The Laser Fiction - The Disorienting Fixture









In Memory
Sean Pettibone



The Disorienting Fixture

Taking an elaborate route to avoid detection, we arrived near the unseen point in clandestine fashion. We walked over the unsettled surface cautiously without marking the path of our journey that others might uncover. Residual light inexorably diminished, surrendering beneath the imposing night skies. Searching for familiar constellations in the stars above gave me little guidance, since this strange permutation hadn't been cartographed. This shrouded its intentions and gave me little to go on. She didn't appear dissuaded by the grasping intangibles, proceeding toward the diffuse horizon without hesitation. This resulted in a longer excursion than expected. It had taken much longer to arrive, and extensive practice in order to gain enough confidence in ourselves that we didn't feel the need to leave indicators behind. This meant we couldn't easily retrace our steps.

She used intuition, relining on subtle changes within her instinctive approach for guidance and occasional assistance. She looked ahead cautiously, gazing into the broad expanse, lacking illumination. I waited behind her patiently until she arrived at a brief pause. Standing in place, she silently began measuring and made a quick survey of the surroundings. If she had lingering doubts, they were reinforced by recent encounters. These confrontations with inscrutable forces were disruptive and nerve-wracking. However, they became increasingly distant and less threatening the farther we travelled. Their distance was further mitigated by what was in our immediate circumference. The unobtrusive calmness and prevailing silence permeating the environs directly ahead was inexplicably reassuring, allowing a transitory measure of serenity.

We encountered intrinsically compelling reasons to keep moving ahead, despite untoward circumstances. It wasn't immediately obvious at first glance, but there was a strange energy that drew us towards that distant point. It was intriguing, yet remained frustratingly elusive, appearing to slide just outside our reach, sinking in the distance. Forging ahead wasn't easy since the untraveled paths lent us no clear sense of direction. It was difficult to mark distance with little accompanying light, but we managed to use the dim, scattered stars and occasional scrawled indications on the ground to measure our advance. She forsook apprehensive as we continued forward, with our destination gradually coming into view. It would take substantial efforts to reach it. Taking a deep breath, she decided we had to make independent choices in which direction to move onward. She withheld a decisive act momentarily and took a measure without expecting accuracy. Attempting to figure out the distance ahead accurately would entail excessive effort, but she wanted to at least get some idea. This way, she could measure the pace so we wouldn't be completely exhausted when we finally arrived. Looking around, she quickly determined a rough angle and turned in my direction. She told me that things would start to make sense as we drew closer to our apparent objective.

I prepared for a long excursion ahead and watched as she moved forward towards the distant horizon. Undeterred by invisible or unseen encumbrance, she moved quickly over the surface without wasting time on excessive energy on the surrounding atmosphere. It took a sustained effort on my part in order to keep pace with her unrelenting journey but I decided that I didn't have any other options. I kept pace but remained behind her for an extended period. It seemed the night skies wouldn't break apart. Momentum seemed to be driving her forward, her uninterrupted pace remained steady.
Instilling confidence, I confidentially followed her lead into the night for an extended period. It felt like the night would last for eternity which was fortunate since its cloak allowed us to move ahead without fear of being detected. We moved quickly towards the horizon. Despite the dark remoteness that surrounded us, I noticed the distinct outlines of distant forests emerge. This promised a transient encouragement, timed just as I found myself begin to grow weary. Increasing my energy, I started to catch up to her position and before realizing what was occurring, we were swiftly moving beside each other. Matching her pace with renewed enthusiasm wasn't precisely accurate, and watching closely, it seemed that she had slowed deliberately. Before realizing what was occurring, I noticed her carefully scanning the surface.

It wasn't immediately obvious what she was searching for. This task was made even more difficult by the encroaching night, which wasn't surrendering its hold over the land any time soon. This didn't impede her mission, she moved ahead with haste only slowing down when she encountered an unexpected break scratched into the ground. Most of these appeared to be random fractures in the surface, random cracks caused by natural forces or contact with meteors or other objects. Attempting to decipher these breaks was pointless; it appeared that they weren't deliberately marked into the ground. Quickly moving past them to avoid wasting time, she didn't dwell on their variances in size and depth. We encountered several of these along the way, taking less time as subsequent smaller ruptures and tears appeared.

Moving towards the horizon, we continued at a good rate, largely unfazed by the erratic placement. She looked back in my direction and surprised me. It was time for us to stop. We'd reached our destination. I looked around, somewhat surprised. There was nothing nearby, no one was standing in our midst. The distant horizon remained far out of reach; there appeared to be no visible indication as to the importance of that particular location. She didn't seem worried and reacted strangely to my confusion. She couldn't understand what I was missing. Extending her arms outward into the darkness, she motioned them around in small circular points, Indicating a serendipitous realization, seemingly obvious, but only in retrospect.

