Alone on the highway, pitch-black and headlights dying. Following the weak glint of the centerline. A pale red vein cutting jagged through the sky. Trees without leaves. Driving, cutting the cold, the silence, you see a flame on a hill up ahead to the southwest, a bright orange teardrop, small, like you could wipe it off the windshield with you thumb. Clouds move in, the dark gets darker. You drive until the fire is directly to your right. It’s somewhat bigger now.
Standing on the shoulder the car is off, no shelter now just another piece of the night. Without light, shades of gray begin to distinguish themselves. The night opens up to you, just as you’ve opened yourself up to it.
There is a frontage road, off of that a smaller road leading up a hill. Snow is falling now, lightly filling in the footsteps that lead from the car to the hill.
Ancient peoples would look at a hill from a distance and see the head of a giant, or a god peeking over the horizon. If that looming, forested extrusion of white is a head than that flame burning near its crest is an eye. It winks lazily at the night, wise to its dodgy promises of endless mystery, immune to its syrupy inducements to sleep, in utter insolent defiance of all its power.
The night. From beside the burning farmhouse, you look out into it, and it looks back into you.