68 Chapters
Medium 9780253000958

Wayland

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Two blacktop roads, broken by frost and mended with tar, running from nowhere to nowhere, cross at right angles in the rumpled farm country of northeastern Ohio. The neighborhood where they intersect is called Wayland—not a village, not even a hamlet, only a cluster of barns and silos and frame houses and a white steepled Methodist church. Just north of Wayland, the army fenced in thirty square miles of ground for their bomb factory, and just to the south the Corps of Engineers built their reservoir. I grew up behind those government fences in the shadows of bunkers, and on farms that have since vanished beneath those imprisoned waters. Family visits to church began carrying me to Wayland when I was five, romance was carrying me there still at seventeen, and in the years between I was drawn there often by duty or desire. Thus it happened that within shouting distance of the Wayland crossroads I met seven of the great mysteries.

Even as a boy, oblivious much of the time to all save my own sensations, I knew by the tingle in my spine when I had bumped into something utterly new. I groped for words to describe what I had felt, as I grope still. Since we give labels to all that puzzles us, as we name every blank space on the map, I could say that what I stumbled into in Wayland were the mysteries of death, life, beasts, food, mind, sex, and God. But these seven words are only tokens, worn coins that I shove onto the page, hoping to bribe you, coins I finger as reminders of those awful encounters.

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Medium 9780253329561

Chapter Twelve

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Phoenix tossed notebooks, microfilms, bits of bark and stone into the vaporizer. Footprints of rebellion. He listened with regret to the hiss as each tell-tale item withered to a memory of molecules. Down in the guts of Oregon City devices would sort the vapors and reuse them for making plastic kidneys or glowrods or spoons. He searched the apartment for other incriminating evidence. Guides to meditation, maps of the coast, stick-figure illustrations of Teeg’s yoga positions—all went into the shaft. Hiss, hiss. Soon the only remaining clues were the holos of Whale’s Mouth Bay, tiny cubes intricate with the shapes of beach and cliff and grasses. He squeezed them until the points dug into his palm. Once he destroyed them he would have no way of bringing the wilds to life. And what if the city spun its webs of comforts around him again, lulled him in the hammock of its pleasures, until he grew to dread the outside?

Why not just leave the holos in the projector until the last moment? It was early in the year for typhoons. But you never knew about weather. Cantankerous, the weather. Any day, a storm could roar across the Pacific, tearing at the Enclosure’s skin, and the crew might be called out to mend a float or weld a cracked tube, and if the call arrived while he was away from the apartment, there would be no time for returning home to vaporize the cubes. And he must leave no tracks. If the crew simply vanished, apparently gobbled up by the sea, the health patrollers would lose no sleep. There were always too many bodies crowding the Enclosure. Security would simply recruit new troubleshooters. But if the H.P. came along, found the holos, and recognized the Oregon coast, they would have gliders waiting in Whale’s Mouth Bay when the crew arrived. Welcome to quarantine, ladies and gentlemen.

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Medium 9780253353139

Stillness

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

I have concluded that the whole misfortune
of men comes from a single thing, and that is their
inability to remain at rest in a room.

—BLAISE PASCAL

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Chapter Ten

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

In boots and hoods and ankle-flapping capes, with masks drawn close to hide their faces, Teeg and Phoenix walked among the circular oil stains of the tank farm. Behind them, the gamepark flung its riotous colors toward the night-darkened dome, and farther behind, near the city center, buildings heaped up in pyramids and honeycombs of light. Ahead of them loomed the dark knobby shapes of the few remaining oil tanks.

“What if I can’t—” Phoenix began.

Teeg shushed him quickly. “You can. Now be still and keep your mind centered. No doubts. You’ve got to be clear.”

They passed between two partly-demolished tanks. Where lasers had cut through the triple-hulled walls, cauterized edges gleamed with a dull luster. This might be the last ingathering here, Teeg realized, for the wreckers were gnawing their way each week nearer to the tank where the seekers met. The pipeline leading from here to the mountains near Whale’s Mouth Bay had already been severed. Phoenix had to pass the test tonight, for there might not be another chance.

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Medium 9780253353139

Two Stones

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

for Ursula K. Le Guin

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