On a thick, spongy bed of luscious green moss, she begins to walk forward toward a forest of aspens. From the front, which ends up being the direction upon which the trees are being gazed, the trees take on the exact appearance and feel of trees, but from the side, which forever remains hidden, they are as flat as blades of grass. Smooth in their unique texture, she closely examines the front of a trunk. The tree looks like a tree, she thinks to herself. She places her right palm upon the flat trunk of the tree, the tree feels like a tree, in its powdery texture. Soon, the tree begins to warm to her touch and within an instant all of the green, bright, heart-shaped leaves turn a blazing gold, and all at once, the leaves shower her as they crinkle and crunch to the ground around her feet. A white, dusty film coats the inside of her right hand; she rubs the palms of her hands together. As she makes her way through the forest of flat aspens, the leaves rustle in a cool breeze. She continues to walk as the flat world moves below her feet as if on a conveyor belt and soon realizes that the trees blanket a shallow mountainside. Never lessening in density, the forest of aspens soon comes to an abrupt end. She takes in a deep breath of crisp air. Just beyond a lush field of what looks to be paper cut outs of wildflowers sits a small glimmering lake; she shields her eyes from the glare and glistening light that bounces.
The sky above, as if painted wallpaper, expands and contracts the flattened, billowing clouds that blow about a sky blue backdrop. In vain, she searches for the sun that lights this world. As her eyes scan the sky directly above, her right eye catches the glow of a large, white, three-dimensional rectangle that hangs high in the sky just out of the reach of her right hand. An odd illusion the shape makes in the flat vastness overhead. She makes her way forward through the field of flowers while she keeps the floating shape to her right. Curious, she reaches down to pick one small stem with a beautiful purple and white flower atop it. The flower, being the shape of a bell-round-flare lampshade, weighs down upon the stem and opens up facing the ground, What a pity, which creates a beautiful curvature where the stem becomes flower. The stem and flower are as flat as paper, indeed, but the flower moves organically within her finger tips. Slowly she raises the stem to her face, pinching the front and back of the stem with her thumb and forefinger. The flower looks exactly like a cutout, but as she turns the stem between her fingers, the shape of the cutout changes to mimic the changed perspective upon the flower as it rotates. Fascinating, she thinks with a slightly detached grin. She continues to walk toward the lake as she picks and plucks the stems of various flowering and leafy greens until she holds a bouquet that can barely be contained with only one hand. The lush field begins to turn into a rocky beach.
Bouquet in hand, she finally reaches the water’s edge of the lake. The water coolly laps upon the pebbles. At this perspective, the far end of the lake sits at about hip height. Across the lake she sees sandy-looking beaches that open into a grassy field which lead toward rolling hills covered in low brush and dwarf, coniferous trees. A glance down at the bouquet in her hands, she tosses the entire thing into the water. The foliage scatters. After a short minute’s thought, she climbs over the lake to the other side. Unscathed except for the hem of her dress that’s now soaked in water, she stands on the other side of the lake and looks back over to the wild-flower field and mountainside of thin, tall aspens. Gracefully she turns on her heels to continue moving forward. A glance upward for direction, the white rectangle still floats on ahead just off her right shoulder, the clouds change form, the sky remains blue.
Forward, she walks upon a sandy beach. The grains of sand let out a song with each step of pressure applied upon them. She stops, That song. Quiet and still, she hears nothing but the breeze whistling through the elements that attempt to refuse its passing. She takes one slow step with her left foot. A few slow notes ring out from beneath the foot. She quickly lifts the foot, and the notes cease. Softly, pressing just her toe now into the sand, the grains sing out softly. Ah ha. She begins to stomp around the sandy beach like a small child. Frantically, the grains of sand belt out a chorus of delight, exhilarated by the sustained pressure of her feet. The world blinks. The grains of sand go quiet as she stands forever still. Up to the sky she looks as the white rectangle turns a deep red. A hushed gasp sweeps over the grains of sand. The rectangle returns to its colorless self. She looks around for any inkling of change. Nothing. Reminded of the blithe song of the sand, she begins to stomp around the beach once again. This time, however, the grains refuse to sing. She stops, All is well. The world blinks yet again. Immediately, she looks to the rectangle as it shines a deep blue. The grains of sand rise and float like gold glitter just above the ground at just about her knee height. Forward, she hears a voice that’s not her own in her mind. As the rectangle becomes colorless again, the grains settle down as sand on the beach. Move.