By outward appearances, we were stranded in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. After all of our excursions, I wondered how and why we managed to end up there. I quickly looked around but couldn't locate any visible indications of movement. There was nothing visible on the grounds, the empty surface provided negligible guidance, while looking back into the skies for signs gave me nothing to go on. I shook my head and returned my gaze towards her direction. She stood quietly, motioning slowly for me to look around some more. I tried again but couldn't seem to figure out the solution to the impedimentary puzzle she'd laid out for me. Nothing in the surroundings fit together, nothing appeared from behind the night's thick curtain, while the silent and mute accompaniment offered little for me to go on. I studied her arms and hands for several minutes.

Repeating nearly the same movements without elaboration or explanation. I didn't seem to catch her signals, and become increasingly confused. She stopped them after another minute or so and placed her hands at her side. Walking closer towards her position didn't appeal to me; she deserved her space and I'd be intruding if I came closer. Deciding that it would be a good time to demonstrate reticence, I walked several steps back until she was once again standing at a safe remove. Awaiting further detail, I closed my eyes for a moment and waited for some kind of articulation on her end. There was nothing forthcoming. Attempting to extract further detail wouldn't be productive, I had to discover the elements in this portion before comprehending her mysterious inclinations.

Quietly working mentally, I arrived at a contrary approach, that required me to utilize a circumvention that might end up at the correct solution even if took longer, was dramatically complicated, and far less efficient. She understood my frustration with this approach and reminded me that thoroughly examining the conundrum and taking enough time to appreciate the finer details and plausible subtleties could lead to potentially improved comprehension alongside thorough solutions that could be utilized repeatedly at difficult points in the future. It took me a few minutes to ascertain and resolve her counter-intuitive approach. It appeared that she knew the answers in advance but was generously allowed me to devise a successful conclusion. Attempting to navigate the invisible entanglements and unseen connections without needing her assistance was harder than anticipated, but it was worth the effort, at least that was my plan.

I walked around in small circles as a way of exploring the unfamiliar terrain, but found myself getting nowhere after several frustrating minutes. I looked to her for advice once again, however she didn't reveal any information, her silent observation reminded me that I was on my own. There didn't seem to be any solution evident and after awhile, I reluctantly decided to forgo the task. Throwing my hands in the air, I reluctantly accepted the impossibility of my task. She didn't seem angry, despite my fallow results. I didn't understand what the purpose was, it felt like I'd squandered valuable energy on the task. She noticed something I'd overlooked in the darkness.

I couldn't quite see it at first, but I managed to find a small indentation on the surface, and was standing directly in its path. It wasn't pronounced, and it would have been easy to miss, the shallow breach wasn't very long. The rupture would have been easy to miss, and I thought it likely that I might have crossed over it several times without noticing it. Standing back, I examined it as closely as possible, the surface break narrow and weak didn't seem to be that important. I was mystified why she'd instigated so much energy on it. I looked around the surrounding areas and there was nothing prominent. Nothing extended outward from the grounds, there weren't nearby markers or waypoints that would distinguish that particular position from anything else.

Aside from the minor cut in the path, there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary. We were stranded, hovering over that empty point without a tangible purpose. Standing quietly, she closed her eyes and allowed me to think things over for a short time. I couldn't quite understand what she was trying to accomplish. Her motives remained opaque and mysterious. In order to make some sense of the dormant surroundings, I decided to take a proactive approach. Deciding to examine the intractable surface further, I knelt down until the breach became visible. I hoped to find some answers within its confines but wasn't certain what I'd encounter. There were many possibilities, not all of them positive. I was relieved that It wasn't threatening or dangerous beneath us.

Nothing lurked below or jumped out of its shadows. I decided not to attempt further prying. I held my curiosity in check and decided not to attempt anything foolish, and kept myself from falling into an unseen trap. I didn't want or need to further open the rupture. I decisively avoided any undue contact; I wasn't going to purposely disrupt or tamper with it. I still wondered what the purpose of her intricately-planned machinations were. It could have been an accidental imprint or something more significant, it was intrinsically unclear while remaining purposely visible.

