Old Ist, out in the swamp, wisened and withered. Popular rumor ran Old Ist was older than even a faen had the right to be, like a thousand years or more, and Old Ist was too big to be faen. She visited the swamp, and found the shack, and she transcribed until she got a cramp.

Old old old, old they call it and they’re not wrong, no, not wrong when they call it old but old to them doesn’t mean old, not really, because old is strong and dead, and it’s not strong and dead, it’s just the opposite, it’s alive, living, breathing it is, it pulses like hearts beat and they don’t understand it, they don’t know what it really is, they label it old and pass it by and who am I to argue with them? I’m just an old’un in a shack out in the marsh and they think maybe I can do a few tricks but it’s nothing next to their tricks and it’s not worth worrying about, never mind it, never mind it that’s what they say, they have their fancy-dancy new Dark all shiny and seductive and evil and they have their words, like anyone ever learned anything from words, anything worth knowing I mean, no, you don’t learn from seeing you learn from doing, that’s how I saw Untime that’s how I learn and that’s why after me there won’t be any learning, not here, because there’ll be no one to learn from, and that won’t be long now, oh no, Ist knows the score, I’ve been paying attention, you get infancy youth adult, you get maiden mother crone, you walk on four legs two legs three legs and then you’re done you’re withered and you make way for the next generation Dead are Dead are Dead are Dead are Dead are Dead are Dead are Dead but they don’t want to come, they know what’s waiting for them, all the zombies walking around and they don’t like it a bit and they won’t come and so I can’t go and I’m ready to go and every day it gets a little harder and I get a little more bent and the pain is a little bit worse and I don’t mind the pain so much pain is part of me pain keeps me going but there’s the agony of the continuing of it not stopping it just keeps on keeps on going on and when I want to fall they hold me up and they say not yet, not yet, and I say it’s not fair and they say it’s not, and it needs me so they don’t let me go and anyway no one wants me, not any more, they’ve passed me by in their big cities and I’d tell them anything they want, I would, I don’t need to keep any secrets and I have so much I know and they don’t care because it’s old, it’s old, it’s all dried up just like me, and any time it could snap like old bones snap as it happens it did it happens to me and I have to fix it and it hurts but it always hurts and they don’t care, they don’t, they want me here holding onto it for them, for when the Dark fades, which it will, nothing lasts, nothing dead lasts, it all decays eventually, that’s something you learn with your eyes and your hands you don’t get that out of no book you don’t, but it’ll happen and when it does Old Ist will be there laughing and pointing when their fancy-dancy towers and schools and letters all fall down and Dead are Dead and the green grass grows up over everything and the snails come and eat the flesh and the birds come and eat the eyes, and then there’ll be a change and we’ll wash them away, the sinners, and the new ones will come at last and we’ll dance with them in their ruins and I can lay it down and rest and I don’t have to worry no more about keeping it going and the Untimeliness and all, I can let it all drop and rest my weary bones without fearing the decay from eating me out inside and hollowing the tacentry out of me, all of the Dark leaning in on me and times I can feel it going hmmpf hmmpf hmmpf when I’m abed and drowsy and I don’t let it win, I hold on, I have to hold on until the young…

SEE ALSO Dead Are Dead, Tacentry, Untime


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