Friday, June 26, 2009

What we found there

"What a beautiful, useless thing." Dante grins at the Chronograph. "I love it."

There are beautiful useless things all over our world. Why he should be so taken by this marvel of your engineering, I'm not sure. He's odd that way. Always been more curious about your people than the rest of his.

I can see the tower above me reflected in his goggles. Its mighty black spire is darker against the star-spotted sky. One of the hands that look nothing like hands and only slightly like arms moves a titch closer to III. Points the way for us.

"Let's try around that side." I gesture in the same direction.

Dante gives the face another look of longing, as if he's already forgotten what I said about the symmetry. I bet he'd like to climb up the tower and crawl inside. See what's making that annoying ticking. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Almost like a heartbeat. It makes me worry about what will happen when the Dream Fields finally digest this hunk of your history. Clockwork beasts with letters for eyes and metal arms that resemble limbs in only the most abstract sense may be spat out in its place.

I start walking. I know Dante'll follow. My pulse mingles with the music in my head. Fast tempo. Nervous? Unlikely. Adrenaline gets the better of me. It's like having one too many shots of espresso or fending off an unexpected attack from your breakfast. I want to reach the source of unknown before I crash.

Its hushed melody sounds like Beauty, but it's distorted. Out of pitch. Sharp black keys when it should be ivory. Stripes and plaids and checks with a flourish of psychedelic floral. Not in that strange somehow coordinated Nippon way, but the way a Russian grandmother dresses when she's gone to market to market to buy a fat pig.

I find the source in a tangle of crinoline and absinthe satin. Peacock feathers jut from a mound of frazzled curls. Part bird. Part glossy hallucination. High concept slumming among destructive urges. I don't get it, but I don't get most of those riots of color and vicious, delicate models with their starving eyes.

Dante draws in a breath sharp enough to cut the feathers free.

"What is that?" he asks.

I play it cool. "Loli-ghost?"

He shakes his head. "We're nowhere near Tokyo."

Just because we usually see them in Harajuku and Shibuya doesn't mean they couldn't wander. Turn for Shinjuku and end up here. Collapsed. Empty without their city to fuel their haunting. Keep them tied to what they once were. But he knows this isn't one of the figments that remain.

It doesn't raise the hairs on his arms. It doesn't hiss static down the chords into my ears.

This crumpled heap is no ghost. At least not yet. It's something else. Something uncertain and trailing broken chords of Beauty.

"Or maybe a doll?" I don't meet his lenses. "One of Stellina's creations?"

Gently, carefully, he pokes at the huddled lump with the umbrella. A soft solid sound is his reward.

"I think it may be alive." I can feel the weight of his attention. "You know. Alive alive. Born. Not created."

That's right. He can tell the subtle difference, too. Probably picked up on it a lot sooner than I did.

"It's…" He pulls the umbrella-stick away. "Is it—could it be one of them?"

Despite his fascination, Dante's still a little wary of your kind of people. He's never actually met one of you before. He has heard all kinds of stories. They aren't complimentary. Trust me. I’ve heard them, too. They do you justice in the worst possible way.

"It couldn't be one of them." He swallows. "Could it?"

I don't know that things will go badly if he gets worked up about this, but generally things go badly when Val or Avalon do. Get worked up about things. Dante has been categorized as "Like Avalon" and therefore my instincts are to anticipate he'll behave like Avalon. The problem being that "Like Avalon" is not the same as "Avalon." It's not even the same as Val.

Avalon, after all would never refer to you as them. He likes your kind, after all, given that's how he started out.

"Humans have stumbled into the Dream Fields before," I say. "It's possible this one could have done so."

The probability of it being something so simple isn't very high. This is no lost dreamer. No creative type that force their way over to demand inspiration. I don't think this pile of tissue and bone is lost. She's thrown out. Abandoned. Not really fully actually human any more. Not more human than not, either. We'll just call her human because we can't be certain of what she is—or what she'll become.

Dante looks at me, and his displeased frown is enough of a suggestion he's worked out I knew about this before we got here that I don't need to see his scowling eyes. A warning to drop the pretense of ignorant bliss. In that way, he's behaving very much like Avalon.

"Maybe we should try waking her," I suggest.

"Is that a good idea?" he asks.

I don't know.

...

...

Well, this would be the interactive part. Do you think so, oh wise and knowing still huamns, that it's a good idea—or should we leave her alone? Or at least alone until something else finds her and removes the necessity of us worrying about what to do with her?

5 comments:

John Evans said...

I think her story wants to be told.

That Girl said...

Wake her up, maybe she will know how to defeat the pancake.

Sarah K said...

I don't like the idea of leaving her alone. Doesn't sound right, but then, I'm human. I'd at least call for help.

Rachel said...

Can she be woken up? If she's in the Dream Fields doesn't that imply she's in a dream state either natural or drug induced? Or something?

Ethanael said...

You people dream?

That's just weird.