lightning garden

A labyrinth of dead ends conserved in clear amber

I feel unreal. I'm inert, sterile, out of phase — I cannot touch or be touched. Trapped in insignificance, locked in impotent corporeality, denied any weight in the world. I am doomed by dull, bleak fate to fade out, to gradually recede into my lonely void. Do I even breathe? Is my blood warm? Do my eyes shine? Is there strength in my muscles and bones — any force at all?

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In a bygone age, had Troy seven walls raised higher and thicker than the hills by hands surely greater than human, seven great stone gates, and seven tall towers. Now they lie a ruin, shattered by a forgotten enemy and eaten away by time and neglect. The gateways gape empty, the great doors long since gone. The towers are toppled, cracked, and empty, the walls, though too strong to vanish even under the weight of millennia, dismantled in places, swallowed by dirt, vegetation, or buildings in others.

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CW blood, graphic injury

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A vast, labyrinthine castle floats in deep space. It's long abandoned by whatever agency constructed it and partially in ruin, but still functional. Runic engines thousands of years old hum, providing heat and gravity and keeping the air in. Managed ecosystems run wild: the roots and leaves of strange plants are everywhere, wound in thick ropes or tightly-knit nets, and small animals originally meant, it's thought, to recycle debris scurry and scamper through grooves and cracks. Even after unknown ages, they still keep the air clean, secrete fresh water for the fountains, and sprout odd, edible fruit. Even a derelict, the castle could still support thousands.

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I wanted to dig my hands into the soft, moist ground, to shovel it aside and sink my fingers deep. I wanted to burrow through the dirt and soil, to slither and twist through the secret, wet passageways of the earth known only to mole and worm, to slip through the cracks in the unyielding bedrock, and merge with the cool, clear groundwater.

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Thirsty tongues licking at cracked lips, dry, dry, so very dry. Pain, terrible pain, wounds scabrous and sticky; ignoring it, eyes trained forward so as to avoid the blinding hot sun directly overhead. Limbs touching sand, crawling, slithering, stalking forwards. Hungering.

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There is a city at the edge of the Mauve Sea. It has five districts, five Ends, each of them not in a direction, but a direction. They mix together at their edges in a fractal patchwork, send pseudopods and feelers past each other, and grow exclaves inside one another. They are only a little apart — a millimetre off, half a second out of sync — but enough.

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