My name is Bast, and, I am time.
I smile. It’s just a mid range smile, but a smile none the less. My smile is creeping around the corners of my mouth and teeth. My lips are very red and my teeth are even and very white. The smile initiated ripple effect delivers an inner sensation of low grade ‘happiness’. This is what smile’s do. My smile, this smile, comes from everything I can smell and feel and acknowledge around me. My smile is the moment itself, and the moments past.
For more years than I care try unravel, know that I have seen the new become the old, the old to become occult. The ‘occult’ meaning ancient, even the word’s meaning is lost, like myself, to time. And yet, the occult with phoenix like emergence, becomes new again. This, the here, the now.
There is a tangible hint of it, the scent of the occult that is. This alluring yet subtle aroma reveals the whisper of a mixture of first rain, new rain I have heard it called, but it is the first rain before a storm; that, and floor polish. You may actually pick up something else as its scent. It can be leaves mouldering under trees; flowers growing in pasture; the smell of a creek in spring, wool freshly shorn perhaps? Some detect the lesser things. The human things. Things akin to biscuits being baked, or scented soap from the tub. Always there, the ‘occult’, lingering across all time and space. Not particularly romantic I know, but why would it be? For me, this delicate odour tastes like tin tastes. It would be described as ‘metallic’ nowadays I suppose, as what person today would know tin for what it is, and not as a vague description of a can?
Now, close your eyes and mind and smell it, the occult. Do it, right now, concentrate as you do it. You smell can it, can’t you? That smell at the edge of the olfactory spectrum, and that, I guess, is how I must smell. Somewhere between first rain on dry dusty ground, and floor polish.
After much screaming and pushing and huffing and cursing and blood, I crashed it into this world, captured by the hands and arms of my eleven year old Aunt. My fourteen year old mother writhing on a straw stuffed, flea and louse inhabited pallet, positioned beside our dusty fireplace on the cold hard floor of our poorly thatched bothey; a generations old circular hovel near a muddy river. And I lived, but did not cry, not for three days. I fed, and I stared, but I did not make a sound. Apparently it was a cautionary sign of witches and unknown evils to come, and my father hid my silence from all within my clan. They had absolutely no idea of what the future held, nor of what I was to become.
As calendars and literacy were in short supply at the time, it is supposed that I made my eerily noiseless arrival into the world, either on or around the 17th of February 373. Born into a clan of the Pritani, loosely translated we were ‘the people of designs’. For now though, I will call myself a ‘Pict’. A name bestowed upon us by those men of Rome, in reference to the blue tattoos of power my kin placed upon themselves, yet, ‘Pict’ is a name we did not know ourselves by, but for now this as a name will suffice.
We were a fierce people, proud of our land and we fought all comers that would try to take it from us. Some years prior to my birth, nearly ten thousand of my people were slaughtered in open battle with the Romans and those they had already overthrown, fighting us in the high country. The lesson learned, we moved on and began to fight a different war, so adept were we, and such warriors had we bred that those savages of Rome built walls to keep us out when they realised we would not, could not be beaten. Our raiding leaving them with nought but the clothing on their backs, hunger in their bellies, and the devil in their hearts.
My birth heralded no great applause within my riverside village; our burgh of 31 souls located off to the north eastern parts of Caledonia. A magnificent country now known as Scotland.
From my perch I am able to gaze down the two stories to the cobbled lane below. It is not a broad lane, and was constructed before the world became too fast for its own good. Horses and the odd cart once fit snugly into its original design; now, it is reduced to pedestrian use alone. Shops sprawl and bend over each over on this lane, fighting gravity and each other as they do. Slate shingle roof tops near touching three stories above the cobbles, as a lane, it runs about fifty yards in each direction from where I perch, and like the shops, it is very old. Beyond that distance, either end becomes something else. Bitumen, chrome, glass and people hurrying; shiny and uninviting, structure and person alike.
This evening, from my perch, I watch rain come down from a pitch black sky against my large dark wooden framed window. It rolls and meanders down the glass, and I think how it reminds me of people running scared from some unseen threat from above.
In the street below, the multitude of 400 year old tired and dirty cobbles are not particularly wet, damp yes, but not wet. It takes a storm of sound proportion, really putting its mind and back into it to get into the street from above, the roof tops all but shaking hands well atop the dark street below. As it is damp and not wet, darkness has no trouble entering this lane, the rain unable to wash it away. Shadow’s quite like this lane I deduced many, many years ago, as the murky gloom never truly leaves. Cimmerian dusk spirits itself under eve’s above, and into nooks and crannies below, and I have seen the inky blackness breed darkness here. Shops and their varying keepers from over the centuries have invited the darkness in, bringing with it those clinging to its back. Murders, thieves, souls from below, souls for sale, soulless for fixed rate love, and always death for hire.
So regularly I have see the four horsemen stalk through here again, and again. Filling the tum’s of wee bairn’s with nought but hunger; spotting their hides with the flea bitten marks of plague; raging wars behind the family door, and between those from afar or just up the street. Lastly, eventually, Death steps indiscriminately among all in the lane, life her quest, yet providing the bridge from here and now, to whatever may lay on the other side of this mortally wound coil.
But that is not today. Today it is all lights in narrow impersonal shops, shops selling mobile phones and the like. A place of shiny damp cobbles, and people, always people, just in so much more of a hurry than they once had been; saddening me with every step they take. I really do miss them, those unhurried, unharried, people that once were here. All gone and all forgotten, return impossible.
And so, I climb down from my perch, and thus, my story, begins.
Do the thing that you do so well to the ‘pict’ure above.
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