A Mote. A particle, or speck of dust. A tiny, inconsequential amount of something, usually pictured floating off to nowhere. A little bit of somethingness to punctuate the nothingness.
This might be what always made me uneasy, when I thought of motes - that emphasis of space. At least, I think it was; before that day, when I started thinking something else.*
The Brightvale Motery is one of the most bizarre of the shops in this old city. It is easily the most outdated, selling products far beyond their current measly value in Neopia Central. It’s range seems small and has nothing noteworthy. The place must make very few sales, the shop itself is rather dreary, so even souvenir hunters wouldn't be drawn in to waste their neopoints. The cold stone is a blot of nothing on these beautiful green meadows.
On the 8th of the Month of Celebrating something strange happened. It never grows too cold this far from Terror Mountain, but the air has a bight to it during the month. Usually I can walk all day through the towns and shops and I find it quite comfortable. That day was...different. As I was walking past the Motery I walked straight into a patch of hot air, like I'd strolled into a sauna. The humid heat hit me like a physical barrier, stopping me in my tracks. I turned on the spot in the embrace of this unnatural change and found myself facing the Motery. It's exterior seemed as cold as the stone always does, but the windows glowed with a warm light that made me feel that they were the source of this cloying heat that had somehow escaped into an otherwise cool and pleasant day. I felt drawn to that little store in a way that I’m not familiar with, a compulsion which felt very unwholesome. Being a thick-furred Xweetok I don't desire heat, as I can quite easily retain my own; so this drawing into the warmth was an excessive desire, an almost painful overwhelming feeling. This feeling of being drawn in was...like a riptide in the sea, forcing me away from safe land. Or perhaps something sharper, like a hook hidden in those waves. I feel drawn in, reeled in, and I was helpless to break free.
I found myself standing in this odd little shop, while swirling motes (not-for-sale) spun in the golden shafts of sunlight that fell in around me. Despite the hold upon me, I sighed as I entered the place. This building is extremely unappealing to me. I like sweeping staircases, something grand and detailed, brimming with artistry and class. This little shop seems like nothing more than a mound of stone; all one piece, seamless, and so very cold. The heat I visualised pouring from the windows is a lie, within the building it is cold as the grave. Finding myself trapped here by this sudden strange fancy and being a little peeved by that, I sauntered up to a display in the barely-there light to peer in. In it sat a worthless thing, a Metallic Mote, and I viewed it with derision.
It’s surface was smooth, but in three grooves is the rough face shape of two eyes and a wide mouth. Metallic, as a description, is not affirming. Metallic is not descriptive of true nature. It is a supposition, based upon an appearance. It is a guess.
“Is it metal? Would using this item be like controlling metal?” I asked the shopkeeper, who doesn’t even glance at me in response.
I felt moody and foolish, having come in there where there was nothing that I wanted.
These weird round things in their silk-lined display cases were smiling at me.
The Metallic Mote rested directly in front of me, looking solid enough. I reached out, and even know I’m not sure why. There was no strange heat that time, just me, or so I remember. I hold the perfectly smooth orb in two hands, and raise it up for closer inspection. It was strangely light, but was as wide as my face. It seemed to grow larger as I stared into it, losing sight of my surroundings as my focus grew. This left a prickling sensation at the corners of my eyes. I could make out shapes in the reflection, but nothing that resembled me. No befuddled person stared back. There were just shapes... The colours were muted. There were tones that seemed slightly too dim, so that the impression they left was something that sucks brightness from colour around it, without ever illuminating itself. Something that takes light and folds it deep into itself, a precious stolen light, kept secret. The image suddenly shifted, became readable. I could see mounds, perhaps even mountains. They looked to be made of dark rock, and at their base lay dull brown sand. Silver swirls in the ‘sky’ and below, like water perhaps. I wondered if the water is reflecting the sky, or the sky is the colour of water in that place. It was as I looked at these sky waters that I started to see this image as a strange vignette into another world. The certainty of it grabbed me. This small window contained just this wasteland, and its glimmering, softly draining light. My fingers started to itch on the surface of the mote.
I dropped it suddenly, where it thumped to the ground and rolled away, still smiling serenely.
The shopkeeper rose up, looking at me with curiosity and a touch of annoyance.
I fled the shop.
I wrote this down -my first experience of this thing - to help me understand what is happening to me. Writing helps, it always has for me.***
A week later, and I am back again. I am not pulled in like I am on a line, no, this time I sidle in like a wet dog from the rain. I am self-conscious of my itching hands, and the small scabs now covering them. I try to keep them covered in these gloves, but whenever I do not watch my hands, one will slip a finger free and begin the horrible scratching again. I am wearing a scarf with my face buried deeply in it, so the shopkeeper cannot see me. She is hardly watching the store anyway, instead she appears to be making some clockwork gadget. She can be safely ignored. I wind my way over to a display where I can see a Metallic Mote is lying. Not the same display, a different one. She changes them around, rearranging the entire shop interior, although I am certain she never sells any of them.
I approach this open display with trepidation, but take great care not to hover directly over it as I peer inwards. The dreadful itching is worse than ever, but this gives me a little calm, as it confirms my supposition. Inching closer to this smooth surface, tantalisingly close, my hands know what brought upon this foul affliction. I bite my lip as the surface of my hands come alive, as if covered in fierce Veespa. I am not crying (not yet) from the pain although I fear that any more time spent this close will bring me to it. The Mote sits still and unassuming before me, the wicked thing.
