From the highest hill…lies the valley. For all you can see…the sea is still vast. And yet the question remains: where was it that you stepped last? Long and hard—the die long cast—you’ve traveled many lands, wore all the shades of grey, and although the creator you are, it still remains as much a mystery to this very day. All the stories, fictions and fables carried out, have left you a man without. My son, what advice can I give you? Look about.
I know in the past I have often encouraged your gaze to the skies, the clouds, the wind, your eyes, and all mixed as one you’ve tried, but today such effort will claim no prize. And so, will yourself back down to your most recent reality. You are there, leaning against a particular peculiarity. One which you can’t help mistake as a monument to yourself. Surrounded by statues, steps, and an infinite access, your ego would lead you to believe you’ve reached Mount Olympus. Stands to reason, and you’ve certainly been one conflicted with similar treason, but in truth it has nothing to offer you in your present condition other than a momentary, soothing, distracting illusion. With this realization, your options seem few. Your face, like the statue’s and that of the ground, begins to crack and crumble as something ancient yet new struggles to shine through.
“Where to?” you ask, “Where to?” I apologize and offer only the slightest clue. Beneath your feet, a grate, a forgotten fate, an open slate, you follow my lead and have at once lost the way, hesitating and taking your first step a second too late. You are completely absorbed by your surroundings, a place to which your wildest imaginings will never relate, lest they be one and the same. At first all is dark, all is dark…and much of it will remain so even after your eyes succeed in piercing its heart. And so your senses rest elsewhere. The constant and all consuming, low, humming sound of machinery reaches your ear and infiltrates your thoughts, combining with your imagination’s memories of religious chants and the cries of human suffering, past, present, and future tense. This is all you hear. The atmosphere, since your entrance, hitherto sealed off from all human experience, clings to your every word, your every action, adjusting and controlling your very core, savoring every moment forever more. Now the picture begins to clear locked in simple…silent stare.
Immediately before your eyes are the clumsy particles you’ve already sensed in the air, on your clothes, and in your hair. You’ve taken their stench full in your lungs, only to send it back into the abyss from which your future comes. They propel you forward before you can fully see what lies in store. You advance on a maze of walkways, metal twisting around and in on itself, wrestling within the confines of space, spiraling with haste to a seemingly singular and infinitely dense point, the finish line of a meaningless race. The damp soaks into your bones and the metal rusts before your very eyes, emitting constant, haunting moans. Forever and ever, you sink deeper and deeper, expecting to find yourself a different creature if you are not first swallowed by the enveloping metal and intransigent ether. The truth is neither.
You have simply reached an empty center, the beginning of an even greater adventure. A dirty earth you cannot hope to dig rests under your feet, crawling with insects whose biology, nature, function, and purpose are incomplete. They won’t bother with you. Pay no mind. Simply choose a path and cross that line. In every direction the view is the same. Chains cover darkness covers entrances to caves. Surrounding you are an infinite number of tunnels. To each the same; you choose one at random, continuing the game.
As you approach, you remember hearing rumors of secret government experiments that were once conducted in the very place you are now stumbling, but you are distracted by the rumoring of even greater histories that come insistently echoing. You hear them all so intensely and yet you can’t grasp the particulars. There is still light—though it flickers—and you behold a significant sight. Lining the tunnel, to unknown ends, are wires, pipes, and more surprisingly, mysterious figures and old friends. You try to comprehend…along the way playing pretend. The figures seem completely fused to the wall, inert, yet feeding the wires and pipes, the wires and pipes in turn feeding the figures, their sallow and absent faces covered with dirt. It dawns on you that these tunnels must run underneath the entire city, controlling and perpetuating its inhabitants’ every activity. The questions are many. Is it the city that has grown out of this foundation or was this system of tunnels created to support the world’s animation? Is it possible that this underlying structure has been lying in wait all these years just for me to discover? But this train of thought is as circuitous and without conclusion as your very traveling.
The roof, walls, pipes, and wires narrow and close in on each other until it seems the path will be blocked off, only to widen again, facilitating your journey to no end. All indications would lead you to believe that its very substance is crumbling, cracking, and deteriorating, ready to fall apart, but you doubt this is due to any passage of time, insisting instead that this has been its condition from the very start. Beginning to fear you are facing eternity, you approach locked doors that might have opened unto other worlds. Every action is useless. Description repeats. This…is the end of words.