From The Caves Of South Africa – Part I

So, I played Elegy For A Dead World for a little over an hour, and this is the first half of what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it and I’d certainly recommend giving it a try on Steam – If you do, be sure to let me know so I can check out how other people reacted to the same stimuli.

Whilst the ‘game’ itself does offer an attractive format for presenting, as you can see from the images below, they aren’t really perfect for presenting in a format like this, so I’ve re-typed it out, that it might satisfy your voracious eyes! Every ‘page’ can only contain 1,000 characters, so the whole thing is pretty short but, as a first try, I don’t think it’s too shabby!

From The Caves Of South Africa was written on ‘Shelley’s World’ – I hope you enjoy it.

From The Caves Of South Africa – Part I

You see? Cool-lookin’, but not great for online readership!

The very sky itself is splintered; a celestial body has been ravaged like a talented child’s drawing forced into a shredder.

The buildings, or the structures I assume to be buildings, are insincere distinctions, parting the fierce tones of a dead sky in much the same way that these shapes, these letter and words, form unfair segregations upon this page.

The fragmented light catches particles of dust, or ash, as they climb through the air on missions of their own.

Clustered about the parameters of my senses, there is a sound which seems to grow in intensity with every movement I make, only to cut out when I grow still. It’s as though the planet itself screams against me as the ‘other’, some implacable enemy against which it must roar out its contempt and its fear. I don’t belong here, beneath a sheared sky, standing amongst gentle and severe sloped of black particles and stones which defy the meagre laws of Physics which we held to be true.

* * *

I could lie here forever, I think. I could watch that distant mechanical arm flicker in its disjointed motions until this hunger overcomes me. I cannot hear the grinding of gears, just that same deafening roar which remains out of earshot.

I think that these stones, which levitate several feet above the surfaces of this corpse-planet, are the sources of this inaudible sensation. I cannot guess at their purpose, and I almost forget that these are not the inventions of man.

How simple it could be, if I understood these creatures which brought such things into being, which carved unfamiliar rock and stone into such forms!

I hope that I will reach the distant silhouettes of their buildings, and find something there. Anything. Whilst I am stranded here, like a sailor lost on foreign shores, would it not be more horrifying to see such wonders and not know from whence they came? Would it not be unbearable to know of their existence and not their purpose; their creators?

* * *

Like the limbs of spiders, more of these mechanical arms protrude from the ashen hills ahead of me. They cast a long shadow over me, sharply defined against the dust which takes on the varied hues of the sky.

Space is not aflame, as I had believed, but only the space above the broken city; on either side the still spirals of flame give way to a gentle green, It looks like the sands of a golden beach, finally licking back at the endless ocean.

I remember Rhodes and try to compare these places; I try to match the distant spectacle to the rotten stones of Lindos, or the savage Acropolis itself, which clings to a half-life atop that green-stained hillside – I cannot.

Such dead places as those are riddled with ghosts, with the possibility of comprehension. No ghost, however, could survive beneath such a sky; no spirit could haunt such an implacable enemy as this dust.

* * *

F208c – One curved stone boasts this, ingrained into its surface. These shapes are not letters, nor numbers, but the subtle variations in their form, the break in a line here, the sudden protrusion of another streak there, put me mind of another language – Arabic, perhaps, one of the old tongues.

These shapes themselves have not been written, painted or drawn onto the stone, but are instead a simple discolouration of the shape itself. There is no change in the texture, but these lines are clearly defined – integrated with a dexterity that no steady human hand, no surgeon’s expertise, could possibly boast.

Perhaps these mechanics themselves are the inhabitant of this place, and it was they who forged these stones from the earth with such precision. Perhaps this world is not a wasteland – perhaps this is just where such creatures come to die?

I wish I could convince myself that there is anything but… this; a planet composed entirely of such environment should not exist – even in infinity.

