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INFINITY

WORDS BY Lewis Moore

Your eyes shift lazily in and out of focus as you gaze at, and now through, your computer screen. The bulk of the 50 storey tower sharpens and blurs but remains resolutely itself. You let out a small deflated sigh.

You attempt to refocus. But there is a dot. A small black dot in the centre of your screen. The dot expands and expands. Your screen seems to collapse in, a tunnel, projecting far beyond the monitor’s casing. As you look on bemused and slightly horrified, your tower is torn apart, as if by some great tornado. Sucking floor after floor into the black abyss. Unsure of what is happening you turn around, casting your gaze wildly around the office. The click and clatter of mice and keyboards continues unabated.

With no response from your colleagues you turn back to From the neighbouring building pour the lunch-crowd. You allow yourself to be subsumed into the collective desire for tired sushi, sandwiches and salad. Their bodies press against yours and for a time you are pulled with the rest. Jostling each other along the street for several hundred meters until you herniate into an alley. Boxes and bins line the walls, the latter voiding their pungent juices onto the cobbled bluestones, running downhill with the lane as it doglegs up ahead. Hesitant to re-emerge into the throng of humanity you poke your head around the corner and are met with an implausible sight. A statue, towering twenty feet tall above you. An enormous muscle bound figure holding a globe aloft, appears bizarre and out of place. Like some fibreglass theatre set, steel bands around his wrists and ankles, patches of semi-transparent resin play across his legs and arms, accentuating his musculature. You look back the way you have come, people pass by the mouth of the alley; not a single glance in your direction. The noise of the crowd is dulled now too; distant. Disconcerted but intrigued you look back at the figure, trying to spy some explanation for the ludicrous monument. Signs for bins, parking and laser hair removal litter the lane. Nothing to explain the statue, which your computer in time to see the foundations of the building sucked into the void, your screen now entirely empty. You blink, once, twice, three times. The hallucination persists. Standing up, you move away from your desk.

Some light. Some air. That’s all you need. As you retreat through bays of desks you sneak peeks over your shoulder at your monitor.

Stepping out onto the street the sun burns your eyes.

It stands in the sky, a fiery mass. As you stare at it the clouds begin to animate.

Quickly you shift your gaze to the footpath. The discoloured concrete providing less fodder for a mind evidently coming apart at the seams.

From the neighbouring building pour the lunch-crowd. You allow yourself to be subsumed into the collective desire for tired sushi, sandwiches and salad. Their bodies press against yours and for a time you are pulled with the rest. Jostling each other along the street for several hundred meters until you herniate into an alley.

Boxes and bins line the walls, the latter voiding their pungent juices onto the cobbled bluestones, running downhill with the lane as it doglegs up ahead. Hesitant to re-emerge into the throng of humanity you poke your head around the corner and are met with an implausible sight. A statue, towering twenty feet tall above you.

An enormous muscle bound figure holding a globe aloft, appears bizarre and out of place. Like some fibreglass theatre set, steel bands around his wrists and ankles, patches of semi-transparent resin play across his legs and arms, accentuating his musculature.

You look back the way you have come, people pass by the mouth of the alley; not a single glance in your direction. The noise of the crowd is dulled now too; distant.

Disconcerted but intrigued you look back at the figure, trying to spy some explanation for the ludicrous monument. Signs for bins, parking and laser hair removal litter the lane. Nothing to explain the statue, which to judge from the amount of trash built up around the base of the plinth, was certainly no newcomer to this place.

Venturing forward you notice for the first time a space beyond the figure. His bulk obscuring it, you slip through his legs to discover a set of sliding doors.

These slide lazily open, cool air pouring out.

You find yourself in a cinema lobby. The ticket booth to your right – beyond that, a concession stand. The space is deserted, but not derelict. The machinery of the space hums around you as you move forward across the soft purple carpet. The dramatically up-lit walls encircle you, stainless steel star-form columns spring sporadically from floor to ceiling between which you weave your way through. Past the candy bar. Fully stocked. A popcorn machine still idly popping for absent customers.

You enter a dimly lit corridor.

Numbers glow above doorways on either side of you, indistinct sounds trickling out as you pass.

You remain in awe of what you have found but the sheer strangeness of the situation begins to hit you.

The stress of it builds in you as you enter doorway ‘13’.

Rounding a corner you are met with a hundred faces turning to meet yours.

