xxvii. Liberated From The Wood
He sat down and lit a new smoke with his dying one. His memories were flowing fast now, back into the chasm.
Out of the past―he recalled catching a blue darner in the shade by Black Heron Lake―and he felt a pang of nostalgia.
He wiped a tear away from the corner of his eye into a fist―wishing he could be that fresh bright kid again.
He never liked letting anything go so much—because the more he did—the more desensitized he became to life.
But that was another age―and he knew times were better now―without the Silverskin poisoning the mix so much.
He was better off deeply buried away in Old York, liberated from the wood’s influence—free to be more human.
But there was always some lingering amour for the trees in his bones—some trace of a fanged lineage in his visage under the full moon. Even in the heart of the city, at the height of daylight—he could still feel the pull of French’s Forest. He was forever learning how to live without those old trees—and he was forever getting used to existing without those familiar old interdimensional vibes.
He ran his fingers over the old carvings in the wood desk. He used to sit there and smoke long into the wee hours—writing almost as fast as he was able to think—losing all distinction between the pen and the paper. He had been insular.
Sometimes he liked journalling up on the roof, at the peak beside the weathervane—or down in the cellar with the rat bones and the old wine—or out on the porch looking on into the settling dusk for creative inspiration. Quiet was home.
But most of all, he liked it right there, in the alcove—at his comfy writing desk, with a raven-feathered quill. He would ink his most inner dreams, putting word to wisdom, weaving truth out of the threads of his still few years of experience.
He always wrote feverishly―religiously―in case one day became his last—in purposeful, longhand pastiches―forever rewriting through countless long drafts, never satisfied.
He wrote journals and fiction. One of his favorite stories was of a young ghost hunter named Nine, who lived in an enchanted Forest called Whisperwood. It was truly a thinly veiled auto-biography.
The writer-in-residence at NLU eventually showered accolades over him for weaving such fantastic fables—never suspecting the stories to be real—for to any mortal they could only be fantasy.
But looking back, it was all a logical progression from exploring to recounting the tales in detail. In hindsight, a younger Seven was merely reflecting his adventures on the page for later posterity.
He knew firsthand what strangeness lurked beyond the dark veil―and so he always longed to tell his story—being gifted with such close firsthand knowledge. He yearned for others to know what he knew, to see what he saw.
In his stories, the ghosts of Whisperwood were the quintessential outcasts with whom he so intensely empathized in life—based on characters he had encountered in his escapades in French’s Forest. He was ever the outsider.
The adventures helped him belong to something—being the lonely black lamb of his family pack of the undead―and so chronicling the escapades just became a natural extension into exquisite catharsis for him. It was all too magical to ignore.
He found solace in the undiscovered elements of the rock and water―in dark rifts where his kin only ever saw the old river and rambling banks of soulless stone.
Then one day in his eighteenth year, he awoke to discover an extra-human sense arise from deep inside of himself.
Parallel and everpresent—it was the innate knowledge of a dragonfly beating its wings half-way across the far world.
Always lingering in the bottom of his heart—and the corner of his mind—it was a kinetic connection to the deepest roots far below ground―growing relentlessly ever downward. It was constant contact.
For the first time in his life, his third eye had awakened—and his human gift for love and empathy truly flowered. For the first time his mortal and immortal united.
For the first time, he had transcended his vampire blood—and forever after—not Godwin nor Marietta nor Olin would ever know―what he now knew.
It was suddenly clear to him that he was just another string in the membrane of a vast multi-verse—a dynamic array.
The sky was but a reflection of mind.
The ground ran right out from his feet. The sea flowed out from his veins.
When he heard the birds chirping in the trees, he could almost interpret their natural language. They nearly spoke now.
Seeing a fawn in flight, he would feel as if he were the one running fast and free with the breeze. He could feel the air.
When he tracked the foxes down into their dens, he would see them with his mind before his eyes. He felt them.
So he began to explore the Forest for what seemed like the first time. Everything was fresh again—all renewed.
Then one rainy night of infamy—while following an inner calling―he was tracking past a babbling brook, when he ran upon a black-haired girl. She just then looked at him with a devilish grin and began pulling back her flesh—slowly shedding her human flesh for him—revealing a shiny silver skin underneath—that shone with a scintillating brilliance—dazzling his heart’s mind. Faye was real.
Faye would grow terribly jealous, he knew in his heart, and possibly try to intervene—but he had no choice, he had to show Eva how he truly genuinely felt.
(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)