Five hundred faces
Five hundred facesoriginal writing and images
_ — _ . _ — _
— _ — . — _ —
The boundary between sleeping and wakefulness sometimes appears as an enormous chasm to the insomniac — one to be bridged over by roped exertions, a severe trek heavily planned-for with ropes, rations, hydration, grappling-hook launchers, and much specialized training. Strangely, most of the time is spent contemplating the vast expanse that yawns before one, paralyzed by the perception of great distance. Yet once the grappling hook is actually blasted across and finds purchase in the welcoming sleepstone and one dons the necessary climbing harness, or decides to tightrope across, it is only a few steps before eyelids become heavier than the proverbial boulder in front of the tomb — and only angels could lift them now.
After one such half-trek, I blink and find myself in the middle of a circular room. It is large, quite nondescript, with beige walls; and steps upward progressively from the centre every few feet like an amphitheater. Conspicuously absent are windows or lighting fixtures of any kind, though the space seems to be evenly lit by a sort of diffuse glow such that no shadows are cast anywhere.
Every room is built for a purpose, but this room was built only by purpose. Houses are made to keep out the elements, but this house was made to let the elements in. I'm not sure how I know that, but something whispers to me to press, press the mechanism that sits on the table before me that appears simultaneously with this thought. Strange furniture builds and dismantles itself at the corners of my vision.
An unremarkable-looking, matte control panel blooms into existence on the table in front of me with numerous knobs and buttons. A voice like my own is explaining the capabilities of this machine in my own mind. Rapid visions explode in my consciousness of various possibilities, of the past choices of other dream-operators who once sat where I do. With the mental equivalent of a brushing-away-of-the-hand, I come back to the simple, spartan room as it was when I first beheld it.
Suddenly, all the controls coalesce into a single hand-shaped indention. Pressing it is unavoidable once the command has been made, and as my palm touches the surface I find it to be built to the exact proportions of my hand. I expect the surface to be cold, metallic — or perhaps warm, radiating the power that the unit seems to contain — yet in pressing it I feel exactly nothing kinesthetic, as if my body is anesthetized, or perhaps borrowed: the nervine system belonging to some other, distant perceiver. A strange inner exhilaration fills me in place of external touch, as the plain features of the room blur and crackle with ectoplasmic static.
Ghastly features of half-substantial torsos appear all around me, far too many to count: though I know somehow it is a council of exactly five-hundred beings. My vision crunches, then expands to see three-hundred sixty degrees so I can take in the cacophony of expressions emanating from my newfound companions. The room becomes charged, electric with telepathic whispers that invent new languages to match the ancient feelings they seek to express.
Ordinarily, it is necessary to focus on a tiny number of speakers at a time; once more than two or three persons are speaking simultaneously, communication decays to mere babble: background ambience, harsh elevator music-in-tongues. Not so here in this dream-council, where each soul speaks with crystalline clarity all at once. The intensity of this mechanism begins to degrade the ontological continuity of the space, and weird anomalies appear in the floor, walls, ceiling. The five hundred faces are hyperreal; the immediacy of their existence banishes the room itself to some existential abyss. Since it is utterly impossible to verbalize what these faces told me, I will attempt to describe their appearance and behaviors instead.
One face is grotesque with suffering, yet one laughs to see it; another shows only glee but makes me feel unclean. A third sings with a rapturous expression, but only the sound of a mournful cicada emerges. A fourth has too many eyes. A fifth continually births new copies of itself ever-smaller such that it becomes an insect-eyed hologram: a world of faces in one face. A sixth shrugs, points to its neighbor, and vanishes. A seventh says and does nothing.
An eighth face smiles; a ninth is upside down. The tenth face is a pale blue cyclops who teaches me how to live before vanishing into the crackle of a purple oceanic abyss. The eleventh face is not worth describing, and the twelfth is someone I once knew whose name I have forgotten. The thirteenth face keeps teleporting to floor, ceiling, and back with a hideous guffaw. A fourteenth figure curtsies, nods, and begins to dance in a strange form of visual poetry.
I look upon the fifteenth face and vanish as I do. It's myself in skeletal steel wires and rubies for bright eyes. A sixteenth snaps my reverie, a seventeenth is kin; an eighteenth is my enemy, the nineteenth: my friend. The twentieth is half-empty, the twenty-first half-full. The room abuzz, redundancy and novelty unfurl. I am a paradox of seeing, they all teach me to write — I promise to inscribe some day what I can't see at night.
. .This post is original writing and images. .
. . created by Daniel Pendergraft (@d-pend) . .
. .to be published on-chain on April 8, 2020. .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .