I sat by my campfire on the grassy plains of the Puszta, collar tight against the cold wind, forgotten for the past two days by everyone that I had ever known. I stirred the embers of my fire, which brewed the eggshells and thick black Turkish coffee that I had stolen from the village a few miles behind me (I didn’t have the balls yet to steal a car). The smoke of the fire and the pungent aroma of the thick coffee wafted up, taken away by the wind and the deep gloom of the night.
Miserable, I cursed my fortune and the book that had led to my exile and to my current state of destitution. I knew that I had to find a way to get back to the States, but I was invisible to everyone that I came in contact with, their eyes glazed and unseeing as I passed, deaf to my screams and unfeeling to my touch, even when the locals bumped into me on dusty village streets. I couldn’t even make a phone call without the person at the other end hanging up, thinking that I had just hung up on them. Plus, none of my credit cards worked because I didn’t seem to belong to the world any longer, or the world to me.
Stirring the fire again with my stick, I looked up as a figure appeared from the darkness and stepped into the light of my fire. I leapt up and backed away as the figure approached and I saw that the man was short and dressed in muddy and dripping rags. The long tangles of his black hair reached down to his waist, caked with mud and grit. He smelled like damp forest loam after a rain. His wrinkles betrayed his age and his eyes were set deep in the sharp Asiatic angles of his face as he looked into my own eyes. He carried a filthy canvas sack. Hope and dread intermingled in my mind as I realized that he could see me.
And then he spoke to me.
It was the old, sibilant hiss of the Csángó dialect of Hungarian, spoken only in the ancient Magyar enclaves in the Bacău area of Moldavia, which I understood. And that understanding made the world spin. I sat down hard, my teeth banging together as the man reached into the sack. He pulled out a book, a book that was all too familiar to me, a book that I had purchased and deciphered and had sent me into exile from humanity.
The book of Heinrich-Helmut von Stellmacher.
It was the tool of the white stag god, who had helped found the Huns and Magyars, and who had won a game of chance against the gods of all the peoples of the world. The white stag that could erase the existence from the minds of everyone anyone he pleased.
The old man whispered and gibbered hidden wisdom and ancient rites as the fire blazed and the smoke danced. The words of the ancient Magyar tongue became too quick for me to understand, but whose meaning pierced my thoughts and made pictures that I could see.
I saw the forgotten ones. Mithra and Isis. Coyote and Bear. Quetzalcoatl and Loki. All quivering and blazing anew in their rebirth. I saw them as my campfire winked out and as the wind began to roar down from the north, scattering my camp and knocking my coffee pot to the earth. My vision narrowed and turned yellow as I closed my eyes and let the darkness take me.
As I passed out, the old man left me with one last word.
Szélkirály. King of the Wind.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of children’s voices. I sat up and saw three Magyar children standing a good twenty feet away from me, staring at me with wide brown eyes, whispering to each other. They could see me and I could see them. And then I knew. Like many other things in the world the night before, I had just been reborn.
David M. Buhajla is a writer and poet living in Arkansas with his wife Marci and his daughter Maya. His work is available in DM, Counterexample Poetics, Sex and Murder, Rose and Thorn Journal, The Horror Zine, The Gloaming Magazine, Death Head Grin, and the “Winter Canons” anthology from Midwest Literary Magazine.