Jagged Profile

The dream was unwelcome when it came.
 
The bottom of a stone spiral staircase. Air filled with stone dust and settled incense. I carried a box. A vessel built centuries past. It was fashioned with material obtained from a meteorite. Iron unaffected by earthly time and corrosives. A priest was at my side, protesting the removal of the box from its resting place. Well below cathedral. He was an old man, easily brushed aside as I ascended the stair.
 
There was, in this dream, the presence of a documentary film crew – a girl with a camcorder and her assistant. There were two others that I'm guessing were my assistants.
 
My intention was to open the box.
 
I watched myself as in an Ibogaine lockdown. Detail and backstory were presented as fact, known to me as I watched. I climbed the stair with the sacred object. Cool skylight fell through soaring windows; there were candles burning. I set the hingeless, seamless object on the mosaic tile floor of the cathedral. The tile cut into a vanishing point to my left.
 
The priest was weeping and chanting in Latin. No one paid him any mind. I sat on the floor pulling a few items from a shoulder bag. There was a sketchbook, several notebooks, and jeweler’s tools. From a duffle bag I produced a scroll of papyrus. Watching. I knew the key to unlocking this device was at hand.
 
Three eleven digit numbers were needed.
 
In my sleep, a memory within a dream. Up the Nile to Luxor. It was low season, and there were few tourists around. I recalled walking about the temple. We sat with our sketchbooks. The colossal columns against a wicked sky. Local dusty men approached us regularly, and eventually drove us away. Some had knowledge of the buildings. Some said, “cartouche, cartouche, cartouche,” and pointed at the wall. Each utterance ostensibly imparting a few pounds worth of information. We wandered away from the temple, its open flower papyrus columns, and baksheesh seeking men.
 
The landscape barren. The sun relentless. There were no other footprints the way we were heading. Nothing growing. Between the stones we walked. Opening a low metal gate, and letting ourselves in, we stepped into an undisturbed place. An ancient boneyard. An unadorned sarcophagus drew my attention, its stone cover slightly askew. A crisp eleven digit number was exposed on the stone before me. I used a page from my sketchbook and a fat pencil to make a rubbing of the stone. It transferred to paper beautifully.
 
I pushed my hip against the stone not expecting it to move, but it slid and popped back into place. It was time to go. Over my shoulder, a Jackal. In front of the gate. The Jackal appeared as a swirl in the sand. Vapor from below. This was not a stray dog or Egyptian wolf. This was Anubis, guardian of the dead. I moved slowly to delay pursuit.
 
When I did glance back, having stepped over the low wall on the far side of the yard, I saw the black silhouette sharply cut against the sky. Pointed snout and ears, the eyes unblinking. I shivered in the hot sun. The Jackal watched unmoving. I was never to return to that place.
 
And I watched myself on the floor of the cathedral. The device just to my left. The chill I had felt in those Jackal eyes, I felt again as I saw that page from my sketchpad on the floor. The gravestone rubbing contained the first eleven digits necessary to unlock the vessel.
 
The box was very heavy, and yet I had fairly bounded up the stair from below. There was a giddy attitude and unquestioning manner. As though on a lark, the unlocking proceeded. The priest was wheeling and clutching his chest. No one rushed to his aid. The girl with the camcorder left to charge batteries.
 
The second string of numbers was printed on a scroll with no explanation, repeated continuously as one might find a flower pattern printed on a roll of paper towels in a suburban kitchen.
 
The third sequence was in the form of a tattoo on the forearm of a young man standing before me in the cathedral.
 
I watched in my state of sleep paralysis as I expertly and unflinchingly handled the sacred vessel. The first of three slim trays slid out from the bottom third of the box. Somehow I knew how to transfer the digits necessary to create the jagged profile.
 
As I finished entering the first set of eleven, the box shivered in an organic way. Mercury began to flow through arterial tubes. A poison deterrent. The second set made it breathe.
 
The young man with the tattoo on his arm abruptly turned and made his way to the door. In a vivid cinematic sequence, the huge cathedral doors slammed shut. The boy's arm, caught in the closing, severed between the elbow and the shoulder. It was a horrific bloody mess.
 
And without pause, I transposed the digits from the bleeding arm that had been retrieved and wordlessly placed beside me. It was then that I awoke.
 

Reprehensible Unleashing

 

sequence of numbers

unlocking ancient device

severed limb markings

 
 

© Jon Montgomery 2017

The dream was unwelcome when it came.
 
The bottom of a stone spiral staircase. Air filled with stone dust and settled incense. I carried a box. A vessel built centuries past. It was fashioned with material obtained from a meteorite. Iron unaffected by earthly time and corrosives. A priest was at my side, protesting the removal of the box from its resting place. Well below cathedral. He was an old man, easily brushed aside as I ascended the stair.
 
There was, in this dream, the presence of a documentary film crew – a girl with a camcorder and her assistant. There were two others that I'm guessing were my assistants.
 
My intention was to open the box.
 
I watched myself as in an Ibogaine lockdown. Detail and backstory were presented as fact, known to me as I watched. I climbed the stair with the sacred object. Cool skylight fell through soaring windows; there were candles burning. I set the hingeless, seamless object on the mosaic tile floor of the cathedral. The tile cut into a vanishing point to my left.
 
The priest was weeping and chanting in Latin. No one paid him any mind. I sat on the floor pulling a few items from a shoulder bag. There was a sketchbook, several notebooks, and jeweller’s tools. From a duffle bag I produced a scroll of papyrus. Watching. I knew the key to unlocking this device was at hand.
 
Three eleven digit numbers were needed.
 
In my sleep, a memory within a dream. Up the Nile to Luxor. It was low season, and there were few tourists around. I recalled walking about the temple. We sat with our sketchbooks. The colossal columns against a wicked sky. Local dusty men approached us regularly, and eventually drove us away. Some had knowledge of the buildings. Some said, “cartouche, cartouche, cartouche,” and pointed at the wall. Each utterance ostensibly imparting a few pounds worth of information. We wandered away from the temple, its open flower papyrus columns, and baksheesh seeking men.
 
The landscape barren. The sun relentless. There were no other footprints the way we were heading. Nothing growing. Between the stones we walked. Opening a low metal gate, and letting ourselves in, we stepped into an undisturbed place. An ancient boneyard. An unadorned sarcophagus drew my attention, its stone cover slightly askew. A crisp eleven digit number was exposed on the stone before me. I used a page from my sketchbook and a fat pencil to make a rubbing of the stone. It transferred to paper beautifully.
 
I pushed my hip against the stone not expecting it to move, but it slid and popped back into place. It was time to go. Over my shoulder, a Jackal. In front of the gate. The Jackal appeared as a swirl in the sand. Vapor from below. This was not a stray dog or Egyptian wolf. This was Anubis, guardian of the dead. I moved slowly to delay pursuit.
 
When I did glance back, having stepped over the low wall on the far side of the yard, I saw the black silhouette sharply cut against the sky. Pointed snout and ears, the eyes unblinking. I shivered in the hot sun. The Jackal watched unmoving. I was never to return to that place.
 
And I watched myself on the floor of the cathedral. The device just to my left. The chill I had felt in those Jackal eyes, I felt again as I saw that page from my sketchpad on the floor. The gravestone rubbing contained the first eleven digits necessary to unlock the vessel.
 
The box was very heavy, and yet I had fairly bounded up the stair from below. There was a giddy attitude and unquestioning manner. As though on a lark, the unlocking proceeded. The priest was wheeling and clutching his chest. No one rushed to his aid. The girl with the camcorder left to charge batteries.
 
The second string of numbers was printed on a scroll with no explanation, repeated continuously as one might find a flower pattern printed on a roll of paper towels in a suburban kitchen.
 
The third sequence was in the form of a tattoo on the forearm of a young man standing before me in the cathedral.
 
I watched in my state of sleep paralysis as I expertly and unflinchingly handled the sacred vessel. The first of three slim trays slid out from the bottom third of the box. Somehow I knew how to transfer the digits necessary to create the jagged profile.
 
