The seven had come to the round building near the sea. The cylindrical structure, unlike the other post-calamity buildings in Marin, was not made of same transparent gel; it was made of something like concrete and stones; an admixture of large turquoise and brown burnt sienna concrete blocks held the building together; only its dark brown portico remained visually simple, and even that simplicity was deceptive, for a great many small details had been carved into the large stones at the base of its impressive Corinthian columns. In Marin’s other buildings, the gel structures would automatically adjust to the desires or the needs of the people in a particular room or working on certain floor, leaving light grey to black patches on otherwise pellucid, ovoid shapes. No, this building was neither pellucid nor ovoid. It stood about thirty-meters tall, high by Park standards but not impressively so for Marin, and it stood alone. Overlooking the grand Pacific from a grassy hill that rolled to an abrupt cliff, which rocky and barren fell some twenty meters; below cliff sat a beautiful, small sandy beach where the waves made their perpetually punctual and timeless sound. A large, white-topped rock protruded from the sea; it was known as Gull Rock, and could be seen as the group of seven approached the hill’s apogee. The group had been transported at high speed out of Marin Central, next to the Bay, crossing Marin in a northwesterly diagonal. But about a kilometer from their destination, the silver bullet, floating on a thin gravivector line, stopped. The only way in: a narrow, well-tended and simple pebble footpath.
The seven visitors passed through the portico, with large columns made of a type of concrete. Two massive, carved wooden doors opened easily as Morph Zed placed his hands on each one. Inside, a large rotunda, tiled floors and many intricate pieces of art — paintings, sculpture, and some textiles — from a variety of cultures and religious traditions, hung on the walls or sat on pedestals, under a large cofferred, concrete dome. The objects hugged the walls, sat on planks attached to the structure, or inside small alcoves, leaving most of the interior space empty. A series of sunken panels led the eye directly to a large opening at the top, an oculus. White, soft blue light – the sky of the California coast – could be seen without the interruptions of glass or gel. An opening directly to the heavens. All seven looked up at the aperture in silence. Most of the trip had been in silence. In fact, until the pebble foot path, all of the trip had been in silence; everyone knew that they must keep quiet until they reached The Temple. Barefoot, all, their feet felt the cool tiles below them.
“Metrically, it’s an exact replica of The Pantheon in Rome. Of course, the materials are quite different. A former lover of mine, an artist, designed and built this place. He said, ‘this will be a retreat from the world you are bringing with you.’ I did not fully understand him at the time, but he was so young, so beautiful, I could not resist his requests. He looked the image of statue from Greek antiquity. He and several others, mostly very young, stayed out here during the Event. For seven days the Earth, pummeled with two coronal mass ejections, glowed. Of course, staying underground seemed prudent, as marauding gangs, the heavily armed white nationalists, could be anywhere. None of our devices, at that time, could withstand the geomagnetic storms. And we saw no reason to dispatch people with conventional weapons given that we were safely in the Central Nexus. Shortly afterwards, he and the others left The Temple, as it became called…” The Premier looked north for a moment. “Just over the next hill, is something he had me rescue. I sent a retrieval drone to the Lower Lough Erne, the site of one of Ireland’s most fascinating stone sculptures, the Boa Island bilateral figure. After the Convergence, I will show you.” Morph Zed had become softer, his figure less authoritarian; his voice more reverent, as though this place had, for several extended moments, displaced the decades of cynicism that calcified on his soul as lightning interrupts the night’s darkness.
Everyone wore black robes. While they were soft and easy to wear, they were also thick and warm. As the sun advanced down below the water and the temperature decreased. They lifted their hoods over their heads. No technology would warm them here. “Dr Smithson, you, aside from myself and the Premier, are the only other person to have visited here prior to to-day.” Kyoto made this remark while looking directly at Mar. Mar, more than recovered, looked some twenty-and-ten years younger. Her depression had subsided. An effect of her reunion with Shattered and the regenerative medical intervention she received after her stroke. Her mind had been freed. She had not felt so free of worry, so stimulated and inspired since the late 2020s: a decade, which while it brought her professional success, pressed her mind to its limits, allowed her to break barriers scientifically and culturally, had always been a time that she also longed to forget. Her recent regeneration made her think, despite her insistence on the empirical over the mystical, yet for lack of better words, herself reborn. “Yes, I recall coming here, in… 2030. Antonio, no Alessandro, was his name. The artist. Very attractive young man. Did he…?”
