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The barbarous shore at the lame foot of Lampblack Hill is the source of a species of rather uncanny agate, which over a considerable length of time, I have grown to refer to collectively as "macabres". This I favour as the most accurate method of description. Often calcite crystals populate the nodule's inner habitat, skewing fortifications, and concurrent with these, crystalline growths as myriad and filamental as kinked human hair or a cosmos of mycelium, penetrate throughout. Similar agates are encountered elsewhere, associated with calcite, though as outliers to a general theme, and not showing such diversity. Here they are prevalent. 


That said, though specimens can be found as a result of longshore drift, both to the north and south of the location, at the source itself they are dwindling. As recently as the July and August of 2020 a large volume of productive shingle was extant, before being promptly washed back out to sea by the fickle Angus tide that very October. Now finding specimens of any quality is highly difficult, indeed searching for those pieces long transplanted elsewhere may be more fulfilling.


In 2019 I had happened across this location, a tiny tangle of gullies, in my searching for another. And quickly I became fascinated by the strange agates that seemed to profiliate there. Though I was keenly drawn to the place, as with many agate-rich locations on the coast, even in bright July it had an imposing atmosphere, and exuded a melancholic desolation.


Late that summer I had walked to the spot in the afternoon on a very still and sun-dappled day. I had spent an hour or so ensconced in the contemplative meditation of pebble lore, and feeling unsettled and unable to focus on my searching, I had wandered to where the shelving stone met the sea, in a skull-work of pockmarks and potholes. Many of these were unfathomably deep, and it was in gazing out to the sea, now beginning to gain the first blushes of sunset, that I felt the subtle shift in atmospheric dynamics that suggested I was observed by another. I scanned all around but could find no sign of life, save the doleful caterwhaul of a distant gull. It was just as the looming sun stole behind a cloud overhead, cooling the light in my eyes, that I saw it. A snatch of luminous white lost in the black of the pothole to my left. I discerned two eyes, disguised in the deep, yet I was sure, fixed upon my own. I could detect the sonorous flounce of grey drifts of kelp about them, and other straggles of a more rosy hue, together with the suggestion of further white beneath, and I realised of course, with a shudder, that these must be teeth. Slender pricks of teeth like the spines worn by a noxious caterpillar. The water was so clear here, so unusually so that I could see this beast lurk from a distance of no more than twenty feet. Nevertheless, its malevolence seemed tangible, and I imagined a venom swarmed in the bright of its eyes. I could feel in the grinding of my own grimace, the glint of its carniverous teeth. I felt that I could see vague suggestions of a serpentine form in black and green that surrounded the space beneath. So sinister was the feeling that swept through my flesh in those horrific moments that I imagined I could feel a great weight upon my head pinning me against the outcrop on which I leant. I spent only ten minutes in the counsel of this unknown thing, before in wiping the sweat from my brow I shifted my gaze for just a second, and in returning to consider the grotesque below, realised it had gone. I was left to ponder the possibility that some anomaly of light had tricked my mind, or that I had suffered some hallucination brought on by isolation and the intensity of my focus on those prolific pebbles.


As I returned to the upper shore, in passing several nooks and hollows in the smooth expanse of nearby stone, I could detect, I fancied, blooms of a dark substance in the unmoving spume, that others would surely argue could never have been blood, though on that particular evening, the whole world of life that flits the air and its unbreathing twin beneath, seemed to scream that it must be true.

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