Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

The Fear Gorta (hungry man) By Maria Daly

Tick tock, the gentle sound of the clock ticking, together with the crackling, roaring log fire, was making Moira drowsy. She was nestled deep, into the large, fireside chair, cradling the brandy she had bought from the hotels bar. The lounge was empty, she was alone, the rest of the hotels guests had long since, retired to their bedrooms, in this grand hotel, set in the village of Murrisk, in County Mayo, Moira’s birthplace, more than seventy years earlier. Moira had been a widow when she met David; four years earlier, and now, married just a year.

Here she was, mulling over the events of the last two days, having sent David off to bed early, him suffering the effects of one of his debilitating migraines. She had suspected it was more a case of supping too much of the legendary "black stuff", earlier that evening, in Campbell's Inn.

That morning, they had wandered around the village, walking down to the wild ocean, they came across, an eerie, ethereal sight, the latest edition to the village. It was a haunting sight, a modern day sculpture. A ghost ship made out of, steel skeletons, intertwined, twisted, distorted, tortured faces, with soulless eye sockets, reaching out, pleading for ... for what? The artist, who created this, certainly captured the suffering of those poor, pitiless, souls, who had mercilessly died in the Great 1845 Irish potato famine. Moira read, the inscription on the memorial plaque, both stood in quiet contemplation, imagining the ragged men, women, and children that had perished of the great hunger. This, said Moira, is where the ’fear gorta’ comes into play, it means, hungry man, the peasants were so hungry, that to ease their hunger pains, they ate grass, which ultimately killed them. If you walk on this hallowed ground, in Irish mythology, you are doomed to perpetual and insatiable hunger; it is cursed by the proximity of an unshriven corpse (the fear gorta).

Moira quietly sipping her brandy could now feel the effects, fighting to stay awake, all too soon, she had, succumbed, fallen into a fitful slumber. Outside the wind had picked up roaring, howling. She could only have drifted off for an hour, when suddenly, she woke, with a sense of foreboding. There came, the blood curdling wail of the banshee, it filled the room, resonating off the walls, piercing her eardrums, excruciating. David, she screamed David. With that, the now empty brandy glass clattered onto the flagstones, she leapt up, and ran as fast as she could muster, up the winding staircase, unfaltering, she flung open the bedroom door, all the windows were wide open, crashing about, the curtains billowing wildly about the room, she looked to the unmade bed, the bedclothes, strewn untidily, around the floor, stared, in horror at the indentation in the mattress, where David's form should have been, nothing, the room was empty. David had gone.

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