The Laser Fiction - A Resplendent Attribute - Part Two









In Memory
Sean Pettibone



A Resplendent Attribute (Part Two)

I paused and thought about what she said, and concluded that she was right; there was no more needed, additional layers or objects would only clutter and detract from the painting. I started to speak up in agreement, but she'd already decided. Her gaze extended past my work towards another visage. She'd moved on; now looking beyond my canvas towards the eleborate paintings stacked across the room. She began to walk to the other end of the studio and came onto them, purposefully standing directly in front of the assemblage. They were dimly lit but neatly organized in a sensible order, she began flipping through them quickly bit carefully, until she came across another empty surface, leaning unobtrusively towards the back wall. Holding up to the light, it was strangely unused, whether this was done purposely or the result of accidental filing wasn't immediately clear. There was an odd placement of another blank slate that seemed out of place. I moved closer and realized had been well-hidden. It was roughly twice the size of my canvas and didn't suffer noticeable warping or miscoloring. She took it firmly in her hand, reinstituting a crucial aspect of her persona never far removed from the suface.

She walked, then nearly sprinted towards the centrally-located easel, guided by an apparent sense of urgency. I saw her motioning towards me and without saying anything, I knew it was time shift attention back to her work. I took my picture down from the easel, holding it carefully.The paint had dried enough that I didn't need to worry about it dripping or running, but I was hesitant to leave it on the far side of the gallery. I remained protective and placed it facing heading out so I wouldn't accidentally brush against the surface. She motioned for me to place it alongside the other pictures. I hovered over the painting and couldn't seem to let it out of sight, standing over it for several minutes. She asked me what was taking so long, this broke its spell and I turned away from it, somewhat reluctantly. I didn't really want to leave something I'd worked for so long on behind. I was reluctant to let it go, and when I finally did, it looked vulnerable to damage or defacement. I stood over it nervously, not wanting to let it out of my sight. Noting my distraction and worry. she reassured me that my painting would remain untouched in that location, but wasn't sure it would be as secure as I'd assumed. .

Taking a long glance into its world, I contemplated its composition and found numerous, previously unnoticed flaws begin to emerge the longer I stared at it. Her head seemed a little bit thinner than it could have been, her shoulders were too pronounced, the tree looked a little scraggly, and I could have put more effort into its leaves, which appeared to have been pasted on. What seemed like a decent effort quickly became riddled with flaws, if only I had more time to correct its numerous problems. I was disappointed by the blatant, frequent mistakes I'd made, and after a few minutes, expressed this by turning the canvas backward, where its discouraging lack of detail and vision wouldn't be quite as noticeable. She didn't look nearly as troubled by my apparent shortcomings, and instead focused her primary energy on her pending construction. Taking the blank slate off the ground, she placed it on the easel and moved it around a few times until she finally arrived at an amenable position.

She maintained a noticeable distance that allowed her to keep watch while maintaining control. I took my place in the background and knew it wasn't my place to critique. I wouldn't interfere with her. She was strangely energized by my example, despite the substandard results. The effort seemed to engage her in a different level. Apparently, she was more impressed by my work than I assumed. She'd apparently decided to reward me by sharing a short sliver of her technique. Taking her place firmly in front of the canvas, she prepared herself for pending activation. She reached downward to reveal a substantial box, laying nearly hidden, just out of sight in the shadows on her eastern side. She pulled it towards her with her foot, sliding it across the floor until it was just at her feet where she could get inside easily. Opening it revealed an array of painting brushes and tools. There was a impressively massed selection of tools; composing measuremens and multi-colored implements available.

However, these variables weren't uniformly useful and she quickly narrowed her choices. Her first decision was probably the most important, but one she didn't need to spend a particularly long amount deciding on. She rustled through the arrayed brushes pulled out a similarly constructed, sharply pointed, fastidiously clean brush. It was longer and thicker, yet narrower and larger brush than the one I'd carefully manuevered. Not hesitating, it quickly found itself submerged in the paint well on her western flank. Managing its paint with intuitive speed, she quickly began her composition. Taking a different approach, she started her composition with only a couple of small, nonobtrusive light-colored marks, scattered with an unanticipated abandon, sporadically appearing on its surface.

