Sunday, 7 April 2013

2. The House

The house felt like it could be bigger, so Azygous watered it daily while Thule looked on. “Why do you do that?” asked Thule. “It needs water,” replied Azygous. Every day Azygous watered the house even as the damp and the mould rose and sprouted and thick clouds of spores swam in the micro-climates breezing through the rooms.

Azygous and Thule living on and in each other, tripping over piles of books in the bathroom and car parts in the bedroom. A solid wall of frazzled circuit boards ran the length of the kitchen from bin to fridge cutting off ready access to the sink resulting in a build-up of smashed crockery as Azygous and Thule hurled cups and plates in the sink's general direction. Their bed floated at the top of the room and had to be reached by leavers, pulleys, trampolines and rope bridges.

The same day they celebrated a birthday or an anniversary or something – the exactitudes are lost to time – Thule happened upon a door. “Is this new?” asked Thule. “Perhaps it is,” answered Azygous. Azygous turned the handle and gave the door a push but there was no movement. A hard light object landed on Thule's head, bouncing off into an outstretched palm. “It's a key,” said Thule. “Here.” Azygous took it and opened the door. Behind was a cupboard. Nobody was inside to give surprised looks at the sudden influx of light, and no insects scuttled to find the remnants of dark. Only a faint smell of damp.

“Let's put those car parts in here,” said Azygous. Thule was already shovelling sprockets and axle shafts into a pile and kicking injection valves in the door's direction. As the bedroom grew clear of oily rear sensors and rusted pump drives Thule pointed out another anomaly. In the bedroom floor, where previously had been naught but carpet, was a trapdoor. Beside it a hook protruded upwards; a key ostensibly hanging on the hook actually lay flat on the floor.

Unlocking and venturing below, Azygous and Thule found their way illuminated by wall-mounted flaming torches and trails of fibre optic scaling the walls like creeping vines. They stepped down through layers of clay-heavy soil and sedimentary rock, slipping and tripping over soft stairs of bioluminescent moss. As they felt themselves grow hungry and their breathing become laboured they reached a dead stop, banging noses against the flat wall that faced them. The faint outline of a door was drawn in the surface of the wall, but no amount of peering and poking could draw it into reality. They turned around and went back, stopping halfway to lick the moss and collect samples.

Azygous and Thule retired to their sleeping arrangements. While they slept the house continued to take on new forms, branching out, spreading roots, climbers and feelers. Its cellars and basements grew into a maze of tunnels, catacombs, tombs, oubliettes, crypts and cysts; its upper floors became towers, and towers upon towers, and towers upon towers upon towers, supported by increasing increments of highly improbable pillars, columns and flying buttresses. The cellars reached down through earth, through rock and through time; the towers climbed through air and cloud and grew stronger even as the air grew thinner.

A corner or a wall or a floorboard let out the scream of a man being stretched on the rack and Azygous and Thule awoke, upright and alert. “It was just a dream,” said Azygous. “It was the house,” said Thule. “It's pained by its efforts. It needs our attention.” So Azygous, under the instruction of Thule, created a poultice of porridge and poultry and pulped prepuce of the pontiff pushed through a semi-permeable membrane, and together they began applying warming soothing clods of the stuff to the walls and window-frames of their complaining accommodation.

The house responded with a gentle shudder and grew another few wings with a last push before reaching maturity and slowing its growth to an imperceptible crawl. Any further growth would be like stalagmites and stalactites and geological time. Azygous and Thule packed up their knapsacks in the basecamp of their bedroom and began the long and gradual exploration of innumerable rooms in their incomprehensible abode. They left written descriptions of their discoveries, which history occasionally deigns to present us with. Hopefully we wont have long to wait.