Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 11)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 11)

Author of Brackish (sci-fi), Queen of Caelum and Sylvia (Children of the Myth Machine series), Lucy and the Snivel Chair (sci-fi/mystery), and Dragon: Emerald of Light (medieval spoof)  [available as paperback or e-book through Amazon Books].

 

Soulless is a strange thing to call something living.  Is a vampire soulless, for certainly he or she still has a personality, and if you have a personality how can you be soulless?

 

From a corner of the lab Brianna heard the chime of a grandfather clock.

“I must give her an injection,” the Alchemist says with frustration.  She watches him take a large syringe, yellowed with age, and draw in creamy orange liquid from a bubbling flask.

“I’ll wait here,” Brianna says.

“Touch nothing!”  The Alchemist replies as he rushes out the door.

Brianna listens and waits.  She hears the Alchemist’s distance voice talking to the Librarian.  With tender steps she moves in front of the tattered book and runs her index finger over the title Pou viv ankò.  As she traces the herbs to the last one she notices an envelope poking out from the last page of the book.  She slides the envelope out.  The Alchemist can still be heard talking to the librarian.  She opens the envelope and slides out a yellowed card.  Brianna shivers at the site of a single eye with its eyelid shut on the front cover.  Her hands shaking she looks at the inside and sings the cryptic verses:

 A gift I gave you of ever life

And you curse my name

A life of never dying I gave you

And you say you were unwilling

 

Ungrateful one

I laugh at your spite

 

You dare attack me when I sleep?

You dare to challenge my authority?

Silent was your attack

Stealth was your method of revenge for a gift

 

Ungrateful one

I laugh at your spite

 

Useless are your curses

Useless is the knife you tried to stab through my eye

Now I ban you from a thousand paces near me

Now I ban you from enjoying my presence

“Why did you read that?”  The Alchemist’s voice, so near, shocks her and she lets go the envelope.  “I told you I cannot get the needed herb.”

“But I can,” Brianna says as she retrieves the letter.

“It’s impossible, the danger is unsurmountable!”

“Better than an injured heart that never heals?”

“No,” the Alchemist admits.  “Have you heard of the Black Hag’s Cell?”

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 10)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 10)

Author of Brackish (sci-fi), Queen of Caelum and Sylvia (Children of the Myth Machine series), Lucy and the Snivel Chair (sci-fi/mystery), and Dragon: Emerald of Light (medieval spoof)  [available through Amazon Books].

Mainistir na gCailleach Dubh or Black Nun’s Abbey is in the county of Limerick in Ireland.  Now a ruin it was believed to be built in 1298 or earlier.  The last prioress was accused of delving into witchcraft and sexual acts.  Her room was called the Black Hag’s Cell, because her face turned black after she was executed.

The Countess of Desmond was struck by an arrow as the Earl of Desmond fought the Butlers.  Her husband the Earl of Desmond saw no sign of life in his wife so had her body hidden in the abbey’s altar.  Later they opened the alter and noticed finger scratches.  The Countess had been mistakenly buried alive!  (dates are difficult to pinpoint so this might have been around 1565)

 

The imp was gone and she felt, displaced, her body in two places at once.  From the Kitchen she heard her mother lament filled singing and in her own voice Ashling quietly replied:

Joshua, Joshua my love, my hope, my strength

It’s hard to get along without your arms to keep me safe

I cannot take your tear filled voice any longer mother

I cannot bring father back

Why did you eat Joshua!  Why did you eat?

There might have been away to bring you back

Now it is too late, your eyes are alive with cannibalistic hunger!

I cannot stay here mother, listening to your pain

Joshua, Joshua my love, my hope, my strength!

I’ve written you a letter mother

I’m moving out but do not fear, I’ll be safer now

Why did you eat Joshua!

