The spirit of China held my hand the whole plane ride home and Wellington welcomed me with a rare sunny spell. The airport is a Southern spit of reclaimed land. I’ve broken in there before. I lay out on the huge slabs of rock and concrete they dumped near the ocean. As the airplanes roar over you, it’s as if you’re flying too. New Zealand was always an erring world of surreal memories.
I was living in a penthouse apartment with my boyfriend, somewhere on the way to Kelburn. He had already gone to Auckland to visit his parents by the time I made it back into the country. I had not been alone for many moons. The place felt chilly and dead. The air was too still. In all honesty, it had always given me the creeps - after I got over the whole novelty of the wacky layout.
As you walk through the front door, you are brought to a short hallway of mirrors that leads to the bedroom. Running to the bathroom in the night was a horrific experience. You know how it is; we have all been chased through the mirror before. Anyhow, I got sold by the enormous, open-plan living and kitchen space, divided by a half-wall and a single step. I should have known by my shrivelling landlord’s eagerness that there was something awry about this place. My friends would say it was haunted.
Knackered from travelling, I unpacked my shit and went to sleep early. This was my first shadowman encounter.
Silent was the night. Restless without the caress of another human, I stirred into a hazy space. This was no sleep paralysis – I could move – although I cannot deny certain attributes would make it seem restricting. I saw the shadowman’s silhouette hovering in the bedroom doorway.
(Doorways like thresholds (like forgetting)).
Like the collective memory imprinting through the canvas of this spacetime, his edges were a blur of buzzing atoms, but his eyes were sharp and red and focused. Gangling, he stooped there, a seething mirage with his elongated arms asway. I looked up to meet his gaze and we observed one another directly. In the darkened hush of the moment, promptly the morepork cried thrice and I knocked out.
Knock, knock, knock
Except, you don’t knock
And you’re glitching closer
What brings you to Aoetearoa?
Time is no-thing to you;
bled through a wound beyond Saturnian limitations.
However, you do not come from a world beyond manners
And I don’t recall letting you into my bed chamber.
Our recognition of each other last night does not equate to permission.
On the third night, I awoke again to find him loomed over my bed.
I searched his magma eyes, wondering what he was searching for.
Curious perhaps, scoping me out like I had some potential.
/ foggy agitated framework
seeping apparition / What? /
You’re just a quiet meteorite
He stroked my hair. And I pulled the blanket over my head, rolling over, falling asleep.
🎨/📷 by Jakub Halun, Fragment of the Nine Dragon Wall in Forbidden City, Beijing, 2009