darklight 7: the end of make-believe

the end of make believe

Previously on Darklight: a traveller accompanied by the Ibid Bird is searching for Selena. At Lunar Central Station, he discussed his life with a guard at the gate and found out that she had returned to the Inverse Realms. The first episode is here.

I nodded.
The Inverse Realms. Of course.

The Bird saw through my deception,
and somewhat explained.

The river of time flows uphill in the Realms.
The inverse sun is shrouded in darkness,
and its attendant planets emit a shining light.

Where life flourishes, it too is luminous,
and, in the high night, tourists from the Realms
may be mistaken for spirits and phantasms.

And how do I get there?

The guard produced a map, folded it
into a paper aeroplane, and sent it on its way.
It cruised aerodynamically beneath
the drifting grey confetti.

You must walk to the end of make-believe,
to where no words bring comfort,
where every strident truth is hollow,
where not a moment of your life
can be disguised.

The surreptitious scaffolds of existence
curve and twist beyond space-time,
beyond all mathematical imaginings.
Their intersections shape the hidden paths
to everything that might have been:
as far away as yesterday,
as close as the meander of a lazy thought.

The guard’s metaphysical advice
was not as helpful as I would have liked,
but I didn’t want to offend.
You’re saying… I have to walk somewhere?

You must seek the mundane, the well-worn trail.
Beside the rivers, follow pebbled paths;
in the desert, stormwater channels,
where tricycles and bicycles lie rusting.

Should you chance upon a suburban park,
and glimpse a birefringent shimmer, the flickering
of a transdimensional craft beneath the weeds
and unrecycled litter, pass it by.

Once it skimmed the metal estuaries in the sky,
ran like mercury to lost worlds,
but now it’s been discarded,
an obsolete anachronism.

I interjected with a summary.
So… I have to walk.

As you travel on, you’ll notice subtle changes.

You may find yourself in a quiet village:
tidy cottage rows
with manicured gardens
—roses, triffids, and carnations—

where neighbors greet each other in the street,
while they keep their poodles clear of over-eager
petalled carnivores.

You may notice a sandy mist descending.
The triffids will close their venomous maws,
and a dry rain will rise from the tiled rooftops:
certain signs that the Realms are close at hand.

Oddly specific, but hardly GPS coordinates.

Are there other signs? Once I saw a cloud
that looked a little like a sheep.

The guard shrugged.

I’ll be coming with you,
Boris will be taking over here.
I might pick up some triffid seeds
for my garden.

to continue

The description of a region where the arrow of time is reversed is partly accurate and mostly not.  I wrote a little about the topic for the Sci Phi Journal, under the heading “Food for Thought” at the end of The Phantasms of Tocantins.

Triffids appeared in John Wyndham’s 1951 novel The Day of the Triffids. The ones described above are a family-friendly cultivar. Possibly.

the end of make-believe, Georges River on a smoky day, made with VEE, the visual evolution engine.

27 thoughts on “darklight 7: the end of make-believe

  1. Love the fabulous artwork and the introduction of triffids in your work. I was captivated by Wyndham’s book as a teenager. Many strong passages in your poem particularly:-

    “You must walk to the end of make-believe,
    to where no words bring comfort,
    where every strident truth is hollow,
    where not a moment of your life
    can be disguised.”

    Think I may have already reached this place….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Nikita. To be honest, I haven’t read it: which sci-fi books came into my possession in the past was a bit random.

      I was happy with the description of the Inverse Realms. I tend to be up-and-down, although I suspect there’s always some make-believe around.

      Leaving the negative aspects aside, which I can definitely relate to, and focussing on the no make-believe, there’s a bit of a Catch-22, I think.

      The Inverse Realms themselves are make-believe. Probably. 😸 How can you know if you’ve reached that place? Perhaps anyone who thinks they’re there, isn’t, by definition.

      I imagine such a state would be close to Buddhist enlightenment, and the Buddhist sect I’m most involved with holds that enlightenment is make-believe, doesn’t exist. Personally, I think it does, ie, that fully awakened, enlightened people have existed and do exist in the world. But it’s probably wishful thinking, because I’m still in the land of make-believe. 😸

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful meandering tale this is… Yes, the triffids were a deeply scary creation, – and hoping these turn out to be a less whippy malevolent breed. I particularly liked that you just snuck them in between the carnations and the roses – it’s like finding a funnel-web spider in your salad sandwich – unexpected and completely changes your plans for lunch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peter. Me too, with the triffids.