I cannot take your tear filled voice any longer mother

I’ll write you, all the time, once I’m gone

Is this what it was like to walk, undead, along the streets she wondered?  Had the Fear Dearg turned her into a zombie or just poisoned her blood with his pin like bite?  Everything seemed squished in and elongated as though wherever she went she walked along a narrow corridor.

The imp would not come with her as she travelled to the Abbey of the Black Hag.  Ashling shivered.  Someone had begun restoration of the abbey twenty years ago when the Earth first shook and opened, spilling out limbo.  That’s when satellites stopped sending signals through the brown sky, planes crashed or glided and flew no more; when cars would no longer start and bicycles became the norm for travel.  Rumours whispered that the last abbess’s cackles fill the night air from the Black Hag’s Cell intermingled with the screams of the Countess of Desmond under the church’s alter where she was buried alive.  Ashling sang the song of the Black Hag as she rode her rickety bike west:

 Mainistir na gCailleach Dubh

Abbey of St Catherine de O’Conyl

Abbey of the Black Nuns

 

Sweet abbess of desire

You played with witchcraft in the far southern room

Until your skin turned black from dark magic

Now the sounds of your cackles fill the night

From Black Hag’s Cell

 

Oh, Katherine FitzGerald, we hear your wails

The Butlers pierced you with an arrow

Oh, Countess Desmond, your Earl thought you lost

In the chaos of this battle he hid your still corpse under the alter

And no one heard you scream that you’re still alive

Until your last breath left an echo of your terror ever more

 

It would take her two days or less to bicycle to the abbey.  She didn’t feel the need to eat.  Her energy seemed to come from the brown air itself.

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 9)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 9)

Author of Brackish (sci-fi), Queen of Caelum and Sylvia (Children of the Myth Machine series), Lucy and the Snivel Chair (sci-fi/myster), and Dragon: Emerald of Light (medieval spoof)  [available through Amazon Books].

Hence forward when there are two singers I will put one of the characters words in bold.  Changing the font does not make enough of a distinction.  Herbs are very important because each herb has many properties that combined can affect the body in different ways.  The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis, who used science to study the making of zombies in Haiti, really opened my eyes to this.

 

The Alchemist stares into Brianna’s eyes.  Her knees feel wobbly at the power she sees within him.  His eyes look towards the convex ceiling with its square coffers and he sings:

I have tried the furry leaves of Yarrow

The three leaves of Meadowsweet

I have tried the soft leaves of Comfrey

The jagged leaves of White Dead Nettle

Separate!

Together!

In Combinations!

I have mixed it with Frankincense

I have mixed it with Oil of Oregano

I have mixed it with Lavender

I have mixed it all together!

Brianna gazes over all the flasks and test tubes that cover the Alchemist’s tables.  She sees a battered hardcover book open to a page stained with essential oils.  Her right index finger traces the title of the page.  “What does Pou viv ankò mean?”  She asks.

His voice is full of sadness as he replies:  “It is Haitian Creole, and means ‘To live again’.”

She runs her finger along the list of herbs and stops at one partially blotted out by a blue stain.  “You mentioned four plants but there is a fifth here.”

I have tried, since finding the book, to obtain that ingredient.

What is it?

Ginkgo Biloba.

And where can it be found?

It doesn’t matter

No one has it?

He goes by Devon and he will not give it to me.

Why?

Because I am toilteanach neamh-mairbh

Could I, would he give it to me?

It is too dangerous!

Let me try!

No, you do not understand the danger!

My sister is out there and I want her back!

If she has eaten it is too late

She has not!

You do not understand

I do!  I will help you solve the riddle of the potion

That’s not all there is to it

Tell me

So I will

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 8)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 8)

Author of BRACKISH, Queen of Caelum, and Sylvia (available through Amazon Books)

 

The Fear dearg are Irish faeries said to wear a red coat and cap and like to play gruesome jokes.  Here you’ll find a very young Fear Dearg, and so more imp than leprechaun.

