I awoke, today, in a place I had never seen before; a place with which I am, or was, at the time, entirely unfamiliar with. It was a small, derelict cell, with little in the way of noticeable decour. The walls were grey brick; the most boring of all potential colour schemes, a disgusting monument of nothingness and an insult to the imagination.
I found, on the floor, across from the bed on which I was laying, a notepad and a fountain pen. I found it peculiar, as I couldn’t quite fathom why anybody would leave such a glorious thing. In a place as boring, as tedious, as monotonous and despicable as this, few things can bring joy to a soul quite like pen and paper. Perhaps I shall compose an epic poem? Though I find that hard to believe. Why would any art that is worthwhile come from a place like this? How could it, when the mind is crushed by an oppressive, regimental souring of the senses. If grey bricks are your muse, perhaps it would be a blessing.
Alas, mine they are not. I am a child of the stars, of the oceans, of the fields and the forests. I love little more than the feeling of a fine wind upon my face, of the sun beaming upon my skin, basking me in the blissful radiance. Here, any poetry I produced would be strangled, any art crushed and mangled before the violent hand of boredom. My imagination is not into which you can escape from the dark; it is a portal, vibrant and beautiful, but one which requires keys, such as happiness or glee. Boredom to me is like poison to the rat.
I digress, here I am, finding myself in a mysterious cell, the nature of which I as of yet have no idea, and I find myself rambling about the cursed decour of the place. I know not what date it is, nor what day it is, nor, more importantly, why on Earth I am here. I remember nothing of myself, save for my love of the natural world all her delights, not even my name, my age, the face of my mother. Do I even have a mother? Of course, I must, for I am born, and, to the best of my knowledge, a human being of flesh and blood. I could be more, certainly, it is not out of the question, for who knows what worlds lie beyond those we can interact with on a sensory basis?
We could be but one of many universes, spinning infinitely on an eternal axis, only interacting during wonderful or calamitous moments.
At least I can tell, or at least accurately summarise, that, whomever I may be, and wherever I may be, I am the very least a being of a reasonably high intelligence. That is reassuring, as I do know that I am not fond of those slow on the uptake, or poor at academics. They are often nice people, but the inability to converse beyond that of a somewhat basic and primitive level can cause me no end of irritation. I remember this, if nothing else….this, and the rolling fields.
I could not date this journal, unfortunately, at least not yet, as, of course, I do not know what date it is. Worse, I know not even what day it is. Not that it is particularly important, but I do remember something about important about Sunday…perhaps I was due to partake in a party, or attend Church. Am I a religious man? Do I fear God? I do not feel that way, but, perhaps it will return to me. For now, I cannot rule it out.
Again, I digress to nonsensical ramblings of lost memories that do neither I, nor you, whomever may eventually receive this, any favours, for we are no closer to solving the mystery. Examining the cell gives little away; it is a cell, as classic as any cell one may expect. There is a horrifically uncomfortable bed, one lumpy item with the audacity to masquerade as a mattress, which does nothing to add to comfort; one stained privy that has not been cleaned, seemingly, for centuries. They have, at the very least, had the decency to hand me the necessities to clean myself after use, a thoughtful gesture, considering the circumstances. There is, placed far too close to the lavatory for any comfortable or practical use, an old, rusty, dilapidated shower. I am sure, before long, I will be forced to use it, for nobody likes to smell too diabolically if the opportunity to rectify the situation should show itself.
I waited, for some time, sitting on the cell floor, writing the above, before, finally, the sound of footsteps could be heard approaching. Judging by the sound they produced, a sound of leather upon stone, I could theorise that the entire building was built of the same horrible grey stone. If not grey stone, stone of some description of the very least. I thought this to be a terrible idea, as why would one still build with such a cold material in this era? Why would they still deploy such primitive methods to build when those more advanced are at hold? Foolish, I say, the architect of this unknown hellhole should be fired. There’s a terrible draft, and with the stone floor, it was incredibly cold, and these thin, oddly striped pyjamas, and those terribly useless slippers, provided no protection from the temperature.
The footsteps grew louder, and, judging via the hard plodding they made on the stone floor, they were clearly the footsteps of a large person, more likely a muscular gentlemen, though I suppose it could equally be a fat woman, or even a muscular woman. In this day and age, where women worked and were paid on equal terms, it would not be out of the question for them to work in an environment utilising such primitive cells.
All I could see, at first, on the outside of the bars than contained me, was a terrifying and disorientating darkness. There was a small torch, right outside my cell, just out of reach, and provided the interior with light, as well as a small circle of wall around the source. The circle was, of course, grey. Beyond that circle, I could see nothing but darkness.
Then came to my attention a glow, somewhere in the distance, and I could theorise that my cell was directly in front of a large and long corridor. Judging by the small size of the flame at current, it must be a long corridor, stretching on for some considerable distance. Potential escape, it would appear, would be a difficult and tedious task.
The glow grew larger, as it came closer, and closer to my cell, until it was mere meters away, and I could see something peculiar. There were no other cells down the corridor of grey stone, merely blank walls stretching on and on for as far as the darkness would allow me to see. Now, I must confess, there could be other cells beyond the reach of the light, which wasn’t particularly impressive. To my irritation, though it was perfectly understandable, the light moved with the bearer, so only segments were available for a limited duration of time, and I had been transfixed by the torch, and missed most of the journey down the corridor, as I was not paying particular attention to the walls.
I could see though, as things stood, that the walls for at least fifteen feet or so down the corridor held no doors, no cells, no bars. I was all alone, at least for that fifteen feet. I could also see now the bearer of the torch, and my first guess had been correct.
This man, if he was a man, stood at least seven feet tall, and was potentially seven feet wide; though, he carried no fat, and seemingly had muscles sculpted from granite. He wore armour over his chest, but not his arms, which struck me as bizarre, and had gauntlets upon his wrists. His legs were coated in armour, as were his boots, and he wore a helmet that covered his face. All of this, it would appear, were sculpted of some form of ebony, and explained why I couldn’t make him out as he made his way down the corridor; he was entirely black, from head to toe, and only the torchlight provided any colour, as he and the walls were not doing their part in the slightest.