This approach was curious, and not at all what I was expected. I leaned over a little closer to see what purpose she had, it wasn't immediately obvious that this wasn't random, she was working methodically, despite appearances. The random dots didn't reveal much at first glance. She undermined expectations, and after a few stroked, I could see a pattern emerge to their placement. Her discordant, impetuous marks quickly covered the surface. They converged met one another, overlapping and subsumin each other as she determined distance and relationships carefully. She made a few additional marks around the edges that were disconnected, almost scattershot and random; nothing looked to have much cohesion. I couldn't see a pattern emerging to their disorganized placement, but she seemed to have a plan in mind. Her brush was too thick, exceeding the current requirements. She placed it downward into the well, this time drying it further. She began sketching a few lines, but they quickly drained of energy and darkness until they appeared almost opaque. The slender, barely visible lines connected to each other surreptiously at first, then came together before coalescing into what resembled a tenuous, inconsistent grid of dots and lines. It looked like she was charting some kind of map, but it wasn't clear as to what, or precisely where, all those contradictions would eventually lead. Attempting to follow its numerous, overlapping, clashing paths was exhausting and confusing, and I gave up trying to track its disparate, complicated layout. It appeared to be an impervious, uninviting type of map that would mainly be useful if you knew the routes ahead of time. From my perspective, it resembled a jumble of uncontrolled dots and lines, manifestly impervious to prying from unaccustomed eyes.

Expecting her work to be almost complete, I scanned it over and tried to trace its numerous impenetrable paths. This didn't achieve much except added confusion. Issuing a discreet charge, her hands continued adding to the map, its numerous layers overlapping one another. I wondered what the end-result would be; it remained unclear at that point. She elaborated on the design further by marking additional pathways, constructing more lines and placing additional points onto the rapidly filling expanse. Attempting to decipher the meaning and directives inherent became increasingly improbable. After spending additional stymied minutes growing increasing confused, yet unwilling to impede her progress. She put down the narrow pen and I started to walk back towards it's surface to get a better view. Waving for me to hold back a bit longer. She was still involved with its construction, I refrained from getting involved further by asking unecessary questions. I decided to forgo the impossible task of disentangling the painting's twisting, over-running lines and defer to her intuition.

Remaining unallayed in her approach, she continued building the painting until it has mostly filled the entire canvas slate with its incongrous display. Simultaneously linear and disordered, it's contradictory nature was difficult for me to reconcile. her hands, she admonished me to hold back give her enough space to complete the rendering. It was a startling declaration on her part, its elaborate, multi-layered approach looked nearly finished. She knelt down and rustled through the box a second time. This time, she appeared less constrained and took out a series of different brushes of different sizes. Subsequently retrieving different paints, this offered her the chance to implement different hues. She picked out a contrasting series of blues, organges and browns, that appeared to be an off-kilter choice to use on a chart. She filled her broad brush the brighter brown hues which changed my perception of its appearane dramatically. Her fingers moved gracefully as she methodically began filling the spaces efficiently. Bordering areas at the edges slowly began to transform into new formations and structured layouts began to emerge. Changing brushes rapidly allowed her to work efficiently, quickly alternating between the assembled colors. These came into view rapidly, surrounding, then covering a selection of the dots in varying shades of blue, brown and orange. It didn't take very long for me to realize that my assumptions had been mistaken. She wasn't actually designing a map or making a chart. Instead, something entirely different emerged.

Filling in the gaps with meticulous energetic swashes, I watched with some surprise as defined figures and completely-formed structures began appearing from her seemingly undefined scrawl. It didn't take much effort for me to figure out that the dislocated lines and dots she placed on the page in apparent haste represented an idiosycratic short-hand. She'd been forging an elaborate outline, making sure the proportions, enmeshments, and justifications were in the correct places before moving ahead to enter the final phase where she'd complete their visual recreation. It was a complex, multi-step process, but it seemed that she had experience with it and was able to move through the various steps without hesistation. After making innumerable minor adjustments and checking their implementation was accurate, she seemed pleased with the resulting structures. They appeared remarkably authentic, but I couldn't place exactly where they might have been or where she could have encountered such remarkably detailed, yet unfathomably exaggerated buildings. If she knew the buildings' precise location or inner composition of the assemblages, she wasn't telling. By that point, I knew better than to ask.

