Why Don’t The Mountains Sing At Night? Short Story.

So I’m pretty wrecked, yay! Dunno what it is but I’m hoping it’ll fade away quickly. It’s distressing to go from low levels of tiredness back to these levels again.

As I said on Monday (or maybe it was Friday, the days are getting mixed up) Here is some more information on the series for this Friday. It will be a continuation of this story here, called The Break In. I’ll probably change the name of the overarching series, but I may not for a short while, at least until I get a bit of a feel for it, by then I might decide to keep the name. I don’t really know what’s going to happen, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out. I’ve a fair few questions about it too, so there are some mysteries which I’d like to be solved, which is mostly why I’m choosing this one.

I’m sure there are other short stories which I’d like to continue, but as this is the most recent and the freshest in my mind, it was the one chosen for continuation. Hope to see you all on Friday for the continuation, there will be a short blurb at the beginning of part two, covering what happened in part one, just in case you don’t have the time (or inclination) to reread it. I am aware that very few people enjoy rereading (mostly because I enjoy rereading and whenever I say it, people are always confused, I mean, I already know what’s going to happen, why would I even bother? cue my attempts to explain until they walk away, looking bewildered.) So I figure a brief overview will be helpful!

On with the show!

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The sun was setting slowly, taking its time. Shadows stretched outwards as the wind gusted gently. The children shouted and ran, spending the last of their energy. It would be dark soon, then they would have to return home, where it was safe. They were in the middle of a game when a mother called out of a house and, as if alerting everyone else, other mothers began to call too. Soon the streets were empty. The sun sank below the horizon, surrendering to the dark. Outside a hush fell over the world, the forest surrounding the village falling silent as one by one birds stopped calling. Animals settled down, while others moved about silently. Down in the village, there was silence as firelight flickered in the windows and plumes of smoke rose straight into the air, there was no wind to pull and tug at it.

The world became silent.

Inside the houses people ate their dinners, chatting quietly, and, once done, they went to their tasks, mothers mended, fathers sharpened knives and children played quietly or read. After an hour, the children were sent to bed, where some were lulled to sleep by a story. A young girl was lying in bed, eager for one of her grandmothers stories. Her grandmother sometimes took requests and the young girl knew exactly what she was going to ask about. It had been a question that had been plaguing the children for a while and she was the one tasked with asking the question. Her grandmother walked into the room and sat down on the small stool. “What story do you want to hear tonight love?” The girl took a breath, “I want to know why the mountains don’t sing at night.” The grandmother looked towards the covered window, then glanced around the room, making sure they were alone.

“There once was a man and woman in the village who were madly in love, but unfortunately, they were married to others. They met at night, in secret. Then the forest was be alive with music during the night and so that is where they met, knowing the noise would make it harder to track them. They met in a large clearing which would be filled with moonlight. In the clearing was a small pond and a stream. Sometimes they would have picnics, others times they would talk and still others, they would simply bask in one another’s company. They met like this for three, blissful years. But like most things, their meetings had to come to an end. The man’s wife fell pregnant as did the woman he loved. There were already rumours about them and, to protect each other and their children, they ceased meeting. In time both babies were born and they grew into happy, healthy little children, but still the rumours persisted. One day, the woman’s husband, spurred by drink and his buddies, decided to confront the man, beating him almost to death. Hearing what her husband had done, the woman couldn’t bear the thought of her love in so much pain, and, angry at her husband, she poisoned him. Unfortunately, her daughter ate some of the poisoned stew and when the woman returned, she found her husband and child dead. She fled from the village and into the forest, her screams were heard for miles. Soon the whole village knew what the woman had done.

The man, still sore from his beating, was unable to chase after her, his own wife had suspected the affair, but to her, the poisoning proved it. Once the man was better, he decided he would need to find the woman, they could live together in the woods, as they had once longed to do, but he did not know the his wife was following him. The man went to the clearing where they would usually meet, and found the body of his love, floating in the water. She was so distraught at what she had done, she had entered the pond and drowned. Seeing her husband’s grief, his wife returned home, feeling cold and empty inside. She knew her husband would never love her as much.

