The plaque on Andrew’s lap hummed, its runes flickering invitation, and the boy dropped his eyes from the strangely familiar face flickering beside him as if in dappled shadow, drawing them back down to the characters carved in the cool, muddy brass; he touched the runes with burnt fingers and pursed his lips to pronounce them out loud.
“Well’s gone dry, gonna make my woman cry,” the flickering man sang in a whispered baritone, and reaching through the dusk of his apparition, he grabbed Andrew’s forearm and moaned, “they’re called ‘runes’ for a reason, cuz they ruin your life, fill your soul with strife, mebbe you never gonna see your wife…no more.”
“This can’t get any crazier, can it?” mumbled Andrew as his arm numbed under the cold pressure of the shadowy man’s grasp; he looked up at the quicksilver runes now pulsing in the sewer wall beside him, and again pursed his lips.
“Sit you down and shut your mouth, rescue’s comin’ from the south, it takes the Two to set us free and bring us home, abide by me…” the singing settled into a chant as the man flowed around and down into a sitting position between Andrew and the edge of the walkway.
“So crazy it’s almost making sense,” muttered Andrew, as he pushed the plaque off his lap and on to the walkway, and the man gathered and shook the dust off threads of memory and sense and fully felt the harsh wages of partial knowledge and a foolish gamble that had trapped him in the bowels of the haunted mansion for so many years.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2022)
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