Stringing Black Beads
Lying here in blackness, in an unknown place, deprived of sensory perception, I pinch the skin on my forearm and welcome the pain that proves I'm alive. To hold onto my sanity--if it still exists--I will chronicle the events in my mind and if--when--I get home I will tell others. Or perhaps not. I can think of no one who would want to hear what I have to say about my meeting with Koshchey the Deathless.
Could it be that I am to blame for my current situation?
Was it a gap in my knowledge, a lack of information, or do I just have slow switches, as my mother used to say? I had just finished reading a warning from the Enchantress about Koshchey but instead of heeding it immediately, I began a letter to the Abbey to ask about Oreo and Tookey. Has the letter been found? Will someone look for me, or will I remain lost in this limbo?
How afraid I was to meet Baba Yaga, how repulsed by her death fence and haunted by images of her in childish nightmares. Now I count the meeting an adventure; such is the comparison between Baba and Koshchey. The bones and skulls on Baba's fence brought me face to face with my mortality, Koshchey's whirlwind and icy grip made me long for death.
The remembrance of that fearful embrace sends a shiver down my spine as I hear again the shrieking wind that blew through the open window and spirited me away to this un-place. I remember a prolonged scream when Koshchey's bony fingers clutched me to his withered frame. The scream was mine.
How many fears make a up lifetime? I tally them in my mind and string them, black beads on a black thread: fear of loving, fear of not being loved, fear of failure and fear of success, fear of dying, fear of life. All faced and conquered, but this time, here, where nothing exists but a void I have met my match, at last.
It's getting harder and I struggle to remember but, remember what? One thing. Trying to hold on as he steals my words and thoughts. Losing. Nothing left but Koshchey. One word, Please.
"Believer, can you hear me? " Sound. Words. My name. "A drop to drink, careful, take it slow." Taste of water and tears. " Put your arms around my neck, I'm getting you out of here." Touch and compassion.
"Rest in the shade of the sycamore you're safe now." The scent of someone I know and the sweet smell of new mown grass. "Come on Love, open your eyes."
"No hood?" I murmur, staring at a man I know well but have never seen.
"Not important under the circumstances. Are you all right? Can I get you something?"
"Where are we?"
"About a mile from the Abbey. You'll be home soon, don't worry."
"Koshchey's here? Near the Abbey?" I start to tremble and my breath feels like it's being siphoned out of me.
"No and he can't hurt you or anyone else. That was a mistake, it never should have happened. Somehow things got out of control and Koshchey had you too long. Baba Yaga's Knight's rescued all the others, but they couldn't find you. If it wasn't for your pets. . . . . "
Before he finishes I hear a squawk from high up in the tree and a bundle of green feathers plummets into my lap. Quickly recovering from her typical clumsy landing, Tookey sidles up my arm and begins to nuzzle my neck. A moment later, a white nose and whiskers peep out from under a bush and Oreo bounds over to greet me.
"Lemurian brandy," my rescuer says, offering me a silver flask with strange symbols etched around the base. He stands and gives a whistle to the horse I know as Firestarter. "I'll answer your questions tonight in the Common Room at the Abbey. Everyone is eager for your return. We don't want to keep them waiting."
He gives me his hand and helps me to my feet.