He met a god in the Hollow.
For the first time, there was a tremor in my father’s letters.
‘I did not know at first what manner of creature stood by the waterfall I came across this afternoon,’ my father wrote.
‘I could smell nothing of it. There was no scent, almost as though there was a void around the creature. As I approached, angling so that I might not startle it, the creature turned and faced me.
‘There were no eyes that I could see, no mouth that could form the words that followed.
‘Yet that did not stop them.
‘They rang out around the small glade, echoing off the rocks and the trees, causing the water to spray up. The leaves on the branches rattled as the branches themselves shook and threatened to fall to the earth. “Blood, you have come far,” it stated.
‘I confirmed that I had. It chuckled, sat down on the ground and motioned for me to do the same.
‘Reluctantly, I did so. I do not deny that there was a horrific fear that gripped me. I had the urge to bolt with all the alacrity of a startled hare. Yet I sat and waited.
‘The creature nodded. “It is well you do not run. I am not hungry yet, but should you run before we are finished, Ezekiel, I will make a meal of you.”
‘I sat and waited and listened.
‘The creature scratched lazily at its chest. “You may survive this place, Blood, but it will take all of your wits. All of your determination. Do not falter. This is our place, our hunting ground. We have sown the beasts in the Hollow as one might in a field. These crops, they entertain and sustain us. You entertain us, as does your son. Stay alert, Blood, and you may yet see him.”
‘I could sit only in stunned silence. He nodded and sank down into the earth as though he had never existed at all.
‘In the brutal stillness of that place, I understood that I had forgotten what it was to be afraid.
‘The creature had reminded me.
‘It had given me a gift. It had returned my mortality to me, and for that,’ my father wrote, ‘I am thankful.’