(The scene is set around a table ladened with drinks and books with three scholars seated and chatting. The subject of the paranormal crops up and the debate becomes heated. One of the scholars is conspicuously quiet. The other two proceed to delve into urban legend and the evening turns into who can tell the best ghost story. That sets the scene)
Prof. Guzman: But these are the dark spaces between theory and fact. They become a breeding ground for mysticism and folklore.
Prof. Trainor: The mysticism is held within the Chaos Theory. Every random act or unexpected result can be explained by that which does not follow a pattern of behaviour, be it pre determined or not.
Prof. Guzman: What about the documented evidence of levitation and a knowledge of dead languages and unannounced events? There are more things in heaven and earth…
Prof. Trainor: There you go again with the factory reset; heaven. It’s the lazy philosopher and scientist that falls back on the hallowed ground when they fall short of credibility. Smoke and mirrors, research, tricks, wires, recordings and alcohol added to hysteria and pretty much every event can be debunked.
Prof. Guzman: All I’m saying is dismiss the darkness at your peril. It is a living entity.
Prof. Trainor: Poppycock! It’s the absence of light and that is all. Everything that transpires in the dark is conjured by the imagination. Every emotion, every sense and every limb is heightened to primal dangers and those tend to be sharp teeth and claws.
Prof. Guzman: Know what your trouble is Trainor? You lack romance. You lack imagination. We need the imagination to see beyond the boundaries and into the dark places. That’s where we will find our advances…
(The third Professor, silent until now, finishes his drink and slams his glass upon the table before looking sternly at the other two)
Prof. Calder: I’ve been to the dark places. Those parts of the world beyond the safety barriers and the tour guides. The unimaginable monsters that hang from churches and in art and the printed word are founded in truth. What if I told you that they would come to you if properly summoned? What if I said that it wouldn’t be hours of ritual either? Would you find me credible or make me a laughing-stock?
(The other two Professors shift uneasily in their seats, pouring another drink and staring at Prof. Calder with incredulity. After a brief pause, Prof. Guzman leans forward and whispers “Go on!”)
Prof. Calder: This concerns something that pre dates magick as we know it. It is the about the Shadow Dimension. In English folklore lives a creature that was older than the primeval forests and appears in manuscripts and carvings on churches. These depictions were made to ward off this beast and keep the holy places safe from its presence.
Prof. Trainor: Shouldn’t we be say round a campfire with cub scouts and marshmallows?
Prof. Guzman: Be silent, Trainor and learn something. It might be your ticket to an imagination!
Prof. Calder: If you’re both going to bicker, I’ll save it for the lectern. I warn you though, it is a journey into darkness.
Prof Guzman & Trainor: (Together) Do go on.
Prof. Calder: Have you ever wondered about the origins of the gargoyle? About the hairy human beast leering from atop a parapet or above an arched door? The truth is far more insidious than the comedic representations make out. In fact, it’s down right terrifying. You see, we live in a world of illusion. Our eyes lie to us for our own protection. We see things in our peripheral vision and dismiss them as hokum or a trick of the light. But what if they were real beings passing just out of sight and beyond a reasonable explanation? What if I were to tell you the secret to seeing what’s REALLY right in front of you?
(Silent and intense, both professors shifted uneasily in their seats and continued to stare at Professor Calder as he placed his drink on the table and removed his jacket.)
Prof. Calder: You see gentlemen, it is quite simple. Tromp L’oreil or trick of the eye is the trump card for the Woodwose. He is the miscreant, the mis leader and the misanthrope. He steals the innocent away and leads them down dark paths and into his shadow world. He is the sylvan satyr and the Sasquatch. But do you know what his greatest trick is?
(Suddenly the lights flicker and dim then go out altogether leaving the room in pitch darkness. There is complete silence as a low grumble and a wheeze fills the room. The two Professors, Guzman and Trainor shift in their seats. Then for a moment the lights flash on to reveal, right in front of theirs, a huge hairy face with terrifying features and piercing red eyes. They both scream as the creature, who they realise is Professor Calder, whispers in a low growl
The lights go out for the last time.)
Original written work by Richard Bell
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