The Glaistig

The Glaistig


Daughter of Theon


Pain was part of life, he knew that and for so many years he had accepted the pain.   Now though it was different.  It wasn’t that the pain was any greater; he just felt that same pain a little bit more.  Before she left he could have endured anything, in their fifty-three years together she had given him his strength, now she was gone, as was his strength and his will to endure.

“You’re just getting on a bit dad, it’s to be expected,” his daughter had said and how little that helped as he felt his body decay.  Sarah had never fought old age, she had accepted the swift passage of the years with the dignity that she accepted everything, life swiftly passing her by as she evolved from the young girl he had married, through the years of motherhood, into the twilight years as a distinguished yet still beautiful grandmother.  She had seemed the immortal one as his own ailments and wounds, from a time when the world went mad over fifty years ago, constantly reminded him of his own mortality.  He had always assumed that it would be he who left first, his seven years over her sparing him that loss.  How wrong he was.

This had been the place fifty-three years ago; this had been the place where his life with her had started.  A wet week in a Scottish cottage as a honeymoon was hardly what his children or grandchildren would expect.  Not that they had noticed the weather.  The place had hardly changed over the years; then again places like this often seemed immune to the passage of time.  He was afraid that the modern world would have discovered this place and have destroyed it, for then he would have been at a loss.  This was the place that was fixed in his mind, for there had been magic here.  If he could still feel close to Sarah anywhere it would be here.

Last time he had seen this place he had crested the hill on a motorcycle combination, as they were once called.  A big Panther with a sidecar, a six hundred cc ‘sloper’ on which the two of them had travelled all over Europe.  Now he drove a four-wheel drive Volvo with all the mod cons and they even wanted to take that away from him.  It was too much for him, too powerful, too dangerous.  The problem was it gave him a freedom that scared them, it meant that he could do what he wanted when he wanted and not be dependant on anyone.

“People are only thinking of what’s best for you Dad,” his daughter had said.  People were thinking of what was the least inconvenience for them, thinking what they could do to ease their own guilt.  He was never going to walk into a nursing home on his own feet, for that would be a place that he would never escape from.  That would be a hell worse than anything he had ever been in before.

They were thinking of his safety, of his well-being.  Social workers who were still wet behind the ears were telling him that maybe he couldn’t cope on his own.  While he was still ten years younger than them he had killed men in combat.  When he was nineteen the engine of his Spitfire was hit, over Holland, and he ended up in a field outside Arnhem.  It was only thanks to the bravery of a Belgian Phantom Team from the 5th SAS that he’d survived and was deposited with some remnants of the Staffordshire Regiment, supposedly until the relief arrived.  When the regiment was finally overrun, days later, he evaded in hostile territory for thirteen days before then they caught him.

Now they wanted to put him in a place where they insisted he had help to go to the toilet.

He got out of the car and carefully made his way down to the rocky shoreline as the sun began its final decent into the sea.  As he sat uncomfortably on a rock he watched the sun begin its plunge and the mist begin to ooze its way in towards the shore.  Despite the heat of the day he shivered at the approach of the sea fog, knowing that it would chill him to the bone.  That though would be a relief after the heat of the day, no longer was he able to take the extremes of temperature and shrug them off.  The cool silent darkness would be welcomed into his life.

By now his daughter would be worrying about him.  Last time, when he did a run through France into Holland, she had caused far too much fuss.  The police of three nations were out looking for the ‘confused pensioner’ who had gone astray.  It even made the newspapers and they seemed to think he was something to pity.  In the last ten years he had driven across the America, Canada and Australia with Sarah by his side.  Now they brought in the police when he was still within spitting distance of home.  He couldn’t get lost in Europe.  The skies of Europe were his old stomping ground and the countryside below was still imprinted in his mind.  Even Spain wasn’t an unknown country to him; her skies may have been closed to him, but the roads he knew well.

This time he had not talked about his plans beforehand and he had not had to listen to them patronise him, telling him, ‘Oh yes well we’ll just have to see.’  This time there would be no social workers or psychiatrists waiting for him on his return.  This time his life and privacy would not be invaded, for this time he didn’t plan to return.  Now too many people spent too much time interfering in his life rather than finding a life of their own.  He had lived life to the full, he had loved to the full too, and now at the end was a time for privacy.  Now was a time for reflection and contemplation of that life.

Some people found solace in religion.  Some people also believed in the nature of man.  Some even believed that mankind was gods chosen...they were all fools.  His beliefs had been torn away from him, along with his innocence, as friends around him died and enemies fell into his sights.  What faith could you have in man when you had actually seen how little differentiated man and the beasts?  He had known how far a man could fall.  He had lived in the filth, running for his life and existing on whatever he could force himself to eat and drink.  He had killed mere children in uniform while little more than a child himself.  As had happened so many times before mankind never learned the lessons of the past and the war that would end all wars was but another, admittedly a more bloody one, in a long succession of conflicts.  Those that had died had not died for nothing, but the price that they paid should have gained the world far more.