      I’m reminded of the large live cockroach I found on my plate hiding inside the salad leaves in a Brazilian restaurant. Fortunately, I’d had a few drinks before the meals came.

      I did tone the triffids down. Originally, I wrote a description of a triffid consuming a poodle (what you expect in a stereotypical quiet village), but the piece was already long, and I decided it was a little too graphic.


  3. The end of make-believe in a “real” world of fake news? Fantasy interspliced with mundane details such as our dependence on tech- e.g. GPS. A sense of humour is at play as ever. Difficult to visualise the end of make-believe but you have succeeded in this contradiction. Enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul. Yes, the make-believe end of make believe. Humans would like something, some beliefs to hold tight to. I know I would, but when I look back, mine have changed greatly over the years, and my current bunch are pretty sketchy: some are just hopes.

      Still, “Whatever gets you through the night…”, which is one, with the caveats of no harm, no fanaticism. I’ve come back to think John Lennon got a lot of stuff pretty right.


    • Thank you, and yes, it would be great to escape for a while. I would be happy to simply travel back to last weekend in a time machine. There was still half a bottle of Pinot Gris in the fridge back then. Old me wouldn’t miss it. He drank too much anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Escape is the new normal or perhaps the old. It would be good to hover around in a time machine, aimlessly is that is possible. Drink is an old friend who I shouldn’t allow to drink me though tonight it is too late for regrets. I have two heads and sometimes forget which I am wearing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I cannot help thinking that guard is going to have a bad day when she tries to collect those seeds. Nevertheless, she is welcome to my share.

    Not sure where you would find the end of make-believe, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in the White House.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She has her weapon, so I’d be betting on her in a guard versus triffid match. If I had a triffid seed, I’d probably plant it out of curiosity, it might keep the rats in check. I’ve tried to grow lots of stuff (not all legal) and mostly failed. I’m a very careless gardener, although I do water occasionally.

      Haha. I suspect there’s a rabbit somewhere in the White House looking at his pocket watch and muttering that he’s late.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Time, especially the present, is difficult to avoid, although I’d like to give it a miss occasionally—fly away to another land between two ticks of the clock, between two pulses of the heart. Maybe we do, but we don’t remember.


  5. I have the impression that the guard deliberately didn’t mention he was going to accompany the protagonist until the last possible moment. Otherwise, who would have listened to his metaphysical advice?
    Next time someone asks why I keep my cat indoors, I will say, “To protect her from over-eager petalled carnivores.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • A fair point, Magarisa. I didn’t know what the guard was up to either; still don’t, actually. Blaming triffids is fair enough, I think.

      Easing my triffid anxiety is the reason I drink a moderate amount of wine. There may be some other minor factors. 😸

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Sinuous”, “top shelf”…I agree with those comments and all the others, Steve.
    “A walk to the end of make-believe”, I don’t think you will ever reach there Steve! I particularly like the details in this…the tricycles and bicycles rusting… the hyper-real every day where horror lurks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jim. I lived in a make-believe world when I was a kid and it’s still with me.

      Glad you liked the rusting bikes. I came across a storm-water channel a few weeks ago, and I remembered riding down it when I was young to get to Botany Bay.

      Back then they weren’t properly fenced off, and I was told to never ever do it because of flash flooding risks (once you’re in, very hard to get out). It’s in our minds, isn’t it? Whether we’re reminded of the dark side or the bright side.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “You must walk to the end of make-believe,
    to where no words bring comfort,
    where every strident truth is hollow,
    where not a moment of your life
    can be disguised.

    The surreptitious scaffolds of existence
    curve and twist beyond space-time,
    beyond all mathematical imaginings.
    Their intersections shape the hidden paths
    to everything that might have been:
    as far away as yesterday,
    as close as the meander of a lazy thought.”

    These might be the best lines I’ve ever read. I read somewhere that every great story has a guide, and the guard here fits that bill, and his advice is something that if you go too swiftly by, you will miss one of the greatest pieces of advice ever. Great job (as usual)!!

    Liked by 1 person

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