Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gallery of Suns

Something immense and hot, nearby.

It came in pieces.

Was it a room? - hewn into the belly of some impossible cavern deep in the Earth? Or was it the gut of a beast, some petrified leviathan of proportions too huge to grasp?

Daylight? Above: Some kind of sick sky, the same orange hue as the massive sponge-stone walls that weakly defined the space as an enormous corridor. Light was ambient, radiating from all around, casting no shadows. Nausea. The only shapes to be discerned against the glowing sky were not quite clouds, but wisps of black vapors mixing unevenly into the pink upper regions of the space. The sensation of vomiting.

Squinting helped. The sky was gone for now. The floor was unyielding but soft to the touch, like damp felt.

There were towers. Shelves, rather; cases bearing stacks of books, scrolls, files in folders, cabinets, safes, boxes, glass cases, portraits of people and beasts, spheres as black as ink, shining discs, plastic reels, tablets . . . No; far more than that was on the shelves, which reached into the glowing heights. Far stranger objects - simple shapes worked from metal, crystals, bottles, machines defying description, platforms and levers and boxes and mounted things . . .

In one direction, the great shelves went on and on . . .

In another, they gave way to a gallery of spheres - all glowing orange in the light, like a cluster of tiny suns. Warmth, maybe from there. Beyond them, monoliths; giant rectangular pieces, some of which were in lumps, as if they were natural growths. Others rose starkly into the sun-sky.

Knees on the ground. Hands pushing one upwards. From, the damp bog of the floor rose erect humanity. With standing came dizziness; after dizziness balance; from balance, sense.

Before: A stone cube, on which were scattered papers, scrolls, a kerosene lantern, a tome. That tome, bound in clothe and cardboard. That tome, in which were pages of glossy mica. That tome, the name of which was cast in a single glyph, burned into its cover, facing the person standing before it, but unseen in the orange glow all around.

There was a smaller block before this cube, and the arrangement, complete with the lantern, suggested a study area, the cubicle of a monk. The tracks where it had been pushed were etched into the wet dust of the floor. A few human footprints lay caked, nearly fossilized, in the tracks. They seemed to come from nowhere and the went no further than the cube.

Behind, amongst the endless hall of shelves: the squeals and chirps of life amongst the artifacts.

(Image adapted by da solomon from a still from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), directed by Stanley Kubrick.)