Noon was first a shadowless lull in the byscape; a sudden, sunlit evenness now and then heightened by the silence of the cricketry, the dulling of the earliest birds. The woodland as a whole came to a halt at once, without a screech, as if it were of one mind in an incomputable amount of bodies the business of which was to multicull and culliply each other across time and worlds into complete transfiguration. It was rare, given this atmosphere, for even leaves to have to hold their breath, especially if –at least on land— this was an age of predators more subtle than formidable, that would take many forms before unfolding into tigers and men. It was a time for the tentative, unsteady shuffling of a series of reviewable smallmammals, with less sense than senses between them. And so the noiseless parting of the forest into a sea of sentient quiescence was a state of exception that still dominant―albeit increasingly more dormant―reptilian brains could grasp as a matter of breathtaking danger, well before this feeling became irresistibly reinstated as curiosity.
Which is not to say some creature, some ur-salamander, did not witlessly dissolve into the threshold at some point. But we would have no record of its crossing, and nor would it have been of any consequence to our hypothetical amphibian trespasser, predisposed―as it perhaps already was―to this peculiar line of travel.
The threshold has always been there, as patient and transparent as a crocodile. It can stall for ages and manifest for instants or in spasms or through peripheral, anglerfish flickers. It has been known to make itself scarce for generations in a single place as it traverses others, or to be adept at bilocation. Though mostly invisible, it isn’t past perceiving by a sharp observer, who will notice every sign of normalcy in its environment become disturbed as it begins to pool around its vortex, orbiting around it at augmenting speeds until the whole dance of it capsizes into a pocket slurp.
The threshold is a sphincter between worlds; a mouth or anus appurtenant as to whether it’s attracting or ejecting its intake as if it were a cosmic airlock.
The threshold was in place before the setpiece. The threshold was a place before the place.
Though it is constantly advised that one should decline any food or drink provided by the fae, the ability to make that decision will depend on understanding one may find oneself among them to begin with. (The fae are otherwise unrecognisable.) And lore, in this regard, is uniform as far as warnings go, but noise-mared to a fault, as we retain the instincts of our Pennsylvanian ancestors, but almost nothing of their thoughtless prudence.
A prince, a shepherdess, a girl, a hunter has lost their way or, through a stunted intuition, wanders Elsewhere accidentally, to reappear –having aged hardly a day— decades, planets, lifeforms later; when what they thought of as The World has been re-placed, sometimes completely. Having spent time out of frame, they themselves have not evolved a whiff. They were ingested and ejected, with only magellanic recollections as to what the point and purpose, or lack thereof, of their marvellous abduction might
have been. Some of them wander among us, undisguised, as lunatics and prophets.
Still, one must wonder at the first hominid to have stepped into the fairy realm; entertaining the slim, not-impossible prospect of his reemergence well after the endtimes, in a world no different from the one he left behind. He would have averted the entire course of history, being little different, none the wiser, and ―maybe― the better for it.
Noon strikes and the shadows seep into the sand. The desert thickens into a viscous, hydrostatic strand that the experienced traveler—accustomed to the telltale sway of the mirage—will register as altogether new. A caravan, an Arctic expedition, a ship’s crew has since vanished into the horizon. Some of them will be missed. Many won’t.
Elsewhere, umbrella-birds of grandiose scale, with pantherous black crests and wattles like enormous udders crimping at the tips like fern-fronds, stagger into simultaneous calls as the warp begins its nictitation.
This is not a memory, but a rememb[e]rance. And you will know it by the shiver down the spine that’s known only to men who deal in hawks and horses, at immeasurable removes from other men.
Mónica Belevan is a Peruvian writer and design theorist based in Los Angeles. She is the editor in chief of www.lapsuslima.com and a member of the Editorial Board at “Hueso húmero”, Perú’s most established cultural journal. She has recently published “Díptico gnóstico” (Lima: Hueso húmero, 2019)—a compilation of her juvenilia—and “Baroque Barrens” (Seattle: Sublunary Editions, 2019)—a hint, like “Welcome to the Fold”, of what’s to come—. She is the co-founder of design firm Diacrítica.