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A serialized novel by
Heman Chong / Melissa Lim / Leif Magne Tangen
Keller woke up with a start and found himself sprawled on the floor of his bedroom. From the corner of his eyes, he could see a woman stumble onto her feet and move away towards the far side of the room. He tried to place her, but his memory failed him, and he contented himself with merely observing her movements from afar in silence.
He rubbed the sleep away from his eyes and looked around. Keller could see that there was something strange about the configuration of his room, something foreign – as if someone had torn the side of it away and inserted another room. Yet, how is that possible? This is incredulous. It was just too getting really confusing for him. As he struggled to get to his feet and peered at the woman again, only to notice her seeming as equally disorientated. She started to weep silently. He turned away and tried to focus his attention to the altered surroundings.
The lines and curves of the room were completely distorted, which blurring red and distorted his immediate view – the lack of straight planes in the room had made it all slightly out of focus. Keller massaged his eyes once more, in the hopes that this would dispel the discombobulation.
That did not work.
Keller stood in his place, still bewildered as he tried to regain composure. It took him a long time for his eyes to get use to this geometry. Even then, he could feel a faint, dull throbbing in his head as his mind strained to was taking a lot of strain in processing this inflicted newly imposed space. He tried focusing concentrating on a particular spot, one where he was sure knew the wall should ought to be. Instead, there was no longer a single focal point, but thousands of brand new, unfamiliar, but there was not one focal point, but thousands.
Keller thought of the kaleidoscope he used to fiddle with as a boy. He felt faint at this memory. He shook his head to clear his head, swore silently to himself and tried once again to f-o-c-u-s.
Keller sighed. He stood up and climbed over the debris of what was previously his bedroom – or was it?. He moved towards the woman, who was cowering at the corner of the room, staring at him with wary eyes. Trying not to catch her gaze, Keller slowly sat himself beside the woman. He could tell that she was slightly partly afraid of him, but partly somewhat comforted that she was not alone in this nightmare.
They sat there for a long time in silence, unable to react to anything around their immediate surroundings, nor what had possibly transpired between them.
"Do you know what the fuck is going on around here?" she asked quietly.
He shook his head, unable to give an answer. He wrestled with tried thinking of possible explanations for this phenomenon, while trying to find a way out of this.
How can there be an exit where architecture itself doesn't exist anymore?
Is architecture predicated on familiarity of form? And if so, is one able to react to a situation only by dint of memory?
The girl tried to stand up once more, but in vain but failed. Keller looked intently at the floor, pretending to ignore her discomfort. Strangely enough, At least it was still in one piece, he thought. and. Keller kept his eyes focused his eyes on the floor, braced himself and hoisted his body upwards.
Good. It felt stable enough. He felt an ounce of confidence.
AT LEAST THE FUCKING FLOOR IS STILL THERE.
He inhaled deeply before speaking.
"Now, listen to me. My name is Keller.… I'm going to try and see if there's anyone else around. You have to help me by keeping staying calm, ok? I promise I'll be back soon."
He paused and turned to look at her.
The girl nodded mutely.
She looked helpless. She couldn’t be complicit with this whole mess.
Keller looked around. To his surprise, he discovered found a door latch just right beneath under his feet. He knelt and undid the latch He opened the door carefully. After hesitating for a moment, he opened the door, which relented without a creak.
… as if the hinges were well seasoned and oiled.
Keller and peered into the gaping hole, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the new level of illumination, trying not to be surprised even if he see a Cheshire cat.
The next room had was given a similar effect to his bedroom, an appearance not unlike some kind of strange pastiche-implosion-sick joke. At that moment, he noticed that the lines demarcating the edges of his bedroom continued seamlessly from his room into the one he is looking at. It was impossible to distinguish a single room from the next. What he saw observed was a cluster of spaces, all meshed together by something or someone. Something that spoke of an external force. As if a gigantic hand had created a flawless lattice of voids. It was as if Keller was balanced on an intersecting series of endless grids. The architecture structure shifted incessantly, as if it enjoyed a freedom and life of its own. This all seemed fresh to him, and in a way, pure. There was an uncanny yet alluring beauty to the visual pattern of this new architecture, and it mesmerized him and confounded him simultaneously.
