Still curious about The Goblin Market? Here’s a teaser story we posted a year ago from a project that is still in the works. In the meantime, do look for our next live event in the north eastern USA titled The Goblin Market presents The Carnival Obscura at The Steampunk World’s Fair on May 16th.
The Howling Mother Entry
by The Goblin Market
"My wife was the inspiration for many novels published in my early years. Countless memories were collected from my days with her at my side and through her, I owe my success. While every story I have written I have held dear to my heart, they are but fictitious words and lessons on our practical morality. These words I write now are of the one true tale I have to tell and I know with taking down this account, I will not bring myself to tell another thereafter.
Tonight the sky is black and the moon is gone just as it was the night the Market came when spring turned to summer. That summer heat was all consuming and with it came new Pestilence like a black sigh from northern shores. I never knew how many died that spring — I only know that when the caravans began to emerge along the riverbank, people began to whisper. They would say that this would be good for the town. We needed to remember how to be happy again. No one asked them where they came from. No one even thought to approach the Market until nightfall.
I was not the first to arrive either. I saw my neighbor Mr. Farber standing before one of the vendor stalls, marveling the baubles of some distant land while hissing whispers of greed with the yellow-eyed merchant. Mrs. Farber kept pulling his arm, pleaing quietly in her murmurs for them to just go home and pray for their dead child. I never saw her again after that night. Mr. Farber was a selfish man and perhaps the death of his child made him arrange the bargain. I heard that he sold the memory of his dead child, a thing of sadness anyway, in exchange for “eternal happiness”. I’m also told Mr. Farber was taken away the morning after and now takes his tea with the other lunatics of The Asylum. He never stops laughing.
As for me, I believed the Market would have nothing I would want. I knew there were strange and wonderful mysteries lurking under the black-canvas tents. I watched as miserable people forgot their misfortunes and laughed at the harlequin in black and white, masked like most of the strange curators and performers. I could not part from my own sadness with these trivial distractions.
Stepping away from the strange veil of dim lights, mute color, and humming sounds, I recall walking along the riverbank away from the Market. And it was then that I saw her. She stood in the river, motionless with a mouth agape as though she were about to scream at some disjointed horror I could not see. And still, I recognized her immediately and I did my best to collect myself. The blue-eyed woman was staring into my soul. Her glazed eyes were like fogged mirrors and even in this visage of death, I saw only the woman I buried in the month of spring. I needed her and I needed to go to her in the river. There she was — the only answer I needed from this damned Market. And even as I write, as foolish as it might sound to the poor soul who reads this account, I believed one of these vendors had sent me my wife! If they were to do fabulous and wonderful things and answer prayers, dreams, wishes, and nightmares, why could they not bring her back to me?
"…You would do well to stay here." I will never forget those words and they pain me to write. It was the first and last time I would speak with one of the beings of the Market. I turned to see a young person dressed in the same array of muted colors and mismatched patterns that the other performers wore. The Autumn Child seemed to grin as he went on, "Do you know who that woman is?"
"She is my wife." —Yes, this is what I said as though the performer should have known.
"She is the Portrait of Mourning. She is both Mother and Wife. You would sacrifice your sadness tonight to embrace your wife a final time but the river that made your town prosper a century ago would be your resting place. I call her Lovely… She is most Lovely when she screams."
I could not bring myself to look away from the woman as she turned away from us with a broken sob. Even with our distance separating us, I could feel the pressure exerting from her. It was then I realized that where the woman stood, the river did not flow. It stopped and seemed to move around her as to avoid her.
"Where did she come from…? Why does she look like my dead Abigaile?"
"We always called her The Howling Mother. She looks like your dead wife Abigaile. She looks like Mr. Craft’s dead mother. She looks like the Mayor Harden’s dead daughter. Some call her The Banshee… and I heard her once called The Weeping Woman. She collects the threads of the dearly departed and keeps those connections by drowning their living relatives. I do not doubt her staying here for now. This will be her place. After all, so many died. And I am sure there are even more dead children who will need a mother. In our ways, she is providing a merciful service… she is bringing loved ones together again." With that, the performer made a sound that reminded me of laughter and turned to walk back up the riverbank to rejoin the others at the Market.
When I looked back to the woman, she was no longer there. It is difficult to write about the walk home as I do not remember how I ended up in my bed that morning. My sleepless nights are now filled with the screams of Abigaile as the sickness consumed her over and over in every nightmare. Even though the Market has gone and many summers have passed… many people in the town tell me they hear the Howling Mother screaming in the dead of the darkest nights. People disappear nowadays and many townspeople say it is because the Howling Mother takes them away.
I never go to the river anymore. I do not remember anything else of the night the Market came. I do not remember the trade I made that night to the one who told me not to approach the woman. I only know that Abigaile still screams every night in my dreams and I know one night when the moon is new and the night sky is black, I will go to that river and never return. It is a promise I made that I do not remember and one my soul is bound to keep.”