A frozen bluster howls around ears deaf, numb sensations rooted within a vacuum that beats relentlessly. In their hundreds, they line the edge of this white world, each of them as similar as the next is different. Large pairs of onyx eyes stare blankly from trenched, sterile faces. Bleak phantoms, can you see? And even if you can see, what have you here to look at?
A voice, light and green as a child’s, wisps through the vacuum. It is a stolen, criminal thing; “Magic.” it whispers and it is one with the wind, as though it was never there at all.
Is this heaven? Is it hell? It must be something. No, it must be a dream. Reality, fragile by nature, offers nothing of this numb release. Reality is ever unyielding, alive and golden even as it sludges past platform after platform of grey humdrum. This sterile place is an accelerated station of humdrum… this is singularity.
Suddenly, a burst of colour and all the world seems to come ablaze with the palette and sensuality of a Spanish summer. Pulsing, radiating, Richard appears and gives his Battle in Vain. Yet now, as then, there is no horse, and as quickly as the relief was borne, it dies. Untouched, unperturbed, opaque, the Watchers remain. In their hearts, the blackest of black borne against a ceaseless sea of white.
Are they the dead? I think, quite laboriously, drunkenly. Afterall, when we are alone in the world, what else can we do but bring the dead or the lost into being?
I must have spoken aloud, for I got the reply: “Coming and going are the easy parts. Act Two is the scary chapter.”
A tear releases from the black eye of one of the Watchers, as mottled and stark as a blackcurrant stain. They live. They teach me that white is surpassingly more than a simple lack of colour. White is a most clinical and fearful thing, as powerful as red, as desolate as black. In turn, I teach them nothing.
After a time, Richard appears once more, his posture deformed, for he misses his York and his Battle and tells me that he cannot Give properly without them. He asks me where to find them, as though I have the answer. He accuses the Watchers of taking them, as they take everything good and hopeful. I resent his words, and find myself bursting forth only to stumble, frozen with immutable fear.
I look up to find them looking at me. Turned towards me, glaring, eyes endless and thoughtless and motionless. I realise, ridiculously, only for the first time, that I am trapped. I look down at my hands and they glow orange, as orange as the chair I had occupied that fateful day they sent me here. Then, I think; is colour fear? Is orange the true colour of my fear? No, that isn’t silly to suggest. The true hue of fear, I think, is never that which you think it is; simply it morphs from one colour to the next, depending on the route by which it finds easiest to burrow into your heart. Perhaps it’s black and grieving, perhaps green and rotting and monstrous.
Perhaps that is why I am here, to relieve me of fear.
Perhaps I am one of them.
And then, quite suddenly, there is a magnificent burst of colour, hue after hue; sunrise russet, the crisp green of an apple orchard in bloom, the crashing azure of the ocean, and the filigree fleece of pearly clouds at dawn… They glow, and then they fade, and then they sing; words of starlight and love. They call in unison, yet are nevertheless able to create branches of the most magnificent oak with their voices, a fabric woven with all the colours of the world and the Universe. A tear of my own releases; I had never known such beauty, for I had never heard harmony.