- Vol. 08
- Chapter 05
You cannot enter rock. Break it into however many pieces, each fragment remains a locked door to a story beyond imagining. The ancient geomorphic pressures. Aeons that weighed down upon it.
We were camping at the edge of the forest, where the pines dwindle towards the bay. My undergraduates kept themselves busy collecting samples, building campfires, flirting. Me, I was gazing at feldspar in the lab tent – looking for the etch pits of fungal hyphae, evidence of a trade with the vegetable world, minerals exchanged for food. Even as my eye was working, I listened out for news from my students.
It was an hour since lunch to which, unusually, I had contributed.
Everything began with a cry. I confess my heart performed a cramped little dance. I abandoned my microscope, lifted the flap of the tent.
They were gathering about the girl. She was crooning and pointing towards the bay. Her vocalisations, her trembling arm, might have been disturbing, yet no one seemed afraid, for it was clearly not terror, but wonderment.
Others began to see what she was seeing.
The ice, they said. The ice was back, and not merely as a crust on the surface of the ocean. Great gleaming cliffs of it. I stared at the sea. There was nothing, save that tiny island with its sentinel pines. Then, as when, in the nineties, you gazed at a Magic Eye picture and an image would emerge from seeming randomness, I saw it too.
The ice cap filled the horizon – water turned to stone, the strata of centuries of freeze and blizzard. You could feel its immensity. The force that scoured these rocks, that scooped and fashioned the world into which our forebears walked. We stared at the ice wall, and a fissure opened in it.
Fracture ZoneThe sky became a cave of ice, birthing sunlight. The dazzle of a billion crystal mirrors made my eyes water, and I had to look away, to squeeze the radiance out of my optic nerve with the tips of my fingers.
When I looked again, the vision was gone. The bay was as it had been. We were back in the age of rotten ice, of manic combustion. Of cryocide. My students wandered about in a daze. The effects of the psilocybin in the bean stew stayed with us for hours, but where it took us, each went alone.
What has memory? Rock? Fungi? The latter can delve into the former – perhaps we merely unlocked its memory, carried the Earth’s story from one lifeform to another? Centuries of shamanism would support my conjecture. I doubt the Faculty, at my hearing, will see things in the same light.