Her transparent naked body shimmered with a myriad of iridescent colour. Walking towards him, she left behind a silhouette of tiny twinkling stars. Her footprints crystallized the grass. While all about, was touched by her radiant glow. A thousand tiny bells tinkled as the breeze playfully caressed her golden hair. He felt her sweet breath against his face. Then she was gone. Walking through one of the many distortions of space-time that were opening up.
As the sun shone down, high above in the sky. He found himself in a big garden with a pond, which was surrounded by a sandy beach. He remembered standing on a mass of ice cubes, which stretched from one side of the pool to the other. Nearby, to where he was stood, there were a number of penguins, who were intent on spreading the ice cubes across the top of the water. The water must have been warm, because the penguins would not swim in it, until it had been cooled down by the ice. Suddenly, feeling as though he was a penguin, he jumped off of the ice and into the water. Then, started to swim towards the beach with the other penguins. Here, being as one with the penguins – not in the way that he looked, but in the way he moved through the water.
Later having returned home, he sat reading the newspaper, when suddenly, the print fell from the page and into his lap.
During the night, winged black shapes flew high above, calling to each other.
Waking from the nightmare, cold with sweat, reaching for his watch on the cabinet next to the bed . . . . slowly lifting it, he noticed that time was running backwards. During the drug induced sleep, he had envisaged two pearl white moons in a coal-black sky. Getting out of bed and walking shakily across the room towards the window. He stood, wide-eyed and staring, there outside in a coal-black sky, moved two pearl white moons, where only one should have been. Turning, looking at the bedroom wall. He read the words there in his own handwriting.
experiments in violent
light, cease to begin.
we will never turn
back these days of doom
Whispering, always whispering. He heard the voices around him, starting in a low whisper and slowly getting louder, talking about him, why? Laughing, always laughing. Why did they persecute him when darkness came? Grotesque shapes darted through his mind, their piercing screams filling his ears. ‘Go away, leave me alone. My mind is my own’, he shouted.
In silent light, memories of machines filled his head and footsteps heard on bitter streets. A warm winter was falling from the sun, black rainbows arched across a sky full of holes, as rabbits on the run fled from fields of fire across this strange land. During indigo dreams clocks go backwards as ghosts outside rise again. On a distant horizon through diamonds and dirt her golden hair was radiant against the darkness of an early morning.
Walking into the light of a sunrise in different dimensions, uncertain stands the girl with golden hair, her feet covered with flowers and ashes. Reflections of the cold, still love remained in her eyes, shadows out of time which were once jewels of the forest. Off the leafy pathway shapes and shadows collapse into now, while the undercurrent of crystal sounds echoed like wounded rhymes. Black roses stand in the deep field where the raven is in the grave, stained with the blood of a poet who tomorrow never knew. – Under a black moon will come beautiful dreams for the amber girls before the sweet beginnings of chaos.
During the night he felt the weight of her body on top of his. Her perfect breasts with up-turned nipples in front of him, her vagina smooth white skin. He could not move, did not need to move as she brought him deep inside her. Their tongues hungrily intertwined. He released a powerful surge of semen into her. She maintained her position effectively squeezing out every last drop of semen from him until she slid off his still erect penis.
He stood on the edge of time staring out to sea, black two-piece suit, white t-shirt and red, white and blue converse shoes. Sat at his feet on green grass was a young woman, golden shoulder-length hair, naked. She looked up at him. ‘We did make love last night, didn’t we?’ she asked. During their night of sexual intercourse, she had affirmed her submissiveness to him by swallowing his semen.
He had taken an early morning walk across the fields. Ravens call across the sky, while primordial memories stir. Standing, next to the old hawthorn tree which had been hit by lightning during the overnight storm, at the top of the escarpment, he took in the view across the countryside and the estuary beyond. At the bottom of the hill, he noticed the derelict house with its vandalized windows and exposed charred roof beams. Next to it stood a clock tower.
Dressed in her Elizabethan finery, eyes like deep pools which hid the truth of sadness. No smile on her soft cherry lips. Milk-white skin framed by long straight coal-black hair. Loneliness that precedes the radiance within. She had awoken with the words of a popular ayre running through her head, not knowing why.
‘Why should our minds not mingle so,
When loue and faith is plighted,
That eyther might the others know,
Alike in all delighted?’
The lines came from Thomas Campion’s ‘Book Of Ayres’, she had remembered.