It struck me as peculiar that he would be wearing armour, but, it had also struck me as peculiar that I was in a cell, so I suppose it had simply been one of those days of peculiarity that we all suffer from time to time in the cycle of life.
The guard stared at me, and made no utterance. After a period of time that had reached the level of being uncomfortable, I decided to engage him first, perhaps breaking the tension and segwaying into light banter. I was, sadly, mistaken.
‘Good sir,’ I asked, as politely was possible, ‘Do tell me. Why am I here?’
The guard said nothing, so I decided to ask again.
‘Sir, perhaps you did not hear me, so if you will excuse me, I shall repeat myself. Why am I here?’
‘You know why’ came the reply, and the voice, I must confess, was terrifying. It was devoid of any warmth of care, and was almost a mere parody of a human voice. It startled me so, that at first I could not reply.
Once I had regained some composure, I did so;
‘Excuse me sir, but I do not, or I would not have asked.’
‘It is not my place to tell you what you already know.’
‘Sir, I must stress my sincerity; I do not have the slightest clue.’
‘Then, I am afraid, you must remain In the dark.’
‘Sir, why will you not tell me?’
‘I have already told you.’
‘Wait…what exactly do you mean?’
‘I have already told you. I tire of this conversation. I came to bring you food.’
‘But sir, you have only a torch with you.’
I looked down, and, to my utter surprise, I found he was now carrying a silver tray, with a covering upon it, and a glass of water balancing precariously.
‘I stand corrected. Many apologies.’
‘That is quite fine.’
‘Are there questions of mine you may answer?’
‘Could you tell me one thing?’
‘What day is it?’
‘And the date?’
‘I answered one question. You asked for one thing.’
Unfortunately, he was correct. That was indeed the parameters under which he had agreed to divulge some information, at least for today, and I decided that it was not wise to press further for now.
‘Thank you for the food.’
The guard nodded, and headed back down the corridor, torch in tow, lighting the way as he went. A portrait of darkness that lit all before him, a walking juxtaposition of ideologies, an enigma as true as my own.
The dinner was, shockingly, not the worst I had ever indulged in. Roast beef with a mysterious and alarmingly thick gravy, that only slid down the plate upon tilting due to the will of gravity, though it desperately tried to defy known physics and climb back up. That, coupled with the mash potatoes, complete with lumps of both potato skin and hair, created an ensemble that did not have me salivating in anticipation, but was more enjoyable than expected. Perhaps I had not eaten for some time, and was ravenous, caring not for flavour and taste? Perhaps it was simply better than the eyes would suggest? Either way, the milk was warm and sour, spoiling things somewhat.
Though I knew not if it was day or night, I felt heavy and full after my meal, and decided to take a nap upon the lumpy mattress. Perhaps, I hoped, sleep would restore my faculties somewhat, and some memories of importance could creep back into my memory banks.
Despite the uncomfortable nature of the traitorous, lying whore of a mattress, and the pillow that may as well have been a sandbag, I feel tired.
So, for tonight, or today, I stop my writing.
Today is Tuesday, if what the guard told me last night holds any truth to it, and already these four walls,, the monotonous nature of which, is denting my sanity, and causing me an immense amount of claustrophobia and panic.
I tried to write a poem this morning, as I was still under the distinct impression that, perhaps, I had been a poet previously. My memories are still yet to return to me, so, for now, all I have are theories. Theories which must be vigorously tested before one can either consider them fact or fallacy. Ergo, this morning, I tried to write a poem. I have named it, sarcastically, and with utter disdain, Grey Bricks.
I see nothing, but the grey,
The mundane, humdrum vibrations,
A frequency, one wishes not to hear.
Curse you, the grey tormentor,
Sitting there, upon the wall,
Screaming at me, you fiend.
I sit here, in the morning,
Is it morning? I do not know.
Grey bricks, are all I see.
Before me sits, the bricks of grey,
Grey bricks, damn these bricks,
These bricks of grey…these bricks I hate.
As you can envision, one would imagine, from my slapdash prose and lack of any form of structural writing, I am probably not, nor ever have been, a poet. Though, one must confess; in such situations, in a scenario like this one, locked in a cell, nothing but grey for inspiration, no memories upon which to draw, it does not provide a sufficient conduit for artistic aspirations.
I wager neither Robert Browning nor Dante himself could conjure anything of worth in such a place like this. Or, could it be said, that a true artist rises above his environment, and can create the magnificent from the mundane and trivial?
It struck me then, that perhaps poetry was indeed not my previous endeavour. Perhaps, I thought, I was merely a philosopher? With all the deep and intricate thoughts of the poet, of the artist, but without the talent to convey such ideals? Then I read my own journal, yesterday’s entry, and thought that was not entirely true. Certainly I display a talent for writing, if nothing else.
Whilst my thoughts may, now, be scattered, I think they are conveyed in a manner that some may consider entertaining. Though, it could be a consequence of arrogance. Maybe I was a mere servant, or, though it pains me to say, maybe no better than a common barkeeper? I could very well be clutching for a significant past that, sadly, never existed.
I received two meals today, an improvement on yesterday’s solitary offering, suggesting I must have woken up earlier. Without a clock, nor a window, any concept of time is lost to me. I assume I write this Tuesday, yet, I have no way of knowing with any degree of certainty. It could be Wednesday already, and I could have already passed that mysterious hour of witchery when the clock hands meet, and the world seems to momentarily stand still.
Breakfast, or lunch, depending on what it was supposed to be, came the same as the meal did Monday. A singular guard, carrying a torch, arriving down the dark corridor. Again, when first they arrived, the torch seemed to be the only thing they carried, and, again, the silver tray seemed to manifest from nowhere.
