Tag Archives: The Liar’s Path

Report 22: The Morning After

Sir,

As you could no doubt tell, it was a bad time in Pannawau last night. A lot happened, and I’m not sure my Osceola-fueled mind-hopping exploits entirely captured the scope of it. So I thought I’d codify things with a slightly more formal report than is my norm.

SECTION A: The Events of the Evening

  • First, and most obviously, the Black Mirror Brute came out. I discovered that the Sad Man was not, in fact, summoning the Brute, but trying to distract it from leaving the Mountain and wreaking worse havoc. See Section B below for more details on the Sad Man’s plan.
  • Alexandra Melmoth was on the loose, as well, in a Yig-Form transfiguration seemingly triggered by the presence of the Brute in the Gray World. She changed back in the early morning hours, and is currently in custody on the Alo Reservation. Her family is demanding her release, but the Alo are thus far holding firm. I’ll be heading out to speak with her again later.

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34: Harsh Truths

***BEGIN TRANSMISSION***

The Sad Man is talking.

I am talking.

So hard to stay focused and

*************

Hank sighs as he gets out of bed. “Time to make the doughnuts,” he mutters. The joke isn’t funny anymore, but it’s all he’s got left. He kisses his fingers and presses them to Allison’s picture. She looks strange this morning. Harsh. Cold. Dead. Must be the light. Awfully bright. Awfully clean. Awful. It’s making everything in the house more… stark. Real. Hank blinks once, twice. Then he makes up his mind. Takes a shower. Shaves. Gets dressed. Then he picks up the pistol and

*************

The Sad Man keeps talking. “I’m sure you’re feeling disoriented, Agent Matthews. It’s the Osceola. If you’re not used to its effects, it can be overwhelming. For a man of your capacities, especially. Different minds, different places. Even time distorts. Sometimes I think that riding is harder than being ridden. Depending on which of the Ahtunowhiho is doing the riding, of course.”

I look at myself dumbly, and look back with sympathy in my ancient eyes.

“I’m speaking in riddles. My apologies. It’s just so refreshing to speak with someone who shares the gift. Someone who’s not a snake, at least. Poor Oscar. It’s unfortunate what we’re going to have to do to him. But again, I’m speaking in riddles. We should start at the beginning.”

I blink, look around. Pause politely as I get my bearings. “Liar’s Path,” I hear myself say. My voice sounds strange, thick. Clumsy. “Can’t believe you.”

I smile sympathetically at myself. Already, I’m annoying myself. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to believe me. I know the urge to lie here is strong. But I’ve long since learned to fight it. Besides, it’s…” I trail off, give myself a measuring look and

*************

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32: Heads Full of Light

***CONNECTING…CONNECTING…BEGIN TRANSMISSION***

Carried I’m being carried through the dark the night the dark and the Mountain and the door and the light and

*************

Edna sits, sobbing, in the beer cooler. Cecil is gone now, gone off into the night, nimble and crazy and cruel. She shouldn’t have done it, he said. Shouldn’t have loved him. Shouldn’t have let him love her. Nothing good can come of love, he said, and as the light shines in and floods the cooler, she knows that he was right. He spoke the truth. The ugly truth. Ugly like her old woman’s body, exposed and cold and shriveled. Bulging in all the wrong places, sagging in the right ones. She feels his old man’s seed leaking out of her, cold and spent and useless, and she knows the truth.

She’d known it before Cecil, of course. Known it for years, on those dark lonely nights when she couldn’t sleep. She ignored it when the sun was out, ignored it and threw herself into her work, keeping this damn store running and running and running and running. Threw her everything into it, and what did it give her back? Never what she needed. And so she’d starved, shrunken down into a nosy old biddy. A busy-body. A character, to be laughed at and never understood.

Oh, how she longed to be understood.

But she’d killed a man with her love, and put it away, and waited too long to find it again. So many years wasted, cold and alone, and now… She despairs that anyone will ever understand her again. And without that, what’s the point?

