The Unfinished World

 

 

 

The Unfinished World (Extract from the Unfinished SF novel, “The Web of Aoullnnia”)

 

(…)  During my stay on Azerynn, I had the occasion to render a small service to a fam whom I judged to be Majentian when I saw her dismantling the blades of her craft. One of the circular  tigh-pins had fallen and rolled away : I successfully spotted it on the ground. The fam nodded in gratitude but said nothing though she must certainly have spoken Andirax. Her brown eyes rapidly searched me as we stood confronting each other, and I received a peculiar sensation at the base of my spine. Small even for a Northern Majentian, and, as far as I could judge, with scarcely developed breasts, the fam had short, light brown hair and regular features, neither good nor bad. For some reason this casual encounter made a sharp impression on me and I vainly  looked out for the opportunity to get close to her during the communal ceremonies. However, she paid no attention to me, if anything making a point of avoiding me in the halls.

            It was now the penultimate day of my visit and I no longer expected to see the object of my fixation. To my surprise, however, when I passed the  extreme right hangar I found her standing in front of it trying unsuccessfully to raise the door. She beckoned me over, not looking at me directly. I was able to see that a ball-bearing had slipped out of place and I soon managed to open the sliding door. The Majentian rushed into the hangar showing signs of extreme distress and I heard her uttering terms of endearment as if she were addressing a domestic pet. I eventually realised that she was speaking to her scobter. I saw her stroking the wings as, with infinite precaution, she  wheeled out the machine, apparently taking no further notice of me. But once the craft was outside in the bright sunshine, the strange fam  casually indicated the passenger seat. Taken aback, I took my  place in the machine without really thinking what I was doing. The scene had an air of partial reality about it, akin to certain dreams.

            In moments we were in the air. The fam was occupied with the controls and took no more notice of me.

            ‘Where are we going?’ I asked a little later.

            ‘Rhewenia,’ she replied without turning her head.

 

            Rhewenia, or the Unfinished World, was the last creation of the Sarlang. Towards the end of their reality-span the Sarlang lost interest in the physical world altogether and spent the greater part of their time exploring the Manifest Non-Occurrent. This is a sort of half-world, made up in part of dreams and wishes, but for all that possessing a certain density. By projection, the Sarlang succeeded in extending the inhabitable part of this enormous domain  — it already exceeded the entire physical universe many times over — and eventually they created a new continent which became known as Rhewenia  because it was never completed (‘rhewenin’ means ‘unfinished’ in Katylin). After the dissolution of the Sarlang Rhewenia remained unvisited by humans for a long time but it was eventually  discovered by several persons simultaneously, probably under the influence of Extasense. Since then it has become a favourite landing-ground of people who visit  the Manifest Non-Occurrent, usually aided by drugs, and, for this reason, acquired a dubious reputation, so much so that the Magnatte, the current dominants, closed it off (or so we have been told) and extremely few people manage to visited it these days. In Majentia, however, which is a semi-autonomous part of Sarwhirlia, the population is  not subject to our customs and regulations.

            I had no particular desire to travel to Rhewenia but it seemed too late to do anything and I tried to relax as much as I could while my pilot busied herself with the craft. To enter Rhewenia one has, reputedly, to cut through a ‘seam’ in a particular kind of cloud : this is not at all an easy task even for a skilled pilot but seemingly we managed it for a little later we burst into the turquoise coloured sky of the Unfinished World which I recognized from Far-View programmes. We drifted along without incident until my companion brought the craft down onto a vast beach. It was entirely empty and behind us there were occasional bushes and scrub, otherwise there were endless dunes whipped about by the wind into extravagant shapes but otherwise not so different from certain coastlines on Sarwhirlia. We alighted from the craft after she indicated that I should divest myself of all my garments. The ‘sand’ was more like crumpled plyne and if one took it into one’s hands it dematerialised at once though it was substantial enough to the soles of my feet — I had taken off my footwear on entering the craft.

            My strange companion seemed to be waiting for something for she kept gazing intensely at the horizon. All I could see was lines of breakers coming in fast  though none of them actually reached the shore for the water at the beach’s edge remained completely still. After a while my companion became extremely animated and pointed to something. At first I could not make out anything at all but eventually I saw a sort white capsule only just visible against the water. It was not much larger than a diving-bell and had room for at most three or four persons inside it. If one looked more closely, one could make out a network of white ‘veins’ on the inside. While we stood  watching, the bubble came closer and closer to the shore until it was a few paces in front of us.

