1. Magnetic Force
I sit here in my garden at a table and chairs of green plastic. The sun is shining warmly, though my bare feet are cold against the patio. The lawn needs mowing. Weeds force their way through the flagstones. Lorries roar down the street behind the house. And none of it is real to me.
He did warn me. I can't blame him, though in my emotions - irrational as they are - I suppose I do. But it really wasn't his fault that I refused to listen, and now I must either be silent or be 'cured'.
This is no way to start a report! Of course you'll call it fiction if I don't give you the facts, and I've been trained better. Forget what I've just written, and I'll begin again.
My name is Jasmine Jane Baxter, and I am a researcher into the paranormal for the magazine 'Fortean Times'. I see this doesn't help my case. Few people are aware of the real, scientific, scepticism that goes into producing our jaunt through the regions of the bizarre each month. But I digress.
It began on Saturday 11th May 2001, in the John Rylands Library in Manchester (England). A question about accident foci - smaller or less well known versions of the 'Bermuda Triangle' - sent in by one of our readers had lead me to research areas where - for want of a better term - electromagnetic weirdness was known to occur. I paged for days through accounts by terrified aviators, detailing control systems failure, unexplained mists, the sudden movement of the plane from one position to somewhere hundreds of miles distant; the loss of hours of time in what, by experience, was mere minutes.
There was far too much of this evidence for it all to be coincidence. Believers of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis cite it as proof that aliens walk among us, their astonishing technology interfering with our mundane works on some high, spiritual level. But the true Fortean spirit is a blend of open-mindedness and the ability to doubt everything. I have never been a Believer.
Instead I mapped the 'triangles' on top of the most detailed chart I could find of the Earth's magnetic field, and found - with some excitement - that they corresponded (mostly) to places where the lines of force did a little 'kink'.
Straightforward enough, I thought, and that was where most scientists would stop, confident that they had found a natural explanation. But I had more rigour than that. I wanted to know what could prompt a magnetic field the size of the Earth's to jiggle, to warp, in such odd ways. I left an enquiry with Michael Hambly, Professor of Physics at UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology). Then came the Reader's Question; 'Were ley lines involved?'
Of course there are people who will tell you ley lines are the source of every unexplained phenomenon in the world. If it isn't aliens you can bet it's either Atlanteans, Ascended Masters or Ley Lines. But far be it from me not to test any hypothesis, however strange, so the overcast morning of 11th May found me clutching my umbrella and forcing my way down 'Princess Street' in the early rush hour to get to the John Ryland's Library before it filled with students.
The library is a glorious, red brick, arts-and-crafts movement, piece of fabled history in the middle of Manchester's busiest shopping street. Its brick facade is stained black by traffic fumes, but inside it's a cool haven of vaults, stained glass and decorative tile, taking the mind back to a period of the Middle Ages that never actually existed. A fantasy building, but somehow all the more lovely for it. They chain their books to the shelves there, as though they're uniquely aware of how dangerous knowledge can be. And the books themselves are the kind of tomes Harry Potter would kill for - huge manuscripts, delicately illuminated by hand, vellum pages either brittle or faintly greasy to the fingertips, folding more like fabric than paper.
Not the best place for research on Electro-magnetic anomalies, but a gold mine of the earliest documents ever written about the ley lines.
Enough enthusing about the Library! To cut a long story short, I took my acetate map of the 'triangles' and laid it down on the translucent ivory of an ancient sketch of the lines of 'Earth Force', the 'Dragon Paths' that supposedly move chi or spirit power by inscrutable means about the globe. Only the sheer impressiveness of the library's gloom stopped me from squealing aloud. Over ninety percent of the EM anomalies occurred on the lines! Over sixty percent occurred within two to three miles of a Dolmen, a Henge, or a Standing stone.
Bloody Hell! I thought, One of our readers is right about something!
You don't photocopy the only manuscript of Fanshaw's 'Grammarie of Auncient Puisannce', so I whipped out my digital camera and snapped a picture to enlarge on the PC at home, then I took myself out for a celebratory coffee and cake at 'Ronnies', phoning the editor on the way there.
"Geoff, you're not going to believe what I've found!"
[Transcript of the phone conversation is enclosed as document no.1 in the notes.]
As a result of which two days later I drove into the small, Cornish, seaside village of Pen-Golloth, loaded down with measuring equipment and cameras, and in dire need of a lodging house, something to eat and something to cheer me up. I had argued that I be allowed to investigate the stone circle at Aix-au-Provence - which was fully on dry land and in some lovely wine-growing country. I could do my job and get a tan at the same time. But Geoff, the cheapskate, had insisted I go to Pen-Golloth, where, due to the country falling into the sea, the entire Henge was underwater, half a mile from the shore. 'You can hire a boat' he said, unmoved by my protests.