She forged astonishingly large buldings that filled and blocked the skies until the horizon was only partially visible, peering out from between the imposing upper reaches of the occasionally intimidating structures. Their elaborate construction was unlike anything I'd ever seen, eschewing the iconography that had become commonplace. I surveyed them carefully as she drew them into reality, there resemblance to known stuctures was fleeting, they'd twist in turn unexpectedly and shift gravitational rules wirhout constraint. Placing them in context within other architectural paradigms proved to be a vexing task. None of them fit within the confines of buildings, structures or dwellings I'd seen in person or any other form such as books or films.I couldn't place them anywhere familar and after several confounding minutes, inferred that they probably weren't residing in explainable locations. Their surreptitiously disorienting construction and incongrous appearance became a tad more rational as she filled them in with greater detail, but the origin of their unbridled construction and intangible implementation remained shrouded. I couldn't precisely place their location, and became convinced the mysterious city they populated was a great distance from our current position. It would make a remarkable feat to unravel the mysteries they held within their lavishly-illustrated, concentric walls.
Retaining a consistent recalcitrance and residual wariness, caution was apparent between her elusive brushstrokes. I wondered if these buildings were recreated strictly from memory, or if they'd sprung unadorned from a fantastical element, rising from deep inside her imagination. I reasoned that it was likely a case of the former but coudn't rule out the other significant possibility. I wasn't completely persuaded. In order to my reinforce my inner confidence, I split the difference and assumed these unimaginably constituted complexes she designed most likely contained elements arising from both memory and fantasy. It wasn't obvious that conclusions about the buildongs on my end were even remotely correct. I wasn't going to pry when she was otherwise preoccupied and needed a reasonable explanation to latch onto. Her skill with the brush was undeniable, there was no way I would interfere. I was taken aback with their exquisitely detailed appearance. She maintained a pronounced level of focus and concentration and her focused energy didn't waver. Her resolve only appeared to intensify when her brush inexorably ascended towards the peak-endings of each structure. I was able to make out individual windows, ledges, staircases and shutters crossing some of the surfaces.

She continually made increasingly elaborate markings, showing a deepening engagement with the elaborate buildings. Her brush moved in cycles, from edges to central locations. then going back to reinterpret and embellish their surfaces. Interspersing spires and reinforcing weight into the large, billowing towers effortlessly, they quickly realized an apperance mixing ancient permanence alongside uncompromised sintegrity. She did so using deceptively intuitive visual depth perception to aid their fanrtastic realism. Each stood silent, allowing a sense of vulnerability between some sections and helmed sections and reinforced portions to strengthen others. Her brush moved speedily and flawlessly, her strokes filling the canvas systematically, resolutely unencumbered throughout the duration of her task. Her intensity of movement and design unfurled at an almost supernatural rhythm that was impossible for me keep up with but even harder to take my eyes away from. My attention instilled its attention on the mysterious towers rising from the emptiness. The purpose of these ancillary structures was unclear, it wasn't apparent what their precise function might have entailed. They could have provided energy, tapped into unknown sources, or acted as vast bariier fences between the larger, more pronounced buildings. Their static appearance allowed for a plethora of possibilities while providing no concrete clues.

Unswayed by doubt, she almost frantically continued drawing at a breathless pace. She hurried in her task, sketching each stucture's face individually using fast strokes of her narrow brushes, returning to them later to implement further enhancements. Repeating this process several times for the majority of stuctures, she determined that certain areas needed work, but others required little additional effort in order to fully encompass her vision. This process didn't take long, she was able to move quickly until she stepped back, placed the brush down, earning a brief respite. She stepped back a little bit examined the broad vision and invited me to join her. I took a few steps inwards, and began to break it apart into segments. I began visually rolling my hands across the field of vision, using only my fingers, for effective blocking and improved focus.

