The stones stood along the ridge above the village, looking like stitches suturing together the earth and the heavens. Katelyn wasn’t the first to visit them, but she was the first to not have to lie about it.
Most don’t make it past the Wall, a set of small stones, knee high, that ran across the ridge, separating the larger stones from the rest of the world. Of those that crossed the Wall, the majority turned back quickly. The Door, a set of intricately carved stones topped with a lintel barely the height of a child off the ground, sent them back. The carvings were unsettling, the inscriptions unknowable. There was no way around it as it straddled the narrowest part of the ridge, the only way past was to go through. Katelyn had threaded her way through the Wall and had traced the carvings before slipping through the Door, paying heed to neither.
She made her way through the waist-high ferns and bracken until she stood at the edge of the stone’s domain. They were nameless, generally not referred to at all. Standing near them for the first time, Katelyn finally got a sense of their size. Taller than her, not that that was difficult. Probably taller than her father, that was an achievement. Not as round as the local monk, very few things were. They were old, older than the village crone, perhaps the only things around here that were. Dark grey, jagged, embedded in the ground as if they had been dropped from above the clouds. Moss and lichen free, unlike all the other stones and rocks in the area.
Katelyn stepped across the threshold. Immediately she felt the drumming through her feet, hammering up into her chest, reverberating through her head. She took a step closer to the stones, the drumming becoming more intense. Katelyn closed the gap, one step at a time, the drumming getting stronger and more forceful until it felt as if her insides were liquifying and her eyes and ears were about to bleed. She pushed forward through the wall of drumming until she was an arms length from the first stone in the line, until she was about to fall to her knees. She forced her way through and brushed the first stone with her fingertips and the drumming subsided. It was still there, but now Katelyn recognised it for what it was – the heartbeat of the earth.
Exhausted, Katelyn embraced the first stone. As her forehead touched, she heard something new, carrying itself over and around and through the heartbeat. She began to circle the stone, slowly releasing her embrace until just her fingertips were grazing the surface. Katelyn whirled around the stone until she was moving too fast to continue orbiting and she spun off, twirling towards the next stone, fingertips brushing, a new sound adding in.
Katelyn swung around the stone, it correcting her course, sending her towards the next as she pirouetted across the gap, caressing the next stone, another sound layering in. A melody developing as she spun and dipped and whirled from stone to stone, her fingertips caressing each one as she flew by. Her footfalls hammered out the heartbeat, whilst her twirling transcribed the complex intricacies of the melody that flowed from stone to synapse. She found herself almost sliding across the void betweens stones as the border between this world and the other began to get slippery.
Reaching the end of the line, Katelyn spun, arms outstretched, feet sliding across the barely held edge between worlds, her face gazing upwards to the sky as snow began to fall around her in the summer heat. She spun and slid, one with the melody, driven by the heartbeat until she reached the edge of the ridge-line, the termination point of the prominence overlooking her village. She was carried by the music, by the song of the stones. She was carried off the edge and into the empty space between heaven and earth.
The crone found her body later that day. She knew where she had fallen, she had watched the dance, fearful that she wouldn’t fall, the she would hold onto that last stone and slalom back down through the row. That she would undo the suture that held heaven and earth and allow the unspeakable through. That the prophecies on the doorway would come true and would tear the village and the world beyond it asunder. The crone carried Katelyn’s body back to the village, her strength belying her millennia old frame. As she did, she hummed the song of the stones one last time, easing Katelyn’s soul into the afterlife.