Last night, I had another weird dream... I think I was inside a television set looking out. Actually, I think I was the television set. There was a boy in the room, maybe eight years old. He talked to me, and I talked back. We talked about many things; he asked me many questions. I made him laugh, I made him think, I helped him with one of his homework problems. And then I heard his mother call to him from the other room, and he said, "I have to go now," and he reached out and turned me off.

I had an odd interaction with Laura this morning. When I told her I was leaving town, she just giggled. That's it--no complaints, no look of sadness or upset, just, "Tee hee". I...well, I didn't know what to say to this since it was the last thing I expected, so I just sat there perplexed for a moment.

"You really did hit your head, didn't you," she finally said.

Then she did start looking concerned, realizing that I was serious. She said she would pack up some food and we can go together by horse. I gladly accepted, of course--much rather ride than walk, and then she can take the horses back when I catch my ride.

We're off momentarily.


Where to start... No, there isn't an earthquake, my hands are shaking.

We rode out of town. I asked her what way to go. She of course didn't know, but she said it didn't really matter and that I should just pick a direction, so I did. We rode for a while, at a casual pace so as not to wear out the horses, and then I noticed it. There was something odd about the horizon, some sort of optical illusion, like a mirage but without the shimmering. I stopped my horse to get a stationary look at it. I couldn't quite figure out what I was seeing. The horse was still shifting its weight from foot to foot a bit, jarring my vision enough to be annoying, so I stepped down. And when I looked back to the horizon, it looked fine! Laura sat and watched me with the patience of a parent with her child, maybe raising a brow once or twice. So I shook my head, got back up on the horse, and--there it was again! In fact, the whole horizon moved strangely as I climbed up and down--which, by the way, did start to annoy the horse.

"Come, let's go," Laura said, so I re-mounted and tentatively pressed onward.

It soon became evident what was going on. Within a minute we were standing before a painting of the horizon. I jest not. Actually, it was more of a print than a painting, because within ten yards it was obviously mashed together out of random blobs of color. At first I started laughing, because it was really so preposterous. There was nothing subtle about it. Some sort of weird joke.

I noticed the texture of the surface, fine little swirls like a fingerprint, but sharply ridged, more like a metal file. Holding my hand to shade it and reflect light onto it from various directions I realized it was designed to make each bit of the mural respond to light in the same way as a surface set at the angle of the object the mural was depicting at that point, so as the sun passed overhead during the day, the mural would continue to look approximately correct. I say approximate, because it really isn't that great. I mean, once I knew it was there, what it was, I could see it from half a mile away.'s just not something one normally expects!

Naturally I made some attempt to chip at it with a rock, to see what was underneath, how deep or superficial the colors were, etc., but it was truly impervious to any assault I made. (The rocks out there weren't particularly hard, though. They chipped quite easily.) Laura just gave me a crooked smile after a while and said, "You really haven't ever been to the boundary before, have you?"

The Boundary. Why she didn't just tell me...oh, I wouldn't have believed it anyway. And from what I gather The Boundary is just such a universal truism here, it's not something anyone would think to mention unless there was something going on there. You know, like, "Ritual sacrifice at The Boundary, East, tonight at midnight!"

Anyway, we rode alongside it for a while, until it was clear to me that it was in fact a big circle around the city just as Laura had claimed. We headed back, and here I am, right where I was last night, and I'm just a little bit confused. Just a little bit.

How tall is The Boundary? She doesn't know. To hear her talk about it, there is quite a bit of idle speculation about what is on the other side, whether there is an other side, whether it has a top or goes up forever, whether the sky is part of it, whether there is a boundary deep beneath the soil...

I might have thought this place was a disposal site for the politically untoward, but it seems as if most--perhaps all?--of these people have been here their whole lives. It doesn't add up. How did I get here?

How do I get out?

My hands are still shaking.

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