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This story is ancient. I take no responsibility (now) for its many errors of grammar, style, punctuation, and spelling. Read my childhood works and despair.

I wrote most of this story (in my head) while sitting in a Jazz concert. At the time I told myself I'd captured the beat in my words, but you can judge that for yourself.

The Island Night

I read the signs that night, sitting in a bar by the waterfront. The arrangement of the drums meant something to me, and the brick red smoothness of the wall framed a tall window-slice of the kingfisher sky and the ink black sea.

A woman in domino patterns crossed the floor, threading a dancing mass of figures, caught in the last red glow of the dying sun.

The Summer was hot that year, and the sky was never dark. We had drifted far South, I think, from the seas that were our home, and the stars of the sky were not our stars. In the shadows of the waters strange fish swam, bearing each upon their foreheads a glowing pearl. The sea swept and ran beneath us, stirring in the slow power of its swells. Standing with a glass of wine beside a sandsoft beach I watched the slow turning of the tide sweep past phosphorescent weeds and algae, a blue tide of ethereal light fetched from the depths.

Then the strange beast that moved us lapped to the ring of the waves, and the drums tapped out from the streets. Under the lanterns the people were dancing to and fro in an intoxicated swirl, and I leant against a parapet of stone and crumbling stucco to watch them.

I had captured a fragment of a fleeting dream, floating upon the wind and I wore it upon my breast like a flower as I descended the stairs of the tower. The lights on the castle shone out like caged stars, flickering through the narrow windows as I fell. The stairs moved of their own accord, carrying me down past the flashes of light like a lift.

The celebrants wound the streets in robes of red and black, with the copper bell and the drum before them. I stood in the mouth of an alley, and counted the candles, one, two, three, past went the drums and the dancers, and the torches that were carried were like the sun.

At the mouth of the temple all fell silent, and the sounds of tapping metals issued from two onioned towers, that were like flowers, closed as the sun had left. The priests were in the cellars beneath the streets, and the cobbles stirred as they marched. Above only sky, and the smoke that rose in the darkness from the Iron Dragon on the temple roof, which spread its wings over the night.

Its eyes were fire, and oh its voice! The thousand tongues spoke out from it, and who could deny them, not I.

"Abhor Abhor!" cried the Priest "Adore Abraxis!" Sweating he rolled forth, crushing the crowd beneath his wheels. The armoured band marched behind him, one step at a time, step by shattering step, the ends of their trombones flicking back and forth upon the beat. Their armour was red and black in the flame light, and they held purple parasols above their heads. And still the dancers came, swept before the juggernaut like birds. The High Priest flung out his handfuls of wind till the crowd swung in unison, and then he led them on, around the rolling streets towards the Citadels. The great tower of Strings spoke its voice, vibrating through our souls our skin, and our bowels.

The dance became a single body, high stepping from street to street. Death walked those streets unnoticed, though I watched him. I sketched his likeness upon a stone with my dagger.

I paced him up the hill, through colonnades and cliff edged roadways. Closer and closer he went to the dancing crowd, and he drew his sword of light and air before him like the wind. A nick of the bladesweep tossed the orange trees along the marbled banisters and sliced a line across my cloak. The crowd could not see him, and the priest was turned away in ecstasy, on high he raised the sword, a glittering chain of stars against the sky whose swing spun the world........
And then he turned and sheathed the blade, and was gone.

Now the trance dancers emerge, dressed in flowing robes and perfumed makeup. The dry wind from the fiery towers sweeps across us like the mistral, whipping the fires of the torches into blooms of light, but I turn aside and step through a doorway into a dim room, where tall French doors stand half open, looking out across a star-spangled lawn.

Sitting on a stool by the bar I find myself facing a woman with raven hair tufted with feathers. Her gown of red silk is deep like burgundy, and subtly swirled with patterns of leaves and thorns. In her hands she holds a short knife of gold, its blade flat and rounded, though as sharp as a dream. Suddenly she clutches it as if to throw it, and I put a hand or hers to stop her. Freezing she looks into my eyes, and for a moment we hold that pose. Then she says,

Hold the sun in your hands.
The light of a thousand fires has come
Who are we to deny them?
I am and you are nothing but
A dream In the minds of strangers.

I bent at her feet and then quickly rose. In the corners of the room, beneath hanging nets and lobster pots washed up upon our shores in storms and salad days, were bearded sailors, refugees from drowned Atlantis, city of the alabaster towers, hunched over their games of chance and dice. Faces black as night looked out from the shadows by the fire, regarding me with suspicion, dog boys, hounds of the moon, dangerous violent men, carrying within their heads the fragmented dream of a strange future. The island encourages such madnesses, they swirl up in the night from the glowing seas and the dark caves that stripe the western cliffs, borne upon the wings of buzzing flies. I step out through the open windows, and stride across the lawn. Rows of prostrate figures are strewn across the sparkling grass, like fallen sheaves of corn, and I step amongst them like a shadow, avoiding an upturned glass that lies by the hand of each.

My path leads through olive groves and a hill of night flowers, their cloying scent rich in the sweaty darkness. Fallen, leaning stones litter the slope, their surfaces whorled with carved spirals and lines. From an age forgotten to all but us.

At its top I look out across the lustrous sea, where a path of argent moonlight burnishes the wavetops. In the distance the coiling night cradles slow sweet barges decked with gold and heavy barges. Perfumed candles burn upon their decks, sweeping across the waves.

Oh the sweetness of the air! I could stay here for ever, but the night is already spinning away, and dawn is near. Light shall not find me in these climes, and we shall be no more till the sunset frees us.