Inktober in Writing, Day 1: Swift

So, there is this Inktober thing, where those who choose to do a drawing each day for the month of October, following a different one-word prompt each day. And I like this idea, but my own imagination tends to work more often in writing than drawing these days. So I have decided I am going to try it, but in whatever format inspires me on any given day - probably mostly writing, but you never know, there could be some drawing or photography or something in there too...

I'm starting two days late, so it may take me a little while to catch up, but for now I give you my first contribution, for the prompt "Swift":

Swiftly they fly overhead… To mortal eyes, just dark clouds, flung by chill winds across a grey October sky. Yet those who look beyond appearances sense them as much more.

The chill edge of the wind is not merely the breath of oncoming winter, but the icy touch of the grave. The veil is beginning to thin; the passage between worlds preparing to open.

Look: unfocus your eyes from the mundane world and see the movement of the autumn air, the spiralling eddies that lift the leaves, the chill that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, the flickers of something almost-seen in the corner of your eye, that vanishes if you turn to face it.

The air is thick with spirits. Around us they dance, the beloved dead, gathering before Samhain like flocks of birds preparing for migration, wheeling across the sky. 

They are the Sluagh, the host that ride the night sky, the spirits of the dead and the fae who ride with them. In ancient tales, to fall under their shadow was death or plague or madness, and an unwary traveller abroad on the wrong night might be swept up into the sky, to be carried as a shield in their deadly games, as they hurl poisoned darts at each other for sport, until eventually they tire of such amusements and allow the captives to fall to their death.

Though perhaps such stories come only from a fear of the dead, or at least of those dead not bound for a sterile heaven or sullen hell, but what the ballads called the bonny road between…

But now, few fear to step out on nights like this, beneath the soaring clouds, unless the monsters they dread wear a living, human face. And if the host cry out on finding us abroad, it is as soft as a whisper, a desperate plea as cold intangible hands caress your face: Notice us. See us. Touch us. Just once more… Remember. Please…

And their whispers go unheard by most. Except for those moments, very few, where on a night like this you suddenly shiver, and think perhaps you hear, just faintly, a whispered voice or the distant sound of bells… And look up to the sky where, for just a moment, the swiftly racing shadows overhead seem more than clouds.

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