The medical ward ran low and long across the ridge on the outskirts of the shimmering city. It swept across the landscape in sensual curves, here the turn of a lower lip, there the sweet arc of a breast. Seamless as shark skin, it seemed perfectly evolved, as though it had come into this world fully formed in its perfection. One was unable to grasp its origins, to comprehend its purpose or function, but was left in awe of it nonetheless. Tomlin walked towards the shadow, if one could even call it that, of the edifice and could feel its brightness, the light of progress radiating from some gland of that seamless skin.
A large swooping tendril loomed over his approach, and yet still offered no sense of entry, no sense that it deigned to register his presence although he was sure somehow that he had not gone unnoticed. At his side crept his own shadow, real and full of the depth and richness only true darkness can bring. He sensed that it was this darkness, this depth, that sent waves of ersatz warnings ringing through the hollow cores of that hall of knowledge, that beacon of hope. As he made this mental note, he felt a slight breeze, as gentle as a caress, flutter across his face from the left. Turning, after a tenuous deliberation and fear, he saw that the wall had recessed several feet from a point that was imperceptible from where he stood. At first he thought it odd, but the longer he looked, the more the ward made it seem as though it had always been there. That there had been no change, no possible alternative.
Tomlin reeled slightly in his confusion but gradually allowed himself to be convinced that he had been wrong and the ward to be infallible. His shadow and he ventured a step in the direction of this aperture and he noted that it was the merest of slits in the grand form but still wide enough to allow three people to stand abreast within. Unlike most apertures, this had no shadow lines, no sense of a beyond and yet it pulsed ever so slightly with an even white light from within. Edging nearer, Tomlin smelled at the air cautiously and could only think of it to be scented of stainless steel. He thought with vague direction that this was the only odor the place could be made from. An even smell without nuance or crevice, without points of weakness or entry. Solid. Featureless. His fear came rushing, screaming, pounding, eating at his senses. His hands and fingers locked rigidly at his sides, palms out slightly raised so that he looked as though an idol or apostle awaiting the creed of a greater god, perhaps the one sprawled so languidly before him. Through no particular will of his own, he was propelled forward, feet following his shoes rather than shoes after feet. The threshold seemed to buzz after him as it stood immense and light. Though he knew it didn’t move, his now streaming eyes made it seem to flutter. To his horror he felt his shadow’s depth growing dim as he moved forward. He could see it crumpling from within, losing itself, biting at the ground, determined to stay rooted to that earth, that soil. And there, just at the threshold of the ward, his shadow’s grip failed and vanished and he passed through with a scream caught at the edge of his throat.