Recreating The Devil
Sketching the devil from Codex Gigas in water colors was a fun project! 🙂
Photo courtesy wikimedia
How The Singularity Arrived
My micro-fiction at 365tomorrows – https://365tomorrows.com/2019/08/14/how-the-singularity-arrived/
The Days of the Gray Skies
That is a small tortoise. Or, is it a turtle? Didn’t the scriptures from Naumachia make such a prediction? Lernilo had told her,
“A thick shelled meek one will show the way.
The black fox will do away with the gray skies.”
Cryptic writings from yellowed and decaying papyrus. Did it really show the way to her destiny? Away from this world which has lacked in both color and in spirit? And, no animals – until now. Dressed in a black garb is she the black fox? Thoughtfully she looks up, only to find the sun straight up above her head.
* * *
A time ago, she was very ill. And, then one day she got well and daringly flew out of her room. It was as if a wizard with a long silvery beard and a pointy hat from a distant fairyland had waved his magic wand and conjured up the impossible. She fancied herself with a ‘big W’ on her bright red shirt teamed with a yellow cape. She flew away far until the houses down below looked like toys. She joyfully rode the wind, and smiled to herself. Often across the clouds she would hear the name ‘VANESSA’ being whispered into her ears. Who is Vanessa?
She was someone else, no more the girl on the bed who just would not get well. She did not wish to come back to home, and maybe she was not supposed to. She played with the clouds and chased the birds. She waved to an airplane and giggled at the passengers staring at her from the tiny windows. A little later she yelled at the top of her voice, “Hey there mister!” startling a high flying rider on his glider. She wished to see a hot-air balloon but there were none. And then, almost suddenly, a tear in the sky made her tumble in the clouds and reach Rhyfeddod.
At first it looked like a poorly made pencil sketch and then as she came closer to the surface she started to see more of it. Piroja clear ocean, gray skies, and a yellow sandy beach. Three colors broadly dictated the settings – blue, yellow and gray. But, it seemed that the blue and the yellow were shaded out from the parent gray, than as distinct colors. She descended down to the beach with some inkling that she is in a new world. She looked back at herself, and she found that she was now dressed in a cloak of coal color – rather licorice. An irony for a world which had never seen the night.
Walking on the beach she came across 2156 medium sized cubes made of Lonsdaleite, polished and shiny. Not too big, neither too small. And, one of them moved just a wee bit to catch the edge of her eye. Getting closer she struck up a conversation with this cube and got to know that this place is named ‘Rhyfeddod’ and the cube’s name is ‘Lernilo’.
She left the cubes and the beach behind and a gentle stroll of a few hundred odd yards led her to the magnificent ruins of a mesaionikós city. The city stood in silence, not a soul to talk to. It must have been a sprawling civilization with the palace, the marketplace, the observatory, cobbler’s shop, medicine man’s clinic, granaries, the court of law, the amphitheater and a myriad of houses. Everything, but disused and covered in a thick layer of dust. The metal parts had started to wear out. At least rust added a touch of sabuja to the mundane drab of three repetitive colors. Yet, no trees, no grass. The sand had prodigiously taken over, and the ruined city looked like an extension of the sandy beach – more sandy yellow to follow the sandy yellow beach. Peering past the vast ruins, beyond the clock tower and beyond the slender minarets it led to an unforgiving and unending desert. The people had left without a care. Maybe they had got tired of perpetual day, clear ocean, yellow sand, and gray skies? Did they all jump on to a ship and set sail to destinations beyond the ocean’s horizon?
After her survey, she trotted back to Lernilo at the shore of the ocean.
“2155 mutes and one talking cube, is that all we have here?”
Lernilo spoke into her mind, “You can be the 2157th cube and add one more to the talking crowd?”
“Or, maybe I can take a new name?” she said.
“That is also an option,” the cube said.
“How about being a saint? santo? I am the only human here and hopefully God will not have any qualms to call me a holy soul?”
“Hmm … and since you can already fly, talk to Lonsdaleite cubes and travel across worlds in a flash … that makes for the three miracles,” the cube sure had done its homework.
“… and I am sure Mister Cube that you can dig out stories of some good saint who was put to death and then resurrected to eternal life, we can always play it around?”
“Let us go with Vanessa, as that name has often been troubling you. Saint Vanessa less saintly but surely more feminine than the licorice cloak makes you look” that was blatant hash-tag humor-me from the cube.
“Not very bad and I didn’t need to die to get resurrected for my sainthood” she said with a suggestive smile.
