Diary, another dream.
I am facing a bookcase I know is a door. ‘A book is a door for the mind,’ a cultured voice whispers. And I see this bookcase is indeed full of such doors. The books are a wall of leathery bricks – their pink skin-covering so uncured and fleshy I don’t want to touch any of them. But, a minute examination of the titles in front of me – passenger manifests from every era of the sea, cataloguing those who have murdered and those who have been murdered – I see the one He surely wants me to take: a preposterous guide to the inner homunculus of the mind: ‘Secrets of the Id’.
My hand feels cool upon that particular book’s spine, but it will not pull free. Instead, the book tilts and there is a click. The shelf moves to reveal a secret door, here on the ship!
In the dream, I am overjoyed. ‘Yes,’ I say. ‘There are many such passages everywhere, and here is proof. This is how you are always being watched. Always being judged.’
I turn around and I find no one there – but I know He is watching.
I pass on through the bookcase and it whispers closed behind me. The room beyond is as much library as a long dining room for feasting, with many more books along its walls. The fleur-de-lis wallpaper is black velvet on red liver. The room is huge, though it is still dominated by its long banqueting table, with a solitary chair at its far end. This chair is high-backed and faces away, though it is clearly occupied. A fire is burning in the hearth just beyond it, casting the occupant into shadow, generating a suffocating heat.
Sitting in the chair is Lucien – though he has his back to me, I know it’s him, with that peculiar certainty of dreams.
‘What are you doing here?’ I say.
Lucien has been quietly reading while waiting for me. He puts down a thick file of paper with a sigh. It casts a ragged reflection on the polished mahogany of the table.
Lucien says, ‘You’re ill, Lucy. I’ve come to take you home.’
‘Ill?’ I say. ‘No. This whole ship is ill, Dr. Lucien!’ and I stamp my foot as if I were a truly brattish child.
And then the chair turns. It isn’t Lucien – it’s Him, the creature called X.
I… the world fell.
I must have collapsed.
And then the nightmare was over.
I awoke in my cabin with a circle of moonlight on my face and the gentle creak of the fittings, the plat, plat of water on the hull, and a feeling that the reality of that other room was more than the crumpled sheets that enfolded me, but no idea how to get back there – to the dream…
Oh, but I tried. I went to the bookcase, as soon as I awoke – with a midnight lamp, braving whatever damned I might encounter of the ship – knowing of the bookcase as a real place, passed many times. But the disturbing book was no longer there. I pulled every other book from the case and its useless carcass, bloodied and broke my nails, but everything was just as it seemed – pulped paper, and inert and immovable wood.
I was so distracted my latest Hunter almost had me – almost.
This is what happens when He deprives me.
Where is my next card?