The Snow Queen’s Shard ~ examining the wound (part two)
“I go inside; it’s not as hard as it sounds. My soul-shell parts to let me come inside and then closes behind me again like silk curtains. Inside here, inside this chamber, nothing is as it seems and nothing is easy to see and describe. Like a dream-scape, things shift and change as you look at them and I try not to look around and become distracted by the landscape that shimmers and glows like essential oils dropped onto spring water held in a crystal chalice. I am here to go as deep as I can bear and I let instinct guide me down tunnels that burrow deep into bedrock.
The tunnel walls are rough in places and dimly lit by stubs of melted candles in niches. Someone tends this way but not diligently. I follow the maze as it twists and turns upon itself, a hollow snake that writhes wildly. It’s boring, true, but it’s also boring deeply within something deep and ancient.
Just as I lose interest, lose focus, I arrive. It’s a shock. There’s a thing in the middle of my vision, a hologram it seems. I try to touch and my hand passes through. It looks like a mangled lump of flesh but as I look I see there is a pulse and I know that it is alive. Suspended in mid air there is an immense heart. I feel sick. I retch and want to run but I make myself stay.
The heart is battered and ugly, and I can see healed scars where it has been sewn up, repeatedly. It reminds me of my ancient teddy bear, whose seams came undone many times and has been sewn up and mended, my inexpert stitches in the wrong colours showing even today. That bear is forty five years old, like me.
The heart slowly rotates and I make myself look closer. I can see a gleam of something deeply embedded in the muscle and I discover that if I don’t try to touch, the hologram responds to my wishes. I can zoom in and zoom out. I can look deeper.
I can see it there, the glass shard like a jagged knife, a weapon of accidental power, peeping out and I look closer and then jump back. There is a monster staring back at me from that shard. I want to run. But I lean closer and look again.
The monster is me.
She blinks, this monster, when I blink; recoils when I recoil.
The monster is me.
Everything about her is the same as I, yet hideously different, distorted beyond any caricature.
I cover my eyes and so does she. I’m not sure I can do this but I do. I lean closer still and seem to step into the yawning black void of the pupil of the eye.
I stand in the blackness, and open my eyes again. I have split; part of me is standing watching this, outside the shard, outside the heart. The other part is standing here inside the shard. I can see now I stand not in one mirror but between two, and the reflections go on into infinity becoming smaller and more distant as they vanish into a point a million miles away.
I force myself to gaze obliquely at each reflection and I see that each is made up of something that seem at first like pixels. Then I see that each image is composed of words, millions of them, repeated endlessly. I gaze at the furthest one I can make out and I see that the words that one is made up of are short, monosyllabic and blunt. Dimly I am aware that the images that exist behind it in the hall of mirrors are made up of not words, but emotions that are shown with dull horrid colours and distorted textures and discordant sounds.
The images shimmer as if the original mirrors have been struck and I find myself outside again, looking at the monstrous eye peering back at me from the shard. I look closer, not at the shard itself but at where it is lodged. The muscle around the sharp edges is lacerated but semi-healed in places. A little blood drips constantly but as the heart slowly turns like a grotesque ballerina, I can see older wounds that cross and cross cross each other where the shard has slipped or been struck driving it deeper and deeper into the flesh. The edges of the scars are sometimes silvered over and old, or reddened and inflamed. There is more scar that untouched tissue. I wonder what the shape and size of the shard truly is; does it pierce the whole heart or is it merely shallowly embedded? Would taking a firm hold of it and pulling sharply rid me of it or does it actually form the core now? Would removing it abruptly cause this heart to haemorrhage itself to death?
I cannot see how deep this shard goes but I can see it has been there a long, long time. Perhaps more than one lifetime. Perhaps a hundred lifetimes. I do not know. But the shard and the wound that it has made are ancient. The flesh has grown around the glass in places, seeking to engulf the cutting blade with itself, and it has contained it for a while before the shard shifts, taking on a new position and hacking the surrounding flesh as it moves.
I move away, and stumble back up the winding tunnels until I return to the entrance. My eyes hurt from holding back tears and as I push the curtains apart so I can return to the daylight, a single tear falls, acid burning down my face and I am gone.”