 

Ashling sits on a creaky high back chair bent over a tiny desk meant for a child.  She’s reading a novel called Tiles, about a witch doctor who makes a cologne using the herb Frankincense to ward off zombie attacks.   The heading of the chapter she’s just started is “Stay Safe While Others Run in Terror”.  She looks up and out the window over her desk.  She sees swirls of brown mist in the sky.  With a sigh she continues to read the chapter; there’s a knock on her window.

Her eyes flick upwards and she nearly falls off her chair in surprise.  Oversized eyes with yellow yoke around a mauve iris filled with red specks stare unblinking back at her.  Under a bulbous nose grins a wide mouth with thick lips the colour of dried blood and filled with tiny sharp teeth.  Pointy cherry red ears flicker in the outside wind make up the rest of the oblong head.  The thing outside her window has the body of a toddler with a jutting stomach but with arms too long and legs too short; all covered in brick red fur.

The longest finger of three on its right hand taps on the window waking her from her terrified amazement.  She unlatches the window and the creature hops onto her desk.  It looks to topple over but it’s wide, clawed feet find purchase as a forked tail whips out to wrap around the latch of the window sill.  She and it stare at each other.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“Devon sent me.”  It replies with a childish lisp.

“And you are?”

The Imp without a limp, the demon without a dream,” it sings:

A young Far darrig to you

Too young for coat or cap

It leans it head towards her, almost touching its nose to her hers:

I can smell you

Ripe thing

Hmmm, he’ll like that

I’ve come to help you!

Help you

Help you

Give you power

Give you your desire

To bring you to the one

To the one who will give you forever night!

Ashling leans back.  “What will it cost little imp?”

Your soul for night

Nothing to worry about

And it’s easy

So easy just lean your head to one side

Just a quick bite

Little more than a nibble

And what will this nibble do?

How will it give me what I desire?

The Fear dearg leans closer:

It will allow you to enter his place

The one who will give you your desire

The one who will give you forever night!

She feels there is no choice and leans her head to the right.

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 7)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 7)

Author of BRACKISH, Queen of Caelum, and Sylvia (available through Amazon Books)

Words can have many meanings so I struggled with this.  Toilteanach:  unwilling; neamh-mairbh:  undead.

 

Briana sees a figure behind four foldout tables arranged in a square.  The tops are covered in test tube holders, vials with chubby bodies and long necks, and glass tubes that connect a variety of coloured liquids to bubbling flasks.  She inhales as her hands clench.

He seems so intent

Surrounded by percolating vials

Will he help me save my sister?

All the days I have waited

All the days I have searched

For the answer

His image is blurry

Seen through the liquid in the glass

Will he help me save my sister?!

Will he help me make her better?!

All the days I have waited

She circles the tables and looks at his hunched form.  Unruly chestnut brown hair falls around his curly, untrimmed beard.  He’s wearing a white shirt that looks blue in the dim light.  A tie with diagonal red and black stripes nearly dips into the flask he’s stirring with a glass rod.  His brown cargo pants are crinkled and stained.  So are his black loafers.  She can smell sulphur, mint, and frankincense. Her steps get closer and she sees how bunched up his shoulders and neck are.  He’s singing in lamenting verses:

My love

My world

I cannot show my emotions—for you

My desire

My light

Once before I felt this way—before night

My hope

My forgiveness

This aches my symbolic heart so

I cannot allow this union–of you–and I

My love

My hope

My beacon

It’s just the same-as before

My nearness will only bring the nightmares–just as before

“What do you want!” he shouts and Briana falls to the floor in fright.

From the floor Briana sings in terrified shouts:

My sister back!

She doesn’t deserve to be half dead

Nor dead at all!

My love is not back—not fully

I don’t know how to bring your sister back

You can! 

You can

She hasn’t eaten yet

I cannot get it right

The serum won’t bring the shining light of her soul fully back

I can’t bring your sister back!

Try!

