Special Meeting of the Town Council Announced
by Barnaby Beetle, 3.24am January 10th 2021
(please note on Tuesdays and Sundays after midnight Barnaby transforms into Barbara Byar)
There will be a special meeting of the town council to discuss the excavation currently underway in the forest. Town Council Secretary, Peter Richards does not have planning permission for the tunnel he is digging under the 300-year-old Yew tree known as the Devil’s Doorway.
There have been complaints:
“It isn’t right. The light disrupts our dawn rituals and the noise scares the peacocks. I understand Peter has suffered a loss. We all have. Maeve Richards was a vital part of the Bear Creek community. She always tied the first ribbon on the May Fair stag. I will never forget the last time, almost as if she knew. Per tradition, the ribbon was red, but most extraordinarily, red with her blood. If only it had been enough.” Jerry Rind, Bear Creek Commune.
"I’ve lived in Bear Creek for 150 years, less than some, more than others but I don’t need King Badger to tell me you don’t go digging round that tree. The trees in the forest no longer whisper, they scream. It’s not right, I tell you; not right at all.” Ralph Breckinhurst, Breckinhurst Distillery
“It all started three months ago. I remember because it was two days before their wedding. The cops need to look in that shed. I reckon that’s where it all began. Funny noises. Not screams so much but a whirling. Barking even and they don’t have no dog. That night, moon over the shed like a weathervane, I poked my head over the hedge row—being seven foot, seven has its advantages—Peter opened the door and there was a darkness. Not so much an absence of light but a living, breathing blackness. I don’t know much about these things. Maeve did. Did you know she had a Physics degree? Might have been an English teacher but she knew her way round the galaxy. Told me once she ran experiments in that shed. Didn’t elaborate and I didn’t like to press but that darkness, it hummed like it was alive. Know what I mean?”
“It was the wedding of the century. Never seen a prettier bride. Her hair golden ringlets threaded with robin feathers. Flew down from the oak tree she planted for them at the end of the garden, plucked a breast feather each and put it in her hand. Everyone and everything loved Maeve. I can’t stop crying thinking about it. How happy she was that day, sun diamond glistening in her eyes. They were so in love. Peter would have done anything for her. Anything. And looks like he is. I say leave him alone and leave him at it. Maybe he knows a way to get our Maeve back. I never liked that Yew anyway, Eats all the small animals. Fuck that tree.”
George Johnson, Johnson hardware
“I don’t think she’s dead at all. I think Peter is right; she’s just trapped. Maeve knew things, so she did. Healed all manner of creature and ailment with her herbs. Her garden! Full of the most exotic plants in all of Bear Creek. One told futures but only by the light of the Hunter’s Moon. Another, a beautiful orange blossom, made our dog talk after he ate it. Not out loud, in my head. Saw her right an 18-wheeled fawn once. Grill- splattered, neck broke. Maeve with her gentle hands, could calm a rabid mink, so she could. She waved some burning thing under its nose. Stroked its neck and next thing it leapt down and off into the woods. The out-of-state trucker, well, he couldn’t believe his own eyes. He retired after that, moved to the North side of the forest; picks creepers from old trees and saplings. Sends them back to hell.”
“There’s ins and outs. Hallways and doorways. Light and dark. No death only versions of ourselves riding the universe’s pathways. No horizon, only new beginnings. Bear Creek? It’s
a crucible in the melting pot of time and space. What is life? Death? Is Maeve dead or lost? Will disturbing the portals lead to her recovery or the complete destruction of the cosmos? Is she worth that risk? Who knows. Got a smoke?”
Felix Smith, Garden Gnome
I interviewed Peter Richards earlier in the week and this is what he had to say:
Maeve dreamed of going to Ireland. Her mother named her after Queen Maeve. Maeve, the warrior, bringer of dreams. She made all my dreams come true and I wanted the same for her.
She longed to see a castle, a real castle with turrets and dungeons and hidden stairwells. Something solid that didn’t disappear all the time like the castle in Bear Creek woods. We used to love tracking its movements as teenagers. Appearances. Disappearances. Each time it showed, rumour spread through town and country alike. Midnight window escapes down knotted sheets, All the teenagers gathered in Cherryheart Grove with their ribbons. I met Maeve one of those nights, met and was nearly lost forever.
That night was clear and bright, the moon near full. We divided up and circled round. Sometimes there’s a moat, sometimes not. That night we were lucky. Our parents had warned
us all a thousand times. How Bear Creek Castle could come and go in the blink of an eye. How if you were inside, you went with it but never came back. Ever. Except for old man, Perkins. Well, he wasn’t old when he left, but was when he returned a week later. So, nobody went inside. Ever. Only tied their ribbon with their name round one of the door handles and fled.
I didn’t know Maeve from Eve back then, but she was beautiful you know? More beautiful than dawn upon the lake. I couldn’t stop staring at her. Not for one minute. She was determined to go inside. Was tired of all the ribbon nonsense, tied up her hair with it and said she was going to see what she could see. Rescue a princess. Slay a dragon. Something.
And just then, just like that, one of the windows opened. You couldn’t see inside, it was too dark. It was the glint in her eyes that made me forget all the warnings and climb in after her. We only got far as that first room. I’ll never forget the roaring fireplace, you could fit a bull in it. The bookcase paneled walls. The books.
I told her not to touch anything but it was too late. She pulled down and opened one of the books but there were no pages inside, only stars that snowflake drifted up, up and up. Clung to the ceiling. The expanding ceiling. A spinning top whirling began and the room tilted, went vague. Run, I shouted as I grabbed Maeve’s hand, pulled her to the window and pushed her to safety.
One leg over the sill, the door to the room opened and something, something dressed as a person but not someone, entered and BAM the window began to close of its own accord. I knew I was a goner so screamed at Maeve to run as the air shimmered and the castle walls
thick as I was tall, shook.
But Maeve didn’t run. No, she didn’t. And I don’t know how she managed but she raised the window from my trapped leg and pulled me out an instant before the castle disappeared again. My right foot tingled for twenty-seven days after, sometimes when I looked at it, it seemed less ‘there’ but eventually it was fine.
No, I don’t think she died in Ireland. I don’t think my warrior queen is dead at all, only lost. Why else would I move heaven, earth and every dimension in between to find her? Instead of complaining. Help. Help me. For the love of all living things and half the dead, help me.
The special sitting of the Town Council will be held at the Yew tree on November, 27th at 9pm.
Bring a torch.