Here follows excerpts from my diary of that time. Thankfully, though I love gadgets, I haven't quite got round to keeping my diary on one. This was in a leather-bound notebook of handpressed paper (there's a man with a stall in Oxford who makes them), and hence it survived.
13th May 2001.
Found a nice little B+B. Lady v.chatty and nosy, so went out. Saw 'Fellowship of the Ring' again - it's a good film, but not a patch on the book. Tolkien just seems more...I dunno, *authentic*? Particularly here. Landscape here very Celtic - hills and heather, turf, small flowers, wind hissing past weathered stone. Seagulls cry above a sea of pewter. Made me think of Belfalas or maybe Cirdan's haven near the Shire. Can't remember what it's called.
Phone call from Prof Hambly not encouraging. No proof, he says, of existence of accident foci like the triangles, so how can they correspond to anything? EM variations 'probably' caused by unusually high concentrations of metals in the Earth's mantle at that point. 'Have they checked and found metal?' I ask, 'No, but I'm sure they will,' he says. 'I'm certain, anyway, that there's nothing supernatural about it.' Bloody typical! No use talking to him again.
Found a bloke hiring out boats and set up EM monitoring equipment onboard so it can take readings of the ambient levels overnight. Feel sick and excited and depressed all at once. I won't find anything, of course, I never do. But what if this time there really is something there? What if something weird happens *to me*? Not a hundred percent sure I want it to.
14th May 2001
Got on board at 8am after very unsettled night. (Though 'onboard' is a bit too grand a word for what is basically a clinker-built rowing boat with an outboard engine attached.) Attached plastic wrapping to all the equipment in case the 'triangle' turned out to involve freak storms, and told the bloke at the boatyard what time to expect me back. On pretext of checking whether my watch was slow, synchronized my watch with his. Set off at 8.15 in a nor-norwest direction - the GPS is keeping track of that. I dunno all the nautical terms, but it seemed very slow. Got to where the Henge should be at 9.56, going round some pretty coastline, and have been sitting here since.
There's no apparent reaction from the monitors. The sun's out - lovely and warm. And it's so quiet. No gulls here. The cliffs, half a mile away, look far more remote, and - except for a car ferry in the blue distance - it's like a genuine wilderness. If I lean out, the water is clear enough so I can see - or imagine I see - bulks of grey stone, the shaping imprint of stone axes still visible on them, lying half covered with sand and weed. The weed is green and lush and the ocean bed is lit with green-gold light as the sun shines. There don't seem to be any fish.
Wonder how long I wait for something to happen before I give up.
Oh, look, finally lost sight of the car ferry. Now I'm alone. Feel very sleepy after bad night, but keep slapping myself to stay awake.
Bored. Whisp of cloud in the distance. My back feels itchy. *Really* itchy! The hairs on my arms are standing up, and when I move sparks of static arc from my clothes. The GPS just switched itself off... Ah! And the compass is spinning. Oh hell! This is it! It's really happening. It's happening to *me*! Bloody Hell! Where did all that cloud come from? It's getting cold. It's *freezing*! The monitors - I need to check the readings...
Oh God, what's happening? Oh God!
Date: Unknown, day 2.
I...I don't know what to write. Have I been 'abducted'? Or is this a tale out of the less popular, more ancient mythologies? Have I stepped in a faerie ring, like Rip Van Winkle? And when I step back out again will a hundred years have passed in one night, leaving me orphaned from my own time?
Funny how the elvish hypothesis seems so much more ridiculous, but fits the facts so much better. It just goes to show the power of fashion on thought.
Well. I'm here to observe, so that's what I'll do. Let's start with where the last diary entry broke off.
The temperature kept dropping. The water in my breath came out as bursts of snow - fast little snowstorms because I was panting, panicked. The compass beat against its glass like a bird trying to escape. When I got the GPS switched back on it was only to have it tell me I was in China, no, Siberia, no New Zealand, Central America, half way up the Andes. Thick, unnatural cloud curled about me - a dense grey, sparkling with lightnings, moving with sinuous grace, like steam from the noses of dragons in Japanese screen prints.
The boat jolted. I screamed. I remember that time lengthened, and I had time to think that I shouldn't scream - it was too girly - and to decide that now was not the time to worry about my dignity, and that if I could not scream now, when could I? So I screamed.