I took the tray, as I was desperately hungry, and began to wolf down the offering of overdone, slimy eggs, supposedly fried, smelly bacon, and sausages of a meat I would be terrified to attempt to identify. Yet, it filled my stomach happily with a complete satisfaction and glee, and the taste was not as bad as I had feared. I wished, truthfully, to interrogate my guard once again, seeing if they would provide me with another scrap of information. If they told me just one fact, one a day, over a period of time, I could piece the mystery together.
Alas, they had already departed. My stomach had betrayed me, and my gluttonous need to feed had cost me a chance at a question. I scolded myself with a great fury, knowing that now, not only was I without a question, but the rancid aftertaste of the meat products suggested I would soon become very well acquainted with my toilet.
I was entirely correct with this hypothesis. The worst part about a toilet in a cell, is there is nothing to grab onto when answering the call of nature, and nature’s call is particularly violent.
As my rectum seemingly exploded, as though some alien entity were forcing itself out, I had a momentary flash of white, and was hit by a great dizziness.
In this white, this moment, I saw something; A woman, a beautiful woman, running across an open field. She called out a name, which I could not make out, and ran towards me with her arms outstretched. We embraced, and fell to the floor in this manner. I kissed her, passionately, and she whispered in my ear ‘The doorway is opening. We’ll be there soon.’
Then, I was back upon my toilet, in my little grey cell, with no idea as to what had just transpired, or who this woman was. I only know that she was utterly beautiful, and had a face that displayed nothing but kindness and warmth.
I felt a poem grow within me, and had taken my pen to write, when the familiar sounds of footsteps down the corridor grew louder, and I could see my old friend, the glowing torch.
This time, I would not make the same mistake as last. I decided to converse with the guard, not even displaying surprise on this occasion at the manifesting silver platter – which, in this instance, was a meal of beans, rice and what I guessed to be chicken, but resembled no chicken I had ever seen. Before beginning to feast, I turned and engaged the guard in conversation.
‘Good sir, may I ask another question today?’
He looked at me with an expression I could not decipher, for his face was covered by the ebony helmet. He said nothing.
‘Sir? Am I allowed?’
‘You have already asked a question.’
‘Good sir, you are mistaken. I am yet to ask my question.’
‘You already asked a question. You asked if you could ask a question. Is that not, in itself, a question?’
I stood, open-mouthed, stunned. It was. By all the Gods above, it was! How could I be such a fool? Not even tricked, fooled or hoodwinked: a victim merely of my own idiocy.
I turned to him, and decided, desperately, to try and push my luck;
‘Sir, it slipped my mind that my inquiry maybe mistaken for the question. It was my foolishness, yet, may I not be shown mercy and tried again?’
‘Look around you.’
‘Look around you.’
I had no idea, at the time, what these words meant, yet I decided my best chance was to play along with his game. I looked around myself, studying the walls; depressingly, they looked the same as they had all day/night, and had undertaken no metamorphosis towards grandeur.
I looked back at him.
‘I see only my cell.’
‘Does this look like a place that would offer a home to mercy?’
‘No sir, it does not.’
‘There is your answer.’
With that, he began to walk away;
‘Sir, sir, please return!’ I yelled, somewhat humiliatingly, like a beggar hunting unsolicited charity.
He did not return. He did not even acknowledge that I had spoke.
I was left deflated, and hollow in spirts; that poet as far from myself as ever had been. I felt like a torn tyre; flattened, and without use.
I sat, began to pick at my miserable dinner.
I sat alone.
I felt no more desire to write.
There is a rat in my cell. I know not from where he came, though I can wager a good guess he snuck in through the small, rodent-sized hole in the wall. A hole, I am sure, was not there previously. Yet…maybe it was. Maybe in the landscape of grey bricks, endless, monotonous landscape, this hole that had always been there. Though, surely, I would have noticed. Surely, in my desperate desire to seek out anything in that monotony, I would have spotted such a hole.
It would have jumped out at me; would have screamed ‘Look here sir, look right here, we have something different. Instead of an absence of colour, we now have an absence of wall itself!’
Either way, I hadn’t noticed..until now.
Until he poked out his tiny, rodent head this morning, as if it scouting the area. Seeing me, clearly, as not much of a threat, out he came, scurrying across the floor. What was peculiar about this particular rat was that he was not of a classic ‘ratty’ colour; he was not a dirty beige, brown, black, grey or even red; rather, he was of an offensively vibrant purple, with a head that seemed to glow green.
He looked at me, from across my cell. Not as if I were a threat, as such, but more a curiosity to him. Is that why I’ve sunk to, in my this depraved and disgusting cell? Am I now so pathetic, so harmless, so helpless, that not even a rat would find me intimidating? Why should it?
In an area such as this; a cold, stone cell, the human mind will quickly collapse upon itself, a supernova of consciousness, caused by the crippling, depressing, stagnant surroundings.
Here, however, a rat would thrive. A rat would thrive anywhere.
In the land of the dilapidated and desolate, the rodent is King.
He kept looking, and looking, and looking again. I couldn’t place blame at his paws, for he had nothing better to do. Neither did I, truth be told, and so I found myself looking also.
For some reason, that, within the context of the memory itself, almost worries me, this little rodent looking into my eyes seemed to spark my remembrance, and I found myself no longer in the cell, but in a field.
The field was beautiful, as are most fields; endless luscious green, stretching on for mile upon mile, everywhere you look a joyous, vibrant, beautiful green. After the three days of grey, this green was perhaps the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Or, at least, it was for a few minutes…before she arrived.
She, who had taught me love. She, who had taught me beauty, comfort, happiness and all that which accompanied these jovial feelings.
She had come into my life at a time I cannot currently recall. All I can recall, is that she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and ever would see. Perhaps not objectively; in fact, I’d wager she wouldn’t win a beauty pageant, would never grace the cover of a popular magazine…and yet, to me, she was the most beautiful thing the world had ever seen, that biology had ever conjured up.
Fuck the Pyramids; this was the epiphany of human creation.
Her name…sadly, eludes me; though I feel it began with a ‘C’. Christina? Chloe? Carla?
It’s hard to tell, really..so for now, I’ll call her merely ‘Mrs.C.’
