15 July 2005

A future past


I scan the aged canvases, collared gentry staring stiffly from their hangings. I drift off the back of the group. Distantly the guide intones her rehearsed script but a quiet corridor draws my attention. I want to be alone to forget the modern world. I take slow paces into the shadows.

Red carpet gives way to polished boards. A long-case clock from a bygone era is ticking slowly, measuring long seconds in deep metallic clicks. A narrow shaft of pale light spears from a high window illuminating motes of dust to prove their existence. Panelling hangs heavily like mahogany skin, rich and brittle with age.

My feet tread in prints left by ancient men and my weight presses on the floor, squeezing centuries old bees wax deep in the timber. A bend in the corridor brings cool gloom. Behind me was an even halogen wash, now ivory candles hold their yellow puddles close. Creamy wax planted on iron hoops that hang from chains. This is surely light that will last, its anchors driven deep into petrified stone.

In the belly of the fortress now, tapestries of drab brown deck the cold rock buttresses. Squinting reveals meagre detail and rotting threads, the age-old scenes long played-out and nearly invisible.

The past is a benevolent notion luring the unwary into its murk. I visited this place to enjoy a connection with history yet I sense a serpent is stuffed in the dungeons of this castle, its fat coils filling the dank cellars. My breath is puffs of condensation that hang like smoke. I stand motionless in the dread dark. Far off through a labyrinth maze of green-slime granite walls a thousand souls screaming from the bitter stone.

A glimmer of light pulls me moth-like. A heavy black door yawns onto a dazzling inner courtyard of close cut green and brilliant sunlight.
“There you are! We’ve been hunting all over for you.”
Blinking, I find the words, “I think I was lost.”

24 comments:

Kimberly said...

I love this...absolutely LOVE this!!!

I've done this myself many times, Your a dreamer.....something distracted you and you went off into your own world and your thoughts overtook your very soul.

You have my heart on this one PV....I love how you can 'peek' through the tunnel and get lost in what might be on the other side:)

Myst29 said...

Nice narration, idea, everything. I really liked it.

Perfect Virgo said...

Kimberly - this idea was kicking around for weeks but I couldn't find a way to express it. The dreamy angle was the trigger that finally made it hit the page.

I am a dreamer Kimberly, you spotted that. I love to get lost in thought, where the only rule is "there are no rules."

Myst29 - welcome. I've been spouting so much misery, horror, sentimentalism and confessional lately that a change was in order.

Kimberly said...

I know this all too well coz I get lost in thought one too many times, usually at the wrong moment..:)

Kimberly said...

It's almost midnight but I had to read this again before I hit the sack. I love this so much...SSSSsssoooooooo so much :)

transience said...

that last line was powerful for me. like it showed life itself in some waking dream. masterfully done, pv.

Patry Francis said...

The archway, the words, both seem to lead to an ancient place, a new vision.

Perfect Virgo said...

Kimberly - I am knocked out that you should be so excited by this. Off to bed now, it's late!

Transience - a few words hover in the mind, they don't hang together well so you shelve them. Weeks later another approach takes shape and the original thought shifts ever so slightly and it emerges as a daydream. That was how the style for this was born.

Patry - welcome. Fascinating to imagine centuries-old ancestors treading on the same inches as we do. Whatever would they think of the adjustments we have made to their world? Horrifying for them I think, at least in parts.

The archway seemed symbolic of a portal between ancient and modern.

finnegan said...

This is a frighteningly terrific condensation of time and place and tactile subtlety P.V.

Following you from the world of rehearsed familiarity (symbolised by the guide) through the labyrinth of forboding medieval detail, and "back to the future past", was akin to riding a masterfully designed theme park ride.

This sort of writing makes me glad that I can read English.

NMAMFQLMSH said...

Once again I am swept away by your words.
Peace,
JJ

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - I'm glad you spotted the directions from present to past. I hoped the reader would gather the same sense of dreamy unreality that I did.

JJ - so pleased you enjoyed today's words.

Grace said...

Youre writing is getting stronger PV, fantastic stuff! I hope to be back on the circuit now I am less busy! :-)

V said...

Fantastic writing. I especially liked this part:

"My feet tread in prints left by ancient men..... "

Perfect Virgo said...

Grace - welcome back, glad you like the fresh style! Not so busy, eh? I expect plenty of posting then my friend!!

V - thanks for your feedback. I am always fascinated to learn which phrases people latch on to. I must admit I liked that one too.

finnegan said...

i've always wondered where the light comes from in dreams.

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - your comment just prompted me to re-read and I counted at least 5 references to light! A mixture of natural and artificial. Presumably as our dreams are references to our daily life, they need light as a 'given' because that is the way we make sense of the world.

Imagine a dream with no light. God that's frightening...

Kimberly said...

yes, a dream with no light....

I shudder at the thought,
would that be considered a nightmare?

RuKsaK said...

Lovely description - you took me there with you - your description so good that my spirit jumped on your shoulder gently, went back there with you, and saw just as you did and felt the same.

Me and you were there together Perfect.

Perfect Virgo said...

Kimberly - yes it would have to be a nightmare...

Ruk - thanks for taking the journey with me, I thought you might. I felt a wee bit self-indulgent here, allowing more descriptive rein than usual.

Dionysius said...

Excellent writing PV. I have been on a trip for the past couple of weeks and have just caught up on the blogs.
You most definitely have the talent to write and make a living from it. You should make a collage of your selected offerings and look for wider audiences.

recoveryroad said...

Great picture. You have a good eye for interesting views of our nearest city.

Perfect Virgo said...

Dionysius - I wondered where you went! Thank you for your very kind words. I am reaching a crossroads at work, about which I hope to write much more later. Suffice to say for now your suggestion is on my mind...

Kenny - I knew you would recognise the view straight away! It did rather seem to fit today's story though so I plucked it off my hard drive.

The Flea said...

Splendid Virgo -- no way else to put it. You drew me straight into your own mind, the past and your present surroundings.

I agree with V -- the line about the footprints of ancient men was gold, so too the dust in the beam of light. And of course I can't forget the final line. No doubt, you were lost, lost in revery.

P.S. Isn't Kimberly's new photo lovely?

Perfect Virgo said...

Flea - I tend to like my own company a lot of the time, so shunning a guided tour was an accurate scenario. We've talked about this before I think, if the reader can see video rolling in his mind's eye than the writer's descriptions have done their job.

Pieces of dreamy realism suit the short haul, I'm not sure a longer descriptive piece would work. "Too concentrated" springs to mind. Perhaps if I tackled something longer I should ration dense passages like this one.

Are we talking about the tasteful 'skinny arm' shot? Lovely, very feminine...