A sickening sensation of falling. My stomach lurched. The boat must been above the sea at some point because it now came down again with a great hollow boom, bellyflopping into a strong current. Water surged over the side and over all the equipment, while part of me screamed again, and another part - which was surprisingly calm - struggled to get the outboard motor running.
I succeeded just as the cloud began to thin around me, turning dove grey, then - unnatural as everything about it - becoming a sheet of rain that fell musically into the river and poured itself away. And I, gawking, stupefied, numb with adrenaline and stress, found myself looking out on a steep shelved valley full of waterfalls. The air was scented with pine-resin and water, moss, and the grass-greenness of wildflowers growing lush under a cool sun.
There was no sea.
There was no England, no Cornwall, no chalk downs or lighthouses, no tourist traps or tea houses, and I had never smelled an air so clean.
Alright, I said to myself, Perhaps I've been picked up by a freak hurricane and dropped somewhere else. Somewhere...remote. So I turned the boat and headed upstream.
I don't know if you've ever stood in empty countryside, and - maybe just for a little while - the noise of traffic ceases, there's a break of a few minutes between the cars and the aeroplanes, and the silence bleeds back. You breathe it in and the hugeness of the earth comes to you like a revelation. There's no sound but birds - unimaginably frail, brief little things - and maybe the wind. Suddenly being human doesn't seem so secure.
Well this place was like that. The putter of the outboard was like I was swearing in church.
Upstream a little from where I had...landed?...there was a wharf of white stone where I drew up gratefully. I secured the boat and then walked, shakily, down a quiet, treelined path, paved in pale marble, canopied by rowans and the creamy, tiny flowers of alder. Still, I hadn't heard anything except birdsong, and the murmuring of the river against its banks. But I began to feel that I was being watched.
Ahead a whisp of woodsmoke rose over the trees. Crows circled it in the blue sky, cawing. And I was struck by one of those moments where you feel that everything has reached perfection. Everything has come right. Blissed out on just being alive.
I've never had that feeling last for more than a minute, and rarely had it more than once a decade. But this time it didn't go away. I looked at the crows, smelled the earthy, welcoming smell of smoke. Dew touched my hair from the trees, and a great burden and blackness I didn't know I'd been carrying lifted from me, just by being there.
The path circled a tall ash whose branches were tangled with climbing roses, and came out on a narrow lawn above which a great house soared, terrace above terrace, stern and mellow as an Oxford college, and with something of their aura of ancient, uninterrupted peace and thought.
I felt...strange, by this point. I felt, not as Sam would put it, as though I'd fallen into a story, but as though I'd fallen out of a story and into the real world.
When I reached the highest terrace there were three... three people waiting for me. One, seated in a light chair, lounging slightly, his ankles crossed in front of him. Two standing behind him, alert and poised. All of them watching me silently as I struggled - out of breath - up the final flight of steps.
To this point, I had managed to believe that nothing stranger than a freak Twister had happened to me. Looking at the seated person's face, I lost that faith. My heart both failed and sang, and my mind gibbered You've gone mad! That's what it is; you're in hospital right now, doped up with sedative and having Lord of the Rings dreams while they fix your broken skull.
But I had never seen or imagined eyes like his. How can you dream in the language of angels, if there are no angels?
I know my mouth fell open and I looked like a landed fish, gaping at them. The standing pair were so alike they must be twins, or - not to rule anything out - clones, perhaps. Six foot fourish, and slender without being skinny, they were disconcertingly almost human. A little too beautiful. A little too still, with a presence that crackled about them like a visible aura. Their hair was dark and long, and their eyes grey; curious and amused.
The seated one rose to greet me. He was taller - 6' 8"? 6'10"? - and didn't look even remotely human. There's nothing I can think of I could use to convey an idea of his beauty. I'd have to wax lyrical about... the sun on the snow on the peak of a high mountain, or the feeling you get when you look at the stars... and even then, I don't think you'd understand if you hadn't seen. His colouring was different from the others, particularly the long bright hair that shone like newly minted silver, but there was a distinct family resemblance between them; a narrow sweetness about the shape of the face. A hawk-like look.
I was enough of a Tolkien geek to know at once who they were - where I was. But not enough to believe it.
"Welcome, traveller," said the silver-haired one - in English - "Welcome to Rivendell."
I stood in front of the three of them for some time and couldn't make my mouth work, couldn't think of anything to say, even if I did manage to speak. Finally a ...female... came and brought me to a small room. I wept there for my sanity and then fell asleep, wrung like a wet rag on a coverlet of white fur stitched with gold.
