The City (pt. 2)

MOTHER.

The word pierces every conduit of my skull.

 

MOTHER mother mother mother mother

 

I see her
I know her
She sees me
She knows me
I know
I know
I know
I know
I know I know eye no eye no eye no eye no eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye eye I knowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

And then it ends, the vision ends, and the creature is gone. I don’t know which god to thank. This place seems so far from god. I feel empty. My body leans against a statue by the road as if commanded by unseen forces. The crowd passes me by; me and my giant egg lost in this land of flesh and debauchery.

The sky curls and wretches bright red sheets of rain upon the land.

I press onward, up the mountain path.

 

Roan Rotzyk, Rotzyk, Thomas Roan Rotzyk, Roan, Art, Oil, Painting, Digital Painting, Bizarro, Surreal, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Mountain, Monument, Idol, God, Worship, Cult, Afterlife, Death, Dark, Purgatory, The City

 

As I come upon the summit, the chaos of the road becomes tamed. The path begins to plateau into something resembling organization; what I perceive as merchants and various vendors maintain stands at the base of a sheer wall. Each stand is marked by signs written in a language I cannot comprehend. The goods they peddle, like the words they speak, are also unfathomable. Organlike prosthetics, squirming appendages, glistening meat hangs on hooks but seems to emit different sequences of sounds. The vibrations touch my chest as I saunter past, xylophonic in effect as if my passing created some stimulus, or the mere disturbance caused by my presence beckoned the hanging creatures to cry out.

Looking up, my stomach turns and quivers. Above me, as high as I can see, the peak of the mountain rises in folding paths of light and shadow, brown and red and white and black and gray until the sky overtakes the formation with its seething red clouds like a blanket of fresh, pulsing blood. All across the face of this scene are scattered thousands of moving bodies, their backs to me but unmistakable, as one moving in service to a cause. They are building a monument in stone, set upon the base of the highest peak of the mountain. Swatches of platforms and ladders cover the scene. A patchwork array of slavery, driven by screams and the cracking of whips.

The center of this abomination is occupied by a vague body, doll-like but certainly humanoid, and largely incomplete. The legs and arms are but nubs of stone wrapped in ropes and tethered to the outside rock face. Above the monument, a face has already been carved in the stone. It bulges out and over the new character, which looks to be seated on an inset throne. The entire scene moves and squirms with the bodies of uncountable chained slaves.

A hand drops on my shoulder. My heart dissolves.

I turn to see one of the merchants, a dwarfish creature with the head of a goat and skin like a serpent eyeing the egg on my back. It gestures up at the egg and speaks to me. I cannot hear its words over the roar of the construction and the noisy market.

I shake my head.

The creature speaks again. This time, it makes an ellipse in the air with a finger, tracing the vague outline of an egg before me.

Again, I shake my head.

No, I want to tell it. Go away. The egg is not for sale.

The creature speaks a third time, but this time seems to understand. It makes a disappointed gesture and stutters off into madness beyond my gaze.

What have I come here for?

What brought me here?

All my memories now stir inside the egg. I feel it drawing them out of me like wisps of smoking from a stirring pot. Every step siphons another part of me, another piece of the puzzle. Now that I’m nearly at the terminus of the path, the egg must surely have all but my physical body tucked away inside it.

Will I be born again, when the egg opens? Surely, that must be its purpose. For I am but a hermit, carrying my shell, my home, my progenitor, from one life to the next.

Will it take my soul before it is over? Or will that stay behind, as a cenotaph erected upon my final footfall, immortalizing the struggle of a being dislodged from its proper reality?

And where is that—my proper reality—exactly?

My every thought now concerns the egg. Its safety, its cleanliness. How does one maintain scrutiny in this place?

The path seems to end here; there is no further way up the mountain. From here there is only the monument, which is still being erected and which I am obliged in all good sense not to disturb. The sight of the drivers with their whips, their smiles, is all but maddening. I turn and look back the way I came.

