Duncan Allan

The Intellectual Horizon

A small and sunlit room. Dust swirling in empty spirals, passing through the sun’s dying rays and burning like pinpoints of ageing light: an atmospheric image of cultivated archaism. In a window a reflection of a city, projecting out amidst the filtering trees. Gone are its people. Their traces mirrored as peculiar glimmers of unseen inhabitants. Empty, but alive. A remaining mirage. Without history or explanation: a city of the plains.
A still figure on a couch beside a window, looks out upon an unreal city. Defiant, yet silent as an alien race; sitting, pondering the question of how to get to this city, and knowing the moment one should turn to look away, this city will be replaced by the other, actual city, and its dream – like reticence will coagulate to form structures and faces: the moulds of a decaying metropolis.
Daylight seeping away, the sun moving on. The glimmers change to sparkles. Still the figure remains, contained by silence, meditating upon the city amidst the trees. Between blinks each eye bears a captured miniature of the shimmering mass. The eyes grow wider and more silent: the city infusing…

Pallid orange beacons, burning strong, fuelled on the outposts, litter the edges, leading remotely away. For a time they will be all that is seen, their hard glow unafraid of the blackness: storehouses of the night. Station to station one follows, drawn on by impenetrable steel. Out to the fringes, the outer edges, governed by immovable law. Undying cells, vaulted and running, droning on into the night. Only elemental nature survives here: the rocks, the wind, the rain. Only the undivided journey out this far – station to station.
The hand that trails after, in valuation. Time: bestower of alien charm, encasing the land in dust. Going further out, lights passing and past out of view. Land rolling, gathering as it goes, down and round and up to the sky; a sky speckled with the allusive. A dream is presenting itself. Women: bodies intricate. The mind: intricate. – Desertion.
Piercing. Rites and practices. Imbued. Potent. Your land, not mine. We are not one and never were. Find your own way. Masked, a masked realm. The pain is strength. Playing another game. Walk on, the journeyer walks on. – Another, more ancient, more allusive. Not looked for, but come upon by chance.

– Follow, I will lead you, hold my hand
Taken past children. Whispered thoughts of suicide.
– But how can one follow?
– Dead. We are already dead.

Modern figures in time, luring with memories, out towards the plains. Already the lamp is old – sentimental relic burn on, casting an orange spell over the land. Where to now? And what of the others? – In need of lubrication, looking for the edge of the sky. Out of a small hole in the ceiling crawls a creature. Displaced descendent of the water babies, calling belong along with us, where others belong; crawl up and enter the land between the floorboards.
Another creature emerges from the bushes, its face a mask of expression. Dancing movements, an electric face; dancing like rigid lightning and the dinosaurs of old. Friends. The face unchanging. Closer still. Its stillness a mask. Its movements are chained: moved by another. Follow the lines up to the puppeteer, fleeing away across the dreaming sky.
Men, brutal men, and the milky women who always submit, who become the men, who enjoy their hospitality. Whatever we were we are no longer. Whatever chances are past. Little is left, the land where the fled soul lies: the broken fragment flung out into space without time. Little is left – louder, little is left – louder, the fled soul, little is left, little is left.
Humanity forever, rather than a half – shell given over to another form as the river finds its source. Humanity forever, forever to unlock its depths, forever to feel beneath the feet the changing threads of an earthen reality. Humanity, and the people who populate. Feel her touch a thousand miles away. Lives lived over, lived again, lives lived in richer ways, lush reality over again. Remains, remains. The soul flees but the body remains. Down, down where the body remains. Unafraid, the body remains – the soul flees but the body remains.

And now, around those who feel the calling, and around those who acknowledge the possibility, lies the unknown, with weeping thoughts – they the tragic, they only who see the wrong, products of the limp minded who ignorantly feed, ignorantly trample. Young one – could not possibly wish you to die. Care only for you, care only for those like you. But you will die. You will die, and it will happen. Go forth now without guilt, without everything they think is pertinent, go forth taking with you nothing of theirs. It is only death when your soul is not your own, and you have made no such pact: lured into signing a diseased contract. But little friend it does happen. Go now, this is not life, the true ones believe you when you say there was no other way. There are no backward looking eyes. Over there they do not fear the germs, for over there they are new seeds.

Who is it you hang with now old friend? They seem rather boring, rather like the masses – everything you despise. You know they feed, don’t you? You think that here is refuge, where you may bide your time, waiting for the opportunity to rise, but this is your death. You do not restore while you are here, while you are here you are drained! Do you think they care? Only the lucid care. Only when you are awake, can you right the wrongs you see in your dreams. When you dream you will continue to rape, and awake only to dismiss as dreams. But it seems you are learning, for it seems the flow is changing, and no longer does the sound of battling engines dispel more gentle sounds. Come, and come, it is easy, please come. I know you no longer wish to hurt others in your sleep, I know I can say this to anyone, I know I can say this to you. The flow is changing. Change too. You cannot stay here. I am not coming for you. You must come to me.

Transported back to the seventies. Eternal night highways. Wild wagon wheels, flared eyes and bottles and bottles. Under the covers, the microcosm, holographic haze and neon. Come along, come along. The party will revive. Come figure with no name. Come and be shown your shades. House to house. Zone to zone. Wild packs of teens. Long hair blowing out the opened windows, filling up the crevices of the world. Here we will stay for a while, for a time, for a decade. Banding together to make the game!
Lost years. The ghost plane stumbles across the skies, streaking burning fuel. Pilot is tired. The plane continues, over mountain and field. Deserted bases. Figurine pilot. Empty towers. Hollow night. The ghost plane streaks red across the sky. Losing time, burning fuel. Little trees and block houses. The black pitch and the landing lights. The restless winds. Touching down, drawing to a perfect close in an empty ghostly landscape.
Flinging the pack of cigarettes, the purchase of a new pack. The lighter. The flame. The perfect image. But wait! So how did it go butterfly? Pain being beautiful or some such twist. Love growing as the question dwindles, the sky clearing and the walls turned into windows. The shimmering view and the cool wooden floor below our feet. So how did it go? Pouring out fate, rolling down the cheeks of the patient observer, the gentle inflicted.

How long before the world intrudes and the frail portal forced to close? And is this why none ever succeed in passing over? – Because this world never allows for complete defection.

And what of the others?

Always in reflections, feelings, or in the haze: this place where one wishes to be. Always a wavering line that skirts the very edge. Yet in that line lies the plains; the terrestrial plains, and the timeless caverns they house…

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