There will be no borders in the future
Oblivion, Chapter 6
Welcome to Oblivion, utopian fiction I’m publishing alongside essays imagining a more beautiful future. You can start at the beginning or you can start right here.
Quick backstory: Elysia awoke on a beautiful island with no recollection of her past and a painting of the Birth of Venus held beneath her arm. She thought she had arrived in Asia, but she’s about to learn where she is.
composed a beautiful musical score for this chapter. I hope you enjoy this meditation as you read. (This is my favorite one so far!)
I dreamt of a flood. It washed away the whole world until only the best parts of it remained. One beautiful flush and then… Eden.
In the morning, Taka and I walked to the sea, where the waves crashed madly against the cliffs and towering pillars of stone rose on either side of us. When I looked up, I saw a goddess carved into the cliffs reaching for forgotten gods and rising from the waters, a staircase carved into her kimono.
Taka grabbed my hand and led me into the water. We waded across, then climbed up onto her feet and into her kimono. We spent the entire day in this way—slowly climbing the ruins, clinging to an ancient chain that was left anchored into the cliff, our robes catching on the occasional stone as we stood thousands of feet above the ocean.
“Long ago,” Taka said. “There were stories of a woman born from the mouth of a lotus flower. She was so beautiful that she was sought after by every suitor. Unwilling to wed, she evaded everyone, fleeing into the snowy mountains where none could catch her. It was assumed she would die in that harsh winter, but every now and then the people who lived in the mountains claimed to catch sight of a woman walking in the snow with nothing but her long black hair to protect her.
“The emperor heard these tales and set out to ensnare her. He sent an entire legion of soldiers into the snowy mountains covered head to toe in furs—many of them died. It took months, eventually a year, but a small contingent eventually found the woman. She was sleeping in a snow cave, laying upon the pelts of a tiger recently beheaded, and the ice was so blue and so ancient that it sang her to sleep with the echoing sounds of the earth as it cracked and moved.
“The woman was brought to the palace and made empress, but the emperor could not tame her. He placed her quarters under lock and key and still she disappeared at night, returning to her chambers just as the key was turned to let her out. She dressed in a black gown with gold stitching, and she perfumed herself with sandalwood and tangerine. She stood on the balcony of the palace each morning and the people wept when they saw her. She was of the mountains like them, and they loved her.
“Those from the mountains believed the woman knew she was hunted by the emperor and so she had killed the tiger, beheading it with the edge of her own teeth that she might take its form at night. When the moon rose, she wrapped the pelt around her body and embodied the tiger, climbing steps that only she who had lived in these mountains knew existed. Her paws were such that she would not slip, her eyes so keen she could see every stair, and her steps so silent none could follow her.”
As he said this, we reached the top of the cliffs only to discover an enormous monastery that was carved into the woman’s head, with gold turrets that were her crown, enormous caverns that were her eyes, and a courtyard grown through with trees, overflowing with branches and flowers that fell into the sky and became her hair.
“This was her lair,” Taka continued. “Every evening, her journey thus completed, she would return to her human form, sit upon her tiger pelt, and overlook the whole world. They said the gods taught her to meditate and she sat with them right here, listening to the sounds of her own spirit. The evening she attained enlightenment, the tiger pelt rose from the ground and carried her across the snowy mountains. Many claimed to have seen her flying through the air that night. They carved this mountain in her image.”
Taka turned to look at the ocean. “The mountains are all islands now,” he said.
I followed his eyes to the horizon—there were islands as far as the eye could see, enormous mountaintops climbing from the ocean into the clouds—all of them blooming purple and pink depending on the inclination of their trees. Several islands were carved with the faces of gods and goddesses—and more than a few of them erupted lavender smoke into the sky, the remnants of volcanoes that had gone still.
“This is Asean,” Taka said, the sun now setting over it all, “the archipelago formerly known as the continent of Asia. There are four others: Oceana, Americana, Europa, and Africana.”
“So there are…”
“There are no continents. The world was flooded long ago, and this is all that remains.”
Taka turned to face me. “You can see why Ama found it strange when you thought yourself in Asia.”
Oblivion is a utopian novel and a collection of essays imagining a more beautiful future. Join us? ✨