He found his balance and walked steadily into the next room. Here, he discovered that his feet were planted firmly on the ceiling of the room. But he could feel gravity’s pull and checked that he wasn’t floating or anything. No. Solid ground. It was just simply that the room that had been turned upside down, an inversion of the previous one he had just left. He glanced smiled at the litter of furniture emerging that came from the floor above – or rather, what used to be ‘above’ – and smiled knowingly to himself.
A few rooms later, each resembling a misfit child of post-modern architecture, Keller, found himself wondering if this labyrinth was ever going to end. It was fun and novel when it began, but his initial euphoria had died away. In its place, a growing confusion and panic began to seep into his consciousness. He felt exhausted, like a child getting weary of a new toy.
Shaking his head, as if to rid it of negative thoughts, Keller as he struggled to move towards another door, which turned out to be a window – a deceptive one though, he soon realized, as it exposed itself to be no more than which turned out to be a photograph of another space. Keller swallowed the lump in his throat and bit his lip. He was angry and could no longer think straight.
In any case, what difference does would a thought – let along thinking straight, make in this situation anyway when the fundamental notions of space no longer even cannot even learn to conform to basic rules… rules that he and presumably the rest of the world were familiar with.
He marched through one room to the next, feeling a mounting sense of frustration and dismay that were becoming uncontrollable.
Just then, he heard a small voice muttering something:
"Hey, You. Thanks for coming back."
Keller whirled turned around.
There she was, the same girl he had left only minutes ago – or has it been hours? - in his own room. She was seated on the floor, leaning sitting against the wall beside him. Or should it be that she was seated on the wall, leaning against the floor…
He took a deep breath. He walked over to her. It was how surprisingly easy it was to convince his mind that a wall could be walked on. He turned his head around, gazing and looked back the way he had came from.
Keller took a deep breath, and exhaled in exasperation..
"What's your name?" he asked.
“That sounds like a question I’d like to ask you,” she retorted.
“Don’t get tetchy with me. I’m just as…”
“Confused as I am? Of course you are. Now, if you would like to explain how you’d conned me into your room in the first place…”
“That’s rubbish! I’m just about to ask you what the fuck you’re doing here!” Keller could feel his blood pressure rising. He suddenly noticed that his fingernails were digging into the flesh of his palm.
The woman glared at Keller and sprung up to her feet. “There,” she hissed, pointing at the door that Keller had emerged from a moment ago. “That is my bedroom. And this,” she gestured towards Keller’s bedroom. “This is my living room. Or rather, it used to be my living room until you decided to take up residence here…”
“Look, I don’t want to kick up a fuss here, but I’d seriously appreciate it if you just took your leave now,” Keller said behind gritted teeth. “As far as I am concerned, you have bloody crashed into my world, and I don’t need this to start the day off.”
The woman glowered at Keller for a moment. Then her shoulders loosened and hunched slightly, and she slid her back down against the wall. Keller ran his clammy fingers through his disheveled hair as he watched her body quiver gently with sobs.
“I don’t understand,” they both echoed at the same time.
Keller turned his attention back to the structure of the room. The lines continued to relocate themselves, converging and diverging intermittently, whilst maintaining that bewildering seamlessness from one room to the next. He let his eyes trace a path along one particular shifting line that stretched onto the next space, halting only at a sharp corner of the room.
That was when that sense of realization which struck him earlier as he explored the myriad spaces reiterated itself.
“That next room… you said that’s your bedroom?” he queried the woman cautiously.
He was aware of her nodding slightly. He found himself bopping his head in time with hers, as if in concurrence.
“Now… it… it kind of looks more like mine,” Keller said haltingly.
“I’m sure it’s mine. I have no idea who you are or what you want or what is happening, but I AM SURE THAT THIS IS MY APARTMENT!” she screamed.
Truth is: Keller couldn’t tell one from the other anymore. If anything, the desperation and futility he felt within him and the sense of panic he was trying to conceal appeared echoed in the demeanour of the woman.
He walked into the next room, opened a window and jumped out.
To be continued…
(Please check www.philipville.com to find out where and when the next chapter will be published.)