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Cerebral city


IMAGE: Photo of a long passageway with a big lion door knocker in the first arch


It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of the here and now; it was the age of all our past lives. It was the epoch of the big clap; it was the epoch of the little acts of kindness. It was the season of goodwill come early; it was the season of wicked, faceless crime. It was the spring of realisation when we were stripped of our imagined superiority; it was the winter of chill fear when we bowed down to all powerful Nature. I had predictability and routine before me; I had the uncontrollable not knowing before me. I was going direct to nowhere; I was going direct to somewhere I didn’t want to be.


My synapses burned as electrical impulses jumped across my nerve cells, placing unbearable pressure on my frontal lobe as I struggled to stay reasonable. All the time, my cerebral cortex throbbed in anticipation of my next thought; my next conscious decision.


But don’t skulk there in the shade of my brain’s amygdala, Solomon Pross, come on in. After all, you are firmly embedded in my memory though I wrestled with my hippocampus for the precious space. Why should I concern myself with you above say, Philip Pirrip or Lady Dedlock, little Paul Dombey or Sydney Carton? They all eat away at me; they gnaw on my temporal lobe and sate themselves on my limbic system. This city of mine is much declined and I have neglected it.


You, Pross, and your kind are particularly odious to my sense of smell and my internal vision. Every time I push you down, you rise to the surface again. Come, you’re not afraid, are you? Step gently across my cerebrum. You can’t fall; my neurotransmitters have you firmly in their grip. It’s dark here, isn’t it, in the deeper recesses of my memory?


But look in there, where the light glimmers. Come, Pross, ‘tis only your sister. You took everything she had, didn’t you? But your terrible behaviour pushed her into the path of Lucie Manette with whom she made a purposeful life. See who sits with your sister, Pross? Mrs Betsey Quilp. Now, she found happiness after her fool of a husband drowned in his efforts to escape the law.


You surely know Daniel Quilp? Ah, here he is; a horror to behold in every sense and how he has abused my nerves. My olfactory system in particular twitches when he tweaks my thalamus. Consciousness is the curse of the disturbed mind. Daniel, say hello to Solomon. He shall be your cell mate now. What’s that, Pross? No, nothing temporary about this; you have been burned into my memory by a brilliant, thrilling, cruel man.

There is no escape. I am the turnkey of this city and Charles Dickens is my co-jailer. Oh, before I leave you here, let me impart a little confession: it was I who killed Edwin Drood. Goodnight!


Written by BRIDGET NOLAN


Artwork by ANGIE TURNER

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