I. In the Village of the Glass Dwellers

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Guessing our way under the main, we foretold by grueling contract the grazing outrage. A fill for the wrinkle-bag made apparent gestural motions as if the speed cloud had not received proper notice, anyhow. Places for life, spaces for death like some hideaway amusement park doubling as a retirement home for the impoverished millionaire were the gardens of prisms. As if three suns were enough, nobody seemed to mind the petitioning dry smell around the corner from the Heart Mart.

In from the hunt were eight more like us, hungry for brooms and bruised beyond transposition. As we wiped the wind from our shoulders we were presented with map-kitties. One could not help but to notice the sheer fear with which the barren oaks sprouted from behind the barricades. The map-kitties giggled their abilities right up from the abyss that was green and beckoned us onward to the Grand Seeing.

In the village of the glass dwellers can one recognize the footsteps like heartbeats of the industrious rockingchair inventors, awaiting a meal from some deceased grandmother to serve it self in the form of a pattern. Patterns, in fact, were the lifeblood of the village, and were pumped through veins of periodicity from the local reservoir of sand castles. Dry Art, as it was called, was all the rage, and we respected the vigor with which pores were filled with the grainy substance from the sky. The Village Arch was just such an example, beating us away from itself with our own jealousy. Situated like a down pillow between the city dump and treasure cooler, we made for an excellent Whole of Upsidedownedness. The beaming, circular incantation of a monument stood as a constant reminder to all who could read Glasstongue, and two or three who couldn't - but could rearrange syntax to the light bulb's favor to reload the crystal barmaid when the hour was invented.

The map-kittens jarred us from our comatosis with their love of color-listening, and the Grand Seeing continued. A cobblestone hawker bribed us into purchasing a triad of water-glasses, and they did indeed soothe our visions. These peculiar specs were two blinks thick and were really one long rectangular water flask that could be attached to the eyes via maple twigs. The water was safely locked inside the minuscule, transparent compartments so tightly that it was weightless. The "Hex-Specs" protected us from the sins of assumption by dimming the overwhelming magnificence of the village to a magnitude that could be painlessly digested. In addition, our eyes were opened to every detail within every glass house, building, tower, and shack, and the laboriousness of the townspeople was apparent. The map-kitties joked about how the glasses also protected our face from the sands in the town stadium, which were lifted by the windbirds and flung about the country this time of year. We could tell that the map-kitties enjoyed the ridiculous seriousness with which the windbirds reputedly undertook this task.

Our helpless group proceeded second bass sounds boomed from byways of coon drops. Each's eyes regained new love and awareness of each other, and through the liquid-enhanced cooperation depicted and translated all that was rich. The sound-quavers of the map-kitties' constant joviality created a jiggling sensation across the faces of those following Hex-Specs into the homes of the sleeping class. We saw house-ladies, young and old, bowling for haircuts across pastry boards, shining their husbands' literacy all the while. Young children, unaware of the aridity, played in the sandbaths singing thermal folk tunes. A map-kitty filled us in on some of the texts:

"Flake-bake, birth-quake
Tell you who we're gonna make
Big dad - dry bad
Stop the sky - why spy
Wring the dream rid of
joo-joo-black trouble bubbles."

They were songs of joy and simplicity that could very well have been written by the children themselves. There was something eerily ecstatic about the infants. One of our group surmised that it may be the laxness of the Intoxicant Field Marshall. The minimum imbibing age was lowered to three sun-exchanges before birth (but not before - many glass fetuses were leaving the crystal womb too soon and were found hanging around by the corner cob market getting happy, so the IFM made the punishment a little stricter: mandatory adoption). Thanks to him, various water drugs were readily available to everybody. Many complained that the drugs lowered artistic standards to vulgar levels, but the Village Council went right along. Since that time, these ditties of incendiary pleasure have more than tripled. We were drawn to a solitary Glassdame - eating scrumptious fir bark and drinking rain from a local, reputable reservoir tuner. She was extraordinarily tipsy and creative:

"I build castle-tassels
Make them sleep on my front porch
Daddy says they do good things
He says they work well as a torch

From his rockingchair
He melts the ice with firesalt
He thanks me for my help
And treats me with a castle malt.

