Portal pt 2
He felt somehow…denser inside than when he was a kid, like there was too much stuff packed in. Not necessarily good stuff or bad stuff or even particularly interesting stuff…just events and then the decay of those events in some sort of an inexorable progression of which he surely knew the end. Fuck. He never used to think like this. He KNEW he shouldn’t have come back…this was worse than those pictures flipping through his head at night. Wasn `t this what he had spent whole decades of his life trying to avoid? This kind of mournful, melancholic crap…
He picked up speed as he reached the top of the hill, hugging the laptop tightly to his chest, the dark closing in, time thickening, turning into some howling void, filled with crickets, deafening cicadas, like the 3 K background radiation of the universe, now a godforsaked screeching; even the stars seemed to have lost that timeless feeling for which he had always valued them, turning into ash heaps of radiation, harbingers of BAD infinity…
He always liked that three mile walk back, even with the occasional pick-up truck whizzing by, a finger or two lifted off the steering wheel in an almost familial greeting. It was almost completely dark when he finally walked up the driveway. Lights out. Nobody home. He guessed she had forgotten about the dinner engagement. The lights came on automatically as he entered, sitting the laptop on the table on the way to the kitchen to get a beer. Popping it open as he sat down, he opened the computer, saw he had a response from his recent uplink but moved to another file and began to type:
Mardak sat at her desk, staring glumly through the large open window. In the soft summer twilight the quiet snuffling of a horse drifted thru the firefly encrusted night–a myriad of stars in between herself and the barn, the universe closing in–past the satellite link dish and echoed faintly off the large screen behind Mardak, in the near dark, its surface pulsating w/purple, occasional flecks of interference-white appearing randomly. In the distance she could hear the booming of the first of the night s Change Storms coming thru. She leaned back to his desk and picked up the statuette of Thoth, ancient Egyptian deity of harmony/order. Figurines, statuettes, funerary figures, scrolls, and seemingly more mundane objects of all kinds covered part of his desk and most of one wall, setting an eerie contrast to the aluminum/plastic/electronics which configured the rest of the space. The location of the station in such an isolated farm region (well, there weren t any more farms…the Change had seen to that) made it an even more archaic-seeming decision on her part. And enclosing the impervious, at least for all practical purposes, monitoring station in the facade of her great grandparents long demolished farm house made her even more suspect in the, well, she guessed you could call them `eyes’, of her superiors. Such sentimental attachment to long dead essences most definitely did not fit in with the Change. She carefully picked up a bottle of glowing blue liquid from the stack of similar octagononal bottles at the side of the desk. As her uniform sleeve slid back from her wrist a patchwork of thin lines glowing with a similar intensity, so intense where they crossed, it almost seemed purple, revealed themselves, terminating in a complicated, dense pattern in the palm of her hand.
The Anumalesh, that s the closest name that’s been attempted for them/it, had been making their/its presence known on the surface of planet earth for about 2 years now ever since they broke out of the cometary shell surrounding the solar system, at sub-luminal speeds. The 5-mile-long object threw a much larger `shadow’ on detection screens on earth at the time, evidently due to some sort of force field effect. And of course the Change Storms which began shortly after the object’s detection, have been attributed to the Anumalesh. These were apparently temporo-spatial distortions which created roving `hot spots’, often accompanied by great atmospheric disturbances but sometimes not, which seemed to activate objects in unpredicatable ways and occasionally `fuse’ them to the consciousness, thru the unconscious, of whoever happened to be in the hot spot. Sometimes this elicited memories of the most personal kind; at other times the thoughts/memories/imagies seemed to be of a cosmic, almost mythological nature. In fact at times the images / hallucinations / apparitions seemed to be drawn directly from some sort of species collective unconscious…and sometimes that species did not seem to be that of the predominant species of planet earth. It seemed as if the planet itself wanted to reclaim some aspect of the human species back into itself, resorb humanity back into its womb. Some people theorized that it was some form of interrogation that the Anumalesh had put into effect, a way to gain a complete “demographic” of the whole planet, although demographic seemed to be too light weight to account for the effects that were going on. More like a full PET scan while on various psychotropic confessional drugs. Whatever was going on, in five years it had changed completely the direction and nature of life on planet earth–and the changes still seemed to be going on. It was more than most of the population of the western, industrialized countries could take evidently; the suicide rate had skyrocketed. The Changes seemed to effect a certain percentage of the population in evidently horrible ways. Few of those so effected elected to stay around to explain to the more fortunate. It seemed as if a new evolutionary force had been put into effect with a vengeance and time scale that mocked the very idea of evolution–more like a pogrom. If it weren’t for the huge increase in births.
