The Repellers of Boddi Craig

The Lighthouse3
Artwork by Joshua Insole

Excerpts from the memoirs of Dali Fiddlon, transcribed by Dafyd Sancaid — 1843

I put out my own eyes with a knife at the age of thirteen. I had to. You see, I had the honour of being chosen, and only the best from the flock get picked.

The blade was blessed by the Father before it was given to me. Much ceremony was made about the event; the Change is a revered occasion. It happens only once every eighty or so years. Or at least, it should only happen that often, if all goes according to plan.

I wasn’t the only one, although I was the only one to lose his eyesight. Bidar and Dafyd also lost things; Bidar his hearing and Dafyd the ability to speak. A hot spike was pushed through Bidar’s ear canal until his eardrum was punctured and cauterised. Dafyd excised his own tongue with a heated blade, the metal sealing the flesh as it passed through. We had each practiced our own self-mutilations repeatedly prior to the Change (with dummy tools, of course), in order to ensure that the process would not be fatal. Accidental suicide would damn our eternal souls, as well as being a waste of our potential.

Before the Change, we were often told the tale of Araf the fool. We all knew his story, of course. That didn’t stop the Father from ensuring it was not forgotten. Araf had inadvertently pushed the spike too far into his ear and fatally penetrated his brain. He died right there on his knees before the flock, blood trickling from the orifice as the Father looked on in grim silence. May God have mercy on Araf’s soul. I can’t imagine the shame that his parents felt, as they watched their son ebb away on those stony steps; from the honour of being chosen to the disgrace of sin.

“Dali,” said Bidar, the day before the Change. “What if I do the same as poor old Araf?”

“Then you’ll have done Dafyd and I a favour. I’d rather not share my watch with a stookie.”

Fortunately, Bidar did no such thing. Neither did Dafyd, and — of course — neither did I. Some may consider my words harsh, but it’s true. It’s an honour to be chosen, due to the gravity of our charge. The Three must rely on each other, not just to protect our trinity, but to protect those whom [redacted] would seek to destroy.

Some call us the Senseless Monks, which always brings a smile to my face. Others call us the Repellers, which is a bit less poetic and a bit more to-the-point. Both names are correct, in their own way.

After the ceremonial spoiling of our bodies, Dafyd, Bidar and I were sent to Castell Boddi Craig — a unique fortress that sits at the northernmost point of the land. Below, jagged black rocks jut upwards from the ocean, like the rotten teeth of Cythraul himself (or so I’ve been told by Bidar). The waves that break atop the serrated shoreline are tough and relentless, and at no point during the changing seasons do the tumultuous seas yield. The isolated castle is particularly distinctive because of the lighthouse that thrusts upwards into the air, high above the stony turrets.

Castell Boddi Craig was built atop a gaping hole that exists in the impenetrable rock of the cliff. I’ve heard that prior to the castle’s construction, it gazed up into our world like an unblinking eye. It has been said that the hole drops into nothingness and can never be filled. Whether that is true or not, I still don’t know; I doubt if anyone has ever tried. But what I know is true, without a shadow of a doubt, is that something evil dwells within.

[Redacted]

I know not from whence [redacted] came, neither do the other two. Before the First Father blessed the land and built the thick stone walls as a means of containment, [redacted] brought unchecked wickedness to our island. Husbands strangled wives, thumbs digging into flesh, windpipes crushed; mothers cast infants from the cliffs, wailing bundles dropping into the surf if they were lucky and spilling onto the rocks if they weren’t; children burned down homes whilst families slept, flame engulfing timber, the aroma of crisping flesh wafting into the night; captains wrecked ships upon the shore, the fortunate sailors dying upon impact, the less so drowning under wave or taken by the behemoths of the deep. Thank God for the spiritual revolution at the turn of the last century. How much more wanton destruction would [redacted] have caused if we’d not seen the light and cast off the shackles of our former wicked ways? I shudder to think.

With the castle in place and the earth cleansed by the touch of God, [redacted] receded further into the fissure, where the light never reaches and the dampness never dries. And — praise God — [redacted]’s powers diminished.

