STORIES FROM THE “FAR AWAY TREE PROJECT”
ANITA MARIE MOSCOSO
FIRST PUBLISHED AT THE SOUL FOOD CAFE
VISIT THIS PAGE TO SEE
HOW I CREATED MY OWN
BEWARE OF FARAWAY
Hidden from the safe roads and safe streets and quiet parks and green forests and the sunlight is my hometown…its called Faraway and no one comes here on purpose.
Maybe it’s because everything here is covered with dust…the people, houses buildings trees and plants. I guess it could be because no one speaks loudly here, no one is awake here. Faraway is the place where nightmares live and once you’ve been to Faraway you can never really belong anywhere else again.
So what do we do here, Faraway from the rest of the world?
When the sunsets we like to go out to the Middle of the Desert where the Wells of Angra Lei are and we drop stones down into them and listen to them fall and fall and fall and sometimes we swear you can hear them hit the bottom…but of course that’s not true.
These Wells have never held water and they are out here, away from anything alive for a reason.
The air that comes up from the Wells of Angra is so poisonous one whiff could melt your heart in your chest and your poor eyes would run like rivers down your cheeks. Nothing has ever come up from those wells except for Death…and why should that surprise you?
It has to come from somewhere…Death you see comes from Faraway.
My Mother use to visit the Wells during the daylight, she would lean over the sides and whisper things down into the Wells and sometimes she would laugh and sometimes she would curse but she did it by daylight.
She was also very, very insane.
She was you see, from Faraway and nothing here is familiar or safe. Nothing Faraway is what you think it is.
Living in Faraway will change you.
Being from Faraway will damn you.
Like it did to my Mother…and what it did to me.
And what it will do to you, if you’re not careful of Faraway.
FARAWAY AT MIDNIGHT
There is a woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping and Death visits her from Faraway at Midnight.
Death finds her in her long dead garden tending to weeds and thorns and sticker bushes and poisonous plants and as she harvests and picks and adds each deadly plant to her basket woven from human hair Death shudders and hides in the Shadows and is grateful the Woman can’t see him.
All the same she knows Death is there and when she senses it, she reaches into her basket and lifts one of the plants to her lips and pushes it into her mouth. She chews and swallows and screeches into the darkness, “ Where are you? Why aren’t these working…someone tell me why this isn’t working! “
Death would squeeze it’s eyes shut if it had eyes, so instead it raises it’s pale cold hand to it’s empty eye sockets and covers it’s face the best it can. It’s fingers press against it’s mouth and it does this to keep from calling out, from screaming because the Woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping is a corpse and a shell and once long ago she murdered a man.
He was the husband of a woman who came from a place called Sawajinn, and a very long time ago the former resident of Sawajinn cursed the woman who is voiceless from wailing woman over her husband’s poisoned body
Her curse was simple and horrible.
The Weeping Woman would never die; she would never meet her own Death.
Instead she was cursed to meet her victim’s Death.
His Death comes from Faraway every night at Midnight and watches her from the upper branches of a dead twisted oak tree. Of course his Death can’t take her, it only visits her and then it leaves her at each sunrise.
Before it leaves Death shows her something it carries in its left hand.
It shows her a small bottle of white powder and it holds it up and the Woman sees it. She knows what it is, the little bottle once belonged to her, after all.
She puts her hands out and calls, “ Please, please give it to me, take me with you. I can’t live like this anymore! “
Death can see her in the half light and it can see the maggots and flies tangled in her hair, crawling from the corners of her eyes. It can smell her flesh rotting on her bones and it can hear the skin on her legs and back splitting apart.
I’m not your death. But I’ll visit you, I’ll never stop visiting you.”
“ I can’t.”
And as the Sunlight works it’s way into the shadows cast by deadly sweet blossoms and fragrant green leaves dripping with deadly venom Death leaves for Faraway and the woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping begins her wait for Death to visit at Midnight.
NIGHTFALL FROM FARAWAY
In my hometown, which is a place called Faraway, a man named Mr. Nightfall stands under a pear tree full of light green poisonous fruit and waits for the Sun to set.
Mr. Nightfall is my neighbor and our streets, like all the other streets in Faraway are lined with deadly fruit trees and deadly gardens. All these dark shady places are kept and tended by people with pale faces and empty eyes and here in our town Faraway no one is Sane and no one really lives because no one is really alive.
When Mr. Nightfall comes from Faraway sometimes he brings storms and in that wildness all you’ll see, all you’ll hear is Mr. Nightfall. You’ll know he’s coming and worst of all you won’t be able to stop him.
When Mr. Nightfall crosses your path and he settles over your town you’ll know he’s there because your skin will start to feel to tight and you won’t be able to pull air into your lungs.
Everything will seem…very Faraway.
That’ when you’ll know Mr. Nightfall is close enough to put out his cold, dark hand and lay it over your shoulder.
Once I followed Mr. Nightfall to a city with stores and cars and a coffee stand where the woman who served me wore a picture on her chest of a creature with stars in her hair.
