A STORY BY MATTHEW SOAMES
Dark green and red moroccan tiles about two feet by two paved the courtfloor, countless pillars scattered across the room shot up to nearly astronomic heights, none of them exactly the same in breadth. A light but heavy, stagnant darkness did not hang in the room, it simply was. Somewhere in the room (maybe the center, nobody knew), a grotesque throne of garish gold and ruby stuck up from the floor, sixteen feet tall, sculpted with the faces of screaming angels in the gold, and rams and lions also, and on this throne sat a man who was old and should have died years ago cloaked in a rich blue robe of silk. All around him were attendants in satin and soldiers in rusted metal. None of them ate, none of them slept, none of them so much as existed, yet they were material, they contradicted natural law.
They spoke from time to time about the way things were, all of them except the old man. He looked at them, and he looked off into the farthest reach of the room he could eye, spying the curve of earth. They spoke in a language he had forgotten or had never bothered to learn, he didn't know which. Peculiar, youth's envy of a past it never knew, he would occasionally muse to himself.
This defiant vestibule of non-existence lingered for eons. Then, the old man stood up from his throne, and in his own language told the attendants and the soldiers that he was fed up with the way things are, that he saw no point to existential victory, that he wanted to find the limits of this chamber and break out, that if he did not leave the room he would die, that death to him had lost all foreboding, and that this loss of foreboding frightened him. The attendants and the soldiers couldn't understand a damned word the old man said, and ignored him. Still standing, the old man went up to a soldier, took from him a longsword (the soldier didn't seem to mind), and the old man left the attendants and the soldiers for an end of the room, and the attendants and the soldiers never knew what had become of the old man after that.
In the years that followed, the attendants and the soldiers peacefully coexisted without the old man, the throne vacant. But five hundred millennia later, one of the soldiers declared he was tired of standing, and sat on the throne. While his fellow soldiers were none too pleased with the boldness of their peer, the attendants pulled out every hair on their heads, heaped their hair into a pile, and ignited the pile of hair into a flaming heap which looked like an isosceles triangle. The soldiers took some offense at this, and took up their elevated brother as a hero and a god, and smote the attendants with their longswords all. This soldier on the throne was named from thence Philioptero, and the soldier supplicated him with self-sacrifice until the last of them had died.
Philioptero grew lonely, and decided to marry. He could not remember any woman, but knew inherently that he was to wed. So Philioptero descended his golden, rubied throne, and set out for the farthest reach of the vestibule, as the old man before him had, and he wandered there for seventy-seven hundred years. Upon the seventy-seven hundredth year, Philioptero came in contact with a shaman in the room, who told him that he would die. Philioptero kissed the shaman on the forehead, and bit out his eyes, and continued his quest for the end of the room. His thoughts turned often southward, but he remained to himself chaste, even dashing his hands against his longsword.
In the six-hundred thousandth year of his wanderings, Philioptero found on the tiled floor a piece of parchment, on which was writ SEEK MEEKLY, GOODLY GOD. The parchment was faded, it had been used many times. Philioptero folded the parchment into quarters, and shoved it into his left boot. Not far from where he found the parchment was an ink bottle, and a shrunken head. The ink was red, the head was white. Philioptero examined both, but left them when he resumed his quest.
Nine hundred trillion years since the birth of man, and nine hundred and fifty years since Philioptero had begun his wanderings, the darkness of the room lifted. Philioptero could see clearly a wall, and charged toward it. Six years later, without any rest, he reached the wall, and the wall was oakwood, with ivy entangled across it. Philioptero cut a handful of the ivy off the wall (with some difficulty), and ate what he had taken, and he grew a beard that came down to his waistline. Philioptero was pleased that he had found the wall, but only wished he could find a door. He looked up the wall, and though it was quite scalable there were no windows to be seen. Philioptero walked along the wall, searching for the door out of the room.
Time became the stuff of legend. The tiles cracked for the futility of time's very concept. The columns disintegrated into dust, the dust disappeared into the cracks in the tiles. Philioptero searched for a door in the wall unceasingly, never stopping, never crying, never sleeping. After searching in length, Philioptero found his door, and it was fifty feet high, one solid piece of ashwood. Philioptero pushed the door open, and he stepped out of the room, into a bright and dazzling light green garden of topiary. Hills rose above the topiary, and on the farthest hill were women whiter than the moon, with hair as vibrantly blonde as the gold of the throne Philioptero had so long ago abandoned, and they danced in a circle and they sang a song pertaining to victory over an invading enemy.
Philioptero walked to them for six days, and in those six days the sun never set, and the women did not stop singing, nor did they stop dancing. On the seventh day, Philioptero reached the hill, and he told the women his name. Laughing, they renamed him Philiopterix, and they danced around him, and Philiopterix, as he was known from then on, smiled, and he sat down in the midst of the maids.
One of the women was named Susan, and Susan laughed in the face of Philiopterix and told him he was a silly thing, and that she would have him castrated. At this, Philiopterix smiled. One of the women was named Calixia, and Calixia too laughed in the face of Philiopterix and told him that he was a silly thing, but she would have his beard plucked from his head and his legs sewn together. One of the women was named Keviv, and Keviv did not laugh in the face of Philiopterix, and she told him to have mercy on her two sister, that they were ill. Philiopterix took Keviv's hand in his, and he stared into her eyes, and he released her hand, and Philiopterix unsheathed his longsword, and with his longsword Philiopterix slew Susan and Calixia, and Keviv wept for her lost sisters, and she was consoled by the other girls.
Philiopterix swung his longsword hard through the fresh air, and with his swing he marked Keviv on her left shoulder, a light flesh wound. Philiopterix took Keviv by the hand and lead her to a foreign country, in the south. It is there that Keviv avenged her sisters by destroying Philiopterix, and she named him Philiotyrannus, and Keviv lived another year before the women found her. She returned to the hill with these women, and Keviv told her sisters that she was tired, and she slept on the hill.