The Laser Fiction - The Emerging Circumference

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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 


Fiction



The Emerging Circumference


Taken aback to a noticeable degree by the tenuous revelation offered, she appeared perplexed by his conclusion. I watched her carefully as she wandered towards the vessel's edge. Leaning against the railing, she held her hands at her side with muted acknowledgement, seemingly unable to internalize his conclusion. I glanced in his direction, and her consideration didn't seem to perturb him to nearly the same degree. Eventually, he realized that this had caused an unsettling row in her disposition. He wanted to allay her fears to some degree, but unsure how exactly he could accomplish this feat without throwing off the balance he'd managed to locate on the vessel. His delayed response entailed keeping himself away from her thought pattern, so as not to disrupt her considerations. I walked in his direction and stood nearby, both of us allowing her the isolation she required to process and make sense of his informed configuration. After several long minutes gazing awkwardly into the river swirling beneath us, her disposition seemed to improve. She began gathering her strength slowly, she seemed to awaken from her gaze and refocused her energy. Standing upward, she looked into the flowing currents directly, allowing the muted gusts to overtake her momentarily before taking what appeared to be a counter-intuitive approach. Instead of dwelling on the conclusion he'd hastily arrived at, se recalibrated her intent, choosing to recalibrate herself to face the journey ahead,

She slid her hands downward and pulled out her intractable machine she'd constructed from beneath her protective cloak. Quickly turning and sliding her fingers over its slender form, the machine responded affirmatively with a loud, unmistakable beep. Piercing the tranquil surroundings, it appeared unhindered by its failure to identify whoever perpetrated the menacing illustration. Despite a retaining only a sliver of residual energy left behind by previous encounters, it still appeared completely ready awaiting her subsequent commands. She held it outward than thrust towards the east, until its pointed firmly over the ocean. I took a few steps closer to get a better look, but hesitated, not wanting to get in her way. Not saying a word. she pressed on its buttons and a small directive of light began to shine over the waves. She dove ahead headfirst, unhesitatingly looking into the path ahead.

It wasn't immediately clear what the convergent-light machine's purpose might be within the shallow confines of the river's uneven banks. On the surface, the machine seemed that it was too weak for the task at hand. and its narrow beam appeared lost under the cascading waves, appearing almost to drown beneath its churning water at points before resurfacing for a quick gasp of air moments later. She repeated this process several times, rather quickly until an invisible path began to form. Carving an intricate path through the constrained flows, this route appeared to unfold in shifting directions, following a gradual curve. She looked back at us with a mystified expression. Her expression appeared frustrated over something be it wasn't clear exactly what. After several moments' tense silence, she yelled out directives at us. We needed to do more than just stand there. We should be making adjustments to the ship's switches and dials, not just idly standing by, passively watching. Her vocal disappointment appeared to motivate him to activate.

He quickly shook of his malaise, taking pronounced command and grabbed the steering wheel firmly. Turning it quickly in strident rotations, he managed to make it match the temporal energy produced by the machine, following its pedantic route faithfully. Despite the path's fleeting visibility and uneven form, I quickly decided to take some action of my own. I took hold of the switches, examined the nearby dials and levers, and began pushing them back and forth, with appropriate caution. Adjusting the vessel's speed faster and slower until I reached a happy medium, we quickly gained a reasonable momentum. It took experimentation but we began gliding over the waves at a consistent pace. I looked over in her direction and she seemed pleased that our efforts allowed us to navigate the currents without being drawn into them. Subsuming to their whims would have been counter-productive, but we managed to follow the machine's transient path through the twisting river without letting it take control. This was preferable to allowing it's force to take control. Otherwise, we'd likely find ourselves crashing onto the sharp edges visible on each side of us.

