Out of a forest painted by the hand of autumn I came on my journey, around a bend in the road that showed me a city in the distance. I didn’t know the place—the last time I passed this way the city hadn’t been there. A watchman met me at the gate, framed between iron bars and an iron sky.
“The dead have no friends here,” was his greeting, and he let me through without a question. The streets were wet with the last night’s rain, and those who walked in the city did so voiceless. They passed one another in silence, but their eyes seemed to send secret messages across the space between them. When they parted, it was as if they knew they would meet again but did not know when or where. Nobody so much as glanced at me, but I felt their eyes on my back the moment I had passed.
At the end of the street, down a gentle slope, was a lake of black glass—unknowable depths reflecting the city above. I went to its edge and stared at my reflection, framed against that same iron sky—a reminder of worlds beyond. From the city at my back I began to hear a low murmur of voices, and it was that disturbance of the silence which scared me more than anything. It was the sound of an awakening, and I wondered at what could have caused the people there to stir. The voices grew louder, louder, and louder as those in the city came down the hill toward the lake shore, coming out to find me. Out of that place where I knew the dead have no friends.
The phrase “The dead have no friends” just sort of popped into my mind earlier, and this is what came of it.