It represented a disorienting contradiction difficult for me to reconcile, but the implausible assemblage didn't appear to dissuade her. Looking back in her direction, I noticed she'd reopened her eyes and was staring intently at me and the breach. She stood silently for a few minutes before she lifted her arms, strongly suggesting that I should stand up straight since there was nothing more to see. I followed her instructions and faced her directly. There appeared to be something inherently calm and strong within her. I couldn't place the source of her tranquility and it seemed odd that there was so little bothering her. Watching over her thoroughly, I waited to see for any discordant attributes or untoward events to occur but, nothing seemed out of place.

It took me awhile standing at the remove and I was careful not to stray from position that much. I felt my steps shift narrowly but quickly re-centered back towards her, I kept attention focused, but then I felt an unexpected sensation. I experienced an unanticipated calmness that quickly overtook and superseded my accumulated anxiety. The silence that surrounded me began to permeate inward, and helped restrain my anxiousness. I felt my arms and legs relax and take a more passive approach. Before I knew what was happening, I felt myself becoming less afraid. I was no longer crouched in a defensive position and instead felt a serenity overtake me. After only one or two minutes, the shakiness that had become an unwelcome companion quickly began to fade.

Taking another deep breath, I paused briefly and realized that she had taken a subtle method. The empty, deserted, and forlorn surroundings no longer felt dangerous and instead brought on a welcoming calm. I noticed her walking towards me with a renewed assurance. She stood beside me and gazed upwards into the depopulated night sky. It had taken her awhile longer than anticipated to arrive, but she'd managed to arrive at the correct location through perseverance and a measure of luck. It had taken awhile for me to unseal the mystery. I quickly realized that the emptiness was deceptive. The lack of visible distractions or pressure exactly what she was seeking. The breach was nearly invisible and easy to miss, but its presence indicated she'd located the ideal position and was standing precisely where she wanted to be.

Watching her silent observation with its unyielding approach was daunting and unnerving. I couldn't quite match her serenity and concentration, instead wondering how she was able to keep her innate focus without interruption. She maintained her consistent approach, eschewing sidearms, taking consistent, forthright and fastidious measure of the surroundings without letting their disruptive tactics influence the inherent hypothesis she'd formed. I waited for her reaction to the bruising solitude, but she was unwilling to allow the emptiness to engage her resolute focus. Until the motioning light subsided, she surveyed the distant horizon with a balance of inquisition and determination. I stood alongside her and waited for some kind of signal to show itself, but there was nothing forthcoming.

I watched her from the side, careful not to interfere with her gaze. Standing silently, I knew not to say anything. After several minutes waiting in a mute, passive approach, she finally took several steps closer towards the east, but stopped short of committing to that direction. She appeared to subsequently undertake a backward track, taking a few steps westward before placing herself firmly in a secure location. This minor adjustment didn't make sense to me at first, and I decided not to follow suit. She was now several feet further out, which allowed me to see her from a different perspective. She wasn't tentative or fearful and made another change. Tilting her head upward, she looked towards the stars. After a brief interval, she began scanning the scattered stars in the atmosphere methodically. It wasn't clear what she was searching for. The assembled formations and constellations represented tranquil, distant fixtures. Unmoving, they managed to form an impenetrable protective layer. am interconnected field beyond reach. I waited to see what she was doing, but could find nothing obvious at that angle.

Resolving to garrison her purpose, her position solidified as her feet shifted in place. The grip maintained its strength with added determination. This wasn't an obvious affectation but freed her to focus on detangling the cluttered array of stars above. Working systematically, I had to look carefully in order to see that she was working north to south, silently cataloging the unfamiliar constellations without expending disproportionate effort. Using the intrinsic patterns they revealed allowed her to move quickly, her eyes following the indicative points scattered throughout the imposing skies. Systematically marking her progress with slight nods before moving onto the next section, she worked with surprising efficiently without apparent retracement or visible duplication. I wasn't sure what she was searching for and decided to attempt to begin my own explorations. There wasn't any defined starting point so I began to work from the western section of the sky, attempting to see the slightest pattern emerge. Everything appeared to be a scrambled, confusing mess. With none of the familiar configurations, I felt lost. I had no system to measure their distance from one another. They appeared stable, there was nothing moving, but my eyes began playing tricks on me which were unnerving until I figured out what was occurring.

After several minutes spent methodically surveying the constellations above, It appeared that many of them were starting to fade out and falter before quickly lighting back up. They began flashing at erratic intervals suddenly, and for no apparent reason. This was frightening and unexpected. Looking to her for guidance, she remained fixated on her stable star fields on the other side of the sky and remained silent, calm and apparently unworried. Enraptured by her section, she wasn't offering me assistance. Quickly determining that something more must have been happening, I decided to work on my own to determine exactly what was happening. Examining them carefully, I attempted to understand the odd phenomenon unfurling. This occurrence was disconcerting and I knew there had to be a simple explanation. Utilizing my limited intuition, I looked across the skies for answers. Scanning in multiple directions, nothing seemed to make sense while the stars continued to flicker on and off. I watched for some inconsistency that might explain things. Perhaps there was some kind of untoward event, the stars may have collided or their gravity fields might have clashed, causing an uncontrollable disruption.

