In his dream, he was standing beneath the awning of a crumbling Victorian terrace house watching the rain stream down from countless mouths of stone gargoyles, dragons and angel-cradled urns. Even for the Old City, this part of town was particularly decrepit. The cobble-stoned streets were narrow, twisted and spindly in comparison to the height of the buildings that lined them. The tallest of them were over thirty floors in height with none shorter than twenty. They could have been grand once with ornate stonework framing narrow windows and balconies but most of these were now boarded up or dark glassless holes.
They were nonetheless beautiful, especially in the heavy cold rain.
A woman floated by and vanished slowly into a doorway. Her pale face, contorted into a noiseless scream, faded into the dark. Joe frowned, awareness stirring.
I am dreaming.
He knew where he was now.
As narrow as the streets were, the corridors and passages within the buildings were even worse with many impassably short and thin. Each room would be filled with furniture piled one on top of the other, drawers filled with papers, pens and marbles, wardrobes filled with shirts and hats, dresses and blouses – the remnants of dreams, memories and dreamers.
I need to wake before more mortals are consumed.
He could dimly feel his body in the train carriage. The train had stopped. The driver and his fellow passengers were asleep. But he could not stir. He had not slept since leaving home and now, through his carelessness, he had condemned them all. In the Old City, Joe watched them stream by. Two hundred men, women and children falling into the open mouths of nearby buildings.