From this side of the cornea, the bay of Port Maya is a brown gouache blurred by cataract specks and by the prison’s nervous gaze full of crack. I was told her name’s Padma. My cell stands right in the middle of her eye. A nerve lies stretched out down below. And up here stands a poet. Nearly. Barely.
I wonder if anything’s left, even the shadow of a verse, or any remembrance of beauty or grace after someone like me crosses the Second Session’s doors. One stumbles at the radiant hand of an animystic, his chircuits tearing one’s chakras, forcefully dilating the dream, molding it, twisting fear and guilt into delation.
I beg my comrades out in the city, hopefully still free, forgive this old dreamer.
First day. My world stinks of ether and burning plastic. Jail could well die of overdose.
The cell dangles from a shining bar. It creaks and rocks in a tedious swing. There’s an old screen broadcasting live shows given life by our own thoughts. Now and then an actor angrily shouts, only to quietly watch us back in the following hours. They watch us, yes. All of us. Every prisoner in every cage.
Today I talked to Neighbor. I’ve asked his name and all empty he didn’t answer. “They took my name, those motherfuckers. Or else I’ve lost it,” he said. “That’s what happens down here in this shithole.” He held his head low and stared at the pair of wheels that were his mechanical “legs”. Those were his indeed, not a wheelchair’s, and they were all painted like the rest of his body. I guess I heard him crying. “One enters here and starts losing his name,” he said. “When one’s out it’s already gone. No one remembers, man, not even outside. Then you’re just another ghost in this chemically fucked up prison-head.”
Neighbor told me what he remembered from his own history. He said he was arrested by the Second Session, just like me. “I was charged under nine, seventeen and forty-four. Dreamware piracy. Invasion of dreamspace. Oneiromidiatic terrorism,” he laughed in disdain. “But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that everybody and their dogs played my viral. And everybody laughed at them and at their made-up republic.”
I told him that the Second Session only had a verse against me, but from me they heard a bunch of names anyway. It wasn’t even a good verse. Good people wore those names.
I pray that Neighbor’s right. I pray they forget me altogether.
I can tell when a new day comes not by the light that crosses the cornea, but by the siren of a train that wakes me up and spills a little crowd of four or five strangers on the station over my head. The train comes from nowhere and to nowhere it parts. It departs from an empty platform and runs over absent trails.
All newcomers are received and guided by Pandemoniums, guards donned in full crying armors. The mass of tangled babies toddling over the keepers drool and yell and sometimes one falls on the platform with a metallic sound. Neighbor said the convicts with good behavior sweep the tiny bodies down to the abyss below. They’re called the Cleaning Brigade, I guess. I can’t remember seeing any sign of rebellion yet.
Today I had a dream that bid me farewell. I was in the Second Session’s cellar reciting names in the dark, and each one of them was an enormous wasp taking off from my throat. Soap bubbles stood afloat. The insects were trapped inside those bubbles and then collected by a long-fingered animystic wearing a mask with a lengthy nose. His phallic face ejaculated scorn. He was gone in a moment but not for good.
I woke up really calm, certain I’ll never dream of wasps anymore.
Two Carnivals entered my cell without noise and unannounced. For some reason I can’t recall I called the first one Madame Porcelain and she called me back a name now lost to memory. From under her mask she greeted me with sober gentleness and then asked if I was fine. I nodded, not knowing what I was supposed to say. Why, I’m feeling at home already.
“We need your help one last time,” said Porcelain, her voice violence played on a violin.
I tried, I swear I tried, but that mental picture just leaked from my brain. Porcelain touched the air and again I watched my world turn into mosaics, spinning, distorting the prison facility, a kaleidoscope she manipulated like walls made of tiny Rubiks, encryption and decryption cubes in which she sought the truth to the jigsaw puzzle in my mind.
“I found it,” said the other Carnival, this one a murmur like a post-coital sigh. He spun the cube to one side, a second one to the other, and kept playing the memories that betrayed my will.
Within seconds we were back on that stage. Behind me, in the cell, they both stood still. Some paces ahead there was the scene. “Talk to her,” said the dream violator locked behind the red mask. The animystics give no options in their requests, especially those asked to someone with no resolution left.
I had tea with her. It was a wonderful afternoon.
I declare myself the rightful owner of this paper chest filled with melancholia. I found it abandoned close to my bed. I called for its former owner but received no answer yet. I searched in its pages and got nothing but labyrinths, scribbles and meaningless forms. I know they’re telling something desperately sad, but I can’t tell what.
So I seize all its memories and distresses to myself, feeling them strangely familiar. Like seeing my face in the mirror and recognizing wrinkles devoid of time. Like the second half in the line of life, the dead end of fate.
I suspect I was devoured. I know, I know I was devoured and digested for I feel my spirit to be flaccid, my flesh less physical, my teeth no longer ache, my fingers no longer crack. I’ve no idea why I still write. Will I leave more scribbles for some future convict? Do I dream about writing about dreaming trapped inside an eye the size of a building? Do I think or do they think for me?
Blinking moonlight leaked from underneath the bed. A fist-sized cube was hovering inches over the cell’s floor. Spinning quickly, bending reality, six faces alternating, each face a window.
I came closer and touched one of those. Like a swarm it came, a metamorphosis in cubes: from the finger to the fist to the arm to withdraw.
Across the window I could see the quiet shape of a bay deep into the night but I couldn’t recognize the alien landscape it showed.
Another siren, another train and yet another parade. Fresh prisoners. The Pandemoniums strode along the corridor leading a beautiful woman and three or four more lads with war still on their faces. They addressed angry looks to me. They cursed me without adjectives or verbs for some reason I completely ignore.
They were finally locked up in their own cells, hers very close to mine.
The lady sat in a corner, sobbing. I stripped a page from the diary, one more or one less, so many sheets are still empty. “Hi,” I wrote, “my name’s Internal.” Then I crumpled the paper into a ball and threw her the message. Showing disgust she swept the ball into the void, just like a member of the Cleaning Brigade.