Chapter Twenty-Four, Part Three: Alkahest and AzothMature

“Flamina, you must let go of my hand and run to the mouth of the cave. Don’t touch the box! Don’t touch it!” 

But her hand brushes his face, ice cold against him. His heat echoes her chill, rising in time to her breathing.  Something sickly drags across his face, chunks of flesh, most likely. Suddenly the blindfold is in her hand, no longer string but her hair. It’s falling out, snow on the filthy black shadow casting itself toward the light outside. 

It’s coming from the rotting box, that shadow. He knows it in his bones. 

“Flamina, take my hand!” he cries, but he grabs it anyway… it’s cold, her flesh. 

He turns, with her hand safely in his. He tries to run. 

His feet kick up so much gluey filth and sand as he flies away toward the mouth of the cave, but he runs. Oh yes. He’s spent a lifetime training for this one. All they have to do is reach the mouth and then… 

Three metres out of the lip of the cave, when the sunlight finally touches his face, he looks down and finds a plastic arm in his hand. Wasting breath on curses will not do her justice. So he tosses it outside into the sun. Onto the beach. 

Then he spins on his heel, grasps the memory of sunlight close to his chest, and descends again, taking off the bowtie where a cravat used to be. He unties it, then walks backwards into the darkness of the cave again, quoting the mighty Edward Lear aloud while he winds it around his head and over his eyes...


“There was an old man with a beard,

Who said, “It is just as I feared!—

Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard.”

The End

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