Here is an audio narration:
I looked over my shoulder at the eerie shadow spanning the water. Its immense bulk confounding everything I knew about architecture. The bridge bulged as if it were attempting to spring away, but the ends of its immense span held it securely in place. An invisible hand tugged it away; it bent, but did not break. Not that I could see the ends, they disappeared into scattered rock and a dense fog. It took us hours just to sail under it. I stood transfixed, staring at the underbelly of some enormous serpent made not of bone, skin and scales, but of iron, stone and decay. Stare not into the eye of the serpent, Zedekiah had said, and then he fell silent. I looked away from the behemoth of carven souls.
I felt the deep thrum of the Zebedee’s engines. After so long aboard her, I could tell we were at full throttle. Murky landscapes shifted by perceptually slow. Between the dense fog and the placid plane of still water, it was difficult to tell where we were or how fast we moved. The moon, as red as if had magically risen through a battlefield and the blood of the fallen had somehow stained it, reflected a ruddy streak across the mirror of water, perceptually frozen in time and space. The moon filled the horizon as if we could somehow sail off the earth and land on it. I began to wonder if indeed it was the moon that rotated around the Earth and not vice-versa.
Nothing lived here. No wind blew and no sea life swam beneath. The only clue we were moving at all was the vibration of the rail and our pitiful wake. I knew beyond the construct was Jezebel and her fleet. As promised, she accompanied us to the Bridge of Souls, but no further. Her eyes told the truth of Zedekiah’s cryptic declaration that I would perish before reaching the Gates of Time. I saw myself as an observer to events I couldn’t understand. We sailed a legion of ships wide, and when we pierced the shadow of the bridge, the Zebedee shot forward, leaving Jezebel’s fleet behind – the men staring after us in… What look was on their faces? Pride? Fear? Disbelief? It was all those things and more: Hope was what I felt from their wide eyes. Hope that journeys unknown would overcome threats unfathomable.
My gaze shifted from the bridge to the old man. He stared ahead, cigar at the corner of his mouth gripping the wheel as if the same invisible hand that tugged at the bridge would rip it from him. His eyes, usually flittering to and fro, stared straight ahead, the reflection of the dead rise obscuring the whites of his eyes. Even as I took in breath, I felt myself die a little. It was as if the action itself sapped my will. I couldn’t help but gaze at the dull rusted chains wrapped around his wrists and feet. They lashed around the wheel and to eyelets driven into the deck. The stoic old man would share whatever fate came upon the Zebedee. I breathed in, despite the pain, and admired his cranky persistence.
“Lash your arm to the rail, lad.”
His lips barely moved. Even the telltale movement of the cigar was lost in the sanguine din. I started to protest, but I felt my center of gravity shift up. My hands moved as if some mysterious force controlled them, and I worked the rope around the rail. The vibration was gone.
Peering over the side, I witnessed the impossible. The sea had steadily thinned until it was a shallow ribbon of water. No shore followed this ribbon, and the propellers spun without resistance below the aquatic floor. The tendril of water thinned out until there was nothing, but dead space.
Dead space beneath a dead rise, I thought as my brain tried to comprehend what my eyes saw. This is lunacy.
Lunacy… Lunar… The Moon. I was aware of my center of gravity steadily rising. The rope that secured me to my last vestige of reality was loose and dangling at first, but now I felt its tug against my arm. The sensation transferred from my wrist to my elbow and my shoulder screamed for me to look up. It pleaded. It cajoled. It whispered.
I refused with all my remaining will. Short breaths attempted to steel my resolve, but the constant tug at my shoulder demanded attention. I raised my face; eyes pressed shut, fearful of what I’d see. I felt my heart thunder in my chest; like the Zebedee’s engines, the steady pulse pushed me through my journey. My center of gravity rose through my upturned face and disappeared from the top of my head.
My eyes snapped open and they were ablaze with brightness. Tears filled my eyes, attempting to protect themselves from the crimson brilliance. My brain did the same: I couldn’t focus, but my heart – my soul – strengthened with each beat. As blood coursed through my veins, I could feel a sense of power. Each pulse fortified my being. Heartbeat after heartbeat I felt as if I could see everywhere at once. Be everywhere.
I was keenly aware of Zedekiah floating against his chains. Chains binding him to the Zebedee. The Zebedee sailing the nothingness below vivid cerise. My eyes slowly found their focus and the deadrise formed in front of me. No longer an abstract, I could feel the span of the vermilion lunarscape. A sight more clear than the most detailed Tabula Selenographica.
On a whim, I reached out with my unhindered arm, pressing my fingers against the carmine disc, not knowing what to expect. My heart didn’t just skip a beat – it stopped. Seconds decimated by time lurching still as the sea we traversed. It was as if the universe held its breath at my pitiful action. Actions of something so insignificant it would never comprehend its own insignificance after piling lifetime upon lifetime at attempting to grasp the slightest inkling of existence.
My fingertips found purchase against the moon. My palm hovering over the Hevelius mountain range with fingers inner spaced amongst her features. I pushed away with unrealized strength in my fingers. I floated away, but was returned to the dahlia rock. Clenching my fingers, I tore out a handful of Luna, holding her body to my breast. Particulates of geranium floated in the void.
A rabid giggle escaped my lips, drunk on the wine of my experience. A flush, full-bodied wine of crushed garnet: smooth but Earthy. I moved through the cloud of debris deigned by drunken fondling. Sadness overcame me over the scar I left of Luna’s beautiful face. A face I thought I had known my entire life. I opened my hand and stared at the claret she dared not refuse me. It’s rocky flow seeping through my fingers. I exercised my right to take from her. My giggles subsumed to open laughter. I crushed her flesh in my mighty fist, my fingers stained titan.
I was immortal, defying death. I floated above a world, the creator of creators. Ultima Incognito. I was… Invincible.