Monday, April 28, 2008

Berkley Street

A sign remained standing, stubbornly perched on its metal post. In barely legible letters beneath a layer of grime and wear the sign read 'Berkley St', or would if anyone happened by to read it. By the appearance of the place, this had not occured in a long while.

Human kind was gone from this part of the world, but a heavy footprint remained. Berkley street was once a lively residential strip with many apartment buildings, houses and small shops lining its sides. Today, only the foundations of some of the larger buildings remained, their structures long since collapsed under the pressures of nature and time. Overgrown with weeds and trees, the area now resembled a forest more then it did a city. And yet, despite the appearance of an area long since untouched by intelligent life, a small undeveloped consciousness was slowly becoming aware.

At first it was only the dirt that stirred. Dry dark soil cast in shade, supporting little life ran the stretch of the once busy road. The consciousness drank this in like sweet nourishing nectar, the history of the place filling its being with purpose, giving it focus. This dirt was once hard and rough and ran almost perfectly flat for the length of the road. Brightly coloured lines were painted on it, dividing it neatly in half and cropping off a trim along both sides. Every so often the trim would have a square hole cut into it, covered in a metal grate, connecting to underground tunnels that followed the curve of the road wherever it went.

This was such beautiful design, so fascinating in its deliberateness. The consciousness was delighted by the discovery, and kept running through the length of the street in its mind, not knowing in any way what the purpose of such a construction might be.

A time came when this alone would not suffice, and it was hungry for more. The consciousness cast a wider net and concentrated back further into history. From the sides of the road popped up raised platforms of dull gray instead of the usual dark black. These platforms also followed the road, but instead of one continuous path they were frequently segmented like large flat stones perfectly cut and placed. Along these paths were many unusual structures, some tall and thin, others short and square, many with little transparent windows set inside them. These objects were very distinct from the rest of the environment, and appeared to be made out of a smoother, harder substance then everything else. This was quite a marvel, and it studied the memory of these objects for a great long time.

Out of nostalgia for a simpler time in its esoteric existence, the consciousness again returned to the game of sailing up and down the road and through the tunnels beneath. It traveled this way, blissfully content and feeling safe in a familiar place, until it came face to face with a lumbering beast. The creature stormed past, its great mass carried upon countless rolling disks. It was narrow in the front, but tall and its body continued for considerable length so that it took many long moments to pass despite its great speed. It left behind a wake of noise and smoke, and the consciousness retreated frightened and confused.

There was a pause, and for a time unknown the area was again unobserved. Seasons passed and the mark of human kind continued to erode with each winter freeze, and each spring growth. Entire buildings were worn down to concrete nubs while the forest continued its methodical onslaught. Still standing however was the sign. Bent now like an old man, it remained in stubborn defiance at the edge of the new era, pole still upright, letters still barely legible.

Now, finally after all this time the sign was having its purpose restored. Before it, like a lump of clay, stood a tiny figure of nondescript shape. It had no visible appendages, and was barely the height of a small dog, but it was upright, focused and in possession of both thought and vision. It now utilized the full extent of its faculty in consideration of the object before it. Slowly, not wanting to miss any detail, to followed the line of metal up its length. Everything was taken in, from the tiniest dent to every stain and discolouration. When the creature reached the face of the sign, up high in the air, its interest peeked. It had seen such symbols before, and with a powerful feat of concentration it inhaled deeply of its memory. It possessed a young and nimble mind that was eager to prove itself.

After much meditation it again considered the symbols on the sign, and discovered two more faculties of its being in the process. Slowly, it ran its vision over the symbols from left to right and in careful quiet tones spoke out load their meaning. 'Berkley', could be heard again on this street for the first time in an age. The creature repeated the word while understanding flooded through its mind. With each repetition the creature spoke louder, with greater confidence, until it could visualize the entire ancient city stretched out before it, teeming with strange and unusual life. Having learned all it could and eager to continue the journey, the unnamed creature took a bold step and left the security of Berkley street, its lifelong home, for the first time.

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