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And then they spoke, saying: "Tell us about the lake."

Problem being, he didn't much remember seeing one. He stood (or was it sitting, but suspended?) in the center of the room, feeling both lit and unlit, cast in darkness and at the same time basking in the brilliance of a thousand suns.

And then they spoke again, and they said: "Tell us about the lake."

He scratched his head and sighed. "Erm," he said. "Well, I . . . that is, it's, ah . . . it's deep. No, scratch that -- very deep. Right." He cleared his throat, his lips straining from the effort of a forced grin.

There was the suggestion of blinking.

And then they spoke, saying: "What?"

"Alright, look. I never really saw any lake. It was all these . . . these fountains and all. And they were all broken, anyway, so maybe you lot just screwed it up, eh?"

"Tell us about the City, then."

"Tell us of the City where the Bastion fell."

"The City of Verdant Walls."

"Of fountains."

"Of water."


He groaned. "Fine," he said slowly. "I saw . . . No, hold on. First thing to know, it's built all on of these cliffs near the mountain [shore? But the trees had grown beyond the sea and further, where the waves felt chafed by their roots]." He paused. "Get out of my head," he growled.


"What did I just say?" He swept aside his unkempt hair with a distracted hand. "Now, where was I? Right. Cliffs. Jungle kind of wraps around it from the canopy proper, so the boulevards are all crossed with giant trees."

"Tell us of the fountains."

"I'm getting there, aren't I? Fountains. Right. You know, it's funny. The buildings were mostly fine. There were these pillars and arches - you'd never guess, from the size of them, that a man could've built . . . anyway, it was crazy. And most of them are still fine, if you don't count the moss between the stones."

"We find the fact encouraging."

"Tell us of the fountains."

[The glistened like jewels, robed in ten dozen pasts and twice as many futures, unrealized]--

"Stop that! No, you're wrong, they were . . . none of the fountains were in one piece; they were shattered. Chunks, taken out of the rims and bowls and the little bronze nozzles at the top."

"Tell us of the Hall of Dining Kings."

"Sorry, the what? I didn't -- look, to be honest, I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. There wasn't anyone there, you see. I was alone, and the fountains were broken, and there were all these spires and arches and lonely wide roads with no one and nothing around."

"Tell us of the bones."

"There weren't any, aren't you listening? There wasn't anything but the city, and me, and . . . right. By the way, those fountains: they still had water in them. They still worked, but it's . . . odd."


They didn't -- they -- well. They felt wrong. Just had chunks of rock taken out of them, and the water was still flowing, but it was like something was missing; more than just the rocks, if it makes any sense."

Silence filled the empty seconds.

"Tell us of the birds."

He thought about this for a moment, before saying: "I don't think I heard any. That's weird, isn't it? I mean, jungles are usually lousy with birds, but I didn't hear a thing."

"Are you sure?"

"Be certain."

"Be sure."


"I'm -- I'm sorry, I don't know. There was nothing. It was quiet."

[Silence creeps in stages.]

"Tell us of the fountains."

"I told you already, they were broken."

"Tell us of the sky."

He frowned. "It was . . . gray, I think. Like fine silver."

"Your own words?"

"The ones that came to mind."

"Your mind, or another's?"

"Tell us of the fountains."

"Where am I?"

[A dozen pasts, now juxtaposed]

"Tell us"--

[what is the night?]

"Where have they hidden the fountains?"

[It is but]

"Tell us of the birds."

"The silent birds."

[the absence of day]

"I said get out . . . "

"Tell us of silence."

"Of silver."

"Of life."

"Please, I can't"--


"Tell us."

"Be certain."

"Of the fountains."

"Be SURE."--

"I don't understand, let me think, I can't"--


He woke with a scream that was only a gasp, clutching the empty sheets closely to his heaving chest. Dream, dream, only a dream . . .

But of what?

He blinked rapidly, and strange pictures crept behind his brain. Outside, the sun was rising, and already the phone by his bed was chortling to Marcie's ringtone. Something important was happening, but at the moment he couldn't recall what that was.

Something clenched his soul. Grimacing, he poured himself a glass of water from the tap, and took a seat at the table. This was ridiculous. He had enough to worry about, without focusing on things that weren't real. There were enough things to worry about, so very important to the point where even he couldn't remember what they were. He frowned. Why couldn't he remember?

Where were


the fountains?

No. No. He shook his head. He was tired, that was it. He hadn't gone to sleep until . . . until . . .

Until late. Too late. He was too busy for nonsense. Grabbing his tie and pants, he stepped into the bathroom, intent on a shower.

The tap was kept on, still running, and the sun played patterns on its flow.

February 26, 2020 14:55

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1 comment

Mario Carini
08:22 Mar 06, 2020

Short. A psychologic epic. Has a sense of mystery. Is it a dream, or a strange sense of reality. It's a good story for the prompt.


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