* * *

There are patches of red amongst the ground, not merely a trick of the distant light, but as though ash the colour of a heated blade, the colour of the crayons I used to fight for in nursery school, has banded together in the face of a world composed of even darker tones.

Even in such places, perhaps, racism remains on a molecular level. Is it wrong, I ask myself, that such a thought comforts me? That these alien skies are as nothing when compared to a difference in skin colour> I wonder what certain people would think if they stood here in my place; not Shakespeare, not Rembrandt, not Joyce, but such a bloody creature as Enoch Powell.

What would he believe, I wonder, if he were the Xeno as I was – carried to this very spot, standing in these boots amongst the dust, by the same river of blood and sweat which brought me to this place?

* * *

I made to touch one of the shapes which pierce though the dust and make their bid for the sky. They are sturdily built, and I threw all of my weight against one, wondering whether it would shift in the dust, whether it was bolted into honest ground some feet below me.

I cannot feel its texture through my thick gloves, but I can see that it perfectly smooth, just as I can see the strange material it is composed of must have shaping qualities far beyond mere iron and steel. Whilst it is, for the most part, angular lines breaking towards the skies, there is an intersected circle which shows no cracks, seams, stretch marks or any change in width which might suggest a shaping process which I am aware of.

It has no purpose that I can make out, none of them do – it strikes me that perhaps these shapes were once road signs, perhaps the slightest variation in their design meant more to the inhabitants of this place than any literature might ever have meant to me?

What direction, after all, has Joyce, Camus, Orwell or Bukowski ever offered me – offered any of us?

* * *

Each of the stones, suspended in mid-air in my recent past, and now the symbol over this great maw-like building, has featured a great ‘T’.

Perhaps, I wondered, this was their flag, if they ever had need of one? But would they? If they were lucky enough to be so different from us, from me, perhaps they did not war as we did, as we do. Perhaps, for them, nationality was a nightmarish concept promoting the same definitions we have grown to love?

It feels wrong to think of such things, in such a place, to carry the memories of my own world with me as I walk upon the surface of the impossibly distant, of the unimaginable – I wondered if I could forget everything about home and grow to love every grain of ash, learn to worship those same stones which bear this mark, learn to gaze up at a sheared sky every morning and know that it exists for my eyes alone?

Could I be happy in such a place as this? With my nation’s borders defined by the soles of my boots, by the grace of my gloves, by the hiss of my air purification system? I would be murdered for thinking such thoughts on earth.

* * *

It tells me everything and nothing; lets me know the universe as an entirety even as it shrinks my universe into nothing – just myself and the sound and the sight and the movement. I can feel my skin stretching across my face and I fight it, fight the promised rapture with every fibre of my being.

It speak to me in light, it mocks gravity as it floats above me and idly spins silhouettes about itself – I could worship this thing.

‘I could worship you’ – the words leave my mouth involuntarily, and I cannot hear them, even in my own mind. I feel my lips around the sound, feel my throat vibrate as I offered this entity everyting, surrendered myself to it, and it ignored me!

I remembered a prayer that I heard my grandmother recite – I remember begging a God I didn’t believe in to accept my love, I remember apologising that my love was meagre in comparison to His.

No – I will not worship a branded thing, boasting its T beneath the blinding light!
I shout wildly, almost a scream, and I run from my potential salvation.

* * *

The sound is gone now, though I can still see that thing on the edge of my vision. It floats, much as the rocks do, and it bears the same mark. It is at least five times the height of myself but, unlike the other rocks, it has been damaged. Its base is jagged and was, once, connected to another piece but it now hangs in the air and pleasures itself.

I almost pity it; those roars which emerge from it are as nothing – the begging of a child, the howls of a madman, the voice of someone suffering from dementia – they are the noised of something trying to convince itself that it was alive.

It was a beautiful thing, but as soon as I understood it, it repulsed me.

* * *

Thanks for reading guys! Remember to let me know what you think, either of this piece of the game as a whole – especially if you do give Elegy a go!

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