The vessel faded from my view as my icy raft took me north, into the thick mist. I wrapped my long heavy arms around my torso. Although my form was mostly immune to the cold, the anguish I felt at my creator’s passing filled me with agony. The only person who ever might have reached out to accept me as his was gone. I was now truly alone.
Mangled form exposed on the frozen sheet of ice, I allowed myself to feel what cold I could. The light from the stars reflected off the black water and the slithering waves slid themselves up onto my floe. How long I lay like that I know not. I only know that it was long enough for the cold to shrink my skin, for my seams to pull apart, like fabric stretched too tightly across a bulging belly. My blue blood seeped through the cracks where I had been put together. I watched the blood mingle with the frigid water, following it’s flow with my yellow eyes until, finally, they closed in what I knew would be my final sleep.
It was my left big toe that first felt the heat– a warmth that woke me from my coma. I dared not open my eyes. The fires of hell then, were to be the consequence of my life and I put off the final knowledge as long as possible. But I did not burn as I would expect. The temperature blanketed me until my whole body felt cocooned. I recognized the weight of fabric on me. This then could not be hell. But yet could it be heaven? A scent filled the air, that of the sweetest meadows I had wandered near Geneva. Ultimately I heard gentle voices singing near me, sweet as the songs of the De Lacey family I had loved. The sound filled my ears and compelled me to open my eyes. I searched for the source of the music, while shrinking away from certain scrutiny. Struggling to pull the blanket up, up, over my hideous face, with hands that were shockingly unrestrained, I must have alerted someone near me. From behind my head I heard a soft voice seek to reassure.
“Shhh, shhh, dear. You have had a long journey, but you are safe.”
I could not comprehend what this could mean, neither the statement nor the quiet voice presenting it. A soft, wrinkled hand touched my forehead, then moved down to gently lay on my cheek…. on my cheek. Her skin on my very skin. It shocked me; nay, more it bewildered me. My fingers tingled, forcing me to recall the only other times I had felt the sensation of skin on skin. I dreaded to think of it; the necks of my victims burned in my brain, branded there as surely as the touch I now felt would forever mark my cheek. I turned my head from the innocent fingers.
The bed where I lay slowly began to tilt, so that soon I was able to see the room around me. A face, I assume belonging to the hand, came before me and fluffed the pillow behind my head. Around me I saw figures of all different forms, a dragon with hair instead of scales, a cowboy riding an ostrich, a soldier carrying flowers rather than a gun, a spotted elephant. Colors assaulted me– cotton candy pink and waterfall blue, canes striped in red and white, and glistening silver bubbles.
“Heaven then,” I grunted, yet unable to believe this could be true.
“Not heaven, no, not yet.” The woman chuckled and the figures, perhaps picking up on her humor began a dance where their heads wagged back and forth and their legs kicked up in a row. Their voices, gentle until now became louder, and the song was sung with such energy I could not imagine them maintaining it for long.
Abruptly the exhausted figures finished and took a bow. I heard enthusiastic clapping behind me and turned to see a massive lion, bigger even than me, it is true. The crown on his head stayed in place though his mane shook with his exuberant nodding.
“Bravo, bravo,” he exclaimed to the beaming figures. The spotted elephant did a back flip, and the soldier shot his flowers up into the air. Standing on his hind legs, the lion caught one and them and handed it to me. “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys.”