I asked if the creature in the picture was from the Well of Angra Lei and the Woman squeezed the cup of coffee so tight at the sound of my voice that the top popped off and the scalding hot coffee filled her eyes and mouth and she didn’t cry out. Not even a little
The woman had turned to stone, her face was frozen into a mask and her eyes had rolled up into her head and I could hear her someplace deep inside screaming and screaming and screaming and she will never stop.
They never do when they are taken Faraway.
Mr. Nightfall didn’ come back for me, he never turns back but he did call out to me and I followed him through the town and the entire time he cursed and spat and hissed like one of the cats that’ not really a cat from back home in Faraway and he said, “They know I’m coming.”
“Of course they know you’re coming Mr. Nightfall, don’t they always?”
“No, not like this they haven’t known me like this for centuries I don’t like this Miss Praecox. No I don’t like it at all.”
This time the people in this little town by the sea knew Mr. Nightfall was coming. There were candles in windows and there wasn’t a soul on the street. They were locked behind doors and the curtains where drawn and they knew they were very aware Nightfall was coming.
As Mr. Nightfall crossed the city I stopped here and there and looked in windows and when I could I found people and I touched them, carefully, quietly with my left hand and I told them my name and their minds stopped liked old clocks.
I could hear it loud as thunder as gears and cogs and wheels that turn their minds
ground to a halt and I could hear what they took with them to Faraway.
” Enjoying your visit Miss Praecox?”
” I always do Mr. Nightfall.”
He reached out to pat me on the head and thought better of it, ” Just like you’re Mother, we were a team in our day to. We worked well together.
The Praecox have always done their best work with Nightfall.”
” So what’s happened here Mr. Nightfall, where is everyone?”
He held a newspaper up and showed it to me. I couldn’t read it of course and he ran a cold dark finger under the headline and read it to me.
” Hurricane Force Winds Strike Seattle, Power Outages State Wide, locals ready for Nightfall and freezing temperatures. They were ready for me this time. Lord I hate the press”
” Killjoys” I said with feeling.
” Well, there’s always tomorrow, isn’t there Miss Demetia Praecox?”
I agreed because everyone knows Nightfall comes from Faraway and sometimes it brings madness with it and it always will.
A STRANGE CHAPTER FROM THE STRANGE STORY OF
Mr. Erasmus Undercroft tends the cemetery in a place called Faraway.
He’s the Chief Gravedigger, the Lead Mortician and sometimes the Sole Mourner and Mr Undercroft smiles no matter what his duties are on any given day.
This is Mr Undercroft’s Home and he always welcomes visitors.
So go ahead and take a walk down that little white gravel path that runs like an artery choked with blood through this dark place in Faraway and you will come to a chapel with no windows that sits in the back of Mr Undercroft’s Cemetery.
It’s hidden among the nightshade and Wolfsbane and bright white flowers that smell faintly of smoke and no matter the time of day it’s always Nightfall here.
After you’ve made your way this far go ahead and enter the vestibule and you might see a dark blue casket with bright silver handles sitting all alone in the center of the Windowless Chapel.
If you are feeling overly confident go inside the Chapel itself and look down into the the casket and laying there in his finest, blackest funeral wear is a tall thin man who’s pale thin hands are crossed over his narrow airless chest.
That man is Mr. Erasmus Undercroft.
Let me prepare you; he will be smiling and his eyes are shut but you know he can see you all the same.
Once long ago before Mr. Eramus Undercroft came to Faraway he lived in a town called Riversleigh.
He tended the gardens at Riversleigh Manor until the day the Servants all disappeared and upon discovering “ something horrible in the Shed” the Riversleigh Family was scared enough to leave their home in the darkness and by foot to the next town which was twenty miles away.
The only living thing the Police found at the Manor was Mr Undercroft standing alone in his Gardener’s Shed smiling.
The headlines of the town’s newspaper declared:
” Where are the Servants of Riversleigh? ”
The mysterious question has been answered by
Grisly Find in the Gardner’s Shed…
“ What did you do to them Mr. Undercroft?” the Law had asked, “ What did you do to all 35 of those poor Souls?”
Mr. Undercroft opened his hand and dropped something onto the table and smiled his cadaverous smile and said, “ Why I sent them Faraway.”
On the table were teeth, 7 teeth and from then on for a very long time Riversleigh Manor was called “The House of the Seven Teeth” and no one locked the doors of Riversleigh
Because nobody would go near the house that went on living after everyone in it had died.
Eventually Mr. Undercroft went Faraway too, but before he left he stayed for a short time in a place called the Prefontaine Asylum for the Criminally Insane in a town called Ravenswood.
When the staff there disappeared and the Patients were found wandering the treacherous hillsides it was quickly noticed that all two hundred of them were all missing their left eye the people of Ravenswood decided it would be best to not go looking for Mr. Eramus Undercroft.
They hoped and hoped he was Faraway…and he was.
