Dark Valley

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chapter 7

Chapter 7

Extracts from a journal recovered from Janus Mason

I woke from a fitful sleep. I felt tired as I got up. This was not like me at all. I normally sleep very well and rarely seem to dream. This night was full of bizarre images and a dread of something unseen in the dark. Like ink, or blood spreading in tendrils through water, filling the whole of my mind with its dark and shapeless mass. Concealing something dark and sinister in the deepest part of the shadow. Dark, unseen but its presence can be felt as it spreads through me. The danger is all about me and I can’t see it. The awareness of its insidious reach is plain but its shape is obscure and unreachable.

I will train first thing this morning, see if the fresh spring air will blast the cobwebs of the disturbed slumber away. Wearily I got up and got on my running tights and a plain t-shirt. I knew what I had dreamed of. I couldn’t give him his name, couldn’t make it real by recognition of the name of the sepsis.

Ivy was already up and in the yard somewhere. I didn’t want to see her this morning. I didn’t want to be reminded about the changes in our relationship dynamic that had happened over the last week or so. I didn’t get a coffee or anything before pulling my still wet trainers on and heading onto the track. A nice long run would help me relax and regain some of my identity. As I started on the track I could feel my age in the aches in the muscles and bones of my legs and back. Every impact jarred and shocked me, I knew that within a few hundred yards my body would settle down into its normal running routine. My breathing would normalise and an easy rhythm would be established. I knew that once that rhythm was round I would be able to put miles and miles on the road this morning. I reached the end of the track and turned downhill towards the town. I didn’t want to do the run that I did earlier in the week. I didn’t want to get to the cross roads and be confronted with the choice of route. I felt that if I simply avoided this option in my mind, skirted round it, removed direct choice that I would be safe from the face to face confrontation that was sure to follow.

I decided to run through the town and up the other road towards the moors. I was just going along at an easy pace. I knew this morning’s run would be a long run. I needed to purge myself of the unease that I felt. Through Denbigh and towards Groes. I passed Morrison’s and headed out into the countryside. This run would head up the hills and out of the way of people. I would climb and climb onto the moorland. Welcomed by its high, clear openness and allow the wind to scour me and blow the bad night and so by association the past weeks away.

The sun was up and the temperature good and comfortable. The promised showers had not materialised but I could see cloud building to the west.

The miles seemed to disappear under my easy pace as I climbed up onto the Denbigh moors. I ran through Bylchau and headed towards Llyn Brenig. I planned to cut down through the forest to Nantglyn and then head down the river valley towards home. I had managed to keep my thoughts empty and not think of the clouds that amassed in my thoughts. As I approached the junction to the Nantglyn road I saw a raven perched upon the sign post. He was in the sunshine and his plumage shone iridescent hues of greens and blues. The wind ruffled his feathers and gave him a ragged appearance. His huge and powerful beak, like natures patent meat cleaver, opened as he croaked out a greeting for me. Ravens are a common sight on this high ground and this was not unusual. They carve their living from the flesh of the weak and the fallen high on the moors.

The black corvid flew heavily from the sign as I got within a fifty yards of him. The sign moved slightly and swayed as his bulk lifted heavily into the air. I expected him to wheel away and turn down the wind and be gone with a few angry croaks. He simply gained height and remained fairly static in the air above me. All of the time cawing and croaking.

Turning from the main road I crossed a cattle grid and headed down into the forest. The silent ranks of trees closed to the road on both sides. A dark mass of conifers. Underneath the foliage was a void. No light could reach the ground and nothing grew on the dense bed of needles that fell under the trees. The impenetrable darkness was punctuated only by my fear. I felt shaken, like the eyes of some unseen observer where on me all of the time.

The sunlight left, the heavy clouds from the west has covered the sun like a blind. Without this bit of sunlight the air temperature dropped and the chill was palpable. I pushed my pace a bit faster a bit harder to get down from this high ground, I didn’t want to be caught in the rain.

Come on let’s get back. Time to tell the bitch that it’s time to do another one.

The intrusion was unexpected and unwelcome. The knock on the door of some portent of wrong. I had kept his voice out of my head all morning. Now he had returned, like smoke under a door. I was rocked through to the core. I had tried everything to keep him at bay but he returned.