She lived in the old Elizabethan Mansion House, which was built around 1590, on the former site of a 14th: Century house. The layout was U-shaped enclosing a courtyard, brewhouse, bake-house and dairy and it was multi-gabled with dormer attics and mullioned windows. The house was set in extensive landscaped terraces, with an orchard, walled kitchen garden, separate coach house and stables, a lake and a large 13th: Century deer park. Inside were wood panelled rooms, a minstrels’ gallery and a grand wooden staircase leading to many bedrooms, some with fine fireplaces decorated with Tudor Rose carvings. On the top floor was a bacon room with ceiling hooks. Flemish tapestries adorned many walls and a large refectory table stood in the dining parlour. Nearby stood The Archway which was built in the mid-18th: Century.
Looking out of the window, where tiny pairs of wings fluttered over hanging curtains, weaving together the story of a moonlight wish for lovers. mirage in a handful of dust while trees swayed outside, like songs and curious fragments creating picturesque dreams, towards the top of the hillside where the tree had been struck by lightning during the night. Next to the tree stood the figure of a man. ‘He comes, I must prepare’. She uttered to herself.
Night calls. Under the coal-black night, tall shadowy trees swayed, the call from a lone fox as a dog barked in the distance. How was it that he should always want to look at the soft pink stars, in this digital dreamscape. The present is a foreign land, he thought to himself. For all the days that tear the heart, he knew the sun would not stay after summer. Last night was bitter-sweet with her in his arms, falling into her black eyes. The clock tower chimed midnight, as he stood, watching a wrath of clouds scudding across the purple sky from the west. He was trying not to fall apart in this place. But he knew she was a Scar Weaver, an angel in real-time. He had a fear of the coming dawn. Knew that he must go. To the shadowland of sad cities in the forest. He knew he was on borrowed time if he stayed in this nocturnal wasteland and the taste of belladonna on her blood-red lips. There was an unfinished future in the Ghost Songs that the Alchemist had weaved inside his mind, years ago. Digital roses do not die. Everything was forever. Soon, the rains would come. . . .
Somewhere in a parallel universe where the sky is blue, the sun is warm, not a sound could be heard. . . .
Humanity was so ignorant, it could not see its own extinction looming. Over-population and pollution choked the world. Just 100 companies were the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 and the world’s largest top five economies were the biggest polluters. Scientists had warned that time was running out and there was only twelve years left to act on climate change before there was a major catastrophe. But, the British Government stated that emissions would be down to 80% by 2050. Extinction had cost the world thousands of species due to human activity, never to be seen on Earth again. The truth could be weathered, eroded; it is every shade of grey that lives in the mist; it is the sunrise and sunset and everything in between. On that evening, Aldebaran had shone three times its normal size in a coal-black sky. Then it was gone from view. What followed was a spectacular meteor shower of varying hues, orange, yellow, blue, violet and red, lasting over several days and nights. Purple sunsets had been seen around the world through a scorched sky. Then, two days later a solar wind from the Sun slammed into the Earth. Storms and tornadoes ravaged the planet causing the seas to rise.
The aircraft touched down at Heathrow from an African state bringing its deadly cargo with it. Within hours the first people became ill and doctors thought it was a type of influenza. But, within a couple of days the virus had spread around the globe. Killing millions as it went. Society started to break down, as not enough people could carry out their functions and authorities in different countries became under-resourced. People lay where they had died, as rats took over the cities.
The man had been ill. But, not like the others. Still feeling weak, he had to get away from this futuristic city of the dead. A city that once had flying vehicles, mega bridges, super-connected street experiences and underground spaces. Which had been powered by big data, the ‘Internet of Things’ and artificial intelligence – that lived, breathed, and even thought with us. Societal collapse had happened quicker in the civilised countries around the world, with its five stages – financial, commercial, political, social and cultural – leading to this demise, despite the warning signs from scientists and social activists. Packing a rucksack, he stepped from the house and onto a street that was scorched from the blazing sun. Brighter and hotter than he could remember. Passing shops and factories which stood empty and ransacked. Some houses having been set on fire were burnt out shells. Cars abandoned in the streets where their owners had left them. Leaving Brigstowe behind, he took one last look at the billowing black smoke and flames high in the sky over the city. He could not find the words which best described what Earth had become.
Out of nowhere walking between worlds, viewing an automatic midnight inside a dream. The eyes in the sky watched the burning cities and creatures in the woods in beautiful despair. Ascending she crept back into his life, viewed through an empty space to a dangerous summer, while spinning wheels started to tear his mind wide open.
