Forgotten...remembered. Of course, now, here. Where else?; The place where the fires found me, and I found myself.
Still the same, after all these years...claustrophobic corridors, high flung windows, just out of reach, as though to prevent even the thought of escape, the only hint of the outside world whatever the sky has to tell.
Dust. Dust and echoes; every breath acrid with adolescent sweat, rampant hormones, tribal rages, sexual fantasies, dreams of pain and vengeance and of abuse returned three fold.
Barking teachers. Jeering boys and cackling girls. The cries of those tripped or spat upon, the odd worm turning, pummelling their abusers bloody before teachers can tear them away, often receiving bruises themselves in the process.
Panic attacks. Break downs. Autistic fugues. Schizophrenic episodes. Spontaneous, Tourettes inspired expletives.
Basking in them, hearing them behind my closed eyes, vicarious emotion, sensation, playing across my senses.
The stink and noise, the pain and desperation. Rare, rare flickers of beauty; a mind retreated into itself, lost in dreaming; consumed by some fantasy, of worlds read about or imagined on the spot, of video-game realms and role-playing table top games. Of cartoons and films and comic books.
Rare, rare souls; those able to deny the dust and disease of the place, to remove themselves from it, into some other state of mind and being.
Routinely snared, dragged back by the ridicules of teachers and classmates, accused of “day-dreaming,” as though there's any great sin in that, when what the waking world provides is so shallow and sceptic.
Happier there, in the realms of their own dreaming. Knowing, because I was of the same tribe, once; one of the happy lost, the unanchored and wandering, apt to float away at a moment's notice, from boredom and barbarity, from tribal idiocy and pretensions of wisdom.
One of the few who questioned, who suffered for it; who elicited gasps of disbelief from his classmates with his defiance:
“Why? What's the point?”
Told to shut up, to remove himself, dragged back for detensions after school, during lunch break.
Remembering, how they looked at him, how they glared, though rarely ever saying what was in their minds:
How dare you? How dare you question me, in my kingdom?
The child learning, through that: how truly futile it all was, how pointless and stupid the routines and systems he'd been fed through since early childhood were. How broken and damaged the sad, weary emperors and empresses of those states were.
Before this...the event that draws me back, again and again, no matter how deeply I forget, how alien I become to myself:
Permutations of the same...in the worlds I have walked, the states I've trespassed in; permutations in which the place shines, in which its students are paragons of health and freedom, where they are not denied, but encouraged and inspired, where the assumptions of their imprisonment are so far removed from those that gave rise to me as I stand, here and now, in the dust I created.
White and beautiful places, curving walls of pearl and nacreous matter, shimmering with expressions that the children write with their fingers in light and colour, that they project onto the structure with their thoughts, their inspirations.
Nothing denied, nothing censored, from what would be considered lewd and lurid here to the violent, the sadistic, the graphic:
All welcome, the artists responsible so far beyond the feral, stinking, bestial ghosts that surround me, they may as well be of another species.
Remembering...my first. Why, I don't even know, now: only that the fact of her; her abused and lunatic eyes, her cackling, desperate voice, her baboon smile, that turned her face into a distorted clown mask every time she tripped some kid in the corridor, every time she cried that some poor boy had made her pregnant and forced her to abort the babe, every time she slapped some random girl in the corridor or spat in their face...
Arousing fantasies that shamed me, once upon a time; back when I was capable of such foolishness: fantasies of sadism that I scribbled down in my myriad journals and notebooks, that I sometimes used as inspiration for art projects (my parents, whose names and faces I can't recall, called in for discussions on the subject, hour long sessions with the school councillor, in which she pretended some understanding of what I expressed).
Fantasies of blades and blood, of bondage and burning. The things I did to her in my head...a litany of sadism to shame the most canonised of serial killers, to make Jeffrey Dahmer wince and recoil.
Fantasies only, no different, in their ways, than the myriad others swirling in the dust around me, now: dreams of vengeance upon teachers who dared to ignore or shame us, who screamed and snarled at us, who quivered us with their sarcasm, made us writhe like worms in our seats. Upon the leering, ape-like ones whose unthinking violence became the measure of our days.
Never me, the girl never saying a single word to me, just like most of them; the abused abusers, the victimisers, the violent ones. Most of them bizarrely fond of me, treating me with odd respect, like some sort of mascott. Scenting, perhaps, what she became the focus of, that day.
Remembering, through the fog and storms of years; time that none of us are born to comprehend or endure...
Lifetimes separating us; the child that was, the not-quite-man that is; the former as much a ghost now as those he shares the dust with:
No spur, no particular event or circumstance inspiring the moment: seeing her, from down the dimly lit corridor, in a rough line outside of Mr. Heldridge's history class. The same gaggle of twitchy, nervous, idiot companions, quivering from and laughing at her cruelties, not realising that they would become their subjects just as readily when all other opportunities exhausted themselves.
Seeing her, seeing all of them. Knowing, even then, even as the child I was -barely thirteen in body, already ancient in mind-, that she was nothing; not the source or inspiration of it, merely the focal point, the cypher.
