And it was in that moment of distress and confusion that the whip of terror laid its most nicely calculated lash about his heart. It dropped with deadly effect upon the sorest spot of all, completely unnerving him. He had been secretly dreading all the time that it would come - and come it did.Far overhead, muted by great height and distance, strangely thinned and wailing, he heard the crying voice of Defago, the guide.The sound dropped upon him out of that still, wintry sky with an effect of dismay and terror unsurpassed. The rifle fell to his feet. He stood motionless an instant, listening as it were with his whole body, then staggered back against the nearest tree for support, disorganized hopelessly in mind and spirit. To him, in that moment, it seemed the most shattering and dislocating experience he had ever known, so that his heart emptied itself of all feeling whatsoever as by a sudden draught.'Oh! oh! This fiery height! Oh, my feet of fire! My burning feet of fire...' ran in far, beseeching accents of indescribable appeal this voice of anguish down the sky. Once it called - then silence through all the listening wilderness of trees.And Simpson, scarcely knowing what he did, presently found himself running wildly to and fro, searching, calling, tripping over roots and boulders and flinging himself in a frenzy of undirected pursuit after the Caller. Behind the screen of memory and emotion with which experience veils events, he plunged, distracted and half-deranged, picking up false lights like a ship at sea, terror in his eyes and heart and soul. For the Panic of the Wilderness had called to him in that far voice - the Power of untamed Distance - the Enticement of the Desolation that destroys. He knew in that moment all the pains of someone hopelessly and irretrievably lost, suffering the lust and travail of a soul in the final Loneliness. A vision of Defago, eternally hunted, driven and pursued across the skyey vastness of those ancient forests fled like a flame across the dark ruin of his thoughts...It seemed ages before he could find anything in the chaos of his disorganized sensations to which he could anchor himself steady for a moment and think...The cry was not repeated; his own hoarse calling brought no response; the inscrutable forces of the Wild had summoned their victim beyond recall - and held him fast.(The Wendigo)
Algernon Blackwood
People had always amazed him, he began. But they amazed him more since the sickness. For as long as the two of them had been together, he said, Gary’s mother had accepted him as her son’s lover, had given them her blessing. Then, at the funeral, she’d barely acknowledged him. Later, when she drove to the house to retrieve some personal things, she’d hunted through her son’s drawers with plastic bags twist-tied around her wrists. …And yet, he whispered, The janitor at school--remember him? Mr. Feeney? --he’d openly disapproved of me for nineteen years. One of the nastiest people I knew. Then when the news about me got out, after I resigned, he started showing up at the front door every Sunday with a coffee milkshake. In his church clothes, with his wife waiting out in the car. People have sent me hate mail, condoms, Xeroxed prayers… What made him most anxious, he told me, was not the big questions--the mercilessness of fate, the possibility of heaven. He was too exhausted, he said, to wrestle with those. But he’d become impatient with the way people wasted their lives, squandered their chances like paychecks. I sat on the bed, massaging his temples, pretending that just the right rubbing might draw out the disease. In the mirror I watched us both--Mr. Pucci, frail and wasted, a talking dead man. And myself with the surgical mask over my mouth, to protect him from me. The irony, he said, … is that now that I’m this blind man, it’s clearer to me than it’s ever been before. What’s the line? ‘Was blind but now I see…’ He stopped and put his lips to the plastic straw. Juice went halfway up the shaft, then back down again. He motioned the drink away. You accused me of being a saint a while back, pal, but you were wrong. Gary and I were no different. We fought…said terrible things to each other. Spent one whole weekend not speaking to each other because of a messed up phone message… That time we separated was my idea. I thought, well, I’m fifty years old and there might be someone else out there. People waste their happiness--That’s what makes me sad. Everyone’s so scared to be happy. I know what you mean, I said. His eyes opened wider. For a second he seemed to see me. No you don’t, he said. You mustn’t. He keeps wanting to give you his love, a gift out and out and you dismiss it. Shrug it off because you’re afraid. I’m not afraid. It’s more like… I watched myself in the mirror above the sink. The mask was suddenly a gag. I listened. I’ll give you what I learned from all this, he said. Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.'s Come Undone
Wally Lamb
I dispelled my invisibility for a few seconds in his full view, a finger resting provocatively on my lower lip, giving him a come-hither look under a streetlight. His jaw and the bottle of Żubrówka dropped at the same time. It shattered, drawing his eyes to the sidewalk and I took the opportunity afforded by his distraction to disappear again.That was mean, Oberon said, watching the man look wildly around for me and pawing at his eyes as if to clear them.Why? I asked. I’ve done him no harm.Yes, you have. You will haunt him for the rest of his life. I know from experience.You’re haunted by someone flashing you on a street corner?No. It was a dog park. Atticus and I were just arriving and she was leaving.Oh, here we go.She was so fit and her coat was tightly curled and she had a perfect pouf on the end of her tail like a tennis ball. I saw her for maybe five seconds, until she hopped into a Honda and her human drove her away. And now I can’t see a Honda without seeing her.But that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Kind of romantic? A vision of perfection you can treasure forever, unspoiled by reality.Well, I don’t know. In reality I’d like to try spoiling her, if she was in the mood.Look, Oberon, that man is lonely. He’s too skinny and sweaty and I’m willing to bet you five cows that he’s socially awkward or he wouldn’t be staggering drunk at this hour. But now, for the rest of his life, he will remember the na**d woman on the street who looked at him with desire. When people treat him like something untouchable, he will have that memory to comfort him.Or obsess over. What if he starts wandering the streets every night looking for you?Then he’s misunderstood the nature of beauty. It doesn’t stay, except in our minds.Oh! I think I see. That’s true, Clever Girl! Sausage never stays, because I eat it, but it’s always beautiful in my mind.
Kevin Hearne