It was an unearthly sound.
Not unpleasant, but strange. Something, I confess, I’d never heard before.
The notes drifted into my bedroom, slipping past the window and curling around me as I lay on my back, staring at the ceiling and listening. There was a curious sensation in my body, as though the music was attempting to cajole me to my feet and bring me to a place that I may not want to go.
Well, I’ve visited a great many such places in my life, and if one more was going to kill me, so be it.
I took my time getting dressed, and I enjoyed a cup of coffee before I buckled on the Colts, slid my Bowie knife into place and, for good measure, picked up a scattergun as well. Thus armed, I went out into the backyard and followed the music to its source.
It took me the better part of an hour, and I was unsurprised to find the sound was originating from a small stream that fed into Blood Lake. Near a large and twisted tree, three women sat playing instruments I did not recognize.
When they saw me, their eyes widened in shock, and they stopped playing.
An easy stillness settled over us, and for the first time, I realized the birds were silent in the trees around us.
I don’t know what the women were. I don’t know if they were alive or dead, or, perhaps, creatures of some other realm. That they had their origins in the box that had been so foolishly opened, I had no doubt.
After a moment, I chuckled, shook my head and stated in Japanese, “I think I like your music.”
One of the women giggled, and in a heartbeat, all three were playing again.
The music was powerful, rippling through me as I sat down on the ground and rested my scattergun across my lap. I paused, then took out my pipe, packed the bowl and lit the tobacco.
As the smoke curled up from the briar and escaped between my lips, I grinned.
There are far worse ways to spend an April morning.