I never lie when I'm dry
I don't forget when I am wet...."

The map-kitties burst in on the refrain, uncontrollably. We could not resist the urge ourselves. Some of us tapped rhythms on glass light poles, others hummed into the clear trough-tunnels. Our leader was dancing - flipping, falling, and beating his hind parts with his hands. I remember myself jumping high into the sky and landing flat on my back over and over. A flock of windbirds caroused around the bell stables above the ruins. A prism tender appeared from beneath a hinge-hedge and danced the Fission, or tried very hard to. All around was whim and wham. In from the hunt we were now within the Grand Seeing. Tempted by heat, tempered by glass, prepared by water, peppered by sand. The map-kitties were released by the Glassdame. A maelstrom of tone connected the blindness of soul to the optimism of repression. Ringing crystal resounded in patterns from the Village Arch to the gardens of prisms - all dry, all pure, all clear - free of extraneous moisture, and thus imaginative confusion.

The impromptu festival among the Glass Dwellers lasted an entire half-exchange, until this vibrancy was ruefully cut by the actions of a hapless map-kitten. In its vigor it tumbled to a comrade, ripped his Hex-Specs, gauged a hole in them with its ears, and began sprinkling itself with the freed liquid. The valley shook, and the pure tone of our gala faltered - produced a minute yet discernible glissando away from pitch and back again. The effect of this on the emotions of all present was immediate and profound, and far beyond explainability. The village grew still and silent as whatever pure tone remained slowly died away as if disappearing forever. The other map-kittens held a look of great horror as they witnessed their now wet colleague rolling around singing something about fish and wheels and how they would make great dance partners during the cloudy season. We had a hard time following its train of thought. I actually found it to be immensely amusing and could not understand the other guides' seeming terror. It was only a mere lightfold before we all knew what was amiss.

A brilliant wave of the most impressive glass creatures I had ever seen descended from the sky, speedily and meaningfully. They were beautifully awesome, perfectly placid and mighty, each with a unique geometric design consisting of clever combinations of curves and spears. They were somehow feminine in nature, yet incited a crude expectation of carnage. This expectation was fulfilled as three of them ran our babbling map-kitty through, puncturing every pore of its frame. A manila-colored cream oozed as blood from the wounds. Somehow it was moving and gorgeous, in the sacrificial sense. The map-kitty was experiencing nirvana at the time - I remember it whistling and singing about milking various animals at the fateful instant - and so we were held in reverence throughout the rapid display. Later we noted how at least half of us had fallen deeply in love with any of the flying sculptures. All of us awed save one: the person whose Hex-Specs had been ripped apart by the map-kitten.

He had seen the event with unadorned eyes - outsider eyes. It had been far from beauteous to him. For some reason it had sickened him and put him in a mild state of shock. Even he could not explain it. We were to ask him for details later, but the moments following the sacrifice were far too clouded for anyone to think clearly. All others present, including the remaining map-kitties, the Glassdame, the prism tender, some windbirds, and a host of other roused visitors, seemed to have a similar, contented and solemn mood about them. As our comrade wept and occasionally wretched, the rest of us were tamed by our bliss, and breathed deeply as we gazed into the firmament and imagined love.

The broken Hex-Specs laid on the sand. Some darkened sand could still be seen, dampened by both water and blood. A single leaflet was already trying to grow from the patch, but we knew that this was not the place for it and that it would not find purchase. The visitors dispersed. The Glassdame tightened her lip and walked down a path. The windbirds collected their numbers and commenced toward the town stadium. We comforted our comrade and soon made our way toward the Village Arch in search of the cobblestone hawker to replace his Hex-Specs. A tune found our ears from a nearby rockingchair:

"Dove to dove
Pierce my love
Dawn makes waxless toggle greens

Glue for you
Tell me, too
You're not just in, but are my dreams."


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