Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Progressed Land

Once upon a time there was a kingdom ruled by a king who learned.

You enter the kingdom and immediately notice something is off. There are people around, but they are preoccupied. They don't notice you. They don't notice anyone around them. They look lost in thought.

Towards the center of the kingdom, you enter a large amphitheater. Inside, there appear to be ten concentric stone circles.

There are people sitting on the first stone circle, but they're eyes are closed and they look asleep. Going past them, you near a second stone circle with more people sitting. These people have their eyes open and as you walk past them, they follow you. Their faces don't turn, just their eyes. You say, "Hello?" but none of them answer you.

At the third stone circle, the people begin to speak. "Hello? Hello. Hello. Hello?" they repeat. You try to talk to them, but all they say is "Hello."

At the fourth stone circle, the people are moving their legs, wriggling their fingers and saying, "Hell. Oh. Oh. Hell." You try to introduce yourself, but they just stare at you.

At the fifth stone circle, the people are repeating more of your words. "My. Name. Is. Name. My. Is. Is. My Name."

At the sixth stone circle, the people say your name over and over again. You walk hurriedy past them.

At the seventh stone circle, the people are walking around, talking to each other, trying out different tones of voice.

At the eighth stone circle, the people ask you questions. "Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going?" You try to answer as many as you can, but you have to move on.

At the ninth stone circle, the people speak normally to you. Their eyes are wide and their hair is wet, but otherwise, they look normal. You feel relieved and yet, somewhere deep inside, you are unnerved.

At the tenth stone circle, a small group of people is gathered around a large raised pond in the center. "Hello," you say. "Hello," the group says your name. "Come, meet our king." You walk forward, but cannot see anyone else, just the pond and the water inside. They motion you forward, but still all you can see is the pond and your own reflection. "Meet our king," they say.

The pond swirls, but no one is touching it. It swirls and swirls and then a thin tendril rises, growing larger and larger. You realize that the pond is their king. This is the Learning King. They grab you and hold you still as the tendril moves upward. They say your name again and tell you that your words have amused them. The tendril takes hold.

The group lets you go. They go their separate ways and the people on the stone circles move forward one circle each. You stand up and walk to the last circle at the very end and sit down.

And you close your eyes.

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