He stood up feeling pain from the arthritis in his hip.  That was the reason for the automatic box on the Volvo and that was the reason he abandoned his dream of once more sitting astride a big bike.  His body wasn’t able to do the things he wanted to anymore.  Some of the pains he could specifically identify, a knee damaged when he bailed out, shell fragments that still caused problems in his shoulder and an ankle torn when his last bike and he parted company on a wet Welsh road.  Other pains were a surprise, a revelation of how his body was rebelling against him.

The mist now slowly engulfed him, first draining the vibrancy from the colours of the sunset and the surrounding hills and then taking his last views of the world around away from him.  He sighed with resignation; one of the things about this place was its beauty and he had wanted his last impressions of this world to be the beauty and the happy memories that this place invoked.  Nature may have conspired to take the beauty from him but not even old age could steal his memories.  Those memories were burnt far too deep into his mind for them to be lost, yet, in the mush that his mind was becoming.

Slowly and carefully he made his way down the rocky beach towards the shore, aware that the last indignity at this point would be to break a hip and end up being pulled off the beach by paramedics.  If that happened he knew he would never have this chance again.  If that happened he would die in some home all choices in his life removed.  This, the last choice that he could make in his life, would be denied him.  Even for his stay in the prison camp he had choices and the final choice he had seen others take.

The water was a grey, seemingly oily, liquid disguised by the mists.  That cold grey mass would soon ease away all his pains.  As it lapped about his shoes he stood there, contemplating his actions, thinking about those it would hurt.  Their pain though would be a passing thing, something that was inevitable even if he didn’t do this.  Man was born to die and death was coming for him whether he sought it or fought it.  No matter what he did in life it would all end.  It was far better for it to be at a time and a place of his choosing.

He took another step forward, the cold water filling his shoes and cooling his legs as it soaked into his trousers.  For a moment he again stood a while, like so many things in life this was something not to be rushed.  Closing his eyes he remembered waking up that first morning next to her, the intense warmth of a bed filled with her scent and rolling over to see her sleeping contentedly.  As he had brushed a lock of hair from her face she had smiled but not woken.  Then he watched over her sleep until hours later she opened her eyes and once again smiled.

He half turned almost stumbling on the wet rocks, looking in the direction of the now derelict cottage hidden in the mists.  It was far too primitive for modern tastes, but to them it had been far better than a palace.  Fifty-three years ago today he had woken up in that place and from that moment on his life had been special, for he never once questioned her love for him and because of that he had been able to give his own love freely.  He cherished every moment he had spent with her and treasured every memory she had left him, but the memories of here were special.

He took another step forward, the water lapping around his knees.

“Will ye no have a dance with me?” a woman’s voice asked.

He shuffled round to see a cloaked figure approaching through the mist.

“Will ye take the time for a dance with me?” she asked again.

“No, not today,” he answered aware of how he must look to her, up to his knees in the water.

“The day has gone,” she answered moving closer.  Her features though were still indistinct in the gloom and the mist, but her manner and confident movements suggested a woman rather than a teenager.  “The sun is gone.  This is the night, the time for dancing.”

“No,” he croaked back at her.  “I just want to be alone.”

“Alone,” she answered drawing even closer, though her face still remained hidden beneath the green cloak.  “Solitude is welcomed many times in a life, but there are times a soul needs company.  Will ye not dance with me?”

“No,” he snapped.  “Leave me alone, I didn’t think there would be anyone here.”

“I was here and I am here,” she said making her way to the waters edge.

“Was here for what?”

“I was here when a youth and a fair maiden sought solitude from the world and I am here when the youth returns alone and youth has long forsaken him,” she said, gently stepping out onto the surface of the water.

“What are you?” he asked as she took another step so she was now mere inches away from him.

“I am she by whose grace you spent your time here, this place is mine,” she said looking down at him from her impossible vantage.  “Will ye not dance a dance with me or perhaps linger a while longer?”

“That’s impossible,” he snapped back at her, his mind refusing to accept that she rose and fell with the gentle swell.  “You’re far too young to have been here when we were here.”

“I was here long ago,” she answered from the ominous darkness of the hooded cloak, though her voice was gentle.  “I was here when the mountains were young and I shall still walk this place long after all that the Children of Adam are, and were, is dust.”

“What are you?” he asked his eyes falling to the heavy green cloak that hid all and rested on the surface of the water.

“Will ye not dance a dance with me for the old times sake, will ye not dance a dance with me to pay a debt that was never asked of?” she said a pale grey hand emerging from beneath the cloak and extending towards him.

“I’m too old, far too old to dance.”

