Become a Book Nerd
When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.
I am awake, alive. Lights turn into halos and sounds into muted vibrations. I look down. I’m covered in purple hues and red patches from my feet to my chest. Where do all these bruises come from? I stand up—too fast. I feel a burning sting coming from my back. I run my hands down my spine, two raw wounds on either side. Where do they come from? I rub my wrists, tugging my jumper over the red lines. My head is spinning, twirling around his finger. Who? I swear I’m going crazy. My head is shattered, splinters of my memory all over the place, slipping one by one like sand through my fingers. I take in the landscape surrounding me: barren land, crude soil, there is no sun in the sky. I don’t even think there is a sky, I’m underground. This place feels so familiar, yet I’ve never been here, at least, I don’t think I have. My instincts tell me I should run, get out of here, but I know it’s too late. My conscious whisper that I’m going to be fine, everything will pass in a few minutes, I just need to brace myself. I’m paralysed, blocked.
it starts again.
I can feel the blood rushing through my veins, my lungs screaming for air. The landscape in front of me is painted a deep aquamarine, unmoving. I have to keep fighting. I have to keep moving. I knew from the beginning this was stupid, crazy. The water is pulling me down, further and further into the abyss. My vision darkens, going black. This must be what Orpheus felt when he went down to hell— fire and ice, the feeling of helplessness in front of the such agonizing landscapes. This could be the river Lethe, or Styx, I don’t know. My thoughts aren’t mine anymore. I am a sinner. You are a sinner.
I’m on the floor, panting, my hands on my neck, breathing so hard I could see stars. You are a sinner. The same voice, again, in my head. I’m missing something I realise; I’m missing someone. A maniac, a psychopath. Stop, please. I look down at my bare hands, scratched and bruised. There’s a small circular dent on my index finger— I’m missing a ring. Get up, start walking. No, please no. But I’m up, walking towards nowhere. I’m making my way downwards, towards a set of ornated doors. My yellow converse were not meant for this type of terrain.
The doors open, letting me in to whatever is behind them— a river. I walk towards the border, not knowing what to do. I can’t cross it by foot, I can’t swim to the other side, the current is too strong. Wait. Charon will be here soon. No, stop talking. I can’t do this. Why am I even doing this? What am I doing? I wait. The minutes turn into hours. No sign of Chiron. I feel a sharp tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see a cadaver, the human carcass of a man, dressed in a coal black cloak. His eyes are sunken, rimmed in red, pained. He motions me towards a venetian style gondola a few metres away. I follow him, closely analysing his moves. Chiron, the ferryman of hell. I am in hell, but which version? The Greek, Roman or Egyptian? As we sail through the dusk coloured river, Chiron not whispering a word, my worst fear is confirmed. My hands jolt back from the boat’s seat. A phrase has been burnt into the wood, still red from the heat. They yearn for what they fear for—Dante’s inferno. The splinters of my memory reassemble, creating a maelstrom.
into the depths of my mind.
I see a grin, ruby red curls and two beautiful wings. For a moment I feel safe, secure, but something tells me it won’t last. The moments of time are fleeting, and I’m going to have to wait again. A blood curling scream shatters my head, resonating off every wall. The scream is mine, but I’m not hurt. I’m watching something fade, leave my side. You are a sinner. You are a monster. I’m overwhelmed by shock racking me, hate rooting from my heart, spreading throughout every one of my limbs. I hate and fear this voice with all my body.
I feel a sharp nudge on my shoulder—it’s Chiron. I’m back on my feet, on the gondola. We’re now on the other side of the river, but there are still no trees, no sunshine, but two silhouettes in the foreground. I’m off the boat, making my way towards them. As I get closer, I start to recognize the shadows. And the it hits me—the ruby hair, the charming grin, the crystal wings. It’s a boy, he’s only a year or two older than me, chained. There’s something unnerving about his presence, something cold and isolated. His eyes are an emerald green, glowing in the darkness of this place. Next to him is a man, probably in his forties, with a sharp jawline and razor cheekbones, he’s a living blade. You are here. No, please no. I would walk through all the circles of hell than be here. The boy’s jade eyes are wide with an emotion I can’t decipher.
“You’ve made it,” says the man “but do you remember him?” It’s the same voice I hear in my thoughts, every word emphasized with echoes. He throws the winged boy at my feet. That’s when I realize he can’t move; the handcuffs are draining him. My thoughts connect, a name surfacing in my mind – “Michael…”. For a second I can read shock and hope, running through Michael’s inhumanly bright eyes before he recomposes his face. The man in front of us is in horror. You remember him… A sinner remembers an angel.
“I’m not a sinner, I’m the devil’s daughter.”
When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.
Hunter Lewis GrahamOct 10, 2022
reads very well >< will keep a look out for more from you in future