This is something I wrote a bit over a year ago as a little experiment with perspective. I was also playing around with a more purple to my prose at the time, and on the whole, I do like how this reads, even if it is a bit pretentious and strange at points. This and two other sections like it are slated to go into my next project, a novella titled Amp, which I start editing next week. I’ll be tweaking this heavily to more fit what I want, but I plan on keeping it in second person, if no other reason than it amuses me. In the context of the novella, it’s a dream sequence, and hey, dream sequences are allowed to be strange, meandering, and pretentious!
Somewhere, a place.
Inside of time.
Your surroundings explode into existence as you transition into a new state of being. You look backwards, hoping for a past that existed but a second ago, but all you see is sand.
Sand. Everything is sand.
The sand is a bright gold that gives off a sharp, unforgiving light. It hurts your eyes, and you try to blink existence into focus.
The world is an ever-moving ocean, great dunes rise and crest to the symphony of a harsh wind that howls like a deranged animal. It’s ferocious, and despite the blazing heat, you shiver as a slight chill creeps up your spine and into your soul.
The heat. The heat is maddening and extreme; it is oppressive, and it cascades from everywhere, inescapable and dehydrating.
Sweat pours off your body and you are thirsty, but the only thing to drink is sand. Your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth as your salvia begins to congeal into a thick mucus, and you wonder if you will die here, burn to death as your body rejects all of the water inside of it.
You are afraid, but the heat clouds your emotions until fear, misery, and wonder become a slow moving tornado that dizzies inside your head.
You feel faint and want to collapse, but the sand is hot and you don’t want to fall into it. The ground would burn and the harsh wind would bury you alive in physical fire.
So you sway to the left, to the right, and finally turn around. For a moment, your eyes betray the heat and allow you a glimpse of something, a glimpse of destination. You begin to walk forward, to a structure in the distance that stretches up and up into the burning sky. It is a bright structure, and it glitters like diamonds. You yearn to see it more than you yearn to escape this heat, and a new fear swirls around the whirlwind inside your head.
What if you die before you reach it?
So you walk.
And the seconds turn into minutes and the minutes turn into hours, and still you walk forward, towards the structure of diamonds that stretches into the sky. It grows bigger and bigger as you near, and so you walk faster and faster until you are jogging, drenched in sweat and half blind from exhaustion.
The structure begins to take shape, and the glittering diamonds begin to transform into metal, vast sheets and beams of metal of different colors and types. They give off heat, and you wonder why they haven’t melted under their own temperatures.
The structure moves.
You can feel it moving beneath your feet, miles and miles beneath the sand. It is a pleasant vibration, and it keeps you walking forward, forces you to walk forward.
You notice teeth. Great teeth jutting out of a great wheel, and your dizzy mind forms a word.
The base of the structure is a vast gear made out of bronze. It is miles in diameter, and even more miles in circumference, and its teeth jut upwards into the sky like angry spears. The bronze glows a vibrant color that is both youthful and clean, and there is a promise and a hope about the gear, a promise to last, a promise to work, a promise to provide.
A promise to be.
You gaze at this vast gear, newly forged by existence, and wonder where you are. This desert, so new and hot, doesn’t wonder back, for it has a strict purpose and no time for idle thoughts. This desert has no time for you.
The gear is moving, a slow and soundless movement that you fail to grasp at first because your brain is dizzy and clogged with heatstroke. But it does turn, and it will continue to turn until long after the Earth is a dry rock with no atmosphere or life.
Jutting up from the center of the gear is a large, thick axle the color of newly tempered steel. It shines out a happiness and will, and it slowly turns with the gear in a perfect, practiced movement. It holds all the positivity of youth, and it holds all the weight of the tower.
The tower, a kind of tower. A moving tower. A tower both complete and incomplete. A tower made out of metal.
The axle ends at another gear, a small gold wheel that shines and turns and commands. Attached to this golden, turning sun are two other gears, vast and bright. They vertically reach upwards, floating in the air with separate axles jutting out, attached to nothing but the hot air. The two gears rotate, and their outstretched axles slowly sweep across the desert, sending out thin beams of shadow.
