Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fire and Brass #1

I wrote this, exhausted and slightly delirious and with a seriously over-active imagination on the way back from London yesterday. It is largely unedited. I would say it may continue... but you know me better than to hope, don't you?

A blood red sun sets beyond us. Perhaps we will turn towards the horizon and plunge into the fire.

What lays beyond? A realm of sulphur and flame, brass cities shining amidst the inferno of the elemental reality.

The track turns to dark and strange un-Earthly material; anything strong would twist and bend in the heat. The surface of the train steams, leaving a trail of white behind it, from which imps and beasts grasp drops to drink.

The train pulls up to a station, little more than an obsidian platform and bench. Deserted. The passengers wait for the train to pull away or reverse for the old familiar world of blue and green. When at last one ventures into the driver's cabin, the passengers realise they are alone.

Slowly, in ones and twos they ventures onto the platform and into the town beyond: squat barrels of granite and brass gathered around a tower of black stone, like wildflowers around a great oak.

Doors slam at the other-worlders' approach and eyes like glowing embers peer from cracked, soot-blackened windows.

A shriek from the platform splits the air: with a squeal of steel, the train pulls away deeper into this realm of fire. Follow the tracks; there on the horizon, the shining of a thousand lamps on a thousand brass spires.

With all eyes upon their vanishing hope of escape, no-one spots the shadow until it is upon them. The banker's breath is stolen from him in a swipe. He was so sure and confident and now he is gone. The art student is next, just fast enough to turn, not fast enough to scream. The bar woman howled and by this she saved the others but can not she herself.

They run to the alleys, to the platform, they hide between trash cans than burn at a touch, they beat their fists bloody upon the townsfolks' doors and scream themselves hoarse, and the darkness finds them all. By twos and threes it plucks them from the dirt and throws them to the skies.

The soldier stands in the crossroads and shouts, arms waving, as the mother and her sons run. It takes them first then returns for him. The nurse tries to bargain, calling out to ask what it wants. In its own time, it steals his breath too.

Only the lovers, who have kept to the edge of the crowd, run to the tower. They circle it around, again, but find neither door nor window nor any marking. The diminishing screams from the town are the only sounds - soon the darkness will come for them.

So they hold each other, and fall to the ground and prayed? They prayed to anyone that was listening, any god or spirit or demon: take me. Let her live. Take me instead.

And a clawed hand wraps around their bellies. And all is darkness.

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