Saturday 20 November 2010

two lights

I wrote this for a short-short story competition in 2006. Didn't win anything. It'll fill a nice half-page in that posthumous collection.

'The lights help you to aim. When you eat the root and recite the chant, your vision will blur – this is temporary. Do not worry. Find the glowing lights, and align yourself in between and a little above them. Take a deep breath, and run towards this point as fast as you can, leaping up just as you come abreast of the table.'

'What's in the picture?'

'The painting itself is unimportant. A bucolic landscape in pre-industrial Europe, a close up of fungal growths on a dead bison – it makes no difference. For this moment, the canvas is a membrane, and one that you may penetrate.'

'What's on the other side?'

'A dying world circled with debris-rings, dwarfed by an immense red star, an archaic space where warring celestial factions loom ominous over a cowed populace, a gleaming, automated future where steel servitors nurture a fleshy elite, or a world just a sideways-step askew from our own – who knows? Others have seen these places, and more. You must tell us what you see, for we cannot tell you what you will see.'

'The chant is silly. What kind of mumbo-jumbo is that?'

'If it helps you focus, you can even chant the words to 'Louie Louie'. Our aesthetic sense is not that fragile.'

'What if I don't want to come back?'

'Oh, we'll get to you. An assailant in the park, a person from Porlock, a woman in a velvet mask – we'll get to you.'


'So, are you ready?'

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