The Laser Fiction - Pastello_Giallo_Part_One

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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 


Fiction



The Pastello Giallo


It hadn't taken long for me to lose my place. I foolishly allowed myself a quick diversion that diffused my concentration. It hadnít seemed like a mistake until I looked around and arrived at a startling realization. If it had shown up later, I'd have seen what was happening and not diverged from the path. Instead, I relied on assumptions that ended up not being true. It didnít feel Iíd wandered too far off course. I thought Iíd be able to quickly rejoin the others. Unfortunately, the surroundings decided not to cooperate. The building in front of me seemed to have changed, turning into an impenetrable, menacing fortress that was holding me in its force. I thought I had a back-up plan, but this hadn't worked, the way intended. The paths hadnít converged as I thought they would. Despite my best efforts and repeated attempts to get back on track, I was essentially lost and alone, wandering in a strange environment only to encounter a strange building of unknown origin and deceptive motivation. My companions seemed to have vanished, disappearing before I realized they were gone. I was on my own.

Not completely, as it turned out. There was a secret plan that would quickly resolve my predicament, and resolve the situation easily. I looked around one last time to see if anyone else was nearby. I waited for a few minutes hoping someone would locate me or Iíd run into them. The building seemed to be a massive landmark and I thought someone would at least pass by such a significant location if I waited there long enough. I patiently stood there but after many long minutes, I realized that nothing was going to happen by itself. I walked further away towards the outer section of clearing. I looked around carefully scanning for anything out of the ordinary. There still wasnít a sign of anyone else out there. I quickly realized that Iíd have to rely on myself.

This situation was becoming more frightening. I felt the building somehow following me, it seemed to be pushing me away. I had no idea where to go next, but knew I had to get away from its radius. It was a mistake going there in the first place, but was determined not to let it undermine my confidence. Looking back towards the enigmatic structure didnít offer any insights, it stood there indifferent, and unmoved. Exploring its edges didnít reveal much about the structureís purpose or motivation. It felt like it had all been a waste of time. Not completely, it turned out. I remembered that I had located something on its edge that could potentially be helpful.

Iíd found a small, seemingly insignificant piece of paper, and folded it away as a kind of momento. I pulled out the rolled-up paper Iíd carefully stored in my pocket for safe-keeping and unfolded what look like a hastily-drawn array of lines and symbols. I thought there had to be reason Iíd found it. I was excited at first, but this faded quickly as I looked more closely at it. Covered in a tangled web of lines and arrows, it seemed to be some kind of map but it was nearly impossible for anyone to follow. Any directions werenít clear, remaining stubbornly hidden beneath layers of obscure symbols. I looked at it very carefully but wasnít able to piece together its indecipherable characters and symbols, a result of apparently purposeful obfuscation.

The strange map I found initially appeared to be a full-proof back-up plan, but its complexity and impenetrable markings didnít actually offer anything useful. Instead, it only brought more confusion. Examining it closely brought no sense of direction or meaning. I spent several minutes trying to understand the markings, but its meaning remained elusive. There seemed to be no clear sense of where I should go next. Its lines were tangled, leading nowhere. I tried to follow some of the paths, but they all seemed to be leading directly off the page, into the unknown. Bending and turning at seemingly random points, their contours scrambled, distorted and contradictory. It was further covered with incoherent points, misplaced letters and impenetrable symbols that probably could have been nothing more than meaningless scribbling. It defied my attempts to find any sort of meaning or direction. It was an impossibly dense thicket of closely printed, inscrutable symbols lines and points purposely made difficult to comprehend.

I tried turning the map upside-down and sideways,to no effect. Folding it in different directions didnít help much either, attempting in some way to decipher its mysteries. Whoever drew up the map was determined to obscure its origins. I held it up against the distinct walls of the mysterious, apparently abandoned structure. It seemed to be one move ahead of me and didn't reveal anything it held inside. Suddenly, its motivations seemed to turn on me. I looked up from the map and the surrounding areas It felt menacing. Something about it told me that it wouldn't be smart to even think of going inside it. Even at the long and respectful approach, I held back.

