The Poison Pie Publishing House presents:

The Implacable Absence
A Non-Idiomatic Improvisational Duet
Henry E. Gorton & David J. Keffer
(link to main page of novel)

Authors’ Afterwords

Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was originally defined as the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”, but it has come to represent the human tendency to seek patterns in random information in general, such as with gambling and paranormal phenomena.

Pareidolia is a form of apophenia, a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds or the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.

August 4, 2014

—adapted from wikipedia: apophenia and pareidolia

The Lasting Sporangium may have fashioned Gorgonio with the intention of furthering the work of the Deadly Galerina. Being a fruiting body of myxomycetes, the Lasting Sporangium acted as an emissary of the mushroom god. Indeed, Gorgonio spent much of his life doing the Galerina's work, but early on found he could not complete his destined tasks in the Sporangium's pine woodlands. Dogged shades pursued him, and his allies were not powerful enough to hold at bay these malevolent beings with bulging, monocle eyes and sodden, spongy fingers. These were agents of the Scintillated Oracle, a vengeful rival of the Deadly Galerina, from whose clutches the marble heart was saved. Some were spectacled, leering men in coal suits who wandered among the trees when sentries neglected their vigils; others were mummified women, restored to a vile facsimile of beauty by immersion in tarry shadow oceans. Eventually, the solitary instruments would be identified and destroyed, for some radiated an unmistakable aura of malice, and others shriveled as the viscous resins leaked from their pores. They drew ever closer and in larger flocks in spite of the forest’s and Gorgonio’s best efforts. When it seemed shadows were on the brink of encircling him and casting him into a depthless, glassy tarn of sorrow, he evaded the inquisitors with the assistance of Ur Syan, a loyal spirit who had vivified the Sporangium’s native arbor until a polyp-backed marauder felled it.

Gorgonio and unborn Ur Syan fled north to Gnec, the city on the Great River, the Yemmal-Furud. Still wary of pursuit by perverse spirits choked in the muck of nightmare marshes and clothed in armors of soot-blackened human leather, they continued their flight and embarked on a river boat headed upstream. After a pleasant trip through the wide, hilly valleys of the Furud, they reached the cataracts that marked the border of legend-swaddled West Barem. This land held promise for Gorgonio’s research with its sparse population, overgrown monasteries, mysterious peach groves and jagged mountains. West Barem’s interior remained pristine; human settlements formed only a sparse constellation on its eastern frontier. In the mountain bound wilderness, vestiges of human habitation remained from forgotten eras, but these ruins were precious few and interred beneath mud slides and tracts of jungle. After becoming familiar with each other, Gorgonio and the region’s indigenous plants and sentient animals carried on a great discourse from which both parties gathered many truths.

While Gorgonio and Ur Syan dispersed mushroom spores in dark hollows and shared meals of mashed yam with the local sloth clans, the waters that spilled from the mouths of the aquifer Imran spoke to Ur Syan in their quiet burbling and told him that Gorgonio’s mission would only be born to fruition in the stone deserts of the north. “He,” the Mouths of Imran assured “might be safe from his foes here, but will not be harrowed by shadows in the stone deserts either.” When the seeding of fungi in West Barem was done, Ur Syan departed Gorgonio with those words. In his subsequent incarnation, Ur Syan became a famed garrison commander in the occupied Yemmal-Furud valley in North Barem.

So it was that Gorgonio again made a sojourn and joined the famed Oshkran, the Demon Scholars, in their subterranean academies. In extensive cave systems carved by the passing of the aquifer, Ur Baaradexu, not even the most intrepid simulacra of the Scintillated Oracle dared pass. All that transpired in the studies of the Oshkran was stewarded by the meticulous demons Elefanshack and Burthock. In the sandstone labyrinths, Gorgonio brought to perfection the labors tasked to him from birth. As a gift to his patrons, Burthock and Elefanshack, he produced schematics and functional prototypes of the Chuklan, clay humanoids from whose chest miniature gardens sprouted. The Chuklan would later be installed as puppeteers, ruling over the human city of Hurthank.

The only task that remained to Gorgonio was communicating his portion of the god’s story to the Galerina itself, but he sensed that the deity had departed material existence and was unreachable through conventional physical and telepathic channels. Gorgonio knew the Deadly Galerina would be patient and wait for this fragment of its story to reach it before diffusing beyond the reach of imagination and dissolving its presence in accessible realms. To find the Galerina, Gorgonio enlisted the help of Eyu Dreamers who had taken refuge from wars in their homeland in Hurthank. These dreamers and Gorgonio trod through strange places and even to the eerie shores of cloud-white astral seas, but always the path to the Galerina was blocked by mercenaries aligned to the Scintillated Oracle’s will. They were fiendish warriors to the last, who bled and suffered, but did not die. Broad-shouldered Horned Gods, cloaked in smoldering vermillion mist and jade-armored ghosts harried them in both vernal paradises and dreary wastes. Even these corporeal terrors of dream the Eyu could not slay. With the roving vortices of satanic presences, cackling words of doom, the only recourse was speedy flight. Years passed in dreaming, and the mercenaries multiplied and grew more determined; they needed no pay as the hunt was joy enough. With his hopes of navigating passage to the Galerina dashed, Gorgonio awoke years later among the living. All that happened in his quests with the Eyu Dreamers is not recounted here.