When I woke the moon was shining in at my window, filling the whole chamber with cold light. I ran a hand over sleek fur that glowed faintly pale beneath me, and thought to myself that I was not being open minded about this.
There was a seat beneath the bow of the window, and on it a tray with a goblet of wine and some small round cakes that smelled of ginger and honey. I pushed it out of my way and sat, looking out. There, below, were many lanterns and more of the inhuman people of this place, laughing and dancing. Surely they would be singing too. I had such an itch to throw open the window and listen.
Perhaps I was mad. That hypothesis lead nowhere and did no-one any good.
Perhaps I was not mad. Where would that thought take me?
Suppose I had, in fact, like Tam Lin or Thomas the Rhymer, like St Collen or St Brendan, like any number of younger sons in the cautionary tales of the North, actually stepped into elfland. Suppose that was what the Ley Lines marked - the points where gateways existed between the two worlds - the dimensional instability causing the instruments of our human technology to malfunction. It actually made a certain amount of sense. It fitted the evidence.
If so, I needed to remember what I knew about the folklore of elves. What was the rhyme?
'We must not look on faerie men, we must not buy their fruits.
Who knows upon what soil they fed their hungry, thirsty roots.'
Or was that goblins? At least, everyone knew you must not eat in Elf-land, or you would stay forever. And you must not listen to their music, or you would be - in some indefinable way - lost to humanity. Ensnared. Ensorcelled. I was, if the tales could be believed, in immediate peril of my soul.
But that was real elves. The elves of folklore; the Seelie Court, the Tuatha da Dannan; the ylf of the Anglo-Saxons, exiled helpers of their gods; tall and beautiful and untrustworthy. Not Tolkien's elves. Because Tolkien's elves, while derived from folklore, were a work of fiction. I could not really have met Celeborn the Wise, and Elladan and Elrohir, twin sons of Elrond, because they didn't exist. Tolkien made them up.
So I was mad after all. And if I was mad, it was safe to eat. Safe to listen.
I was just reaching for the cake when the ...woman? maiden? who had brought me to my room returned. "If you are recovered, the Lord asks that you will speak with him," she said, her diction very careful, as though she was repeating a learned phrase whose meaning she did not understand. She was as lovely and as common as a daisy, and her centreless black eyes sparked with merriment. I liked her immediately - she was such a relief after the awe and exaltation I had felt on meeting the Lords.
"I'm coming." I said, and seized my camera from my coat pocket as I followed her down corridor after twisting corridor and then out into the woods.
The music reached me first - lilting, intoxicating, tugging my mind into dreams and visions of wondrous things that I still can't quite grasp. But the lack of fulfilment, the yearning, seemed part of the magic of it. To possess would have been vulgar. Ah, another thing I can't describe, can't do justice to. Another thing that will haunt my dreams as long as I live.
The Twins were dancing in the torchlight - fleeting shapes of lithe vigour, full of joy and wildness under a sky vaulted with astonishing stars. The Lord sat a little apart, half reclined on the grass, with a sheaf of paper under one long hand, his expression thoughtful.
I knelt beside him and waited for him to speak. Another thing the folklore is quite vehement about is the necessity for being polite around these creatures.
"A moment." he said, and pushed the wine-jug in my direction without looking up. The documents he was reading looked, to my eye, as though they were printed rather than hand written, and that set me wondering. If the elves had really been around since the world was made, it was mad to think that they hadn't progressed as we had. In Saxon times their technology had been so advanced it seemed magical to us. Was it still so now? Did they still outpace us? Were the *aliens* so many cults look to for enlightenment really not aliens at all, but the Firstborn?
At last the Lord looked up, and I looked away, unable to bear the regard of his ageless and terrifying gaze. "Every so often," he said, "A human traveller will visit us here, stumbling unaware onto a path to the hidden valley. But you seem to have sought us out. With what purpose?"
He passed me the topmost of the sheaf of papers. It was written in Tengwar, but there were lists of readings that I recognized from my instruments; sketches of the dials. The 'paper' was not paper at all, but had something of the texture of fine, starched linen, though the surface was crisp and white. Of course I thought ruefully, You wouldn't catch elves cutting down trees just so they could have something to write on. It did look, I suppose, from all the instruments I'd been carrying, as though I knew what I was doing, as though I'd set out for this meeting deliberately.