A multitude of possibilities crossed my mind, but none produced a satisfying explanation. I continued looking into the skies above with little to show for my efforts. I looked in every direction to no avail until my eyes slipped slightly beneath into the horizon. I hadn't anticipated this strange reaction until noticing thin layers of clouds were silently drifting underneath the stars. This temporarily obscured and darkened their appearance, giving off the deceptive show that they were flickering. It represented an unexpected interference that caused the strange fluctuations in their appearance. Looking back, this was fairly obvious, but it was unclear initially what exactly was happening.

The resulting explanation wasn't nearly as threatening or elaborate as it appeared initially. It came as a relief that their flickering light wasn't the result of something potentially dangerous, instead merely the result of an insignificant, non-threatening coincidence. She turned reluctantly into the night sky, waiting for an indication that would appear and show the path ahead. I waited alongside her patiently, in accordance with expectation, I kept my thoughts interred, unwilling to puncture the resolutely tranquil surroundings with the slightest disruption. After several minutes' taking a silent approach, she determined it was time to change her imprecise position and paced around in semi-circular patterns until she face nearly directly in the opposite direction.

I couldn't faithfully follow her instructions at first. I found my attention almost involuntarily drawn back towards the swirling atmosphere. Transfixed beneath the wavering intensity and unanticipated insistence occurring within the skies above me, I remained intent on deciphering emerging patterns within the frustratingly elusive atmosphere. Despite knowing that a large majority of their twinkling was the result of random occurrence, I couldn't shake my intuition's hold. There had be more to it than what appeared in front of my eyes. Intent on proving my theory correct, I began timing the different spaces between fluctuations, measuring the different light intensities. I was hoping that these signals might direct us towards the correct location if I looked long enough. She turned back towards my direction and looked up at the erratic formations drifting in and out of the clouds. She looked them over carefully for a few minutes and quickly concluded that I was wasting both of our energy. Beginning to become impatient by this turn of events, she gently pulled me aside, held my arms and twisted me around until I was facing the other direction.

Her purpose in changing direction wasn't inherently determinative, its apparent usefulness obvious from her perspective, but intangible from my standpoint. The skies were nearly hiding the surrounding stars at this point. Thick clouds obscured the majority of the field, closing in and obscuring them until they vanished completely from view. However, I noticed immediately that a singularly bright spot remained untouched, clearly outshining the remnants of the nearby constellations. It's dominant appearance in the night sky brightened. I was distracted by its recalcitrance, momentarily paralyzed in position. She didn't share my immersion and instead came up with a practical use for the phenomenon; it would be an effective navigational assistant. I couldn't be entirely sure this would lead us to the right position, but she was inexplicably confident. She released the invisible grip that held her in its sway and began moving confidently ahead.

I watched as her motion increased and intensified, until it appeared that she was almost gliding, moving effortlessly, clandestinely underneath its unmistakably position. The flat surface was easy to traverse, and it didn't take long for us to make significant progress. It encircled and illuminated us and we made quick progress despite shakiness and uneven discharge of energy due to the stirring cloud-cover threatening immediately beneath. The further we ventured into the interior, its prevalence became unavoidable. Its imposing location and vivid illumination became increasingly pronounced, lighting an unmarked path ahead. Its bright glare made us easy-to-spot, and also vulnerable; it presented us a selective trade-off. It was fortunate to find a lighted path, but we realized intuitively there was no time to waste; we needed to move quickly to avoid detection.

Walking carefully over the uneven terrain, I maneuvered just behind her, attempting to keep pace. Shadows and darkness predominated, but I was able to just make out her outline, forming a visible determination as she disembarked, her steps quietly resolute. Furthering the advance wasn't assured, I found myself fumbling at points but I shared her determination, unwilling to succumb to the world's silent resistance. Its intransience only registered a contrary effect, reinforcing our motivation. I couldn't visualize the altering patterns beneath my feet, but a subtle change was noticeable. The edges sharpened, interlocking plates became harsher in their intersections, making it increasing difficult to move ahead.