Knowing that in his life, the way to the Deadly Galerina was barred, Gorgonio sought advice from the aesthete, Eukrianskaya, who lived on the upper flanks of a deceased volcano. Over two days Gorgonio climbed the trackless slopes of the mountain, resting often because the air was thin. He struggled upward through vales pillared with somber white aspen and stands of old growth timber clinging to steeper slopes. At length he reached the windswept escarpments of alpine tundra where the nun sat beneath a prominence of bubble-filled igneous deposit. She was aware of the travails that had brought Gorgonio to the ruined caldera’s summit and wasted no time in revealing to him that another would have to finish his mission and present the Galerina with its story.

“Mr. P. Pie will in his own time be able to make pilgrimage to the mushroom god. This cause will find fulfillment.”

Together, Gorgonio and Eukrianskaya composed a manuscript in which the works he performed in the name of the Deadly Galerina were explained. Gorgonio requested that Eukrianskaya deliver the letter to P. Pie using methods revealed to her through long meditation, but she refused saying the time was not right and that P. Pie would require his marble heart as a compass and token. Having lived long enough, Gorgonio assented to the necessity of his death. He added a larger band of text at the head of his manuscript: “May the letter be delivered to Mr. P. Pie so that he might bring it where I could not. May my heart also be provided to the same on my death that his course might be clearer.”

Gorgonio left the plain monastic robes he had worn among the Oshkran and a text containing tables for the transliteration of the scripts of the day. Both were to be given to P. Pie or his companions on arrival because Gorgonio wrote his memorandum to Mr. Pie in the curious circulinear script of the Oshkran. This alphabet, based on the molecular structure of minerals was most familiar to him, but he knew P. Pie would not be likewise educated.

Gorgonio then returned to the stone desert with the letter. While passing an oasis at night, a spined shade accosted him and gleefully plucked out his heart. To this end, Gorgonio was resigned and submitted without struggle. Some would say he chose the time and place for his martyrdom. As soon as the shade’s ecstatic howls of triumph pierced the air, it was set upon by rotund and porcine Laurel Demons who resided at the oases in the stone desert. With martial prowess belied by their appearance and stature, they felled the tainted agent of the Oracle and due to their keen demonic intuition, retrieved both the heart and letter, but did not waste time preserving the body. That vessel, they reasoned, was no longer useful.

That night many slinking shadows with deformed hearts of sludge and even a contingent of Horned Gods assaulted the demon’s enclave in attempting the violent requisition of the marble heart. When dawn came, light fell upon the trampled hides of many shadows, their blood mixed with sand. Even some of the abhorred Horned Gods lay with their faces pressed into the welcoming earth, hopelessly maimed by coffins of cactus thorns and desert briar. The Laurel Demons drank from the aquifer of the Great Scholar Burthock and possessed no small power of their own.

To avoid further bloodshed, they dispatched the heart and letter to the Chuklan in Hurthank. It was not until the tabulation of government documents and properties under the Cyan Glazed Chul-bhoen that the objects were rediscovered. None knew how these materials might be delivered to the far distant P. Pie, so they remained as curiosities on a postal clerk’s desk. A solution became clear when Arl, a highly advanced Eyu Dreamer, the last to live in Hurthank, brought to the waking world a functional, bronze-plate aeroplane. Arl claimed it was fueled by the life force in whole grains. He provided no details as to how he acquired this novel technology.

The Chul-bhoen resolved that the Chuklan should pay their debts to Gorgonio and commissioned Arl, their last Eyu Dreamer, to fly his aeroplane to the abode of Mr. P. Pie and deliver the manuscript and heart. Both were packaged in the ochre stained papers of the stone desert and stamped with the postal markings of Hurthank. The offices of the Noble Chuklan were initially listed as the return address, before being erased in the interests of prudence. Two heavily armed Agave-Tending Demons from the city’s fringes accompanied him to protect against malefactors. With much circumstance, the Chuklan carried out this final tribute to their humble engineer. The bronze was burnished and the fuel tanks filled with a precise mixture of oats and barley dictated by Arl. Arl modified aeroplane’s fuselage to accommodate a hold and seating for his the two gunmen. To avoid detection by the Scintillated Oracle’s henchmen, the plane was hidden until dawn on the day of its departure. At first light, the prep crew pulled off the camouflage fabric, and the propellers spun to life. Arl took flight and swept off over the boulder-dotted desert and tablelands into the cerulean haze of the south. Arl’s Esfalepru (this is what the people of Hurthank called the agave-tenders) gunmen would later claim that that they transcended the limitations of space and time. It seemed to them much of the voyage was spent in a rosewood barque floating across the cloud-scudded surface of an azure astral sea. At some point, they re-entered cloud cover and the thrumming of the engines became loud again. Arl turned off the engines and they coasted to a halt on an insubstantial platform some one-hundred feet above the church which seemed to be a central feature in the village of P. Pie’s home. Arl jumped from the cockpit onto this platform and removed both the letter and package from the old. To the Esfalepru’s awe, he gingerly walked down an equally immaterial staircase to the chapel which he entered briefly to deposit Mr. P. Pie’s mail. Such were the miracles of Arl, the Eyu Dreamer.

August 1-4, 2014

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