"I..." I said, dry mouthed, desperate not to sound like a groupie meeting her pop idol, "If I expected anything...It wasn't this."
He looked at me kindly and, retrieving the jug, he poured wine and held the glass out for me to take. I hesitated and some of the doubt and dread must have shown. "There is no enchantment on it," he said, "Beyond that of good wine. Drink. You need it."
I took a sip and it tasted of... Oh! I hate not having the language to describe these things. There should be a language of joy whose words are big enough to encompass the taste of that wine. Like...Christmas? Warmth and comfort in a liquid medium, spreading out from my mouth and stomach to pervade my whole body, but the taste! Like... There is nothing it was like.
"Now," he said, "Tell me the full story."
So I did. In that clearing, under the moon, trees sighing above me, and about me the laughter and the speeding grace of elvish dancers, I told Lord Celeborn of Lorien about Electro-magnetic flux, and the Bermuda Triangle. About ley lines and alien abductions; people disappearing for seconds and coming back convinced they've spent days on board flying saucers. And my job, and my discovery. It was so bizarre, so incongruous, and yet, when I looked at him I could see that I wasn't telling him anything he didn't already know.
"It happens often, doesn't it?" I said, realization coming over me with all the inexorability of the cold night wind, "All the folklore...it's not stories, it's eyewitness accounts. People who've really fallen into Elfland. And maybe people still come, but because they don't know their history the only language they have to describe it with is that of 'aliens'."
A trailer of honeysuckle wound through grass where his elbow rested. He picked it up and touched one of the ragged flowers with faint tenderness. "The history of Modern Earth goes back only to the flood," he said quietly, his eyes focussed somewhere in the past, "And the great ages of Ice which wiped out what was left of Middle Earth. But long before that history began our people were told that we must leave, or fade. New worlds belonged to Men, the Valar said, and the time of our dominion was over. Yet, for pride or for love, there were those among us who would not go. Rather than defy the Valar and contest with Men for rule of the Earth, we chose to hide, and to stay. And though there are still comings and goings between Imladris and the modern world - nay, even between Nenuial, Eryn Lasgalen, Taur Rhunen and many other parts of our world and yours - the realm of the elves has long become the stuff of legend and of fiction. That is how it must remain."
I was a little under the influence of the wine, not drunk, but happy and bold, and mention of fiction was too good an opportunity to miss. "What about Tolkien?" I said, "Elfland is all very well, but Imladris? Tolkien made that up, didn't he? He made you up."
Oh hell! I thought, as soon as it was too late and the words were out, What happened to 'polite'? And I was half sure that I was going to be thrown into a dungeon, or given some sort of disfiguring disease, to teach me some manners.
But Celeborn just laughed, "Did he say so?"
"No he said he was translating from the...Red book of..." understanding did that thing in me where the world you thought you knew gets crumpled up and smoothed back out into something entirely different. "But everyone thought that was a literary device. You mean...?"
"He came here nigh on a hundred years ago." The elf-Lord smiled, "A great scholar, even as a young man. Few return to the modern world who stay here any length of time, but John, who remained long enough to learn both Sindarin and Quenya, and a smattering of other tongues, to translate both the Red Book and many of our volumes of history, was not a common man. What the world knows of our true names and our ancient deeds it owes largely to him." He frowned and put the smoothed flower down with a certain reverence, and all that astonishing, starlight coloured hair fell forward over his face as he said, "I suppose he is dead?"
"A shame." He sighed, "Navaer, edhellon." he said, "Until the world is renewed." Then he gave me a smile of borrowed sweetness - a reflection of a warmth meant for someone else. "John taught me my English. He was a patient teacher, even with so difficult a student. A good man."
"He said there was no record of when you finally went over the sea," I marvelled, drunk now, but on something very like happiness. The final notes of the dance hung for a moment in the air and sparks went up from the torches as though to scatter new constellations. Elladan and Elrohir returned, loud with rejoicing, and threw themselves down on the ground around their grandfather in postures of somnolent alertness, like tigers. "And he said that you two 'delayed your choice'."
"We have chosen now." said one of them - I don't know which - in a smoky, raw silk voice, and grinned, knowing that I wouldn't dare ask what that choice had been.
"Is all explained to your satisfaction?" said the other, "You will surely not spend your first night in Imladris without dancing?"
"I don't think I..." I did *not* want to parade my graceless and unfit person among such beauty. Whether they disapproved or not, I would know that I looked like the ballerina hippo from Fantasia - only less skilled. "But I have so many questions."