That was long ago and now in the shade and fog shrouded village of Faraway Mr. Eramus Undercroft drives a black hearse that is so dark it’s invisible when the sunsets and the sun always sets when it knows Mr. Undercroft is out. He digs graves and feasts on the poisonous fruits that grow in Faraway and when it rains the little droplets of water hiss against his skin.
Mr. Undercroft’s best friend is a man called Mr. Nightfall and when he’s lonely he calls on Miss Praecox and they picnic in the ruined Cemetery Mr. Undercroft calls home.
Across the street from the Cemetery is a little house painted light blue.
It looks empty and should be empty but of course it’s not.
It’s the home Mr.Anthropophagite and Mr. Undercroft has admired Mr.Anthropophagite for a very long time. He just wishes that his pale friend wouldn’t do his own special brand of gardening at the Cemetery.
When the Wardens of Sawajinn come to Faraway in search of Mr.Anthropophagite who lives there inside the Blue House of Shadows it’s Mr. Undercroft who sends them away with little cloth bags full of presents from Mr. Undercrofts days at Prefontaine.
Nowadays Mr. Erasmus Undercroft rides out in his dark black hearse at Midnight and he looks for things to take Faraway.
When he brings them back he turns them loose in Faraway and sometimes he buries them and sometimes he feasts on them and the juices turn his teeth black and make his eyes
Water and the tears eat away at his face like acid.
Mr Erasmus Undercroft is the Chief Gravedigger and Funeral Director in Faraway and he buries the things best forgotten, the things you hope are Faraway.
Only sometimes for fun and it amuses him every single time Mr Erasmus Undercroft brings them back from Faraway.
When his passengers leave his car and swarm and ruin and corrupt everything in their paths you will hear in every storm, fire, war, and plague ridden town he visits…one sound above all the rest.
It’s screaming you’ll hear, and if you listen close you will find it’s not many voices its always one voice and it is not screaming it’s laughing.
This additional story was inspired by a project that just started at the Soul Food Cafe:
it’s called the ” SOUL FOOD ALPHABET
and can be found at:
The science of alchemy is the science of the conversion of things into other species”Dominicus Gundissalinus, scholastic philosopher.
(flourished ca. 1150)
Faraway at Riversleigh
Riversleigh Manor has been left in darkness and behind the Black House in the Gardner’s Shed Mr. Undercroft, The Undertaker from the town of Faraway is packing a bag.
His pale blue face is smiling and his hair is combed back and his suit has been cleaned and ironed and on his work table among the dusty jars and rusted pruning shears and dirt encrusted garden trowels are shiny sharp tools with curved hooks, thin razor sharp edges, jagged edges and bone handles. As he packs he takes inventory of the clean tools with his long skeletal fingers, not his eyes and when he’s done he carefully folds the tools up in a white linen cloth decorated in blue ink.
Then he places the bundle into his black leather case and snaps it shut.
“Leaving us Undercroft” a voice says from the window, “leaving us?”
Undercroft doesn’t look up because he knows there is nothing to see. Instead he looks down and says to the rotted floorboards “not for long, don’t worry I’ll be back.”
“What a shame. We do hate you Undercroft.”
“Likewise” Erasmus Undercroft snaps as he pulls the bag off of the table “likewise to be sure.”
As he leaves the little shed behind the Black House the darkness follows him.
It always does.
Erasmus watches Riversleigh disappear; she’s hidden herself behind an orchard that has been pretending to be green and alive.
No more pretending now.
He can see the windows crack, the marble fountain in the Courtyard crumble and the curtains turn to dust on their rods. Doors are slamming shut and rusted tumblers are falling into place and locking themselves.
Erasmus can hear the floorboards settle and spilt, he can hear support beams crackle and snap and struggle to hold themselves together. He can feel the Riversleigh’s foundation buckle and crumble and turn to dust under the house.
After its done Mr. Undercroft places his hat on his head, and smiles at the dead house and waves a little before he turns and walks into the hills.
It could have been days, or weeks or years or minutes before Mr. Undercroft arrived at the Abbey. On that first night the Black Monks of Fallen passed him on the road up to the gates and he nodded a greeting and they laughed back and one called out, “Good luck to you Undercroft “
Erasmus startled at the sound of his own name. He wasn’t use to being seen…felt but not seen and he frowned a little and started to think…
Mr. Undercroft found his place in the Abbey, he’s in the Catacombs.
In the miles and miles of tunnels, among the bones and crypts and walls that whisper he was whistling and humming and unpacking his bag and when the door behind him swung open “Kamahra!” a voice calls into the darkness, “before we loose you down there why don’t you take the time now to come upstairs and say hello and have something to eat. You must be famished after your long trip.”
Mr. Undercroft doesn’t answer, there’s only the darkness and the sound of his unpacking, then he remembers to say in the dead woman’s voice “ Starving” Mr. Undercroft says as we puts on the dead woman’s face “I’m Starving”.