She had been ill. The village where she had grown up and known these sixteen years was desolate. All around was scorched earth and burnt trees. Have to find someone, she thought to herself.
. . . . He had walked for days, down roads and lanes that would have been leafy green, across fields now scorched black, trying to make for the coast or find someone who had survived this catastrophe. There had been two more strong solar storms since he had left his home. Computers and mobile phones were dead and electric cars did not run. Satellites had been the first to go. However, he had managed to find and eat the contents of tinned food he had found in the empty houses. Sometimes changing his clothes and worn-out shoes. Last night, he had seen a firelight flickering in the distance and now he was making his way towards the place where he had seen it. But a blood-red sun in an orange sky made for a hot day and heavy going. On his way to this village he had seen gangs of people with guns and transport in the towns and how they raided the supermarkets of food and killed anybody who they came across that got in their way.
He must go quietly and stealthily.
Creeping along a sparse hedgerow, he kept the girl in his line of view at the back of the house. Suddenly, she was not there. He heard the click of a rifle and felt the cold metal at the back of his head. Damn, he thought to himself. Slowly rising, she kept the rifle trained on him as they walked to the house. Once there and slowly convincing her that he was unarmed and on his own, he won over her confidence. She told him that the coast was only five miles from there. About the gangs that went from house to house taking everything they could find and returning to the old manor house which was Elizabethan and had been built around 1590 and how it had been taken over and became a US Army Camp and housed the 2nd: Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squadron before it fell derelict. It seemed to her that they were going further afield, as sometimes they did not return for days. But, they had left her alone. About the vegetable plot that she had started so that she could survive on her own. She made him a simple meal and a brew of nettle tea. After, he washed up and then helped her in the garden.
Nights were cold there and on one occasion, she came to him for warmth. Her emerald eyes twinkled like myriads of silver stars hung, in a cold black sky, golden gossamer hair, gently swayed caressed by a light breeze, pale fingers entwined, an inviting kiss, a delicate kiss. She moaned and moved softly. He placed his hands on her beautiful round buttocks. Her movement was rhythmic and after some minutes she began moving faster, jumping on top of him, while he held onto her. Their hearts the drums, their breathing the bass. Like a body drowned, he seemed to float gradually upwards, as though from some unconscious depth, towards the surface which was the room. The darkness slowly melted away. Waves crashed over them, as somewhere a shooting star cut across the sky.
‘Have you ever dreamt of blue butterflies?’ she asked.
. . . . The day had started out normal, or what was normal under the circumstances that they now found themselves in. Snowdrops, shivering in the wind, as grey clouds, scurry across the sky. The technology and skills of their old lives had become obsolete. Knowing that they lived in a post-technological world, they were determined to construct a way of life from the surrounding wasteland. They had managed to repair the old tractor and get some fuel for it. The roof tiles had been replaced so it no longer leaked. Finding some chickens, they had built a coop for them. Repairing items which had broken, tending the vegetables, looking for firewood, making simple meals for each other. He had told her that he planned to head south. Suddenly, there was a roar of vehicles on the driveway. Too late to get their rifles. Men surrounded them, guns at the ready. One bullet was all that was needed to kill him. Covered in his blood, she screamed as they dragged her away and bundled her into the back of a car, heading towards the old manor house.
To her, the world seemed grey. Once at the manor house, she was set to work in the kitchen. Sometimes, she had to work in the vegetable gardens. In the house, one large room was given over to various types of weapons, another was the dining-room. Upstairs the bedrooms. Outside was a tank and other armed vehicles, along with a few cars and a couple of wind turbines. The barn was stockpiled with food and supplies. Enough to withhold a siege, she thought. She found herself part of the National Authoritarian Force, whose self-styled leader dealt out punishments to anyone who questioned his word.
Nine months had gone past when she gave birth to his child, a boy. She named it after him. Overhearing the others talk of small groups of survivors banding together to relearn long-forgotten skills. Talk of a political conflict that could mean the death or life of a reborn world. Frightened of what she might become. Knowing that one day, they would reach the coast and find a boat, then head south to warmer climes, where it would be safe. It would be a long journey. But she was determined to reach the Mediterranean. She knew they would survive. She would keep his dream alive.
‘I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night’. She heard herself whisper to the child.
Dawn brought new hope, before the world changed again.
. . . . and on the last day, came the snow.
Picture Dariah Zatova