Looking above, the sole star appeared diminished, but the dim light remained just strong enough to light our path. She became increasingly wary of the surroundings, slowing her pace significantly she remained determined as the night became oppressive, its limited field of vision creating an ever-shrinking demarcation. The path lying outside the dim array felt increasingly untenable, we couldn't stray outside the narrow line without eliciting unseen dangers. She realized this intuitively. Deciding not to take the risk, I decided to slow my pace as well, and walked carefully over the surface. Looking above, engaged with observing the wavering star, it was my mission to follow her faithfully while avoiding the murky, divergent sections darkly unfolding on each side of us. Inherently, it was apparent without explanation that traversing into the unlighted sections just beyond the main path would lead us down an inescapably dangerous path.

Maintaining a slower, but consistent speed given the adversity lurking just beyond sight wasn't the easiest task. It wasn't inherently difficult from a practical standpoint, but it was difficult for my mind and imagination to avoid wandering. Walking at a slower pace, I felt the surfaces harden, sharpening into ever more elaborate points with increasing frequency. Supporting the pressure in turn became secondary, the uneven heights and placements presented increasingly arduous impediments. The uncooperative surface offered little respite despite enduring undue barriers. Encountering seemingly endless interconnected, elaborately twisting layers of external barriers, intermingling obstructions alongside intractable formations. Arranged intrusively, they blocked our path, presenting increasingly elaborate turns, drops, gaps and leaps. Working in tandem to deter us, the barriers relentlessly stood ground. clandestinely sensing our hesitance, the arrayed encumbrances didn't defer action, waiting passively to take advantage of any weakening in our resolve mercilessly. Realizing the determined unwillingness to concede deference didn't diminish our momentum. Instead the anguished, resilient impediments created the intended effect, lending her unspoken invocations additional impetus.

We found ourselves in a contradictory situation. Avoiding entrapment while silently moving across the surface consistently provided an uneasy combination of determination and reluctance, encountering greater resistance with each step. The recalcitrant, unforgiving grounds represented a transitory impasse, marking our journey for premature dislocation then eradication. It felt that the land itself implied we should turn back. It would have been easier to turn around and give up. Looking behind it seemed brighter and easier to navigate. She wasn't dissuaded and continued onward, walking inexorably towards her unwavering objective. Undeterred by the defenses arrayed underneath, she seemed to redouble her efforts, and conversely increased the speed while reinforcing the determination in her pace. I found myself following behind her and she began to slip from my immediate view. I wasn't going to lose sight of her and needed an increase in my velocity, though lacking helpful accompaniment. Without taking much time, I moved forward on residual energy and instinct alone. I didn't walk with as much caution as I'd earlier discharged to safety. Nearly tripping over my feet at several points, I kept my balance enough to stay mostly upright and effectively managed to keep pace without accidentally falling outside the narrow rails.

She spent vanishingly little effort retracing her path, but would periodically glance in my direction, apparently concerned that I would stray from the path or fall behind. It was too dark for me to survey the hidden garnishments and involvements besides us. Watching closely, it seemed that she wasn't following a map or guide. It appeared that we'd arrived at what apparently represented a significant vantage, when she suddenly came a halt. Looking around, I felt an unexpected sense of arrival overcome me. There was nothing but faint light surrounding us, the jagged landscape beneath offered nothing that would indicate that our circumstances had changed. Ahead of me, she stood inside her own maneuvers, placing herself at quiet remove unconcerned with any reaction.

Awaiting any sort of gesture or verbalization remarking on our apparent perseverance resulted in fractured results. This attempt couldn't dislodge her distinctive, unnerving yet highly effective separation from the surroundings. Despite their monumental efforts she hadn't budged from her course by even a small fraction. Taking direction from her mute repose, I took several steps closer. Watching the environment for surreptitious indications indicated nothing that would cause alarm. Its over-running silence undisturbed, allowed delivered a respite from the long journey. There was another contradictory entanglement tugging at the circumstance. I faced the possibility of a gradual realization. She'd quite possibly discovered a faltering, unsteady mirage of serenity, appearing within a claustrophobic form. Without saying as much, it seemed that we found ourselves walking aimlessly through the darkness. It was unclear how much longer we'd have to follow the truncated form. It seemed possible that she'd managed to locate the entrance, but couldn't find an escape route.

Doubts weren't predominant, I remained faithful to her endeavor, but could precisely understand the methodology she implemented. We stood at an apparent nexus, located at a nebulous point our journey from its origin to its end. She wasn't lacking in patience and waited expectantly, the night skies offering a protective layer she could use to her advantage. She didn't seem to mind the lacking directive, even as the faint light above appeared drawn down into emanating decreasing energy, its purpose slowly diminishing. It was a relief that she'd placed her progress on hold. Following the shadowy outline moving ahead of me became increasingly difficult. She seemed to subside involuntarily, her form sinking within the darkening surroundings, her familiar shape became indistinct from the back. Complimentary and intersecting shadows emerged from the deepening night that slowly overcame and covered the majority of her forward facing aspect. There was nothing I could extract from the incoherent atmosphere.

