Under the streets of Midnight, beneath the subways and sewers, hidden from the mapped apartments and known hovels and illicit meeting places, deeper still than any of that, a woman wears chains.
Though thin, the chains are strong.Â They bind her wrists together and, with a little leeway, bind her to the floor.Â She has a bed, if you would call it that, more of a cot, the canvas of which is hard aged and unforgiving.Â The walls are brick, old, the mortar crumbling, but though not one day goes by in which she doesn’t pick at the pieces–which by some alchemical reaction transmute into dust and thereby fill her lungs–the pins that hold the chains refuse to come loose, no door or window lets itself be known, no light penetrates the dark.
Pipes run across the roof, too high for her to touch; she hears water move through them, and drinks the copper-tinged condensation or drippings or leaks.
She is bone thin and angelic pale, she has never spoken a word and, if she has ever heard any spoken, knew them only as additional unknowable sounds.Â The pipes knock, distant rumblings echo in her chamber; she hears hints and suggestions of all manner of incomprehensible noises.
She doesn’t remember who imprisoned her here or why.Â She doesn’t know that he’s dead, or even that there’s anyone anywhere in the world besides herself.Â She doesn’t know if her eyes would work, or what they are, as she only sees clouds of black wafting through smoky darkness.
She’s weak and fragile–like porcelain, like crystal, though she doesn’t know these things.
She might not be real, nothing more than a ghost, a lingering phantom, the briefest of memories.Â Her essence may belong to someone long since gone.
Ah, but her dreams.Â Shall I tell you of her dreams?
She dreams of sunlight so bright it washes everything out, it nearly blinds you, it makes every color seem both pale and vibrant at once.
She dreams of music, notes and chords strung together with such complexity they require mathematical geniuses to comprehend.
She dreams of sand between her toes, between her fingers, cinnamon in shade and so incredibly soft, on dunes the size of mountains stretching infinitely to every horizon.
She dreams of snow, delicate and cold and temporary, always drifting easily, sleepily, effortlessly.Â Flakes touch her skin, kiss her flesh, then melt away.
She dreams of waterfalls, gentle streams, raindrops on puddles, icicles melting off the needles of gigantic pine trees.
She dreams of sapphires and whiskey and sharp city edges.
She dreams of you, you, breaking into her brick cell, releasing her from chains that are in fact jewels, releasing her from the darkness and the false silence and the ceaseless waiting.Â She dreams of your fingers touching her hair, your breath on her throat, your nonsensical words whispered delicately into her ears.
Oh, but she dreams.
June 19, Thunderstorm Books starts accepting pre-orders for Once Upon a Time in Midnight.