The Stave Hill Burial Ground

She was named Fae and her feet behaved like ears that could listen into the ground. Every pore on her feet had a cochlear, or so it felt, or so it seemed. The doctor’s never found any however, nothing physical to back up what she said she heard. 

She lived in a block of flats by the river. There wasn’t much to hear in the ground in the flats. Mostly just plumbing and the occasional aftershock of a tremor from somewhere in the distance. So she preferred to keep her feet off the ground mostly. The ears of her feet didn’t work well in air and she’d have some respite from the sound of pipes gushing. She even took to wearing shoes with air bubbles across her soles to keep from hearing the ground when she walked around her neighbourhood.

Fae mostly hated her feet, saw them as a malicious affliction she’d much rather be without. She’d get distracted in class when someone flushed the toilet five doors down and could never quite pay attention to people’s stories in the playground, the gas pipes were too loud.

However, there were moments which made up for the nastiness of her feet, and these were mostly spent at the riverbank close by to her block.

In each grain of sand she’d hear a story of the earth. Some from unfathomable eras, some recent movements from ships. And with every small wave the sand would be refreshed with a new set of stories for her.

One evening she was walking back home and her path was blocked by a crowd of football fans. It was a local derby and the streets were filled. The police filed people into line, blocked Fae’s way home. So she decided to take a shortcut home through an abandoned timber yard where her family used to work.

She moved quick for the place was dirty and littered with sharp objects. The old ponds of the timber docks were full with household waste and reeked. Fae moved quicker.

A set of screams from below sent shivers across Fae’s body. She ran and ran…

That evening Fae sat in the bath tub with her feet firmly in the air, so that no sounds could come through them. She cursed her feet as wicked and wished she could hear nothing through them.

However, a piece of rubble found its way onto Fae’s floor. It must have got caught in Fae’s shoe as she ran from the old docks. As she was getting ready for bed that night, wrinkled from a long stint with her feet off the ground, a voice started calling from below. It was faint, but unmistakeably of the same tone as what Fae heard in the docks. The voice pleaded for a proper burial, they said that their current life in this open topped tomb had trapped them in between Fae’s world and there’s. They were trapped in a period of unthinkable atomisation.

Fae heard the voices pleas and tried to soothe it as best she could, knowing full well that there was little she could do about the docks. The next day she brought the stone back to the docks and laid them to rest there, promising the stone that she would help in any way she could.

The story lingered in Fae’s mind from then on like a bad smell. She passed the old docks day in and day out and although she never stepped foot on that waste land again, the screams and that story remained with her.

Then one day Fae saw people in high-vis jackets surveying the area. They put up fences around the site to shut out the public. Fae worried for the destiny of those underneath. If they placed a new block of flats atop the open grave, she couldn’t imagine that would help their suffering.

Much to her delight, new apartments was not their plan with this land. The site was being sculpted into a park. Fae was older now, and lived not so close by, but she would walk near the land every day, talking to the construction workers on site about their plans.

One day when she came, Fae found a buzz of diggers working by Stave Hill road. She called out to one of the construction workers who explained that they planned to landscape a hill from some of the rubble and domestic waste they’d excavated from the site. The hill, or mound would be covered with a layer of better top soil and planted with hardy grasses. The ecologist thought that it would be enough to let plants grow here.

With this news, Fae’s heart was lightened. They were to give the rubble and waste a proper burial. The designated burial style reminded Fae of the earthen long barrows she had read about in history class, Neolithic burial sites to respect the dead. This would be the Stave Hill Long Barrow, she thought, and she would ensure the souls found their passage into their domain.

How many other of these new burial sites exist?

How many other unborn undead?

Who tends to the souls there?

The insects came first, with soothing songs for disturbed minds. Burrowing into the mound to make homes, readying the soil. Bees carried pollen from across London as an offering to the new undead.

A spider spins their web

Stitching together the gashes in the land

A spider spins their web


Fae often wondered who these undead were, composed of a vast array of branded objects once used for distinctly human activities. She often came to the mound to pay her respects, walking barefoot in concentric circles from the outer perimeter to the top. She listened to fainter, more distant sounds that seemed to be gelling into distinct voices.

Fae would learn more of the underneath over the years. Soon after the park opened she took up an opening as a gardener for the community park. So, she paid her respects to the souls there with every seed sown

And every tree planted

She would start every day by walking up the mound, taking off her shoes and socks and staring off at the glass towers opposite the park, across the river.

Despite the stainless glass, the 30th floor panoramas, they did not see. They preached from high towers that a new era was dawning. Maybe it was the reflections, the shine of their suits, the never night-lights. Or was it how they kept their heads in the clouds, away from the ground.

Infinite growth for immortal decay.

Immortals of decay