Mrs.C came to me in the field, arms outstretched, as I sat there playing with the grass and the flowers.
She smiled, and beckoned me towards her. As if she were the piper, and I a mere child, caught up in her hypnotic, mesmeric sway, I came. (And not merely outside of my trousers, though she was never to know this. Ejaculatory fluids are not a woman’s best friend.)
The two of us danced in that field; lost in one another’s arms, eyes, our very souls dancing together through the ethereal nothingness, heading towards happiness and meaning…completion of dilapidated souls, trampled upon by life.
As we danced, we left the field. We danced upon the treetops. We danced upon the Moon.
We danced through galaxies, past stars of many descriptions; red dwarfs, white dwarfs, even stars yet to be categorised, we saw them all. And we saw that they were beautiful, and she was beautiful, and, while we danced, even a creature as wretched as I felt beautiful.
And then she was gone. I was back in my cell.
The torch was coming, and the rat was gone.
The guard appeared, as per usual, though as I had already eaten twice today, at least, I think I had anyway, I gathered this was my dinner or supper meal.
I was not mistaken, for this time the silver tray held Sausages, mashed potato and a thick onion gravy that smelt rather mysterious. Onion could certainly be smelt, yet, there was a chemical tinge to it I found less than appealing. I couldn’t quite pick out what it was, exactly, but it was certainly far from appetising.
Determined not to repeat yesterday’s mistake, I addressed him directly, promptly, and without question;
‘Sir, I believe I have a question for you. I also believe you’re entitled to answer.’
‘Do you believe, or do you know?’
This threw me off for a moment. What on Earth could they mean? Could they ask questions themselves? Did that count as my question? I decided to take the safest possible course of action.
‘Good. Then ask.’
‘Thank you, sir. What is my name?’
‘What do you think it is?’
Again, this threw me momentarily. What did they mean by that?
‘I do not remember.’
‘Then that is your name.’
‘Look here, good sir. Idonotremember is NOT a person’s name, and it certainly is not
The guards expression could not be comprehended through the ebony armour, but via the way they had cocked their head, I could envision they were giving me an expression of exasperation.
‘That is not your name. You do not know your name. Thus, your name is nobody.’
‘I did not ask, Sir, for what I believed my name to be. I asked what my name is!’
‘And your name, currently, is nobody.’
‘That’s not fair! At the very least you could have told me what my name was previously.’
‘Then you should have asked.’
‘No, you asked what your name is, not what your name was. Had you asked the latter, I’d have told you.’
I lost my temper then, I must confess. Perhaps it was the pressures of these days of isolation. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition between this agony and the ecstasy I had experienced momentarily while in the company of Mrs.C…whatever it was, I finally snapped.
I began to shake the bars of the door while screaming;
‘Give me back my name! Give me back my name!’
The Guard merely laughed.
‘Your name is nobody. Your food will get cold. Nobody likes cold food.’
With that, he laughed again, a laugh that sent an icy chill down my spine, and he left, the torchlight following down the dark, dark corridor.
I threw my food tray at the wall, in anger, screaming as I did so.
I watched the rat begin to gnaw upon my sausage, loving every second of it.
Despite my anger, my fury, my frustration, I was still a slave to my biological urges. My stomach was rumbling with hunger, so I crouched down and began to eat my dinner off the cold, tiled floor.
I sat there with the rat. We both ate together.
One could say it was romantic.
The rat spoke to me today. I swear, if I hadn’t heard it myself, or seen it happen before my eyes, I would scarcely believe it.
He crawled out of his hole, at a time I assumed to be morning, as the day’s first meal was yet to arrive, and scuttled across the floor a few feet. Then, he stopped, and turned to me.
‘Hello, friend.’ Said the rat.
I looked at him, for some time, in bemusement. Unsure as to whether that had just happened, or my isolated, socially-deprived brain was toying with me, deluding me into a sense of having company in this dark and dinghy cell.
I had no idea how to reply, so I continued to stare, seeing if he’d again speak.
‘I said hello, friend.’
This time, I decided I had little choice in the matter. It’s not everyday one comes across a rodent with the prowess of speech, and it seemed somewhat foolish to make the most of it, whatever it meant.
‘Hello’ I replied, giving a bashful and confused wave to accompany my words.
‘You’re in a bad place, friend.’
‘I am aware. This decour is hideous.’
The rat laughed, an odd-sound, as he was so small it sounded more like a series of sneezes than a laugh.
‘Grey, grey, all is grey, grey tomorrow, grey today.’
‘Indeed. Did you think of that yourself?’
‘Yes. I am a poet, didn’t you know?’
‘A rat poet? I’ve never heard of such a ludicrous scenario.’
‘Here, all madness is sense, and all sense is madness.’
I looked at him for a while, unsure of how to respond to that, and, while I did, he scuttled towards his hole. As he reached the opening, he turned back to me.
‘When the time comes, use the door. It will open for you once.’
I meant to ask him what exactly he meant by that, and to which door he referred to, but he had gone, leaving me alone in the cell again, now more perplexed and bemused as ever.
A talking rat? I have surely gone mad. Perhaps that is the nature of this cell? Perhaps I am not mentally stable, and this place, this derelict hellhole, is an asylum?
This seemed unlikely. It would make little sense to place the insane in a place of such disgusting decoration. These grey bricks would send even the most rational among us into the welcoming arms of madness. This could well be the worst place imaginable to send the mentally unfit.
Yet, do we truly care? Have we ever, as a people, truly cared for the mad among us? Have we not always treated them with contempt, disgust and disregard?
I sat there for some time, contemplating my fate, and I must have fallen asleep pondering, for, when I awoke, there were two meal trays waiting for me in the room.
I investigated; croissants and milk in the former, a sandwich in the latter. Breakfast and lunch. I breathed a sight of deep relief, as I hadn’t missed dinner, and, as an extension, I hadn’t missed my daily attempt to pry some information from my captives.