As I examined the painting, searching for hidden meanings or clandestine aspects, I couldn't see anything that looked out of place or reach conclusions as to what may have gone missing. I wasn't surprised at how efforlessly she'd embarked unimpeded designing the painting, but remained mystified by certain aspects that presaged its creation. She worked uninterrupted, tirelessly adding to the canvas until it reached her standards, almost a presentable state. Most importantly, she knew when to withdraw her brush before crossing the line and going too far into excess. All accomplished effortlessly in what retrospectively resembled a single, blinding maneuver. She'd completed everything with determined agility and uncompromising dedication. Its surpernatural urban skyline eventually came together to form a coherent, magnificent combination of technical artistry alongside ostentatious inspiration. Their contradictory nature made the assembled structures appear to be almost glding over the surface, floating above their foundations dispatching anchors and defying gravity while groundlessly protruding into the atmosphere unabated. I couldn't help but be impressed at the attentive speed and effortless demarcations she'd put into the painting. It was surprising to see how much effort had gone into the piece; her inherent capabilities unmatched by my comparatively amatuerish dabbling. Despite my admiration for her work, I had a strange sense that, despite the intrinsically unwieldly balancing act she performed to bring the project to fruition, there was an unspoken burden. There may have been missing elements from the accumulated designs. I didn't doubt her competence, or motivation but couldn't overcome a lingering and persistent suspicion that a signficant subject was purposely omitted from the composition.

Noticing my doubts and fears, she reassured me that nothing important was missing from her work. The city may have been slightly scaled-back, but was largely unfiltered. I looked it over once more and its densely-populated structures filled the canvas, leaving no visible empty space between their thick, impermeable walls. The unexpected, unusually strong denial was unmistakable; her voice resolute on this. I surveyed them with an increased scrutiny for several uneasy minutes, before finally arriving at the realiization that their mass and density precluded them from hiding anything. Deciding not to dwell on what might have gone unrealized and focused on the refined, cohesive appearance. As I gazed into them, she returned and made additional adjustments, adding small effects and layers that lent them even greater depth and resolve. It wasn't apparent that she was finished. but it appeared that she was putting the final touched into the painting.

She successfully recreated the enigmatic buildings with unexpected their inherent energy, unusual design and counter-intuitive gravitational details intact. She accomplished this task with little untoward exertion, the buildings seemingly appearing from memory, intuition and, inspiration. Surprisingly, she allowed herself a moment's respite, taking a few steps back to revel in her picture. Appearing pleased with her work to that point, she soaked in its intricacies without fixating on unanticipated emergent disappointments. She knew by that point, that she was headed on the correct path; any problems could be easily corrected. Apparently, she was able to reassemble the stuctural and intangible elements with enough precision to make it appear nearly photographic.She remarked with confidence tempered by quiet assurance, that her renderings were accurate. None of the structured displayed warping or altered dimensions, appearing precisely as she remembered them. She didn't offer insight into their manifestation, assiduously keeping inquiries from intruding. Despite successfully keeping their location and purpose shrouded in mystery, It was impressive that she consecrated them without explanation. I didn't fully comprehend the importance, reassurance and resolution that they provided her, but remained in its thrall nonetheless. Their complex structures and composition went far beyond anything I expected, creating an entirely unique environment and setting than I'd ever envisioned.

She made several minor yet important changes and additions, bridging functional and ornamental elements to the structures; that worked together seamlessly, infusing the buildings with a seemingly unstoppable energy. After implementing these enhancements, she stepped back several inches towards a comprehensive viewing angle. Looking over their composition seemed to help renew her inspiration. She continued her intangible process with each structure. looking for visible shortcomings. There were some flaws, but she fixed these problems quickly. Cleaning and measuring her brushes allowed her to make corrections with speed and flexibility. Some areas needed little to no work, and she began using it correctively with lessening frequency. She maintained a steadfast determination to make any residual corrections, doing so tirelessly until she was finally satisfied that the painting was largely complete. I stood at her side and we viewed it in its totality, its composition now firmly completed. She'd finished it efforlessly, and the resulting arrangement was undeniably beautiful and somewhat startling.

