② Cliff Hanger
It’s not like I didn’t know I shouldn’t have done it. That I shouldn’t have crossed the line, quite literally, shouldn’t have kept going.
Is everyone born with a conscience?
Travelling is fun, and always had been for me. My blog featured my travelling and sightseeing, and I was always honest about the experiences I had, and as descriptive as I could be. But when I travelled from country to country, something called folklore opened up a whole new curious side to me. Traditional beliefs that have been passed down for generations. Most of them are supposedly horrifying and demonic, but those factors just compelled me to visit the sites and research more. Mysteries make life all the more meaningful.
Midevening. That was when it was. But it was summer, and though it didn’t feel like it – what with the cool wind tangling itself in my hair, curling the locks like wisps of smoke – the sun tainted the signature darkness of the night, making it feel deceptively earlier than it was. The moon was there though, pale and cloud-like, a soft crescent amongst the summery skies. Yellows and oranges and pinks all smudged together, though dimming little by little as minutes passed. The air smelt foreign and strange and new, and I walked slowly down the rough, rocky ground set atop of the cliffs that stood tall and proud, bordering the seas which lapped against its rugged exterior relentlessly.
When I reached it, I stopped walking immediately, staring at the scene in front of me. Lilith Cliff. That’s what the folklore calls it. And Lilith is mentioned as the Hanger. Lilith was a young woman who fell off the cliff and to her death hundreds of years ago. People saw her fall, but didn’t discover a body. Just her blood, tinting the salty waters beneath the area she fell from red, the deep, inky colour mixing with the ocean’s transparent blues. According to the folklore and people of the town, if you stand at the very edge of the cliff, you can see her ‘spirit’ hanging there. Just hanging there in mid-air, ready to pull the ones who dare come close over the edge with her too. There have even been reports of missing people who were last seen near Lilith Cliff too.
Yet I found myself advancing towards and onto it, somewhat hesitant but mostly intrigued. I felt like getting out my video camera and filming it, but I decided against it, captivated by the seemingly calm atmosphere of the evening but the vivid intensity and dark aura coming from the cliff.
No, I don’t think I have a conscience.
My breathing was uneven and my eyes a fraction wider than they usually are. I didn’t stop moving. I might have been afraid to stop at that point, and keep going steadily onwards. I could taste the fresh, strong scent of salt sprayed by the sea below, and my pulse quickened its pace after my gaze met the dramatic drop just a few foot either side of me, and the same in front. I could have just turned back – I was well aware it was a bad idea to keep going. Not safe, not wise, not to mention nobody around within a walking distance. Most people avoid this area, but not me.#
If cats have nine lives, why can’t I?
I finally reached the cliff’s end, and my breath hitched in my throat. It’s a long fall. A very long fall, dizzily so, and for a second I can almost see the red liquid staining the sea below. Two steps forward, solid, rocky ground. Three steps forward, and its Lilith’s plummet down into the cold sea, or the cold hanging and looming above the edge. I couldn’t see her teetering over the edge of her cliff.
Well, of course I couldn’t.
I started to wonder if it was all a waste of time then, but I reconsidered when I thought back to the folklore’s traditional tale. Because deep down I know that once upon a time, Lilith was there, in the very position I was in. I hadn’t a clue why, though. Maybe she just enjoyed the sensation, the thrill of it all. I know I do.
The summer night sky is faded into a gradual dark blue, the moon standing out a bit more. A hefty gust of wind sent shivers down my spine, and I suppose that was when I realised exactly what I was doing. As if my conscience made an appearance, just the slightest hint of an alert. I looked ahead to the sudden end of the cliff, and took a small step back in uncertainty.
The step back didn’t last long.
I don’t know how to describe it at all, but it felt like hands, claw-like and frigid, abruptly at my back. But then again, it didn’t really feel like hands – it felt more like a grip which had no director or anything like that. As if the wind had formed itself into invisible hands.
And those invisible hands pushed.
They shoved me hard, and unexpectedly. A high-pitched scream left my throat – an ugly sound – and I lost my balance, my feet leaving the solid ground and flailing about in the air, the sea drawing extremely close in an extremely short time.
But I never felt the sharp, cold slap of the ocean against my skin, or felt the hard, bone-cracking collision between my body and the cliff’s edge. What I did see, though, to my horror, was the familiar inky red liquid appear on the ocean’s surface, swirling in with its natural, clear blue. Bubbles frothed and rippled around it, and eventually the crimson faded, and was washed away by a wave.
“Whoever said you needed rope to hang? Or maybe hang out?”
I jumped at the sound of a rasped, whispery feminine voice, and looking behind me I saw a woman with dark hair, dripping wet, and her eyes even darker, figure smoky and ghost-like, like a bleak, nefarious projection.
I looked down at myself, but I can’t see anything. All I could see, can see, is the ocean below, and the cliff’s edge, the sky now a proper shade of blue and ever dimming. My figure is see-through but somehow bloody, my hair soaking wet. I could taste metal, like I’d been sucking on a penny. It was so strong, I almost gagged.
When I spoke, I sounded strained and hushed. I managed to stutter out one word.
The woman smiled then, her expression deranged as she let out breathy laughs, simply nodding. Suddenly, several other people come into view too, every one of them different but alike, what with their clouded, transparent form of a body and the water dripping off of them. There’s even a child, a young boy no older than ten, but he’s smiling too.
We all are.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it,” Lilith breathes, and all of them shake with silent laughter.
I think I have. I love folklore.
You don’t need a conscience here, that’s for certain. Maybe this is what being between life and death is like. Invigorating.
Am I dead? Am I seeing things? Out of my mind? Out of lives?
Again, that’s for folklore to decide. I don’t care. I love the feeling.
And anyway, who doesn’t love a cliffhanger?