• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 10


The hilltop town seemed a worthwhile destination. Constructed in blond sandstone, it stood several hundred metres above the surrounding plain.

After making my way up a spiral path, I entered the town through a narrow archway. Wooden shutters concealed shop and restaurant windows. Nothing indicated the times these establishments opened.

A door stood ajar. Feeling an uncharacteristic self-assurance, I crossed the threshold and entered a spartan room. A pair of loudspeakers on a wall hissed into life.

‘You are in the “The Gallery”,’ a voice declared. ‘Close the door.’

I pushed the door into its frame.

‘Defy everything,’ the voice continued. ‘Reject the art that the culturati expect you to appreciate; throw to one side the books that publishers and critics urge you to read; and, above all, treat technology with disdain. Instead, create your own corner of the world. The requirements are simple: unadorned walls, a bench and table, and a sheet of paper.’

The loudspeakers made a snapping sound. Some component inside each of them appeared to have broken. In the silence, I turned and saw a bench in a corner. I sat and noticed a blank A4 sheet lying on a table. As my fingers brushed against the paper, I imagined myself standing on a continent of cloud, beneath a sliver of moon.

When I left the gallery, the shutters no longer covered the windows of the shops and restaurants. Yet I neither saw nor heard anyone.



I climbed a tower and emerged on to a platform. Here, I should have had a view of the plain from which I had ascended. But a layer of cloud had encircled the base of the town and smothered the world. A shard of moon, rising behind me, lit the vaporous mass with delicate, primal colours.

This is where I will stay, I decided.