As I finished entering the first set of eleven, the box shivered in an organic way. Mercury began to flow through arterial tubes. A poison deterrent. The second set made it breathe.
 
The young man with the tattoo on his arm abruptly turned and made his way to the door. In a vivid cinematic sequence, the huge cathedral doors slammed shut. The boy's arm, caught in the closing, severed between the elbow and the shoulder. It was a horrific bloody mess.
 
And without pause, I transposed the digits from the bleeding arm that had been retrieved and wordlessly placed beside me. It was then that I awoke.
 

Reprehensible Unleashing

 

sequence of numbers

unlocking ancient device

severed limb markings

 
 

© Jon Montgomery 2017

POST RECITAL

Talk Icon

TALK

TN: Thanks for coming up, Jon. I know it's quite a drive. I hope we make it worth your while.
 
JM: I hitchhiked up from the city. It took three rides, and I walked the last eleven miles. This place is fantastic.
 
TN: Thanks. I like your story. It's so rich in symbolism and yet so succinct. Not a word wasted.
 
BR: It’s very mysterious, it's both ancient and modern. I like that double removal of a memory within a dream.
 
JM: Thank you. I wrote down the dream as faithfully as I could.
 
TN: I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out this piece of equipment we just got.
 
JM: What's that?
 
TN: It's a Lazarus TL50 Brainwave Stimulator. It picks up certain brainwaves, amplifies them and feeds them back. We've played around with it a bit, but we haven't really tried it out yet. Just put your signature here and initial there and there, would you?
 
Paper rustle sound
 
BR: We adapted it to deliver small electric shocks in conjunction with the brainwave feedback. You know, more bang for the buck. That's the idea anyway.
 
TN: What do you think? Are you game?
 
JM: What are these papers you're having me sign?
 
TN: Oh nothing really, just a formality. I'm hoping we can coax some parallel stories out of your Jagged Profile. You'll be in the chair out there, and we'll be in the control room running the machine and recording what you say. Sound good? Brent, could you get him set up while I dig out the electrodes?
 
BR: Sure. This way Jon. Let me show you the chair.
 
Sound of door opening, steps etc. - Out in the 'lab'
 
BR: I'll strap you in, if you don't mind. Safety's a concern, you know. It's just to prevent you from falling out of the chair. I'll leave your arms free.
 
Sound of straps being tightened.
 
JM: If you are going to tie me up like this, you should at least buy me dinner first.
 
BR: Okay. Later maybe, if you're still up for it.
 
TN: Okay, are you comfortable enough?
 
JM: I get by. I've been very fortunate.
 
TN: I'm going to stick these electrodes to your temples. Would you mind if I shaved you a bit? We'll get a better contact without that extra hair.
 
JM: Yes, yes but..
 
Sound of buzz clipper.
 
TN: You've got quite a head of hair for a man your age. Hold still. Let me just get the other side and we'll be done.
 
Sound of buzz clipper stops.
 
TN: Now that's a look!
 
JM: That was a very expensive wig you just cut.
 
BR: Was that real horse hair, or am I just imagining it?
 
TN: Okay, let's do it.
 
Sound of door closing. - In the control room.
 
TN: All right, let's see.
 
Sound of microphone feedback.
 
TN: Oops. Sorry about that. Hope you've still got your ears. Ready?
 
JM: Why is everything covered in plastic? Is that blood?
 
TN: Okay, I'm going to ask you a question and Brent will then turn on the electricity. You may feel a slight tingle. Then you answer. Don't think about it too much, just say the first thing that comes to mind.
 
JM: Are you checked out on this thing?
 
TN: It's my first time. So Jon, when I first read your story, I was taken with all the symbols and made a list of the ones that jumped out at me.
 
Staircase, Box, Meteorite, Priest, Cathedral, Sketchbook, Scroll of papyrus, Three, Eleven, The Nile, Cartouche, Stones, Gate, Boneyard, Sarcophagus, Jackal, Anubis, Gravestone,Tattoo, Mercury, Bleeding arm, Unlocking, Severed limb.
 