She sobs again, blinks away the tears, and her eyes fall on a shard of green glass, glinting in that horrible searing light. Piece of a bottle, she thinks. Big piece. Big enough to…

She unwraps one of her arms from around her breasts, reaches out, and

*************

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Report 21: Many Voices

Sir,

I returned today to my room at the Opa Lodge. This decision may be rash. Denise certainly thinks so.

I certainly do. He informed me of this idea by phone, if that tells you anything about how hare-brained even he thinks it is. Talk some sense into the man, Chief. Get him out of there before it’s too late.

But after my conversation yesterday with Heyoka, I believe this to be the best means possible of smoking out the Sad Man. This is the portion of that interrogation I’ve kept hidden from the Somnambulists, for reasons that I believe Denise has already made clear: some of the subjects broached there were things I am sworn not to reveal, even to you. If I thought these things posed some kind of threat, I would break my word in a heartbeat. But in our zeal to know everything, we sometimes delve too deep. Secrets and lies, sir. Secrets and lies. It’s the currency we deal in. But sometimes we must allow ourselves to trust. And unless you intend to bring me up on charges, that’s all I have to say on the matter. Though I’m sure the Somnambulists will have their say, as well.

[Review Complaint #23594-Q, pertaining to violation of Field Code 821: Mental Hygiene and Security Maintenance Code 51: In the Event of Somnambulist Intervention. The Agent has committed an unprecedented breach of protocol, and must be corrected for proper functioning of Agency operations.]

At any rate. One thing struck me particularly in Heyoka’s story about the snakes coming to Pannawau: there was a missing date. He said that they came 40, 60, 200 years ago. Well, 40 years ago was the Yig Incident. And 200 years ago was The Year Without a Summer. But what about 60 years ago? What happened then?

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Report 12: The Liar’s Path

Sir,

Denise is in the shower, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to send you one more report before breakfast. If you’ll recall, I had just come out of an intense dowsing trance, and pulled a Nukpana out of the dream. I was disoriented and a bit light-headed, so it took me a moment to realize that something about the creature had changed in the transition: he no longer had the head of an owl. Instead, he was wearing an owl mask, crudely formed out of some sort of cocoon-like substance, and decorated with paint and feathers.

But this is the way of the Nukpana. They’re half-spirit creatures, with one foot in the dream and the other in the waking world. Are they an early human off-shoot, shaped by an affinity to the World Beneath the World? Or are they spirit creatures, anchored to the waking world by human blood? I couldn’t say for sure, and the Alo, if they know, have not been forthcoming on the subject.

Cheveyo does tell me that they seem to come and go like ghosts. Many in the tribe hold them sacred, as well, because of all the service they’ve offered. In the past, they kept the Alo alive through many a harsh winter, providing food when there was none to be had. But they’re also a nuisance. They frighten people, and his men are called out a few times a year to remove pairs of Nukpana rutting in someone’s back yard.

“Plus, they shit everywhere,” Hototo added. There’s not an Alo alive, it seems, who hasn’t cleaned up piles of Nukpana dung in their life. They’re called “The Holy Burden” by some, and Cheveyo made it clear that we had to keep our captive a secret. If the wrong people found out we were holding him, we’d be forced to let him go.

We had a more immediate concern in the short term, however: when caught, the Nukpana had been trying to escape into a cave. That cave sat gaping before us now, and none of Cheveyo’s men, in spite of their familiarity with every inch of the Alo reservation, knew it existed. It’s all a matter of angles, I think. It’s hard to see from above, and is fronted by a large rocky outcropping, making it impossible to see from below. That makes it an ideal hiding place, if you know it’s there, and if you’re capable of landing flat-footed after a 30-foot leap straight down. That’s something the Nukpana are tough enough to do, and I’d imagine that the Black Mirror Brute wouldn’t even blink. How I did it, I still don’t know. But what’s life without a little mystery, eh?

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