Only there is no way back.

Where there should be a path is now only a sheer rock wall descending into blackness. A dead drop into a bottomless abyss.

SENECA.

The word is the only explanation I am afforded. Still, I hear it in whispers; every puddle of darkness echoes it, the word that is not a word, but more than a word. The word that is law and logic and quite possibly even life.

SENECA.

MOTHER.

I turn again and gaze upon the statue being erected into the side of the rock face. It looks nothing like the image burned into my mind at the sound of the non-word.

Not yet, anyway.

I wonder how long they’ve been building it?

How long until it’s finished?

What happens, then?

I shrug the pack off my shoulders and gently sling the egg around, careful not to tilt it. The thing seems to have grown since last I saw it. Still, it doesn’t weigh much more now than when I first began carrying it.

And when was that?

Have I always had it?

Yes, I think so.

After all, where would I have come from, if not from this egg?

It makes sense.

The egg is part of me, and all of me, and all of what I am to be. It is both before and after. Alpha and Omega. It is everything. It is Past and Future. I am now.

When I cease to be, It will be. There will be a new me, a new now. That will be then.

And some eons from now, when the infinite chain of me regresses beyond comprehensibility; when my mark upon existence is diminished beyond distinction; when light and dark and sound and color cease to give definition to my bones, the egg will cease.

And I will cease entirely.

Spring Cleaning

Dear Diary:

It’s been a few weeks since I bought you and I haven’t even opened you once since that first day. I’m so ashamed. I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had a single moment to myself.

Where to begin…

Research is promising. We’re still in the very early stages, but I’m confident. More confident than I’ve ever felt about any of my academic work, actually. Considering I had a 4.0+ average my entire life and graduated valedictorian from every school I’ve attended, that’s really saying something.

Mason has been driving me to work. He is the Director of Security for the company’s Leiden office where we work. It’s very quaint, carpooling. I get to see more of him. Although, his whole reasoning behind driving was to free my brain up for thinking about this waveform theorem. It’s like I’m being pulled by two magnets. My career on one side, and my husband on the other.

But that’s not exactly right; in this case, my husband is actually standing on the other side. And I’m standing alone, fighting to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Why can’t I let go?

I need to get lost in this. And don’t think it hasn’t been going well sweet Diary. It’s been life-changing already. Still, some distant voice inside is suddenly urging me to savor every moment I have with Mason now, while I still can.

Something did occur to me today. If there is a way to generate a frequency that crosses an unknown spectrum—like the one our consciousness passes at the moment of death—we would have to isolate it. I have no idea how that’s going to work, but I’m chewing it little by little.

One more thing. I talked to Dr. Soliman about this today. If we can identify the frequency where sound interacts with another real dimension, we need it to be tethered. There’s nothing to gain from blasting vibrations into a void. It has to be testable; retrievable, somehow. That’s going to complicate things.

Mason and I have been doing some Spring cleaning today. I found a box full of old paintings I did during college. Then I did what I always do: spread them across the floor so I can see them all at once. No order to it, no method. Just pure, perfect chaos.

Mason hates it. It’s been a fun day.

I’ll try to write more often, Diary. Twice a month is just embarrassing. And you still need a name, I haven’t forgotten.

Til then, with love.

 

 

Amara

Dear Diary:

(3 years earlier)

I feel like a little girl again, writing those words, but it feels good!

We’ve never met before, but my name is Amara. I guess I’ll have to think of a name for you. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to come up with one on the car ride home. Writing in the car makes my stomach wobbly. For now, I’ll just call you Diary, but only until I come up with something perfect. Promise.

My dad used to say, “A sturdy journal is the best friend you could ever hope for.”

I didn’t believe him (though it didn’t stop him from repeating himself).

