Melvern Lake, 3.D.3, 1100 words

A chalk path fans out over a broad dust stretch. The threadbare inconsistency of starlight tingling across motes of chalk and fine sand grains roll the inert chalk like the delicate and endless foam of a cloud quieted sea. Patches of a substratum of scar-smooth asphalt are sewn through and soaked away. A man in loose chambrays shuffles across the hard court. No landmark, no feature distinguishes the dim and swept blanket. His tracks for a moment show wide across a steep yet imperceptible slope then are buffed away. A desert sequin blindfold binds the stars tumbled and run down the sky. Their light emanates from the sand. A flock of vaporous kites entwined to the loops and eyes of his clothes skate his toes in arabesques and buzzing bumble flights across the thin sheet of the rolling court. The vague smirk of horizon bobs. At the crest of the rise an eave from a low building breaches. No doors, but small dark square windows high on the wall evenly punctuate the bare surface. A metal chair missing its seat is drifted in the dust. Shallow cups in the dry soil bear the impressions of filamentous root stamps. The desiccated shrubs are kicked over and absent of wind sit nearby to their earthen navels. Around the front of the building Jack find the air conditioner portal. It is dark as is the room beyond. Jack reaches through and peels back the stiff curtain. The hesitant trudge of starlight is long to fill the room. He crawls through the wall. His knees thud on carpet over concrete. Details of furniture and edges of space are fluid and migratory. Jack’s form is difficult to isolate from the homogenous stuff of the gray night. Feeling around, though not seeing his hands, creases accept fingernails, crotches square knuckles, bald spots pool palms, and dents draw fingertips. Some space is drawn with the hands. The oilcloth bindle is not in the room. He drops to his palms and peers back through the portal. The smooth arcade surface simmers. His dragging tracks entering already are subsumed as would be any other traces of movement. He tastes the air and rakes his tongue across his teeth. He kisses the efflorescence of the dim and ducks back through the portal. The gravel and dust yard vast and upswirling like steam in the black drifts out from the overhanging blue roof above the closed door into the earth’s shade. Off beyond the building a level court spreads out to a dam of scrubby hills far beyond. At some distance the glowing figure flickers. A woman is twirled about in a structured blanket that pools out over the ground in a fading gradient. Her arms are bound up as is her face in the continuous cone sheath. The distance to the woman is impossible to gauge in the featureless landscape. The glow, like that of the landscape is borrowed, and is animate, a Brownian flask of cold emerald lightning bugs. From a closer vantage, the landscape beyond, however indistinct, shows through her immaterial geometry. In the company of the figure its light is thrown well into the landscape. The bindle is nowhere in the lit vicinity. A sagittal seam running through the light of just darker value connects to the flattened apex of the cone. A glass shield there is painted black and leaks scratches of light through brittle craquelure. Immersed in the dark halfway between the safe, dark little portal and what he finds to be a lone pole light, he runs for the light to stand within its volume. The grain of its brilliance is more gross than sand or vapor with swirling and sparse packets darting about, themselves detailed with shifting shadow and mutable profile as they streak about a flurry of smaller grain does flurry, a vertiginous cyclone of bats chasing moths. The building and even the half-darkness beyond disappear and around the frontiers of the light’s space where a living wicker is described in the warp and weft of bats in ambling flight. Their mousy sheen shows green like a vertiginous cyclone of phosphorescent diatoms lifted above the sea. A bat intermittently looses itself from the edge of the light to dart like a sword through a basket into the cloud to catch a wilting bug. A bat comes tottering unstoppably toward Jack’s face until its sonar convinces it to initiate an acute turn in midair, its snout lolling before him and its leather wings air-braking and he calls out, the first noise, the only shout out to the edge, just in the darkness where he can’t see. While he regains composure more solitary bats break ranks to come to him. The soft, pale bodies disappear in the light, only lost black faces with knowing countenances, though monstrously distorted by the cryptic vibrations of their cloud, seem to squint and grin, cordially hanging longer, darting from side to side to remain aloft before his face, yawning out mute hails. Wingtips graze and trace in arcs and scrawls; their wild precision hypnotizes. The night winding on within the light’s cone careens and braids inseparable from the tracery of their flight. They share the warmth of their blood in the dark, sharing the weighted fog of their diaphanous shelter. A tiny face registers at the tip of his nose and as it commingles with the cloud is fixed upon by him where it weaves. The ground stretching out and disappearing beyond the light rotates up through the cloud turning with the whirl of stars slowly overhead. The bat exits the slipstream again and hangs before his face as if from a feathered crest. They share knowing, inhuman fixations. Jack does not react when another bat flies into his chest, or another follows into the small of his back beating its wings. The bat before his face disappears into the crowd as more break from the shell to bombard him, gnashing their wrinkled mouths and nipping at his skin where they can. Tiny bites swell quickly. The frenzy itself is captivating and Jack allows himself to share in their loathing until he is brought to the ground in a puff of dust, the bats gone in echoes of wingbeats, and a rain of moth wings confecting the bloodless, moist wounds. Arising to his feet again he barrels through the dark like swimming across a great ocean in clothes weighted with rocks. The other building, is visible out beyond the nearer. The lit portal of his room shines out across the court and he hurries back in a daze.

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