She walked quickly in our direction, pulling the machine beside her momentarily to examine our work from a closer range and with a greater detail. She looked at the assembled dials and switches carefully, remaining confident in my abilities, satisfied that I wasn't making a mess out of things. She nodded approvingly that I hadn't diverged from our journey to any large degree. She noted that I had gained enough experience to perform that basic mechanics without excessive correction on her part. She was relieved that I'd maintained focus and direction; this helped to assuage her fears. Turning her attention towards the taller figure towards the front, she watched him with less trepidation. She trusted that his inherent knowledge and experience didn't need reinforcement, but she was curious and wanted to make certain he understood she appreciated his efforts. After several minutes, we settled into a carefully calibrated rhythm and were able to relax our focus.

My eyes wandered as I surveyed the surroundings. I watched carefully as we glided over the river's undulating surface. The waves unfolded, pulling us in rapidly changing directions. They gushed beneath us, but we were able to navigate the choppy field without much effort. I was relieved that this section of water was unobstructed. Despite its twisting paths, it was a relief that it clear of the sharp impediments that marked our previous encounters. There was nothing dangerous preventing us moving through the river. The dangerous impediments with spiked edges that marked earlier excursion were nowhere to be seen. I carefully searched for anything out-of-the-ordinary that might appear to rise from the depths without warning, but nothing malicious appeared.
I articulated this hidden danger to him, but he located no indications, The river was clear, we needed to turn quickly at certain areas. He seemed to relax after managing to navigate the flow without incident. I noticed his shoulders slumping down from their defensive posture, his legs bent while his head gradually loosened from its stony position. He exhaled at several points, allowing the crisp air to rejuvenate his energy. Standing between us, she took an extended measure of our surroundings and appeared pleased that we'd caught up to the task, rising to the challenge represented by the rivers churning waters, twisting paths and uneven velocity without encountering trouble.

We found the middle route somewhat challenging to follow at certain points. It veered into unexpected paths without warning. We had to carefully watch the lines created by her machine and its derived paths. Its disbursed beams of light scattered almost randomly as they skipped over the waves. I anticipated encountering patches of turbulence, but the surrounding waves remained relatively calm. Looking above briefly, the clouds weren't threatening; their relative serenity allowed us to traverse the currents consistently without undue pressure. I managed to make allowances for our speed and carefully managed to arrive at an insistent velocity, allowing us to move forward without succumbing to impatience. Reasserting her calm demeanor, this placid approach to our travels allowed us to stay vigilant for anything we might encounter.

While the main objective remained unseen, it appeared that we were making substantial progress ahead. This allowed a respite from the unsettling premonitions his determination created. This allowed us to focus on the somewhat mechanical tasks at hand. Instead of demoralizing consternation that followed in its shadow, we maintained intent on the mission. She was no longer visibly bothered by residual unsteadiness and trepidation. The flowing currents beneath our fear unwillingly provided an unexpected relief. We forged ahead at a steady pace, though its path remained imprecise and our goal largely unresolved. Her actions implied that she'd resolved to hold to an unyielding disposition, she stood against the river and seemed almost to dare it to delay or halt our traversal.

He didn't seem overly concerned by the minor twists and curves we encountered and had come to a speedy momentum with attempting further study of the shallow path. It seemed he'd relied almost entirely on intuition to work on out the path, his hands never drawn into residual doubt. He told me he'd made additional changes in direction. I noticed that we were headed along a narrow path on the western side, staying away from the east, which appeared shallower with shorter lengths of straight section. I waited for him to further elaborate on the reasoning behind this adjustment, but it appeared the his decision was correct. It looked like the objective was located on that side of the river.

I remained uneasy, attempting to work through the details and consequences by myself. He was preoccupied steering the vessel through safely, and didn't know what more he could do in the meantime to provide me with more information than he'd already provided. His primary position and motivations were left to me to decipher; he'd seen enough to anticipate the path ahead and could almost navigate relying on his intuition. He kept a vigilant watch on the pathways illuminated by her machine, but the curves and twists became easier for him to anticipate, allowing him to steer the vessel with greater determination. He was no longer reacting with sudden jarring motions, which made the extended length of water flow noticeably smoother.

