The Kings of Sand and Order

(written partially with Robin Sloan’s Voyages in Sentence Space tool)


We couldn’t find ourselves until the day was just right. The whole shop was in the dark shroud of thick curtains, with the uniformed projectors under their dustcloths. Whip open the windows, let the curtains fall, and let the gold dust drift on down in the broad sunbeams.

Dear friend, the adventurer, the one who waits and watches, the museum-lover, the last knower: perhaps it was not right of me to tease her, after she lost Saturn and fell to us, ringless. We’re all just governments in the midst of internal coups, trying to get going, get started again, somehow. Not lose.

“Just tell me, though, if you think my old art is holding you back.” I move with vigor now, as I yank the coverings to the floor and power on the projections.

She looks around. “Never, Jim. I’m just glad to absorb it. At least now I know it’s all trickery.” Lazily draping an arm down to rest on a crumpled tarp on the floor, she whips it up and around like a flag. “You have no idea what you’re really revealing,” she laughs. Dust flies in whirlwinds.

I take a step, adjusting. Balancing myself on a curve of dappled sunlight carving shadow on the dusty boards. “No. But, there is still, always, somewhere… that combined pattern that has beauty within it.” Reaching up, I twist the focus ring. “The one crystallized experience we always strive for.”

As the projections come into focus on the ceiling and blend with the setting sunlight, she turns on the floor-lights and begins to absentmindedly practice dance steps.

The room becomes one of the ninety million moons of the earth. She is lit by them, golden. She obstructs my lights and my plans.

“We may need never understand, doctor. A few minutes to bring back the order, please.” Now she dances, as if trying to absorb all the light.

I stare and smile, thinking about someone else, another time, another place.