Main     Contents


World's Third E-Book—Published On the Web in 1997 For Digital Download

an Empire of Time SF novel

by John Argo

 Preface   Chapter 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42 


39. New World—Year 3301

"Oh Avamish," echoed a small girl voice full of admiration and longing.

There were voices filled with love for their city, but also with aching, hopeless melancholy, and Paul felt what they felt, saw what they saw, lived again these moments in their long-ago lives. His mind reeled at the feelings that drowned his senses now. He realized why there was no god on N60A. The city was the supreme hope, the final salvation, the omega and the ultima.

Paul's small human ego rebelled against the complete gratification of the self, the transcendence and glorification of the body and mind and city because there was nothing better to glorify. Nothing more was possible.

He saw all of Avamish as she had once been, from a vantage point as high as the clouds. Her towers and spires rose a mile into the sky, dwindling from massive bases to fine diamond points. Beacons glittered like exploding rainbows in the diamond tips. Paul walked around the entire circumference of the room with his hands held against the wall. He took in the full 360 degree sweep and felt vertigo.

His airship descended toward Avamish. It paddled among the domes and skyscrapers like a whale. Paul looked down and saw an immense dirigible rising from the airfield and when he looked up he saw that he stood in a turret suspended from the side of the passenger bus of a similar aeronautical giant.

Voices were all around him. They pressed him, possessed him, babbled like falling water and rising fountains. There were thousands of voices. Some were deep and tinged with evil, for such was part of nature. Others were child voices bright and full of innocence, for this was also part. There seemed always to be an overtone of one or more voices raised away from the others in an expression if awe, of longing, of bittersweet, supreme ecstasy. The language was Avamishan—similar to Akhan or Shkan; but more fluid, more musical; classical; and Paul understood every word through the telepathic process. It was a cosmopolitan language, tumbling like brook water, a babble easily converted into radio waves and sent across the cosmos.

The avenues below were filled with Avamishans including gentlemen and slaves. The ones with the lighter bluish skin and the silvery hair were the masters. The ones with the darker brownish bluish skin and no spinal hair were the slaves. Again, no bearded figures. There were street urchins and wealthy ladies browsing in markets and swaggering powdered gentlemen and hard-faced, mousy office clerks. White-kilted policemen strutted with tall ivory canes, wearing helmets surmounted by fluffy dulzuri plumes (a languid royal bird of the tidal marshes, symbol of Avamish).

Hydro-power trolleys crawled up the hillsides and urban avenues, or descended just as slowly and carefully under gravitational power. The city had a perennial festive air. Every day was special. Moniam bestibo!

Paul's dirigible landed gently in the field where there would someday be skeletons in a lading house. Nearby another dirigible was already snuggled against its landing pylon, tied to the ground and straining in the wind to rise, to be away. A hundred men unloaded grain from the faraway agricultural empire and another hundred men brought tools and farm machines and city goods to be loaded on wagons.

The skins of the dirigibles shone silver in the clear blue sky. Nearby was an explosion and a flash of light and Paul turned to watch a titanic rocket lift up from the space launch center, headed perhaps for some mining camp on Moon II, or a star-watching base on Moon I, or maybe a metal-rich planet of a star with a poetic name.

Paul watched ropes fall from his own ship. He watched as faces and hands reached out to take charge of the hot air balloon. He smelled baking bread and steaming wash water and animal musk from the market place. He smelled smoke from chimneys and salt water from the sea and millions of acres of wheat across burgeoning farm lands.

"Avamish," chorused the thousand voices in admiration and longing, in hope and hopelessness: "Oh, Avamish!"

Exhausted, its static charge gone, the show came to an end. Paul stood for a long time, leaning against the wall with both hands. He wanted more. He could not get enough. And yet, he was more puzzled than ever. He knew a lot about ancient Avamish now, but not the crucial answers.

Elated, yet disappointed, he stepped outside. Night had fallen. He remembered to pull shut the stone door. Suddenly—and he whirled to look—an explosion smashed his ear drums and rattled his teeth and made the ground shake.

More frightening, though, was the loud bellow that pierced the night sky. It was like the predatory battle cry of some giant dinosaur. It tore at Paul's eardrums, making him roll up and hold his ears. Three times the bellowing sounded, and then silence returned, with just echoes bouncing terrifyingly among the ruins.


Copyright © 1990-1996-2014 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.