This allowed her to concentrate on the mission at hand, getting through the waves would prove less difficult and time consuming than it first appeared. She returned to the spot near the front of the ship where she'd engaged. She pointed the machine directly ahead of us into the breach, retaking leadership of the mission. Extending the machine out for another spell, it responded quickly to her firm commands, pointing through the untold gallons with determination and resilience. Forming intricate paths through the narrow confines of the river, the lines it forged over the water grew increasingly elaborate, bending in ever-more elaborate formations that became longer, allowing less room to maneuver. This made traversing more difficult on our part, but we managed to stay focused on the longer, complicated routes by keeping in mind the lengths' challenges were minor hindrances compared to the serendipitous circumstances that had originally brought us to that point.

She looked over the vessel carefully, apparently searching for any signs of trouble. It remained buoyant, hadn't taken on any water and remained free of any signs of damage or wear. I watched her scan the shallow currents, seeking out further directives or signals. The path over the shallow river's water remained uneven, but it appeared to be working out to form a greater consistency as we neared a relief in its construction. She appeared to grow more animated, drawing shorter lines with the machine as we managed to arrive within an unknown range. She decided to allow for some intuition on our part. She shifted attention from the waters and began searching for tangible elements that would assist us when we arrived closer alongside the rocky shores.

I began working somewhat methodically to keep us going at a steady rate. I needed to slow down carving out a small window that would allow her more time to examine the surroundings with greater precision. Taking a quick glance, I noticed the waves building with greater strength in the distance. My wary eyes were simultaneously drawn into the opposing shorelines, I watched carefully as she moved her machine in different angles, searching for an indication that would provide us a solid place to land.

He wasn't distracted by anything that might have appeared on either side of shoreline and navigating through the churning waves retained the majority of his attention. He managed to keep us moving forward safely without any major problems, this was fortuitous given the uneven, choppy path in our way. It was a testament to his skill and experience that we didn't have to worry but there was another facet. The vessel provided a sturdy foundation throughout, remaining steady and firm, unwavering in its stability and strong in construction. It seemed infused by an inherent strength and determination that wasn't immediately evident, but it was resolved in its mission, delivering us safely without incident. In some intangible aspects. The vessel might have done so automatically without any assistance on our part. It only gave up control temporarily to keep us occupied.

Looking west, the shoreline appeared depopulated, there was no sign or visible indication of the smallest mass or construct. Further searches resolved little on her end, and while attempting to join, the vessel began to slow unexpectedly. Without a steady hand, it appeared to have taken deliberate control, stalling due to an abundance of caution. Returning focus the switches and dials, I quickly resumed control and began to ratchet the speed up. There was an unexpectedly quick surge in momentum that shook the boat. She quickly turned in my direction, admonishing me not to get impatient and move ahead too quickly. She didn't want to overlook anything. I quickly turned the dials back down, not wanting to disrupt her steady pace. I pulled the switches and dials backward, there was nothing worse than missing something we'd been looking for due to impatience. I watched her turn her attention back to the shoreline and she managed the determine, tentatively that we were headed in the right direction.

She needed to do this carefully, and turned around and told me to slow down even further. Pulling the dials back almost to a legible point, I watched carefully until it appeared we were no longer being propelled down the river's narrow banks. The vessel slowed until it was almost floating in place, gliding over the subsiding currents, until it settled into a near stationary position. I watched her carefully scan the nearby shore with her machine. It began blurting out an alarm unexpectedly, while its scattered lines suddenly converged onto a single point just off the beach. It signal casting the object into sharp relief. Our eyes directed onto a dark form that appeared to blend almost apologetically alongside the shore. It would have been easy to miss had we been going to fast. Standing about five feet tall, the metallic, narrow structure wasn't particularly striking at first. She pointed her machine directly at it and shot a beam in its direction that hit its surface directly. It responded immediately, lighting instantaneously to illuminate the surroundings with a vivid green surge; we'd finally arrived.

