We had returned to Jacqueline's the next day, taking X with us for the trip. Jacqueline and X didn't like each other at all, even from the first moment they laid eyes on each other. We sat around politely in a terribly tense atmosphere until X made an excuse and left, for the Eastern Seas. After he had left the room the air changed and we all relaxed. Jacqueline looked at us harshly and said, 'He's into Voodoo, that one.'
'Oh, really?' I asked.
'Yes, did you see the way that he moves all the time in that slow, hypnotic way? That's a voodoo thing.' She looked around nervously and asked James some questions about X - where he met him, how long ago, what his apartment looked like, if he had ever been to Africa.
We she had finished she offered us a warning: 'Be careful of him.' And then went to make us a new cup of tea.
When she had returned to the room and passed around the tea, Jacqueline rummaged in a bag, finally bringing out two books, which she passed to me.
'Read them,' she said and turned to James and Dan, chatting about Dusseldorf and the dark energy around the city.
I opened up the first of the two books. It was a typed affair, a small book, entitled 'Smiler'. It was by Jacqueline. I took a deep breath and opened up a world of child abuse and misery. Jacqueline, it seemed, did not have a happy childhood. It took me perhaps forty-five minutes to read it all. Each chapter had a poem at the beginning or end - a depressingly dismal poem. My spirits were low when I finished.
'What do you think?' She asked.
'Very interesting.' I came up with.
'Read the other.'
'Ah, Okay.' I opened up book number two.
Book number two was a book consisting entirely of the dismal poetry. I tried but couldn't get through a single poem to the end, they were full of trees and life and energy and butterflies. I stared at the pages, unfocused, for another half an hour, drinking tea occasionally. Dan rolled a joint and passed it around.
I finished my staring and made to hand the books back to Jacqueline. She didn't take them and they hovered in mid-air, shaking slightly.
'No, you keep them.' She said with finality.
'What? Ah, no, I can't keep them,' I spluttered, 'they're… they're your books!'
'No, you keep them. And could you make me a promise too?' She said.
'Ah, um, what?' I sensed something bad coming.
'Promise that you'll try and get them published for me?' She said, as if it was nothing.
Before I knew what was happening, I said, 'Okay,' and put the books on the floor beside me.
What the hell was I thinking? Publish them? I was shaking now. I didn't tell her when I would try and publish them, I reasoned to myself. I could take twenty years and then just send them to a publishing house. No problems, I tried. I felt better.
I may have felt better, but at that moment I accepted a gift that would hang around my neck like a leaden weight for many years to come.
Jacqueline sat down on the floor, between my legs and facing me, and then all the lights went out.
When the lights came back on, we were all snapped out of another world and brought back rudely into this one. We were all somehow separate in the room, each excluded from the other's trips. I was still sitting on my chair, Jacqueline between my legs, staring into my face; James was sitting like a vulture in another chair, staring into space; and Dan sat upright with a jolt from a prone position on the sofa. The light was harsh and we all blinked slowly.
I was the first so speak, a mundane, 'What just happened?'
No one answered, there was an electric, tense atmosphere in the room. James looked scared, Dan looked confused and agitated, only Jacqueline looked serene. I decided we should leave and talk about this without Jacqueline being present.
'We've got to go now.' I said, bleakly, to Jacqueline.
She wasn't happy with this idea. She protested. She told me that I had to stay, that I needed to sleep with her to complete our bond. How could I leave her now that we had found each other? She gestured to the bed where this act was to take place. All eyes followed her finger and contemplated the bed.
I thought about it for a second or two. I thought, this is Big Patrick's girlfriend, I wondered what would happen. I admitted that I was intrigued by the possibilities of sex with this woman. I looked at James and Dan, their eyes pleaded with me to refuse and leave with them.
'No, we have to leave. Come on,' I got up and moved towards the door, as if in a dream.
The others slowly rose and glided towards the exit, and escape from the intense atmosphere.
Jacqueline's face grew wicked, 'You can't leave,' she said, and then stood aside, leaving the route out free.
We stumbled out of the room, pushing at each other in the hurry.
As we stepped out into the street and the fresh night, the world changed again. Peace and calm descended upon us, protective and warm. It was the early hours and the streets were dark and deserted. Without a word we began to walk away from the apartment block and back towards the X's flat, and sleep. We walked silently for about ten minutes, each digesting the events and trying to put them into words to tell the others.
When the lights went out I found myself in a dark and comfortable bed. I knew I wasn't in the apartment any more, but didn't care because I was so warm and comfortable. I knew that I had had entered another dimension, a dimension which is inhabited by vampires (vampires was best word he could come up with, after a struggle). I was being invited to join them and live in this dimension with them. It was an incredible feeling. I was tempted to stay.
I looked around and discovered that I was actually in a coffin without a lid. Outside the coffin was an enormous hall with endless columns stretching into the distance. Then I noticed a group of vampire monks who were carrying the lid of the coffin, they were bringing it towards me, to close me in. Then they were pushing down the lid and I was pushing up against it with all my strength. I knew that if I closed the lid then I would be trapped there forever. I was losing, the strength of the vampires was too much for me, the lid was almost closed when the light came back on in the room and I was saved.
The lights went out and all I could see was Jacqueline's face, floating in the dark in front of mine. She began to speak softly, but without using words.
-- This is communing, she said.
She told me that we had known each other before, in a past life, and that we had been lovers, and would be again too.
As she spoke, her face began to change shape. She became another person, and then another -- many different faces (I paused here and remembered the stones of Bailrigg). She laughed and told me that my face was changing too.
-- These are the faces of our past lives, she told me.
She asked me if I had missed her.
She said that I had something to make her complete: I knew something, she wanted to know what it was. I thought of bubbles of light meeting in the dark, the ideas became real and we watched them together.
-- I don't know what you want from me.
-- Yes, you do.
I felt that she thought I was keeping a secret from her. She told me that she was chaos and I was calm. Together we could achieve anything in this world. I had visions of power that surprised me, she seemed right.
The lights came on, and I was once again staring at Jacqueline.
I saw monsters.
He would say no more.
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