Sila sat on the top bunk of the youth hostel with the flooded basement, the only hostel in Vicenza apparently, and read from the book he’d traded his Slovene to Romanian dictionary for
Monogatari of Northern Italy
which used the word monogatari cos it was written by a Japanese woman who travelled the world looking for the demons she’d read about on the internet and when she didn’t find any, the alternative was to write a book about them instead and make enough yen to do the whole thing again.
Her name was Ritsuko Takano
though online she wrote as Fox Volant.
The folktale that Sila had focused on was the one that sounded familiar to the missing men he’d been reading about online, the reason he’d come to Vicenza, fifteen young men over the last seven years, which didn’t sound strange on its own, but when you heard that they’d all gone missing near a town in Northern Italy, a town famous for carpentry, during winter, during heavy snowstorms then it began to sound like something cabinet related.
Joanna was on the bottom bunk, the cover of the German book showcasing itself to the rest of the room, which basically meant no one as they were the only two people there.
‘You ready for this?’ Sila asked for the third time, getting back faint breath and muttered German. ‘Okay, I’ll take that as a neutral vote.’
He tried the first line, ‘many years ago,’ but his throat was a bit dry, forcing a cough and then a series of saliva swallows before a second attempt.
‘Many years ago, in a small town near the border of Italy and Austria, there lived a beautiful young girl called Damijana. She was the daughter of the local woodcutter, his only child, and he was well known to spoil her. All the young men in the village wanted to fuck her…’ A cough, unconvincing. ‘…marry her, but found it difficult to a] please her father, and b] please Damijana herself.Continue reading