You know how it is, we are one, I am you, you are me.

“No, you are not me, we are not the same”

Really? I don’t think so. Do you see anyone else out here? No so who are you talking to?
“You can’t win. I am me”

We will see you know what I say is right, you know that you want it. You have seen how I can make things better for us.

I pushed the pace up and tried to make him leave my mind. I tried to picture the desolation of the wind blasted moor. I pictured myself running along the road, land dropping away either side of the high road with no one else around me. Pushing the pace making the pain reach out to me and drive him away.

As I ran faster and faster along the straight single track road through the forest I pictured myself in my mind’s eye. I pictured the solitude that I was comfortable with. He was quiet for a few minutes and I thought I had driven him away. This illusion was shattered. I heard the voice of the raven and I looked up at him he was flying effortlessly above me. Not close to me but straight above me. Perhaps fifty feet above me. The wind had risen and the thick clouds had now fully covered the sun and they scudded across the sky. Black and angry. A storm was rising and the raven was effortlessly riding the winds above me.

What are we going to do now? It’s going to rain. We are a long way from home now. You are going to be caught in the storm.

If I ignore it and try to clear my mind of all then maybe he will go. Maybe I won’t hear any more of his voice.

That won’t work, stupid. I am you, you are me.

“No, we are not the same. I am in control. I have always been in control of things”

You weren’t in control when we killed that farmer. You weren’t calling the shots when you smashed his skull with that rock. When you looked over him and looked at the pieced of bone mixed with is brain.

“I will stop you, I will regain control of me”

We will see, you know that with every day that passes that we become more and more of me. The old order is changing. Janus is fading away and Erebus is rising.

The more I heard the voice of Erebus, the less control I had. I could never lose control to the creeping insanity that I recognised the voice represented.

In the long dark hours of the night I had thought over and over about what the voice of Erebus was. I focused my analytic mind on the circumstances of the last weeks and I came to the conclusion that the concussion of the heavy blow that Pol had landed when we sparred had caused me some head trauma. Internet research revealed that trauma induced schizophrenia was recognized medically and that the voices of Erebus had their roots here.

The irony is not lost upon me. The years I have spent removing the voices from people, cleansing them of their demons. Now it was my turn to face my demons. My demon has a name and I have to take control back from him before I turn into a stumbling zombie in the café of a local supermarket. I could not treat myself to remove the voices.

One answer would be to ask Ivy to treat me to remove the voices. How could I tell her about the loss of identity and the growth of Erebus? She had been with me and refined the cleansing process to allow for her sexual gratification to be included. She seemed to like the things that Erebus wanted. She seemed climaxed when she was with Erebus. She couldn’t with Janus without someone being cleansed.

The first drops of a heavy spring shower started to hit me. I saw them hit my grey t-shirt and spread into charcoal coloured splats. More fell the dark splodges of charcoal on my shirt spread and merged, joined together and soon I was soaked to the skin. I pushed hard through the rain. I had an objective in my mind. I would not think it directly. If I did Erebus would take over and I could not do it. My thoughts skirted around the finality of control I would re-establish as if it was the dark under the bed of a child who daren’t look for fear of the monster.

We came back towards the town and I took us towards the base of the castle. On the west side of the wall there are cliffs. The castle was built here to use these cliffs and there is only a narrow path between the wall and the cliff. The hard grey rock of nature gives way to the hard grey rock of the castle.

So you are going to snuff us out. Fucking coward.

“You can’t have me”

I already do, idiot. We are one

“I will not let you have me.”

Why can’t you see that I already do have you and nothing you can do can change that?

I ran through the woods towards the narrowing of the path. The route was clear before me. The path was muddy from the dog walkers and ramblers that used the path. I pushed hard and fast to try to get to the cliff before he could reach me again.

Desperation was growing from deep inside of me. The footing was bad on the mud and as I pushed forward to the cliff I slipped and fell to the ground. I lay on the ground. The mud was on my face. I pushed my hands down to lift up and I saw in front of me a paw print of a dog. Time seemed to stop. I saw the huge pug mark with four even toes and deep claw marks In front of my face. The dog must have been huge that made this. (Like a hound of hell) That spurred my resolve and I got to my feet, shook of the freeze frame image burned into my brain. I looked down at my feet and saw I had slipped on the thick and smooth root of a great oak tree.

