Floated out of the speakers, the layers of instruments and sound effects painting the air with wondrous colours, all swirling and waving.
Shakespeare sat in silence as a canvas of pictures appeared in his mind’s eye, words feeding into his brain and painting colourful images of tangerine trees and rocking horse people, and with his eyes closed, he too had kaleidoscope eyes.
The room around him was dark, save for the dusk light that shone through a crack in the curtains, and the Sweet Swan of Avon didn’t want to open his eyes and be transported away from the vivid and radiant images that danced at the front of his mind.
He knew what surrounded him, the battered and peeling brown leather sofa, the off-white wallpaper, and he knew he didn’t need that encroaching on the fantastic landscape he was gazing upon.
After each song Shakespeare held his breath, anxious at what was to come and the next story he would hear. He had seen Lucy, heard about fixing holes and a song about a nameless girl leaving her parents behind that had caused tears to flow down his face, and then, so entranced and enchanted by the visions he was hearing, he was transported to a faraway circus.
The Bard sat on the front row of the circular arena and watched the performers as they danced and sang. He could smell the excitement in the air, the horses as they trotted and waltzed and the remnants of kerosene lingered as the crisp remains of a barrel burnt on the sand, sending a smattering of heat floating into the air.
As he looked around, Shakespeare noticed that he was alone in the audience and the dancing horse was waltzing for him alone and as the band began to play, they twisted out of shape as they flew into the air like puppets being played by an eccentric master.
The music faded into darkness and Shakespeare turned to see what was next, and as he craned his neck he found himself face to face with a pink mist that floated in the sky. Exotic sounds hummed through the air as the mist changed colour and as it lifted slightly, a pair of green eyes hovered in front of him, changing colour with each blink as Shakespeare found himself turning on the spot but still seated. A rainbow light flew out of his chest, piercing the mist as he span and faraway twangs jingled and jangled as they floated through the air and Shakespeare could feel life flowing through his body and pulsing in and out through the light as the world around him grew, and suddenly the Bard felt small as he looked out at the stars above him, peppering the pink sky like pin pricks as the multi-coloured beam filtered through and out across the universe like limitless, undying love.
The eyes that followed Shakespeare through the mist and light and stars blinked their way out of existence as the bright patterns that flowed through the atmosphere washed away to the sound of normality as streets and houses appeared like characters in pop-up books.
Cars and bikes, such new inventions to the man out of time, went about their daily business as time flowed together, speeding down and slowing up. Invisible animals clucked and barked while Shakespeare stood still and the world walked past him, sliding along beside an old school, children running around like pigs being shot from a gun.
Dark smoke appeared on the horizon and Shakespeare squinted his eyes to see what had happened, and found himself instantly stood in front of a tangled mess of grey metal and flesh, surrounded by faceless beings casting gazeless stares as a parade of soldiers walked by, dark uniforms banging solemn drums while winning the war, and as Shakespeare looked over his shoulder to see everything that had come to pass, an alarm rang and a house popped up around him, brown walls growing like branches of a tree.
A wooden breakfast table was covered by a cloud of smoke and empty mugs as a black hat hovered in the air, resting on an invisible head. Shakespeare reached out to grab it, and as he lifted the hat up it spawned into a clock and the world around him collapsed into nothingness.
A small gap appeared in the floor, dragging the darkness into a ever-expanding black hole and the man from Avon found himself being drawn into the emptiness, falling deeper and deeper through a rabbit hole. Music surrounded him, instruments floating and tumbling, getting louder and louder until he landed on a brown sofa, and a piano echoed through his brain, accompanied by laughter, never to see any other way.
Shakespeare slowly opened his eyes and they adjusted to the dim light, while his brain ticked away, trying to comprehend the visions he had just seen.
“So full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not,” he whispered to himself, his words amplified in the empty room. “A thousand twangling instruments, such riches. And now I awake, and pray and cry to dream again.”
He pressed play once more and closed his eyes; instruments tuned his mind and the small, dull living room turned a little brighter as the music