“You are but a bairn next to me,” she laughed, a joyous sound that offended the very nature of the moment he longed for.  “Come dance a dance with me and I shall lend you some of my strength.”

“This is not a time for dancing, this is not a time for people around me...” he replied and then hesitated.  “But I don’t think you’re people.  What are you?”

“When does one need company more than when one takes their final journey?” she asked bending down slightly to take his hand in hers.  “When should one dance more than at the end of a long life full of love?  Why should you die alone when I too am alone?”

“What are you, what do you want?”

“I am that which is, I am the power which abides,” she said.  “I am one with many names, in many tongues none of which is me.  We are the banshees who mourn the passing, we are the spirits in the night, we are all that you fear living in the dark.”

“Are you evil?”

“Evil is but a word for that which is not known.  Mankind may not know me, but now you do a little.  Am I evil?”

“No,” he answered with the confidence he felt in his heart.  “You are not evil.”

“Will you dance with me?”

“I’m far too old to dance.  There’s no song left in my heart to dance to and my dancing days are long gone.”

“Well then linger for a while.  Give a little of your time to one who walks alone,” she said.


“Because I ask it,” she said more sharply while gently pulling at his hand.  Slowly and carefully he went with her.  The stones underfoot were more treacherous now that he was cold but when he stumbled she was there supporting him.

“What do you want of me,” he asked as they reached the waters edge.

“Nothing that you would not give willingly,” she said.  “A little time, a little company and perhaps a last dance.”

“You keep wanting to dance,” he said.  “Why?”

“To dance is to live,” She said taking his second hand with hers and rocking side to side.

“To love is to live,” he said.

“Love is such a fleeting thing.  Love is ephemeral, too often gone with the dawns first light; the dance is eternal,” she said pulling him in close to her.  He staggered at her unexpected strength his body meeting hers.  She ground her body against him, trying to provoke the reaction that had for so long been a stranger to him.

He hesitated for a second feeling the curves and the coolness of her body beneath that long green cloak and then pushed her away.

“No,” he said turning away from her.  “Not this, not now.”

“Dance a dance with me,” she said her hand on his shoulder pulling him around to face her again.  “Love once more, if just for a moment.”

“That isn’t love,” he said pulling away from her hands and struggling for balance on the treacherous rocky shore.  “You don’t know what love is.”

“The memories of ten thousand seasons are just one small part of what I know,” she screamed at his rejection.  “What do you know that I haven’t learned from every rock and stone upon which I’ve ever walked?  I know love,” she said grabbing at his hand.  “I know the passion.”

Sensations flowed through him thousands of years of animal couplings, in an instant.  For that moment he walked on four legs, two legs many and none.  In that instant he was taken by ten thousand males, responded to the touch of thousands of mates and took every female he wanted.  As he pulled away from her he screamed his defiance, of anyone who would take his female, at the far off hills.

And then he sank to his knees.

“I know love,” she said standing over him and running her fingers through what was left of his hair.

“That isn’t love,” he gasped as he moved his head from her caressing hand.  “That isn’t love, that’s just animals.”

“I know love,” she said again reaching for his head, her hand slid down his cheek causing him to flinch at its icy touch.  “I know love, in all its forms.”

Sensations again swept over him, this time human rather than animal.  He felt the fear of a virgin and the power anger and hate felt by a rapist.  He felt the ecstasy of orgasm and the disappointment of a hundred unsatisfied lovers.  He penetrated and was penetrated, was aggressor and submissive and then it stopped.

“I know love,” she said as he gasped for breath with his heart racing, as it hadn’t for many years.

“That isn’t love,” he gasped.  “Lust and passion yes, but that isn’t love.”

“It is,” she said her cold hand once again finding his skin.  “It was for you once.”

Once again he was not in his body, but this time he was in a much younger version of himself.  He could see her there waiting for him beneath the thick blankets; he could feel his excitement and the cold of the air on his naked body.  Then he was in the bed looking at himself and he felt the fear and apprehension that she had felt that night.  He felt the blast of cold air as the blanket lifted and the rough hands on his skin.  There was excitement, but the fear dominated.  He felt a nipple get pinched slightly too hard causing pain, the discomfort of a questing finger and the claustrophobic and trapped feeling as he climbed on top of her.  Then he felt the pain of the first entry.

He was back in his own body.  Enveloped in a warm softness kissing her breasts his passion building rapidly.  He grabbed her hips to give him greater access, to let him thrust harder and deeper as all tenderness was forgotten and the rush to climax began.  Now, after so many years together he could see what he was doing wrong.  He could see which things she would not have enjoyed and so many ways he could have made it so much better, but then he had been a mere child.  He could see the pain and fear on her face and he pulled away from the creature that was doing this to him.

“No,” he screamed at her.  “No, that was not love.  That wasn’t what it was, that was just one night.  Love is far more.”

