CHAPTER 2 The Paraffin Lake
The Present Day
In the wet, windy, rocky moorland that is the Isle of Lewis, an ancient bothy barely sheltered Aengus from the drumming rain. The sparsely furnished single room housed a wooden table, a couple of rickety chairs, a small bed with an old, thin mattress and a boxy black-and-white television set. Ages of filth covered the stone floor and thick, black soot coated the walls. A long-unused besom was spider-webbed into a corner. Piled high in an old iron sink were cracked, dingy plates and cups, scoured clean of food by generations of ants. The bothy smelled of filth, peat smoke and mould, mixed with the strong, musty odour of Aengus himself.
In a corner squatted a large, wooden cupboard, roughly built of ancient, ill-fitting pieces of wood. From the cupboard leaked a soft murmur of complaints.
Aengus sat in the cold, smoky room hunched over a glowing peat fire—his fleshless, overheated shins poked like matchsticks from a threadbare kilt. The old boots he wore had no laces and were several sizes too large. He wore no socks; since Broehain had left, there was no one to darn them. Grey hair fell thinly to his chest, partly obscuring the faded warning on the rags of an old t-shirt—‘Mind the Gap’.
He was old, skinny and dry like the end of a long winter. Aengus appeared harmless, feeble and senile, but he was none of these.
He took little food or drink and even less sleep. He had lived in this hut by this peat fire for millions of years. The planet belonged to Aengus. He was its god.
His rheumy eyes peered at the smouldering peat through an old, bent pair of National Health spectacles; not only remembering, but seeing. The peat fire was Aengus’s window on the present and on the past. He saw his wife Broehain as she was when he last saw her, after he killed the family in the broch, and she had fled, terrified.
I wonder where she is now, he mused, probably with that idiot Dozypithicus.
He looked at the Agogs, the weather spirits in the clouds. By controlling the weather, they had control over the planet. Aengus had discovered their weakness and now he controlled them.
Aengus shifted again, looking more recently to the age of the dinosaurs. He watched the young Agog Harper and her Iklwa roaming the outer islands. Where are they going, he wondered. To the Seething Pits? What do they want there? He thought for a while about the Iklwa. Where did he come from? What was he, an Agog or something else? Was he a threat? The gleam in his eye hardened, his face taking on a look of grim calculation. Was it possible there was a threat to him now, coming from all those years ago?
Aengus, older than the hills, a god who passed through time as easily as he walked the Lewis glens, was unconcerned; his power over the planet was absolute. However, the Iklwa was a puzzle and gods don’t like puzzles.