I felt emotion well in my chest as the desperation grew in me. I spat mud from my mouth and blew it from my nose. Looking up to the cliff the dark shape of the raven flew from tree to tree.

I continued to run towards the path and got onto the steeply climbing section of the path below the curtain walls of the castle. The path rose and rose as it crossed the tops of the cliff. I reached the apex of the cliff. I stood there still. Breathing deeply to steady my nerves.

This was the only way I could find any control. I would jump from the cliff. I think that I would fall for about three seconds before landing on the jumbled wreckage of scree, rocks and life below. On the wreckage below I would destroy Erebus and be free. I pictured my body broken and smashed like cast aside wreckage on the rocks below. The image was welcome to me and it felt like I was being called to take the leap from the cliff and be free from the insidious voice that echoed in my skull for ever.

The moment froze in time and around me was quiet. I was alone and waiting to jump, to fall on the rocks below in a violent conclusion to all. The rain fell heavier and heavier upon me. Soon I was feeling the chill as the warmth from the run had left my body. My breathing was normal now and the emotion had eased. The tense ball of molten steel that had been my heart had dissipated and subsided. The raven was close, he watched me from the tree, was he waiting to eat my shattered body. To sip my blood as it ran into the dirt. The tree he was in was growing from the base of the cliff so I looked into the top of the tree. He was at eye level with me. His plumage of iridescent blacks and purples glinted in the wet light and I fancied I could see his black eye shining as he soullessly watched me stand on the edge of the precipice of my destruction.

It is over, there is no struggle.

The voice of Erebus echoed in only my hearing. He told me the struggle was over. It seemed I had shed myself of the insanity that had seeped with inky blackness into my cold and calculating rationale. My cleansing had been done in the rain and the cold on the limestone cliffs of Denbigh, with no resort to the cold steel of lobotomy.

The rain stopped falling and spring sunshine rent the clouds apart. I started to walk from the top of the cliff and continued on the path towards my home, to see my wife. There would be no more of the madness. It seemed that I had crossed the Rubicon. I walked slowly home in the glorious spring sunshine. Our previous lives would be over. All that had passed would stay passed. No more of the killing. The sunshine warmed me and I felt the soaking chill lift.

The raven had left, I am not sure when he went but he was no longer there.

My mood lifted as the warmth penetrated deeply through to my inner core. Ivy would have to change and there would have to be some deep discussions about how we would go on from here. The path before me crossed the field and took me straight back home. I wanted to just be a small holder. To remove the treatment room, my theatre of darkness, from below the house. Fill the void, pour in concrete, seal the pain in the cavern where it belonged. Walk away hand in hand from the violence, the insanity of my life and start to live like other people lived. I would make a fire, yes a fire, on that fire I would burn the DVDs, burn the camera and burn the past, burn who I had become – let the ashes of the fire redeem me.

It was as a new man that I walked into the yard at Dyffryn y Tywyll.

“Ivy, come I the house please”

“Yes, of course, she said, I will be right in”

I went into the kitchen and stripped off my wet running clothes. I left them, shed like a skin, on the floor near the door. I would take them through to the laundry shortly. I loaded the coffee machine and set it going. I loved the smell of the coffee as it brewed. I felt so alive, I breathed the deep, rich aroma of the Columbian blend in deeply. I wanted to share this with Ivy. It was at this point I had my first tinge of doubt. She had liked the arrival of Erebus, she orgasmed as he fucked her. Could I carry that off? Would she be able to adjust to the new phase of my life? I didn’t feel like I felt before Erebus, I didn’t feel like I did when he was in my mind. Really, if she didn’t like it that was tough luck. I was not going to take another footstep down his road.

Ivy walked in the door, her hair was tied up but some had come loose, she just had a pink fleece and jeans on. She tugged her wellies off and one of them pulled her sock off with it. Her foot was delicate, it was beautiful, small, precise and immaculate. Her toe nails perfectly pedicured, trimmed and filed. No nail polish. She wore no make-up then, simple. Unadorned. She looked at my naked body and I recognised that newly found arousal in her eye.