It took the man three days of grieving before he was able to return to the village and when he did, everything seemed fine. He returned to his wife and decided that he should truly love her. However, the wife was enraged by what she had seen. She waited until her husband was asleep, then she slit their child’s throat and fled the village. When he woke the next morning, the man found the body of his child and, knowing what his wife did, he chased after her, into the woods. It is said that to this day, he roams the woods, mad with pain and rage, no longer a man but a pure beast. He kills anyone or anything he comes across, hoping someday to take vengeance on his wife. After this day, the trees fell silent, for fear of being cut, the animals stopped calling to one another for fear of being killed, and everyone stays inside after dark, for fear of luring him back to the village.” Her grandmother stood, and after gently kissing her forehead, left the room. The little girl lay in darkness, not convinced her grandmother had told her the truth. Her parents, and all the others said everyone went indoors at night as large animals roamed the woods and so it was dangerous. As she drifted off to sleep, she decided she would tell the others the next day, together they could all figure out the truth.

She told her friends as soon as they were all outside, some believed the story, while others didn’t. They argued with one another quietly, casting glances around, fearful the adults would hear. Eventually, they settled on the only sensible option, two people would go into the forest and climb trees, when they returned in the morning they could report on anything they saw. It was agreed that anything that was big enough to hurt them couldn’t climb the trees and that would keep them safe. If they saw some large animals, then they’d know for sure and if they didn’t, well then maybe the story was true. The children didn’t really believe in the large animals, after all there were never any footprints around the village and they had seen none in the forest. They decided that should there be no large animals, or grotesque monsters, then something else was stopping the trees from singing, those who suggested the trees were sleeping at night were shot down. Trees didn’t need sleep. They spend the day standing around, not doing anything, why would the need sleep?

A gentle breeze blew over the village, carrying the sweet sound of singing with them. The children stopped what they were doing and listened, too often the sound went unnoticed, but not today. It was faint and beautiful, they knew if they went into the forest the sound would be all around them. There had been stories of villagers that had stayed in the forest, simply sitting on the ground so they could listen to the music forever. No matter how many times they were brought back to the village, they would escape and wander into the woods again, occasionally returning for a few hours to visit, before disappearing again. The longest the people had survived had been a year. After that they were never seen again.

The little girl waited until everyone was asleep, then she carefully snuck from her house. It was agreed that they would meet at the well, and from there they would go into the forest. The night was bright, lit by the moon, but it was chilly. As she waited for him, she shivered. The boy soon appeared and together, they walked towards the woods, hands linked. Neither would admit they were afraid, agreeing that they were only holding hands so they wouldn’t get lost in the dark. They crept through the trees as quietly as they could until they decided they were deep enough, then, they climbed the largest tree in sight. They climbed halfway up, too high for anything to jump, and nestled in, getting ready for their long watch.

It was a few hours later that the girl woke, both she and the boy had fallen asleep, something was moving in the darkness. She shook the boy awake, and together they listened. It wasn’t long before they saw it, a black shape, lumbering along, making strange growling noises. They looked at each other and nodded, large animals roamed the woods. At day break they would climb down and return to the village. The creature stopped at the base of their tree, sniffing. The girl held her breath, waiting for it to continue. They were safe here at least, they were high up and nothing would be able to climb after them. The beast looked up at them and she screamed. A man’s face glared up at them, a horrific shriek burst from his lips. The boy and girl clung to one another, wishing it would move on. Slowly, the beast started to climb.

The next morning, no one could find the children and eventually the others told the adults what happened. They started to search the woods, hoping to find the missing children. They followed the children’s trail through the woods and to the tree they had climbed. Deep claw marks marred the bark, all the way to the branch the children had sat on. There was no blood and no further sign of the children. Slowly the trees began to sing, a soft, sad song, joined by two new voices.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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