My time amongst the Engines, my years sweating amongst the stinking, steam and shit dreams of others...
Barely remembered, now, save in the vaguest sense; as images, as impressions: moments of vicarious inspiration.
Flying, the wings of dragons, of angels, sprouted from my back, beating the cold or burning air. Slithering, a great serpent, grinding skyscrapers and temples to powder beneath its belly, hissing laughter at those that shriek and scamper before it. Moments of absurdity and banality, intermingling: serving a dinner party of skinless, infested diners, the silvery mites scurrying over their bodies seasoning the food with every motion, taking flight in glittering clouds around their heads. Sat watching TV soap operas with parents I don't recognise, the itching, skin-twisted, sullen body of a teenage girl, the world outside the windows burning with lurid, turquoise fire.
Not supposed to remember at all.
Most don't; waking or shuddering as though barely a moment has passed, that space between one heartbeat and the next...a gulf of decades, an abyss of centuries.
Timeless time, down there, in the noise and light, the nonsense processes that underly all they know.
But I do, no matter how distantly; I remember, thought returning to it, over and over, no matter how earnestly I try to forget, probing like a tongue at a rotting tooth, trying to gain some...comprehension, some measure of control...
I can't. I can't. We forget for a reason...we aren't built for it; to contain those spans, to conceive of them.
No sleep down there, no slowing; only the endless wandering, from engine to engine, from unborn to unborn; the less fortunate; the unwanted that humanity won't miss, bound into the machinery, floating and shuddering in their tanks, endlessly filtering the dreams of others...
Insane. Hearing them; the ones that wake, that tear themselves bloody, that smash their ways free. Attending them through the filth; the blood and glass, singing to them, giving them a little peace, chemical peace.
Broken things...I remember; wasted and rubbery-skinned, no names, no histories: taken before they could even be born.
Parts of the Engines, the most essential; the human component, without which they'd be nothing; towering hunks of dead metal, cold bone, still flesh.
Going about my day, with those memories; that knowledge. Smiling hello to people I pass in the street, swapping mindless, thoughtless pleasantries with the hateful-eyed girl behind the cornershop counter as I purchase cigarettes and chocolate. In phone calls to the bank, the waterboard, the gas company. Chatting on-line with friends and family. Always there, always knowing.
Aching, aching to tell them all, to shriek it, to type out some confession, send it to every news site and broadcast station in the land.
But I can't. I can't. Because I know; what they'll do, what it will mean.
Others have tried. Others try still; to make them see. They've come to me, down the years, trying to recruit, to convince me of their causes.
Dismissed, out of hand, the most earnest threatened with exposure. I don't know how I'd do it; who I'd contact. Only that I don't want them here, on my doorstep, phoning and texting and e-mailing... Don't want their condemning eyes, their fretful, fervent poetry.
All I want is what everyone has; to not know, to not see. To forget I ever dreamed.
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.