Did you hear the story about the journeyman? They say he comes on the coldest of nights, walking only by the light of the moon, from the darkness into a small town, somewhere, in the heartland, always the same.
He’s a harbinger of a changing world. He brings with him disease, or crime, or insanity. The last was always the worst. Whole towns, torn apart by the darkness within, coming out. That was worse than a plague, or calculated crime. Madness cannot be cured, cannot be cajoled. When the journeyman brought that, there was literally no hope.
He stays a day or a week at most. Rents a room in a hotel, pulls all the blinds, and just stays within. But something in him seeps out, every time, playing his games. His infernal tricks.
Nothing he did ever touched him, of course. He was the carrier of the curse, not its victim.
Just an urban myth, some would say. A cautionary tale designed to create a lingering xenophobia. A political ploy.
If we fear the other, the stranger, enough, we’ll do anything to keep them at bay.
But I think he’s real – the journeyman. My blinded grandmother certainly thinks so, after he came to her town, all those years ago. He brought disease then, when she was but a child. A disease that took her parents and damn near took her too, leaving a shell, a blinded soul struggling for life. She said she saw him come, that lonely night, and that’s probably why she lost her sight.
She had no reason to lie, or tell me tall tales. She never sought to frighten me, only warn. So I take her seriously, and I take the journeyman seriously.
So every night I watch from my window to make sure I never see him, walking the lonely streets, invading this town. It’s my vigil my watch, even if it is to take my sight also.
Just in case, just in case seeing him soon enough might help. Maybe I could stop him, turn him away. Maybe I could kill him. It’s the only hope we’d have, but I’ll take a little hope, every time.
So I watch.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018