By sean mcnulty
‘That’s a glacier,’ Littlewood said, when he spotted Father Aidan Stinson studying curiously the spangled architecture above them.
He did not know. Stinson had read about glaciers: yes, he had. But he didn’t really know. And it didn’t seem right to feed the Captain his failings anymore. He was still and all:
a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (!)
a Master of Sacred Theology (!!)
an ordained priest (!!!)
and twice a De La Salle spelling competition runner-up (!!!!): these were achievements he should fortify. He should spend what future he had preserving what reputation he had. So he looked up at the glacier and repeated: ‘Oh, I know--I know.’
They were moving again, up the abandoned path that reached around the first hill, and it led them into a network of hills, where they fell under the scrutiny of endless gloomy rock-face, and the dust around them compounded as though it was after air’s job.
‘We can’t go on like this. We’ll be walking forever and we’ll end up in nowhere forever.’
‘Ah, maybe we’re already there, Father,’ said Littlewood, evidently having him on. ‘Don’t sweat. Sure I’m only having you on.’
As they rumbled on through long corridors to nowhere, the walls seeming to get higher around them, they could sense the sun had appeared somewhere up above as the drafts of dirt-particles in their faces were yellowing with a sudden shimmer. But they couldn’t see the damn thing, being where they were. Ah, it didn’t matter. Time itself remained in shade.
Eerie, it all was. It was. And it had Stinson recalling the mind-wanderings of the astral projectionist: ‘Do you think Walter really saw this place like he said?’
‘I don’t know about any of that stuff – hard to make sense of it.’
‘A lot of what he said he saw we have seen. In a subtler register, at least.’
‘I won’t think ill of the man anymore. He was powerful-brave out there. Maybe there was something in what he was saying, who can be sure? Everything else on this trip has been fairly bananas.’
Secretly, Littlewood believed more than he was letting on. The Norwegian’s letter had been a turning point. He remembered Grimur speaking of a Norwegian traveller back in Torshavn: a man who ventured to this island aiming -similarly- to put a body to rest.
And Grimur also had tales of Gods and Devils to tell back then... ...
It was just after Katrine finished reading that letter to them that Littlewood had started on the whiskey hard.
They came to a circular clearing where the dust settled – an intersection of the hills – and found themselves within a ring of coarse stone wall. And the sun shone in and doused the place with its light. It had the look of a place of worship for some Pagan lot from a regrettable past, remarked Stinson.
They appeared to have come to the end of the pathway as they could see no other route. Indeed, there was nothing to see but wall. Except: straight across, from one of the walls, a dark hollow gaped back at them, quite obnoxiously. It was a broad opening, wide enough to stand a family of ten up for portraiture with two lumbering seven-foot tall twin sons among them.
‘Dear me, is that a cave?’ ‘Dear me, is that a cave?’