The cube did not reply. It had a tendency to go dumb after answering a few questions. Vanessa left the cubes and walked toward the ruins. There was a flutter in the air as the ocean slapped the beach fervently. The ruins shook up to an earthquake and stones rolled down the cliff. It was not too intense, yet a stone hit her on the head and knocked her out.
* * *
Vanessa came to her senses, it was raining. She opened her mouth to get a taste of the water and it tasted like … strawberry. She could hear a rhyme, though nobody spoke.
* The Mystery of Rhyfeddod *
Wonderful ruins, tell me who you are?
I come to find your tale, a journey too far,
Who were your people, who was your czar?
Where did you go? was there a curse in your stars?
Cubes on the beach,
And shadows hardly make a reach,
Not a soul in the street,
An empty palace, reminding me of Crete
Where are the Rhyfeddodians?
Did they set sail like the Phoenicians?
Or, go around the globe to find the Indians?
Or, did they plan to catch a bounty at the Caribbean?
Why did I arrive here?
Seas abound, and am I the sole buccaneer?
To witness your ruins as a licorice seer?
Or, to write about you as a William Shakespeare
Saint Vanessa, A flying saint,
A talking cube … quaint,
A world which is ain’t,
… or is it all a feint?
She sat up and wondered on the words, Czar? Crete? Phoenicians? William-who? Is there any other soul in this painted landscape who wrote this rhyme? Finding answers was not the order of the day, and she did not try to push her destiny too far. With nothing else to do, she walked down to the beach.
“Lernilo, are you talking now?”
One of the cubes did a little jig as though to attract her attention. Is it Lernilo? Didn’t it go mute at the far end of the big mess of the cubes?
“Are you … Lernilo?” she asked in surprise with a fleeting voice.
“Oh! Yes, I am the hablador” the cube replied.
“Do all of you take turns to talk? Is that how it happens? Take turns to be the hablador?”
“Oh yes, what a big confusion it would be if all of us were to talk at the same time. 2156 voices of cacophony.” The cube replied.
“Can all of you think? And only one speaks” she asked in utter disbelief.
“Why, aren’t you one of us?” The cube asked.
“Of course not, I am a human being not a cube” Vanessa replied in a revolting tone.
“It is believed that all of us used to be something like you, with hands and legs, but seems the great artist wanted us to be nothing more than cubes.”
Vanessa did not reply, looked on. The cube continued.
“We are all cubes, as time melts away”
Vanessa did not reply to that bit of poetry either. The cube kept up its ante.
“All of us see you as another cube. Maybe you are new in here, but we are not too different. In time, things may change, and of course there is the prophecy.”
“Prophecy …!” Vanessa was already on the edge of her rational beliefs when the cube added another dose of uber fantasy.
“Your arrival was always expected. The scriptures from Naumachia said that,
“A thick shelled meek one will show the way.
The black fox will do away with the gray skies.”
and, we all wait for it to happen.” Lernilo said.
“Why am I the black fox? Don’t you think that a saint should not be referred as a fox?”
This time the cube didn’t reply – its time was up.
“Silly cube” Vanessa muttered to herself as she walked away. The sun was up in all its might, unmistakably straight over her head. It was then she realized that she has never felt hungry in her entire stay, nor has nature called on her …
“Thick shelled meek one” she said to herself in the hope that the proverbial bulb of intelligence will light up in her mind. Did that mean the cubes? After all, they all have a thick shell, and they all are meek – at least their hablador is a shy one for sure. It could have also meant a person with an intimidating appearance and a shy personality. It can mean a pearl in its shell, a magical pearl which will lift the existential curse of this place.
She was exhausted. She walked towards the ruined city in search of a calming shadow, a place to rest and sleep.
* * *
“This medicine is still in experimental phase. It has been tried on only 2000 odd people across the globe. Dr.Wolfe, you really want my wife on this medicine?” Rudolph is far from calm, and his rhetoric lacks any semblance of humor.
“This medicine has been tried on 2156 patients across the globe over the last four years, 1081 in the US, 62 in Canada, 511 in Europe and 18 in Australia. I cannot claim anything yet, but one of the patients at the Milton trauma center had been put on this treatment last spring and he came to his senses and is doing well. As on the previous occasion I will need your consent. Any information about your wife will be most useful as we are dealing with a mind and trying to resuscitate it with known pieces of information and thought patterns. A brain is not a mind; we really cannot restructure her thoughts with artificial neuronal impulses …”
The door opens interrupting the doctor’s explanation and the nurse on duty shows a little girl into the room.