I was fourteen when he bought me my very first diary. She was about your size, but a different color on the front. Her cover was red, and she had matching red trim around the borders of every page. When you flipped the pages fast enough, the edges turned pink! I thought it was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. But I guess it’s not hard to impress a fourteen-year-old. I used to love the way that book smelled. Every time I took it out of my armoire, I would hold it up to my nose, fan the pages back and forth, and breathe deep. It always made me smile. Even when I had a bad day; even when I just wanted to curl up on my bed and cry salty tears on its pages, that smell always brought me a moment of happiness.

I wonder whatever happened to that old diary.

But anyway, enough about the old. Today is a day for new.

Diary, I have big news. I had a breakthrough yesterday. I’m a little nervous to talk about it, since I haven’t started the work yet and it doesn’t even seem real yet, but it’s happening. I only started working at Praxem three months ago, and I’ve already had an epiphany that could change everything. Mason couldn’t be happier for me.

Oh, I just realized, you don’t even know who Mason is yet, how rude of me!

Mason is my husband. We’ve been married three years. We lived in Ohio since we met, which was a little over six years ago. We had a small apartment there, but our house here in California is bigger. Praxem has been good to us. I guess they wanted me bad enough, they agreed to all my stipulations. My dad used to tell me I’d make a great attorney.

But you want to know a secret?

You can’t tell anyone. Not even Mason.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be a lawyer or a mathematician or a doctor. What I really loved was flowers, and nature, and poetry. Oh, I loved writing poems in the field near my childhood home. We lived on a hillside surrounded by meadows and a big creek. The fields that turned purple in the Spring from all the prairie clover.

I used to sit barefooted in the field at the highest point on the hill and draw sketches of the flowers. I would talk to them and sing to them and read poems…

I just realized… that makes me sound crazy! Don’t get the wrong idea, Diary. The flowers didn’t talk back. I just never felt happier than when I was surrounded by all that purple life. The color, the smell, everything about it was just incredible. That place held unparalleled beauty.

When I got older, and my mom got sick, we moved out of that house and into the city. Dad wanted to be closer to the doctors and nurses who were taking care of her. That was a hard time. I stopped writing poems and singing songs; I started studying biology and mathematics to help my father try to learn what was making mom so sick.

Come to think of it, I guess I never went back to see my flowers after… well, after everything that happened. I haven’t thought about this stuff in years.

Diary, I can already tell we are going to be good, close friends.

But back to my news. Yesterday, I had a moment of realization that could change my life forever. We’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places. I guess I should tell you about my job. God, it’s all so exciting. I can’t even keep my head straight!

Okay, so my job is Lead Researcher of Cessation Studies, Biology Department at Praxem Industries. Praxem maintains many global research initiatives, but here at the Leiden Facility in California, our studies focus on dying; more specifically, the moments leading up to death, and the moments just after.

It sounds very dark and gloomy, I know. But I promise it’s all very fascinating!

Dr. Soliman says my breakthrough yesterday could be the key to unlocking the secrets of human death and the afterlife! Can you believe that? And to think, it all happened because Mason and I took a drive up the coast, to the beach.

I remember seeing the flowers along the roadside swaying in the breeze. It was so windy out, we couldn’t walk very long, but something about the way the flowers moved made me realize, we’ve been measuring the wrong variables. Up until now, we’ve only looked at synaptic cessation, trying to draw correlations with temperature (heat) transfer, but now I know we’ve been looking at it all wrong. I just know it! I won’t go into the technical stuff, but I’ll give you a hint (this is top secret!): my breakthrough has to do with sound, not heat. Isn’t that crazy? Sound!

I’m sure none of this makes sense at all. But don’t worry Diary. I’m going to tell you all about it in the days and weeks to come. That’s why I went out and bought a new journal. I wanted to document this time very carefully, for posterity. If this really does lead to a significant discovery, it could change the way we think about human life altogether!

Isn’t that exciting?

Well, that’s all the time I have for today. I’ll write some more tomorrow evening before bed when I know more about the parameters of this new study. Maybe I’ll even come up with a name for you in the meantime.

Til then, with love.

 

Amara