I was taken aback and stood in silent appreciation, unable to accurately denote how significantly it had inspired me. Wandering closer, I maintained a careful distance; soaking its splendid surfaces and elaborate design for quite some time. While lost under its spell, I didn't notice that she'd made the decision to finish up. Before I realized what she was doing, the brushes had been cleaned and put back into their box quickly. Managing to withhold going to excess, the paint gradually dried on the canvas, untouched. It harded and solidified until the buildings on its surface appeared to become permanent, still hovering above but with increased heft. Understandably protective, she took a position between me and the painting and looked it over carefully. There weren't any more changes to make, but she wanted to be sure she'd gotten everything correct. She knew it could no longer be recalibrated, and waited patiently before the remaining areas evaporated completely. She paused one final time and took the measure of its completed form. Her flawless technical work fell into place effortlessly. The entire illustrated city retained its energetic aura without becoming excessive, appearing almost radiant, its tall structures rising without impediment.

Awaiting its final phase towards permanent adhesion, she wasted little time sorting the remaining brushes and tools. Her toolbox was only half-full which gave her enough space for additional items. Pushing the long, heavy box to the other side of the room, she reached the long table. The machines rested on top of it and she took another look at them. She examined each one individually to make certain they remained in stasis. When she couldn't elicit any response, she placed them into the box until the table waa cleared off completely. After she finished examining them, she quickly slammed the lid on the tool box until it closed solidly, keeping the safe from dangerous hands and out of view. She managed to locate its secret comparment with accompanying combination dial. She quickly opened and spun its symbols, before locking it into place. Then she pushed it to the side of the room away from the lights, hidden underneath a shadow at its perimeter. She secured it in place with black rope, then covered it with a thick black tarp to hide the container further. By the time she completed her task, she was able to return to the painting.

At this point, the painting had completely dried, allowing her to give its final form a comprehensive examination. She managed to walk ahead of me and viewed it intently with a mixture of anxious anticipation alongside a released burden. At this point, she appeared relieved for the most part. Her standards met, she appeared mutedly pleased that it was finally finished, but somehow remained anxious that she might have missed residual flaws. This fear seemed to lessen when she looked closely into the painting; it turned out better than she anticipated. This led her to a strange contradiction, she was proud of her accomplishment but wanted to keep its existence secret. She didn't want to leave it out in plain sight for obvious reasons, but couldn't quite figure where to place it. It would have gotten lost with the other paintings, and she wanted to keep it a safe remove, in a special, secure place.

Attempting to find a good location, I pointed back towards the tool-box. She didn't seem to want it there by itself. I walked over and pulled up the tarp; and she quickly realized what to do. That would be the perfect hiding place. She carefully removed the finished painting from the easel and carried it over towards the box. She unrolled the tarp and placed the painting face down on top of the paint-box. She was somewhat surprised to discover that it was a good fit and wouldn't warp on the flat surface or fade beneath the tarp. Making a final declaration, she secured it in place by tying ropes across its sides until it she was certain it wouldn't move, then carefully rolled the tarp over it, making sure it was covered completely. After she hid the painting, and double-checked that it was secure, she moved back towards the center of the room. Disassembling and folding-up the easel with efficient speed, she placed it back on the ground and pushed it in front of the paintings, hiding them to a degree. She turned to me and asked me to perform one last task. I wondered what that might be, but she motioned back towards the table and looked above and behind it. It was my turn to turn off the lights. I was slightly disappointed, but looked like our time painting in the room had come to what felt like a premature end, but she told me not to get discouraged. Reluctantly, I walked over, reached over towards the panel on the wall and switched off the lights. We stood in the center of the room. Darkness shrouded us, covering our tracks while also blocking our forward momentum.

