A finite lack of noise and an odd, yet not unpleasant smell filled her nostrils; a sensation of weightiness; something of an indeterminate ambient temperature threw Bast initially. She recognised that she was laying on her back, and that she was probably lying on carpet.
Light penetrated the lids of her eyes, causing kaleidoscopic whirls to dance before her. Slowly opening the windows to her soul, taking a moment to adjust to the surroundings, initially to look, and then begin to see, taken aback by the first recognisable sight to slide into vision.
“Hello Bast, ‘been a while.” said Death.
“Gnmphryllmph.” said Bast, brain and mouth not yet together in her response.
“Don’t worry girl, it will all come together directly.”
“Wings?” rasped Bast.
“All intact, just as you were when you crossed over. Just in better place is all.” Said Death. “Now listen up my girl, there’s one or two things you need to know. Firstly, you are now dead back in ‘Then’, you can never return, so you may as well get any notion of that out of your mind now.”
“Secondly, you died at exactly 1713 years, four months and twenty days of age. Now, you get to start again anywhere and from any point in time you lived in and left behind. So, say the best time of your life that you wanted to return to and live in, you can. But, you will be bound to that particular time as your home for ever. You will be able to shimmy through time still, but that place remains your anchor eternally.”
“Lastly, you really have to bollocks it up here to leave ‘The Now’. Basically, you have to be a truly wicked person, doing wrong by all, and then my very own ‘Mr. Darcy’ will come to collect your soul for me; you get yourself killed through your own stupidity, which is actually quite hard to do; lastly, someone kills you. Again this doesn’t happen too often as all of The Now knows that the killer will be pursued and engaged by my little Fox Terrier.” Says Death, taking in a couple of deep and lengthy breaths. “So right now, I will cut your necrobilical cord, allowing you to be properly born into The Now.” with a sweep of Deaths spectacularly sharp secateurs, the cord is cut, and Bast is free of its weighty bonds.
“My advice for you over the next day, is to have a really good think about where and which time you want to live in. Once you have sorted that out, walk, well in your case ‘fly’, to the locality of your choosing, and then focus on the exact time you want to be in, in that particular place. It may take a little time to get it right, but don’t give up on it. If you mess it up, and only the truly stupid ever do, the result is you will be bound to a time and place you don’t want to be in for eternity.” said Death after a few more deep breaths.
Bast stood, gave Death a hug, and then had a look around to find that she was in her flat still, where she had apparently just died. Looking down at herself, amazement and happiness engulfing her, to be followed by utter terror at the unknown.
While Bast was looking, Death was stalking over to the second floor window. Only to open it, stick her head out and yell “Maude!!!! Start the bloody car!!! We should be home in time to catch ‘The Best of The Two Ronnie’s’!!” Pulling her head back into the room, Death said “Lovely to see you again Bast. Take care my girl.” and with that, she left.
No matter how hard she tried, the dress she was wearing when she crossed over from Then to The Now, was the only garment she could wear. No matter how often she undressed and stood naked, then selected another outfit, it would always transform into her rather long shapeless red dress. She was thankful that at least it had wing holes in it. Bast was more than happy that the shoe’s she died in were good stout, mid calf, close fitting lace up black boots in the style of a nineteenth century governess with a slight heel; designed specifically for practicality and comfort.
Stepping to the window, and for the first time she could remember, Bast extended her wings, stepped off and flew. She flew without fear of any that would harm her, or those belligerent or some few dwellers of darker side of mercurial might cause a fuss over the sight in The Now she wished to be bound to.
Bast’s initial instinct was to return to Glasgow at the time immediately after she had left Grandpa & Grandma Hazel.
Two minutes, and some intense time and space orientated concentration, Bast found herself approaching to focal point of her exertions.
Landing beside the Clyde and looking at that period in time prior to selecting it, she was heartbroken to find what she had forgotten. Squalor, deprivation of the worst type, and people speaking in a tongue she no longer remembered. Such a tiny place of hardship and hatred and poverty. Treasured nostalgia being laid to waste before the horror of the reality of Her Alba, Her Glas Cu; a burgh of barony sporting a population of roughly 1500 souls. On further inspection she realised that the cathedral was yet to be built and mud dominated all she saw, person and building alike.
With tears in her eyes she took to wing heading east, crossing across time and the channel into Normandy. Preparing herself for the stark contrast between the tricks of the mind and naivity laden memory.
William the Conqueror and blood was what she found. The places she had lived were not the palaces she kept in her mind. The people, her friends and colleagues, all living hand to mouth; all in a state of perpetual fear of the Norse inhabitants, and the terror they could and did unleash at any given moment.