For a brief moment, you find yourself in shade as one of the axles swoops high over your head, and for a brief moment, you feel cold. Your mind clears and your fear sharpens into wonder. Wonder at the impossible structure powered by impossible forces.
And then the shadow is gone and you are once again drowned in a heavy, oppressive heat that fights the life boiling beneath your skin.
Still the structure reaches upwards, gears upon gears and metal upon metal. Silver gleams from thick, smaller gears that float and rotate with their vertical brethren, heavy in weight but weightless in necessity. They shine in a pure radiance as they turn, powering even more axles and gears above them.
Another thick shadow passes over you as you look upwards, and in a moment of cold, blissful clarity, you see the fire.
No sky shines down upon you or this desert of sand and gears; no sun looks down on as you dehydrate in a place far from home.
And then the shadow has passed and you sway in unbalance as you look up into a burning red wall of flames.
The fire is everywhere, and the fire is everything. It stretches from horizon to horizon, glowing and dancing with heat, moving and pulsing with the power of youth. It burns, and it will continue to burn until long after the Earth is a dry rock with no atmosphere or life.
Your eyes fill with tears, and the fire blurs into a bright, streaky mess, and for one, beautiful second, you are looking into the face of passion.
You are recognized.
And then the heat of the desert, of this world, has evaporated your tears, leaving you with an all-consuming blaze that is continuously killing you with unrecognized circumstance.
You fall over, burning your hands as you blindly reach forward to save yourself from hurt. The sand is hot, and you cry out as the heat catches you in its apathetic arms. Sluggishly, you move into a sitting position, burning your legs in the process, until you are comfortable in your discomfort.
Questions and screams form and disappear in your mind as you look up into the sky, following the tower of gears and metal into complete inferno. The wind howls as the ocean of sand moves in great, wandering dunes around you.
The tower is still miles away, and you know you’ll never reach it. You will die here, alone in this world of sand and fire with the tower forever in the distance. Eons will pass, and your body will be buried in sand as the two spinning axles turn on and on, keeping their own time as they count away the years. You won’t be forgotten, for you’ll never be remembered; this desert has no time for you.
Another moment of shade and respite passes over you, but you are too tired to care, too exhausted and thirsty and worn out. All you want to do is sleep and escape this heat.
All you want is for the tornado in your mind to stop spinning.
Now you are lying down, and your back burns as you look up, following the tower into the fire. The tower moves and moves in purpose, and the sky burns and burns in retort, and all you can do is lay there and listen to the wind howl and chase the sand.
You wait to die.
There is a story, a special kind of story told to you long ago by a person of a special kind of unimportance. It swims through your head, burnt and fragmented.
A man is walking through a desert. He is surrounded by sand and heat, but still he walks. Why he is in the desert is unimportant, and how he escapes from the desert is unimportant, though you wonder about these two details now. They are the only parts of the story that matter to you.
The man walks and walks, dehydrating and dying, until he finds a small, golden disc in the sand. The man bends down to pick up the disc and sees that it is a watch of exquisite make. The word exquisite is not your own but that of the especially unimportant storyteller. You would have described the watch as beautiful, as promising.
The watch cannot help the man survive the heat, but it can give him something to think about while he dehydrates, and so the man looks at the watch and begins to wonder.
Who put the watch here?
He flips open the watch and sees the hands moving in perfectly timed increments, ticking away at an important purpose and unmindful of him. He then opens the back panel to see hundreds of little gears, all moving together in perfectly practices precision.
Who put the watch here?
That’s where the story ends, and as a thick band of shadow passes over, you begin to laugh great shouts of hysteria. The desert continues howling, the tower continues moving, and the fire continues burning, and as the world continues to ignore you, you continue you laugh.
Look at what the Blind Watchmaker made!
Your laughs begin to turn into screams, and as the wind howls along with you, you can hear a deep, guttural growl. It grows and swells in sound until it is all around your head, and you open your eyes for one last look at the tower.
It is still there, still spinning, and still exquisite.
And the growl strengthens and tears at your ears, and you think you can make out words, but they are so far away.
You close your eyes and focus.
The growls begin to clear.
The world of sand, gears, and fire fades away.