Vaulted Halls

Slowly walk through vaulted halls where the floor is painted so that it reflects the cavernous valleys of the ceilings above. Your footsteps fall lightly in this place where no-one is but you, and all about the place is gilt and gilded.

There is music playing, but you can’t say from where. The tune is familiar but you cannot name it. There are no words, only an orchestra. There is no orchestra only a record, spinning somewhere, piped through wires sounding from hidden speakers.

There are paintings on the walls and they are both very old and very large. The lights do not come on until you stand in front of each picture, so as not to cause the paintings to fade. There are too many details to take them in at once.

One of the paintings shows a boat cast about by mighty waves. The tiny shapes of faces peer through windows in the sides of the boat and above it a darkly baroque sky churns and salt water sprays and for a moment you can almost taste it.

Shuffle along, the classical music is still playing. What is this place? A museum or a tomb? From where did you come and how did you get here? Those memories seem fleeting now, like a dream already falling away from you. Wipe your eyes, you’re awake, this is real. How did you get here? I brought you.

Another painting. In this one people are wailing and carrying the body of a man draped in cloth. Another painting. A woman on a bed surrounded by demons who cannot cross the threshold of the cube defined by the four posts at each corner of her mattress. Another painting. A man wearing a strangely shaped hat confers a blessing upon a believer.

Behind the paintings are plastic boxes each containing an illuminated relic. There is an old book in one. There is a finger bone in another. Is this building some giant reliquary?

No, it is not a building. There is no outside. There is only the inside and the polished floors and the vaulted ceilings and the paintings and the boxes containing pieces of long-dead saints and, I suppose, there is you, although of course that makes no sense because you did not know this place existed until I brought you here.