Through to the other side
Cynthia turned her head away, sickened. She knew now what the new smell was. Facing them on the other side of the bottom of the hole was a grotesque pile of carcases in various stages of decay, with bones showing through the rotting flesh.
Henry said to Albrecht: ‘There can’t be all that many places like this. Have you any idea where we are?’
Albrecht said slowly: ‘I think that I know. I think we have come through the hill to the other side. There is such a place as this, and I have not heard of another.’
‘The country people call it a bottomless pit; for them anything that is too deep to see the bottom is called bottomless. They used it to be rid of dead animals, and sometimes living animals that are diseased. Bats swarm out from it at dusk, and in again at dawn. At one time, the country people believed that they were inhabited by the souls of the damned, but I do not think that is believed today.’
Henry made a gesture towards the heap of putrescence that faced them.
‘They throw the carcases down here and take water from the streams lower down the hillside. Then they’re surprised when their children die.’