It felt dangerous to even be within its line of sight. I was careful not to get too close, and maintained what felt like a safe distance from its unstable construction. I turned it away from the light, further in front of the structure, but there seemed to be no alignment or connection between the map's lines and the cracks visible in the mysterious structure. I tried to take a different approach and walked backwards a few more steps. I took the map, folded it in half, and then half again, until it shrank to the size of a small, unevenly measured, somewhat thick square. The hastily scrawled lines seemed to intertwine ever more, further scrambling their meaning, leaving me with no sense of direction. I took a moment and studied its construction, comparing it to other objects I'd run across, but any connections seemed only tangential at best. I tried unfolding it, then refolding in the opposite direction, only to discover its inherent mystery and impenetrable complexity deepening with every new approach I attempted. However, I wasn't quite going to give in to frustration and let everything go to waste.

I had an idea who had left it there, but couldn't be surel. It wasn't clear to me whether this was a purposeful act or what, if any motivation might have been behind its discovery. The only fortunate thing about the situation was that I was alone. This allowed me to concentrate on the mystery at hand without distraction or disruption. I decided to let the map settle for a few minutes and placed it securely in my pocket, making sure it would stay in place and not get lost. Surveying the surroundings, I was drawn towards the mysterious building. It seemed like it didn't belong out there, in the middle of the strange island, in the center of an ocean. I had a vague idea of how we'd arrived there, but wasn't particularly clear how we'd gotten lost, or how I'd gotten separated from the others. Iíd carelessly wandered for a moment and before I knew it, they had slipped away, evaporating beneath the surface. When I stopped walking, I could hear splashes from the nearby water, gushing through the rivers. Listening closely, I sensed the distant waves colliding with the shore, moving onto the beach and its sandy plains.

This released a strangely calming rhythm that created consistent, somewhat reassuring motion beneath my feet. It felt like I was finally moving even though I was resting and standing in place completely still. This was an odd feeling, but it gave me a sense that I might not have been irretrievably lost out there after all. I looked at the trees, and saw no sign of wind, their motionless leaves and branches remained steadfast, undistracted by the growing energy converging and rapidly surrounding them. I closed my eyes for a moment and the sensation became even more pronounced. I definitely felt that there was something pushing me in a distinct direction. I tried to move against it, but the ground somehow seemed to be pushing me back, working against my steps, making it clear that it wasn't happy that I was moving against its wishes. After a few minutes, I gave in and decided not to interfere with its greater, unseen intentions.

Wandering back and forth, I found myself taking an uncertain path, seemingly unable to make a determination of where to go next. I roamed in seemingly aimless circles for a few minutes, swinging and swaying my arms in all directions, searching for a sense of balance. After some eddort, this finally helped to ground me somewhat but there still a lingering sense of ennui and disconnection overhanging my journey. It was an unsettling feeling, and intially stalled my progress. My feet had grown tired and felt like they'd nearly fallen off. The numbness spread until I couldnít feel the ground beneath me, and it didnít make me feel any better about my situation. There seemed to be very little pointing me forward, and it didnít help that Iíd somehow seemed to have fallen apart, my limbs felt like theyíd come loose from the rest of my body. They were moving automatically, almost like they were moving independently. I was walking ahead whether I wanted to or not.

I took a few minutes to catch my breath. At this point, it seemed like I was losing control. I could sense a strange lack of direction, my legs had begun recklessly swerving across the ground, and I was zig-zagging the surface without any plan or reason. I followed my inner directives, but they remained confusing. Iíd adjusted as best as I could, but this has become exhausting. Before I knew what was occuring, it seemed that things had taken on a life of their own. I felt strangely disoriented, there was nothing to hold onto. It wasnít something Iíd anticipated and the phenemomen didnít feel benign. It felt like things were slipping away from me. I took another deep breath and paused once more. I tried to locate some kind of sign that I was moving in the right direction, but I only seemed to continue heading in an ever more remote location.

