The clouds rest their heads and their black swollen bellies against the land. Rain falls without rhythm; it drops to the grass in one long rush. You can’t see through it until the wind comes, throws it around, and rolls the clouds over onto their backs. The tips of the trees bend and wave in greeting.
The flapping canvas on a shed roof sounds like horses charging, drumming their hooves on the chalk.
Shadows pass over the ground, and between layers of cloud. The trees shudder and the dogs run loose. Not the old farm dogs; These are hunting hounds, clawing over the low hills towards men chosen by Woden.
You might be one of them.
You might see him, riding, the host and the hounds behind him, hear the hooves on the wind, and the whip crack in the thunder, and the howl of the wild hunt.
You might try to run.
It might work for a while, or seem to, until the night comes, and in a snap of lightning you see their silhouettes against the sky, and know that it’s you they’re taking, this time, down into their own land, down into the damp and the mould and the mist, where the halls are roofed with snakes and the high beams drip with venom.
But for now, it’s just the rain.
It leaves puddles in the fields but they don’t flood. The clouds are lounging, heavy, but they don’t sink, and the air is cooler, and fresher, as if something dead has been cleared away.