memory palace 2: the rock climbing gym

I am standing behind the front desk of my college workplace, the rock climbing gym on campus. The door swings open and a very frail old man struggles in. His muscles strain as he pulls his own tombstone behind him. It says the name Martin and is leaving a deep gouge in the tiled floor.

As I start towards him, all my five senses are taken over. It starts with the smells. Italian herbs, rich tomato, pungent cheese, and fresh baked bread all start wafting into my nostrils. I look to my right, and there on the desk is the biggest and most beautiful pizza I’ve ever seen. I can even hear a sort of heavenly song as I walk toward it. Finally, when I take my first bite I am inundated with how delicious it is.

After having eaten enough pizza for five people, I go into the middle of the rock climbing wall floor and lay out on a crashpad. I gaze up at the window in the ceiling and start staring directly at the sun. This is far too risky for my eyes, I think, and so I look away. That’s when someone approaches me. I see his shoes first and then look up. He is a very pale young man, dressed all in silver gray and with gray hair. “Hello. I would like a companion to climb with, but I am afraid I have no moon friends,” he says.

“How about a sun friend?” I hear from behind me. A young woman strolls in, hair bright blonde and dressed all in yellow and orange. He gasps when he sees her, then rushes forward, gathers her in his arms, and they share a deep kiss. As they grow more passionate they start emanating an incredible bright light until suddenly they disappear.

I decide that I should do some climbing. I walk up to the bouldering wall and start doing a route. Halfway up and tucked up into the hardest part of the overhang, I begin to struggle. That’s when I hear my coworker Justin. “Come on, Maryann,” he yells, “send it!” From all around the rock wall I hear the words “send it” being chanted, and I continue upward.

I can see the final hold in the route above me. It is shaped like a large diamond, and it sparkles like one too. In a final surge of effort, I reach up and grab it. While I am still hanging from the top of the wall, confetti rains down and there’s a chorus of applause. “You’ve done it,” a man in a suit strides out holding three large boxes. “You’ve won three boxes of the best darn goods in the world!”

Unable to hold on any longer, I drop down from the bouldering wall and onto the ground. On impact, I can feel two vertebrae in my spine slide out of alignment and I crumple. I can’t move. As if from nowhere, Spock and his two sons (they look just like him; does Spock even have sons?) lift me up gently and place me on the bench to the left of the bouldering wall beneath the stairs. “She lived long and prosperously,” they say in unison. Wait, am I dead?

“Too early, you assholes. She’s not dead yet!” I look to my right, and there on stop of the bouldering wall is a group of talking, walking sunflowers. “I oughta kill you, ya–” The sunflower is cut off by a light in the middle of the hallway between up. It is a rising sun, and in the middle of it is the yellow woman who had disappeared with Moon as well as a group of young boys who look just like a combination of him and her.

“These are my nine sons,” she says, “and they are the next generation of rock climbing. They will be the smartest and strongest climbers of all time. Show her why!” Her sons all lift up their shirts. There nestled against the flesh of their stomachs are their brains. “You will teach them how to climb until night breaks and I rise again!” And away she went, leaving me with her kids.

We climbed from that moment on for 24 hours straight, from sun down to sun up, a very long span of time if you ask me. The boys were absolutely terrible boys. They never wanted to listen and made such a ruckus. I felt incredibly bitter that I had been left with such a task. And then I started to taste something very bitter too. It was a rush of bile coming up from my gallbladder and filling up my mouth.

The kanji: 古 吾 冒 朋 明 唱 晶 品 呂 昌 早 旭 世 胃 旦 胆 亘 凹 凸

[Note] Jeez, these stories are turning out way more graphic and crazy than I anticipated.


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