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The Halloween Project 2018 Day 11: Cinque Terror - Riomaggiore

The Cinque Terror Quintet - A Ligurian Ghost Tale Part II - Riomaggiore - year 1685


The wish that Marco hoped, but could not pray for, was never granted. He had believed that in death, in the long jump and fall from Punta Mesco, the towering cliff above the Mediterranean, he would be freed. But that was not to be. Ghosts cannot die. He wandered as all ghosts do. Not far. But for many years. Many, many years. The flinty trails of broken stones, ever rising, ever descending, became his cold, steady sojourn. Mile after mile after mile he moved, slowly with resolute determination, as if to stop would be an acceptance. The seasons did not change, because Marco appeared only in October and if the rain should come as it often did in that autumn season, a glassine shimmer appeared to move along the cliffs. Locals saw it. It resembled something that they could not quite call into words. Those traversing the high country between villages avoided certain paths, at certain times, in October. "It is a shape," some would say. Others, "A light, a watery light." "And never walk the trails in October in the rain!" those very old, remembering the tales handed down from their grandparent's grandparents, would admonish the children. "Why, Nona?" the little curious ones would ask. "Creaturo sulla scogliera!" "The creature on the cliff!" they warned. And the children listened and did not venture into the hills. In October. In the rain.

Marco saw the living. He would brush up against them causing them to shiver and shake. He cared little for their labors or their communion. He walked, and simply walked more, existing in a floating mind that had been crushed almost 150 years earlier on the giant rocks below, and if he walked, he might one day come upon his son, also wandering. Perhaps trying to find his way home. Marco might finally free him from the horrors of the pirates and what they had done to his boy. After the long first century of his walking captivity Marco understood that he was not only cursed to move about the cliffside trails. He could, furtively, slowly, descend to a city below. There were no people he recognized, nor the name of any town, but much looked the same. Buildings of stucco and lathe, wood and nails perched above a bay like a piece of charmed pottery barely clinging to the edge of a table. People moved about and sometimes in the darkened shadow of a narrow, alley street, buildings close on either side, he could be seen. Especially in the rain. Older women, clad all in black and bent over by decades of work on their ovens, their sewing, even mending their husband's fishing nets, were most likely to see him. A shimmer, a movement of arms, even a torso, legs. "Mother of Jesus," they would exclaim, perform the sign of the cross three times and run off, if running is what an old Ligurian woman can do. He went to a town that he seemed to know, to a cobblestone street even more familiar. Stood with his back against a wall and peered at a house that looked like his own. He waited and waited, he returned every year. Every October. For 50 years. But no face of a woman, a wife that he had known, ever appeared outside that doorway. Franchesca was dead a century before Marco began standing, hoping for her, outside that door. She lived as a broken, sad old woman who waited for death with patience and faith and was calm when it embraced her. Marco came to realize he could move the material world. A rock on the trail could be kicked or even lifted and dropped. A twig snapped off a dried branch. A grape plucked from a vine. A black rage grew in Marco. A blind seething of ugly energy that forced itself through him into the natural world, growing stronger each decade and murmuring into reality. It was then he would search the cliffs and high mounted trails searching, stalking, finding. A lone walker, a peasant crossing from village to village. A grape harvester mounting a steep hill, basket grape laden. Even an old woman laboring to reach her high flung house in the hills. Marco would move as close as possible, wait in an arbor, around a limestone cliff, behind a gnarled tree. And push.

And revel in the horror and ecstasy of the release, the flailing arms and echoing scream, as he had felt his own years and years ago. Decades passed, one upon another. Octobers came and dwindled. Excuses and reasons from the town folk followed each death upon the mountainside. "A terrible accident," some would mutter to their neighbor as they stood over a coffin, "He was too young." "He was drunk. I am certain of it." "It was dark." "It was October." "It was raining." "Creaturo sulla scogliera." #

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