I tried to make an allowance for this uncontrollable force, but had a difficult time countering what felt like an overwhelming yet unknown force driving me forward. Not realizing what was pushing me around was somewhat disorienting, I slowed down but I there was still an odd numbness, it was like gliding over the surface. While I felt immune from the churning force positioned beneath me, I couldnít find a method of steering. The pace quickened and before I knew it, i was cascading forward at an increasing velocity. Before I knew it, I was nearly gliding even higher above the ground, nearly flying. Gravity itself seemed to have broken down, temporarily scattering into a diffuse ineffective force. Without its unseen pull slowing my advance, I was able to move ahead effortlessly, though without any sense of where I was headed or whether there was anything I could do to change direction.

This was a little frightening, but I decided not to succumb to fear and decided to take on the strange force. I remembered what I had learned during some of my earlier encounters and decided to move with the force instead of fighting against it. I took a quick glance towards my left side and then the opposite, looking for some kind of bearing. This seemed to reduce the speed of movement and I began to sense a strange sense of control returning to me. Gradually, I was able to turn, reduce the pace and began gradually sinking back towards the ground. I felt some friction return as I drew closer to the surface. A few more turns, and I finally felt like I was running on the ground as usual. Finally, I was able to come to a complete stop and took the opportunity to draw a deep breath. It felt like Iíd achieved a measure of control over my journey. There was a serene quiet when I arrived at that point. I stood tall against the force and it seemed to have surrendered. I hadnít given up and instead took it on directly. This gave me an unexpected sense of accomplishment and relief. I hadnít completely fallen under its spell.

The peaceful interlude didnít last. I remained absolutely lost out there with nothing to guide me forward. I decided that I wasnít finished, though I had traversed an appreciably long distance. I took a deep breath, focused my eyes and resumed running towards the other side of the island. Gaining speed and altitude quickly, I began rising slowly upward until my feet moved without friction. I was once more gliding over the surface, like I was surfing through the waves. Before I knew it, I felt like a kind of phantom, gradually taking on the characteristics of a disembodied figure, floating above the surface. There seemed to be an Impermeable force field surrounding me, and this allowed me to move forward without hesitation or fear. I was running much faster and any barriers that slowed my progress earlier seemed to have vanished from my path.

Extending my arms outward, they seemed to grow until they felt elongated, almost like long tentacles, they split into different parts, until there were multiple appendages. As they grew, they brought an independent life, each one felt almost independent of the rest of my body. I realized that something had come to be, that I could not explain or understand. There was a strange energy that had temporarily transformed me, seemingly making me into a super-powered flying squid It was strangely liberating and gave me a renewed sense of power and strength. This undeniably altered my perceptions of the world surrounding me. Things didnít feel as threatening or dangerous as they had earlier. I gazed forward and there seemed to be an extended horizon full of possibilities. My options expanded before my eyes, offering a seemingly endless expanse filled with countless mysterious locations to explore. The trees started to shrink back into the ground, their branches no longer looked like impenetrable barriers, slowly sinking until they resembled flat markings, held flush to the ground. Gradually, their sharp branches they submerged. and sank into the ground. Theyíd collapsed onto themselves until they were completely flush, with visible traces left, their outlines painted on the ground. It was strange to see the intimidating physical obstacles nearly vanish, their forms and structure dissolving and subsequently disappearing in front of me without warning or explanation.

