I walk a sinister path. Ash trees look like bones. Dark here, bloodless. By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. In the abandoned laboratory they made perfume from lavender, tar, olive oil and urine. A childish exercise. I refused to put it on my wrist. The trees are strung out, like nerves. The tightrope walkers resemble clockwork owls: their heads swivel all the way round and back again, with a whirring sound. If this is a forest of symbols, the language is gobbledygook.
They were lost. Had been for years. So lost, they forgot what home looked like and what it meant. They weren’t aware of their own amnesia; false memories caused by the sentimental distortions of nostalgia had supplanted what they used to know, so slowly and subtly that none of them noticed the changes. One afternoon, I stepped from my display window and led them through the labyrinth of streets, back to their old neighbourhood. They walked past their own front doors without realising. They’d follow me to the ends of the earth if they could.
The Mannequin is a collaboration between James Knight and Susan Omand. You can see other parts of it here and here.