Thought Forms

Regular readers will recall that Durosimi O’Stoat was intent on harming Philomena Bucket, whom he believed to be a witch. He had come to the conclusion that she was a danger to him, and in possession of far greater powers than his own. This was only partly true, for Philomena had no idea of the extent of her abilities, or any wish to be in competition with anyone. It was only on the occasions when Durosimi had secretly attacked that the magic, smouldering within her, manifested itself, and then only as a form of self-defence. While Philomena suspected that O’Stoat had no great liking for her, she was completely unaware of the extent of the dark malice that festered in his heart. Indeed, so deep was his hatred that he decided that if he could not directly harm ‘That Bucket Woman’ (as he referred to Philomena), then he would weaken her by destroying everyone and everything she held dear, beginning with her fiancé, the Night-Soil Man.
 
Durosimi smiled to himself unpleasantly, reflecting on the ease with which he had ensnared Drury, the skeletal hound. It had taken little effort to conjure up a brace of phantom spoonwalkers, images that flickered tantalisingly in and out of the dog’s vision and keeping him endlessly occupied, chasing around the Gydynap Hills. As thought forms go, creating the spoonwalkers had demanded next to no work on Durosimi’s part. They were mere shadow-puppets, whose only function was to distract, requiring no outside agency, no deal to be struck, in order to give them shape and form. They had been the easy bit; the rest of his plan would ask much more of him. The next stage was to make a very different variety of thought form. While Durosimi was well able to give the creature shape, it needed something darker and infinitely older to provide the malevolent energy required to carry out his wishes. And there was the rub. Summoning such an entity was a relatively simple procedure; controlling it was another matter.  
 
Humans have been creating thought forms, of some description, for millennia. Most of these are unintentional, born from prayers, hopes and vague wishes, and therefore weak, shadowy and short-lived, their existence depending upon the strength of the intention that gives them existence. When a powerful magician, such as Durosimi, sets his mind to creating a thought form, however, he throws all of his emotions and energy into the effort. This he does in order to attract an eldritch, elemental essence, a sentient force which is forever prowling unseen, seeking animation through human passion.
 
You may be asking yourselves, at this point, why Durosimi had gone to the trouble of dognapping an unsuspecting Drury, and having him chase phantom spoonwalkers around the Gydynaps. The truth is that the magician knew, full-well, that the dog was a trusted friend of both Philomena and the Night-Soil Man, and neither would suspect him of anything but loyalty. Durosimi also needed a scape-goat. If Philomena’s magic was half as potent as he suspected, and all went as it should, there would be little chance of her showing mercy to the perpetrator of his scheme. As far as he could see, nothing could go wrong. While the real Drury was happily pursing non-existent spoonwalkers, a vicious thought form, given flesh (or bone, in this instance) as a facsimile of the osseous hound, would carry out his orders.
 
Naboth Scarhill hefted the lidded bucket on to his back, and looked out at the foggy blackness spreading before him. Philomena had left a bottle of Old Colonel and a slice of cold starry-grabby pie on the doorstep. This had been something she had done every evening since moving into The Squid and Teapot. There was, she reasoned, no need to stop just because Rhys had retired in order to marry her.
“Well,” Naboth told himself, “this is it, my life is mapped out”.
At the tender age of sixteen years, Naboth had become the most recent Night-Soil Man of Hopeless, Maine. He felt the weight of responsibility heavy upon his young shoulders, but carried the burden happily, sensing the ghosts of previous generations of Night-Soil Men benevolently watching over him. Some of these names had become legendary, from the earliest incumbent, Killigrew O’Stoat, through to Shenandoah Nailsworthy, Rhys Cranham’s predecessor. Naboth hoped that, one day, he might be remembered with similar reverence. As I mentioned earlier, such small desires may often wander out into the world as thought forms; this is why you should always be careful what you wish for.
 
Philomena Bucket was beginning to feel worried. Tomorrow was to be her wedding day, and her best friend, Drury, had gone missing. She knew that he was unlikely to be in any real danger; after all he had lived – and died – many years before she arrived on the island, and would probably be there long after she was no more than a vague memory.  Despite this, there was a niggling worry, as real as toothache, that warned her that all was not well.  She was sure that the ghost of Granny Bucket, who had made it her business to haunt Philomena, would have shed some light upon the dog’s disappearance. However, for reasons known best to herself, Granny had not been in evidence since Philomena’s recent excursion to the Underland.
“Oh, get a grip on yourself, girl,” she told herself, sternly. “This is just a dose of pre-wedding nerves. Drury knows you expect him to be there tomorrow. He’ll turn up.”
 
A pale moon filtered through the fog hanging over Chapel Rock. Naboth really hoped that its ghostly guardian, the Mad Parson, Obadiah Hyde, was not in the mood for haunting tonight. Although Rhys had impressed upon him that, while any encounter with Obadiah invariably involved a great deal of supernatural screaming, the old boy had next to no substance, and was harmless. Nevertheless, the apparition still terrified Naboth. He knew that Rhys’ previous apprentice, Gruffyd Davies, had been so scared by the Mad Parson that he fell off Chapel Rock and into the ocean. (Fortunately, upon hitting the water, Gruffyd, who knew nothing of his ancestry, discovered that he was a Selkie, one of the seal-people, and swam off happily in his newly acquired pelt).
It was then that Naboth’s heart lifted a little. A familiar form loped into view.
“Drury,” called the ex-apprentice, “am I glad to see you! I could really do with some company tonight…”
 
The ordeal was over. Durosimi lay sprawled on his bed, his face grey and haggard, every muscle in his lean form aching.  It had been years since last he had invoked such an entity as this, and the battle of wills had left him weak; weak beyond measure. Once given form, it had taken every ounce of Durosimi’s physical and mental strength to prevent the creature that now resembled Drury from ripping him to pieces. But he prevailed, as he knew he must, to send this abomination out into the Hopeless night with the simple instruction: “Destroy the Night-Soil Man.”
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