I was dreaming. Like most of my dreams it was based on one of the few vivid memories that I have of my early life in London; and like most of my dreams it is one I have had often before. This dream is of my earliest, clearest memory. It is a memory of sitting naked in the cold dark beside a fire of burning rubbish. I am hugging an old, smelly blanket around myself and I am in pain. The fire is burning brightly, sending smoke and floating embers into the darkness above. It gives off a lot of heat, but the heat does not penetrate my skin. I am cold within, as if my bones were made of ice and nothing will ever warm me again.
Also in this dream are a couple of men. I know that they are the only people I have ever known and yet I know that I don’t know them. They are just vague shadows to me, demons in the surrounding darkness. They talk to each other about me, but do not include me. I am not yet a person to be included in conversations.
“Hey man,” a high, squeaky voice, “I told’ed you you shouldn’t have done that to ‘er.”
“Ah, don’t be stu’bit,” a deeper, harsh voice.
“Com’on man,” the squeak was slightly higher. “I thinks yer hurt ‘er.”
“Suh’tup,” the harsh voice responded. “She wanted it.”
“How can you say that?” The squeak was even higher.
“Suh’tup,” there was a dull thump followed a moment later by something heavy landing on the ground.
“Now get’t sleep,” the harsh voice shouted.
I huddle in my blanket; shivering in the darkness for a long, long time. I feel tired but I cannot sleep. I hold the blanket to myself and grow even colder as the fire burns lower and slowly dies.
As the fire dies so does the only light I have ever known. I sit frozen in darkness, with even the demons ignoring me. I suppose I would be waiting, if I knew what waiting was.
Suddenly lightening bolts strike all around me. Zooming passed my head and shaking the ground, throwing debris over me.
I close my eyes and roll down onto the ground, pulling the blanket with me, as my whole world suddenly transforms from silence into pure noise and from cold darkness into blinding light.
Just as suddenly the darkness returns and silence descends around me. After a moment I look up, blinking away the after image of the first explosion. The darkness is unbroken and silence reigns supreme.
A circle of light appears around the blackened embers of the dead fire. A cold, crisp circle that sharply defines what is seen from what is unseen, hidden in the black night.
The light moves, searching the muddy ground, slowly spiralling out from the dead fire; compacted, decayed trash exposed by its passing and then returned to the blackness, as it searches across the discarded trash of a previous generation.
Until the circle of light illuminates an exploded abdomen, damp with blood, guts twisted and twitching like poisoned snakes slowly dieing. Its aperture increases spreading outwards to encompass an oozing chest, the remains of a head and a twitching hand. And then my foot. It stops for a moment, then runs up my leg, along my body and into my face. I shut my eyes in pain and hide my head under the blanket.
I hear the crunch of heavy boots coming towards me and stopping. The blanket is pulled up. I gasped and half slide out of it. I open my eyes and see the distorted reflection of a frightened face in glossy black. I stare at it for a moment. Then I hear a muffled snort and the blanket is dropped onto me once more. A dark shadows stands silhouetted against the stars for a moment, then turns walks away.
I lie there motionless as it merges with the darkness, and I am left naked in the cold and the dark. And I shiver uncontrollably. Slowly the silence that surrounded me fades and I start to hear the world around me: the murmur of the wind, the rustle of paper and plastic and the scurry of small animals. My hand reaches out and pulls the blanket back to me. I roll into it and sink into sleep.
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