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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

Karlos Gorrindo Etxeandia > Extracts

Narrative (short story and novel)

On Brooms |

“What we have here is the Devil’s Cathedral,” explained the slender young man, who was acting as the visitors’ guide. The echo of these words exploded inside Usue and their shards spread all over her body. Rather than calm her early morning anxiety, it made it worse. As she made her way into the cave she was overcome by anxiety and worry.

Even though she had pictured it as a dark, sombre, dim place, devoid of light, the ‘Devil’s Cathedral’ struck her as something quite different. The cave full of light turned all her preconceptions upside down; it was large, had a beautiful smooth ceiling and a melodious sound: it had that sleep-inducing sound of water and wind. That cave contained very little of what she had expected to find.

* “We’re in the main chamber. Witches used this place for coven meetings and things like that,” continued the young man, as he revealed the historical details. “There’s more than just one small cave up there on either side of the stream’s course. The stream,” he explained to the visitors, “is called the ‘Stream of Hell’ and crosses the cave from one side to the other”.

Usue closed her eyes and the whispering sound of water and wind rose up to her ears. She used her sense of hearing for what her eyes were preventing her from seeing, in other words, for what she wanted to see beyond sight, so that she could see what her imagination commanded. And she saw a thick wood full of beautiful, unfamiliar trees and heard the murmuring of a stream and smelled the damp scent of the earth.

That was indeed paradise! She opened her eyes and the guide’s words turned into balls and their echo bounced first against one wall and then against another and reached her ears ever more faintly.

* “What you have here is a cave untouched by human hand. Here you will find no images on the walls of either humans or animals; there is no light anywhere, because this cave only needs sunlight to illuminate all the galleries completely. No stalactites or stalagmites have appeared here either; but this cave has more than all that, this cave is a living being, it has a heart that feels, one that belongs to those who have lived and suffered here. If you listen carefully,” he told his audience, “you can also hear its heart beating.”

Those who heard the guide’s words paid attention. All of a sudden a strong gust of wind lifted Usue’s mop of hair.

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