Thursday, 13 May 2010


There was murder, then the apt loss of light. Like a heartbeat the power went off, the electricity extinguished. She stood thinking while rain fell in mirrored streams against the windows. No thunder or lightning yet, as there sometimes was in her dreams, but still, she knew this moment. She had seen it like a moving image, an elusive truth flitting mercilessly beyond reach.
But now she could almost taste it in her mouth, in the back of her throat.
Murder. Like the written word. These were pages; this life, this carefully crafted pain. Yeah, she knew this moment since she was a child, sneaking from her bed to watch films in the dead of night. At first there were tremors when she closed her eyes, later came a gathering of sorts. The shapes had slowly formed – the images began to move and speak.
Baby,” she murmured, “Is it you…?”
She wanted to believe her love had come like a thief in the night, weaving grand gestures for her, but she was afraid to dream like that. It could cost so much in a place like this, with its medications, therapies and security cameras. She supposed people tried not to dream in prisons, unless it was an ironic self-deception. The Ensler psychiatric-unit was an inferno easily hidden from apathetic eyes. Some knew of the darker, desperate things. Those unfortunates were insane. It didn’t matter, not in the serpentine scheme.
Darkness embraces all light.
A blatant sign was now offering itself for acknowledgement, just as Maya told her. She could still taste Maya sometimes, like a burning word on the tip of her tongue. She wasn’t allowed her to see her friend anymore. They stripped her of all human comforts with the excuse of confining her for her own ‘safety’.
She realised she could hear the faint sounds of screaming and ranting from the violent patients on the wing, seething with paranoia at the sudden blackout. It reminded her of a horror movie she’d seen one night as a child, but in the movie those expendable faces were butchered by a masked killer. She gave a laugh and glanced up at the security-camera in the corner of the room, illuminated by a patch of moon silver. The camera’s red light was no longer blinking like an alien eye.
There was blood on her left hand. It wasn’t her blood.
Murder, but it felt a little like she was dying herself.
The first silent shock came beyond the windows, a flare of light somewhere behind the night, the satisfied murmur of thunder. So this would be like her dreams then? Her given name was Rebecca Cole, although it wasn’t her chosen name, her true name. She turned from the window, trembling. Another bluish-white flare swelled the sky outside, briefly illuminating the room, and again she saw the nurse on the polished floor – the security-keys buried in her ruined face.
She killed her only minutes ago, wallowing now in the odd feeling. It should be her father’s face she saw staring lifelessly, but it wasn’t. She knew virtually nothing about this slightly overweight young woman, only that her name was Susan and that she smoked cigarettes during her breaks. Blood, possibly still warm, in a pool around her head.
Rebecca Cole’s true name was Prayer.
This moment now, with darkness here. Strange.
The door was still open. She kneeled, tearing the keys from Susan’s face, and then she left the cell that they laughingly called her ‘room’. She would discard these euphemisms. She heard the urgent shouts and footsteps of the unit staff further down the wing, in frenzied attempts to calm the other patients. Barefoot, she hurried down the corridor, turning the corner – and slammed into a figure racing in her direction.
She lunged sideways, whipping at his face with the keys in her fist. Again, so hard that something cracked. The shouts and footfalls of more of them. The male nurse slid away against the wall like a mannequin. His face was a mess.
She began racing down the hallway again – left, right, feet slapping the floor like drums. The criss-crossing beams of torches appeared as doctors and nurses rounded the far corner, with two security guards. She came to a shuddering stop, snatching at her hospital whites in fear, a fist clutched between her breasts. It was a gesture she’d made before, with her father.
A gesture of war.
They saw her in the dark, trembling slightly, shifting rhythmically on her heels. Immediately they paused, looked afraid. The older of the two guards shone the torch on her, at the security-keys dangling in her bloodied fist. She saw fear in his eyes. “Rebecca…Oh, child, what’ve you done…?”
They took everything when she was transferred – her paintings, journals, all her favourite books. They stripped her of all comforts. She wanted her stuff back. She knew where they kept it. After all the well-managed abuse, did they really think she was going to let an opportunity like this just slip away?
“Becky,” one of the nurses called out soothingly, spreading her palms in gestures of placation, “It’s okay, honey…just relax…” And then, in another lightning flare, she saw him…and she knew. Her baby boy was here, impossibly tall and thin, a figure cut from black silk. Like the living mirror that beat against the window. My Baby…
Prayer fell to her knees, bowing her head. A security guard was quickly at her side with an arm around her shoulder, gently raising her to her feet again. In the next moment she lashed out with the keys in her fist – another crack sounded in the darkened hallway and he slumped dead on the floor.
Shock widened the eyes of the others, and then fear quickly lit those eyes.
Stalking towards this little group, she realised they couldn’t see the thing behind them – the tall black figure that spread its arms like an aberrant Christ. He was blinding them for her. Some of them stumbled away at the threat of violence, others lunged, and Prayer felt a baton strike hard across her shoulder-blades. The pain rolled across her as though a veil had absorbed the blow.
Somehow she was trembling on the edge of her love. She moved then like a flesh-white blur and grabbed one of her jailers by the throat, hurling him at the wall, her eyes blazing with vivid realisation. She was vibrating inside at some infinite speed, translated though her flesh to the very tips of her fingers. She laughed with sudden delight.
“Yes, baby,” she hissed, “It is you…” She turned, to the rest of them, and sang the message like a coup de grace.
“What the fuck…” one of them muttered in terror, as collectively they began backing away, finally grasping how powerless they were. None of them were innocent, most of them were cruel. She would spare only one. “Oh God…no…” she heard.
This was the night of fools, where all the costumes were gaudy but scintillating, like old stories made fresh by fire. These idiots had long sold their souls to a carnival-keeper who demanded flesh made luminous and open. Like lovers should be. This insight spoke to her mind, in her own inflections, telling her that the world was an eternal conversation.
Then a nexus of the purest violence erupted in the corridor, her hands like the blades of a shining serpent. These pitiless nurses and doctors sobbing like children, trying to whisper superstitions on their breaths, trying to run. A reprimand of flesh and bone. The blood was hot, fat, and made her wet. Yet amidst this scarlet whirlwind, Prayer felt a purity she had only dreamt about.
Yeah, she knew this moment.
She could read it. Like the written word.

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