The Twenty-fourth Leaf

That I had fallen into a deep sleep seems like such a poor description, for in that place I had never felt more awake. Much of the "dream" was as in other dreams, in places unfamiliar and strange. But at one point in the dream I began to sense a familiarity, as if I should know this place. I was lost, but about to become found. I was in a garden, or rather a maze within a garden, trying to find the way out. Turn after turn led me into one blocked passage after another and eventually I became desperate to escape. It was then that I heard the other voice, someone calling out as if they too were lost, seeking a way out. I shouted to gain the others attention but got no response. The voice was young and boyish. He sounded frightened. I escaped the maze but the boy did not. The King’s staff was alerted but the boy was never found.

In the dream I was distressed by the loss of the boy and I would return to the entrance of the maze each night, under the cover of darkness, when no one else could witness me. I wanted to enter the maze to find the boy, but I was afraid. Would I not become lost at night and then be found out in the morning by the King's staff? Why I should be so cautious in the dream to save the child is not clear to me now. But in the dream I had the impression that this was the King's struggle and that perhaps it was not my place to interfere.

And as painful an experience as that was within the dream, the dream now took on an even greater experience, one of horror. I was at the entrance to the maze again, late in the evening, deciding whether to venture in to find the boy. But this night I would not need to make that fateful decision because a more pressing decision was forced upon me. I began to hear a sound, a call or a music, from far off. The music was foreign to me, strange and frightening, but yet it moved me. I wondered, could this be John, the harper? But I knew that it could not be John. This was not music for enjoyment or merriment. This was music of a purpose, although I had no idea what the purpose could be. I followed the music and soon became lost in a maze of a different sort. I was winding my way through thick brush and trees, across small streams. Dark eyes peered back at me from the safety of the woods. Finally, I came to a clearing where the music was most certainly coming from. My fear was now at its highest as I crouched low and tried to peek through the coverings into the haunted place. It was then that I saw them, and it was then that I knew I had no more need for the Ghost Journal. They were before me.

- Sorren

Good Lord, this man never sleeps but yet spends his whole life dreaming. The complexity of his nocturnal hours overwhelms me, and part of me wishes he had the comfort of a woman to help him forget his demons. Gardens, mazes, twisting foliage, lost boys . . .I am at a loss to explain it. He is surely lost in the maze of his own imagination as the darkness makes a willing mistress. The strange music he describes makes me think of the sirens of Odysseus, but Sorren could not possibly know of the words of Homer but for snapping the necks of chickens and fixing pipes for the King. No, in fact the music is in his head and he is wont to get it out. I wish I could wrench it out of him so that I could spend my nights with my own dreams lest these fantastic and grotesque dreams begin to merge. Partly these leaves of Sorren fight back at me, and then suddenly I am lost in musing of what I have done, and what I should never have done. I stare into the wan candlelight perhaps even as Sorren does, and I think, but I cannot speak. How can the dreams of one man so tear at the dreams of another? I refuse to believe that I have something to learn from this man. I refuse! Trapped within the regiment of his daily duties, the mind of this strange man has asserted free rein over his willingness to subdue it. He may be a victim of his own invention. This possibility is fascinating to me, but I must stay objective to serve my purpose. The ghosts he has been running from have finally lured him to their lair . . .and this is where Sorren puts down his pen? This is where I blow out my candle and wander the empty corridors until Lauds, for Sorren has taken something from me even as a man takes heat from a fire.
— M

This garden is increasingly on the mind of Sorren. He has mentioned it more than once in his writings, and he visits this place in his dreams. But this is much more than a garden to Sorren; it is a maze, a maze that draws him further and further inside, only to be assailed with abstract and strange fears of which he cannot assimilate or even escape from. To me, this maze represents the subconscious and buried fears of the servant, and the closer he comes to recognizing those fears the more obscure and fragmentary they become. Horror is the recognition of one’s worse fears, but Sorren’s horror is as of yet, undefined and buried, perhaps even to himself. This garden obviously plays an important part in the novel King Bartholomew, but Sorren could know nothing about this at this stage, and his precognition would seem to be affecting him in a peculiar fashion. This does further the speculation on my behalf that Sorren is actually clairvoyant and not merely imagining endless possibilities of which he has no control over. In fact, he seems to be much more concerned about this garden than is the King, but this I find to be dubious at best. In truth, the King has already trapped Sorren inside his garden, for he cannot escape from it even during sleep. This garden was not meant to trap Sorren however, and the irony is that Sorren has wandered in where he was never summoned, even as he is summoned by an even more strange and diabolic entity, for it is likely that the entity has manufactured the spirit of such a boy to lure the servant deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of his twisted and tortured soul. I find this astonishing, and for myself, Sorren has taken on a new persona, and now he represents a tragic figure, trapped within the magic if his own supernatural gift . . .or possibly it could be better termed a curse.

The end of the leaf I find the most cryptic. The music seems to be calling Sorren, even leading him into another state of consciousness. I think that the music is symbolic of the unknown realm which we call death, and that the sound is tempting the servant to enter, even as one enters a new city or a new atmosphere. Will Sorren have the courage to follow? I will stop this analysis of this leaf, for Sorren has ended this leaf so abruptly for a reason of which I have no knowledge, and I wish to consider this leaf more thoroughly before proceeding.

Finally, I want to add that, as a curator, I find this task to be increasingly difficult, for I am not a curator at all. This book was given to me while I was visiting Scotland on a journey to climb Mt. Nevis, and the fact that I received it at all is still a complete mystery to me. I have taken on the task of curating this book partially out of an obligation I felt toward the person who entrusted it to me. Perhaps they saw something in myself that I am yet to discover. In fact, I am ordinary in every way, and the daunting task of curating this book I do partly out of sheer joy. Yes, I would like to know things about Sorren that I am likely never to discover, and much of what I learn I may be too inarticulate to put into words. Yes, I like to speculate about what he ate, and if he drank hard alcohol, or if he maintained secret lovers. And what did he look like? I do not know these things, so I will not maintain the illusion that I am hiding these pieces of minutia for my own personal reasons. Sorren is a fascinating person, and that is the direction from which I approach these notes. Curating, I have come to learn, is a intensely formative endeavor, and I am sure to fall short of the expectation of a true archivist, but I will continue to try to uncover the hidden jewels within this Book of Sorren.