The world—still flat—trudging through the grass field, as she steps upon blade after blade of grass, the grass pops back up, stiff, easily swaying in the breeze. She takes a quick look back. And then, as she reaches the edge of the dwarf-sized forest, she hears a song emanating out from behind her, The sandy beach. She dares herself to not look back, and continues on into the forest. The forest, however, consisting of inordinately small trees that stand not much taller than her, give little to no cover in which to hide. Thus, upon entering the forest, she decides to turn and take a look back toward the beach. The grains go quiet. She sees no one. Mox. “No!” screams a voice at such a volume that every bird in the dwarf-sized, coniferous forest bolts into the air and swarms overhead turning the world just below into a dark, ominous night.
A crack of violent thunder. The sound a tree branch makes when a branch breaks sears through her ears. “Mox!” she screams as she attempts to catch a glimpse of him through the ominous dark. “Don’t!” the same voice from before shouts in response.
“Don’t come back here! It’s too late!”
“Where am I?”
“Just go! Now!”
Without hesitation she turns and run furiously through the miniature forest as needles poke and branches slap. She can see a clearing approach within a few more meters where something is lighted so bright only a fool could miss it. A biting, scorching sting burns cold and then hot across the right side of her face. Thrown back a step, the world turns to pure light. She falls in the direction she understands to be forward and hits the ground hard, face first.
A dusty room coagulates around the edges of her eyes until the face of the old man comes into sharp focus before her. How dare you. “That wasn’t me,” the old man shrugs as he shakes his head, “But I do know who to blame.” Who. “But you know.” She sits silent, thoughtless in the purple wing-back chair. The old man walks to the window to have a look, “Tell me what happened.” But you know. “I cannot see what you saw.” Of course you can. “Fine. Where was that place?” Just stop. “Fine,” the old man concedes as he begins to pace the room. How … “You arrived here two days ago.” Did … “Yes, once I realized that you were not going to come back earlier this morning.” How … “I followed you.” So … “Correct.” Then where is he? “I truly thought that you knew.” I should just … “Yes, I’m afraid I am not going to be much help to you at this time.” Yes. Thank you. “I look forward to your return,” the old man states sincerely as he stands before her once more, “I packed up a few sandwiches for you.” Thank you … I don’t mean … “They are fresh. I had Uldin run out for some foods with which you are more familiar,” the old man continues as he walks toward the kitchen area. The man … she begins as she follows him toward the entryway. “Yes. He, too, was anxious for your return. Apparently, there have been more than a few requests for your services,” the old man conveys as he hands her a small canvas duffel full of food stuffs. But … she starts as she reaches for the duffel with both hands. “I agree. You should probably refrain for the moment.” Well … “I know. Goodbye.” Don’t … “I swear. I will wait for your return.” Thank you. “No. Just,” the old man grimaces, “Just don’t come back until you know.” The narrow eyes of the old man pierce through her face as the sting of his slap burns once more on her cheek. “I’m sorry for that.” I understand. “I will see you soon,” she speaks aloud as she begins her ascent over the garbage-filled entry way. “Sooner than that,” are the departing words of the old man as he disappears into another room.
She makes her way over and down the heaping pile of trash, onto the landing. The freshness of the air outside the old man’s building slaps her face hard and ramifies the burn upon her cheek. Looking around, she has no idea where she is or where she ought to go. A park bench sits in her immediate vicinity. She walks toward it and sits down, the canvas duffel on her lap. Curious, she opens the bag to find a few days worth of sandwiches and snacks. Most of the food she has never seen before, but she does notice a shiny red piece of fruit, apple. She snacks on the apple for a short while and then searches the bag for something to drink. Thirst is really the sensation that’s currently bothering her. The bag is void of beverages. At least the apple is juicy. Overcome, nevertheless, she stands and waits for her feet to take her wherever she ought to go next. Home. But her feet know otherwise and walk in the opposite direction of her apartment, unbeknownst to her.
Her feet walk and walk for distances that seem unreasonable to her given the nature of the confinement of orbital living, unless, of course, the scale of an orbital is lost on her. She decides that knowing would be preferable. In an attempt to understand exactly how large is this world in which she currently exists, she determines to walk until she can walk no more, or at the very least, until she runs out of sandwiches. In essence, she concludes, I shall walk until I know whatever it is that I need to know.
Continued every Friday, until The End