Working systematically, the darkened surroundings and intimidating emptiness nearly achieved effective implementation. The encroaching environmental force undermined our visualization, leaving us to wander through the darkness without direction, relying mostly on instinct. Her innate sense of direction wasn't disrupted as she took command, prevailing quickly. I followed her respectfully, as she took a few steps ahead of me, drawing a renewed path. It was still narrow, but it seemed to have evened out. No longer disfigured by sudden sharp edges and cutting angles, the surface suddenly accommodated her, allowing us to move freely across the shrinking range of minor obstacles facing us, their cutting angles dispersed underneath. Vanishing with surprisingly little pushback as we reached a comparatively tranquil oasis, their previous ubiquity no longer pronounced, they gradually normalized, their stalking, intimidating shapes lost strength, and ceased starkly disrupting the surface. Passing the threatening interval brought relief mixed with uncertainty; it wasn't apparent what presumptive plans she'd arranged.

It was decidedly unclear whether she'd implement a hasty escape, which would allow us to get out of the furtive darkness. Conversely, it wasn't obvious that we'd completed our task. There was the possibility that we'd missed or overlooked an important element. This meant we'd have to turn back and locate it. An uninhibited night hid innumerable secrets; it would have been easy to overlook a cloaked object or invisible formation. There were still sporadic sharp spikes sticking out from the surface. I bent down and examined one of them. In profile, their sharply angled metallic base was shorter, but still immediately threatening. I needed to stay out of their way. Contacting them with any force wouldn't sustain much progress. Testing the nominal strength and stability of the remaining walkway took some effort on her part. but it appeared relatively safe aside from the jutting edges. Despite the limited visibility, they gave off enough reflection to be avoided easily. While I pondered the possibilities of missed chances and fast exits, she expunged those theories as she forged directly ahead. She was walking confidentially but moving at a slower, deliberate pace. It appeared that she was looking for a specific point in the immediate area.

I couldn't completely decipher the method she implemented. It seemed unfocused and random, There wasn't the pronounced, systematic approach she'd carefully embarked on earlier. It appeared she was rushing against an unseen clock, racing to locate an unknowable determination. She moved across the ground in scattered directions, shifting her gaze around in a semicircular pattern, looking down and glancing upward quickly. Marking her progress was difficult, her maneuvering was difficult to keep up with. She seemed to slide at different angles, approaching the task with disconnected partitions and divisions. Skipping across apparently fallow areas, her feet darted through the thick darkness, its oncoming directions converged, then slipped apart erratically.

Effortlessly frustrating the atmosphere's excessively defensive inclinations, she appeared to draw an elaborate map subconsciously. This allowed her to move forward, unencumbered, dodging innumerable sharp spikes and uneven gaping interruptions within the surface intuitively. This aided progress significantly, increasing speed and accuracy. She took advantage of its managed impediments to quickly narrow her search to a concentrated partition within the surface. Her eyes systematically scanned the surrounding area, moving across the unadorned ground with renewed determination. Following along, her searching path quickly settled into sections that could be discarded easier, allowing her focus on more promising portions.

Her incoherent, unproductive search gradually converged to focus its energy on a constrained area that would be easier to navigate. It didn't take long until she reached that point where she no longer needed to resolve her discovery. After taking additional surveys over the surface, she appeared to locate her objective. Resolved to interpret the form beneath, her standpoint came to a complete halt. Standing in place, her shoulders relaxed as she looked downward, her focus narrowed into a compact area. Surveying intently, she crouched to enable a better angle. She maintained a steady posture for several minutes while marking intangible observations and their building their subsequent connections. She stood a noticeable distance from my position, making it difficult to see the precise details had drawn her attention.

Walking with some resolve to her location, I moved carefully, quickly closing the gap significantly. I expected her to make room without question, allowing access a better view. I walked until I stood directly behind her but was surprised that she wouldn't budge. This unanticipated blockage on her part blocked my view almost completely. Without saying a word, it was obvious that she'd heard me walk behind her but wasn't finished with her task. She stood above the mural steadfastly. I couldn't see beyond her without getting in her way. Her presence hovered over the enigmatic picture thoroughly, making an unobstructed view nearly impossible. I wasn't sure exactly what the mural contained, but it wasn't easy to decipher. I knew better than to interfere and disrupt her effort. At that remove, I was able to see a few additional outlines and could almost decipher some familiar shapes and figures. Keeping a determined length apart, safely out of view. This made it impossible to see any additional details beyond the vague outlines and sketchy proportions that could be determined from afar. With little more for me to go on, decided not to worry about it excessively and instead recalibrated my inquiries to encompass the nearby areas.