She took a measure of the surrounding area, somewhat confused by what she witnessed. the irregular tower seemed to have risen from out of nowhere. Scanning it carefully caused an unexpected reaction that she didn't anticipate. It glowed for an extended period and she wasn't going to rush in heedlessly to examine it further. She kept at a careful remove, standing cautiously in the boat's planks, waiting patiently for its supernatural glow to subside, Its robust color was entrancing to my eyes, but she held a wariness that I didn't quite comprehend. There must have been a reason that made her less than thrilled by the enigmatic glow that predetermined an unknown threat. She walked towards the man in the suit and stood by his side. He shared her trepidation, and stood at the wheel, seemingly ready to turn away in an instant should anything untoward occur. They observed the looming tower carefully, watching it for any further response.

Its residual glow gave no further detail or directive, continuing to enjoy its illuminating light without concern. Its radiant echo began to slowly subside, and it appeared to become less intimidating as it returned to a dormant state. She turned around quickly and motioned for me to keep at safe remove. I anticipated the hidden secrets it might contain, but decided not to let the mesmerizing glow get the better of me, and followed her warning. He held the vessel at a steady point off-shore and we drifted only slightly while we waited for the light to dissipate. He didn't turn the wheel very much and I decided it wasn't the right time to experiment with the levers in my area. I held off on the temptation to play around with its configuration. I was distracted by the bright object in front of me, in any case. I looked back as she surveyed the frontal eminence, standing in a somewhat defensive position, her feet calmly yet firmly in place.

After patiently awaiting the tower to finally bring life, it finally settled into a static immovable form, no longer exuding any sort of glow. Waiting patiently for several minutes, they ensured that any lingering danger within the structure had evaporated before they decided to forge ahead. She gave him approval, but his navigational options were somewhat constricted by the shallow water. He didn't pursue the structure with undue aggression, instead allowing the vessel to drift alongside the shoreline until it sat quietly in parallel to the shoreline. The surrounding currents had quieted and the unseen forces that propelled us earlier appeared to have vanished. There weren't strong waves to guide the vessel, which allowed it to glide quietly towards the destination. There was a loud thump beneath the boat, some kind of heavy anchor dropped. It steadied into a stable position just off the narrow embankment, we'd landed at a small measure beneath the mysterious tower.

At that close range, the shallow water meant we could jump onto shore without need for pulling out any planks. She stood carefully and waited for him to commence the next phase of our journey. Watching the surroundings carefully, she apparently decided to let him take the lead. It seemed that it was somewhat familiar territory for him, she wanted to follow his lead. She turned her attention in his direction and he appeared confused by her sudden change in tactics. He hadn't anticipated that she'd concede determination to his control, and hadn't made all the usual arrangements beforehand, He turned to her and sought reassurance; she reiterated this was the right decision. He quickly locked the vessel in place, and reluctantly walked towards the edge, jumping over the side quickly before firmly landing on the shallow length of beach. Standing on the compressed array of wet, compressed sand, he was noticeably reluctant to assume a place of command.

She walked slowly to the edge of the boat and knelt down for a moment, hesitating to make another leap into the unknown. She closed her eyes briefly before rising up, measuring the length and depth visually before finally deciding to make the best of it. She leapt overboard quickly and fell into place a measure behind the boat. It shook when she departed, but quickly stabilized. She seemed unsteady initially when she landed, it took a few moments to maintain her balance but she quickly reasserted her equilibrium. She walked ahead several feet before she caught up to his position and found herself standing just a couple feet behind him. I waited patiently for them to take position, dutifully gave the accumulation of switches and levers under my command one final glance, then followed her way. Walking to the edge of the boat,

Encountering a spell of unlikely hesitation, I needed to rejuvenate my intent quickly; without delay. The doubts grew as I walked closer and encountered a longer jump than I'd anticipated looking it from a distance. At that closer range, it felt like the river had grown longer and deeper. I wasn't entirely sure I could make it all the way across the gap without missing the mark. Envisioning myself plodding into the water and making a splashy mess won't immediately appealing. I decided to look closely and try measuring its length visually so I could put enough strength into my jump. From the shore, he seemed to notice my hesitation and had grown irritated. He waved at me to hurry, they were waiting.