I sat there, for some time, in the cell, waiting; fortunately, both croissants and sandwiches are light, and easy to digest, so I ate both, saving a scrap for the rat.
I put it by the hole, and, within moments, it had disappeared.
‘Thank you’ came a voice from within.
‘You are most welcome. Now, could I hear more about this door?’
There was a pause…I thought he may not reply. Then, he did;
‘When it opens, head through it.’
‘Kind rodent, could you not elaborate on this?’
He laughed, and disappeared into the hole, scurrying away, his little paws clap-clapping on the stone.
Unsure as what to do now, I sat there for a while, considering everything and anything.
I searched the recesses of my mind, desperately trying to piece together who I am.
Thus far, I knew only a handful of things; I was a prisoner. My name was unknown. I am most likely not a poet, but certainly intelligent, and with a gift for prose. I also remember her….Mrs.C…the woman of my dreams, the only woman for me.
I saw her again, now. Another memory:
We sit together, on a beach, the waves cascading up the sand, covering our feet in the cold, blue joyous water. We are holding hands, and eating Fish and Chips. It could be any beach, anywhere in the country. It doesn’t matter.
What matters are us; her and I, hand in hand, feet basking in the blue, enjoying our food, enjoying one another.
She turns to me and says something.
I cannot remember, or hear what it is.
I shake my head, for reasons I do not understand.
She looks irritated, put-out. In a temper, I presume, she begins to march towards the sea.
I remember yelling at her, as loud as I could;
‘No, don’t. The tide will take you! Come back!’
She keeps walking, heading into the blue, never looking back.
A large wave crashes, she falls, she lands in the blue, she floats.
Into the sea….
Away from me.
I found that the effect of this memory was to draw tears from my eyes. I had to move away from the notepad for some time, as my salty tears were threatening to ruin the pages.
‘My God,’ I said to nobody, alone in my cell.
Was she…..no. No, I cannot think like that. I cannot believe that.
I have to believe she’s out there, somewhere, waiting for me.
Waiting for my return. A smile on her face, arms open in embrace.
The paradigm of beauty.
This memory must have lasted some considerable time, for, there again, was the Guard at the door; torch and silver tray in tow, staring at me with that vision of Ebony.
I looked up at him, nodding tentatively, and he slid my food through the door.
Sausage, mash and gravy. Again? Do these people have no originality? No sense of a menu? Selection? Rotation?
I am not sure where the last came from, maybe I am a poet. Maybe I’m frustrated. Maybe the phallic nature of a sausage is reminding me of my own deprivations.
Either way, I turned to the guard, determined today to get it right;
‘Good Sir, I have my question for today.’
He gestured at me with his hand in a ‘go on then, say your piece’ manner.
I took a second to compose myself, and to get the wording exactly correct.
‘Good Sir..I must ask you today….’
I trailed off. How do I word this? These guards are tricky, they need to be handled with thought and precision.
He gestured at me, twirling his finger in a “hurry up” motion.
‘Sir….what do you plan to do with me?’
He laughed then, a horrific and horrible laugh.
‘Sir….answer me, please.’
‘We do not know yet. We have a few options.’
He laughed again. It was a horrible sound, as the laugh reverberated around the Ebony helmet, sounding metallic, and considerably less than human.
‘Perhaps we will donate your body for medical research. We have to know how you did it.’ I gasped.
‘Did what?’ I inquired.
‘That would be a second question, prisoner. You know the rules.’
‘Good Sir, you cannot dangle such a carrot and expect me not to bite.’
‘We decide when you bite, prisoner.’
With that, he began to walk away. My mind was racing, frantically.
That can only mean… death.
Death for me.
Death for my body.
Death for my dreams.
I did not eat that night. I gave it all to the rat. I merely sat, stared at the wall, and thought of Mrs.C.
The waves upon her feet,
Her hand upon mine,
Or souls upon one another.
Our essence mingling, basking in the waves.
This morning/afternoon/evening – I’d surmise it was afternoon, and I had overslept, as, when I awoke, there was a cold bowl of oatmeal laying upon the silver tray, and, say what you want about the dinghy, monotonous cell that I had made my home, but the food was always to temperature, if not to quality – something peculiar happened.
The Rat spoke to me.
He came, as he had the day before, crawling out from his tiny little hole, and scurried across the room. I’d decided to leave the cold oatmeal, as it is one meal I simply cannot take unless warm, as cold it tastes too much like gravel and dirt. I may be hungry, but I refuse to eat like a slave.
He nibbled upon the Oatmeal, heartily enjoying it, wolfing it down one tiny bite at a time. As he were heading back to his own cell of sorts, he turned to face me.
‘The door will open when the time is right.’
I looked at him, eyes wide-open in amazement, head cocked to the right.
‘The door will open when the time is right.’ He repeated. I say he, because while I had not undertaken the odious task of examining his genital region, the voice had an unmistakable masculinity to it. It was high in pitch, but certainly had male tones.
‘What door?’ I asked, deciding I may as well ride with this odd scenario.
This garnered no reply, the rat merely scuttling back into his hole, leaving me sat upon my bed in quite a state of disarray.
What on Earth had he meant? The cell door? Was it to open at a certain point, and that was my only opportunity at escape? It was yet to open since I’d been here….not even once. Not even for a singular moment.
It then struck me that I was discussing this internally as though it were a realistic possibility, as opposed to an unfeasible probability. My information had, afterall, come from a rat, a creature never considered among God’s more honest. That said, was there any recorded history of a rat ever lying? Not that I knew of.
As far as I was aware, this was the first time one had even spoke. Ergo, it would be somewhat unfair of me to write off an entire species as dishonest when the reality was they’d never had a chance to defend themselves. Until now. It was a week, it seemed, for inexplicable scenarios. The week of the weird.
I decided, then, that I would find no further joy in deciphering the rat’s message. I turned my focus then to the far more troubling statement made by the guard the previous evening.
‘Perhaps we’ll donate your body for medical research?’.
This had been reverberating around my cerebrum like a pinball all evening as I tried to make some tangible sense of the situation.
