“Do you know why they call this place the home of creation?” Colin’s guide to the aforementioned place asked as they poled their way through the swamp. She had a fascination with creeping the man out in increasingly disturbing ways. “If you knew what you were about to do, I think you might just run away screaming.”
“All I know is that you were the only one I could get to lead me here. And I do have a story to write, I would never run out on one.”
“I’m not taking you the whole way, that’s too dangerous. Honestly, I’m only taking you as far as I am because I’m hoping the goddess finds you a good sacrifice.” She scoffed. “They call it the home of creation because it is one of the few places on earth where physics are debatably important. Most of the survivors are so stirred in the head that we have to remove their heads to stop the screaming.”
“What of the other survivors?”
“They struggle more.” She said simply and continued to pole the mud.
The guide stopped the boat suddenly and pushed Colin into the water. He couldn’t complain, mostly because she was no longer even there. Colin wasn’t even in the water, the landscape had become flat and dry. And there was no trace of the way from which he had come to be in this place. Only the sense of duty kept him from thinking of himself as a lunatic, Colin began to walk into the distance, where a golden light colored the horizon.
That light was the only thing in the space that seemed important in the least.
The ground at first was smooth and featureless, but as Colin walked, things began to change. He first noticed this when he tripped on a rose, or something that seemed at first to be a rose, it broke like glass and left only a dusting of red and green on the ground that disappeared into the ether as soon as he looked away.
What did the rose mean? Why did it exist at all? Colin hadn’t begun to understand what could happen in this place, but he was intent on learning.
Colin had learned about this place from some wiccan girl named Anya. She doubted he would make it out alive and seemed to derive a sadistic pleasure from that disbelief.
According to the landscape, what of it Colin could make out, the light was not becoming closer with each step. But the ground did continue to shift, he was soon enough slogging through thick black mud that extended as far as he could see. Even when he looked back, there was no way to move except through the mud, the flat ground from before no longer existed. It filled his boots and at times he felt something slither past his leg, moving through the mud with ease.
By the time the ground decided to be solid again, Colin had lost his coat and his left boot, but the mud chose not to cling to him otherwise. The land was now plates of dried mud, with tall weeds growing from the cracks that obscured everything from vision, assuming there existed things to be hidden. Some things shuffled in the weeds, writhing in their nonbeing. It seemed like it would be sacrilege to put a name to any of these things, for fear that those names would become true and horrible.
A few steps in, the weeds took away even the small amount of light that came from the horizon and the things became more violently present. Once, Colin could swear that something was breathing on the nape of his neck, followed by a brush against something soft and fine like silk against his cheek. Another time, a great roar came from something that seemed to only be a foot off the ground.
There was no night because there was no day, but Colin stopped to sleep anyway. It seemed that this part of the place was just as dangerous as any other part, even with the things that occupied the same space.
Colin woke up some time later from a dreamless sleep, his clothing had been replaced by some robes. It wasn’t very surprising, only creepy as hell that the place counted him as part of its schizophrenic strangeness. An eight-legged thing that Colin had to restrain himself from calling a spider walked on his back and jumped away into the weeds. Why the thing had the compulsion to crawl over him escaped Colin, and he was not ready to find out.
So he ran for the first time since coming to this place and soon found himself in a kind of clearing. The ground was not grass, but had its shape and the color of lavender. A log lay on its side on the other side of the clearing, and there she was.
She was a sylphlike beauty in white robes like the ones Colin found himself wearing now. And she laid upon the log, looking very much bored. She looked at Colin and the boredom left her face, replaced by a look of childish curiosity.
Colin approached her carefully, fully aware that she was just as dangerous as anything else in this place, she cocked her head as he grew closer. “What are you doing all the way out here, girl?” He asked when he got halfway across the clearing. “What are you?”
She stood up without moving the angle of her head and sauntered up to Colin. She was at least a foot shorter than him and her silvery hair hung down to her ankles. And she raised her hand to her mouth and licked her palm.
“I taste good…” She said and pushed the other hand into Colin’s face. “Pie tastes good, therefore, I am pie.”
“I don’t think it quite works that way.” To be polite, Colin licked her hand. Surprisingly, she tasted like blueberry pie.
“Names have power. I like being pie.” She looked around and leaned in, standing on her tiptoes to reach Colin’s ear. “It hears us.” Pie (for lack of a better name) dropped and started running into the weed forest, giggling like the madwoman she undoubtedly was.
Colin chased her, even a crazy girl was preferable to noone at all. The weeds only prevailed for a few meters, turning to a cobblestone street through another vast expanse of dirt. He could see clear until the horizon, but Pie was nowhere to be seen. He turned back around and the weeds were gone, only the street, going on to the horizon.