West again to Alba, struggling on the cusp of becoming her very Scotland, all she found was the blood drawn by the clansmen she had once ridden with. She didn’t remember it as a Scottish rebellion against the English; her romantic recollection of a free Scotland, lead by her friend and lover William Wallace. Once more all her trip gave her was heartache and disappointment. Witnessing the day the Sheriff of Lanark fell to Wallace, flitting through time, revisiting Stirling bridge and Falkirk, stopping only when she reached his subsequent betrayal and murder in 1305. Watching those bare foot, starving, and chronically under armed, stopping just prior Williams’s demise, not able to watch, utterly consumed by raking sobs at the memory of him gutted then hacked to pieces.
Now keening in flight, Bast turned away from the golden places and memories of her past, each shattered through the carnage of absoluteness and fact. Turning on the wing, she made all haste back to Paris, and into the sanctuary of her flat.
Bast concentrated harder than she had concentrated ever. She concentrated on her flat, and on The Now in the form of Then and the time she had died.
And wept, and wept, and wept as she did so.
The corner of the couch I look around is brown leather, heavily overstuffed as was once the height of fashionable decor.
This couch sits upon one of the finest Persian rugs I have ever had the honour of walking across. Magnificent swirls and symmetry; deep reds and blues; dazzling gold thread snakes its way through it the large floor covering. Most works of this quality are generally confined to the dimensions of the prayer mats of the Saracen, this must be as large as a dozen of them, and yet it has lost none of its inherent beauty in the these 500 years of ownership.
Like a wraith on the ground I glide across the floor. Both unseen, and unheard. Silence my shield, stealth my sword. There is dust on everything, quieting my footfall further; sadly leaving the tell tale reminder through the footprints following me.
Another equally magnificent rug passes beneath me, and I stalk out of the opulent room. The passage ahead is unlit, adding further to my camouflage. The heads of a hundred beasts stare down from the walls through their glass eyes; horns and antlers’ thick with dead cobwebs and dust. As I near the end of this carnage adorned passage, the doorway ending the fifty metre prowl I have made, is all but shut. The handle is silver, and I examine the latch and lock; I press myself with gentle force against the door, happily finding that it has not been closed enough to have snibbed, and I am through.
Padding across an empty void I am pleased to see that the stairway is not lit this evening. Oak, walnut, and rose make a lavish set of stairs, winding up to the floor above.
In a matter of seconds I have ascended to the upstairs of our flat. It is warmer up here, and equally as opulent as the floor below.
Standing there at the top of the stairs, nostalgia creeps in and molests me. As though receiving a blow from behind I am cast back into a time where we entertained on a social level; those that graced us with their presence were not that unlike ourselves. Some with an abundance of life enough, granting them access to century’s worth of living, yet not always a life. There were those who dealt and dwelt in darkness. Oft separated from their coven, and with an insatiable and unquenchable desire for the taste of blood. Angels, whether they had ascended, descended, or were just passing through danced before me in my memories eye.
Men and women that spun and swayed in the light, or revelled in the dark would come. Swapping incantations and recipes and desires between one another, to later disappear with the wave of a wand; occasionally mounting the facsimile of a broom, vanishing into the embrace and fold of the night sky.
Old or forgotten Gods would walk amongst beast and man in various shades and shapes. Never fighting, only reminiscing about, and longing for more accurately, a time long long ago when they were feared and praised. Yet now were no more than unknown shades and shadows between those of relevance.
My journey on the second floor takes me away from my revelry, and back to reality. In the juxt of stealth and movement and silence, my light tread takes me past a vast glass wall, separating balcony from ballroom. Parquetry flooring still gleaming beneath the dust. Blood red walls and extraordinarily high white ceilings enhance the splendour of the dusty, unlit chandeliers. Sheet draped tables with their upended chairs stacked upon them surround the ballroom like children playing at ghosts.
Once the ballroom is behind me I continue toward the eastern facing windows; a chaise longue my target but not my destination.
Finally there, I sneak beneath it as quiet as the tongues of the hanged. Laying there hidden but not hiding, the chaise lounge begins to sob above me. Great hacking painful sobs of anguish and despair.
Crawling from beneath this freak of crying inanimate object, I pad to the lowest point of the seat. My legs coil beneath me, and with no great exertion, I spring upon it and her. She looks into my mismatched eyes and says “Dear God! Sardine?! How are you here?!” With that, I drop the small scroll from my mouth to her hand, just as Death has asked me to do.
Hooray for Sunday! Blah, blah, blah, click the picture, or else! There is only one way to walk onto the set of a talk show, and this is it. RIP Mike D.
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