"I spoke to the forest, I spoke to the trees, I spoke to the river, but it did not speak to me.  I carved your name in the cypress tree bark, I tattooed your name in a ring round my heart.  I wore out my welcome, I wore out myself, I wore out my reason, I wore out my health, I forgot my name... on the day that you came."


I followed the sound of music down the stairs of the Gray House School for Boys.

"I never said I would stay to the end..."


"The woods eats the woman, and dumps her honey body into the mud..." 

The stairs darken, blacken, turn to a charred mess of splintered wood closely resembling bone, sweeping the delicate arch of the foyer, which is now open to a huge and ghastly machine.

"No man alive will come to you with another tale to tell, and you know that we shall meet again, if your memory serves you well..."

The gears of the machine form the walkway toward a black chasm of space big enough to house a planet, or everything I know.  The gears match in size things like the height of my apartment building.  The width of a plaza.  They move slow, rumbling, garbage discarded in their huge teeth.  The house is gone, and instead I am inside a great Machine.

This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms.

Nauseated, dizzy, turning slowly, I vomit off the side of a metal plate into nothingness that is endless below me.  I'm stunned by this idea that we have been sitting like this, moving slow, on top of the great Kaleidoscope machine that turns the world for us.  Hung in space is what we are, Jack.  Inconstant, frailly placed on the side of a massive clock, counting down the minutes until... what?  I don't know.  Did you think they would lead me somewhere small, the back stairs?  No, I followed the music, and got led astray from the safely stationary School for Boys, down to a huge and hollow place where I am a stuffed man and things haunt the silence like the assurance of our own destruction.

Under the house, there is nothing but space, and time, and lack of any means to mark the passage of either.  That, and the song, bubbling up through the cogs with a gentle whispering along the brass cymbal, and the dark and erratic bass line.

In that hollow space, the sudden and jarring rattle of the guitar is ground to silence as the gears pass close, their teeth closing the space from below for a moment, and opening again.  The flat plate of the gray metal on which I stand is slick with ice and lightly dusted with dirty snow.

"Evelyn!" Adam shouts, and I snap my head upward from the frozen metal, and see the dark space vanish, for the replacement of my bedroom.  Was I asleep?  Was I dreaming?

"What?" I ask him, squinting to find him framed in the doorway, his arms tense at his sides.

"It's Ian.  He's having a seizure."

I stare at him through the dim light for a full 5 seconds before the information settles into the right places.  I blink, and he looks frantic from me, to the door across the courtyard where Matthew sleeps.

"I... I dreamed about it," I tell him, blinking slow and stupid, and he vanishes with a soft linen swish.

"Come quickly," he calls back, and I try to still the beating of my heart.

In the bright light of the hallway, all the boys crowd in their boxers or pajamas around the void of Matthew's dark room.  I push through Brad and John, gossiping in whispers.

"Did you see his face?"

"How long has it been since this happened last?"

The dorm of us is silent, and Rosie is standing detached from them all, her face pale and watchful.

By the time I reach the inside of the room, dark but for the spilled light from the courtyard, the seizure has passed, and Matthew is still and unconscious between Clyde's knees.  The scene is warm with awakened light at night, a common disturbance awakening the entire house.  There is concerned solidarity emanating from every surface.  While this isn't the first fit Matthew's had, it's the first of this particular nature, of this particular kind.