Try

I can help

I can help bring the librarian fully back

Even if we do, even if it is true, I cannot be with her

Yes you can!

You can be together again!

She is so close to being free of a half life!

Then why sing so sadly

Does she not want you?

Oh, she does

And I her

But I am a toilteanach neamh-mairbh

What is that?

What does that word me?

I am

I am an unwilling undead

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 6)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 6)

In dreams, those who have moved on to the other place will tell you, ‘It’s not so different here.’

A little girl in a blue dress is holding a glass globe in both her hands.  Her mother reaches down for one of the little girl’s hands.  As the little girl lets go of the globe with one hand so her mother can hold it the globe slips out of her grasp.  It doesn’t break but rolls across the road towards Caoimhe who lumbers at the back of the line of zombies.  The girl squeals and runs towards Caoimhe.  The girl’s mother screams for her to stop and grabs at her but misses.

Caoimhe can smell the little girl.  She stops and the rest of the line follows suit.  Caoimhe turns her head towards the little girl as the mother is about to reach her:

She smells like food

And I’m so hungry

She smells like meat

Delicious and sweet

Caoimhe grabs the girl’s outreached arm as the little girl reaches for the globe.

I could end this hunger

With the meat on your bone

The girl’s mother is wide eyed and shaking as she reaches for her daughter.  The other zombies begin to make a semi-circle around the mother and her little girl.

Caoimhe hisses at the mother.  The little girl stands up.  She presses the globe against Caoimhe’s grasping hand.  Caoimhe lets go of the girl’s arm and takes the globe.  The mother grabs her little girl and dashes off.

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 5)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical

by Dan Watt (Blog 5)

In this story, The Morrigan is the Great Queen, a goddess, represented by a crow.

Ashling enters her room.  A poster of a young man singing on a simple wooden stage inside the Cave of Keash covers the wall above her metal framed bed.  ‘We will find the light again’ is written in bold yellow words across the top of the poster.  Through her door she can hear her mother singing:

Sometimes

Sometimes I want to join you

To walk mindlessly along

To lumber under a copse of trees

When the sun does break through!

Sometimes

Sometimes I want to join you

To sniff and murmur

To—to do what I don’t know!

What’s the sense in this walking?

This killing, and eating, and turning others?!

Ashling sits on her bed.  She pushes her door completely closed with her foot.  She sets the vase in the shape of the darkly clothed woman between her feet on the stained area carpet that covers most of her floor.  She can still hear her mother as she pulls the cork that seals the top of the vase.  Blinking back tears she sees a single drop fall inside the vase’s mouth.

Lady Morrigan

Goddess Morrigan

No that’s not what Eimar said

Will this truly work?

Will I grow immune to the fear?

Of the walking undead?

Milady Morrigan

Deity Morrigan

No that’s not what Eimar said

Will I be free from this pain in my heart?

Will I never walk as my father now does?

The Morrigan—

 Dust swirls out of the vase.  Ashling leans back and gawks.  A woman in tattered black bodice and cloak forms.  Her face is so beautiful there is no way to honour its description.  Her eyes are so black, yet deep inside a burning red.  Ashling looks away.

The tear taints the effect,” a powerful woman’s voice sings into her head:

You awoke me from my slumber

You bring me into this dismal time

When I all I want is sleep!

To slumber and let the foul air pass!

Too late

Too late!

I am wide eyed!

I am here until the Earth turns

For a hundred years

Now Earth child what is your desire?

Ashling cannot bear to stare into The Morrigan’s face in fear it will freeze her gaze in place forever.

First,

What is the cost of this?

Before I give my desire

What will become of me now?

The Morrigan becomes wholly solid:

There is no going back from this

No turning away to seek the past

Whatever you decide will happen

You are across the bridge of decision

And I will make one for you if you do not

Tell me your desire

The cost?

You ask me the cost!

When you woke me from my slumber?

Who gave you that right!?