Looking around with reinvigoration, my eyes began drifting downward involuntarily. I was drawn instinctively into searching the adjacent areas. I searched relentlessly for nearby objects that could potentially decipher the clandestine mural. The surrounding flatness provided nothing promising, the ground was empty, offering no clues. There was nothing visible that could offer additional insight. It took me awhile to before I finally surrendered, realizing the strange mural was a singular construction. I wouldn't interfere with her examination, that appeared to be progressing at a determined rate. Resolving that there was nothing on the flat surface for me to explore, I decided to attempt a divergent task. While waiting patiently for her to complete the task, my mind wandered. I was tempted to think of other avenues, there had to be a secondary path I could take. Unfortunately, there weren't any nearby implements that I could use. Encountering a complete absence of paint, brushes, pens or even pencils present in the surrounding area, I wondered how to respond.

Staring into the seemingly endless void, I watched her transfixed by the mural, I returned to observing her position, guarding against any unknown forces that might intrude on her space. I wasn't sure why she'd expended so much energy on the surface illustration, but knew that she had tangible reasons. I watched over the immediate area, waiting for some untoward event to occur. She was resolute in her determined foray, internalizing its forms and structure. I was naturally curious but decided against breaching her surroundings. After several long minutes taking the final measure of the mural, she stood back up straight and turned towards my direction. Staring at me intently, I found her relentless gaze a bit off-putting. I wondered what she discovered in the mural that would cause her to doubt me. Standing helplessly, I waited as she walked across the grounds until she reached by position and was directly in front of me. She didn't reveal what her plans were, but I realized that I shouldn't question her.

Moving closer until she was directly in my path, I felt her footsteps reverberate in strong waves as she took command and traversed the final distance. Standing forcefully, within arm's length she waved her arms in my direction. At first, I wasn't sure what she was doing, but quickly determined that she was imploring me strongly to change direction. I wasn't sure what she was up to at first. The surroundings were flat, deserted; there was nothing there. I was reluctant to turn around and encounter another empty expanse. She remained insistent and I decided to follow her lead. When I turned northwestward, I was shocked to discover a long, sturdy object had suddenly appeared, seemingly from out of nowhere. I wasn't sure what the rectangular structure was. It appeared stable and firm, there seemed to have a strong support beneath it. Standing tall, it shot straight up against the uneven surface, defying the disruptions surrounding it. She pulled my arm and pulled me ahead alongside her, walking with resplendent energy towards the object.

As we came closer into its thrall, its varied outlines began to fill. I noticed that it was largely blank, its clean grayish surface undisturbed. The unbroken nature was surprisingly calm, countering the surface which seemed to buckle and crack at points as we drew closer towards it. She appeared to know what it was before I did, and I could sense her excitement building. Playing along, I remained nervous about its sudden appearance and hidden purpose. She wasn't dissuaded and countered my fear with increasingly resolute steps. It seemed that she'd finally located what she sought. She walked closer and I was able to gain a better view. I was surprised that it appeared to scale down slightly. I noticed the gray slab was held in place, fastened against a strong stand. It increasingly resembled an elaborate doorway, but I couldn't be sure if my hunch was correct. She continued moving onward, but I paused and held back. Awaiting her interpretation, I maintained a careful remove, allowing her to make the determination. I watched as she took several steps forward until she stood directly in front of the imposing structure.

She waited for a few moments and looked it over, before finally waving to me. It was safe for me to join her. This permission was given without trepidation, and I followed her lead. We'd travelled a long path, there was no point in turning back. Quietly moving across the disjointed, impending surface with surprising speed and accuracy, I managed to arrive alongside her without much further delay. At that close distance, I sensed the structure shimmering, almost sparkling despite the bleak surroundings. It held firm in place, and seemed unmovable. However, there was something intangibly inviting about it that I couldn't place initially. Turning in her direction, I was mystified by the forces that led us to that point. I wasn't exactly sure why it had taken so much time and effort to arrive in front of an empty slate. I stood quietly in front of the object and pondered its presence for a short time, until its proportions and invocations revealed themselves.

