Erik has grown up hearing stories of what happens in the woods on those particular nights of the year.  It is these stories fuelling the curiosity that has lead him to this clearing, watched over by the bright face of the full moon.  He hides in the brush at the edge of the trees, watching them furtively drift in.

He does not recognise anyone there, their faces hidden in the shadows of crimson hoods, edged in fur.  A fire is lit against the cold and the congregation gathers close, harking to the words of the priest.  Erik cannot understand the tongue in which he speaks, but the words nonetheless stir something primordial inside him.

The tempo and volume grows, and with it the congregation begins to sway back and forth in time with the words.  They join in the chant, their movements loosening with their tongues.  They dip and bend, dancing like flames around the fire.  The chant is a growing wave, beating like surf against Erik’s brain.  He does not realise until he is half way into the clearing that he is moving, and by that time, he does not care.

The dancers part to let him in and the primal chant takes hold of his limbs.  He twirls and leaps with the others, his nostrils filled with the scent of pine and his head with music.  A pipe joins in, played by a reindeer-headed man, a skirling jig that weaves its way around the maddening chant.  The wave swells into a roaring climax, and Erik is sent crashing into darkness as it breaks.

Morning finds him alone in the clearing, the fire burnt to ashes, pine needles and holly trampled deep into the earth about it.  Erik wakes and stumbles around the open space, unable to recall anything but flashes of the Santaists’ red mass.


~ by Electro-mechanical Man on June 28, 2011.

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