Stumbling around for several minutes, it took awhile to reorient ourselves to the surroundings. We weren't able to find the exit at first and kept hitting barriers, though fortunately we didn't crash into any of our carefully arranged paintings. She had enough forebearance to place them outside our most likely outward path. Eventually, we were able to navigate through the room and quickly found the seemingly elusive doorway. It had apparently closed without us noticing and was locked shut firmly. She began attempting to open it by pulling on its handle, but it wouldn't budge despite her forceful maneuvering. Somewhat perplexed, her hands moved around the doorway, searching for some kind of switch or key that she could turn or pull. Not finding anything that could help, she fixated on the door handle again, but changed tactics. Instead of pulling it back, she decided to try turning the lever to its side.

This approach took some effort and she couldn't gain enough traction at first, but after several strenuous shifts, it finally began to budge and turned slowly towards the side. Shifting it to the right was difficult but it finally surrendered to her pressure and turned almost sideways before letting off a loud clicking noise. At this point, the lever reached its end-point and wouldn't move further in that direction. The door still wouldn't open, but she wasn't going to give up that easily. She quickly decided to turn it in the other direction and it turned backward, going past its initial position until it reached the other side. This released another click and then I saw the door open, slighly ajar. It was a narrow opening but more than adequate for our purposes. There was enough space for us to squeeze through it and we did so without procrastinating.

We managed to slip back into the clearing and before realizing what happened, we stood in the vestibule, caught between the pair of doors. She looked at me warily, knowing how difficult our intiial entrance was but remaining cautious. While the thick doorway was hard to move, she decided not to take any chances. She pushed it back into a fully closed position and locked it from the outside, firmly pushing its lever until it was flush with the surface. This would make it quite difficult to dislodge, but the secondary reinforcement effectively protected the inside room from unwelcome intruders. She turnned her attention to the second door and surprisingly, the second gateway remained unlocked, still swinging open. The accumulated vines prevented it from closing completely and securely. She decided to rip them away and clear a pathway. Waving at me, she beckoned me to join her. This would go faster if we worked together. Fortunately, its tangled branches didn't put up much of a fight and snapped easily and quickly.

Quickly succumbing to our effort, the cluttered fauna gave way until there was a clear route where the doorway would be able to close firmly without anything blocking it. The door itself was surprisingly heavy once exposed but she was able to push it partially open with residual energy. She told me to go ahead and I slid past its imposing frame. She quickly followed me outside turning almost completely sideways to reach past the narrow sliver, moving past the door quickly before she stood outside the bisected landing. She determined that she couldn't waste more time and instead of fiddling with the dials and switches, nearly kicked it backward, sending the door into submission until it was fully closed. Its mechanical lock mirrored the construction and functionality of the previous doorway. She reiterated her actions using a similar maneuver, though its direction was reversed for some reason. Turning the lock partially towards the right, then moving the lever in a nearly full rotation left, which released another loud clasp, and both doors were resolutely closed; inexorably locked in place.

She looked over the sealed doorway, searching for any weaknesses but nothing was apparent. It wasn't going to undergo a breach without serious effort, provided it could be located at all. She seemed reassured and while she could have covered it back up with the remaining leaves on the ground, decided she was too exhausted. It would have been over-doing things in any case. I doubted anyone would put the effort required reopen both doors, unless they knew what was inside, how to use it against us, and what the effort would entail. She reasoned this out and seemed to reach the same conclusion. I could tell she was tired and had decided not to pursue this any further. Counter-intuitively, she turned away from me and began to soak in the fresh air of the outdoors. I felt a little lost standing out there in the open. The most significant factor was that we'd opened ourselves up to wandering without our bearings. The atmosphere was different than what I was accustomed to, and many aspects of the situation were confusing. It wasn't immediately clear exactly how long we'd spent inside the room, it was difficult to figure what time of day it was. The reddish skies added to our confusion, leaving us to wonder if the sun had set or was in process of rising. We had no sense of direction, and couldn't ascertain where our position actually was in relation to the sun, which made this seemingly simple task surprisingly difficult. She seemed disoriented by the shifting light and appeared to be stranded without anything to compare with.

