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Imagine looking into a new world through a window. You are moving through it, before the glass darkens to a stygian darkness. Where is the excitement of fear that once marked the voyagers of a century lost? Or the acuteness of body in mapping the soul along the great cosmos?
I fumbled with my headset, deciding if putting them on was the best consequence. It was twenty-four minutes past the hour, and the frequent checking of the time on my phone in the past two hours made the decision intense. I have looked through the eyepiece, caught a glimpse of the scene in that world of virtual reality. A new city faced me, and my disoriented self realized I was sitting shotgun on a suspended monorail, with the track veering towards the left. It was deceptive, for the height had been revealed, that towering wing of steel which drops two hundred feet after the slow, tortuous climb. So I sat, taking the glasses off and on, looking around nervously at the others who had decided to forgo them. Why is the man beside me not wearing them? What about the two female teens behind? Somehow there was this feeling of uncertainty in clouding my vision, of not knowing when the journey would begin.
The Opening Line
This title is under the Peabody Collection
Ride of the Celestial Sky
My attendant bid me wait, and soon came over for the fitting. No light could come in, and he wrapped the device round my head through a tricky fasten of straps that would be impossible to remove mid-flight. This was it. A serene, peaceful city without traffic. Six seconds followed and the train jerked to life. All was normal. The monorail started. But the bend soon came, a deceiving illusion for I knew there was none. That was when the green villain appeared.
He tore the track apart, luring us towards the clear azure sky for a seemingly unending time period nobody knew how long as I felt my body going higher and higher, above the towering buildings and into the psychotic victimizer’s sneer of mania, which foretold what he was about to do. He released. I was lost, lost at the sense of direction. There was no road or track to guide me, and somewhere a man in a red cape flew in to break my fall and the villain came back to steer the reins and so forth in a sensationally tingling banter and the screen went black with the words ‘OVERHEATED. PLEASE REST DEVICE.’ before breaking out into a screensaver of the stars and the planets afore the big blank space of darkness as my body continued moving in tandem to the gyrations of the sinewy track launching my body into many upward hills which I could have sworn were straight-aheads and cheating me with unprepared dips too many to count or remember. I could not see anything or foresee any falls and those blank voids were chillingly remarkable, something to fall mercy to. It was a different form of fear, a kind of lurking fear that thrives on confusion – the feeling that nothing could be done even if you wanted to, like opening your eyes to read the body map or divining some physical comprehension of what was going on.
With the experience of the incredible journey over, I wonder at our own roadmap of the world and the universe. Herein lay a dusty, bronze navigation device. A 16th century astrolabe, made to align the planets and the stars with the self in one form. It is the awe of being atop a ship in the middle of the Atlantic and knowing where you stand in the face of the enduring giants across the never-ending stretch of night. The first journeymen, cartographers, explorers, and all curious men with the universal desire of venturing towards the unknown would have felt the excitement, the invincible instinct towards self-gratification in the discovery of knowledge.
Yet there was something more. It was the possibility of error that differentiated them from us. They were not blinded, for the map of the cosmos unlocks its secrets to those who read their language. And that language lies in this aged device, heaving its undying breaths in the suffocating air of its prison, designed to protect. A bronze rete, turned pale from its own measure of an excitement now worn, only living in the now-wearied past. A past adventure, an old mission where some infectious energy of youth would hold it up towards the clouds and align it to some known star. Then there was the flurry of aligning its angle along the plate and reading the time from the mater. A phantasmagorical moment, where the body aligns itself with the celestial heavens to read its sign. But no more, for the language has been lost. Alas, a new generation has lost the touch, the waning connection between the skies and the earth, for they find comfort in the unshakeable minute, a mark which chases Error’s ways. Thus the ride that shuts the eye from the prepared route, to force the instinct away from the guided hand, pulls taut the struggle between mind and body, one desiring to protect, the other desiring to be free.
But the ecstasy lies in the unrestrained delight of discovery, which once numbed the untrained mind. To steal away across the seas into some unmarked isle or island, never knowing if one would be in sight over the water’s edge. A time where a stolid young boy would run across the frozen marsh, narrowly avoiding the traps and pitfalls with the instinctive turns of his body, in stern defiance towards the warnings with that invincible delight of invulnerable conquest. And all to find some shiny trinket, possibly a watch or a cufflink, or a snapped twig or a crinkled leaf, which filled the desolate snowy landscape with a momentary story left untold in a certain, small corner of the vast wilderness.
Where are the songs of winter? Time runs anew in this passing season, and sours the man’s spirit for the period overpast. The winds flood the glass chamber with a rustling fear, one that wounds the body into a tight cord ready to spring. For it is the fear, the excitement of being lost and finding a way against the odds that speak the journey of a life well-traveled, like a dusty urn, or labe, winding to be free.