“Coffee, ivy?”

“Yes please” she said. She appeared tense and nervous around me.

I poured the drinks and placed hers in front of her. I opened the large stainless steel fridge and passed out the half pint jug of single cream to the table.

She stirred her coffee and watched me. She was waiting.

“We have to change, something has happened to me”

“What do you mean?” She replied.

“It has to come to an end,”

“I am sorry, what needs to end?”

“The things we have done in the past are wrong, we can’t do it again”

She laughed a little.

“Why are you laughing?” I asked.

“What’s happened? Have you found god?” She laughed again, was she serious? I am not sure if she was laughing at me, mocking me.

“No, not really but I have found me. I don’t think that’s the same” I joked with her.

“Things have changed, Ivy, I want us to have a normal sort of life without the other things” To give them names would have given those black, but shared, things an identity and a reality I no longer wanted to face.

“Ok,” she tentatively went on “but this is what we have always done, that’s what we are about”

“Not anymore, not for me, I don’t want that anymore”

“Right, but you can’t undo what we have done in the past, we did those things together.” She said.

“Yes, I know, I am not proud of them but this is just a thing we will have to live with”

“Not proud of them? You loved it, it made you hard to do it.”

“I know, but I don’t want that for us any more, I think I want to just live a normal life and be happy with you as we are”

“I don’t know if we can ever be that couple, Jan, we set out on this a long time ago.” She said.

“Well, I want to give this a try”

“Oh right,” she said “Are you going to be a fucking Sunday school teacher?”

I became so angry, she was mocking me, she was taking the piss. How fucking dare she.

I heard the voice in my head, he was back.

“Maybe we could go to chapel together,” she laughed out loud.

I am not listening to this shit.

“Maybe you could be a lay preacher”

Don’t you fucking laugh at me you bitch”

“That’s more like you”

I stood up from the table. I shook with anger and my voice wavered a little. I gently placed my hands upon the table. If I placed them down gently then they would not betray me. They would not strike out or do anything they might lead me to regret them. I felt that I was more alive now than I had ever been. I had crossed my Rubicon as I had thought, but I had crossed it in a different way than I thought. The struggle was over, there was no struggle any more. Erebus was the winner. Life would now be clearer.

Who the fuck do you think you are talking to?”

I strode round the table to where she was sitting.

I spoke to you, who the fuck are you talking too? Fucking bitch”

“I am sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you”

I could see she was turned on, she licked her lips and I could see the colour rise in her cheeks. I was stood naked, my cock was hard and standing out from me, she could not take her eyes off it.

“How can I say sorry?”

You can’t just get round me with a blow job you dirty whore”

I was turned on and angry with her at the same time. She was still sat at the table I walked round to behind her chair. She would have to pay for what she has done. How dare she?

I hooked my foot round the leg of her chair and pulled it away hard. The chair flipped away and Ivy’s light body was thrown to the floor like a discarded toy on the stone floor.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you”

You don’t speak to me like that again, you don’t laugh at me ever again”

She started to get herself up she was sat on the floor. I stood over her and with my left hand I smacked her hard round the side of the head, I would show her who the boss, cheeky bitch.

The whore sprawled across the floor. The flower shaped bruise bloomed on her temple.

I moved across to where she was now laying quietly crying on the floor.

I pushed onto her face. Hitting her had turned me on so much. My hard on throbbed with anticipation as I grabbed the waist band of her jeans. My powerful grip pulled the jeans apart easily and the button ripped off and the zip burst open. I pulled them down over her hips. She was wearing a pair of white cotton briefs under her jeans. I ripped them off with one hand.

Her arse was naked as she lay face down. I grabbed her hips and tilted the forward to open her cheeks.

“I don’t want to, you hurt me too badly”

Going to show the bitch.

“… Please don’t, I don’t want to”

Make her cry.

I pushed my cock into her.

“No, not in my arse”

I fucked her hard and she knew I was the boss. She would never laugh at me again. Things had changed and they had changed for ever. I was running things now.

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