It was a sudden change in perception that seemed to flatten the path in front of me. In a strange way, it seemed to help me. Seeing the path ahead emerging from a different angle seemed to give me added strength and enhanced my confidence. After hesitating, I decided to move forward without waiting in order to take advantage and walked quickly to move beyond the clearing. I nearly glided through the forest trees, unafraid of their sharp branches. I dodged each one without blinking, bending left and right as I traveled at an increasing rate. I looked towards my sides and motioned towards the leaves and branches. At first, there was little effect, but slowly I saw that they had begun to tilt away from me, anticipating my path and getting out of the way. Despite my increasing speed, I still had an idea of what I was doing, which probably made it easier for those in my path to see what I was doing. I didn't feel like I was alone, but perhaps there was a strength in the solitude, a freedom that I wouldn't often enjoy. Taking advantage of this elusive luxury, I jumped up a little in a kind of celebration, an earned declaration, forming a circular rotation where I spun around while moving forward. It was a staged and somewhat planned method of trying to see as much as possible along the way, and I felt the air underneath propelling me forward, without much effort.

This approach might have felt overly elaborate, but I wasn't taking any chances. It also took much longer than I anticipated but that didn't really worry me. I didn't want to scramble ahead and miss anything along the way. I hadn't much wanted to waste the effort it had taken me to arrive at that point, owing it to myself, I took the longer route, knowing there was a possibiliy of more difficult adversaries ahead. I didn't completely understand every point and path on the map. but had come to the realization that it wasn't necessary for me to. It was enough that it had given me sense of direction and a general destination - the specifics of my path, or an accompanying demand to stay faithful to a preordained pattern would have been ineffective. I knew I had to allow for some level of serendipity to find the right approach. I gave into this mysterious power, not questioning its origin or motivation, allowing its waves and currents to steer and propel me towards its culmination. I had no way of knowing exactly where or what was ahead of me, but decided that it was worth taking a chance.

It took me some time to get the hang of the floating method, and I realized after awhile that it wasn't really a measure of velocity but a kind of momentum. There was nobody challenging me to go faster, all I needed to do was maintain a steady, consistent pace. I watched for bumps and twists on the surface ahead of me, carefully adjusting and changing direction. I tried to keep things calm and focused, but I felt something odd beginning to slow me down as I approached the edge of the forest. There was an unexpected drag on my feet and I began to sink lower, descending towards the surface with each turn. It seemed that I had beaten an unexpected large measure of energy out of the ground. It worked when things were mostly solid and the flat ground was uncovered and bare, but as I approached the grassier section that covered the soil, the energy I had drawn from seemed to slowly fragment, gradually subsiding, its supernatural power draining away with each passing yard. I waited for a signal to guide me forward, but there was no response to my action. I looked around towards each side and tried to decide which direction to head next, but there was no obvious pathway. Staring at the surrounding sections seemed to offer little reassurance, I felt a bit lost and without realizing it, had gotten stranded out there.

Closing my eyes gave me some relief and I tried to listen for something tangible, but there was nothing at first. Slowly, I concentrated and pivoted towards the ocean, and heard the waves in the distance, lapping towards the isolated island. In taking the time to listen, I had finally gotten a clue, though it wasn't apparent initially. I let myself climb down from the long journey and my feet slowly anchored back towards the ground. As sensation returned to my toes, there was a subsiding numbness as I gradually felt myself falling back towards the ground. Tilting slightly, it took me awhile to regain my balance and sense of place. I decided to give myself a few minutes to adjust to the surface, and let the natural balance reassert itself. My head began to stop spinning so much and I came to realize that the floating sensation was probably some weird after-effect from the long journey. The swirling and dizziness finally came to an end. I decided to take a few cautious steps towards the shore, but did so slowly and without the sense of speed, it seemed to take much longer to get anywhere than I had expected. I decided to show some patience and slowed my pace and expectations, which would have led to frustration otherwise.
 
