THE TRUE END OF SAMUEL TONSURE'S JOURNAL
(For those who, having read City of Saints and Shriek, might be interested...)
The gray caps have brought me through a seemingly infinite series of rooms. The first were tiny—I had to crawl into them, and even then barely squeezed past, banging my head on the ceiling. These rooms had the delicate qualities of a damaged illuminated manuscript created by some strange, utterly unique culture. Golden lichen covered the walls in intricate patterns, and the textures of even the most solid surface seemed to pulse and hum.
Strangely, in these rooms I felt as if I had unlimited space in which to move and breathe. Each room we entered that was larger than its predecessor made me more and more ill at ease. I sensed that these were living quarters, despite the absence of chairs, tables, and bookshelves. They smelled of lime. They smelled of stone and earth. Slowly, what little light we had became greener and greener, until we were all just shadows passing through it.
As the curious rooms expanded, so to the precision of my senses, so that I would spend hours examining the patinaed surface of some ancient artifact, unsure whether it was stone or living tissue. Or find myself locked in thought at the sight of a trickle of water along a mineral fissure...This continued for days and days, until I became numb to even the most amazing wonders.
We continued on. When hungry, we broke off pieces of the golden walls and ate of them. When thirsty, we squeezed the odd fleshy lampposts and greedily drank the drops of mossy elixir that came from them. Eventually, we would push open the now immense doors leading to the next room and see only distantly the far wall...
Then, just when I thought this journey might never end—and yet surely could not continue, the gray caps brought me through one final door (as large as many of the rooms we had passed through).
Beyond this door, it was a kind of odd day-dusk, lit by the dimly seen stars, and we had come out upon a hill of massive columns, through which I could see, below us, a vast city that looked uncannily like Ambergris, surrounded by a forest.
Above, the immense sky, darkening in a way the land below did not—and I thought, I thought, that I had been brought above ground, for the entire world seemed to spread out before me. But no, I realized with sinking heart, for far above me I could see, when I squinted, that, luminous blue against the blackness, what I had taken for stars, for the arch of the heavens, was in fact a distant ceiling, and that I was in yet another room, if one so large I could not begin to guess its dimensions.
When I Iooked back, the door we had come through was gone, replaced with mere façade.
Strange people and things moved in the distance.
Bridges reached into nothing and nowhere. On the horizon, I could see the beginnings of some vast inland sea.
Although the way was strange and difficult, it was to that sea we went, and on its ancient shore that my captors spoke to me one last time…
They spoke to me in clicks and whistles. The language of the mad. And I did not understand them, and they still did not understand me.
I looked out into the water and saw in its reflections a thousand alien and exotic images. And thought with weariness of how far I had come to end up here, lost and with no friend beside me.
And finally they made me to understand that they are done with me, and I am free, in a sense. In a few minutes, they will take this journal from me. Leaving me only the shore and a tiny cockleshell of a boat in which to cross this sea.
What shall I do now? Among the islands that spread out before me, a light beckons in the distance. It is a clear light, an even light, and because light still, to me, means the surface, I have decided to travel toward it in hopes, after all this time, of regaining the world I have lost. I may well simply find another door when I find the source of the light, but perhaps not. Perhaps not.