouterments of the boot – not the actual kitten – for in the night, there rung a clangorous profundo followed by a wretched falsetto, and a tremendous peel of smoke permeated after the fact. The air was redolent of shot and blood.
The following morning, a Sunday, a man, on his way to sermon, had chanced upon the hill, and noticed from afar that its arrangement was incomplete, an amorphous figure of some sort laying beside it; he perceived it to be all but dead. With the circulation of this intelligence, the whole populace of the town flocked over to the hill to bare witness to the contortion, half complete, a pot of red paint tipped over and spilt out onto the grass, and the prostrate body of the Reverend Scofield, his black muslin souse with blood from his leonine head. He was shot, by whom no one could surmise – but there were two things that were unassailably certain. 1. The tradition would hitherto be put to stoppage. 2. Ms. Carroll Wimbley, the appointed leader of the few who despised this whole business, was nowhere in sight.