Ashling bite’s her lower lip.  She raises her chin but does not look up:

Eimar gave me the right!

She told me to tell you

Eimar gave me the vase

Eimar said you would make me safe

From the undead

“Eimar,” The Morrigan said as a whisper in her head:

You are not for me than child

You are for Devon

Not his real name

How sad

But the tear changes things

And where did you get the silver Ankh

I see hanging from the silver chain?

Something else is going on here

Something not even I can grasp

So I will give you a chance

A way out

Think of noble Caitlin of the past

And wear the Ankh

And wear the tear I return to you

But not visible

Wear it where the sustenance of life

Was given to you

From your mother’s womb

The door to her room opens from the inside.  Black mist escapes out as something plops onto her floor.  Ashling reaches down and picks up a glass teardrop with something inside.  She holds the teardrop up to the light.  Within the teardrop a miniature raven, with red eyes stares back.  She lifts the hem of her t-shirt and places the teardrop into her belly button.

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 4)

Hierarchy of the Undead:  A Gothic Horror Musical by Dan Watt (Blog 4)

Legends of the undead come from all over the World.  My focus is on Irish creatures of the night.  It is always a question of whether the undead tales originated as fiction to keep children in order;  to describe real people with mental and physical disorders; or are real beings that have always existed in the mist and the shadows.

Leah's Castles 46

Photo of the road to Castle Ward taken by Leah Weir, January 2018

Briana stares up at the stone and mortar peak of the Public Library.  Her eyes drift down to the flat marble stairs stained with veins of brown from the acid rain.  She hurries up the seven steps that lead to the double oak doors.  She plants her foot on the last step with a heavy heart.  Determination makes her bang the brass lion head knocker of the left door.

The door opens and she sees dim light.  A woman, not much older than her, with splotchy skin and oily dirty blonde hair pulls the door fully open.  The woman wears a semitransparent blue blouse with white prints of lilacs.   The blouse is tucked into white dress pants.  Her feet are bare inside white sandals.

“You look familiar,” Briana says, entering a room with rows of shelves and curving stairs that lead to a balcony with more shelves.

“I used to work here years ago,” the woman says in a whisper.  Her blue eyes look dull, as if she were only partially in her body.

“I don’t mean to sound rude, but are you okay?”  Briana asks.

“Almost,” the librarian says, shutting the door.  She sings:

I have stood in the Valley of the Dead

Staring back at the living

I cried as I saw my family standing upon a hill with a brilliant light behind

I thought they were dead

I wave good-bye

When they were gone

I turned to look at the faces of the many who stood in the valley with me

I realized they were the ones who had gone on

I have stood in the Valley of the Dead

Staring back at the living

It wasn’t my family who had moved on

It was me!

Tears well in Briana’s eyes, “I am so sorry!  Was this a dream?”

“No,” the librarian says her eyes staring far off as she smiles in the present:

I was walking

Fifth position of ten

I was sniffing and hungry

All the others began to drop to the ground

All had gaping holes in their foreheads

I turned to make more like me

A sack covered my body and I fell

I kicked and kicked

Clawed and clawed

But the sack at my feet was cinched tight

I felt a needle press through my neck

And the sack was removed

And I saw him

In shadows

‘You are free my love’ he said

Without emotion

I drift now

Between here and the other place

Barely able to breathe Briana looks up into the distant eyes of the librarian until they appear lucid.  “You were–were a zombie?”

“I think,” the librarian replies.

Briana grabs onto the librarian’s thin arms:

Tell me how

Tell me who

Tell me how!

Who set you free?

How?

How!

Give me a name

The source

Who is this person?

Who hides in shadows?

Tell me how

Tell me who

Who set you free?

He’s here

He’s here right now!

In the study

With tables full of vials

Who?

Who is he?

The alchemist

But I knew him before as–

Where is this den?

This place of chemicals

The librarian points at an opening behind the front counter.  Briana runs, runs with all her speed towards that entrance.