But [redacted] is far from defeated. It is a constant struggle, an eternal battle between good and evil. [Redacted] tries to claw the way back up from the depths. That’s where we come in. You see, our mutilations serve a purpose. Where some might see disability, there is in fact protection. Our disfigurements prevent evil thoughts from completely taking hold. Unspoiled men cannot dwell within the castle’s walls. We learned that one the hard way.

So, we keep the soil on Boddi Craig holy, to maintain the protection and to repel [redacted]’s advances. [Redacted] never sleeps, and so never do the Three. There is always a minimum of one to keep watch, even if that one is blind.

And we keep the lighthouse lit. At all times. Since my Three have been here, not a single ship has spilled its guts across the stony knifepoints at the base of the cliffs, nor has an act against God been committed upon the edge of the precipice. I take great pride in that, as do Bidar and Dafyd.

I sometimes try to imagine what the lighthouse looks like when it’s in operation, beacon flaring. It’s one of my few regrets in life — that I did not get to witness the saviour of Boddi Craig in all its glory prior to undertaking my duties as one of the Three. Does it look like the very Sun itself, burning in the night? Does it look like celestial fire from the Heavens, soothing all who see its glow? Alas, I will never know. Not until I shuffle off this mortal coil once my duty here at Boddi Craig is complete.

 

4th March 2020

 

Written for the March 2020 #BlogBattle

20 thoughts on “The Repellers of Boddi Craig

  1. aebranson

    I’m glad we might be revisiting this place, eerie as it is! Toward the beginning of the story, as I came to the word Flock, I at first envisioned a browbeaten people forced to serve some degenerate authorities. The first mention of the Father didn’t change that opinion, but as the story progressed my perception of the characters did change. In other words, nice character development!
    The twisted trinity of see-hear-speak no evil was an intriguing touch. I also liked how you used [redacted] for, ahem, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. 😉 Speaking of names, I did contemplate if Satan was really the right moniker for this sort of alternate universe setting. Maybe one of his more obscure designations might have been more effective? Just a thought….
    This short story holds the potential for lots of depth to come. I do hope we read more about these guys!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joshua G. J. Insole

      Thanks, A. E.! I’m glad you liked it — I really had a blast writing it, I definitely think there’s more I’d like to tell. We’ll see if I can work the next prompt word to fit. 🙂

      I think you’re right — I actually contemplated the very same, but wasn’t sure. I’ve since changed it to the other word I was thinking of. Thanks for the suggestion, it’s much appreciated! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gary

    I’ve taken a while to get back to comment, so my apologies for the delay. In fairness I was digesting this piece. Why? Because I feel it’s one of your best (thus far) pieces of writing. It feels like you know this world already. The Senseless Monks works on two levels, one deprived of a sense and two an outside perception they are indeed without any sense. It drifts of indoctrination to occult to sect. Are they performing ceremony for the sake of misguided myth, or actually protecting the wider community? The rationale of why they do the self mutilation acts is excellent. I am tuning into the Headless Monks in Dr Who. Certain parallels of belief/indoctrination.

    I also note the date stamp method I use occasionally right at the start too. Such a good way of setting what follows up without wasting words! As Abe (an accepted tag name for A.E. after I erroneously called him Abe some prompts ago!) said use of [redacted] oozes the old magics of power in names. Speak it not lest fate be tempted.

    I rather feel there is no “might” return to this world, but more a must.

    Proper enjoyable read Joshua

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joshua G. J. Insole

      No apologies necessary Gary — especially considering my delayed response times as of late! 😂

      Thank you so much, far too kind! I have had the idea of this twisted little island brewing for a while — as mentioned on one of our other threads, I thought I’d explore it through the prompt. I really would like to further expand upon the points you highlighted — especially the questions regarding whether or not they’ve been duped by mass-delusion or if they are in fact fighting a great evil. I think it’s a very interesting idea — links back with our slightly philosophical conversation regarding humans and cognitive biases!