Let's start at the end of the list. Tell me about the severed limb.
 
Give him some juice Brent.
 
BR: Okay.
 
Sound of electricity arcing.
 
JM: Aaaah !
 
Well we had a crab apple tree in our front yard. It was pretty big. Its low curved branches were easy for us to climb. We spent a lot of time in and around that tree. There was a tree across the street that was almost identical to ours, incredible in Spring with the blossoms in your nose.
 
TN: What do you think?
 
JM: When the apples came they were hard as rocks.
 
BR: Well he's not answering your question.
 
TN: Love that.
 
JM: There was a small window of opportunity when the apples were just rotten enough to have a crab apple fight. Start too early, and peg one of the younger kids in the neighbourhood and you might spoil it. Start too late and you're scooping up applesauce. That's no good.
 
TN: Regurgitating memories.
 
BR: Yeah.
 
JM: The apples had to be soft. They had to be as easy to throw as a rock, but explode on impact.
 
BR: At least our neighbours didn't notice their pets missing.
 
TN: No.
 
JM: There would be a few flare-ups between our trees. Somebody would end up crying and Mrs. Jones would put a stop to it.
 
TN: It's nice to be able to finally test it on a human, don't you think?
 
BR: Yeah.
 
JM: She was right. The apples were not ready. However, the day the apples were coming would be ready. I could feel it.
 
BR: Nothing about severed limbs.
 
JM: Sure enough, after not even checking for a few days, the apples were ready.
 
TN: I know. This is what I meant by parallel stories.
 
BR: Yeah, yeah.
 
JM: Both trees assembled their kids. A few apples started appearing in strategic locations. A few rules were agreed upon. Out of nowhere the first apple flies. It's on. The kids' arms whip apples across the street. I remember picking off the Jones kid as he made a run for it across the lawn.The crab apples....
 
BR: Amazing what electricity can do, huh?
 
TN: Yeah.
 
JM: ...just past ripe, exploded upon impact, just as they were supposed to.
 
TN: This is working like a dream.
 
JM: It was great. The apples flew back and forth across the street. Brother against brother. Direct hit after direct hit. Kids on the ground everywhere. Only our mothers were crying.
 
TN: Great. Let's go now to the beginning of my list. How do you feel about staircases?
 
Bump up the voltage Brent.
 
BR: Are you sure? We've never used this thing before.
 
TN: You get more of a hit walking under a power line. Double it.
 
BR: Okay.
 
Sound of electricity arcing.
 
JM: Ow! I need a marker and a piece of cardboard to make a sign for the highway. A crush, a crush of thoughts........ now....... a crush of thoughts, now, now nothing. A simple trip...... to the stream..... filled with, with beauty and conflict. In this sylvan setting, in this sylvan setting, in this.....in this......in this, in this sylvan setting......a trip to the stream...... in this sylvan setting...... despair...... and euphoria have become one.
 
BR: Wow, yeah. This is good.
 
TN: Yeah, getting there now.
 
JM: Do you hear singing? Am, am, am I shouting? My proclivity for, for blasphemy... it's, it's still there. It's still there. Hmm. The constant clawing at the inside of my skull.... it's returned.
 
TN: This TL50's fantastic.
 
JM: Ugh.
 
BR: Yeah. Maybe we ought to get two of them.
 
JM: Er, hmm. Were you guys going to ask me a couple of questions about my story?
 
TN: Good, good. Now we're getting somewhere. What is the significance of Eleven?
 
Give it a little more Brent.
 
BR: I don't know. I think that's enough.
 
TN: We're almost done. Bump it up.
 
BR: If you say so.
 
TN: So Jon, how do you feel about Eleven?
 
Sound of electricity arcing
 
JM: (Silence)
 
BR: Jon?
 
JM: (Silence)
 
TN: Oh shit.
 
Sound of Brent and Tom getting up hastily, door opening.
 
TN: Are you Okay?........Jon?
 
BR: Look Tom, we can't electrocute authors on our show. We just can't do that.
 
