I could see the corner stretched, like a rubber band, twisting, endless, a mobius strip of blood red and gold. The gutter ran with slimy green water and gave off a rank foetid smell like rotting vegetables. Overhead the sky oppressed and depressed. I was running yet the legs were not just weary but heavy, I was like an old fashioned diver at the bottom of some bottomless ocean. People were looking yet not quite, they perhaps sensed my semi nakedness as a I fought to get to my goal.
But where was I? I knew what the goal was as I continued to struggle round the endless blood red corner - my bike, somehow I had become dispossessed, apart, flung away from the means to get me home and into clothes.
The corner ended abruptly but I went on, past the empty allotments, past the closed shops, past the great church that looked like an oasis in this predatory world. I ran back to the church and went inside and, panting, looked at the altar. The cross was gone yet it was still there - upside down. All the images were defaced or upside down. I tried to make sense of this but the cloying scent of incense turned my head and I almost swooned.. Where was my bike? In the pulpit? I went up the steps that were rickety and creaking, swaying as I tried to reach the lectern.
The lectern was a great brass bird an eagle or a bird of prey, the head was turned to look at me with predatory eyes and a sharp snarling beak, snarling with teeth, tears welling from its eyes. It spoke, silently, no sound, just tears and teeth. and a silent message. "You can't find it. Give up. Give up to the master." I looked out over the lectern and the congregation were waiting. they stared at me but could not see my nakedness, only I knew that I was bared to the world but here the great marble pulpit hid my shame. I spoke but all that came from my mouth were words of unclear meaning, parables within fables inside mysteries. How could these people find my bicycle? How could they help me home? The words like tongues from the testament rolled out and over the sinking audience, they were vanishing into the floor of the church like "Pawleys Peepholes".
I was marooned on an island with a sea of faces lapping across the water and onto the seaweed strewn beach . The weeds clung to my bare feet, cold, dank, slimy and gripping. The weed was absorbing me. I grappled and swung my feet, I tore at the green and brown, black edged monstrous weeds as the faces grimaced and laughed. They laughed at my vain struggles and at my nakedness. The seaweed overcame my puny attempts to get away and I was dragged down and down, not into the sea of grimacing faces but into the sand. Soft and warm it flowed over and into my body, sussurating and sweeping into every orifice. I was in pain and blind, the grittiness caught at my eyeballs and drilled into my eye-socket. the blood red of the ever moving corner came into my head as I struggled to see. My eyelids were closed and fastened down by the insistence of the sand.
Beyond the cover of the eyelid I could see nothing, but the lid itself was glowing red, it looked like a huge globe, a world inhabited by warm gold and thousands of rivers linking and moving together. I fell back, movement now was suspended and the heavy warm feel of the sand had disappeared. There was silence except for a pounding, a deafening noise, rhythmic and vibrant. My heartbeat was deafening but I was alive.
Slowly I was able to open the eyes that only moments ago had been as though sealed forever. The cave was not eerie and unfathomable ,light permeated the expected darkness. Its walls climbed to an enormous vaulted ceiling or roof that might even have been covered in paintings but that was impossible but so was what was happening to me. I gazed at the enormity of the place. Down grooved walls ran water, shimmering in the half light from the cave's entrance. The grooves fanned out at the base of the wall - as though a minster ceiling had been inverted. The water ran from the grooves and sank immensely into the embracing sand that caressed my feet. No longer the gripping and gory seaweed, now my feet were warm and important again.
I looked down and my hands creased like a shield. I was still half naked, the bottom edge of my tiny vest barely reached past my too fat childish belly while the rest of my body was exposed, white and puny, ashamed and defeated I looked for a way out.
The light came from a large but low opening that beckoned to the sunlight and the friendly sea beyond. I began to run and felt elated. But I was running towards a disappearing opening, When I slowed the way out seemed close and ready but as soon as I began to run towards my salvation it stayed well away from my hopeful face - receding with a half seen grimace of triumph. The answer was obvious even to me and in that state - turn round and run backwards.
Within what seemed like mere moments I was standing looking at the cave front: and how innocuous it now looked. The clock on the hillside was chiming and a throng had gathered to check the time. Four o'clock, teatime. Somewhere nearby four loud cannon shots cracked out. I waited for the crowd to disappear but instead they just milled around on the sand until I was in the centre of a silently shuffling mob. They were looking at me, pointing, laughing and then they began moving towards me. I was trapped. I pulled and pulled at the bottom of the vest, I bent, head looking downwards as I tried to hide my shame. But still they came on, pointing, laughing, jeering and sneering. I pulled so hard on the edge of my vest that it tore and I tumbled, flailing wildly into a room.
The room was dark a tiny window told the story of a bright moon that crept round the edges of the curtain. I felt my feet on the clippy rug and wondered why I was awake. Then it hit me, grandad Campbell was upstairs in the back bedroom. It was still his room but the bed was folded away and in its place stood his coffin. I remembered his face, cold, unnatural, waxen and they had wanted me to kiss him. I screamed at the memory but there was no sound, the house was silent. I tried again to make a sound - shouting for my aunts. No sound but my feet moved towards the door and the stairway.
The bottom of the stairs were illuminated by the moon that was now streaming through the fanlight over the front door. The stairs beckoned and I went up to the first floor landing. It was darker here and there were pools of uninviting blackness where I wanted to look but somehow could not. His door was part open and the room had a smear of light moving uneasily and unevenly as the draughts caught the candleflame.
The door swung back and there it was - the coffin - on an old table that Mary and Minnie had found for the purpose. Even so the box was sitting crazily on its pedestal and they had placed the lid against a wall where stood - a ghoulish sentinel. My feet smoothed me forwards, I was in thrall to an outside force, I could feel sweat gathering and falling down my face to mix with the tears of fright that had started, uncalled and unwelcome. I was suddenly over the open box and forced my eyes downwards. I screamed an unholy wailing scream that this time had sound to it, it bounced off the walls and caused the candle to flicker and sway. The box was empty, I ran from the room and stumbled and fell out of bed, the nightmare over.