Taking a few minutes in search of any significant way forward, she decided to begin walking ahead. I wasn't sure she knew where she was going, but she definitely wasn't heading backward. I let her walk ahead a few paces and stayed behind, carefully following her lead while keeping a few steps behind. Something unexpected occured as I watched her walk ahead. The red polka-dot dress she was wearing seemed to match the color of the skies above us, and she began to nearly blend in with the surroundings as she walked towards the horizon. This was a strange coincidence and I couldn't help but wonder if this unexpected stroke of luck was planned in advance or was a completely unexpected phenomenon. As she walked further ahead, only her head and her frock's accompanying outline was visible, and it became increasing dificult to follow her as she walked further ahead. She didn't slow down at any point and continued walking at an increasingly fast clip. I didn't understand her insistent approach but she continued to travel straight-ahead. Her steps forged an unwavering path forward. It wasn't immediately clear where she was headed, but she appeared to have an firm objective in mind. At first, I wondered what the sudden impetus for her to move forward without hesitation might have been. I watched her closely and was surprised to see she that she had pulled out her light-convergence machine. She was purposely using her machine to traverse and navigate the terrain. Somehow, she'd managed to bring it back to life, tapping an unknown energy to power it back to functionality. Holding it directly in front of her, the machine looked to have regained her confidence and she was using it to locate another critical position, though it was unclear precisely where she'd end up.

I continued following her for several minutes, and slowly her pace began to slow until she reached a complete stop. There was nothing surrounding her, no sings or indication as to what might have blocked her path. I decided to use the opportunity to run ahead and caught up wih her. Standing at her side, I couldn't understand what the point was. We'd travelled quite a distance in a short time. The small buildings and the hidden room had long since vanished beneath the horizon. The long twilight began to darken; it was quickly apparent that night was falling over the disjointed landscape. At this point, we found ourselves completely surrounded by flat, indistinct land, there were no landmarks or objects, and only the vague outlines of some hills appeared to be reclining in the distance. I didn't comprehend why we'd travelled so far, only to reach a desolate point without any visible purpose. She turned around confidentally and assured me that we were in the right place. She held up her machine and pointed at a specific, unseen portion. It briefly lit up the skies brightly and seemed to connect to something. After the initial burst, her actions elicited no response. We waited several minutes for anything to happen but nothing occured. I'd almost given up on it until the machine let out several large bleeps. Then it responded with further affirmation and began glowing. This began at a low level but before I knew what was happening, its entire surface was brightly illuminated. Its colors began shifting into varied hues while it gathered strength, subsequently pulsing with an indescribable energy, arising from an undetermined source. She instructed me to stand in place and observe; the process had already begun and wouldn't take much longer.

I didn't understand what she meant at first, but noticed a small commotion of wind and light begin to develop just ahead. The port was tiny and didn't seem like anything much and resembled a minor disturbance. It almost felt like a small windstorm had occured at random, but the disturbance quickly grew in size until it measured nearly the same size as a typical doorway. Slowly, the wind and chaos began to subside, and the doorway stabilized in its place. I quickly realized that she'd summoned another gateway from seeming non-existence. We moved closer towards the windy portion. There was no reason for it to suddenly appear unexpectedly, arising quickly from apparent nothingness. She told me to look at it carefully. I noticed immediately that it had no intimidating locks, and instead gave off a warm glow that appeared reassuring, almost welcoming. I was startled by its sudden appearance which caught me completely by surprise. She had no such qualms and grabbed my hand, pushing me towards her until I was standing just behind her. She paused for a moment, released my hand, then quickly jumped through the door, unable to wait any longer. I heard her voice become unmistakably more pronounce as she implored me to join her. I didn't hesitate to follow in her path. I decided, to jump into the doorway, my feet following, then jumping through the passage, finally landing almost directly behind her. I remained uncertain about where we'd ended up, but wasn't going to miss what awaited beyond the gateway.

- Michael Palisano