“Daddy!” The little girl smiles at Rudolph.
“Daddy, is mommy still sleeping? How can she sleep for this long?”
“Vanessa, mommy is not well. We are trying. Dr. James Wolfe is helping us.” Rudolph replies as he introduces the doctor to Vanessa.
“Hello Dr. Wolfe, when will my mommy wake up?”
“I am trying. It can be anytime soon.” the doctor replies with a reassuring nod.
“…is that also Lonsdaleite?” The doctor curiously asks Rudolph as he looks at the pendant on Vanessa’s neck.
“Yes, Lonsdaleite has been a zen-like connection for Louisa. We met at Crete, she was studying the history of medieval civilizations and I was surveying the geology of the island – minerals in the eastern Mediterranean area, Lonsdaleite among them. Our wedding ring and Vanessa’s pendant – both are made of Lonsdaleite – it is the strongest known mineral. Louisa also gave my mother a similar pendent. ” Rudolph says.
“You did tell me that she is a double major in English literature and medieval European history, and has a doctorate on Mediterranean cultures. You also told me that she is a published poet.” Dr. Wolfe says.
“Yes, Louisa’s doctoral thesis was on, ‘The Long Term Impact of the East–West Schism of 1054 on the Mediterranean Cultures’. Languages, societies and cultures have always appealed to her. Other than English, she can speak Spanish and Welsh fluently, she had picked up bits and pieces of Indian languages during her stay in India for three years. For her doctoral research, she had to learn a few of the biblical languages, such as ancient Hebrew and Amharic. ”
“Anything else, which may help us …” the doctor asks trying to find more pieces to the proverbial jigsaw.
“We got married in a small fishing village in rural Norway; it was her idea, so sun never sets on our love. She had wished to read our vows on a hot air balloon, unfortunately our minister did not agree to it. She often reads fairy tales to Vanessa. She is not into pets, but enjoys visits to the local aquarium. The weekend prior to the accident she had taken Vanessa to watch Wonder Woman. And, her favorite artist is Salvador Dali, her favorite composer is Franz Liszt, favorite poet is Coleridge and her favorite author is Julio Cortázar. Then again, I am not sure if these bits and pieces of information are of any help to you James.”
“For all I guess Louisa can listen to us. Her brain scans reveal that she has brain activity – she can think. The previous medication, Licorice-4G32 got her brain working, but it seems that she has not been able to connect thoughts with facts with the happenings of this real world. I would wish to believe that she can dream and experience a very fake and weird reality of some sort.” James explains.
“Licorice-4G32, didn’t you say that it is designed on turtle brain DNA?” Rudolph asks.
“Yes, and it is still in testing phase. Since the developmental process draws serum from turtle’s brain tissues, I am not sure if we can ever get it to the commercial market. Animal rights activists will be at our throats. Trading a turtle for a human being may trigger debates in the ethical circles. The new drug is named Black-Cox, after the two scientists who discovered it – Jonathan Black and Adele Cox. It should yield results in the next 36 hours. As a start, we can play Liszt around her for about 15 hours in a day. And, maybe Vanessa can visit her twice, an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. And, can we get a few of Dali’s cubist paintings up on these walls? The psychic healing process has to start from inside.”
* * *
She looks back at the tortoise and then walks towards it. She picks it up in her hands. There are strange markings on its shell, ‘ታገሱም, ተመላሾች ናችሁ‘. Is that magical? Vanessa wonders as she touches the markings. The turtle is amused and lets out a yawn and turns its neck to look at her.
Then! she spots a gaping hole not too far away. The turtle must have risen out from it – a turtle hole. She puts the turtle down and walks up to the edge of the turtle hole and is surprised to find stairs leading into it. She can hear the melody of a piano concert playing far away – deep inside the turtle hole. She has listened to this composition previously. Should she follow this tune into the turtle hole? Will the black fox indeed do away with the gray skies?
Spontaneity wins over logic, and she walks into the turtle hole – a leap of faith, a chance with predestination and the hope to see newer worlds.
Man and Dog
Pencil Sketch, made on 4th August 2019.
Painted on 18 July 2019
Painted on 3 July 2019.
Painted with only 2 colours – black and white, on 10th July 2019.
Painted on 17 July 2019. Plagiarized from Van Gogh’s ‘Wheatfield with Crows‘
The Real, which I couldn’t Escape
I flew in the sky, and my mind seemed to leaf through a picture book.
Then the frog croaked, and the bird sang, and I found that the real world is not bad either.
Moon and the Lonely Road
Sketched on 7th July 2019