Síobhra
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The following text reproduces the last several pages of a journal found buried in the abandoned village of Gargill, Ireland, and may serve as context to a phenomenon recorded by The Royal Foundation, a precursor organization to the Foundation.

Friday 16 July

They've come back.

We thought them dead in Ypres. They said they found my Malcolm's ear in a man's coffee mug. But they're back. Not whole, but they're alive. Malcolm, Irwin, Patrick. They came down the road, delivered by a wagon.

They had tried to send letters, they said, but the army intercepted them. They wanted us to know they were all right, but they couldn't. My Malcolm's missing his ear, but he's still my Malcolm. I couldn't stop weeping, for the grace that God Almighty has returned him to me. My knees are bruised from prayer.

Thank you, god. For another chance. Thank you.

Saturday

Malcolm's gorging himself. They're sending us extra rations with his pension, but he's eaten the entire kitchen. I can hardly blame him— the horrid things they called dessert over there made him crave anything remotely sweet. We've been growing apples, though the climate isn't quite right, and he ate half a bushel.

He and Irwin just give each other uneasy looks. I've not seen Patrick, but I passed by his and Mary's house, and they are making quite a racket.

Sunday

Malcolm didn't come to mass.

He was frightened by the organ music, stopped in front of the church. Started shaking, refused to even come into the building. I didn't want to drag him in. Irwin vomited when getting communion.

I… did something I wasn't proud of after I got back from mass. I took cold iron, a poker from the fireplace, and put it against his seat. He kicked it off without picking it up— why wouldn't he pick it up?

He didn't say anything when I picked up the poker. Just sat in his chair, read, and drank.

Monday

I awoke this morning to see him standing up and looking outside the window, to the hill. I roused him, and he came back to bed. The hill… it's got the little folk beneath it, they say. There's a ring around the top. I aim to go there tomorrow.

Malcolm flinched away from me when I went to cut bread. I pretended not to notice. Iron doesn't burn him, but he flinches away from it— I saw him bump against the poker today, and scream as it clattered to the ground.

At the same time… I know he's my Malcolm. He still calls me his Sweet Gin, and says how deep he'd like to drink of me. He knows the village, speaks with the priest. Still takes the same road through the village to the grocer. But… it's like he's not even there. Like there's a shell. A wooden man where my Malcolm should be.

I don't know what to make of it.

Tuesday

The hill has a ring of toadstools upon it. I saw queer lights there when I was a child, but no longer. I hear music from beneath, a droning sound, queer and… I don't know how to describe it. Like horns being played by the Earth itself.

Malcolm left me flowers on my bed. Said he was going to the pub with his friends. Asked me to come along to make merry. He knew I was scared, so… I feel silly now. He was tending the fire place with the same poker I had put on his chair.

I had talked with Mary about it some after mass. She put the idea that he was a changeling in my head. I'll give her a good scolding come tomorrow.

Later

We tried to make merry, and failed.

Everyone was giving Malcolm and Irwin strange looks. Irwin flinched at the sight of a bread knife. Malcolm managed to hold fast. Someone whispered that they were not truly our husbands, our friends. Malcolm took up the entire bowl of salt on the table and upended it on his person, and remained silent. Apologies were given, and he was bought some drinks.

Irwin left shortly after, complaining of nerves. Patrick didn't show up at all, and I am having Malcolm sleep out of our bed. He still has salt on him.

Wednesday

The next portion has been deciphered as best as can be managed, given the state of the writing.

Patrick and Mary are dead.

Mary had [illegible]. An iron knife, one that's been in her family for generations. Used [illegible]changelings.

Malcolm didn't even react. He stood there while they wheeled his body out. He said something about how Patrick 'wanted to die a hero'. And then he laughed.

Oh god.

Oh god.

Oh god.

Save my Malcolm, please.

Thursday

They buried Mary, but they burned Patrick. Said that he wasn't human, that he hadn't started to rot right, that he still looked flush.

THAT IS HOW CORPSES LOOK YOU [the rest of this page has been torn out]

Friday

Whenever Patrick is brought up, Malcolm starts laughing. Not like it's funny, like he's gone mad.

They're spreading stories about how Patrick used his Sidhe ways to compel Mary into slitting her throat with his dying breath. They see men returned from Ypres, talk of how there were six-hundred and sixty-six in the Blue Caps, and they speak that they are changed.

Malcolm won't stop laughing now. He keeps the poker on him at all times, as if he is afraid I will strike him. I will not.

Saturday

Nails. They put nails on my doorstep. Nails. Damn this village. We need to leave soon.

Sunday

Malcolm was absent. I think the noise scares him.

Irwin was dragged into the church by his wife and sister. They begged the priest to anoint him, drive out the foul spirit that had overtook him. Irwin just screamed about how he could smell the gas and how it was choking him. He tried to bring a candlestick down on Father McCormick, yelling about he was 'kraut filth'.

They choked him.

He died.

He shan't be burned.

Monday

More nails, and an iron rod through the window. I asked Father McCormick if he could help— he refused to talk to me, said I was enchanted, that he could see it in my eyes. He offered to disenchant me.

I told him to burn in Hell.

Tuesday

I found him sobbing this morning.

Malcolm was looking at the old hunting rifle we had in the closet. He wanted to pick it up, but every time his hands got within an inch of it, they shook and curled in on themselves, and he screamed.

A boy was watching through the window. The closet had iron locks. What will they think?

Malcolm, my Malcolm. He hates the thing. He picked it up after I sat by him for an hour, and said that he would not let himself be taken. He told me to run. I refused. I knew this was the man I had loved for twenty years.

I shall stand with him, even if Heaven shall fall on the Earth.

Wednesday

They came for my Malcolm

He did not let them take him

Saturday 1st October

Damn them all.

Two months. Two months I was strapped to a chair while they attempted to disenchant me. My Malcolm had something wrong with him— they're calling it 'shellshock' now. They remain convinced he was a changeling, a false man.

A man kept coming in to talk to me. He was dressed like a scholar, asked me how my life with him was. He thought that Malcolm was a changeling, said he was from some Royal Society. I told them all. Over and over, until my lips and tongue were numb.

My.

Malcolm.

Died.

My.

Malcolm.

My Malcolm survived the mud and the shit and the blood. This war isn't glorious. It's fought by children and men who should have never set foot on the continent. We are being lied to, and the first thought of people who see a man returned from war, changed, maimed in both body and soul, is that there is something wrong with them.

As I slept last night, a Sidhe in the form of a woman with gossamer hair, on the back of a great bird, alighted outside my window. She had heard and felt my pain, and would give me a method of doing unto them what they had done unto my Malcolm. In trade, I would live with her for the rest of time.

This is the last part of the rite— burying an account of my sorrows before the chapel. When they attend mass tomorrow, it will be complete.

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