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Ujung Kulon - from The Hut of Dreams

 

The Hut of Dreams

This was the hut he had lain in for so many nights, delirious with fever, unhinged between her sudden passing and the uncertainty of his part in it. A sense of loss, of time spent and gone forever, of opportunity and all prospect shattered, ate within him like a vulture.

 Taunted by grotesque misbegotten shapes, he had floated in some semi-conscious blur, unsure of purpose, trying to connect with any surviving remnant of meaning. Night after night he had glided in and out of sleep, drenched in sweat - the horrific after-images of his dreams reanimating before him, charged with a renewed preternatural energy, feeding like rabid deformities upon his mind. He had lain there paralysed, unable to defend himself - his arms and legs heavy and leaden, unresponsive to the commands his brain struggled to send. Hallucinations tugged at his hair, merging surreptitiously with his thoughts. Hideous apparitions grinned and slobbered all over him. A loathsome array of monstrosities paraded before him, autonomous and jeering, tormenting his inability to think straight, poking with unerring accuracy the vulnerable recesses of his being. Their echoing taunts twisted and spun within his head - a dizzying tornado goading him inwards - daring him to uncover the hidden axes around which he turned.

Whenever he closed his eyes, icy fingers caressed him, burning trails of terror across his skin. Fear of confronting, face to face, the ardent dispenser of this glacial touch, petrified him. He couldn’t open his eyes. A foul rotting stench filled his nostrils. His eyes clamped tighter. The putrid suffocating breath wrapped around him, stirring, like a charmed kiss, a fetid half-formed image of corrupt resurrection. He lay back, the cadaverous owner of this hag-toothed halitosis fondling his secret desires.

Ages passed. A long terrifying stillness rang in his ears. His body, stretched like some giant fallen tree hacked from its roots, slowly decomposed into the floorboards. The malevolent disconcerting quietness alternated with fits of uncontrollable trembling. Again and again, a sharp involuntary shivering swept through his limbs as he tossed on the hard wooden floor, until, racked by hunger and fatigue, he sank beneath its sponge-like surface, into another, altogether more disturbing world.

Vague spectral images drifted across his field of vision as he tried to remember. A dark screen of anxiety obscured his memory, undermining his ability to recollect. In a way this hut represented the last outpost of his feelings towards her. It was here that he had plunged into that endless interior sea, the black nightmare realm from which he thought he would never return. This was the hut of dreams. It was troubling to be back again.

 

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Ujung Kulon, John Edmiston

 


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