Friday, May 28, 2010

Simple Connectedness

[My entry for this week's 3WW prompt]

Everyone know it looks like a spider; in fact, when looked down from the sky above, the silken roads leading in and out could be taken to resemble the web a spider might spin around itself. Stay connected.

The words of his mother had stuck him odd then. But now, standing under the shadow of one of the eight stairways that lead up in to the bluish grey building, its shadow slicing him in half, his realisation that his mother had been correct did not surprise him. She had been right about the passenger seated next to him in the bus- the one with glazed expression in his eyes, his shoulders perennially resting in a shrugged position, the two orbs of his earphones tending to his ears, his red jumper zipped up to his neck despite the fiery heat, his hands as high strung as those of a penitent and an air of diffidence around him. Others seated in the bus seemed like the clones of his co-passenger and remarkably silent too; the eyes of those along the window occupied with the drab landscape of the surroundings; the eyes of those along the aisle closed or half closed in deliberate sleep.

There are eight levels in the building. Not eight floors. These levels will only be visible to those who know about it. To your eyes, no levels will be visible. Only five floors.

Please stand in front of the mic and repeat the following word: Zeitgeist.
He did.

The word surprised him. His attempt to pronounce what he took to be a pseudo German word discomfited him. They will know you and what you are. The word will be drawn from your native region. He had prepared for a word like catamaran. Had they upgraded their system? Was this imprecision a sign of weariness, a sign of techno-fatigue? Or had his mother forgotten something? Or had his father been a German? The gate to the stairway opened and he walked in.

Once you are in the building, they will be able to read your mind. Only your mind. Only those of the newcomers and known dissidents. There will be no noticeable change in your body nor in your behaviour. They will never influence it. It is quite a snug fit except for one little flaw: you will suddenly feel happy. But be warned: DO NOT EVER SMILE.

He found it hard to suppress his smile and very hard not to thank his mother. She had indeed been right. He looked up and the sight before his eyes overwhelmed him. Hundreds of hunched figures, including the few who had accompanied him in the bus, were now scurrying up and down the gravity defying ramps that seemed to lead everywhere. There were no discernible sources of light around but the whole building seemed to bask in some ethereal light. He walked up to the lounge area and seated himself on one of the plush chairs that dotted it. The lounge area was a raised circular platform built around a tree like structure. Suddenly, one of the branches of the tree dipped down to him and a small palm sized display opened out of it. He saw his name printed in black preceded by a welcome sign on the display. Before he could respond, the screen displayed the details of his meeting and a voice as soft as a whisper requested him to proceed immediately.

Do not accept what they offer. Harangue if needed. If they appear too impressed, be quick to lessen your impression. Remember: you have to start at the bottom.

He was not sure of his co-ordinates as he stood outside a door. The walls extending along the corridor seemed to end in some infinity, painted white save for thin black rectangular outlines every ten feet. The display above each door kept pointing to the right until he grew tired of walking and paused in front of one. The door opened into a room and he walked into it. Immediately, the ethereal light that had blinded him at the lounge begin to pour into the room. Save for a chair, the room was empty. As he seated himself, the light withdrew and a screen emerged out of nowhere, right opposite him. A few words scrolled across the screen.

You are asked to add 2 2's. Will you be surprised if the answer is 6?

Do not ever think.

Eight questions and half an hour later, the door was thrown open and a figure entered the room. The screen had disappeared and the light gradually began to let itself in again.

We are mightily impressed with your performance. You will start...

Light the cigarette.

Smoke coiled around the room before dissipating. The man seated opposite him seemed both uncomfortable and confounded by this. With a seemingly assured shake of his head, the bottom.


Join tomorrow were the parting words. Moments later, without knowing how, he found himself standing next to the exit door.

The most important step of all: as you emerge out of the building, before you open the door to the exit, think of the woods where you live; think of the snow that falls outside; think of this cabin which you will abandon now; think of the footsteps in the snow pockmarked with blood.

He waited outside the stairway for the bus to arrive. Long, lonesome silhouettes fell upon him. He will be on his own once he had fulfilled the last of his mother's instructions. It was time.

Turn and look behind at the glass facade. The square of glass lit by a yellow light. You will find your father there.



Timothy P. Remp said...

Smartly written piece. I like how his Mother's advice came to him during his testing. I very much enjoyed the read. Thank you for posting.


ThomG said...

I like this, I like this very much. Enough mystery that it plays with the mind.

Teal™ said...

I dont get it :-D Will read it a cpla times more :-)

Anonymous said...

this is interesting piece. have to admit i dont get the ending. but i liked it right up to the ending that i didn't quite follow. :)

Vivek said...

@Timothy and @TomG

Glad you like it :)

@Teal and @bluepapercranes

The son is on a mission and the last line reveals it.

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