She unlocked her hands from behind her head, removed her feet from the desk, turned to the flat screen to her right, turned the computer on and began to type:
He got up from the computer, stretched, and walked over to the old couch covered with a large faded country blanket. He laid down, crossed his legs and laid his arm over his eyes. Immediately he felt exhausted. It seemed like he hadn’t had any sleep in days. And there it was again …like some monstrous cyclonic force, lines of agitation, brute force, destruction, crackling lines of lightning forking through turbulence, constrained by some force not endemic to its own construction but finally, and awesomely: nothing but a thin shell swirling around an empty center. And it moves of course, the center moves, thereby it seems, um, `alive’ or at least some sort of rudimentary will seems to be present; but a strange volition, one based on the crackling energies of the surrounding rotational winds. Yes, that’s how it felt sometimes when he got up in the morning, like somehow there had been an emptying during the night, an evisceration of himself through the aegis of surrounding high tension currents/differentia somehow sucking everything out and zapping them, some sort of metaphysical soulbug killer (was he really being emptied or was it just a realization of how empty he was, that there was not, never had been anything at the core–and worse, that the same was true for everyone, that there were nothing but these thin violent crusts interacting? Had Something left–or was it just hiding?) Even the dreams had mostly deserted him, the one signpost he had that he might still be alive at night and not really fully occupied by some monstrous anabatic Other that seemed to be continually pulling him apart into strings of Brownian motion, then taking the particles, shards into the updraft of that thin shell of interactive systems that increasingly seemed to be a “him”. He remembered reading about the Great Red Spot on Jupiter and that it might be the result of something called a Taylor Column, a fairly stable pattern that showed all the way through the turbulent layers of atmosphere, and was itself the result of extremely high winds that were somehow `caught’ around some surface feature. But maybe, maybe, that was some kind of hope! If we were all Taylor Columns didn’t that mean there was some sort of `surface feature’ helping to generate it? But such speculation was useless–one could never make it through the turbulent layers to ever find that feature. And to make it worse, the winds seemed to be picking up, the electrical activity increased to a a web of scintillating lines criss-crossing, penetrating the shell, yes, taking on a life of its own almost (But wait a minute! After all it was HIS life wasn’t it?–but it seemed to be collapsing into a not-his-life somehow, into the life of that fluttering, crackling crust. Which meant maybe a was-never-his-life. He didn’t know whether he was terrified or ecstatic. And maybe there was a very fine line between those two anyway. Like Dorothy being swept from the flat plains of Kansas, surrounded by bits and pieces of her life, swirling by, fire fed by wind, a blowtorch melting experience, words, lives into a fine ash, a crematorium of souls whipped into dark clouds moving at fever pitch toward an ever receding horizon/Emerald City maybe searching for that surface feature to hook onto but everything had become a desert, a flat bleakness scoured into a geometrical precision by millenia of passing vortexes gathering speed as the terrain becomes increasing leveled, speedier, fed by roving skeins of electrical currents. He felt a great mystical fervor overcoming him, the emptying, hollowing only one part (necessary perhaps; inevitable certainly, in the long run–which was actually very short–of mortality, `consciousness’) of a great Battery of energies and their flows, circulation patterns becoming visible, absences and presences all forming the same sort of vortextual collapse structure, the old in/out, out/in matey, ego becoming a vacated site and the vacancy of more importance (though `not of the moment’ as was the ego–the interactivity skills of the vacancy seeming to belong to another dimensional structure) than its recent occupant. And besides it didn’t seem to be completely, truly vacant. The desert of the center seemed to teem with ghostly bedouins, remnants, revenants of previous collapses, though now gaining their/its own form of diaphanous `solidity’, possessing a peculiar `granularity,’ particulateness through aridity, like all deserts. And like all deserts it no doubt teemed with life, but life of a different order, rhythm, and tension.
Moonlight filtered through scudding clouds momentarily illuminating the woodgrain floor, shiny plastic coating reflecting back halfopened curtain window pane dividers as he crossed to the laptop, flipped it open while standing, pulled a chair over while he simultaneously logged on.
He turned to the window just in time to see the moon disappear completely in an interminable cloud bank, pitching the room into a darkness relieved only by the glow of the screen. The pip-piping sound of the automatic coffee maker echoed from the kitchen, along with a slight uneven hiss. The torso of a lone walker passed on the road in front of the house, baseball cap on, turned backwards; halfway across the window the walker began to trot. He turned to the keyboard