There is a unlit room, really little more than a box, but large enough for a man to stand in (actually he is sitting).
We can’t see the man because the room is too dark, but he is there, sure enough, melding with the darkness.
We do not know his thoughts or purpose, we merely know that he is there.
He does not wait, for the box exists out of time. He does not see for inside that dark box there is nothing to see.
He is just a man in a dark box, existing.
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Again I strike the flint and light the fire. Again.
I like the sound it makes, that little scratchy tink; and the fire has its own sound, a sort of crackle and however warmth sounds, if warmth were a sound.
This little circle of light keeps the darkness at bay. Combined with the bramble walls hastily lashed together (I have tiny cuts up and down my arms from handling them), no man–nor beast–should trouble me this night.
In reality, nothing even comes close to my shelter.
I can hear the night-things calling out in strange voices, but I am of no interest to them.
Are the night voices even real?
Am I even real?
I huddle closer to the fire and hold my hands out to it. I can feel the heat radiating from the flames and I can hear that gentle, constant whoosh that “sound of warmth” and it feels real. It feels real.
I am always taken by the sparkling of dust in the sunlight. It makes me wonder how it is possible for something to be so magical, but at the same time, so commonplace.
This everyday magic is everywhere.
TV static is the roaring symphony of empty space.
A flame burns in a holy place, forever lit, but it does not compare with the eternal flame that beats like a heart beneath our feet. And fleet, our planet spins and swims in vast invisible orbits around a nuclear orb yet greater.
The sky, the clouds, this tiny precious rock. A kid kicks over a tin can and it clatters noisily across asphalt. Stars sparkle, already dead and yet they sparkle.
Already dead and yet they sparkle.
And the world moves so fast it’s a wonder we don’t feel it. Feet firmly planted on the ground as solar winds whip around us. We have surrounded this orb with satellites and from on high they look down on us, like Gods.
Like Gods they offer dire warnings: weather alerts. CO2 emissions. Like Gods they do not lift a hand to help, they only see.
And with the omniscience of satellites we come to understand with yet greater clarity the fragility of this life-bearing rock, this space-based terrarium.
Is this not magic?
Is not the earth lit like a mote of dust by the light of the sun?
Perhaps another God watches us, as I watch a mote of dust.
And we sparkle.
the clanging is louder
it keeps coming closer
on rickety rails
like an old rollercoaster
i’m supposed to remember
my cup runneth over
it’s not filled with riches
but just diet cola
Time is the void through which tetrominoes fall.
It seems simple at first; arranging the blocks. It is satisfying when they fall into place flush against one another.
Flashing, then, they disappear from view. The Korobeiniki speeds up and the pieces take on a different nature: those shapes, once so easily comprehended, fall faster.
We spin and slot them together. We build solid walls. We do our best to pay attention to the next piece before it falls, the next piece before it falls, the next piece before it falls.
The void of time fills up with tetrominoes. Blank spaces between them impossible to reach. Keep spinning. Keep spinning.
The Korobeiniki speeds up.
You can’t think about the empty spaces at the bottom of the void. Just keep building on top. Now the next piece matters more than ever. It is the wrong piece. It is the wrong piece.
The Korobeiniki speeds up.
Lines flash and vanish. The screen clears but the pieces do not stop falling. The tetrominoes are relentless.
The Korobeiniki speeds up.
The explorer treads over uneven rocks. Each step brings him higher; closer to that untouchable blue dome of the sky.
Certainly there have been so many maps drawn and flags planted in the ground, but nobody has ever climbed this ridge before; no human foot has ever treaded these uneven stones. This is the explorers own journey–his alone.
His aches and pains, are his alone. He climbs and he gets closer to the sky he cannot reach. He hauls himself up in places where the ridge becomes to steep. He steadies himself when the rocks underfoot become too loose.
He stays upright. He treads. He climbs.
Nobody has ever reached the top of this ridge before. Nobody but the explorer, our intrepid friend and he does not know we are watching him. Higher he climbs, and higher. There are many stories about what lays beyond the ridge, each tale grander than the last: a lost city of gold, a valley filled with living prehistoric life, an inland sea of glistening water that can restore one’s youth.
These tales are sheer fancy, of course. Ripped from half-remembered folk stories and patched together in the form of an unlikely carrot-on-a-stick. For just because none have ever made it to the top of this ridge before does not mean that others have not tried.
The explorer pays no heed to the bones that he passes on his way up the ridge. Some of them clutch notes, flapping in the wind. The explorer finds it unlikely that their bodies would decay but the notes would remain intact and so he does not read the notes. In truth, the notes say nothing useful.
And now the explorer has passed well beyond any other adventurer. Each step he takes is a victory for him alone to savour. He has made it farther than anyone else. He has made it–almost–to the very top of the ridge. Mere moments separate him from discovering what lies beyond it.
Soon, he will know if any of the stories are true.
He clings and climbs. He groans and clambers. And then, at last, he hauls himself up those few precious inches that bring him to the peak. He does not have a chance to catch his breath before he sees what lies beyond the ridge. Immediately, tears fill his eyes.
He will sit there for a time, weeping with pure joy at the truth he has discovered. A truth he already knew.
There is no treasure beyond the ridge; there are only ever more ridges spread out across the land. Each one more dangerous to climb than the last, each one an undiscovered journey. An adventure for the explorer alone.
And the explorer weeps with joy in the knowledge that his journey has only just begun.