When the Stars are RightByTimothy C. PhillipsSomewhere, in the ancient night, black tide laps black stones. A steep and windsweptstrand looms upward from the black sea, under the eternal and implacable stars that have kepttheir watch since the wheel of the sky was young. Rocks, water, eternal pale and flickering light;unchanging things in the unchanging secret of night. Night; that is the time when on earth thecodex of the deepest universe stands revealed to those who would stare into the heavens andstudy and record its most worrying enigmas, it is then that certain truths might be guessed at, bythe ever-grasping and restless mind of Humankind.Down the black rocks in the darkness, there comes a slip of white, a girl, just becoming awoman, naked, gliding down the step-like stones, her hands held up before her in supplication,her eyes turned up to the wheeling deathless glare of the stars, heedless of her danger. Her feetknow the way, and she steps down, down, without fault or fail, to the ceaseless and churningedge of the eternal waters, watched over by the cold and eternal parliament of a million stars, heronly shield the ebony cloak of night.
She reaches the water’s edge and takes yet one more step, out onto the a jutting rock, the
last call of land, an obsidian outcropping that comes straight up out of the sheer drop off, nakedslippery feet finding purchase where none should be, the water a hundred feet deep and waitingfor her on every side, still she stares at the sky and first her lips begin to quiver without a soundand then there is a sound, faint and trembling, then rising to a ululation, as she opens her throat