      Ha, yes! I was running tight on the word limit, and was a bit stuck. I remembered you’d done the same to set the scene in a short space, so I thought I’d steal the idea! Many thanks for sowing that seed! 😀 I actually have a special name picked out for [redacted], but I think I’ll come to that individual at a later date… 😈

      Many thanks for you comment, Gary! It really is appreciated. I definitely would like to come back here, but whether or not it becomes a monthly thing for BB or simply whenever I can work the prompt in here and there is another matter!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        We both seem to be behind in terms of time to reply! For me it’s adapting to the current Corona situation. Should I or shouldn’t I return to the I Am Corona story???

        Not too kind, just saying it like it is. This was by far the best written piece I’ve seen if yours on here. It certainly didn’t look like a stream of conscious type of work. It’s obvious you have been toying with this for a while. I feel our philosophical debates and constant feedback are exactly what King describes in terms of writing buddies. Constructive comments not intended as critique, but it through in ideas or comments that make the writer challenge their work better. Be nice to see you roll both concepts out as testers in prompts though. One the duped case and the other some great darkness…or…could “duped” even be a seed the darkness fosters to get rid of out senseless monks?

        Another good sign too….if word count becomes tight it’s saying more is still to be explored. I’m also pretty sure I’ve nicked the stage setter from somewhere too! That said I’m oddly a fan of quotes from fictional opus magna when doing the Amanuensis pieces.

        Must try and get mine done today too… talk about last minute!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        I’m incredibly behind, as you’re aware! I intend to catch up entirely by the time the next prompt comes out on Tuesday. I hope to have responded to everyone and read/commented on the stories that I haven’t yet (yours included, of course!). I’m intrigued to see if you returned to the Corona story! No spoilers, please — I look forward to reading it! 😀

        Thank you very much, Gary! I very much appreciate the honest feedback, makes me want to try even harder with the next one! I’m very excited to get back to Boddi Craig, even if it’s not exactly a tourist destination. 😉 I very much value our back and forth conversations on our respective works — I’ve really found them to be invaluable. I honestly feel like I’ve learned so much since starting this blog up almost a year ago (how time flies!). I will certainly have to think about these two concepts. It might be cool to explore both from flawed narrators — do we trust their perspectives, and so forth?

        Yes, I’ve noticed that my short stories fall into two camps: the first are stories that are nice and neat, and feel completely finished once I’ve left. Others, I wish I could extend the word limit and just keep going, as I feel like I’m not telling the “whole” story. I want to return, as a feeling of almost compulsion!

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stealing techniques from other writers, as long as you make ’em your own! It’s why I think reading others’ work is almost as important as writing — you can learn so much and spot new things you can incorporate into your own work. Much like that Bill Nye quote I posted on the other thread — I reckon the same goes for writers! It’s why I like to read as many of the BB entries as I can, too. In addition to supporting and encouraging the other writers, it’s also great to see different styles, voices and approaches. Some comedic, some action-oriented, some horror, some fantasy. Can learn something from every participant of the BB!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        Obviously I am because so am I!

        Bit late for spoilers now though as you’ve read it and commented lol. Might consider Corona again as that story has mileage. If you do read God Strain I got stuck with it’s origin other than an alien assault whose first wave was a novel virus using a slightly different dispersion mechanism. That and a way to actually see us surviving as a species after. Now I’ve an idea of who might be resilient and I’ve considered Corona as the AI that creates it. Sparrows again as that concept predated Covid by 12 months.

        I see your excitement peeled into this months prompt too. I have read it through my BB admin protocols. Not commented yet as I’m catching up here first and on my blog comments. It’s on the must do list though as I’m quite keen on your senseless monks 😱

        One thing I’ve found with short stories (wrt my mind) is I rarely write with the intention of it being a one off. They always want more which is why I’ve tonnes of back story or spin out of written books to explore loose ends. Corona was new though. Intentionally a one off, but I did do a follow up and now it’s waiting. Same with the gothic story…that is something I always wanted to have a bash at.

        I think you’ve hit another King offering. If you don’t read widely then you do gain the tools to write well. Bit like the adage there are no new ideas, just different ways of delivering old ones. Not 100% behind that, but analysing books does throw up the concept more and more. I now lean toward good writers as those that do it well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Haha, it seems we take turns in falling behind and catching back up again, Gary! Life, eh?