Now that I am so close to it, I realise I have no plan. Not a single thought did I bring with me of what I would do. I stare at it dumbfounded as the first tears leak out. These too seem to burn my cheeks, or perhaps I am just feeling self-conscious. Perhaps....perhaps touching it? Yes. To lift whatever bizarre power has transferred to me. Just one more touch. I struggle to pull my aching hands from the gloves, tugging viciously and snarling as I reach, finally, un-gloved, for the orb. Reach – and stop. In the slight light from the metallic surface I see no trace of scab nor scarring. I see no redness on my hands. The burn faded and left from one breath to the next and now I am holding my breath and staring at these hands, poised like Spyders, perfectly still over their prey. Who is prey and who is predator, I think, as suddenly cloying heat blooms down one arm and the itching clamps around my chest. I panic silently, helpless to respond as I see the place - the place inside its surface - shifting sands like a windstorm has come up. It’s reacting to me, it knows I’m here. I start mewling, its the only sound my body can produce.
The shopkeeper sees me, “Oi! Don't touch unless you’re buying!” She calls out as she half stands, her pince-nez still clipped in place upon the bridge of her nose. I start breathing again and the relief of releasing my held breath is wonderful. I almost collapse against the door in my hasty escape.*
You think I’m making this up, don’t you?
I’m visiting that place in my dreams.
The Metallic Mote, it’s a real place.
No, not the shop! Not the Mote! Inside the Mote.
But not inside it, that place is really somewhere else. The Mote is just a window in. The place exists.
It’s as real as I am.*
The Mote has been haunting me, giving waking dreams of that stranger place in its surface. I can hear the wind blow all of the time, in the back of my head. In that Other Place the wind never stops. It never grows darker to true night, or lighter to a bright day. It’s always muted, and the wind always blows.*
I’ve been walking around the Motery for the last 48 hours. I worked out this is where I can best hear the wind. As long as I keep walking at a steady pace and no one interrupts me, I can hear the wind pattern. I know what you’re thinking, “Why would the Other Place have a pattern to the wind?” but see, this is what I’ve learnt, it does, and now I’m just trying to understand it. I have never tested the winds of Neopia, or perhaps I am not open to understanding them. But this is another thing I have found, that the sands do not seem to understand the wind either. We have this in common, and as a result I feel a kind of kinship. I suspect that only an outsider, as I am, can understand the pattern. This is why I must understand it, because I am the only one that can. Can’t you see? Perhaps this is why the Grundo I live next door to acts so peculiarly when I see him now, he seems uncomfortable now that he knows I understand wind-sound. I told him I knew he was studying ours, being an outside, from outside of Neopia's sands, and now he will not look at me when I walk out my front door and pass him.*
I am sand. I am an insignificant speck of brown sand, blowing against black mountains. How had I existed not knowing this? How had I wandered place to place without seeing these patterns? I was blown to one island, to the next, to one shop or house or castle or beach or hole in the ground. I filtered through sites, day after day, flying along in the eddy of the wind. It ceases sometimes, but it’s not gone, it’s just gone elsewhere. Momentarily dropped me like the insignificant speck that I am, and will (without any care for me) pick me up and fling me away again. Wind is outside of my insignificance. I try to keep counting out the specks around me, that compose our joint selves – the Sand as Being rather than traces of beings- but I lose track of the numbers.*
I have them, at last, side by side. I found them at the money tree. 10 metallic motes, all lined up in a row. I have been trying to avoid studying more than one at a time, fearing what their accumulative power could do to me. My left hand is quite sore at night when I try to scratch it, but thankfully it is losing some feeling now. But, for the sake of my brother who says he worries, I have collected a vast number of motes to hasten my research progress. I see what he meant now. They show the same thing, as they ought to, as everyone tells me. It's the same mountain, the same sky, the same sand blowing. Identical windows, but no window shows an identical view, even if the window is the same. It's possible they are all a doorway to another world....but perhaps it is not real after all? Despite these long months spent upon my project I feel an easing in my heart at the thought that it was all for nothing. They are utterly the same. I may rest a while, and look at them again later.*
I have been sobbing for too long. My face hurts, and my chest hurts. I have been crying as I watch the motes. The sand, (I didn't see it, how has I missed it?) but the sand moves in between them. It doesn't just blow helpless in the wind, but it shifts between these mote shells. I can watch the same drift swirl, grow large and dissipate across these 10 orbs. They are like Veespa, millions upon millions of them, marching through the Other Place, climbing over one another. There really is something trapped there. Or I am the trapped one. I feel like it might be me.*
I will break the metallic mote open today. The wind has been dropping over the last few weeks. It is now the Month of Sleeping so that makes some sense. If my pattern is true, then at 20:08 on the 8th of the Month of Awakening, the wind will cease. The sand has also been shifting less and less. I think it will settle very soon. The amount of movement, and the speed it is dropping is an odd pacing so I cannot be sure when it will end. I am almost certain these two events will coincide and all movement will stop at once. When everything stops, I will smash the mote. If this does not end the world, I will make a note of it.
Search the Neopian Times
|He'd Have To Wait|
The foliage was springy underpaw as Lopez stepped through the jungle, a camera strung around his neck. After a pawstep, the leaves would jump right back up to where they had been a second before. As the Kougra walked on, the sun grew fainter and fainter, the surroundings growing dark. Bright green plants changed into dark bushes as he walked on.
|Never Again, Spiced Apple Pie: Part One|
Grundo’s Café was as busy as ever. The canteen on the recreation deck of the Virtupets Space Station held a myriad of Neopets unwrapping their rehydrated Chicken Dumplings and carefully nibbling their Electric Nachos. Wall-mounted screens showed the latest in news and entertainment from around the galaxy, including an interview with some Alien Aisha musicians and the latest strike on Sloth’s forces on some far-flung world.