            ‘Enter at once,’ my companion shouted in my ear, ‘the bubble will not remain here for long.’

            For some reason there was a tremendous roaring in my ears which made it very difficult to hear what was going on, not a disagreeable sound in itself, something like what you sometimes hear from a conch shell.           

            ‘What are you waiting for?’ shouted the fam as the bubble began to recede. I had the feeling that whatever I did now would have vast and irretrievable consequences. I had not actually heard her last words : it was as if a block of emotional intensity had exploded inside my brain eventually transforming itself into a message.

            But I must have done something for all at once we were inside the capsule which closed around us like an eggshell. A viscous yellowish fluid trickled all over my skin; the touch was strange but not in itself disagreeable. I could no longer see or hear anything : all I knew was that I was being connected up to the being alongside me in a very definite way. It was not at all an emotional experience, more like the assembling of a mechanical device. I  was also reminded of diagrams of chemical bonds between substances in textbooks. It occurred to me that I was d*** but the thought was not at all frightening, rather the reverse. Confused memories of my past life rushed on me, of straylkha contests  had participated in,  various fam I had exchanged with at Lunkod or other sites. Then I was in an enclosure with other mamling : high above us was a vast blue dome. At the end  I was lying at the feet of a giantess straddling us like a tower.

            ‘Now, now, now!’ came a neural scream which I sensed in the abdominal region. A vast flood of  life-experience surged through me like liquid in a tube being passed to another container. At the same time into my awareness came unintelligible sensations, some exquisite, some hilarious, others frightening and repulsive. But before I could begin to make any sense of them I was overwhelmed by other and quite different sensations : it was as if the commotion had raised a layer of sediment from the lower depths of a pond. Life-forms long since extinct reached out to me like the tendrils of climbing plants. Inside me were vast plains covered with grasses as high as trees, swamps heaving with enormous worms their skin livid with yellow scales. Then I sank further back still, into a mucous submarine environment inhabited only by jellies and monstrous weeds. In the end even such sensations slipped away as I passed beyond the limits of bio-form altogether, though still seemingly connected to my companion. We were before life, before history. Nothing of all that had yet been actualized : the Manifest Occurrent consisted exclusively of minerals and inorganic substancs. The capsule itself was ceaselessly being plunged into a sort of froth which was all around us, at every instant it was shattered to a thousand pieces, only to emerge entire again and again. Strangely enough, I could see this happening as if I were looking in from the outside : I could even make out my own features and those of my companion. Where I was, there were no stable forms at all, not even inanimate ones, only flashings emerging and receding, surface scintillations which from time to time exploded into magnificent patterns only to be dispelled as soon as they formed. This was the sea of half-form, from which the Manifest Occurrent itself comes. I and my companion were ourselves no more than slightly more persistent oscillations on this radiant field, there was scarcely any difference between ourselves and what was all around us. I felt myself continuous with the whole of physical existence, or rather with the ground from which all these evanescent patterns emerged. Finally, there was nothing except these patterns quietening down and dispersing on the surface of something that was totally invisible and intangible. Nor was there need for more : the existence of this entity was entirely adequate as it was and beautiful beyond anything that words or sounds can portrary.

            All at once  I found myself on the sand once more : I could see the bubble moving away rapidly along with a medley of other shapes. An immense sadness swept through me : I was apart and alone. My companion stood alongside me, seemingly in an equivalent state : we were two beached fishes, gills opening and closing. The sparse vegetation and sand gradually materialized, even the scobter in which we had come. My companion took out two brown skolthhan from the craft and in silence threw one to me. We dressed in silence. The return flight was without incident, the transition to the Manifest Occurrent smoother than when we had arrived. On the Island everything was as it was before. I helped my companion wheel the scobter back into its hangar.

            “My name is Rhowdhia”, said my companion. “We will not meet again”. And during the rest of my brief stay I did not catch sight of my companion anywhere. Even I wondered whether the voyage had taken place.       

 

Transcriber’s Note : 

 

This piece is part of The Web of Aoullnnia, a collection of transmissions from the future sent back by a certain Yilkin I. Isellyion, an inhabitant of Sarwhirlia (the Earth) some 260 years from now. The incident recounted seems to have occurred while Yilkin was visiting  the sacred island of Azerynn (where he was subsequently interned).

       Other transmissions can be downloaded from this site, see the button on the left of the homepage marked  “The Web of Aoullnnia”.            

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