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.
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 the lost cities on 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
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.
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.