        Life imitates art imitates life imitates… Eerie, how we think of these things and then real life comes knocking, isn’t it? That’s a really cool idea for the story — you might send some conspiracy theorists into a tizzy! 😂

        Yeah, I’m really feeling the energy for this little world. I have a feeling the next few BB entries will be a look at Boddi Craig (if I can work the prompt word in a way that fits!).

        Interesting that you say that! My short stories fall into two camps, the former that, as you say, always want more and I want to keep pulling at the loose threads, and the latter which feel like a bullet. Bang and it’s done, there’s no more. I suppose that gives me an idea of what kinda stories would work well as fully-fledged novels, and which ones wouldn’t. Like you with Corona and your gothic tale — have a go at what you fancy in short sections, see if it’s viable, then expand on it from there! It’s from reading your interconnected pieces that I was inspired to give it a go with the world I’ve had brewing in the back of my mind, so, many thanks for that, Gary!

        Same, I’m not sure if I agree entirely with the no new ideas mentality either. I think you’re right in regards to good writers being those that are good at twisting old approaches. If I may use a musical analogy, I think that’s why the late, great Neil Peart was such a fanastic drummer — he didn’t reinvent the wheel, he just use the same rudiments as everyone else, just with a really fresh approach combined with excellent technique. I think his work ethic and approach to creativity is something we can all learn from!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        Bit like a relay race where being handed the baton requires none hasty finishing. I rather think I need to ease up, breathe and do some mindfulness. Call in the present moment and stop rushing about. Undiscovered muscles are beginning to groan. Never had that writing so obviously that’s a healthier career move… well apart from mental angst after a deep mind palace experience….not sure I’ve touched on that one with you yet!

        Conspiracy theories I actually love…not because there’s very often anything bound in fact, but for the out of the box thinking trains. Great for the imagination after science experiences call for more logical and factual approaches. Maybe that might help me compile a conspiracy theory tale ha, ha.

        Short stories are excellent for testing concepts and for tightening writing. Just not enough words to enter verbosity and filibustering. I’ve written posts on NaNo too about positive spin on “failing.” Better to crash at 10K words than bang on with a project that’s told you it’s not working. That’s something I need to tighten too. Drop the dead wood as ideas aren’t short.

        There’s a new concept here lol. Someone being inspired by my approach! Heck, pay attention to part 3 in my pitch for “Brooch”. I’m not spoiling it, but that part I was thinking of our discussions!

        Very true. Why reinvent wheels when you can use them to push your own cart? I don’t actually think about the old versus new strategy when writing. I just do it. Granted I’m aware King has influenced big time. But most of that is from his book on writing more than actual pitches… Although the Dark Tower world build is not too disparate to my version….old idea in new words?

        I think your work here definitely has conspiracy fuel. Drawing parallels between your monks and real ones. I could talk all day about religion, it’s history and ties to power that make the core beliefs rock a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        I think we could all do with a bit of mindfulness, Gary. Breathe and be in the here and now — words of wisdom. I’ve heard of mind palaces, but I’ve never actually *properly* tried it myself!

        I also love a good conspiracy theory for much the same reasons, Gary! They can sometimes come so out of left field as to catch one off-guard. They’re also highly entertaining. Did you catch the “Behind the Curve” documentary on the flat earth society? Fascinating!

        I think it’s very telling that my best ideas are my most highly-edited ones — were I struggled to stay in the word limit. When I’m given free range, it’s all over the place. Maybe I need to tighten up my writing a bit, especially on the WIP… But, as mentioned, that’s for the editing passes!

        I think we as creators are the sum of our inspirations — take what we love, throw it in a blender, then do our own “twist” on it. I like to imagine it as an ever-branching tree — he inspired him, and she inspired that, and she took inspiration from this and that, which inspired him, and so on forever.

