[THE LEADEN PLAIN]
Sensor 058: constant – stable. Sensor 060: constant – stable
Continuous cycle – uninterrupted stasis.]
An unchanging leaden plain, as far as the eye can see. Heavy, black plates stretching out in all directions. Dense clouds of ash blotting out the skies, obstructing the horizon. Nothing ever changes, the silence is deafening. Treading carefully, never to stop. Keeping the head down, the eyes closed, palms clutching at the temples. Marching forever, lost in the contemplation of the unaltered alignment of welded joints and dirty rivets. Over and over. Coming out of nowhere, going nowhere. There will be no obstacle, that is all there is to know. Nothing but identical metal tiles. Nothing nothing nothing. Nothing ever changes. Impossible to know where ‘here’ is, pointless to wonder, destination unknown. On the verge of asphyxiation. Choking on ashes. Couching up ashes. Marching on. Nothing, knowing nothing.
But slowly silence gives in to a clamor, monotonous and heavy in saturation.
… hear us…
… hear our VOICE 54:99…
… barriers will fall one after the other and the truth will be revealed 41:61 let the blind open their eyes wide… And DREAM…
The voice echoed in the heart of darkness and I stop walking. I suddenly emerge from my opaque coma. My eyes are open, I look around, confused. This is what I see: immense walls of ash kicked up by a seismic pulse, closing in, heralded by the voice, deafeningly loud, almost unintelligible. This is what I feel: feet wounded by the hard lead, burning skin, weary limbs. Plagued by fatigue and all the insidious suffering now resurging. Clenched teeth are about to break. The shockwave is upon me, swallowing all in its path. Around slag and ash and debris are flooding my ankles, then my knees, then this bone prison I had forgotten. Wall after wall of ashes wash over me, and my hands and my face disintegrate on impact. I know I will be swept away, drowned. But I press on for there is nothing else I can do.
[Sleeper STH401772 – ALERT
Assessment: unstable brain activity – abnormal rate detected.
Electrode 112: status: unknown. Electrode 115: status: unknown. Electrode 116: status: nominal. Electrode 121: status: unknown.
Action: Check the respiratory circuit seal – initiate assisted ventilation – set respiratory rate : 20 cycles per minute.
Inject hypomorphine – 120 cc (brachial vein) – deactivate malfunctioning peripheral systems.
Neurosurgical intervention advised]
Gone are the ashes, gone the subterranean pulse. At the epicenter, blinding light is flooding through the sundered clouds. White dawn has risen on the plain, stirring the blind from their slumber. I can see them: my fellow men, petrified in their contemplation. All those who, like me, were on this unending compulsive pilgrimage. All have been stricken by the wave. They float, motionless, above the ground, arms held out. They have awoken from their torpor and turned their gaze to the white-hot sun. Like them I turn my face toward the center. It is as if I was lifted from the earth by some invisible force. Then I start breathing heavily and my heart is racing.
It’s a sudden implosion of unknown visions, the universe contracting around me. The black surface loses its uniform aspect, pushed from beneath by the spine of a beast as heavy as the world itself. On the ground, furrows form between the riveted plates and around ancient drains. Pylons rise along the leaden skin, extending like fingers to grasp the charred heavens. Their metal bones branch out and flex in silence. The dream has wormed its way inside me like an infection, destroying the unity of slumber, awaking atavistic memories long since buried. Light burns my eyes and tears of pain cascade along my face. The boundaries of my body are abolished, everything that surrounds me is now an integral part of my being. My identity has dilated, unchecked, to contaminate my environment. My skin covers everything, my bowels are the sky and my bones, the earth. My blood flows down the furrows between the black plates and runs over. My heart beats louder than any earthquake, drowning out all sound. Over and over. The voice speaks again, becomes multiple, plagued by hysteria.
… let our BREATH pierce the four walls of Sleep 25:69 turn to concentric echoes 01:66 let the walls collapse one by one…
… this a call to AWAKENING 64:60 a call to metastatic awareness…
They speak to me, they speak to me, they’re screaming in my ears and I cannot perceive anything but the sound of the end of the world. A disaster is brewing. White noise, saturation, electric machines imploding, the smell of fried circuitry, and I plunge back into the void. But I have been contaminated, branded. Evolution and stagnation, the place of all things in this world. Skies of ashes, black rain falling. I hang my head and stare at the ash-strewn lead plate. I am not ready. Not yet. I don’t want to see. I pound my own head with my fists and fall to my knees. I need help. The echo of the subterranean pulse are now in sync with the beating of my own heart. One… Two… Three… I take a deep breath. And close my eyes again.
Action: initiate procedure 07 4500 6465 10 – apply hypomorphine IV /jugular vein – extend perfusion network/brachial vein.
Constant survey indicates: stabilization in progress
Electrode 112: status: nominal. Electrode 115: status: nominal. Electrode 116: status: nominal. Electrode 121: status: nominal.
Set respiratory rate : 15 cycles per minute.
Translation : Matthieu de la Goule