Friday, 21 May 2010

Chapter Four

She knew the living screamed louder than the dead. She knew the living secretly envied the dead, for it seemed the dead were truly alive. The words contained the needed truth, but most people doubted words and thought of them as nothing more than dubious currency, or at the most; an ambiguous and limiting necessity of communication. Prayer knew that words were a form of telepathy, a continuum of living spirit that was given shape through sound and light, but always housed, ultimately, in the minds of the ones that imagined them.
Sink deep through the heart of language, and touch dream.
Words were shells, like the dead bodies she’d left back at Esler psychiatric. They meant nothing without the spirits that animated them. Words meant everything to Prayer. Entire realms, inhabited, were hidden in the simplest gatherings of vowels and consonants. Words were doors that led to hidden histories, and to incredible reserves of energy. Energy was a neutral thing, infinite and immortal, but when harnessed by intellect and touched by guided hands, energy became power.
The Sunshine Blade – the power to fantasise the world into any image that was desired. Power always predicated desire, whereas energy was simple need. This was a fundamental truth of life concealed from most living people. It confused them, filled them with despair. They could feel something was wrong in their lives but they couldn’t identify what it might be. The truth always evaded them. And so they settled for counterfeit truths; static images that they pretended were dynamic concepts filled with the deepest profundity.
They lied to themselves. Prayer knew all of this. My glittering analysis.
She’d always loved books. She read constantly even when they had her sectioned, even when daddy said she’d tried to kill him. As a young girl she was fascinated by the pages of books, all books, anything she could obtain. She would squint until the words were nothing more than a mass of alien markings, nonsensical and opaque. She wondered how she was able to understand.
Where was the meaning in words?
The meanings couldn’t be in the words themselves because the words themselves, in truth, were a mass of opaque markings. The meaning must exist in the minds of the people that decoded them. The markings on a page were decoded, fantasised by human minds, into belief and poetry and prophecy.
As a child Prayer wondered how on earth any of this was even possible. It seemed bizarre to her, but most people didn’t genuinely question it. It was something like magic, she’d realised. She didn’t voice this knowledge, at least not out loud, afraid that others would think she was mad.
And they did, didn’t they? They thought she was a fucking lunatic.
Dear Daddy, I’m coming for you…coming to finish what I started writing years ago. Are you scared? I bet you are.
It wasn’t just written words, it was spoken words too - a series of interconnected sounds that somehow others could decode and understand, conveying things of such depth and complexity as to assault her young sense of reason. It was magic, to be sure. This thing that others called ‘communication’; it was something divine.
She imagined that the entire physical universe was a living vortex of interconnected mirrors, each reflecting and refracting the indefinable whole, creating an endless array of substantial illusions. Consciousness, energy itself, was both this mirror and its own reflection, in the way that artists were both reflected and created by their artwork.
The world was a beautiful, terrible, eternally unrepentant lie. A deception that generates light, a fictitious truth. The journals she compiled at Ensler contained all these musing; her life’s work, her life’s blood. Dozens of journals and scrapbooks filled with words and images, the garish mind of a psych patient. At first she thought of it as her legacy, something to leave the world so that she might be remembered.
Silly Girl. Later she came to understand that she’d written and complied these things for nobody but herself. They were tools of communication that allowed her mind to speak intimately with her heart. They changed her, these pages. They had named her. Rebecca Cole was a dangerous nineteen year old ‘sociopath’, but Prayer was something else. Oh yes.
Slicing open iridescent eyes that look but do not see.
Prayer was divine; a magical symbol pressed into flesh. Named and given form through words; a conversation between Life and Death themselves. Rebecca had been touched before, in a way that made her flesh sing and crawl. Now Prayer would touch, in a way that made others understand the beautiful lies that lived inside their minds and echoed through their veins.
I will teach them all to read.

Last night, blood and stringy flesh from the nurses and doctors clung to her when she fled. She had been a whirlwind, a walking explosion.
Never felt so free. And the blood, incredible, never felt or seen so much blood. Not hollow puppets after all; meaty and instinctive, the way they tried to run, casting off their training and their science, groping fearfully at a god-concept. Felt their bones crack in my grasp, and the feeling… oh, damn, the feeling...
Breaking bones like breaking bread. Sharing something of herself with these misguided but beautiful people. Behind the wheel of the neon crowned ambulance; a fugitive licking at her hands and wrists. Blood still warm, because of her. Her entire being throbbed like the heart of a star; burning, radiating. She remembered pulling madly at the wheel but she hit the abutment nonetheless, and the ambulance crushed around her in an instant.
She escaped the steel tomb, of course, running with the bag that contained her precious books, through a housing estate, over a chain-link fence and across a small stretch of wasteland that was once an allotment. Nobody saw her because now she could move differently, now she could hide in plain sight. She fell prostrate to the wet earth, amongst shopping trolleys and car tires. Her bare feet were slightly cut by unknown sharp things.
She rolled onto her back, panting, staring up at the night sky.
She lay there for what seemed a time. In the furthest distance she heard police sirens. She clawed at the soft mud. She smeared her arms and legs with it, rubbing it into the blood that washed her skin and her hospital whites. She ground the mud deep into her skin but it wasn’t enough. Prayer tore away her clothes; ripping off her top and bottoms, grinding the mud into her nakedness until her flesh began to bleed slightly from the abrasion.
It still wasn’t enough. She stuffed handfuls of mud into her mouth and swallowed it down, gagging and nearly choking but forcing herself to eat it. She parted her thighs and pushed small handfuls of it inside her vagina, feeling the wet, grainy softness. She fell back against the earth again. She felt better. She felt herself beginning to cool down.
After a time she rose naked to her feet, walking slowly across the patch of wasteland, the bag across her shoulder, staring down at her breasts as they bobbed gently, feeling the grainy strangeness of the mud rubbing between her thighs as she moved. She was struck by an image of herself, as if she were watching this naked girl walking through the dark. It felt almost like a warm dream, and yet she could feel the cold wind playing wonderfully across bare flesh.
She found that the ruined allotment ended where the back gardens of houses began. She easily scaled a high wall, wandering through an overgrown back lawn where patio furniture and a child’s bicycle lay overturned and abandoned.
The windows of the house were dark.
Prayer pulled hard at the patio door and it popped easily from its track. No alarm betrayed her crime. Inside, she found the house to be empty. There were six messages on a blinking phone and she played them, learning that the family who lived here were on a holiday in Barcelona and wouldn’t be back until next week. Somehow she knew the house would be unoccupied.
No real food in the refrigerator, of course.
She found a room upstairs that she guessed belonged to a girl of similar age, judging from the decor and university textbooks on the shelves. Prayer caught sight of herself in the closet mirror. Naked, wide-eyed, streaked with mud, blood and stringy flesh in her hair. Like something that had crawled up from a subterranean space. It frightened her for a moment, but then she smiled at her reflection and it smiled in return. Suddenly it was not frightening at all. It was Prayer. Not scared and confused Rebecca, the victim, but a vision. A message.
Crawling beneath the bedcovers of this unknown girl, she lay her grimy head on the pillow and closed her eyes. She could still feel the mud between her thighs, filling her. It was a comfort, and eventually she slept.
Glitter soul, like diamond in the blood. Soft spoken secrets in veins aching to bleed. No. This place of shapeshift, like the brothers dream and death. Serima…?
When she woke it was evening of the next day. She had slept for almost twelve hours. The bed was dirty and her body was caked in dried mud. She felt rested. She dreamt that she was watched by another naked girl, sitting in the branches of a burning tree. She scaled the tree and tried to speak with her, but the girl had only turned away, glancing up at green stars filled with dead children.

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