Fools' Gold At The End Of A Monochrome Rainbow

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I live in a lighthouse, although it is not really a lighthouse, and it is not really living.

Let me try to explain, though I fear explanations may prove more difficult the deeper I get. So, the lighthouse. It bears a strong resemblance to what I would have typically considered a lighthouse. It is a tall, cylindrical tower, bursting up from the landscape like a tumour, brown brick cells multiplying into turgid reality. Atop it is… something. Instinctively, I call it a beacon, though I cannot give it form or substance in my mind. I know it is there, but I only feel it is a beacon.

I have never seen it light, though. Sometimes I consider climbing, but there is no access; it is as distant to me as a light on rocky shores is to a trawler in choppy waters. A lighthouse with no light cannot be termed a lighthouse, surely? Besides, are there waters to signal to? Sometimes I think - no, feel there is a coastline, but all I can recall for certain is rolling, cloudy fields, choppier than any ocean, a shade of mustard tangy to the eye. A shade not unlike that of the sky, always on the cusp of sunset without sun when I think about it. I know… yes, I know, this time for certain, that it darkens when time grows short, but I cannot picture it as anything other than dusky yellow.

So, a lighthouse with no light, and no ships to signal to. I cannot check what makes a lighthouse such, but I am fairly certain that it fails to live up to part of its title; what about "house"?

No, I don't think so. It is not a place to live. With the door open, looking in, I see a rounded chamber with a campfire in the middle and smoothed cobblestone walls, but when I am actually inside there is a dusty, abandoned workshop, benches of rotting wood, far too jagged and edged to fit in the cylinder. It is in no state to do any actual crafting, so I am left just… there. Nowhere to go, no way up. No way to the beacon.

There is a door, a room away, but I dare not enter, knowing as I do where it goes. There is no bed; I do not sleep, yet time passes. Perhaps I have been here long enough that I no longer need to will it to do so; then again, why would I? Time moves of its own accord, what am I willing it toward?

It may not be a house, but live there I do. Well. This is the part that becomes more difficult to explain. I knew I needed to be here. I wish I could remember whether I was running from something or to the beacon, but came here I did, through shimmering haze far on the outskirts of a bustling city, a city I do not miss. And I stood atop that rolling hillside and looked over at the lighthouse, and I knew there was no way back, and I knew with conviction that I should not stay outside.

I'm at the end, you see. Again, this is difficult to explain. This is a liminal space in its truest sense, a border world, small and lonely. I know instinctively that nothing exists in this plane beyond my eyeline. But liminality implies a connection between two places, whereas I know I will not leave this place. This may just be a station, but for me it is a terminus. I will remain under the beacon, or else hope I can force myself through that door, that like pole to myself, and be born again.

But no. This is my place. This is where I should be. But it won't be forever.

Sometimes, on lonely nights, I cook a hearty meal and invite all I can to take heart in it. I extend an invitation to myself on occasion, but too often I find myself stood up, without even a waiter to fill my wine glass and turn me a pitying eye. No, when I do appear the mood is frosty; I have never been particularly good company. So, we sit cross-legged, outside the open door, roasting indeterminate meat on a spit, the smoke trailing and blending into a bruised sky, and we create our own beacon, the brightest light in this universe. Yet no-one comes. No-one ever comes.

When I eat with others, they are less than no-one, nothing. Faceless, voiceless, personless people. They won't even eat. Neither can I, perched in that stone chamber, my stomach compressed black-hole dense under the weight of their presence. I keep trying, though; why, I do not know. Do I even want to? I suppose I must, why else would I persist?

I persist in a lot of things. Mostly dreaming. Yes, I persist in dreaming, of a man in a business suit who is not a man, who swims through the rolling hills and warns me my time is near. Of the place beyond the door, where I can will be born again. Of the beacon, above me, beckoning but never bright. Of…

Of home.


I want to go home. I want to go. I want to forget about this place, this lighthouse that isn't a lighthouse, that damn beacon that won't leave my head. Why won't it leave? I'm here, aren't I? What does it want? For me to climb up, light it for the world to see, every world? To jump in, fuel its fire with my own fat and sinew, a sacrifice skewered on a spit for it? What does it want?

I'm sat on the cold stone, just outside the open doorway. It's night, or as close to night as I get here. The golden hills have dimmed to shimmering turquoise, and I can picture myself above them, looking on, at a small figure slumped alone in the doorway of a thing that doesn't need to be so big, so obvious, so there. There's an odd feeling in the air, a feeling like the last week between Christmas and the New Year. You've reached the big climax of the year, now you're sat in the poisoned afterglow, your lover not staying around for breakfast, waiting for the end and the beginning. Not that I ever got my Christmas, just the hollowness in its wake, with nothing to do but clean up the mess and wait for the world to begin turning again.

Does this world even turn? Or does it sit, stagnating in the filth of the worlds pushing up around it? Maybe that's what the coming end is. A plane that's just had enough, smothered under the weight of its surroundings.

I don't want to be smothered. I don't even want… Do I want to reach the beacon? I think maybe I do. I want to see what's up there. There must be something, surely. The thought of never finding out is torture. I accept I most likely never will, will never see that lamp flicker into life, shining brilliant light onto the universe around it, but that thought churns my insides like choppy waters churn the sea bed, keeping me from ever settling, ever being at peace. Because I know it's there. Something is there. And I have to sit here, content myself with the occasional glance at something I cannot even perceive, accept that the branches above me will stretch out of reach no matter how transcendent the hanging fruit seems to me.

Maybe I was wrong, earlier. This place is liminal, just not physically. I don't know what end is coming, but I feel it. Maybe it's the end where I go through the door to that towering hospital, empty but not silent, where I will be born again. Maybe it's where I finally ascend to that eternally dark beacon, and sublimate in its blazing light. Maybe I just die. Or stop. That seems more likely, I'm not actually sure I can die here. Maybe I already did, a very long time ago, and this is just the gentle reminder that I need to get going.

I look up at the lighthouse. It does not look back at me.

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