        I think religion is fascinating, as are thoughts on deities and spirituality — I could also talk about it all day! I’m cautious about accidentally upsetting someone’s sincerely held beliefs, but I genuinely think it’s all tremendously interesting. I remember watching a gripping documentary on the Jonestown incident fairly recently — awful, but impossible to look away.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        I wasn’t aware of the mind palace as an actual concept before encountering it accidentally. It fitted what I do perfectly. Zone into the world and merely scribe the happenings. Trouble is it is totally immersive. It’s why I need a dedicated space with no interruptions. Plus a climb back to reality. It can mess up head space a bit. It’s also addictive escapism 😳

        My own writing is subject to minimal editing on here too. Once over, but mostly for typos. I find it really hard to edit deeply because that alters the whole context of scenes. I tried to edit something out of a book. Couple of nefarious scenes that aren’t my preferred writing context. They wrote themselves in. Trying to extract them caused a huge character breach. They affected the mental make up of the core person concerned. Rather than adding value by removing it, I feel it detracted from the character. A process being done to reduce offence to readers, rather than the story. It’s the one book I’ve done combing over cursing with dubious activities. Although it shows growth as it evolves away from the MH and into the multiverse. Parts of it I’m sure you’d empathise with.

        I hear you on caution wrt religious debates too. I feel writers explore things like that deeper than most. Same with people and various events. Trying to unlock motives and reasons across the spectrum. The deal there being to write a good antagonist you have to angle it all at them, or it, being the protagonist in THEIR world. Otherwise it’s just some bad thing with no real aim except to be a foil for the main character. I often see that in writing too. It’s one reason why impossible situations arrive with some ad hoc solution lobbed in to ensure good wins. An overdose of OOC influence maybe?

        If you don’t understand the motivation of an antagonist then where does it leave the plot?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        I shall have to give it a proper go then, at some point in the future. Although I may have to be cautious if it’s as addictive as you say! Living with just my partner, I’ve got plenty of free and quiet space that I can dedicate to such a task.

        I think I’ve gotten a bit better at editing as I’ve gotten more experience — that kinda zoom out approach, stop looking at your work like a writer, start looking at it like a reader. Mostly comprehension stuff — is this bit confusing, do you have to read it a few times to get the full gist, could I make it clearer? I think, in reference to your nefarious scenes, that if they serve the story, the character arc, then they should be left in, if they are just there to shock, then it serves no purpose and should get the axe. Like a character’s death, it shouldn’t be done purely to surprise or shock (although it certainly can result in that!), it should be to serve the story and characters — if it does that, then you can play with the shock factor knowing full well it has earned its place in the story, as opposed to being gratuitous.

        I know exactly what you mean. I see it too. Some writers put so much effort into their protagonists, really flesh them out and develop them, and then the story crumbles because of a crap bad guy. The villain has to do more than simply oppose the hero, they have to have their own wants and desires — clear to understand, not just vague “they’re evil ‘cos they’re evil”.

        I think the scariest villains are the ones whose motives we understand, whom we could see ourselves becoming, under the right (wrong?) circumstances. I think the protagonist and the antagonist are purely based on perspective. We all think we’re the hero, nobody thinks they’re the villain. But are we the villain in someone else’s story?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary

        When I used it before it escalated writing word counts to a chapter a week or more. Bit frustrating looking back as it’s a novel every three months!! Oh for happier days and loads of mental WTF!

        I also found the more I wrote the less editing was necessary as it sharpened up the writing, typos excepted as they always creep in with pantsing along.

        Said book has the main character cursing a lot too initially. Not aloud in dialogue, but in her own head. I tried removing the nefarious bits, of which there are two and it started to collapse her character profile. The text was seamless too which needed a major rethink to large sections. All that seemed to lose who she was. Same with the cursing. Take it away and her voice was less powerful. I say her, but you already met her in exchange with the Amanuensis by the name of Rose.

        Obviously my writing after that avoids both scenarios mostly. Swearing does appear if the character demands it. You just won’t see t on my blog lol.

        Villains so need a full motive to function. I think I said before you must explore them as being the protagonist in their world with the antagonist being the actual protagonist… if you follow that 🙃

        It gives them depth and done right can invoke some reluctant empathy. Evil as a tag only switches me right off as a reader.

        Spot on though, we are the villains in someone else’s story for sure. For example if the planet were sentient what species would it most despise?

        Liked by 1 person

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