It sounded ominous, certainly. I, as far as I knew, though of course my memory was less than spectacular, had never offered myself up for such a service. Certainly not while still living. I was not opposed, per say, to the furthering of medical knowledge via a body I likely would no longer need in the next world, and, yet I felt at this moment I was not ready.
Of course, there’s also the trivial matter that I am very much alive, meaning his words could have meant one of two things;
Either that I was doomed to this cell until I died of old-age, at which point they’d take my body and perform who knows what experiments upon it….
Or, and this is certainly the worse option, they planned to kill me here, themselves. Neither option, I must confess, seemed particularly enthralling to me.
That said, I have no doubts that after enough time in this wretched hole they are keeping me contained in, I’d almost certainly welcome death.
They’d find me in a Month’s time, with my hands wrapped around the bars, holding them, shaking them, screaming as loud as I physically could;
‘Kill me, oh guards. Rip my soul from this wretched body, and release me from this turbulent existence!’
That day, however, was a considerable distance away. As it stood, I fully intended to escape my cell one way or the other.
Starting, perhaps, with the opening of this door the rat spoke of.
Something else struck me then, something else he had said;
‘We need to know how you did it?’
It was futile to even consider this; if I could not remember my name, could not even remember Mrs.C’s name, the one I love above all others, how the fuck would I remember what I did? The only theory I could surmise was that whatever I had done had led to the breakdown of my memory.
Still, the question lingered, like the odour of a broken toilet; What exactly had I done?
I need to get out of here..I need to escape. Perhaps if I felt the wind in my hair, and sand between my toes I could regain a sense of self. Of who I am. Of what I am.
I could see it then, as clear as if it were truly happening before my eyes; I and her, sat alone on the beach, holding hands and lapping up the waves.
She turned to me, with her magnificent eyes of the brightest blue…I could never forget those eyes, how could I? I could lose my entire mental faculties, my head separated from my shoulders, left as nothing more than a meandering stump lost the ethereal darkness…and yet, I would never forget those eyes.
She turned to me, and I could not hear what she was saying, but for a single word;
It had appeared, at least, as though she had mouthed several words before this. It may have been wishful thinking on my behalf, but then again, who needs to wish when one knows the love of his life? Regardless, I am confident she said ‘I love you’, before another word I could not make out for the life of me, followed by ‘Bruckstorn’.
I could only surmise from this that Bruckstorn were my surname. It sounded to my ears like a name of nobility and wealth; a regal name, for a regal person. Was I a noble before being trapped in this tumultuous hell?
I decided to await the guard…and spring him with another question. I went over it in my mind, endlessly turning it, like a vast vat of butter being churned.
The clomping sound came down the stairs, leather on stone, and the rays of the torch illuminated the corridor. Today, I would waste no time with social niceties. Today, I would cut to the chase like a dagger piercing the skin of confusion.
‘You sir’ I declared, not asked, as he reached the cell door.
He looked up, revealed his silver tray, a trick that had, by this point, grown less impressive, and was, in fact, rather tiresome and played out. He cocked his head to the left, like a dog.
I took this as a recognition of my words and continued on;
‘You sir…listen to me. I know that I’m intended for medical research…but what I do not know, is why I am here. So sir, I will ask you, in no uncertain terms, and by all the Gods above you shall satisfy my curiosity!’
He laughed; that cold, muffled laugh. Echoes in ebony.
‘So be it.’ He replied, ‘Ask what you shall of me.’
‘My question, Sir….is this….what exactly, details included, did I do to land myself here? I know you people do not know how I did whatever I did, but I know you know what it was. So divulge me, foul swine!’
He laughed again, but, to my surprise, he responded;
‘You peeked beyond the veil and saw that which you should not see.’
‘What veil? What do you mean?’
He laughed, that cold, callous laugh.
‘Enjoy your meal, prisoner.’
He left at that, and I was left myself, with nothing but my thoughts and my meal.
Sausages and mash again. Did they have no menu here? Did they just recycle meals, over and over and over, endlessly, in a loop? Maybe I should suggest a renovation of the restaurant tomorrow?
I ate the food, most of it, and used the last scraps to coax out my rodent friend.
At least, I surmised he was my friend…he’d not given me any reason to doubt him yet!
He scuttled out, predictably, and seemed to enjoy his scrap of sausage. I decided to test his mental faculties. I knew he could speak, but could he understand me?
‘Young rodent…my friend…could you tell me…do you know what I did?’
He looked up, curiously, still nibbling the sausage.
‘Do you have any idea? Any at all?’
He cocked his head to the right and replied;
‘Peek beyond and the mind is blinded.’
‘The mind is blind. Watch for the signs.’
With that, before I could respond further, he scuttled away, heading towards his little hole of happiness.
I sat there, on my bed, for some time… thinking…considering.
And I saw myself, in my mind’s eye, with Mrs.C; poking through a curtain between worlds, and heading to a place we did not know.
Beyond the veil.
My day began with the influx of more memories; a chance to grab, blindly, in the dark, what was, and bring it to the what is now.
On this occasion, it was no beach, nor was it any field with which I am familiar with; it was an old, dilapidated house, sitting in the deepest part of some Swamp I can only assume to be from the Southern United States. The adornments were cobwebs and the decour was ripped out of nightmares.
Nightmares that I have, thankfully, entirely forgotten.
I remember only this: that to think of these images of debauchery and desolation, images I gratefully could not conjure within my mind, merely to think of them through the foggy haze of lost recollection, is enough to saturate my soul with a deep, unnerving sense of dread and trepidation.
I remember now that I entered that house, that I found something…
A curtain to another world.
All I remember after that was an unfathomable juxtapositon of darkness against a bright, bright white landscape. A landscape haunted by a Cabin….
I remember no more. Truthfully, these memories came to me last night, while I slept. They could well be a dream, but something about them renders it unlikely….they filled me with a sense of knowing, of recollection, of having been to those places within my waking life, and having experienced them personally.
There are other worlds than these.
Perhaps I saw what no man, no living man, should ever see.