TN: Ah....He took his headphones off.
 
JM: Are we ready to begin?

TN: Thanks for coming up, Jon. I know it's quite a drive. I hope we make it worth your while.
 
JM: I hitchhiked up from the city. It took three rides, and I walked the last eleven miles. This place is fantastic.
 
TN: Thanks. I like your story. It's so rich in symbolism and yet so succinct. Not a word wasted.
 
BR: It’s very mysterious, it's both ancient and modern. I like that double removal of a memory within a dream.
 
JM: Thank you. I wrote down the dream as faithfully as I could.
 
TN: I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out this piece of equipment we just got.
 
JM: What's that?
 
TN: It's a Lazarus TL50 Brainwave Stimulator. It picks up certain brainwaves, amplifies them and feeds them back. We've played around with it a bit, but we haven't really tried it out yet. Just put your signature here and initial there and there, would you?
 
Paper rustle sound
 
BR: We adapted it to deliver small electric shocks in conjunction with the brainwave feedback. You know, more bang for the buck. That's the idea anyway.
 
TN: What do you think? Are you game?
 
JM: What are these papers you're having me sign?
 
TN: Oh nothing really, just a formality. I'm hoping we can coax some parallel stories out of your Jagged Profile. You'll be in the chair out there, and we'll be in the control room running the machine and recording what you say. Sound good? Brent, could you get him set up while I dig out the electrodes?
 
BR: Sure. This way Jon. Let me show you the chair.
 
Sound of door opening, steps etc. - Out in the 'lab'
 
BR: I'll strap you in, if you don't mind. Safety's a concern, you know. It's just to prevent you from falling out of the chair. I'll leave your arms free.
 
Sound of straps being tightened.
 
JM: If you are going to tie me up like this, you should at least buy me dinner first.
 
BR: Okay. Later maybe, if you're still up for it.
 
TN: Okay, are you comfortable enough?
 
JM: I get by. I've been very fortunate.
 
TN: I'm going to stick these electrodes to your temples. Would you mind if I shaved you a bit? We'll get a better contact without that extra hair.
 
JM: Yes, yes but..
 
Sound of buzz clipper.
 
TN: You've got quite a head of hair for a man your age. Hold still. Let me just get the other side and we'll be done.
 
Sound of buzz clipper stops.
 
TN: Now that's a look!
 
JM: That was a very expensive wig you just cut.
 
BR: Was that real horse hair, or am I just imagining it?
 
TN: Okay, let's do it.
 
Sound of door closing. - In the control room.
 
TN: All right, let's see.
 
Sound of microphone feedback.
 
TN: Oops. Sorry about that. Hope you've still got your ears. Ready?
 
JM: Why is everything covered in plastic? Is that blood?
 
TN: Okay, I'm going to ask you a question and Brent will then turn on the electricity. You may feel a slight tingle. Then you answer. Don't think about it too much, just say the first thing that comes to mind.
 
JM: Are you checked out on this thing?
 
TN: It's my first time. So Jon, when I first read your story, I was taken with all the symbols and made a list of the ones that jumped out at me.
 
Staircase, Box, Meteorite, Priest, Cathedral, Sketchbook, Scroll of papyrus, Three, Eleven, The Nile, Cartouche, Stones, Gate, Boneyard, Sarcophagus, Jackal, Anubis, Gravestone,Tattoo, Mercury, Bleeding arm, Unlocking, Severed limb.
 
Let's start at the end of the list. Tell me about the severed limb.
 
Give him some juice Brent.
 
BR: Okay.
 
Sound of electricity arcing.
 
JM: Aaaah !
 
Well we had a crab apple tree in our front yard. It was pretty big. Its low curved branches were easy for us to climb. We spent a lot of time in and around that tree. There was a tree across the street that was almost identical to ours, incredible in Spring with the blossoms in your nose.
 
TN: What do you think?
 
JM: When the apples came they were hard as rocks.
 
BR: Well he's not answering your question.
 
TN: Love that.
 
