"What Was That Noise?" A Twisted Tale

Published on by Francesca Quarto

"Let yer eyes be adjusted a bit boy, afore ya walk a step more" the old man warned in a harsh whisper.

His grandfather, Sean O'Riley, had given him the warning just as he was about to move forward into the dark foyer of the house.

This wasn't a house really; not to the boy's six year old eyes.  It was likely one of the haunted castles, dotted around the countryside near the endlessly rambling, River Shannon. 

His granddad had told him stories during their long winter evenings around the cottage hearth.  Tales of ghostly knights who guarded fabulous treasures hidden away in dank dungeons.

"And many of 'em are jes settin' dare, on top o' the treasure chest!" his granddad said, while the fire in the hearth turned his eyes to sparkling green stones.

Lying on his stomach, legs bent and waiving in the heated air, the boy gazed up mesmerized by the grizzled old man. 

"Tomorrow night, we shall have us en adventure, boy" he concluded his last story.

They had left the small cottage at sunset, the lamp swinging between them protecting the fragile flame.  The low, rolling hills of gently swaying heather, disappeared into the gloom left behind by the setting sun. 

The boy had put on his only pair of shoes, but they were stoutly made and kept his feet warm enough on the long hike.  

The land was now fully dressed in black, with only a watery light from a lemon slice of moon.  His young eyes were able to discern stealthy movement among the large boulders and sparse trees they passed.  His ancient grandfather plodded on, seeing only the narrow lane of light cast by the lantern.

They ambled at the old man's pace until he came to a sudden halt, bending down to whisper in the boy's ear.

"Yonder tis the house, boy.  Keep wit yer ol' grandda' now.  Sure as rain, dem Faerie folk is hungry fer a taste o' the likes o' ye."

Thinking back at his grandfather's words as he stood within the dark, the boy was glad he was considered a runt of a child among the villagers, especially the older boys who constantly harassed him.  He knew he was small and appeared under weight.  Perhaps the mean-spirited Faeries would not find him much of a meal.

But he could run like lightning down a rod if needs be!

The old man walked slightly ahead and the silent boy followed as closely as he dared. There was a shut door off the long hallway they had followed.  Sean O'Riley placed his gnarled and spotted hand upon the glass knob and turned.

The amber glow radiating from his lantern seemed to be consumed by the thick darkness of the room they'd entered.  

"Stay by me, now" the old man seemed to want the boy close for his own comfort and reassurance.  

"Grandda!" the boy spoke for the first time.  His voice seemed unnatural and foreign to the old man's hearing.  He looked down in time to see a sinewy green arm entwined around the boys waist, pulling him into a swamp of endless night.

Before Sean O'Riley could move to intervene, his light fell across something bright and glinting, like a pile of stars or diamonds, or...GOLD!

Here was the pot he had searched for since he was a mere tyke himself.  It was tucked among a small hill of silver and gold goblets,  crowns filled with all manner of precious jewels and rich furs draping over the lot like lazy girls in a bawdy house.

His rheumy eyes were bedazzled so, he never saw where the Faeries took his young grandson.  The greed blinded him to the boy's fate entirely as he stared gape-jaw at the treasure of the Faerie Clan of the River Shannon.

Suddenly, a high cry pierced the gloom where he stood transfixed in like a fly in honey.

Again, another screech, but this one much more irritating to the human ear.

"What was that noise?" he asked of the shadows.

There was no answer.  He would never have heard it in any case as the sound of coins spilling out of his feeble hands, drowned out such small utterance.  

 

 

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