Do I know too much? Is that why I am here, trapped in this monotonous prison from whence I cannot escape?
It would seem likely.
Why? I remember little, if anything. Not enough to do any damage at least…especially if these beings that have me captured are not entirely of the physical realm. What damage could one confused poet do to such beings?
Little if any..
Unless…I am no poet. What if I am more? An alchemist, with the keys to gold, or perhaps a sorcerer trying to find his way home? It is highly improbable. Any sorcerer worth even the weakest of salts could surely conjure his way out of this predicament. Perhaps physically manifest upon the other side of the cell door, ready to do battle with the forces that contain me.
This is, of course, all hypothetical, and without any semblance of a tangible and useful plan of action.
Why I’m here, it hardly matters right now. I have more pressing issues at hand…primarily, how do I leave? Can I leave?
With these memories/thoughts/fabrications fresh in my mind, I tucked into breakfast, saving some for the rat, hoping to coax him out of his hole.
No coaxing was necessary.
No sooner had he smelled the scraps of porridge, which I can only hypothesis smelt considerably more pleasing to him than it did to I, he was out of his hole, faster than you could state it. He assaulted my scraps with a vigorous delight, and looked up at me with his tiny, black, ratty eyes.
I smiled at him, and nodded my head. Eat rat…I said, with gestures alone, eat full and ascend.
He cocked his head at me, and proceeded to stare at me with those eyes.
‘Hello, little rat,’ I said, ‘How are we today?’
He said nothing, but appeared to do what no rat I have ever seen in my entire had done before him…..
He smiled; ratty teeth on display. I smiled back, awkwardly.
‘Do you have anything to tell me today?’ I eagerly inquired in what I hoped was a friendly voice.
He laughed. A squeaky laugh, akin to a dog’s chew toy.
‘Please speak, little rodent friend, for I have much desire to hear from you.’
He nodded his furry head, gently, and pointed towards the small jug of water provided with my breakfast.
‘I cannot, my friend, for I am parched. Without it, I cannot drink until my later meal arrives, and I do not know how long that may take.’
He began to head towards his hole, instantaneously, without thought of recourse.
Alarmed, and perplexed, I leaped across the room like a panther, grabbed the flagon of water, and poured a small amount upon the monotonous grey stone of the floor.
He walked over and took a few licks, before shaking his head, seemingly dissatisfied, and attempting to leave the room once more. In desperation, I poured half of the flagon’s remaining contents upon the stone floor.
He nodded, lapped it up for a several minutes. Once finished, he sat backwards upon his tail, as though he were a human upon a chair, and spoke five words, words I felt were ominously significant;
‘Stars align. Doorway….be ready.’
‘What do you mean?’
He said no more. I decided that may well have been all the information regarding what was happening that I was likely to get, yet, with more than a hint of desperation, I asked one more question;
The rat said nothing for what was likely a minute, but felt like a year, a decade, an entire age within the confines of this damned cage of mine.
Finally, he replied;
With that, before I could ask another thing of him, he ran into his hole and vanished.
It didn’t take a particularly intelligent figure to assume that he was not returning, if not today, until dinner time at the very least.
So I sat and pondered upon what he had said, cross-referencing it with my recollections to see if any form of sense or pattern could be found there.
To my delight, and utter horror, there was.
Dimensions open…..tomorrow…between worlds.
These words would haunt me for the next few hours, perhaps days…
As a matter of fact, I have an inkling they will haunt me for the rest of my waking days, however long or short they may turn out to be.
A curtain between worlds?
An opportunity to head, once again, beyond the veil?
Was this prison of mine even upon the Earth I once knew as home?
The plethora of potential answers to this latter question resonated throughout my mind, reverberating like an explosion of conscious thought, desires and, most of all, fears.
I had a feeling I wasn’t in Kansas anymore…that I’d followed the White Rabbit to a wonderland of sorts from which I could, potentially, never escape.
One question bothered me above all others…
Why had I done this? Why condemn myself to this fate?
What drove me to do such a thing?
Then I remembered the beach…Mrs.C…and it all made sense. All clicked within my head.
I began to cry.
I remained this way; sat upon the cold, hard floor, crying to myself, basking in my own foolish idiocy.
Until dinner came.
The guard arrived, prompt as ever, torch in hand, illuminating the stone with a red glow as though it were hell itself, and he the angel of death, sent to haunt me.
He arrived at the gate, and, as was the norm, the silver tray appeared from thin air. This trick had become noticeably less impressive as the days had droned on.
Now, it was no more impressive to I than seeing a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat. Mundane and generic. Nothing but cheap parlour tricks to amuse, disorientate, or terrify the weaker minded among us.
As he slid the tray across, I decided today not to ask, but to taunt.
After a week here, it was time to flip the script on these ethereal ebony bastards.
‘Thank you, kind, generous sir, for this voluptuous meal of mine.’
He cocked his head in response, as the rat had done.
‘I’m sure, if the culinary delight to which I have been accustomed to within here is any stick by which to measure this particular meal, I shall enjoy this heartily.’
He laughed; that hollow, ebony, laugh formed of cruel malice and nothing resembling the heart or soul of a man.
‘For it will be my last.’
This addition stopped the laughter dead cold. He looked at me, head no longer cocked, and, I swear, dear reader ,that this is no fabrication, his eyes behind the helmet began to glow a bright, hellish red, as though the torchlight were now placed within his visor.
‘What do you mean?’ He inquired.
‘I mean this will be my last meal here, Good Sir. Was this lost in translation?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I told you, Good Sir. Are you perhaps slow as well as well as partially death?’
‘Malicious worm with tongue of lies!’ the guard practically screamed, ‘To what madness do you refer?’
‘No, no..only one question, remember?’
He pulled a sword from a sheath on his side, a sword of Ebony, and began to point it towards me, as if it attempting to intimidate.
I must confess; It was terrifying. Were I not privy to the knowledge that there was more to life than life itself, that consciousness does live on in the spaces between worlds we mostly fear to tread, I would have been petrified.
