Hollow Earth

by Glenn Hughes


Wed. Nov. 7th

  In the crisp blue afternoon I left my flat.  Around November the sun begins to shine with more a white tint quite unlike the soft, warming yellow rays of the summer sun. Seeming to be a different sun it has a way of altering the hues that the eye sees, pulling pigment from the skin and moisture from everything. The stoop in front is crafted from low grade flagstone, brickwork, and limestone; pure, cracking rock. Time and erosion have bent but not broken the architectural eyesore. Pausing here, on the steps, I stare and drift beneath the outer layer of stain and chewed gum. Into the spaces between the bricks and then further to the minute spaces between the particles my imagination is poured. How dense it must be here, with chemical bonds so strongRecently, in an article, I had read of an organism that existed deep below the earth, with no light, consuming rock for sustenance.  'Impossible' I shudders, wondering if I had that information confused with a study on Martian microbes.  Thoughts remain loosely on the rock, the rock beneath my feet, the very rock we stand and build upon. How deep does it go? Could there be an opposite sidea place deep in the middle of the planet where the rock bed ends for us but begins for beings trodden under the rays of a sunken sun?

     I walked out amidst the twirling snow flecks. Watching them flip, focussing on a single flake and the cyclonic motion. To witness the dance of the innumerable white kaleidoscopes against the deep sky is cosmic. As the burning stars leap from immeasurable space so fly the snowy cut-outs from the clouded skies. Reaching out I grab hold of a cluster but the palm only melts it away. The action provides a summation of human existence- destroyer, perpetrator, and a catalyst of continual decay. What else could be our purpose but to consume what we can and discard until the body itself is consumed by time and also discarded. We do so much damage in every conceivable area; selves, others, surroundingsall the way from the inside out. I have made efforts to pull myself from this viral loop with limited success. I truly feel that to embark on the voyage to the unseen North, the supposed path to the hollowed earth, is my solution.


The dusting of snow was covering much of the ugliness inherent in the city I like this aspect of the snow. I prefer the illusion, always have, for in the illusion resides the ability to imagine something that is not. That option is something you never want to lose. Most people find the snowy conditions agitating. They need to see, to be constantly reminded of the filth we are feeding. The snow bogs down, takes some of the speed out of the working city. I was walking to the bookstore, slowly, through the snow.

When I saw her enter the book store I immediately looked away. Wanting not to show my eyes were even interested just yet. But they were, my eyes were pulling, gravitating toward this figure; like her eyes were worlds spinning and luring. I was stealing glances while browsing, letting a light temptation build within me. I let her slip away for a time as I thumbed through a rag on current issues in science. Let the line out a little, let her run then reel the tiring specimen back in. My trawling eyes found her skimming a novel in the aisle marked 'R-S'. Wading in behind her I too picked a title from the shelf and thumbed. Her scent was filling the lane. She was aware of my presence; I could feel her turning to look. I had no room in my skull for any outside thought. We were carefully dancing around one another as best we could; her swimming me fishing. This was truly a delicate situation requiring guile and technique in understanding the correct moment to sink the hook. When that moment came I did not hesitate. Take nothing away from the fish in this instance for many times we find that it was, in fact, the fish that was doing all the catching. It was mentioned in our ensuing conversation that she had noted my glances and had contemplated leaving the shop altogether if not for the fact that I had piqued her interest. All my macho posturing and plotting had amounted to not much on end. She held the cards already and told me she would call me. I could not have been happier.

Sat. Nov. 10th

When the phone rang I contemplated leaving it to ring and ring and ring. There creeps a certain dread for what is to come from that connecting end. Paranoia over what that individual may want. Potentially negative, and at the very least forcing me to engage in odd conversation with a head I cannot see.


Nor is there time to analyze the prattle to allow for a coherent, meaningful response. So we amble on with no end in sight, ears sweating, eyes wandering, cord curlingFinally, out of aggravation, I pick it up, 'hello' I wheeze and pause tensely.

The phone call was short and extremely loaded. The voice on the other end was that of a friend. He briefly glossed the basics; how was I doing, what was I doing, why was I doing that, and so on. I answered just as briefly. His intention was unclear, the topic he needed to raise was touchy and I could gather that from his voice. I never should have answered. His request for money bounced off my brain and flew out my earfloating around the room like a planet dislodged from orbit. I watched it bounce around, hanging like fog in my kitchen. He pleaded his case, reasons and excuses. None of which mattered because I could not understand the words he was using, bad miscommunication now. He was speaking too fast or incoherently and my head was unable to keep up or sort it out. Still the request sat there, large and ominous. I said I would get back to him and hung up the telephone. I stopped twisting the cord and wished it were her that called.

I had to lie down on the cool kitchen tiles to dissect the nature of this decision and the nature of decision itself. I hated decision making. The only rational hypothesis one could make for the outcome of any decision would be that change is on the way. Whether one will be able to accept the circumstantial change decision brings cannot be known and this can be terrifying. If the outcome is unmanageable we are thrown into a cycle where more decisions are forced upon us. The option to go back and alter the initial decision is impossible, we can only move forward toward the unknowable. I saw all of this very clearly and it filled me with dread. I had a fund building for the trip to the north, to the passage at the northern pole. I weighed it out very meticulously, every detail, what I stood to gain, lose, regret, everything. On end I knew I would give over the money because my other option had no root in reality. We always lose.


