spoRE:MIX 6.[26-30]

 

One biomorphic dusk as the world drifted apart…

He turned on the lamp in the room of leaves. It made a soft glow, a sphere of contained yellow light. The leaves rustled in the shadows beyond. They covered every inch of the walls: above, around, below. He felt them crackling underfoot. There seemed to be very little air. His vision blurred slightly. He could hear voices, disembodied, tender like a song but lost in static noise: radio waves from a dream station.

He stepped forward towards the central platform with its antique bed, its dusty coverlet. There she lay sleeping, the old woman. He opened the vanity case on the bedside table. It contained a few items of jewellery, make-up, coins, and a decorative hand mirror. He took this last item. The mirror’s frame was cracked, its silver tarnished, but nonetheless he held it in place a few inches above the woman’s lined face.

Her eyes did not open, but the lids flickered. That was sign enough; she was dreaming. He called her name, gently to begin with, then with more insistence. She did not stir, her mouth did not move, not at all, yet the voices in his head grew more coherent. Through vapours, in clouds of dust, words were forming. Stephen listened as best he could. Some years had passed since he had last visited this place, this chamber of sleep. He was known by a different name in those days, a nickname. He’d been a young man with a desperate life. And now…

Now Miss Hobart spoke to him. The consonants popped like seeds from her unmoving lips. He saw the vowels as dark fluttering moths. …Good evening, kind sir. What do you need from me? He tried to explain. His words came slowly, and once or twice he coughed. He pressed at his side where the bullet was lodged; blood was seeping through the makeshift bandage. He didn’t have long, he knew that. The woman spoke in his thoughts: Are you alone? “Yes,” he answered. The Game Cat? “Dead. They killed him.” The woman’s eyes flickered again beneath crinkled skin, but there was no longer any direct reply. The room itself was responding. He watched the leaves moving on the walls, where blossoms were appearing, hundreds of them, tiny petals opening, red, blue, green.

Stephen turned back to the bed. An object was floating in the air above the woman’s face. It was a bird’s feather, silver in colour with tiny gold splotches here and there like evidence of a sickness. He had never seen such a combination before. He reached out and took the feather in his hand. There was a slight pressure as the flight was held for a moment in the old lady’s dream, and then it came loose and was his alone.

He made his way back to the door. He was message and text, a man built from fragments, elements in a story, from words. The corridor outside was already infected. He could hardly walk for the pain in his side and he staggered a little, resting against the wall for support. His body sank into the wall partway; it took an effort to pull himself loose. Miss Hobart’s chamber was now the last dreamhold. He panicked. He was not ready for this. Help me, somebody. Anybody. What should I do? Silence. Stephen felt he had stolen a secret from a secret house, from a secretive world. The flight glowed in his hand. He closed his eyes.

One biomorphic dusk as the world drifted apart, a man raised a feather to his lips…

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