Beneath London

When the laudanum settled behind her eyes, and the Chinaman had let her be, she dreamt of a planet, a brass world of unimaginable scale, swinging like a cannonball heavy in the heavens.

Its density and mass drew a gravity so strong, that when the tired peoples of this colossus departed, their souls did not float upwards to the comfort of space, but instead were released to fresh tragedy; the planet’s terrible, inescapable pull tugged at their feet, weighing them down as if they were stone. The path of each soul would struggle, then stall, and build instead towards the polished bronze ground. New born angels hit the hot ground seconds after release, cracking and scattering on impact, as if eggs had been thrown by children.

A fever gripped her, and the Chinaman returned and sat with her for a number of hours. Candles burnt to nothing and fresh ones were lit in their place. As she writhed in restless lucidity, horses and whores could be heard clopping on the cobbles above the den, oblivious.

Morning came as the fever left her. On climbing the spiralled staircase, and returning to street level, she stopped to look upon the Thames. She imagined how heavy a bath of water was, or a jug, and tried to consider a river’s worth. The grip of fear returned to her throat.

Acutely aware of the weight of everything, she walked. She felt unsure how her soul would fare against the scales when the time came. Her feet followed each other to Greenwich, each step slightly heavier than the one that came before.

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