As above; so below,
Between them winds a starry flow.
“You and your ridiculous ideas,” Alice’s voice lilted as the carriage rumbled across the rough, unpaved roads. Magnavius ignored her and instead concentrated on the other sounds: the way the carriage groaned and creaked around them as it struggled to absorb the impacts of the road.
The carriage leaned and all three passengers were forced to bend in the opposite direction so as to stay upright on their seats. This forced Chisholm to glance up from the book he was reading and he glanced between his travelling companions with a wry smile.
“The ruin forms part of a larger structure in honour of Asmeph,” said Alice. She didn’t add hmmpf to the end of her sentence because it was—indisputably—inferred. Asmeph was a fertility goddess worshipped long ago in the Nacreev.
For years, the region had been closed off to foreign visitors, but thanks to a gradual thawing in tensions between the Nacreev and its surrounding nation-states (all of which were in thrall to the Great and Glorious Empire of Her Royal Highness) these restrictions had lessened. In response, universities from Caladon had started sending students in battered carriages across unpaved roads in order to study sites in the area.
In only three years there had been several major discoveries. A stone monkey (no monkeys lived in the Nacreev now), dozens of rusted metal mechanisms (their utility unknown) and at least one shrine in honour of Asmeph.
The first photographs of the fertility goddess had caused quite a stir when they had appeared in the newspapers; for even in blurry half-shadow on grey paper, the image of the hitherto unseen Goddess was certainly provoking: her broad shoulders, enormous breasts and erect nipples spoke of a fierce, independent sexuality.
And although neither Magnavius or Chisholm could not wholly understand why (though, of course, Alice understood) the statue had become a sort of feminist icon back in Caladon, such that Her Majesty’s government was already in talks to “procure” the statue for the state museum. Of course, several politicians from the Nacreev region would be compensated.
Alice had already started writing her thesis on Asmeph, which was why she was so determined that the ruins they were heading to investigate would be dedicated to the goddess. Should her wishful thinking prove accurate she would almost be guaranteed grant money in order to conduct her research.
The lads, however, were of a different mind. Magnavius believed the newly-unearthed structure was, perhaps, a greater temple devoted to a number of different deities. Chisholm, on the other hand, well… nobody ever really knew what Chisholm thought. He spoke little and his face was usually hidden by the cover of some obscure book.
In truth, none of them were certain what to expect from the ruins. Only a few muddy photographs had made it out from the dig site and even the descriptions had been vague: the one thing that they had in common was that they referred to the ancient structure as a wall: the Wall of Tet they called it, for Tet was the name of the village above the ruin.
Magnavius thought back to Professor Emlin’s notes:
A brick wall buried beneath the ground, each brick inscribed with numerous letters from a runic alphabet that is yet to be identified.
Although the façade of the wall itself is said to be impressive, granting as it does a vision of a completed structure from another time, your studies are to focus not only on the wall and its construction, but also to seek out such signs of habitation, ritual devices, or other inscriptions within the vicinity.
Magnavius knew at least three additional tunnels had been excavated so far—all of them leading away from the wall. Each attempt to dig in the areas directly around it had revealed only more bricks; indicating that the Wall of Tet was much larger than first suggested.
Then, at last, the carriage stopped and they were being ushered out by men wearing rifles on their backs and ceremonial swords at their waists. A plump woman beamed at them as they exited the carriage.
“Yes, yes,” she said. “And here are the fine students from Caladon.”
Amongst Great Grandfather’s box of old things was:
A carved wooden duck
An oddly shaped knife with a dancing man engraved on the hilt
Three paperback books
An unmarked bottle of what I presumed to be wine, but did not have the courage to open
An antique toy bi-plane
A drawing of a giraffe
Four different keys with no indication as to what they opened
An old leather notebook filled with indecipherable scrawls and also containing…
A brown paper envelope, upon which was written:
INSTRUCTIONS AS TO MY RESURRECTION IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH
An ancient cave painting of a woman rendered as text.
The muse is fixed in time and space,
Pigment faded smile eternal,
She watches with one eyebrow raised,
And when she moves,
If she were to do so,
(Although that would be impossible)
It is merely the shifting of a leg,
Or a flick of a wrist,
Or a twist of her neck,
To glance back across her shoulder.
What follows is believed to be the first ever inscription of the recursive poem “Meandering Wastes” by the 21st Century writer, Michael Scott Hand. This fragment was recovered using the latest in digital archaeological equipment, wherein data can be extracted from the sedentary level of matter formed during that which we refer to as “Event X”.
beyond the far meandering wastes
an eager writer takes his place
scratching words with a fountain pen
when he ends each line he starts again
Combining this fragment with the only other known version of this poem (the so-called sixth recursion), we hope to be able to reconstruct a final “seventh recursion” representative of the author’s original intent.
Hearts are breaking
Pain that’s stored
Now enraged and flaming: soars
Skies grow dark
The sound of fury
Turns to laughter
The sound of laughter
Turns to screams
Those screams now wake you
From your dreams
And skies lit up
Reveal the schemes
Police line streets
Their visors gleam
Smoke and water
Remnants of society cast
The gulf grows wide
Soon you’ll need to pick a side
Reflected by the fires glow
That spark of revolution seems
So far away and yet it gleams
Like visors worn by armed police
In the eye of the protester and the thief
The light of revolution speaks
The light of revolution shows
And in the streets the fires grow