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This is the Way

by Paul Kesler

This is the way the fingers of the hand disperse, the way the shadows
lengthen. This is the way the dusk descends, the light of the moon shoals
gradually over the rockface and the fog crouches down. You can see the hand irradiate before your face --- it looks at first like an imprint on the sky, a stencil perhaps, except that once it forms, it grows, it does not remain motionless. But it is silent. The fingers elongate, from inches to yards, they writhe about you slowly --- like tentacles, though you are a long way from the sea, a very long way. It is night when you see it, always night, for some reason it always forms at night and is inescapable. And it is visible, though it is the only thing you see, its light is not so bright it
would overpower all other visible things, at least you would not think so.
But once formed, it writhes about you --- like a jellyfish, though you are,
as you know, a long way from the sea. You have seen this hand before, but
only, perhaps, in a prior existence, and you do not believe in a previous
life --- can you honestly claim to have died? You dismiss such things. All
you know is the hand is there, that it is always there when you least expect it and are on your journey homeward. You know the fingers, you know the grip, they seem like moist tentacles but are not --- they are a kind of darkness that has solidified, a phenomenon of nature like the freezing of water --- if water were freezing about you it would feel like this. You convince yourself it is an apparition. Oh? Can you distinguish a structure of light from a skeleton of shadows, a gargoyle of fog from a gremlin of dreams? Can you say that merely because this thing forms at night it is slinking from the sun like a living creature? You cannot. You have seen the hand for days, for weeks, it always precedes the heaviest rain, but the rain does not wash it away, only daylight. Will you journey toward the night sky when the light has returned with the moon, or will you wait for the sun? There is no guarantee, after all, that the hand will not return, that it will not continue to grow, or move. You had better not think about it, better to leave, whatever the consequences. There is still time to leave.
This is no time to avoid it, though you are very far inland, too far to
matter for things that should not be from the sea.
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