In my time trapped in limbo aboard that unfavorable Antelope with the duly respected Captain, I grew increasingly disconsolate and listless. Rage built up like steam in an over-stoked boiler until I could no longer sustain my unfocused fury. Off balance and in a spiral of despair, I was consumed in the conflagration of the frenzied firebox. The boiler split open scalding skin and ripping flesh from bone.
There was a time of great hunger, and darkness, and isolation. I searched my inner recesses and scourged the walls of my prison seeking escape or absolution. In my time of most dire dread and—when God was supposed to have appeared with offerings of reassurance and solace—there was no succor to be had.
Pled out and despondent, surrounded by empty bottles—as I was drinking straight from the bottle like an unregenerate sot, I thumbed through the brittle pages of my memory in search of any painless recollection that I could use as an anchor for an excuse to resist the rash act.
In that lonely silence I heard a slight murmuring of familiarity. I caught my breath and the gasp scared away the apparition. There was something beguiling about that forgotten whisper, something needed, or perhaps just curious—whatever the reason, I was intrigued. I had to lure it back. I willed my body to ignore its need for breath. I counted the seconds. By the time I had lost count my face burned and my eyes strained with pressure and tears. I imagined I was possessed by Yanluo.
I scowled and shook and strained. I felt the world give way. And there was the whisper. A rustling of leaves and a crunching of snow. I had to track it without motion or breath, like a desperate hunter hiding in a blind fearful of scaring off the prey.
The muffled whisper grew louder and sharper. I could see it now as gathering smoke. The smoke emanated from every corner of the cell, from the ceiling and the floor. The diffuse darkness flowed together in chaotic knots, it’s filaments weaving around one another until some critical mass was reached and it took on weight and solidity. Enraptured and enraged I clutched at it but its solidness was but illusion and the smoke swirled about taunting me. I lashed out in a furor and was rewarded for my ire; I caught hold of something ineffable but definite. And there, as the sun faded over a darkened wood, stood a snarling nymph—brunette of hair and eyes as dark as the sea.
Standing slack and shocked I recalled that I had never wanted to bare witness to her cold cruelty again, but something kept calling me back. I couldn’t make sense of these phantom memories. Were they real, could I possibly have known this baleful beast? Meanwhile she appeared equally as shocked, as if the prey she pursued was unknown yet familiar. She ignored my commands and pleas for answers. She kept still in silence gazing at me with those haunted eyes. She wiped a tear from her eye and reached it towards me and fled the other way.
I gave chase. In an unfamiliar world I bounded down hills strewn with rocks; pulled my young body up muddy raises; tripped over roots while branches whipped my raw face.
Around a bend of a rocky trail on the side of a mountain with my feet slipping out from under me, and rocks slicing into my knees she let me catch her. And when I did, I pinned her down. I kneeled on her arms and gripped her throat. She was either smiling or sneering, laughing or taunting. I was unaffected by her disjointed and ambivalent emotions. I forced her to tell me her secrets.
“In the beginning,” she gasped, I loosened up my grip, “there was the Word…”
I was shooken and collapsed into a heap of boneless flesh as the words echoed in the void, pierced my ears and cut my flesh.
“and the Word…”
There was a great squall and the world roared away as she stood over my sorrowful body. Through bloody lips she could barely discern me sob “was with God.”
I reached out to her and she vanished. I was back in my torturous isolation, back aboard the menacing Antelope, surrounded by shattered bottles and hate. But, I was now in possession of something comforting. Oh, it was neither salvation nor redemption, but something bleaker. I held with me the echo of a power that can save us all.