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(1986) [Reprinted in "Reality Module No.4" in June 1998.]
"Michael come with me!"
It is Wendy. She is a girl of about fifteen with long black hair tied back with a black velvet band. She is wearing a black velvet frock with a white lace collar and sleeves, black stockings and black shoes with gold buckles. She is a late Victorian child - in mourning.
"O.K," I say.
She takes my right hand in her left and leads me along a stone pathway in a green garden. There is a hedge on my left and a white summerhouse on my right. We enter the summerhouse and in the middle is a stone sundial. There are seats all around and the centre of the roof is open to the sky. She touches the sundial and then turns to look at me.
"This is magic!" she says.
"How?" I ask.
There is silence as she contemplates. At last she says:
"I will show you."
She takes my other hand and we stand around the sundial. Wendy turns to her left and begins to skip clockwise. I begin awkwardly but rush around the sundial with her. Going faster and faster!
Faster! Faster! I am out of breath. Wendy laughs and lets go of my hands. I spin around. I am dizzy and crash against the hedge.
The summerhouse has gone. The sundial rests crookedly in the long grass. There is rubble in the grass.
"Welcome to the twentieth century," she says.
The hedge has grown wild. The ground is uncomfortable. Wendy is wearing a gold wrist-watch.
She comes towards me holding out her hands. She has a small elfish grin.
"Where are we?"
"Nineteen ninety-six! I have been dead eighty years. I died in the war!"
"Are you a ghost Wendy?"
"Yes I am! Hear my chains rattling!" She shakes her body around. I almost hear the rattle of chains. She smiles.
"Why are we here?"
"This is your world not mine. I am dead - remember. Poor Wendy - Victorian child!"
She is being deliberately enigmatic!
"Yes I am!" she says clapping her hands with glee.
She places a finger against her lips. "Shhh!" She takes my hand quickly and we creep along the hedge. There is not even a rustle of leaves under us.
We come to the end of the hedge and Wendy looks cautiously around.
Let's be ghosts together!
Her image fades. The garden is visible through her. She is silent. I am silent. I follow her.
We enter a neat lawn with a concrete driveway. There is a modular car: pale blue, plastic, small. Beyond is a house - brick, double-storied, 1960ish. Its windows gleam silver and each is covered with an aluminium grille - similar to a car's louvre.
There is a red door with a brass knocker, within a verandah. We walk towards it. Wendy slips through the door. I follow.
It is a red carpeted hallway with yellow walls. The far wall is mirrored. We have no reflections.
We pass through a door on our left into a pale blue study. Wendy smiles, and lets go of my hand.
There is an Edwardian roll-top desk. Wendy moves towards it. She stops, uncertain what to do next. The desk opens silently. She takes something out and then hands it to me. It is a small Victorian figurine - a girl holding a basket of flowers.
Let's go back to the sundial, she says silently.
We pass through the wall into a neatly trimmed lawn and walk towards a metal fence. Beyond are apple trees.
You forgot to close the desk! I say to her brain.
I know! she says. She has a wicked grin. There are always reasons for my actions!
We say nothing more as we pass through the fence and walk between the apple trees. There is a hedge in front of us.
Come! she says. She spreads her hands and an opening appears in the hedge. Beyond lies another world.
"Shhh!" she says. We enter a corridor of dusty pink, in an old house. There are windows with no blinds on our right. The ceiling is cream, and a single naked lightbulb swings from a long cord. The floorboards are bare.
Wendy's soft shoes tap on the hard floorboards. She is a real girl again.
I touch a wall with my left hand. It is chilly.
Wendy opens a door and we step out into an unkempt garden. We walk across the long grass towards an opening in the hedge where the trees have died.
We climb across the broken wood and in a clearing we find a broken stone sundial.
We clasp hands across a broken sundial. Wendy looks to her right and begins to dance anti-clockwise around the sundial. I drop the figurine!
"Damn!" she says, and stops. She picks it up. It is undamaged. She hands it to me.
"Keep it in your pocket!" she says. Silently I place it in my shirt pocket and button it up.
We hold hands again.
Our mission is only half completed, she says, We must return the figurine to the past!
She dances, I follow, wildly now - with a witch's laugh. Below us the sundial spins. Around us seasons go and come. I am oblivious to them.
The sound our feet make changes - from a rustling on grass, to a tapping on hard stone.
Wendy laughs loudly! Still we continue to dance.
In time the sound changes again. The floor has grown white and smooth. We stop.
Wendy lets go of my hands and collapses onto a velvet couch. When my head stops spinning I look around me. We are in a marble room. The sundial has a golden base. There is a stained glass window behind it. In the couch to the right of the window, Wendy sits looking at her watch. Across from her is an open doorway.
We have come a long way, she says.
I look behind me. It is an altar. There is an apse coated with red velvet, and inside is an image of a dragon in gold. It is very opulent!
"Where are we?" I ask her.
"Atlantis," she says. There is silence.
"I am a Queen of Atlantis," she says.
Slowly I unbutton my pocket and take out the small porcelain figure - a girl with a basket of flowers. The girl has golden hair, her dress is blue and white, the flowers are violets. I hold it delicately and smile. It is beautiful!
"What are you going to do with it?" I ask her.
She closes her eyes and thinks for a while. She opens them.
"There is a magic," she says. Her eyes are violet and misty. "An enchantment old and strange, a princess trapped in an artificial world." She spreads her arms,"this one!"
We must break the spell, is her telepathic reply, the figurine is the key item!
The spell had its focus in 1996, where the Dark Enchanter fled after his war with the argonauts!
She is silent. She takes out a white lace handkerchief and twists it around her fingertip. She rises from her chair.
This is my world! I created it! He had no right to interfere with it!
She is angry! I hand her the figurine. Her hands close over it. She raises her hands above her head, and brings them down viciously smashing it on the solid marble floor.
The world ends....
I hear weeping in the darkness. Wendy begins singing in the dark. Her voice gains power and echoes around us with its sweet softness. Light grows!
We are in a black room. The marble has grown black. The roof has gone, above us is the white sky. I hear weeping.
I lower my eyes. Wendy is standing there in her black dress trimmed with white lace. Her expression is hard to define.
Weeping! Between Wendy and I, a small child with golden hair lies curled up on the floor weeping bitterly. Beyond her lies a basket, the flowers have crumbled to ashes, black.
I look up at Wendy again. She tries to smile.
Let her weep! It is her right!
I look down at the child again. I sink onto the floor and crawl towards her. I lift up her shoulders and press her head against my chest. I hand her my handkerchief.
"Hello little sister!" I say.
She looks up at me with her watery eyes, and smiles for the first time.
"Hello Miranda, my dear child!"
My eyes are lost in contemplation of her bright wings.
Copyright © 1986 by Michael F. Green. All rights reserved.
Last Updated: 22 June 2002