I am in that place of bonded service to the shadows. Strong brick and stone, tarnished by long years of miasma, are my walls. There are rough chinks. Sometimes sunlight shines through in bright bits of warming rays. I have no memory of seeing outside, though faint hazy echoes of sunny airy landscape seems to have familiarity I can’t quite apprehend.
Another day in the box waiting for nightfall. That is when the caged bird sings, mournfully, hauntingly. That is when the dreaming starts. Take the ride your life could never allow.
We have met the enemy, for they are us, just one shadow away.
Human newborn imbued with alien soul. Where the human soul is taken, if it survives, who knows?
She screams for her child. Deeply under sedation, it is but a dream. No one hears her. No one understands when she insists this child is not hers.
After a while of constant reinforcement, she accepts the child as hers. The child, not so clearly subject to social norms, cannot accept her, or for that matter, this world, as its rightful place.
There is disturbance. I am called to a shadow chamber, given mission to carry a message between worlds. I am outfitted to detract notice, given instructions, missive, and coin of the realm to which I will travel. Before I fully reach my destination, I am overcome with not unexpected fatigue. I find a shelter among a cluster of wild brush and rusting trash to await clarity.
The dreams again overtake; I am of different consciousness, traveling a river night .
Her eyes opened. She had felt the swaying of the boat. The darkness of the moonless sky blended into the inky mystery of the river, so opening her eyes showed her nothing. She could smell dank, pungent organic odors, feel surrounded by the river, the forest, the moist air. She could hear the splashing, slapping of the water against the boat. Insects, the occasional nocturnal hunter and hunted, breeze moving through the trees, all added to the aural ambience. Her senses assured her that she was present here, without human companionship.
There had been a party, she thought, maybe. Loud music, laughter, jocular outbursts, smells of stale smoke and booze, vague memories, but sensually distinct. Were there drugs? Was there an argument? Loud anger, breaking glass, sharp pain, indistinct, receding. There may have been pain, but not now. No post drug wooziness, but memory vague, without certainty, a broken thread drifting away. Like this boat, untethered, drifting in the slapping water.
She laughed briefly at the thought of living in a metaphor. Strangely, having no idea of where she was or how she had gotten there was issuing no concern. Perhaps this was a common occurrence. Images from movies about memory disorders randomly flashed into inner view. Still, no fear, no concern. She felt calm, relaxed, at peace. Breathing in the night air, cool enough to invigorate without chilling, enjoying the sounds and smells of a natural order, she let the thought of memories drift away.
Perhaps when it gets light, I will see where I have come to be, she thought, or heard in a gentle voice not truly recognized, seeming to come from both within and without. So she drifted through the night, content, serene, laughing at silly little private jokes, singing wisps of songs as they floated by, making up fantasy landscapes and stories from the shadow shapes as she passed through.
As dawn approached, shapes became more distinct against the color infusing sky. She understood that her journey was over, as the memories returned in one last burst of clarity. She understood that she had come home, her old black dog greeting her affectionately at the gate. Her eyes closed as she gratefully embraced wet fur, welcoming presence.
Awakening to a bed of eider down and an array of concerned faces, I am drawn to my target.
“The shadow commands you.” I say, simply, directly, without inflection, as I have been trained. No one else notices.
Satisfied with my task completed, I am allowed to sleep, dream of that other place, the world of hypnotic normality. The shadow releases me from bondage.
Walking carefree in the sunshine, I smile to see elongating shadows. Soon balance will be restored, one world not of service and bondage, but reciprocity.
I don’t know where this thought has come from, perhaps words of a popular song.