There was an invisible, yet tangible force that seemed to be holding my feet and dragging me backward. It seemed to be holding me back, purposely slowing my progress. No matter what I did, nothing seemed to work at first. I couldn't quite understand what it was or how to counter its energy. I sensed a different type of obstacle than the kind I'd encountered during earlier journeys. Around me, there was a slowly emerging cloud, of unknown size and diameter in the process of forming. It seemed to have been blown onshore, and grew deeper and thicker in the manner of suddenly appearing. Encircling the surroundings, what looked like a green barrier began to rise from the shore, quickly covering the skies. This gradually intensified until it created a foggy, thick cloud that obscured the sunlight, darkening the skies with layers of thick air that made it much harder for me to navigate my way towards the unknown destination. It seemed to have vanished beneath the cloud. It was difficult to see where I'd end up. I had no idea what awaited me on the distant, mysterious shore. This happened despite my not entirely knowing where I was heading. In a strange sense, lost and unprepared for the gasping air and the atmosphere's unexpected opposition and thickness.

I decided to keep moving ahead towards the ocean, maintaining my forward.momentum without hesitation. It didn't feel like I had much choice. Alone and stranded, there was no place left for me to explore back in the center of the island. I walked carefully over the uncertain path, spacing my feet at a deliberate distance so I could anticipate where they would land, while not trying to get too far ahead and take an unneeded risk. Progress was slow at first, and the longer I went on, the thicker and more intimidating the fog seemed to become. The aire surrounding me grew heavier and began to almost sink inward, until its pressure became quantifiably stronger and intimidating. I began to take shorter steps, but firmer and more deliberate ones, where I wouldn't be stopped. Remembering the techniques that had worked earlier, I began to swing and tilt, moving against the cloud's currents and winds, and began to progress, at a similar pace, moving ahead, slowly pushing through the atmosphere, carefully yet quickly towards the distant points. I tried not to get ahead of myself, and walked at a steady pace, watching carefully for any unseen obstacles until my hands began circling and moving, I had gotten this far, and would reiterate my techniques, surfacing over the slipping grounds. Before I realized what was happening, I found myself floating over the ground, my feet seeming to lift from the ground as they had before.

There was an imperceptible change beneath me, almost invisible, I had still maintained a steady pace, allowing for all I had encountered, this had to be considered a minor success. I decided to take in that small victory, and paused momentarily to collect my thoughts and recharge. My arms had become somewhat exhausted from the constant spinning and I could feel them losing acuity and sensation. This seemed to reduce their strength and I needed to recharge my energy. Standing in place, I closed my eyes briefly and took a deep breath and let the thick forest's air disparate constraints lifting, allowing me a chance to breach the momentum and take at least temporary control of my destiny, at least for that portion of my journey. Despite the terrain I had travelled and successfully navigated. I still had a nagging sense of being almost completely lost. It still wasn't completely clear where I was supposed to go, and this was unsettling. I closed my eyes and began to whisper, trying to quietly call out for some way forward. I felt the solitude of my position and began to question whether embarking on my own was a good plan. I felt my feet beginning to submerge into the ground. I spoke a little louder, casting my voice into the unknown, and listened carefully. It felt foolish to continue yelling into the darkness, but I couldn't help wondering if, by some improbable coincidence, there was anyone out there that could hear me. I waited patiently for several minutes, but there was no response. The clouds circled and surrounded me, unimpressed by my transparently reluctant, plainly tentative words.

My attempts at communicating with the strangely-colored atmosphere went nowhere, it was obviously not present in a form I could contact. Puncturing its heavy shield wasn't going to work.It quickly became clear that I lacked the tools to affect the barrier. I paused for a few moments, scanned the surroundings carefully and finally decided to resume my previous, somewhat more effective approach. I turned and tilted a bit and began making stronger and more aggressive motions with my arms. I swung them wildly at my sides, sweeping them around in an attempt to push some of the cloud out of my way. It took some effort, but my plan seemed to work. The results were better than I'd anticipated. My tired arms gave little resistance. but It still took me several warm-up, qualifying motions and warm-up moves to find just the right motions, but I slowly built into a rhythm of walking and swinging simultaneously. This became effective quickly and went a long way in clearing some field for me to see a little further ahead.

