Episode Two, Book One of TEMPO TOPO TANGO, the unfinishable, allegedly open source epic, as channelled by Cynnamon Twyst circa 2012.
“It is said that a single scale from an Inter-Temporal Dragon is enough to power a small portal — would you agree?”
The motley crew of stowaways on the Good Ship Poetic Dimension looked doubtfully at one another, hoping someone had a clever answer. Gudrun raised her hand, henna’d and ring-bedecked, but rather delicate and tasty all the same. “Teach– (Teacher?) — I don’t think we know enough enough to answer that question. First off, you’ve described these Portals to us only briefly, and none of us have experienced one first-hand. Secondly, how do we even know these Dragons are — “
“I have. I’ve experienced Portals.”
Gudrun halted, turned around. It was Antaea, the obnoxious MIT physics renegade.
“I’ve been through one. Not just one either. Many.
Irked by Antaea’s interruption, just as she was launching into her skeptical deconstruction, Gurdun insisted, “Let me finish. As I was saying–“
“It doesn’t matter. You’re questioning whether portals are real. I know they’re real. First hand, not from some lecture or holo-show, Gudrun.”
Gudrun paused to formulate her retort, but Antaea rushed into the opening.
“Portals exist. Period. They’re not joking. Probably most of you fell through one and didn’t even know it.”
Antaea looked around at her classmates, as it were. Most looked dubious still, unwilling to enter the fray, despite the fancy haircuts and fanciful outfits.
“So, Antaea, tell us, then, what you know of Portals.”
“Portals suck. They’re how I got lost in the first place. That’s one thing I know.”
The class giggled, but Antaea was obviously just warming up with a little sarcasm. Teacher waited.
“Portals… are extremely unpredictable. Its nearly impossible to control them. However, that being said, there are some conditions under which they are more likely to be found. I have some theories on that.”
“Another thing about portals — there’s some visual correllary, some kind of marking, geometric sometimes…
At this point Antaea had the attention of the whole group.
“And?” queried Teacher.
“AND … its damn hard to ever get back. Because, like I said, they’re hard to control and predict.”
Teacher — “So, where do you think they come from? Professor Antaea.”
A: “Nice joke. I didn’t get my doctorate. I bailed — string theory not for me.
A, continuing: “As I was saying — the portals. It took me a while to figure out anything. But 10 years’ worth, well, I started to put together a thing or two. And portals — well, they sort of find you, rather than the other way around. I mean, you can take gobs of drugs, combine any which way, and still not have one. On the other hand, you put enough people together in altered states, in the right geography, and the right timing, and they seem more prone to appear. But. I’ve never met anyone who could just summon them at will… Not yet, at any rate.” A. paused to look at Teacher.
“Interesting,” comments Teacher, “Can you tell us anything, from your first hand experience, that is, not speculations.” The emphasis was emphatic
Gudrun, still irritated but realizing Antaea was kind of hot despite the academic shtick, echoed — “Well — go on, then.”
Antaea took a deep breath, adjusted her lunettes. “I fell into my first portal at Burning Man, Burning Man FESTIVAL — we didn’t burn anyone, not living anyway – a giant wood figure. Just a spectacle, really. And a crazy huge party. In any case, it took me a week to realize I’d fallen through, that I was somewhere — er, somewhen — ELSE. I mean, I knew something had happened. I’d gotten separated from my posse in a white-out, sort of following a cute boy. I stopped under this metal dragon sculpture — hey DRAGON! — there were some weird light effects in the sky, like the sky was extruding a sort of plasma jellyfish thing, glowing green lights that kept shifting within some kind of definite structure, but you couldn’t make out the boundaries in the darkness. I couldn’t stop watching it. I completely forgot about the boy. I couldn’t decide if the lights were an aerial art project or something else a lot weirder.
“Well, to keep it short, I woke up under the Dragon, some nice people offered me hot chai. But I never found my camp, nor my friends. Other things were different too, but, you know, it took a while to figure that out for sure — it’s such a crazy place, that Black Rock City, as they call it. Little did I know that there are festivals like Burning Man in most neighboring timelines. I hooked up with some other seemingly cool people, and left the playa. By the time we hit Reno, I knew for sure something was really, really OFF.”
“There was no record of me in this world.”
With h/t to James Mathers on a sunny summer day outside Abbott’s Habit, & Mark Trance, & the shaven-headed Canadienne with the silver mesh honeycomb fabric, and all the domes and dragons and half-hatched airships & dubious denizens of BRC, for inspiration. Art by Cynnamon Twyst.