“He left, there is a sanctuary where he and several others, about a dozen, have taken a vow of silence and lived for sometime; it is about a kilometer north of here. They built simple rock huts, and they live in conditions that are less advanced, for lack of a better word, than even those of Park’s most technophobic enclaves.” Morph said this stoically as he sat at the edge of the circle delineating the water line from the sky hole. The others followed: Mar, Shattered, Kyoto, Brook, Kenya and Kyoto’s mother. She had been especially quiet, and no one addressed her. She seemed to float above the ground, between this world and another, between this time and another; she was both there and not there. Spectral, yet she inspired neither admiration nor fear; she simply went unnoticed, unrecognized as though infinitesimal. This condition, this state of being nowhere, at least not here, utterly changed when she spoke.
“I am Hiroko.” Time itself seemed to stop. The woman spoke English, with a strong Japanese accent. Yet, despite the isolation of Marin and Park, and their distance from Japanese speakers who spoke English as a second language, and not as a contemporaneously acquired language – as with many of Japanese-American families in Park, or Japanese and Japanese-Americans in Marin, the heavy accent had no effect. Her foreignness was not located in her elocution. Her presence became so clear, so heavy, so material that Shattered thought, for a moment, perhaps he was hallucinating. Hiroko seemed to enter their space and time fully, and the wave of her entrance overwhelmed Kenya, Brook and Shattered. Mar and Morph Zed had experienced this phenomena before, and Kyoto, being kin, had no reaction. Wave after wave of emotion passed through their bodies; past, present and future made no sense.
“Those new to meeting me, please be patient; the feeling will pass. You are experiencing spaciotemporal vertigo. I exist, at this moment, your moment, here. Yet I am also elsewhere. This may seem a paradox to our new comers. Many people on this planet, throughout the ages, philosophers and scientists, averred that time, in this universe, to be something like a block, whereby everything already had happened and one could walk through the so-called fourth-dimension as one does a hallway; if only one had the ability to fully sense it. Others surmised that time moved based entirely on the second-law of thermodynamics, entropy, leading to greater and greater randomization. Some thought these two could be compatible. Others looked at quantum states and noted that past and future conditions could create the present, at least on subatomic level. Larger physical bodies, mass itself, could never be retro-causal. Dr Smithson’s work in the late 2020s led to a great New Era, with her work on graviphotons opening the door to the empirical examination of the fifth dimension, which had previously been an analytical or mathematically legitimate construction.”
The large Pantheon seemed to shrink, enlarge and shrink again. All spacial and time references became completely useless. Shattered moved his palm up and looked at his hand, only to see he had already placed it back on the floor. Kenya rubbed her left eye, then realized it had already been rubbed. Brook became unconscious; he looked at his body laid out on the floor in deep sleep. Mar laughed. “It’s been years since I went on this merry-go-round!” She looked at Shattered, her hand reached out and grabbed his sweaty palm. For Shattered, she said it again. And repeated it again. “S, you will be fine!” Mar shouted again. And again. And again. Then he recalled her sitting in silence moments before. Neither repetition nor reversal made any sense anymore. Morph Zed sat with his eyes closed. All were sitting cross-legged on black cushions. Kyoto made no movements. Kenya looked at Hiroko – I have never seen something, someone so… there, here. So clearly. It’s like the walls of my senses have fallen and I am… “Having direct contact with the thing-in-itself?” Hiroko finished the thought, looking directly Kenya. “How did you know what I was thinking?” “You were speaking to me.” “Speaking?” “Yes, thoughts are a form of language, I have been… what’s the best word… modified for communication at the neural level.”
Space, time, place, proximity and distance. Space, time, place, proximity and distance. Shattered tried to remember these things. He could think of them abstractly, but not experience them. His body, sitting on its cushion, in this Temple built metrically the same as the Pantheon in Rome, a place he’d never seen in person, in Marin, next to the Pacific Ocean, doors facing the south; he tried to recollect these facts. Facts and metrics and clocks and movements and time and objects – right? Right. “Gently let your breathing settle, Shattered.” Hiroko addressed him directly. Slowly, his knowing adjusted. By degrees he knewfelt Hiroko. Good Shattered, you have come. Mar is here. Morph is here. Kyoto is here. Your friends have come, meaning they are coming, just they will know sooner than after the now. Thoughts of the four blended into a grand assemblage. Memories, dreams and reflections of Kenya and Brook interpenetrated into this one-knowing. As a spider makes a web, a pattern, a design, Hiroko no longer had the representation of one person. She was the locus of an aggregation, a semi-organized jumble of mindbodies, of fleshthoughts.
Now we are all here. I have a message for you: […………………………….]. Everyone’s knowing immediately comprehended the entire message. The next day Shattered awoke in his bed; the bed he slept in for thirty-days, in Marin Central. The sheets felt cool. He felt rested. He knew what to do. Shattered, whole? No, the whole is an approximation of many holes. We need gaps to remain. I am Shattered, for a purpose.
*featured image: Courtesy of MoMa