Yellow Prism by Ashley Bullen-Cutting

Dearest Harold Greene,

You will note the package that accompanies this correspondence odd and query why it is I have sent such to you, allow me to endeavour to elucidate upon its discovery, circumstance and point. I am ashamed to say it is not a beautiful object nor is it one which you might apply a certain type of fondness over time. You shall see for yourself, soon inspecting each groove and artisan flourish attempting to scry purpose in its delivery. Worry not, it will dawn on you presently. Whilst you ruminate, let me share its path to me and thus to you.

Charing Cross was abuzz that night two weeks past, hansom drivers earning a week’s wage in a single night. My own man, a hairsbreadth from the grave it appeared in his drawn countenance, had made five consecutive trips before alighting at my doorstep. It was to the single club which I was a member I charged the driver, the very same establishment in which you too are a denizen, and where, in fact, we first met over glasses of sherry. My passage was bumpy yet I remained inspirited. I was to see a show. A degenerate little thing that had taken the London men’s clubs by storm; depravity of the streets refined and orchestrated in oak-panelled parlours with the well-bred. Licensed licentiousness. All on your recommendation.

I am afraid to say I have yet to forgive you for that night and will strive never to do so. It was a deplorable thing which you subjected me and the already frayed filigree of my heart. A man is most vulnerable, most pliable when amidst the throes of adoration, and you manipulated such deftly and without concern. One would half-like to applaud such minute devilry if one was not inclined to take up a surgical scalpel and see it directed, in kind and quite purposefully, between the blades of your shoulders. Was Lysa ever complicit? Did she too want to see me fall as I did, to cobbles blackened in dismay and riddled with the choleric exhalations of the twice-damned?

Embarrassment and emotive ruination put me out of mind and I knew not where my feet guided me. In my head all I could retain was that crystalline image of you and my sweet Lysa intertwined in the Ambrose’s Red Room, a handful of men wagering on duration and drinking themselves merry. Are we not revolting? Seeking such as this, giddy as schoolchildren at the thought of deviancy. The tricked glass prohibited our eyes meeting but your half-smile could breach any fortification, lacerate a smitten heart within a hundred leagues. I believe I blanched and fled the room to a chorus of laughter.

I found myself along a scar of a road, isolated but for the reek of the country and the thousand pinpricked lights of cold faraway stars. One far brighter than the others caught my eye, faintly turmeric in hue. I gazed at it until the rage once more put my soles to work. I remember wondering if all the coin I had spent courting Lysa had only gone so far in prettifying and gorging her for your later benefit. I wondered if behind those Cupid’s arrow lips she had been laughing all along.

Such was my melancholic reveries that I almost walked headlong into a fellow night-walking compatriot likewise wandering the ill-lit lowly trails. Garbed in a mismatch of attire and concealed beneath a wide-brimmed hat, so that all but chin was enshadowed, it was impossible to accrue gender or intent. Immediately alarmed, I curtly nodded and shewed my apologies at nearly upheaving the person’s livelihood from its unstable place upon their back. In response, the figure halted and set about releasing the myriad latches and knots that kept the overburdened satchel firmly in place. In a hollow timbre they inquired whether I should like to purvey the wares of one long practiced in shame; and a trade took place. I offered no money nor did they ask for any. Few words were spoken, enough to understand very little and believe even less. Before long, I was alone once more, the uneven dirt trail impossibly clear as if the merchant had simply up and vanished. The object was wrapped in sarin paper.

If you are anything like me, and I know that you are, that damned human conditioning of yours would have acceded to that which killed the cat and you would have already peered into the rimed surface of the small looking-glass, thus sealing your fate. It is of Carcosian manufacture, or so the stranger said, a remnant of the reflective throne walls that lined the grand hall of the Pallid Keep; a prism prison. A fantastic claim that, knowing what we know, need not be disputed; the smell, I can attest, lasts, has yet to leave my nostrils. How many do you think are buried beneath the sand?

An entire different civilization an epoch in the dust; a wholly unique planet, subject to inverse stars and an atmosphere that, like the infallible opioid monkey, takes permanent residence on each shoulder and grinds and grinds. I was given warnings that I won’t share, conditions to meet if I should find myself fractured and my sanguine self stretched. I’m sure you are finding it difficult to piece together this all, your mind, after all, spans cosmos, each thought a million light-years long and riddled with stuttering asteroids and meandering meteors. A line of verse will consume days. You breathe in and thrice are your lungs filled; with oxygen, with void-space, with pollutives. It is a tragic thing to find your existence spread out for all to see, is it not? There is a remedy for such, however, a means to salve such a seismic shift, but it is a secret see. Perhaps if we were friends I would pen the directions to your salvation, alas we are not friends.

“Two days,” the stranger imparted to me, “and infinity will consume identity and transposition will be complete. Divided one can never remain”.

Unto the dune with you,

Everett Daniels


Ashley Bullen-Cutting is a Sheffield-based scribe predominantly flexing his writerly muscles in the prosaic and poetic arenas. A staunch devotee of the weird, Lovecraftian and supernal, his works often straddle the experimental and bizarre. His work has previously been published in Three Drops from a Cauldron, Spinetinglers and soon to be seen in Laldy!.

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