"Questions are for the morning, dancing for the moon," the Twin said. He stood up and offered me his hand. Annoyed with him, deeply embarrassed, I got up too.
"But I wanted to know about flying saucers," I said, stupidly, "How do they, where do they fit?"
"You know our lineage," Elrohir said, with a look of reckless pride, "Would it not shame our family if we were not also star-sailors? Now come. Daeradar and Elladan can rule the world, while you and I forget it."
How? I thought, How does he know that I know his name and his geneology? I remembered HoME then - Tolkien saying that telepathy was considered normal among them. There was no knowing what information or what weaknesses the three of them had seen inside my head. But what could I do about it? Nothing. So, instead of worrying, I did my third thing that all the stories warn you must not do, and I danced with the elves until dawn. Then I fell, aching and exhausted, into a bed that smelled of rose-petals and woke, about noon, with a whole new understanding of the universe and a burning desire to share it.
Day 2 Evening/ 14th May 2001
"If you return to the world of Men, you may not come back," said Celeborn, "This is our law by which we obey the ban of the Valar, and it may not be set aside, no matter how much grief you suffer from it."
"I can't imagine," I said, "What grief could be worse than knowing the answer to all the mysteries and not being able to tell anyone."
"Perhaps trying to share the answer and not being believed."
He stood next to me on the warf, and I could have reached out and touched him - if I had been brave enough. Instead I took one more photograph, in daylight this time, and, stepping into my boat, I wrote a final line in my diary as the elves of Imladris pushed me out into the boisterous, musical current of the Loudwater. Ashamed of how much he intimidated me I raised my chin and looked finally into the eyes of the Master of Imladris, Prince of Doriath, more ancient than the round world itself. I will be believed, because I have evidence. I thought defiantly.
He raised an eyebrow and smiled, You have been warned.
12th June 2001.
I remember sitting in the boat, scudding by tiny falling brooks, otters following my wake with their bright eyes full of interest; the flash of a kingfisher all lapis lazuli and gold like an egyptian statue. The sun glinted in the spray, and all at once I thought I could visit Mirkwood. I could see Thranduil! I don't *have* to go home. A ravenous desire to stay settled on me, but I had a mother, I had a boss, I had a tale that would only mean something to those who hadn't heard it before. I knew so many people who needed to know this. So I gritted my teeth and closed my eyes as the cloud set in, and held back the scream of 'NO!' that wanted so desperately to tear from my mouth. I had a mission; I had a truth to tell.
I lost my job, of course.
It was 2pm on May 14th when I returned, the boat setting down in a calm sea off the coast of Cornwall. Though it seemed to me that I had stayed two days in Rivendell according to the boat-man's watch I had been gone for just under half an hour.
I had the sense not to phone Geoff from the harbour and spill the whole story to him. I brought him the readouts from the monitoring equipment
[Attached as document no.2 in the notes]
and my camera.
Why it should have surprised me to find there was nothing more than grey fog on any of the photos, I don't know. It's classic - it happens in every alien abduction case. It happens with the Loch Ness Monster, for God's sake! I just didn't expect it to happen to me. "They were there!" I shouted, "I swear, I checked them when they were taken."
Geoff sighed, "OK," he said, "I can see from the EM stuff that something happened. Why don't you tell me what you thought you saw?"
So I told him.
"Yeah, right." he said at last, long after the silence had said everything else.
"It's true!" Tears pushed at my eyes, "And I gave it up to tell you. No one expects the truth to be easy to accept, do they? But it's true!" And I want to go back!
He folded his pale, freckled hands in front of him and sighed again. "You've become a Believer. There's a place for that on the convention circuit. But not in this magazine. Get some help."
So now I sit in my garden, and the air tastes of tin and petrol. The houses seem thin - how would Bilbo put it - thin and stretched, as though everything I touch and see is part of the wraith world. Insubstantial, unsatisfying. After the food of the elves anything I eat here tastes of dust and I weep as I eat. The yearning of the elvish music has become the devouring refrain of my heart. I need, I want to go back. I can't think of anything else.
Tolkien was wrong in this, and the old stories were right. To visit the elves is to taint your humanity, to lose your soul. I am an addict now, and I want to go back.
Tomorrow I will become one of those people who return endlessly to the site of their abduction. I will go to Cornwall and stand on the cliffs while the sea mutters endlessly beneath me and the gulls lament. "Please let me come back!" I will sob, knowing that it's hopeless, but doing it anyway because everything else has been consumed in drabness.
He did warn me. I can't say he didn't warn me. It wasn't his fault I didn't listen.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.