I awake and nothing has changed. No skin sloughs from my body. No pile of freshly shed feathers lay molted at my feet. I was me and me I remain, for if anything has happened whilst in my slumber, it has happened without my knowing.

The pigeons ignore my movement. They don’t even know I’m here.

If I’m here.

The last vestiges of twilight sneak through the windows that open to the city. Orange surrounds me like a Mars sky. Like I’ve awoken on a strange new planet. But nothing is new or strange here. Only different, yet the same as always.

Just another day ending. It’s time for me to go home.

With every heavy thud of my boots on the staircase down to the church’s entrance, I expect to awaken the spirits of those who’ve decided to find refuge here. A door creaks open and a flood of light bathes the space below.

“Hello, is there someone there?” a voice echoes.

I do not answer. I merely continue my descent.

One.

Step.

At.

A.

Time.

“You can’t be up there,” the voice continues. “Please leave, or I will have to call the police.”

I have no time for arborists. I have no time for exterminators.

As I reach the final step, a silhouette appears in the doorway. He does not speak, but steps aside as I continue my journey. I brush past him, catching a trace of scotch on his breath as he breathes out. Neither of say a word, and I leave the preacher behind.

Father. Son. Holy spirit.

Night has fallen as have I.

Into the darkness I go.

—–

No rain. Dry streets. Dampness in the air that permeates the skin. Creeps into the bone. My jaw aches, and cracks loudly as I yawn.

No answers. No starting point and no destination. Just a voyage on a derelict ship named Ouroboros. The streets seas. The streetlamps my guiding stars. Mermaids lurk in the sewers, laughing at my silly feet as I walk by.

Had I a fork, I would gladly drop one through the next grate.

The imagined smile on her face is payment enough.

Yet I know they snicker. They snicker and stare and bare their teeth. Hungry little devils beneath the waves, impatiently waiting for a single misstep until we trip from the plank and plunge into the inky depths. Torn apart. Limb from limb. Brain from stem. Soul from body.

I step gingerly, cautious and aware of lurks beneath. But perhaps it’s what’s above that should frighten me most. For somewhere in my future, more sirens await. Beckoning me onward, down the path that leads me along my voyage. Along my journey. On the precipitous edge of a destination.

Men and women surround me on the sidewalks, and part like seas as I trudge ever onward. The determination in my step dares not betray me. My eyes remain fixated on the sidewalk.

Step on a crack, break my mother’s back.

My poor, dear mother. She who has done nothing to deserve such punishment.

Where she is now, I do not know. The rocky shore sank her ship many moons ago.

For she could not ignore the siren’s call. Too wicked was the song. Yes. Far too wicked, and far too beautiful.

I find myself back on Parapet Way.

The lights in Carla’s house shine bright, calling me home.

A twist on the heel and a recalibration of direction, and I continue onward to the past.

For history is the only place in which one can discover the future.

Continue to Chapter Thirty-Three.