Photo by Flausa123, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Have you ever seen two lovers being hounded down by Death? Go to Arkadiko Bridge on a Blood Moon night, and as clear as you can see this hand of mine in front of your eyes, you will see two embracing silhouettes loomed by Her ceaselessly, yet impotent. Let me tell you how this trio became part of this wondrous landscape. Listen carefully to my story, learn how Love and Death intertwined their threads in this terrible and fateful manner.
Mourenza was born alive in the Hole of Death. She knew something was wrong with her, as she didn’t fit in the Valley of the Shadows. Unable to find an explanation for her estrangement, she wandered around Hades fearful and perplexed.
Soon she discovered some unquiet souls that would bite bites of extreme cold and sorrow. They tasted like death, yet it was worse than it. Mourenza tried to avoid those entities as much as she could, and associated with others who didn’t stink or radiated such damaging emanations. Brétema, for instance, was a cool slim spirit that would even play with her. They would not use language because it alerted those other dark corrosive shadows who dislike communication and joy. Still, they managed to play some games like Hopscotch and Hide & Seek.
Then, a solar eclipse occurred on one uncertain eve, leaving opened doors that should never be left unguarded. Mourenza was hiding from Brétema behind some forsaken rocks. An invisible portal moved under her feet and she fell all the way down to the other side, the Hole of Life. She knew that some life-changing event had happened because it hurt like being born again.
Life was too bright. The sunlight hurt her eyes, and she felt dirty, silly and absurd in this new landscape. However, people were like herself, they were alive like herself. In the Hole of Life, everybody walked quicker than the shadows, yet some of them were equally dangerous as the dead ones, biting bites of life that would taste even worse than dying.
When the sun set, Mourenza remembered home. The night was more welcoming than the day, breathing was easier. The new moon’s darkness made her miss the Hole of Death. Excited by the possibility of crossing back home, she began wandering around the city’s darkest corners, looking for her friend Brétema, and that’s how she met Jacob in a backyard as black as the mouth of Hell. It was love at first sight for both of them, and the pain they felt was much more acute than that of being born.
Jacob had been born dead in the Hole of Life. He instantly felt appealed by Mourenza: though alive, she had the feeling of Death as her second skin. It was, after all, her motherland. Embracing her tightly, Jacob told her all she needed to know to survive in the Hole of Life. They agreed on the following: Mourenza would protect Jacob by night, and Jacob would look after her during day time.
Meanwhile, Our Lady of the Dead noticed that something wicked had happened. Something in her realm was missing. She was incomplete. Tracking down every inch of her dark territory, she recounted every shape, shade, ghost and shadow, and when she finished, she knew Mourenza was missing. Without further ado, She jumped to the Hole of Life to claim her property.
As soon as Our Lady of the Dead put her damned feet on the Hole of Life, Mourenza sensed it, and looked at Jacob in terror.
“She’s coming for me, my love, to put me back in her Hole of Death,” whispered Mourenza in her lover’s ear.
“What if She discovers that I was born dead in the Hole of Life? She will surely claim me as the abomination I am,” Jacob whispered back.
“We both are abominations, my dear,” sentenced Mourenza gazing deeply into his eyes.
They decided to leave the city for the open fields, as under the splendid dome of heaven they would certainly find a solution to their riddle. They took turns protecting each other during the night and the day. Sometimes Mourenza would dream that Jacob traded her life delivering her to Our Lady of the Dead. Jacob also had nightmares fearing that Mourenza would end up betraying him in the same manner.
Finally, on the eve of the Moon eclipse, the Lady of the Shadows looked down at her prey, knowing that the deceiving Selene would concede her extraordinary powers. This was indeed the most precious hunt of Her existence. The three had just arrived in the vale where Arkadiko Bridge has stood for millennia, dealing with Time & History as if they didn’t exist. The fields smelled intensely of olives and bay leaf and sheep poop and long-forgotten legends. It awoke in Mourenza a sudden memory, a secret knowledge: Death can do everything but cross bridges. Tightly holding hands, they ran to the old stone structure and placed themselves right in the middle seconds before the moon bled in its totality.
In effect, Our Lady of the Dead can’t cross any bridge, neither the Arkadiko nor any other in this world or the others. She could not touch them then, nor kidnap or molest them. However, she couldn’t abandon them either. She still can’t today.
Rumor has it that on Blood moon nights, you can still see Death howling and looming in the extremes of Arkadiko Bridge, and Mourenza and Jacob in the middle of it, looking into each other eyes, tightly embracing each other, feeling love and fear.
Rosemary Thorne (she/her) is a bilingual Spanish writer, researcher, and translator living in Madrid, Spain. Born in 1968, she became an HWA member in 2019, choosing English as the most welcoming language for her horror fiction. Her first novel, El Pacto de las 12 uvas, was published in December 2021. She has also translated Edward Lee’s The Bighead into Spanish for Dimensiones Ocultas Press. Her goal for the years to come is to populate the English market with her dreadful monsters. Find out more at: linktr.ee/Rosemary_thorne and Twitter at twitter.com/rosemarythorne