“That was why you came back here to die,” she said and he looked up, trying to find her face in the gloom of her hooded cloak.  Trying to find her eyes in the hope of seeing some understanding there.

“No,” he said, the tears running down his face.  “It’s wrong, all wrong.  How could you know all this and yet still be so wrong?”

“Held in the stones is a memory.  This is my place, I am of this place and all that this place remembers are my memories,” she said her hand once again stroking his hair.  “Was I wrong to show you this?   Does it upset you?  I intended only a kindness to you.  I wanted you once more to know love.”

“That isn’t love,” he said the tears wet on his heavily lined face.  “Love is something else.”

“What?” She asked as sensation after sensation was thrown at him. 

“What is love?” she demanded.

“There,” he shouted as he recognised a scene though it was twisted from his memories.  “There, that is love.”

He was waking up, in a warm bed with a body next to him.  His body was sore; muscles protested at what had been demanded of them and between his legs was an unpleasant ache.  Something touched his chest, gently kneading and stroking, provoking a pleasant reaction from a nipple and sending tingles through his body that caused him to squirm with delight.  He opened his eyes and looked into his own face, felt the love that she had felt for him and realised how much stronger her love was than his own.  In her love, as in everything, she had been the strong one and he had been truly blessed.

“That is love,” he said through his weeping, “and that is why I’m here.  To live without her is unthinkable.”

“You believe you will see her once more?” she asked somewhat quizzically.

“Yes, isn’t that how it works?”

“I wouldn’t know,” she said.  “For I do not die and I do not love.”

“I pity you,” he said.

“Dance a last dance in this life,” she said pulling down the hood of her cloak and revealing a face that he knew so well.  “Dance a last dance with her as she was, dream your dreams and live your memories.  I know not if you will see her again after this day, but I at least know you will see her this last time.”

Showing surprising strength she helped him to his feet and offered him her hands.  He hesitated and she smiled and nodded.

“Just one dance,” she said taking his hands and pulling him in close.  “Just one last dance in this life.”

“Why do you do this?” he asked as they danced across the rocky beach to music that was only heard in his heart.  “Why do you do this for me?”

“I want something of you,” she said in Sarah’s voice.  “Something other than your pity.”

“I cannot love you,” he said.  “You are not her, I know that.”

“I do not want your love,” she said with a wan smile.  “That is for her alone.  I would not want your love either.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because I am of the beasts and the beasts do not love,” she said with a look of sadness on her face.

“I pity you.  What do you want?” he asked as he looked at her face and realised for the first time that a fire burned deep in her eyes.

“Something you no longer want, something you no longer need,” she said as she moved with him.  “I ask you because I am not evil.  Should you refuse me then so be it.”

“I know you’re not evil,” he said never taking his eyes off the face that he had loved.  “Whatever I have is yours; I have no need of anything now.”

“I thank you,” she said her hand tenderly stroking his face, “and I take you at your word.”

“What is it you want?” he asked.

“I am of the beasts,” she said as her face changed to something so much more horrific, “...and this beast must feed.”



What An Ending

I was wondering where you were going with this story and the way that you ended it makes it a great Horror/Halloween story.

May Your Light Forever Shine

This is..

... several things. Lovely in it's way as the journey is outlined and certainly emotional as love is explored. It built to an expectation, which is twisted in the last line leaving a question of exactly what method death chooses. This would sit nicely in one of those Horror story collections I read as a kid. Very good.


I just googled glaistig

Wow you got some nasty beasties running around over there! Something to do with the age of your civilization, eldritch entities that Christianity displaced but not completely. All we have to worry about in America are chupacabras and saskwatches, Richard Shaver's "deros", and the occasional sewer snoid ...... I liked the man's story, the feared loss of dignity; reminded me of the old guy in David Lynch's The Straight Story: "I fought my way from Normandy to Berlin, I think I can handle an Iowa cornfield." I think your hero deserved a better fate, but this said something about the nature of predation. It's not EVIL, just a part of nature, but it's no fun being dinner. I think it's time to dust off & submit my vampire story...
~~~hugs, LAIKA

Save the last dance for me.

I wish---- I wish--- I wish I could share with you the feeling of loneliness when all that you have ever loved has gone. I saw them all, friends, brothers, parents, sisters, lovers and enemies pass from this life.
Now, life is so alone. Even with dozens of strangers clammoring for my attention.
And so is death an individual activity.

You got me in this mood. I have been avoiding it for years. It is too painful to dwell upon.
Yet. -- You did such a good job in creating this mood that it invaded and overtook my strongest intentions.
I need to compliment you on you talent. Truly you will be writing more of these intensly feeling pieces. I hope I may still be around to appreciate them when you do. Thank you for sharing this incredible piece with me.

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