JM: There was a small window of opportunity when the apples were just rotten enough to have a crab apple fight. Start too early, and peg one of the younger kids in the neighbourhood and you might spoil it. Start too late and you're scooping up applesauce. That's no good.
 
TN: Regurgitating memories.
 
BR: Yeah.
 
JM: The apples had to be soft. They had to be as easy to throw as a rock, but explode on impact.
 
BR: At least our neighbours didn't notice their pets missing.
 
TN: No.
 
JM: There would be a few flare-ups between our trees. Somebody would end up crying and Mrs. Jones would put a stop to it.
 
TN: It's nice to be able to finally test it on a human, don't you think?
 
BR: Yeah.
 
JM: She was right. The apples were not ready. However, the day the apples were coming would be ready. I could feel it.
 
BR: Nothing about severed limbs.
 
JM: Sure enough, after not even checking for a few days, the apples were ready.
 
TN: I know. This is what I meant by parallel stories.
 
BR: Yeah, yeah.
 
JM: Both trees assembled their kids. A few apples started appearing in strategic locations. A few rules were agreed upon. Out of nowhere the first apple flies. It's on. The kids' arms whip apples across the street. I remember picking off the Jones kid as he made a run for it across the lawn.The crab apples....
 
BR: Amazing what electricity can do, huh?
 
TN: Yeah.
 
JM: ...just past ripe, exploded upon impact, just as they were supposed to.
 
TN: This is working like a dream.
 
JM: It was great. The apples flew back and forth across the street. Brother against brother. Direct hit after direct hit. Kids on the ground everywhere. Only our mothers were crying.
 
TN: Great. Let's go now to the beginning of my list. How do you feel about staircases?
 
Bump up the voltage Brent.
 
BR: Are you sure? We've never used this thing before.
 
TN: You get more of a hit walking under a power line. Double it.
 
BR: Okay.
 
Sound of electricity arcing.
 
JM: Ow! I need a marker and a piece of cardboard to make a sign for the highway. A crush, a crush of thoughts........ now....... a crush of thoughts, now, now nothing. A simple trip...... to the stream..... filled with, with beauty and conflict. In this sylvan setting, in this sylvan setting, in this.....in this......in this, in this sylvan setting......a trip to the stream...... in this sylvan setting...... despair...... and euphoria have become one.
 
BR: Wow, yeah. This is good.
 
TN: Yeah, getting there now.
 
JM: Do you hear singing? Am, am, am I shouting? My proclivity for, for blasphemy... it's, it's still there. It's still there. Hmm. The constant clawing at the inside of my skull.... it's returned.
 
TN: This TL50's fantastic.
 
JM: Ugh.
 
BR: Yeah. Maybe we ought to get two of them.
 
JM: Er, hmm. Were you guys going to ask me a couple of questions about my story?
 
TN: Good, good. Now we're getting somewhere. What is the significance of Eleven?
 
Give it a little more Brent.
 
BR: I don't know. I think that's enough.
 
TN: We're almost done. Bump it up.
 
BR: If you say so.
 
TN: So Jon, how do you feel about Eleven?
 
Sound of electricity arcing
 
JM: (Silence)
 
BR: Jon?
 
JM: (Silence)
 
TN: Oh shit.
 
Sound of Brent and Tom getting up hastily, door opening.
 
TN: Are you Okay?........Jon?
 
BR: Look Tom, we can't electrocute authors on our show. We just can't do that.
 
TN: Ah....He took his headphones off.
 
JM: Are we ready to begin?

Music on this episode:

L'Amour est un Oiseau Rebelle - by George Bizet - music box rendition

Night on Bald Mountain - by Modest Mussorgsky - License CC By 3.0

Lazy Day - Audionautix - License CC By 3.0

O Fortuna from Carmina Burana - by Carl Orff

performed live by The M.I.T. Concert Choir - License CC By NC 3.0 US

 

Sound Effects 

Splashing water by Lubini - License CC By 3.0

Electricity arcing by Timbre - License CC By NC 3.0

THE STRANGE RECITAL

Episode 17022

BLACK BULL Logo

Sekvenco de nombroj