Dusk washes over this strip of meadowy countryside and the spectral call of a whippoorwill rises. Unseen remains the bird itself whose cryptically coloured plumage evades my gaze even when its shadow cuts smoothly across the darkness. I linger on the porch and listen for hours but never see the creature which has enticed me to visit this isolated place. The bird that criss-crosses the vast gloom of a young night on silent wings and forebodes freedom of freedom. A portent not of death, as misguided observers have assumed in ages past, but of the transience of all illiberty and unfreedom.

The hotel that accommodates me during these few days of vacation is luxurious and I’m not lacking any comfort while I’m waiting. Green tea from the lush Taiwanese mountains keeps me alert, and an alpaca-fibre blanket keeps me warm when the cold night-winds howl but I must depart soon and I’m growing impatient. There is something unwholesome in the shadows that spring up at nightfall. They move too organically, too independently from the motion of the wind in the trees and brushes. As I’m keeping an eye out for a glimpse of a whippoorwill, the darkness widens into a mesmerizing abyss and it is not until I hear the nearby church-bells strike midnight that I manage to drag myself away, climb the narrow stairs to my room and fall into a restless sleep.