As it were I laughed.
He waved the sword around like an insane caveman waving a stick. He practically jumped from foot to foot in rage, all the time waving the sword, until it collided with my cell bars (Forcing me to recoil due to the horrific noise that ensued), bounced back, and hit him square in the face.
I couldn’t help myself. I laughed. Oh how I laughed. I laughed in a manner I hadn’t done so in longer than I could remember – though it’s worth noting that isn’t a fantastic reference point, as I could barely remember yesterday’s events.
‘I see you’re handy with a blade, Good Sir. Nice to see somebody facing up to their responsibilities’ I added, hoping to finish off the day’s events with further entertainment. Having been trapped within the claustrophobic confines of my desolate cage, surely no person with a soul could begrudge me some fun at this point?
‘Ask. Your. Question’ the guard stated, slowly, deliberately, having re-sheathed his sword with utmost embarrassment.
‘What can fly but has no wings?’
I knew it, that this line of questioning would stump him, consequently providing me enough time to gloat at his confusion.
In a place such as this one, small victories are priceless.
Yet, against all logic, he responded, after some consideration;
I must confess that I, myself, was temporarily rendered near-mute by his ability to formulate such a logical response.
‘I….Sir, that would be a correct answer.’
His response was merely one word;
With that, he left, and my attempts to turn the table had somewhat stalled. Now, the table was moved, certainly, but not entirely flipped; it stood on the side, somewhere between where it was and where it was headed.
I sat down, and consumed my dinner ravenously, knowing I would need all the energy I could muster for my future endeavours.
Sausage and Mash…
Who would have guessed?
So there I sat, consuming my food, considering the monotonous nature of both my cell and my cuisine. When all things are considered, do not most of us enjoy a monotonous life? Do not most of see the same walls, same food, same experiences everyday of our lives?
Was it worse to be in a cell with no choice, or outside of the cell, with a choice, yet making the same decisions, continuously, on a loop, doomed to a cycle?
That, my dear reader, is a question thinkers superior to myself are yet to answer.
This struck me as funny, so I began to laugh.
Tomorrow…I’m out of here. No more grey walls…no more monotony, no more fucking Sausage and Mash!
Oh how I laughed.
I write this, my final post, with a shaky hand and an unsteady heart….
I have been beyond the veil. I have seen that which no mortal man should see; unfathomable dimensions, shapes and swirling masses beyond the infinite cosmos, outside of the reaches of our known perceptions of time and space…
Figures…figures in the mist..creatures that lurk not in our world, or there world, but in the gaps between, that should not exist, and cannot be placed.
Words cannot do justice to what I have just experienced, and I find it nigh-impossible to reconcile my thoughts into anything comprehensible…but I will try. I must try.
People must know…that life…is not what they think.
It’s a dream. The dream of a fool dancing in delight at our confusion and disorientation.
This entry will be short…significantly short…as they come for me. I can hear the marching on the stone now, see the torches as they arrive.
The rat was right. The goddamn rodent was right.
I have no idea when, what time, or how, but it happened. I had just finished breakfast? Lunch? At this point, frankly I care not for the efforts of distinction.
What I care for is that, before my very eyes, and to my utter, utter bemusement, a gap appeared in the walls of my cell. A swirling vortex of sorts, looking much akin to how physicists describe a wormhole.
It opened, I looked upon it, and it sucked me in. It is worth noting that I had no conscious choice in the matter; it merely happened. One second I was staring, next I was swirling, around and around, through the vortex, heading to a place I could not describe.
I cannot explain what happened next….faces….face in the dark. Colours and shapes, distortions of normality that a mortal mind was never supposed to face, let alone understand.
I swirled, and I span, and I twirled, and I ran.
Oh, how I ran.
And I saw her…and I saw the beach…and I finally remembered.
Mrs.C, the love of my life, the glow that keeps my heart from falling into darkness and crumbling to tepid pieces….
She died on that beach. That is why I hunted for what lay beyond the curtain. Fool I was! Ideas of resurrections and reunions in my mind.
How little I knew. What is dead cannot return. One can only join them in the never, sacrificing themselves in the process.
After swirling past the beach, through the vortex, through all I saw, I found myself outside of what appeared to be a school.
I ran to the car park, the ebony soldiers marching ever after me, and desperately banged against the window of the first vehicle.
‘Help me!’ I screamed, most likely terrifying them in the process. ‘Help me, please. I need to leave. Save me. Oh save me please!’
They looked upon my visage with a stony expression of contempt and confusion. They shook their head, gently.
‘I do not know you.’
‘You do not have to! Just…save me, Jesus God fuck, save me. Please!’
They turned away, like Judas from the Lord, and shook their heads again.
‘I do not know you.’
Then…then they came, approached the car, grabbed me.
‘Is this person bothering you, sir?’ The Ebony monster asked.
‘Yes. I do not know him, yet he attempts to ride my car.’
‘This man is a wanted villain of the worst kind’ responded the soldier. ‘I shall gladly remove him for you.’
‘Thank you,’ responded the car driver. ‘That would be most desirable.’
It was then I noticed something truly perplexing about this driver….his eyes….red. As red as blood. Crimson.
The soldiers grabbed me, they dragged me back. With my newfound knowledge of the next world, I knew I had no chance of survival. I knew my goose, as they say, was cooked.
I did not plead.
I did not argue.
I let them take me where they will, as they might, however they saw fit.
I’ve seen things…
Cosmic figures, lurking in the dark. The gaps between worlds. The spaces in the never. That which should not exist, and by all physical judgements does not.
I’ve seen things….
Things I should not.
They come for me now.
I leave this notepad, in the hopes that someday, somebody, will discover it.
Will discover what I have found.
And stay away…far away…turn back and run.
Some things are not meant for mortal eyes.
Oh Mrs.C…Mrs.C, how you mean the world to me.
And now, I’m just dust in the wind,
Doomed to blow away,
Lost forever in a moment.
I swear upon my un-named soul that every word here is true.
The Unknown Poet.