You are stricken, unable to move.

The faces, calm and empty, examine you. Appraising your significance as a threat before giving a small nod or smile, and returning to their work. The adrenaline continues to pump in your blood, your breathing heavy as you gaze in wonder at the scene that surrounds you.

Where seats would normally ramp down to the screen, there is a hillside, bright in afternoon sun. People dot the landscape, identically dressed, bent double or kneeling, picking fruit from low bushes, tossing it into baskets slung across their backs. In the distance, beyond the line of the cinema’s walls, small houses cluster together, orchards to the left, a herd of lowing cows to the right. The sound of children’s raucous play approaches from behind you before bursting through the same wall you lean against. The walls appear ghostly, a silvery half-presence hanging in the distant air, physical to you but inconsequential to the inhabitants of this strange little world.

You wander aimlessly across the cinema, resting for a time in the cool shade of a tree. The people speak little, but are friendly, and encourage you to assist with their labours. In minutes or perhaps hours the sun grows low and the people, thanking you, start their slow procession back to their homes, filing past and through the screen, leaving you alone.

A chill wind stirs across the empty pastoral landscape. You turn, and make your way back up to the corridor, which remains warm and still.

You stand for a time turning from to doorway to doorway. Pondering the significance of what you just witnessed.

You choose another doorway. Number ‘9’.

As you enter you are hit by a wall of sound, garbled voices layered again and again on top of each other, to the accompaniment of thousands of people pouring from one side of the cinema to the other, each of them with mouths clamped shut as their minds cascade out, tones from pain to joy filling the world of mute commuters.

You stumble out of the room shaken by the enormous volume and alien interactions of this other world.

Intrigued you run from entrance to entrance, peering in before rushing to the next. Here a world underwater, there a city overrun with jungle, in the next a metropolis hung high above earth; the glassy spires of grand buildings shrouded in wispy cloud.

As you enter Number ‘5’ there is a deep silence – your eyes take time to adjust to the low lighting. You find yourself witness to a grotesque scene. Low ceilinged and stretching as far as the eye can see; people, row after row, prone, on deep red, elaborately brocaded couches, tubes emerging from the crooks of their elbows and between their toes. All motionless, eyes closed with grins of ecstasy painted on their unmoving faces. High above you hear a clattering and beeping.

Backing out of the room you find yourself in the hallway once more, greatly disconcerted. Casting around you notice a door to what must be the projectionist’s booth.

Behind it a man sits, strapped in a chair. You move closer, he is oblivious. His body is perforated by runs of naked wire; electrodes covering his upper arms, back and the rear of his head. A set of bulky goggles are clamped to his face – projecting a bright light straight into his unblinking eyes. All the while his hands move frantically, tracing lines onto paper, which is pulled, sheet by sheet, into the maw of a whirring and beeping mechanism at his side. You shift your gaze from the man to the windows in front of him, looking down on to the world you just left. As you watch, lighting shifts, couches change in style and size, as do levels, figures are moved, copied and deleted. Worlds and lives changing in response to this decrepit creature’s whim.

Once again you find yourself in the purgatory of the hall when you notice another projectionist’s door. Eager and terrified to see if an equally grotesque sight awaits, you enter. An empty room. All the apparatus in disarray; flaccid and useless without a host. The only sound is the scanner letting out a slow string of beeps as a taped up loop of paper cycles on. Looking past these devices, through the glass, you see a darkened ocean, a long jetty, a single light illuminating a lone figure.

You pause in the doorway. The apparition of the last room is still burnt into your mind.

After years of monotony; of a head battered against walls.

You take a step forward. Bundles of wires flicker on the ground, their sharpened tips glistening, alive with energy.

After a lifetime spent frivolously, frittered away like toy money.

Another step. What had been a dull mechanistic hum is now a feverish whirring. Dials and gauges flash and flicker to life around you.

And what to come? A slow decline?

Your hand on the chair now. An inky darkness is all that exists through the window. The goggles come on in a blaze of light, throwing rapidly moving but indistinct forms across the wall.

And then the un-noticed death of an un-noticed actor.

You hastily apply the electrodes before plunging the wires deep into your forearms. Your body stiffens. You clutch the goggles to your face. The whirring becomes a throbbing in your ears. Your mind, a feverish tumult, stills, as a new world crystallises before you.

Outside, the world spins on, unchanged and unchanging.

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