But at least the light in the distance could be seen once again, the only consistent thing in this place.
With nothing else productive to do, Colin started on his way on the street. This was definitely more than he had come expecting to find, an abandoned patch of rotting swampland. Hopefully he was just asleep and would soon find himself staring into Anya’s face like he was on the morning before he left.
“Sure sounds good.” A voice said from the ground. Colin looked down and saw a rock with a painted face.
“What is this now? You’re a rock, rocks can’t talk.”
It didn’t ever speak again, but a thin finger poked Colin in the back. He turned to see Pie with an indignant face. “What business do you have naming anything in here? That’s not your job.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s not polite to make things be. What if he hadn’t wanted to be a rock? Well now he’s stuck like that until someone else names him something that can talk. I wouldn’t name you!” Her face held nothing but contempt for the very concept of being.
“When did you get so coherent?”
Pie ignored the question and pointed at the thing that had once not been a rock. “You are not!” It immediately grew a single hairy leg and began to hop into the distance. She pointed up at Colin. “You am! Don’t not abuse!” She sighed with relief and the anger left her. Giant gossamer wings grew from her back and she rose into the sky until she could no longer be seen.
So Colin kept walking, following the path treaded by the thing that was not a rock. A forest eventually grew from the ground beside the path, things chirped and bellowed in the trees. Something that looked like a monkey watched him from a branch, it looked like it was made from colored, flowing glass and foam.
As he watched, something formless bit off the glass monkey’s head and it fell to the earth, breaking to pieces, then becoming dust, then nothing. The other thing vanished.
The path eventually lead to a white pagoda covered with the same kind of glassy roses Colin tripped over in the beginning. Pie was in the center and seemed to be turning slowly while the sounds of the forest gave way to a bunch of harps. She smiled and waved Colin over to her.
“This is a good place.” She took his hands and placed them in the standard dancing position.
“Why are we dancing now?”
“You are much too preoccupied with why, that’s why you want a name for everything. Just let things be and not be as they wish.” She placed her head on Colin’s shoulder and they rocked pleasantly for a time.
“I think I need to go.” Colin detached from her and started back on his way to the light. She didn’t protest and Colin didn’t bother to look back, she might not have been there. Still, there was a small comfort in having another almost unchanging thing in this place.
“Why am you here anyway?” She floated above him, a bluish blur of her wings keeping her aloft. “Mostly people don’t am here at all, they stay in the place where all things am.”
“You mean the real world?”
“Hmph, I wouldn’t be so crass as to name it anything more than what it am, but yes. This place, things not, the other place things am.”
“You named yourself pie, but you didn’t turn into a pie.”
“There am two things now that am pie, I am one of those. I’m still not, I just have a name that means nothing, Just like yours. What else is a Colin?” Pie’s wings detached from her back and fluttered away on their own, Pie herself landed next to Colin. “You am Colin, but that means less than you think. Colin is only a collection of memories and particles, you were once not, just like me.”
Colin watched her. Though she moved forward, her feet never left the ground or moved her dress.
“You know that you can get to that place really quick, right?” Pie grabbed Colin’s cuff. “If you keep going that way, it will take years.”
“How will I get there, then?”
She pointed behind him. He turned and he was there. It was a small pond with a flower-bulb the size of a person that shone a light that was both harsh and gentle. Pie was gone and Colin found himself intensely thirsty.
So he went to the pond, which was as clear and unmoving, and dipped his hands into the water. It was cool and sweet.
Once the ripples from his hands reached the flower, it began to unfurl. Inside was another girl, much like Pie, but obviously not her. The flower made itself into an island and the girl stretched in the way one does just after waking then lay on her stomach inside the newly opened flower.
Her fingers dipped into the water and she began to paddle herself to the shore, which must have taken hours, but Colin was willing to wait for her. When she did reach the shore, she took Colin’s face in her hands and looked deeply into his eyes.
“Why are you?” She said.
“Why am I what?” Colin pulled back, but she held his head firmly.
“You have a name, so why are you named as you are? You have no business here, nothing does, but you have less of a reason. Why do you exist?”
He started to speak, but she placed a single finger across his lips.
“This is a place for things that are not, so it is not a place for you or any of your people.”
And she cracked, her face caved in like a broken pot and she reduced to dust like so many other things in the place. Colin turned to run and fell into Pie.
She had the widest, toothiest grin Colin had ever seen. “I know how to get rid of that pesky body. trust me, it’ll feel so much better when you’re not anymore. A sharp pain erupted in his gut, he looked down and saw the knife that Pie had shoved into him.
Her joyful laugh echoed forever.
The body soon died and the thing that was no longer Colin began living its life once again, after too many years of painful definition.