Chapter Two

On train now. I almost had given up hope. It came when the woman was bleeding from both nostrils. The dust cloud has dissipated. It went quicker than it came. I woke up and I saw the cloud rising, like a curtain in a play. Reminded me of the play Brekker took me to in Holstenwall – the one about the eight armed demon worshipper. The one that gave Lucy nightmares. Foolish Lucy – a woman of science and discovery but so weak to the mystery and imagination of phantasmagoria. Brekker and I tried to calm her but she fainted. We tried to revive her but the smelling salts did not work. After the play, I remember Brekker taking me to a whorehouse. I had no money. He paid for me. Lucy was sleeping. I felt shame but it did not stop me. I felt nauseous remembering that. But I couldn’t help it. The curtain of dust was like the curtain at the play, my sin revealed. The woman with the baby laughed at me just as the memory faded. She knew. I’m sure she knew what I had done. She laughed loudly and her baby pointed. It is connected to her somehow. That hideous baby is bald and awful like a tumour. Like the tumours on Lucy’s back that turned my stomach. Woman has a desperate laugh. It doesn’t match her eyes. They seem a lot happier than her laugh. Her laugh says “save me.”

I left the waiting room first. I thought they would follow me. The woman, the baby, the men and the boy with his soldiers stayed behind. I stood and rested against the upturned Model-T. It’s engine still warm. I don’t know how that is possible. But then nothing seems possible in this dustbowl, and yet everything is, so I note everything. Just in case. These are all omens and clues. When I find you Brekker, you will be able to decipher everything. You will tell me exactly how I got here, and where Lucy is now. You will tell me the meaning of ###em/em### dream. When I am settled in this train I will relay its details. I will note down everything I can remember around it. This will help you, Brekker. I am sure of it. I have to get to you.
Before I boarded the carriage, I counted the wheels along the train. 278 each side. I have to treat everything as a clue. Everything as noteworthy. I tried to attribute 278 to a number in my memory. The tally of days of Lucy’s illness? The number of times she said she loved me? Not possible. Even so, I noted 278. It will be revealed.
The train is steam powered and the engine itself is long. 400 paces long, to be precise. I haven’t seen one as large before. I am guessing it is at least 50 feet high. It made no sound when it pulled into the station and stopped on a rouble. The woman’s nose stopped bleeding, the dust parted and there it was, facing the cracked window. If it had gone on further, it would have crashed straight through the waiting room. I hadn’t noticed the tracks before. They are odd. Like bony spines along the dusty ground. They disappear before the horizon does. Perhaps they are not tracks, but skis? I will check.

They are tracks. I can see the train is moving on them. The sleepers are wooden, but the rails are bone. The landscape is flat. The dust clouds make it hard to gauge the horizon. There is nobody else in the carriage. Just me and the bench opposite. The corridor outside my cabin has a paisley carpet. Green swirls like smoke. Inside, the wood panelling is chipped and cracked. I smell oil. There is a large eye carved in the panel opposite me. It doesn’t have a pupil. It looks like a cataract. Like the bleeding woman who seemed to know my secrets. I didn’t discover anymore about her. I will re-read my notes. Maybe I have missed something about that woman. Maybe. Under the eye there is an arrow. Nothing below it.

No! The arrow below the eye is not pointing to nothing, it is pointing to the floor! I bowed my head to collect my thoughts and then I saw it. There is a symbol on the floor in between my feet. It depicts a ferris wheel with a two faces inside it. They are gleeful faces. Squinty eyes. Happy ferris wheel. I don’t know what it means. I am tired. I will count to 1000.

The woman is here! I woke up just as she passed by my carriage. She was wearing a green dress. (Before it was violet, I haven’t checked to note if I had mentioned the colour before) I didn’t! I must mention these details when I see them! It could have been a clue and because she is now in green, I would only have known it was a clue if I had written it down. I have been lucky as I remembered her violet dress. But I cannot count on my memory so much. It is fading. This dust permeates my memory also. I think back to events before Lucy and Brekker, and even before the dance when he was bitten by the snake and already I can distinctly remember the copper-red sand on the carpet and, even though I know it wasn’t there, I remember it to be so. Dust is creeping into my memory. This land is a doublethink. Must write down what I saw. Green dress. No baby. She walked passed and had no baby with her. Where had that ugly tumour gone? Thrown out the window? Left in the station? Though I would have done it, I cannot assume foul play on her part. Such judgement might cloud my investigation. I must remain impartial. To meet Brekker, track down Lucy and unravel the dream, I need a clear head. As the woman passed me, she looked into my cabin and smiled very sweetly. As she moved on, I noticed that her ears were bleeding.

Graham Thomas