talk talk

‘I was born in the Tower Of Babel you know, it is why I am multilingual – there is not a language spoken under the sun that I do not understand. My tongue is the equivalent of the Holy Grail to linguistic professsors.’ ‘So, how old are you?’ ‘Quite.’ ‘Quite? You’re telling me that you were born in Babel and you say quite – I’d say that makes you fucking ancient.’ ‘Oh, my, I have found myself an uncooth one here.’ ‘Are you English or something? You sound distinctly fruity, and I don’t like fruits.’ ‘Chocolate starfish quivering young man, is that it? The old brown eye winking at me while the mouth expresses denial of all homosexual tendencies? Don’t worry, my friend – I would rather stick my penis in the necrotised snatch of a scorpion infested Egyptian mummy in preference to getting intimate with a neanderthal like yourself. Besides, despite what your insecure brain is telling you are signals of my gayness, I am rampantly heterosexual and have bedded more women than you are likely to have sniffed the seats of. My – I had thought you might be an intelligent one; seems my radar is somewhat off today.’ ‘I think I might just punch your teeth down your throat.’ ‘You’d be better served by moving seats. I very rarely have recourse to violence, but in that eventuality I assure you I could quite easily kill you before you even flexed a muscle.’ ‘I hate flying.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I always end up sat next to unpleasant people.’ ‘Oh, I am quite pleasant, but I give as good as I get. That was the mistake you made – you imagined that you might get away with dishing out your particular brand of smart-arsery and not get any dealt back to you. One must always be careful and sound out an opponent, before they carelessly reveal their hand.’ ‘Okay, well imagine you’re me and you just heard someone claim they were born in a place mentioned in the bible in reference to its destruction – it’s not that you experience shock it’s that you experience incredulity.’ ‘That I suppose is a fair enough reaction. I suppose without any evidence I might too be somewhat skeptical; but I feel that it is highly likely I might manage to avoid being quite so insufferably rude.’ ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘That’s more like it. So who are you and where are you travelling to?’ ‘My name’s Barnacle – Smith Barnacle, and I’m actually travelling to New York to check out a lexicon that one of my friends has for sale; he’s giving me first refusal.’ ‘A lexicon? Interesting. Strange coincidence that you and I should be seated next to each other, eh?’ ‘I suppose.’ ‘Hmm, supposition – such a flawed method of thinking, almost apathetic in its dull energy. Ever looked at coincidence and its likelihood? Ever wondered, if you suppose every particle to quantumnally entangled with another, exactly how unlikely chance really is?’ ‘So, you are saying that you and me being sat on this ship is not a coincidence?’ ‘Is that what I am saying? Mayhap it is. What, pray tell is this lexicon all about that you are going to check out?’ ‘Some alien Proto-language, that is what they tell me – until I see it though, who knows? Could be a load of crap.’ ‘Oh, of course; it’s true all of it could be an absolute pile of tosh, or it could be the very thing that we need.’ ‘Meaning.’ ‘Well, back in the day, back before I was made this message of a body that I know use to communicate with this ageing world, what we were looking to do was to find the tongue that would help us to communicate with God. We all spoke one tongue but it was not the language of the gods, or the language of angels that some believe. Was it some form of ubersprecht? An overarching architecture of sonic and subsonic speech? Sure, that you might be able to say quite confidently, but is it the ultimate form of communication? The thing that we were building an aerial to transmit? No, it was not.’ ‘Ah, so we have become partners now, it seems.’ ‘Partners? I said no such thing – but why not? Would it hurt to pool our resources and to step onwards together? Might make the walk a little more interesting.’ ‘Well, my life hasn’t exactly been a game of golf by any standards, but …’ ‘But you’re not exactly finding things quite as interesting as you would like, eh?’ ‘When are things ever as interesting as you would like? You live a noisy life and soon all those noisy parts become a background turmoil of nothingness.’ ‘So, who is this person that we are going to meet?’ ‘Percival Arrive.’ They disbarked from the plane, got a taxi, and headed out to the home of Perceval Arrive. The city moved rapidly, seemed an argument against the journey, and then gridlock (a choked movement, and a single struck note, and it moved again). On through the buildings made of mirrors, towards a single unreflective tower stood like a black molar rotting outwards from its core. ‘We’ve been here before, haven’t we?’ ‘Something does seem familiar, yes.’ ‘Time is folding, unfolding, dancing around us; making us into shadows, casting us as reflections.’ A man stepped from the front door of the tower, a rose in his hands; a small dog by his side, and a guard at his rear. ‘Welcome, visitors. Smith?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And this is?’ ‘Ah, my name is Gabriel.’ ‘The angel charged with the word of God?’ ‘Once maybe. Now? No, he doesn’t speak to me since my affrontery.’ ‘This was all planned, wasn’t it? There truly wasn’t a coincidence that put us on the plane next to each other, was there?’ ‘Well, who’s to say? I fell from on high a long time ago. I tried to build a bridge back and over the head of the one who pushed me and I failed. I scattered people throughout the world into differences of meaning. This journey has been coming for a long time, and I just needed you to bring me these last few steps.’ ‘Why all these games?’ ‘I had forgotten. I did not recognise you. This place has a strange effect upon the memory.’ ‘Yes, it does – you can remember forwards here as well as backwards – you just have to attune yourself to the different frequencies that nestle within the datapacket of this location.’ ‘This place is interfacing with us, isn’t it?’ ‘This place is interfacing with everywhere and everywhen.’ ‘Has it been talking to us before we got here?’ ‘It sometimes does that. It is a communicative system spawned in the informational confluence of a billion consciousnesses.’ ‘Ah, that is interesting.’ ‘Well, my friends, now that you seem to recognise each other, I might introduce myself a little better. My name is Percival Arrive, one of the masks that I wear as I walk through this world. I am the seeker knight delivered, this is the Chapel Perilous you see behind you; and the book which you have come to purchase is none other than the Holy Grail.’ ‘It’s a book?’ ‘Yes, why not? God is the word, Jesus is the body, and the Holy Spirit, well, no prizes for guessing what that is all about. Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense that an informational supercontextual entity would distill itself into a vessel containing the words which provide the key to understanding itself?’ ‘Oh, yeah, that makes sense. OK, so how exactly does one go about purchasing the Holy Grail.’ ‘How else, Mr Barnacle? One must pay the price.’ ‘And what is that price?’ ‘Why, how else do you gain something like that? You must make a sacrifice.’ ‘A sacrifice?’ ‘The blood – the ink of the Christ, that is what was used to write this text. The informational subtext of the whole human race written in the sanguine fluids of Adam and Eve. Christ was an answer to a question posed in a garden. When Gabriel here sought to reach an understanding with God and broke the communication into a hall of mirrors the word could no longer be passed with ease; so, what is this that is asked of you? You’re an answer. Gabriel thinks he is the bringer of the word and that you brought him here … wrong. I brought you both here because you, Barnacle, clinging to the side of an angel, are a smith, someone to forge the world anew, and it is written deep into your core.’ ‘And how do I pay this price.’ ‘Well, I have my friend Excalibur here.’ ‘I have to shoot myself?’ ‘Well, I can put one through your skull but I can tell you that someone else making the choice for you doesn’t quite cut it.’ Perceval handed him the weapon. He hefted it in his hand. He pressed the muzzle against his temple. ‘You know, when I started off on this journey I did not think that it was going to be quite so weird as it has turned out. And then this – this is a whole other level of weird.’ And he pulled the trigger. The black surface of the tower swam with the light of a thousand stars; a thousand details … informational points of corellation, of differentiation, of individuation. For a few seconds each of those stars in the great constellation that mapped the fates of the human race glowed brighter, was drawn into a single point, and then seemed to be extinguished. ‘Ah, watch Gabriel,’ said Perceval ‘See how he is rearranging himself, and in the unspooling of the nested archives that reside within himself he is reorganising the rest of us, do you feel it?’ ‘My palm is tingling, Perceval.’ ‘A new chapter is about to be written in that book I was talking about. I have a pen ready for you – that is why you are here.’ ‘Angel of the lord, messenger of God, come to write a new chapter in the book of the word? Now why would that seem strange?’ ‘Good, welcome to your writing room.’ ‘The tower?’ ‘As it was written, so shall it be.’ He stepped through the door and the tower collapsed down to a point, folded through that point out of existence. Barnacle Smith picked himself up and dusted himself off. ‘That was pretty painless. Where did Gabriel go?’ ‘Inside the text. A period to mark the end of a period. A sacrifice of flesh and a sacrifice of thought.’ ‘And me, walking away from this with a book?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And you?’ ‘I sought and I found and I waited; I am a memory (an intersection of a past spacetime mental awareness projected into the current spatiotemporal segment of reality) … I will return whence I came from, where I already am.’ ‘And mankind?’ ‘Ah, well, you could always read the new chapter if you are curious, but that isn’t really a part of the deal here. We are in the arena of epilogue. Farewell, Barnacle, good reading.’ He awoke on the plane, having drooled down the front of his shirt. For a second, readjusting himself, getting his bearings, he wondered whether he had dreamt it all, but then he tapped his backpack and the book was a solid truth he had carried away from it. He smiled – what an interesting journey this had been.

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