I decided to cast off the residual doubt was holding me back, its force exceeding the physical distance in my mind. Inspired by their successful landings, I resolved not to waste any more time worrying. It would need to make an adjustment and expend a greater quantity of effort than anticipated. I decided to go with my instincts, jumping in quickly without allowing excessive fears to build. I closed my eyes briefly to achieve a concentrated focus on the actual jump. After determining that I could easily breach its thin perimeter, It didn't take much effort. I ran a few steps before jumping over the side. In a flash, it was over. Clearing the long gap without further hesitation, I managed to travel its entire length before I realized what happened. This came as a relief, I felt the pressure quickly subside when I looked back on the narrow strait. I quickly found myself standing on the shoreline, a little behind their place but happy having made the sudden leap without encountering trouble. I quickly ran ahead into the embankment to catch up to their position.

He motioned for us to follow his lead and we travelled just behind his pace, moving up the shore quickly. I noticed he was taking a more relaxed path than she did, occasionally wandering off the path on either side, moving ahead at an erratic speed, he appeared unconcerned with appearances, maintaining a strong sense of direction without keeping his steps fixed on a rigid path. We still followed his path with relative speed but without undue pressure. He didn't follow a straight narrow line, but that didn't seem important at that point. Before realizing what happened we found ourselves standing at the tower's base.

Any residual light appeared to grow stronger, revealing that its true was form became intimidating once fully visible. Its uniform gray slate stood out against the thicket of rock that rose up into the violet skies just beyond it. The mountainous formation extended to create a vast barrier that we couldn't breach. Its stark features uneven and sharp, marked with determinations of sharp edges that jutted outward in discordant directions unexpectedly; its uneven surface looked unpromising. Deep shadows covered much of its base; without visible steps heading upward, there was nothing to traverse. Returning my gaze to the structure. Without making a sound, it issued an unspoken warning against further attempts to proceed further.

On closer look, its form appeared deliberately carved from a stark line of stone. Its evenly-shaped surface protruded into the sky without elaboration. The uniformly smooth surface lacked excess decoration or undue embellishment. It maintained a silent guard over the densely-packed formations of spikes and stone in the distance. Striking a resilient pose, its consistent surface remained unflinching from top to bottom. She was determined to find a solution and examined it carefully, observing the enigmatic structure visually without intruding further into its sphere of influence. Keeping her machine in a discrete hidden location, she held it beneath her cloak, purposely out of view.

She smartly avoided provoking additional reactions, this was a wise decision at such a close range. She walked around its circumference carefully along its edge, making sure to keep her arms at her side to avoid any confrontation. This wasn't entirely without reason, she looked carefully for any sort of signal that might occur unexpectedly. She also maintained a parallel inquisition on its surface, attempting to locate any hidden directions or messages. This effort didn't appear to locate anything visible on its clear, unmarked surface. Deciding to take a few paces back, her attention turned back in his direction. She motioned for his assistance; perhaps he'd discover something she overlooked.

He moved closer to the object carefully and began his own examination. He looked carefully over its surface, but found no indicators or markings on its face that would assist us. He calmly examined the tower's surface methodically, quickly working to find any hidden directives. Nothing appeared on its grey slab that would definitively indicate where or how we could proceed, and this was initially disappointing. The both of them looked discouraged as they pondered how they could have travelled such a long distance; only to reach an unreachable barrier. They both stood in place and pondered less obvious methods they could implement. She appeared frustrated by reaching what looked like a defiant impasse. Conversely, he looked determined not to let the recalcitrant structure's seemingly impenetrable barrier block our way.

