Tag Archives: moths

Lights in the darkness

You may have wondered about the lamps. There is no grid on Hopeless, Maine. There are no gas pipes, and since the end of the trade in oil pressed from giant oceanic gnii, there hasn’t been much in the way of reliable lamp oil, either.

Of course any dead thing that washes up on a beach can be rendered down for oil, if you’ve the stomach for it. When the choice is make and use hideous corpse oil, or sit in the dark wondering what it is that you can’t see… well, it’s surprising how attractive those dead things can become. Thanks to the tides, dead things are mostly what wash up on the shores of Hopeless.

Balthazar is one of the island’s more successful inventors. No doubt his greatest achievement is having built a lighthouse, mostly from the bones of a massive sea monster. Balthazar tries very hard to be a scientist, but often finds he is an accidental occultist who has almost no idea how any of that side of his work… works.

Lamps being such good and useful things, people tend to adopt them and try to work out how to keep them going. The one powered by hurdy gurdy mercifully doesn’t need you to actually play a tune. Several are uncomplicated enough to just need oil of some sort. There’s one you have to wind by hand, and one where a weight drops on a chain. The one that was supposed to gather daylight and release it again at night somehow mostly gathers moths, and feeds on them. It is probably best to stay well away from that lamp, in case it gets ideas.

Mrs Beaten on moths

Never lick the moths, no matter how tempting they appear to be, or how hungry you are. They only ever taste dusty. Only a person driven half mad by hunger would think it reasonable to attempt to lick such a being. In the winter, when it has been deathly cold for far too long and your chickens are unwilling to lay anything resembling eggs, you might find a moth sheltering in the folds of a curtain, and succumb to the notion that moth licking has merit.

At such moments as these, the true obscenity of eating becomes all too apparent. The fleshiness of one’s own mouth. The inherently sordid nature of chewing and swallowing. The horror of a body that must consume in order to survive. It is as though the moths somehow cause these dreadful thoughts. I have found that the only safe way to prevent further ghastly moth incidents, is to keep my home rigorously free of them.

It is generally good practice to remove insects from the home. They cannot be trusted not to leave dirty footprints on the walls, and have the unpleasant habit of dying in unexpected places. I have benefited greatly from the judicious application of Dr Field’s insect repellent soap. Most moths cannot bear the flavour of cloth that has been washed in this substance. The green stains on my own skin vanished in a matter of days, and were a small price to pay for removing the moth problem.

I also invested in one of Dr Field’s special hunting robots. Although I am now uncertain about the nature of my purchase, for whatever is inside the robot grows as it consumes insects. I can see unsightly hairs pushing through the cracks in the device. I am fairly certain that yesterday I saw it eating a mouse, and I do not like the feeling that it is looking at me. Thankfully however I have had no urges to try and eat it, which is an overall improvement.

(With thanks to Rebecca Field for loaning her face.)

Hopeless Moths

Some years ago, we had the strange experience of outing Hopeless in an art gallery as part of the local book festival. I made some very random things for that! One of the things I made was a collector’s case of moths. The moths were of course all works of fiction and no actual moths were hurt in the process. I invented quite a few moths for the island – some of which I still remember because I rather liked them.

The poisoned Druid moth was made from mistletoe, so was sort of a joke, because of me being a Druid.

The granny’s shroud moth was large and pale, and I like to imagine them flapping about disconcertingly at windows late at night, and being especially horrible to pick out of spiderwebs.

The greater and lesser git moths are the sort of moths who eat clothes, and other household items.

Thinking about the moths this week has led me to realise that we haven’t given much thought to bats on the island, so there are bats going into the bestiary for the role play game.

Here’s a video from the art gallery. The moth case is at around the 10.30 mark…

Cat Treadwell – the afterdeath

By Frampton Jones

Several months ago, Cat Treadwell installed herself in one of the empty warehouses, and began knitting. Many islanders responded to her request for knittable materials – although I think we have stretched that concept to its very limits. In the week that followed, Cat knitted with every scrap of wool we could find for her. She knitted with hair from cow’s tails, unpicked strands of rope, even seaweed. By the end of that week, she had knitted herself into a giant, impregnable cocoon.

Of course the strange cocoon spectacle drew attention, visitors, and attempted sabotage. The cocoon held firm, and from inside it, the sound of knitting continued. None of us knew what was going on in there, but for a while, the cocoon became a popular visiting point and an object of excitement. Island life can be so tedious and predictable, it’s always a delight when something like this comes along.

Three days ago, the cocoon was found to be moving. All knitting sounds had ceased. Rumour spread quickly and a sizeable crowd gathered on the off-chance something would happen. Nothing happened that day, but, given it was that or watch the Chevin twins setting fire to each other’s trousers outside the town hall, most of us stayed to watch anyway. We’ve all seen the trouser lighting act before, and it wasn’t that entertaining the first time.

Yesterday, the cocoon began to open. It was a slow process of a seam unpicking itself. A reverent silence fell towards the end, broken only by the sneezes of unwell orphans. At last the cocoon fell away and we watched as a large, dark, moth-like creature emerged into the night. It flew up into the rafters of the warehouse, and has been there ever since. A number of people have gone to it for advice and predictions.

In the cocoon we found bones that must fairly be assumed to belong to Cat Treadwell. There is some uncertainty about what has happened, and we have two opposing schools of thought. School one believes that Cat had moth eggs laid in her – no doubt a consequence of her wandering round in the woods at night. According to school one, the moth is a creature who has eaten Cat Treadwell and should therefore be reviled and probably killed so as no one else has eggs laid in them. School two says that Cat Treadwell clearly knitted herself out of her previous shape and into this moth form, leaving only her unknittable bones behind her, and that we should treat this moth as a friend and source of wisdom.

As the moth remains in the roof of the warehouse, school one is currently losing the argument. I expect we will follow our most usual course of action and do nothing and then get distracted by something else, leaving only a small, devoted cult behind to keep alive the memory of what might or might not have happened.

You can find Cat Treadwell’s Hopeless Maine story here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/threads/

And the kickstarter that has taken so many lives, is over here – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine