So I had a dream. A fucked-up dream of twisted symbolism, of ominous portents, of confusion and of fear. This is a dream of a stifling summer's night before the storm breaks, when half-seen, barely-heard terrors skulk 'round the edges of your restless repose. This, this, this one, this dream was the big-m Mindfuck; this one was the capital-d Dream that left me wondering if tiny silver hammers are tap-tapping away at my sanity as I watched the shadows crawling across my bulkhead.
It starts with a bleak wind gusting through the darkness. I smell brine and damp grass on it, hear the distant cries of seagulls, the roaring thunder of waves breaking against rocks. I savor the sounds and smells as I think think to myself, this is home. But when I open my eyes I'm not at strand at Claddagh or on the worn cliffs above Barna, but hanging in space facing and a Europa that isn't Europa. The subtle reds, the deep browns and shining whites of the ice are all vibrant and alive beyond imagining, like the rush of hot blood beneath frost-rimed skin. I see the crater Pwyll as a great gaping wound, the narrow breaks of all the surrounding Linea - Agenor, Phineus, Asterius, Androgeos, Chthonius, Belus, Onga and Agave - as gouges cut into the ice by a jagged knife. And then I'm standing on white ice of Not-Europa and everything is wrong. The wind - the Wind - is raging seething, swirling, howling, stormingshutupshutpSHUTUP. SHUT UP.
All the sound's switched off like somebody (just who are you?) wants an artistic, contrasting backdrop to the terrified pounding of my heart. I can still feel the Wind pushing at me, watch it as stirs up the snow from under my bare feet and away into the black sky, but there's a sudden eerie silence that sets the hairs on the back of my neck on end.
Hello? Tap tap.
Tap tap tap. I looked down through my feet in time to see ripples spreading out in the water below the grey ice. Cold, cobalt blue water reaching for the horizon. The Mare Noctis, I realised. The great Sea of the Night.
Once again, hello? Tap tap tap tap! I whirl around. More rings behind me.
Who is this? TAP tap tap tap tap tap tap tap. I fall to my knees as Not-Europa rings like a bell. Beside me, in front of me, everywhere I look, I see rings spreading, whatever is banging the ice already gone below the frigid waters. The taps get louder, come faster and faster until the thin ice starts to buck and crack. Something dark, something inhuman, something hideous and glistening grabs hold of the floe I'm on and tips me headfirst into the blue waters and back into my cabin, screaming.