The twenty-first of September My eleventh day in the cabin The year remains unknown By my count, five days have come and gone since Akil’s previous visit with no sign of the old man. The doorway, gateway, archway, entryway, –whatever one may call it, remains open yet I have not mustered the courage to pass through. Noises both strange and unidentifiable have echoed from the archway since its opening. While not constant, they are always loud and rather irritating when they do come. Curiosity has drawn me to the shadow of the archway on several occasions however the lidless eyes of the strange sentinels perched atop the columns along with the darkness within have always given me pause. As the sun began to fall on this day another strange sound echoed from the depths of whatever lie beyond. Startling at first- as all of the sounds from within have become, this sound had an odd familiarity to it that I could not quite place. The deluge of rain had not let up forcing me to remain inside with this newest, yet all too familiar entry into darkness. Something stirred on the opposite end of the cabin directing my attention away from the archway. A rat, I thought, moving back toward the cot. Expecting to find a rodent of some sort either under the cot or behind the trunk I was disappointed find neither. A rustle again. This time to the trunk –its lid shut firmly revealing no possible means of entry for even the smallest of vermin. As I touched the lid, I heard it again –like something moving among the books or scrolls inside. Slowly, cautiously, I opened the lid. The interior was as I had left it. Books stacked neatly on the left, scrolls on the right. I paused, waiting for the intruder to give itself away. Sure enough, the middle scroll-the map, shuffled from side to side ever so slightly. I slowly reached my hands into the trunk and positioned them over each end of the scroll. It moved once again and I quickly pinched the ends together, pulled the scroll from the trunk and tossed it to the floor just in front of the circular green door. After a moment, a large insect made its way out one end of the scroll. So large was it that I found it
difficult to understand how it managed to get inside the tightly rolled map. It had a look of familiarity to it as it stretched its wings and legs as if it had been trapped for weeks. Perhaps it escaped from one of the glass containers on the trunk’s lid. Before I could give it any further consideration, I was able to identify the insect as its entire hindquarters began to glow a brilliant green. It was a firefly –albeit the largest firefly I’d ever seen. There was no mistaking it. It took to the air glowing intermittently as it circled the cabin. At one point I was certain it would collide with my head however it deftly evaded the collision while its wings brushed past my hair. Up it went to the top of the archway where it landed, of all places, on the beak of the rightmost stone bird. Its light immediately changed from the normal intermittent pattern to a steady glow. And then things became quite interesting. The purple cat-like eyes of the bird blinked in the light –as if it were too bright for it. The curved beak slowly opened as the oversized firefly made its way over the bird’s head and down the long strange neck still glowing steadily as it moved. The bird turned its head left, then right, blinking its eyes then stretching its neck up to its full height, then down. The long thin neck moved like a snake when not fully extended gyrating in an endless S shape pattern. So transfixed was I with this creature –this bird, that I did not realize the firefly had moved to the leftmost stone bird and was already making its way down the long neck apparently waking these creatures from a long motionless sleep. The bird on the right let out a squeal that sounded like no bird I’d ever heard (causing me to squeal a bit myself) then it opened its wings. To my surprise, they stretched nearly three feet across and the feathering beneath the wings was not the same mottled black and red of the rest of the creature but a brilliant green-much like the glow of the firefly who, by now was nearly finished walking the length of the leftmost bird. When it reached the tail, it hopped off onto the top of the marble column. Both birds watched intently. The steady glow began to flicker as it moved toward the edge. The firefly
perched itself there for a moment before spreading its wings and leaping from the column. Rather than taking flight though, it fell to the ground landing on its back where it lay motionless. The two birds watched it fall then looked at each other before jumping from the columns themselves, wings spread, feet extended, both attempting to be the first to retrieve the fallen insect. The rightmost bird managed to scoop it up in its talons without contacting the floor and took to the air just before the leftmost bird, who landed roughly on the ground. It let out a shriek and took to the air after its brother who had already reached the far end of the cabin and was circling back in my direction. The two collided just above my cot where they shrieked and wrestled and fought over the insect until it was torn to pieces and devoured. Smears of faintly glowing green ooze covered my blanket as well as both creatureâ€™s talons and beaks. Both again took flight and returned to their perches while not taking their eyes off me. After a moment, both extended their wings, which were long enough to touch above the archway, and let out another shriek. I jumped back against the door blindly reaching for Akilâ€™s blade while afraid to take my eyes off them. I quickly reminded myself that a change of clothes would be in order once this ordeal had ended. The bright green feathers on the underside of their wings began to glow. Both flapped their wings several times releasing what can only be described as glowing green dust or snow from the undersides of their wings. Slowly it fell toward the ground after swirling in the air currents created by their flapping. The effect was absolutely beautiful.