Don't Write What You Know;
Write What You Care About -- Passionately!
Believing is Seeing
- Joanna Michal Hoyt
What we believe shapes what we see. Sometimes the stories we tell free us. Sometimes they trap us.
Some people see things their neighbors can’t or won’t see. Are they inspired? Delusional? Who decides?
As the faithful people of her village cry out for their god’s help in disaster, a young peasant woman faces the terrifying possibility that she may be that god.
A time-traveling Jewish refugee visits 21st-century churches and confronts almost unrecognizable versions of himself.
Three troubled people make the dangerous visit to The Library where the maddening stories lodged inside them can be removed—on certain demanding conditions.
Having been warned away from the vacant lot which is said to house a portal to Hell, the new girl in town naturally goes to investigate.
Early in the grid collapse—or apocalypse?--a Christian lesbian farm couple paint “WELCOME” on their barn and await visitors.
An old man in the Terran diaspora enlists in a crusade to save humanity and belatedly wonders if he’s on the wrong side.
Step inside these stories and see what you believe—but don’t believe everything you see.
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STAIRS TO THE SKY
A Fragmentary Retrospective
with a few personal notes
This is the first sequence from the stairway's history that we've been able to retrieve. The people surrounding the structure stare at it with evident bewilderment, suggesting this may be their first glimpse of it. The place from which the stairway rises is probably not unfamiliar to the onlookers; the market stalls scattered across the field appear weathered. Most of the stalls are unattended. Those few proprietors who have stayed put lean across their counters, staring at the stone steps that spiral upward, turning clockwise almost as far as the eye can see, ending at a dizzy height.
How high is it? Someone is pacing out the length of the shadow that extends westward from the market across the plain. The sun is low. The measurer's shadow is at least twice as long as he is tall. Will he calculate the ratio of his shadow to his own height and reduce his tower-height estimate accordingly? Impossible to tell, since this first sequence is without sound.
Most people are looking at the tower itself. Wondering, perhaps, not How many feet high is it? but, How many steps would I have to climb to reach the top? or, Where did it come from? or, Is there anything on top?
An old woman begins to climb, followed by a young man. They ascend slowly, right hands against the central stone column into which the narrow end of each wedged step melts with no visible joint. It must have occurred to them that there is no wall or railing on the outside and the fall would be very long.
The old woman reaches the top, where the stair ends in a semicircle of smooth stone. She turns, gazing southward over the wind-tossed grass and the scattered houses, northward to the hills, westward to the dimly glimpsed mountains, eastward across the flatland toward the far gleam of sea. Then she looks into what appears to be empty sky. Her eyes focus on something close by, something we can't see. She takes one more step upward and ahead, over the edge, setting her foot down firmly on thin air, and then she is gone.
She is gone. Not fallen – at least, we do not see her falling, and afterward there is no bone-crazed huddle at the tower's foot. The young man, who had reached out to steady her, lets his arm fall. Looks where she looked. Begins the long climb down.
The docent couldn't or wouldn't explain how these “sequences” were obtained. I’ve read about Dr Weltanschauung's “psychorefractive image/sound recovery,” about the “sequences” she takes at historic or symbolic sites where she believes some kind of localized retrievable memory-record of events exists, but they don’t explain how it works. The docent said this exhibit was designed to display records of historical or anthropological interest, and technical methodology was in the domain of another department. I suppose that means she doesn’t know.
Monica insisted on replaying the last minute of the first sequence three times, checking whether there was anything under the old woman’s feet as she vanished, or any sign that the sequence had been tampered with. I suppose now they could engineer it to look perfectly natural. Some people say this entire exhibit is a fake – or, more charitably, a work of art inspired by the strangeness of that stairway.