DREAMS OF THE LUCID LIVING
Calista Siddal, the Afterlife
I’m walking down a passage in time, trying to conjure old familiar memories. The surface of the tunnel is like a white powder that crumbles when touched. It forms a perfect circle ahead of me, followed by another and another, stretching away in a series of engraved rings. It makes a beautiful sound as the soles of my brogues take quick steps forward. Not quite the squeak of snow, nor the crunch of sand, but some finite place in between. I pick up sounds now, not dully like the human ear, but as though they are digitally re-mastered and wired inside my mind.
There’s someone inside the tunnel ahead and I feel a quiver of excitement, for I’ve meandered for many moments without meeting a single soul (time is now incoherent to that measured by those in the waking world). This person is too large for the passage. As I come to a bend I see them bent over, raven hair draping like a curtain. Different strands of it appear indigo and purple in the light, which has no source but seems to emit from the walls, looking in turns translucent and opaque.
I feel a strange reassurance in the familiar face of Lucy. Her lips are the colour of the Undead, as though painted by blood. Her pallor is paled from the healthy brown glow of our teenage years.
“Hello, Lucy,” I greet her in a friendly manner.
“Lizzie Siddal!” she gasps.
“It’s Calista… Cassie,” I explain patiently, folding my hands in front of my dress.
“I was told you’d be here, Lizzie. I was asked to wait for you, but I didn’t believe that I would find you here. Still I’m glad you’ve arrived, for it’s so very cramped for me. I’ve lost all feeling in my spine.”
She pushes at the walls and a little powder crumbles off, but they don’t give.
I smile politely, ignoring her getting my name wrong as she always has done.
“I have something for you Lizzie.” She reaches in her pocket and brings out a bottle, part full of crystal clear liquid. The bottle is as big as my torso, but I take hold of it awkwardly anyway.
“Thank you, Lucy,” I say. “How is everybody? Do you still hear from Simian?”
She looks disconcerted. “How should I know such things? I can’t very well be here and there. Thank you for coming, but I must be gone.”
She disappears strangely fast down the passage, given that she’s crouched over. I try to follow her, carrying the bottle – which feels lighter and smaller with each step, oddly.
The passage dips steeply over and I skid to a precarious halt. There’s a cavernous opening below, and beyond that an abyss.
I sit down on the edge and peek over, the wind blows gently below. I look at the bottle and the enticing clarity of the liquid. The label, written in old hand says ‘Laudanum’. I shiver in horror, debating whether to toss it into the abyss or leave it here. Worried it should hurt someone far down below, I leave it. With great care I roll onto my stomach and slip through the opening. I cling to the rings of white with my finger tips, fumbling blindly with my feet until they find a foothold…
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