The realization arrived with a sudden jolt, its purpose took on a new dimension, but also presented a markedly different set of problems. I turned in her direction and expressed gratitude mixed with frustration. The resplendent canvas was smooth, unadorned, and firmly secured in place but there was no way to leave the slightest mark on its promising surface. This represented a frustrating barrier, lending us another vexing problem without an apparent solution. Looking in her direction, she didn't seem overly concerned. I wasn't sure why she'd travelled so far, without any tools at her command. She watched me patiently as I tried to understand the purpose and function of the prevailing object. I looked into the canvas intently and found no tangible answers. I recalled the large number of brushes we'd left behind and was frustrated that I didn't have the predilection or forbearance to think ahead. I regretted rushing forward into the breach without planning and found myself completely unprepared.

While I was pondering the pronounced emptiness and accompanying potential evident within the canvas, energized pre-dawn skies began shimmering imperceptibly. Gradually awakening, the grew in scale until the morning filled the skies above. The emergent sunlight snuck up behind us, bringing enhanced depth and visualization to the tall, imposing structure's previously impervious surface. As the light bounced off its surface, I felt myself drawn upward and my eyes scanned the skies above, that had brightened enough to blot out the stars. It was disconcerted and I felt lost without them to guide my path. This sudden visual change of surroundings caused me to lose sight of the objective momentarily as my focus shifted in the wrong direction.

The elaborate view was impressive but created the unintended effect of diverting my attention from the deliberately constructed and positioned structure standing imperiously domineering our line of sight. Distracted contemplating the atmosphere's cycle, I didn't realize something important was happening. She'd nonchalantly pulled out her mysterious light-convergence machine. It appeared without fanfare from its concealed position, effectively hiding but placed within easy reach. I didn't notice it had become operational again until I saw its elaborate light paths darting across the canvas as she traced their routes, their narrow beams taking short paths across each side, while imprinting small points at its edges. She tested its functionality and found it resplendent despite its long hibernation. I was taken off-guard, having almost completely forgotten about her machine. This shouldn't have come as a surprise given the density of events we faced, but it was never far from her reach. She waved it around in the air several times and began shaking it to get rid of remaining accumulation.

Standing several paces behind, I waited patiently for work to commence on her putative composition. but she wasn't planning on embarking on such an elaborate project. Unexpectedly, she handed the mysterious machine to me. Thanking me for my patience and loyalty, she told me that I could borrow the machine and use it as I wanted, but only for a brief interval. Entrusting me to take control wasn't an occurrence I'd anticipated. I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to effectively command the mysterious light-convergence machine. Holding it in my hand for several minutes created pronounced trembling I was unable to contain. It was overwhelming and I seriously considered handing it back to her. I extended it out in her direction, but she refused my offer. Instead, she indicated that I'd earned a measure of flexibility, and would quickly learn to shoulder its transitory burden easily. She knew it would become lighter as I became accustomed to its weight. It was a worthwhile for her to yield control, generously allowing the artfully assembled machine to flourish, even temporarily in my possession.

She advised me to release my excessively firm attachment, the machine wasn't going to respond quickly or correctly if my fingers held rigid positions on it surface. Moving its innumerable switches and unwinding dials required a lighter touch. Furthermore, I needed to think ahead, considering each step carefully beforehand, there wasn't an abundance of time for me to make mistakes and correct errors. She strongly reiterated that the machine's processes and functionalities shouldn't present a problem if I maintained a consistent focus and determination alongside forbearance and tranquility. I felt my hands steady as residual trepidation subsided after her reassuring advice permeated my consciousness. Any residual flaws encountered inherently outweighed by the boundless potential that manifested without articulation.

I needed to concentrate its balance into compact, defined areas; aiming the machine's energy beam within the empty canvas boundaries would hopefully create the intended effect. I didn't require additional instruction after that point. Her persistent formulations were reassuring, but the boundaries weren't excessively constraining, allowing persistent freedom. She'd assist me if I required help but trusted me not to rely on her. I turned and looked into the blank canvas and felt underlying doubt. Despite her strong admonition, I felt increasing trepidation return, settling just beneath the surface. I remained intimidated by the empty slate. It represented a vast area for me to fill without rules, suggestions or guidance. My previous experience felt limited and inadequate. I wasn't sure I was up its demands, my fingers unprepared. Wondering if I'd be able to complete the undefined task, I looked in her direction somewhat plaintively, seeking her assistance in any form. Sensing my lingering doubts, she signaled unwavering confidence in my abilities alongside newfound curiosity, insisting that she was waiting expectantly to find out what I'd eventually come up with.

- Michael Palisano