Feeling it, as I sometimes had before, during moments of strange exultation or particular despair, in arousal or inspiration: that same lightning, the potential for transformation in my cells. A sense as of lifting from the ground, of lightning arcing from my fingertips, fire at the corners of my eyes and mouth.
Far more than a dream, this time.
Knowing, when the mutters in the corridor took on a new timbre, when eyes turned to me, when cries and screams came.
Remembering...raising a hand to my eyes, laughing at its translucence, the light that ran in its veins, the fire that seeped from its whorls and ridges, liquid like sweat, rolling in fluid beads to my finger tips, coalescing there, bursting into flickers of blue lightning or dripping up, to kindle on the ceiling.
Laughing, having imagined this moment more times than I could count, knowing it would come, from my earliest fantasies; prophecies conjured in the womb or before.
Only just begun to doubt, through my disappointments at the world; that, even in the most intense and soul-burning moments, the fires died, nothing manifesting.
And the cold that followed...oh, that cold! Knowing it well; almost enough to drive me to tears, to self-excoriation, raking at myself with bitten ragged nails, biting deep into the flesh of my arms, my hands...sometimes enough to make myself bleed, offering it as sacrament to whatever passing powers might hear, might help me realise what I ached for...
Running, now; murmurs rising to screams and cries, as they stampeded, as they fled, the surrounding corridor kindling, blue and green and blazing gold fire spreading across the walls, floor and ceiling, teachers emerging from their classrooms, bellowing demands for calm, before seeing, before joining the route.
The first emergence, the singularity that transformed not only me, but this sad, sorry state I was born to.
The girl that was its focus...her ghost coalescing before me, now; a naked, distorted thing, simultaneously ancient and snared in a state of hateful adolescence, its smeared face stretched in a perpetual scream, raking at its own dust with hideously elongated fingers.
Her blood and burning flesh in my nostrils, her voice in my thoughts:
Laughing, unable to help myself, remembering how she glared at me, how her companions abandoned her, fleeing down the corridor, not sparing her a second glance, not caring to drag her away from the fire.
Finding others, too; not just her. Others I didn't know and never will, licking their backs, their flailing legs, their screaming faces... not all of them burned:
Those who dreamed, those who found ways of sustaining their essential selves, beyond the ruin that unwanted being might have worked on them, kindling in other ways, becoming like me; pyres of their own imagining, screams turning to laughter as they blazed in their turns:
A blonde, quivering boy grinning from ear to ear as he exploded into a state of light and luminous dust, as his new condition flapped its wings, spreading further embers throughout the structure. A pale, dark-haired girl, raising her hands to the flock of shadow-born ravens that swirled and croaked around her, plucking her fleshless, leaving her a thing of bone and blue fire, smiling through its own immolation, apparently well content with its condition.
My tribe; the tribeless, the species of one.
The nameless, glaring girl, the victim who made all the world her victim, not moving, not trying to flee.
Staring as I approached, as the corridor flowered around her.
No words or recriminations, what I brought...nothing she didn't already possess, that she hadn't dreamed for herself, again and again and again.
Not even screaming, as the fires found her, as she blistered, bled, as the flesh bubbled and sloughed from her, leaving behind a charred, quivering skeleton, raking itself to unhappy ash.
My first, that conflagration...so intimate, feeling every tongue of flame that licked across and throughout her body, her mind...tasting every darkened recess, every corpse-strewn swamp inside; the places where she cast her shames and guilts and despairs, where they festered, becoming mires so polluted, their stink poisoned every inch of her being.
Not my doing; not even the fire's. Her own work, as it's always been, as she'll never allow herself to know.
Swirling my fingers through her dust, watching her come apart, distort, only to recohere, agonised by my touch.
Still? After all these years?
Sighing, inhaling her, tasting her madness and despair, her hatred of me and herself; of everything that is...
“You know I can't. Why do you still cling to this? Haven't you made enough Hell for yourself?”
The spectre weeping, retreating from me down the corridor, lashing out at all it passes, disrupting and distorting them, not realising that they aren't like her; shadows and echoes, incapable of appreciating her sadism, just as she's incapable of acknowledging what she inflicts on herself.
If she only knew, if I can only show her...what she precipitated, what I've seen and done...where I've wandered in the centuries since...what she might be, if she'll only allow it.
Following, calling to her, though she denies me, though she flees and disperses, though she lashes out, attempting to dissuade me with her violence.
Nothing she can do, any more than there was all those years ago, when we became Father and Mother to one another, more intimate than twins in the womb. Nowhere she can hide from me, in this place; sensing her, wherever she cowers, terrified of knowing, of accepting what I have to give.
Intent on this; my last gift, before I kindle again, and what remains of this place, this womb of dust, is finally forgotten.
George Lea is an entity that seems to simultaneously exist and not exist at various points and states in time and reality, mostly where there are vast quantities of cake to be had. He has a lot of books. And a cat named Rufus. What she makes of all this is anyone's guess.