The Pool

Untitled – Annie Petrelli
Silas Bradley

Cold and Darkness: forces which since the beginning have gnawed at the edges of human existence, standing adversely to man’s world. In Darkness and in Cold life is leached from man, yet he is cursed to yearn for that which he must not have. It calls. To the wicked and the kind, it calls the same. In dreams I heard it calling. I too felt the pull, more primal than thought, more ancient than mankind.

It was greyest January when it struck. Coming as the ancient rites of the yuletide season faded, leaving a stained and soiled world. When the featureless, masking grey sky smothers the land, bruising its hardened form, man cannot but feel the presence of natures deeper than understanding. When the mirth of the holidays no longer masked the season and joy no longer lingered on the icy whispers of the wind, I first beheld the abhorrent sight. 

It was during this time that I was living alone, having recently inherited the small yet stately home nestled at the edge of the forest. The home had belonged to my uncle, whose presence in the town had been one of note until his disappearance from the home some years before my arrival. The constant renovations and upkeep associated with maintaining such an aged and so long abandoned home kept me continually occupied. Recently returned from the war in Europe, I had spent the past few months going about setting up new prospects for myself, yet I failed to become truly excited about my options. In truth, as I passed hours at the large windows at the rear of my home, staring at the quivering naked trees italicizing in the winter wind, I began feeling a sense of cold that I could never quite shake. 

It came in a dream. Long had I felt that primal pull; and now, I saw. In an instant the fog of slumbering dreams was gone. One still, crystal clear image burned into my now open eyes. It was a pool of water, not eight feet in diameter, in the midst of a dark forest. Snow clung sparsely about the bases of the wretchedly dark trees of the eerily still wood. The trees at its edge wound their knuckle-like roots round its sinister black bank, clinging to the silent disk of liquid. The pool’s mortuously black, reflective body showed only the form of a large skeletal moon, watching, waiting, contemplating high, yet seemingly not high enough, in the sky. The image bathed me in cold. I awoke with startling suddenness, free at last from the dream’s spell, yet for a time I was unable to move. In the dark I fancied I could see my own breath rising in misty plumes above me. 

Dreams such as this continued to haunt me night after night. Always ending with the startlingly clear vision of the pool. Try as I might I could not free myself from the visions, and every night I awoke upon seeing it, shocked anew. The vision went on for some time, but now I heard the call. It was not in a language I knew, nor in any form of communication which I can utter even a syllable, yet it was clear to me. It told me to rise. It told me to follow. It told me to come.

The darkness was nearly complete as I rose smoothly from my bed. At that moment I thought of nothing—felt nothing. I listened only to the call. The moon bathed me in grey light as I stroad out the door, the portal gaping widely open behind me. The wind whipped around me as I strode steadily into the shadowed woods, feeling nothing, thinking of nothing as the voice beckoned me onward. I do not know how far I went in this state, just that suddenly everything was still. I was free from my trance. I no longer needed guidance, I knew what lay ahead. The cold bit me to my core, seeming to render me transparent in that bleak world. The silence was complete, broken only by my footsteps, whose dull steps on the frozen earth seemed to line perfectly with my own beating heart. 

Suddenly, there it was, the scene exactly as in my visions. I gazed, transfixed on that dead pool, whose unbroken surface lay waiting. It’s remarkably unfrozen body sent a tremor down my spine as I pondered the thoughtless cold its depths must hold. Stooping over it, I found no reflection of my own on its surface, only the sterile shape of the moon, whose figure now seemed peculiarly sharp and brittle, as if it were merely two-dimensional. I gazed plainly up at its dead celestial form, then without hesitation, I plunged headfirst into the center of the pool. Then I was falling through the night sky, high above a quiet earth, watched by only the moon’s mocking face above.