He walked around its eastern side, approaching closer to the assemblage of stone without undue expectations. Extending his hand quickly over its surface, his effort didn't to appear any closer to finding a solution. Watching carefully from several paces behind, she didn't appear particularly hopeful either about their diminishing prospects. Undeterred, he maneuvered a few steps closer until his body was almost directly beside the looming structure's outer edge. His fingers made a deeper connection with the structure, though its silent response revealed no additional insight. It didn't respond in any measurable manner to his maneuvers, instead offering silent reciprocation.

It didn't give up anything in return, unyielding to his inquisition. Growing visibly frustrated by his lack of engagement, he decided to attempt to examine and attempt to determine the tower's purpose, meaning or objective from a different perspective. He walked quickly towards its eastern side and reiterated the same motions he'd performed before from the opposite direction. Moving his fingers swiftly over its grey surface, he seemed unshakably determined to extract even a tangential response from the intractable structure, standing beneath it patiently, unwilling to surrender to its defenses, no matter how long it might take him to permeate its solid facade.

He expended a significant amount of effort attempting to rouse a response from the imposing structure. Watching him closely, it appeared that nothing visible was working, no matter which angle his eyes held. His appeals went unheeded, despite the valiant efforts he implemented to forge a bond then hopefully allowing him to extrapolate discreet objectives from its protective reserve. Maintaining focus for several additional moments produced nothing more than an extended silent reproach. Thoroughly combing its unmoving stone layers for any indication of mutual engagement was proving manifestly improbable. Sensing his frustrated attempts at making any significant impact, she walked tentatively to face him and stood beside him, remaining at a significant range. Her transient, distant presence offered mild reassurance, and she managed to reinforce his position at its base, but remained a safe length apart, allowing him space to maneuver unimpeded while she could claim pronounced disengagement from his convoluted process; she didn't want to intervene.

She was too far away and didn't have the reach extend her arms or fingers to touch the tower, still visibly uneasy about making contact. Her eyes alone would charge the facets to explore, she'd be able to confirm anything he determined without unleashing anything dangerous unexpectedly. After several minutes walking around the tower's extremities, she took several steps back, before coming to the conclusion that his situation was hopeless. She let out a combination of a grunt and sigh, signaling it was past the time for him to give up on his stubborn efforts. He didn't respond to her at first, keeping his concentration focused without pausing to acknowledge that he was rapidly approaching the forsaken edge surrounding an abandoned mission's objective.

After several addition minutes spent squandering time on his apparently pointless task, he finally withdrew his fingers from its surface. This signaled an abdication of the mission objective. He turned towards us, looking quite disappointed that he hadn't been able to decipher its mysteries. Despite his lengthy and protracted effort, it seemed that he'd finally given up. Clearly disappointed, she managed to thank him for putting in the effort, despite the eventual reality that he'd found nothing. He stood silently before us for several moments, and unexpectedly began nodding his head. She misunderstood what was happening. He expression brightened quickly, and he seemed surprisingly pleased with himself. It seemed like a strange response, for someone who'd ended up with nothing tangible to show for his efforts.

He stood back and turned around, somewhat defiantly. His arms sharpened as his finger extended to direct our gaze past the tower's the eastern flank. he signaled that contrary to what it might seem that he'd found an answer. This was baffling, nothing out of the ordinary was immediately visible. He motioned for the both of us to come closer and join his side for a better view. This was a perplexing request that was somewhat mystifying. I didn't understand, but her instincts told her to walk in his direction. I wasn't sure what was happening, but decided that he might be on to something. We stood together, observing his strident undulations from a careful remove, remaining several long steps behind his position. We remained skeptical, somewhat unwilling to expend much more energy on his nebulous task. He noticed our reluctance and began waving his arms with increasing gravity, pressuring us to move closer to the intractable formation; there was something he wanted us to see.

- Michael Palisano