Mon. Nov.12th

We went for lunch today, her and I. The back and forth exchanges flowed smoothly. This is always something of concern. A moment of silence rapidly morphs into minutes. Your mind begins to focus on the expanse of silence and panic over why there is nothing to say. This is demise, humiliation. But it did not implode this way at all, not with her, not today. We were eagerly, easily speaking and listening; connecting in a language that would not have been understood outside of our immediate context. We were talking in a tongue all our own, developing itself on every syllable, defining new syntactical rules at each turn of phrase. We sat in uncomfortable cafeteria chairs with wicker designs formed of metal; feeling a drifting, willowy light sensation in body and brain. I remember thinking it could go on forever like this. But then it ended, our time, our lunchended. I knew that this speck of time was our anomaly. Splendour creeps up on us, that's its nature, it is a fleeting creature. I think we had been ambushed by it then; it crept through the giant pane glass, took us both and governed what we were creating. I sat with beauty then and likely will again.

Thurs. Nov. 15th

Having no hot water for approximately one full week allows one to reflect on the comfort level of average living and affords one the opportunity to explore the realm of amateur biological experimentation. I believe comfort is an easy and forgettable state. While my water is no colder then, say, a medium lake or cove of a larger water body the shower head has the uncanny ability to fool the mind into believing the temperature to be much lower. Stepping into the icy sleet gives me a close understanding of what cryogenic suspension would feel like (assuming the candidate was still breathing). The avenue I am exploring is geared toward will and conditioning. A consistent exposure to the low temperature water stream at two sessions per day will serve as the control. The goal will be to mark how many sessions are required to acclimatize the body to the icy bath.


Change will be marked by gradual ease in muscle tension upon entrance, lowered anger levels before and during sessions, elimination of pre-emersion warm up (used primarily to lessen the initial shock on the heart muscle), and in a best case scenario, a full mental and physical shift where by the event will be engrained as normative and welcome. The project is a test of will and of human habit. Also, I cannot take money from the savings fund to pay the bill.

Mon. Nov. 19th

I saw her again. The language was hard this time. We were toggling and fishing, as you would with a radio tuner, to find our frequency. It was not working. Her words rang in my ears, echoing badly as if spoken from the far end of a concrete tunnel. Phrases filled with static, misinterpretation, mixing metaphor, breaking simile, it was horrendous. We ended the conversation with a vague understanding of one another. We made a conclusion for the sake of concluding. A conclusion founded on misunderstanding cannot be a conclusion at all, can it? I wanted to find the path we had walked during our last meeting. To turn the tide and have everyday as encompassing as we were could potentially render my dream for the hollow earth pointless. My recent decision to give up on the journey may prove wise for all I could have hoped to find in that northern hole would be eclipsed by her.

Wed. Nov. 21st

This would be the last meeting between her and I. It had been a brief but exhilarating time. Suspended above the rest of the world as an example of how two people could be. This was a spike on the chart that broke through the title at the top of the graph. But the graph keeps charting and that line has to come back down to even and, at times, it plummets below to where it's almost scratching the bottom. If this was meant to be one of those quick spikes, a bleep on the radar then at least it was a positive and even I could live comfortably with that. So we walked together sharing lines that were not profound or poetic. Words and isms people had spoken so many times before they were used as examples of clich.


This was the only language we could understand by now. Finally came the parting speeches, 'Where are you going to?' I asked her. She pointed down the street and asked, 'You?' Inevitably I pointed in the opposite direction. There was no physical contact now or at all past a held hand or incidental bump. I did not want for more. No desire or temptation had I to see her in any other capacity, just done.


Handing over the money made me conscious and clear about what it was I was giving away. The decision had already been made, there was no alternative. I passed this friend the means by which I would have discovered the truth and the reason, if there were such things. The hollow earth represented a separation between my pathetic life and the other billions of pathetic lives surrounding mine. This ability was being crudely folded in half and pushed into a dirty, foreign pocket. Gone, yet I did not feel owed or grievous. They say when you donate an organ a standard psychological question is whether or not feelings might arise whereby the recipient is made to feel beholden to the donor. After all it is, technically, always going to be that donor's organ operating inside of someone else. It is known that this feeling may be a creeper in the sense that over time and situation a donor would become this way towards a recipient. Perhaps this is how my situation will unfold. While I feel no hostility or general negativity now things change quickly and unexpectedly.

I thought to myself this decision prematurely halts my journey. A journey that added up to geological impossibility, but I did have an adventurous speculation building. Months of mapping, hypotheses, and research invested in nothingmight have amounted to nothing in any event. I found that to be a more devastating proposition; a redundant trip toward nothing and arriving to find exactly that. Perhaps I had been spared the humiliation of returning empty, just returning would have amounted to failure. But then I wouldn't have it anymore, I would no longer be able to dream, to escape to a place with such promise. In seeking proof I might have found what I least would want to admit, non-existence. With a half defeated yet fully decided sigh, 'There it goes' I muttered. To which came the expected reply, 'what?'


As I rode home in a dazed state I watched the subway car floor. I began to see that people much resemble the caked mud on that floor; Useless, dirty, unsightly. Taken as a whole we form one messy mosaic, bleeding into and over one another. Some of us splash up on the pole or the door and feel we have some sort of advantage. In actuality each splash is originating from the same stinking mire. All we can do is swim in the puddle we are born into and stick there, looking ugly.

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