The colonnade stretched into the gauzy blur of rapid movement, as if the air were a dimpled whirlpool of glass. It oozed backward. The stain of it grew ever more slowly, reaching out to the wall as a glacier might stretch the last of its moraine toward milky green hills. The sight of it is awe-striking and cruel: a breathless, soundless, utterly rigid, and perfectly taut moment.

I am nearing the end of the tunnel of blindness. I smell metal. I can hear only my pulse. We are pressed as if deep under water, or buried in compacting sand. Pins and pricks and tickles take over my nerves and the eyes of the room are heavy, glossy, glazed. Dull and dumbed. Slow and mute. Worn. Weary. Weak.

Each moment thrums with the kind of slowness that can only be found in self-restraint over something truly unpleasant. Say, choosing to wait to remove your snowsuit until after you get home. While crossing the desert. And you really have to piss. I consider reviewing the images of my life as they flash before my eyes for the third time. One by one. Year by year. Slow and mute.

I realize I have been counting the boards in my halo of floor that do not line up right (sloppy craftsmanship). I realize it only after the icepicks in my eyes make me lose my place, and I am not sure which part of this angers me more. A chrysanthemum of polychromatic naked ladies dances across my vision and I lose interest. I am emptied to misery and content in apathy. I resolve to think about alerting someone about the boards. Slacken. Stale. Dull and dumbed.

And then it splinters into a wild constellation of bubbles, sidereal petals, ribbons of razored silver, and incandescent feathers: cataclysmic and unceremonious with the glorious sound of sudden silence.

Apparently in a rush to make up for its tardiness, Time decided to make all events occur at once. I collapse, skittering sticks and buttons about. Everyone I can imagine yells something, as do several other people. Windows shatter. (Real ones, as opposed to the analogical filaments still darting about.) A man is sick all over another man, who is busy rolling his eyes back into his head. A child begins screeching. A bird flies out of nowhere, and into a wall. China shatters, trumpets lilt, and the pope blesses himself. Finally, something explodes. I recall quite vividly that all of this smells like ass.

I awake in the courtyard with limbs full of ice and lightning and, at my best count, at least seven heads, each tortured in its own special ring of hell. Hm. Nine? (How many rings are there in hell again?) Some number, at any rate, sufficient to explain why thinking thoughts about as complex as “nine?” and “fuck” induce vertigo and vomiting.

But to say I was nonplussed would be a disservice to June, who appeared to be building a fire with such brilliance and malice that it invoked opposition from no fewer than three different sun gods.

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