An excerpt from Days of Twilight and Mischief, due out next month!
That night, something else came to the door. We were unaware, as we slept, but later – much later, after my time in Dar’on – I would become acquainted with the creature and how it operated. Thus I can paint a clear account of its visit.
It came out of the shadows and shuffled across the field on all fours. Not as something normally meant to crawl on all fours, but like a human who chose to do so for some reason beyond common comprehension. So long had it chosen this method of travel that its back had stooped severely, becoming a hunched, deformed thing, and it moved in a swift, distorted fashion across the field. Somewhat ape-like, somewhat spider-like. Every motion twisted and flicked to create a freakish shadow that tricked the eye, appearing as often like an extension of the creature itself as it did a mere impression of it.
Around the manor and up to the door it scuffled, where it carefully opened the screen, raised a stringy, clawed hand and dragged a diagonal pattern of scratch marks across the face of the door.
It might have stopped there, leaving your average signature of claw marks to be attributed to any number of wild creatures. But it was only the first of four swipes. The second, it dragged diagonally across the first to create a many-layered X. The third went horizontally across the middle of the X, and the fourth vertically as if to connect the last compass points.
Yet it was not the symbol of a compass that would greet those who came to the doorstep of Manor Dorn from that day forward, but the likeness of a web. One final flourish of the creature’s claws, a perfect circle around the middle of the symbol, finished the representation.
Then, rather than dropping back to all fours to scurry away into the night, the creature looked upward into the acrid midnight sky and placed its strange hands against the face of Manor Dorn, and scurried straight up the side of the house and over the rooftop, down the other side, and disappeared in a ripple of field grasses.
In the morning, when I saw the symbol of a spider web scratched across our door, I would think to myself it was like Fate sealing Tane into our fold, sealing all of us together into the same house. I had brought him into our midst against my better judgment, and now we were all caught in the same web, strung together in an irrevocable binding of fate.
An ill feeling settled in my stomach, but there was nothing for it. I gazed a moment longer at the disquieting mark and then left it to its reign on our manor, not about to meddle with it lest I get further caught up in its snare.