The Incarnations of the Americas: Volume I
William J. Hrdina
Shadows Dancing on the Walls
Deep in the bedrock of the earth, suspended a half-mile beneath the surface, was a room. This wasn't a mere hole in the earth's crust created by the natural movement of the earth's plates, not a cave carved from the stone by a long-term flow of water now gone dry. It wasn't a nearly perfectly rectangular geological anomaly so freakish it proved the universe had a sense of humor.
No. This room was manufactured; a hole in the ground the size of a suburban living room. Only this place lacked any of the normal accouterments one would find in a modern American household. There were, for example, no custom colored beige-taupe floor rugs, hand-dyed by small children in the Third World. There were no knickknacks, Hummel figurines, Beanie Babies, Emmy Awards, or refrigerator magnets that you rearranged to make clever poetry. There were no plastic molded vases in the Etruscan style, machine painted with a thick glaze. No factory reproduced, market tested artwork hung on the walls.
Instead of these normal things, this particular room was decorated in Neo-Crackhouse style, without decoration or individuality beyond a universal sense of dinginess. There was only the smallest dollop of furniture and none of it even came close to matching.
The walls of the room were bare beige stone with dark gray and pale white veins running through them. The walls were ground as smooth as well-polished marble and remained eternally cool to the touch. There was a tremendous amount of character and intricacy to the veins cut through the rock; although it was a rare person who took the time to notice it.
This lonely, solemn room was appropriately occupied by only a single person. He was a man with time on his hands, a man who was quite cognizant of the beauty in the rock. Although he wasn't home at the moment, he spent a lot of his free time sitting cross-legged, his nose almost pressed against the wall, marveling at the subtle marbling within the marbling. He found if he stared long enough the depth conveyed by the complex shadings of color was nearly infinite. In addition to the wall's appearance he'd also grown quite fond of the scent- or at least the unique lack of scent- that can only be legitimately achieved by stone.
Unlike the walls, the carpet was a drag. It was threadbare, lacked sufficient padding to satisfy sore feet, and while it was dark enough to make the room look a tad gloomy- it was simultaneously light enough to show the stains of anything that happened to spill into its nappy hair. Still, it was better than nothing.
Technically, the imitation oak end table standing next to the couch was furniture- even if a chunk of rock knocked out of the wall was shoring up one leg. But its surface was only one foot square, and it was so covered with random items it would better be termed a small horizontal closet than a piece of furniture.
Since the end table doesn't really measure up, the only real piece of furniture in the room was a tacky lime green couch of a shade so violent- there is probably no hue in the color spectrum that wouldn't clash with it.