Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Best Prologue I've Ever Read.

"It was the cold that roused him. The moment he plunged into the frigid water at the bottom of the bog hole, his eyes fluttered open, and his mind grasped the fact that he would certainly die here. He knew it was the reason he had been brought to this place, the reason he had been born. His body, however, seemed to require further persuasion. He shook his head, groggy, as though awakened from sleep. Was all this real, or only a vision of what was to come? He remembered running, a glancing blow, and before that --
For a moment he remained very still; then he struggled to right himself in the bog hole's narrow fissure, pressing against the walls with his hands and elbows, treading slowly against the dark, pulpy liquid into which he'd already sunk to his hips. It was pulling him in, downward. Nothing would stop him now. He gasped for air, feeling the leather cord encircling his throat, all at once aware of a strange, spreading warmth upon his chest -- blood, his own blood, sticky and metallic. But the primary sensation was cold, a deep, numbing chill combined with an utterly astonishing softness, whose deceitful purpose, he knew, was to draw him into its familiar, bosomy grasp and keep him here forever.
Above his head the midsummer evening remained fair and mild, and his eyes reflected the waning twilight still visible at the top of the bog hole, scarcely more than an arm's length above his head. His muscular shoulders were those of a man who had herded cattle milked at daybreak and evening, who each spring broke the virgin soil with his plow, who sowed corn and reaped it with sharpened blade -- a man ruled by circular, circadian rhythms of light and darkness. The slight hollows in his clean-shaven countenance bespoke hard labor and scant harvests.
He knew this place, this bog. It was a mysterious, holy place, home to spirits and strange mists, a place of transformation and danger. He had crossed it countless times, treading carefully among glittering blue and green damselflies while tracking a hare or a slow-moving grouse. He'd seen the same evening light in its pools of standing water that recalled a hero's footprints or fragments of firmament fallen to earth. At their edges he had crouched, watching crimson masses of bloodworms as they transformed almost before his eyes and rose from the water to join quivering clouds of midges that hovered, faintly droning, above. He would never see them again, for he had entered a place from which there was no return.
Trapped by the weight of his own body, he could feel himself sinking with every passing second, could feel his hands moving uselessly against the seeping walls of the bog hole. Letting go an involuntary howl, he began to twist and claw furiously, reverting to the instinctive behavior of a trapped animal, baring his teeth and straining with every fiber, unable to reason or comprehend. But his feet were firmly mired in the slurrylike peat and would not come away. He was getting light-headed. His legs were numb, and as the frigid water seeped steadily higher, he began to tremble violently. Even as he felt the dread chill envelop him, he knew that his heart's blood would soon begin to slow. He ceased struggling and kept still, feeling each breath flow in and out, each one shallower than the last. A memory brushed like spider silk across his consciousness -- a luminous face, a woman's voice soft against his ear. He had sunk to his shoulders; soon he would be swallowed up, devoured by the insatiable earth, the origin and end of life.
In the last few moments, it was only instinct that kept his chin above the surface, as each involuntary shudder drew him further downward. The water stung as it touched his wounds, and began to trickle into his ears, slowly shutting out all sound but his own beating heart. Soon only his face and hands lingered above the surface, but his eyes remained open, staring upward, so that the last image imprinted there was the dim, familiar outline of a head and shoulders, framed in the jagged opening above him by the dying light of evening. His savior, or his executioner? An instant later, living moss and damp peat showered down upon him from above, closing his eyes and filling his nostrils with the scent of sweet grass and heather as he abandoned all resistance and finally yielded to the bog's chill embrace."

-This is the prologue from the book, 'Lake Of Sorrows' by Erin Hart. One of my all-time favorite books.

1 comment:

  1. awesome.. worth savoring! I'll get this book.. thank you.