When I cleared the clouds away from my immediate area, I could see some of the outlines of the shore begin to emerge in the distance, the sand and seas slowly cane into view until their detailed emerged from vague outlines into a more visible form. It had taken longer and used more energy than I had anticipated but as I drew closer, there was a sense of relief and accomplishment. As I drew closer towards the beach, the cloud began to dissipate, apparently washed away by the nearby waves and dissipated beneath the crashing surf. As the thick clouds vanished and I stepped onto the sandy shore, I took a deep breath, and found myself partially satisfied by my effort, realizing that the path ahead might not be as difficult as I had anticipated.

Walking slowly over what had been an unforgivingly hard, noticeably straight surface, I began to feel a gradual transformation. Its flat, severe surface of the path began to give way, slowly soften and eventually, started giving way beneath me. I looked around, and the thick barrier had rapidly thinned until there were only rapidly evaporating traces remaining. I felt small grains of sands underneath. I could sense that I had breached the barrier and the clouds began to disperse, revealing a different face to the atmosphere. I looked around and saw that the late-afternoon sun had become a little bit less pronounced, causing a kind of stange shadow to emerge in front of me. I looked and saw an expanse of beachway indirectly in front of me.

Its parameters looked unwelcoming, a batch of rock and sand, jutting out into the water, with uneven, sharply angled branches and missions extending towards the east, its distinctive shape was shaper, and more rugged than the one I had encountered when we arrived on the other side of the island. This was confusing and I was disappointed,and frustrated initially. It seemed that I'd made a huge mistake and had travelled in completely in the wrong direction. I turned around and looked back into the shrouded forest, its intimidating trees still covered by that mysterious cloud, I contemplated returning and retracing my steps, but the prospects of completing my journey before the sun had set weren't particularly promising. I decided to walk forward, instead, I carefully maneuvered myself, navigating towards the shoreline, and onto the sands instead. Managing to get that far had taken enough out of me, and I decided that I wouldn't defeat my instinct, and instead settled for the unknown. I knew I was taking a chance that something was out there, but decided there were no other options.

Scanning the shore, its unfolding scene wasn't what I was expecting to discover. The isolated but tranquil beach and its accompanying surf was oddly quiet. Everything had settled into strange calm that was strangely unaffected by any malevolent presence. The cloud seemed to have passed over, leaving no trace of damage or danger in its wake. it looked oddly serene, seemingly oblivious to my presence. Drawing in closer towards the water, I sensed the waves moving cautiously against the sand, moving in and out, taking short, measured breaths as the serene surroundings formed an uneasy balance somewhere between peacefulness and loneliness. Observing the ocean's timing, strange patterns began to emerge. there was an unmistakably programmed order to its quiet march. I decided to match its pace and began moving in close parallel to the waves, slowly and carefully with measured steps, maintaining a steady and determined pace.
 
There was a calming accompaniment of sand and water that seemed to permeate the atmosphere. I looked around and initially saw nothing out of the ordinary at first. I walked further down the shore, just outside the range of its rolling waves. I was careful in not allowing my shoes to get soaked or damaged in the water. The sand was slightly dampened. It was thick enough to keep my steps short, but not enough to slow me down excessively. Keeping a safe distance from the water was probably a good idea, just in case I encountered an unexpected occurrence. Straddling the water-logged sand allowed me just enough space to cover any unexpected contingencies. As I walked, I carefully scanned out into the ocean, projecting my view a slightly off-shore not wanting to get caught off-guard by anything lurking beneath the liquid surface.

I waited and looked nervously out into the ocean, and held my breath, hoping that nothing was out there. I didn't hear anything, though that didn't necessarily mean I wasn't in danger, just that no one had noticed me. I remembered some of my previous encounters, and recalled some of the things that happened. I wondered if I should be looking for another mysterious vessel. I was preparing for a range of possibilities; perhaps a strange sea creature might jump out from beneath the waves and attack me. I waited but nothing of that kind seemed to be in the offing. It might have been an excessively pessimistic reaction to a seemingly tranquil interlude but it was the only safe approach I could take.

(Continue to part two)