The Engines of the World

My Dearest Beltran,

How deeply I miss you. I have been stranded on the seemingly unmovable Leroux for what I estimate to be nearly an eternity. Being forsaken on this bulk, more-or-less alone, has gotten the better of me. The only other living soul aboard is the Illustrious Captain whom I am having to avoid due to a subtle miscalculation and miscommunication on my behalf. Therefore, having little else to occupy my mind durning this ever extending stay I have taken to exploring the labyrinthine corridors and halls—which, for good or ill, have come to encompass the entirety of my existence.

My most recent adventure left me adrift in a sea of memories of you—your curious passion for the inexplicable, the chaotic, and the magical. All of which I had the great misfortune of discovering on my latest expedition when I stumbled upon the most disagreeable—I suspect you would find charming—spectacle within living memory.

How I longed to have you at my side, me Dear Bel, to help me make sense of the mysteries that, while well lit and autoptically revealed, made no rational sense. I recall watching the wonders of your city as you explained the sublime inner-workings of all manner of technological wonder. I am lost without you my Dear Friend.

At some point as I wandered along the abandoned and never-ending corridors I ventured down an unspecified section between the unending and never-was where I came upon a perfectly ordinary and unadorned doorway that gave no hints, whatsoever, as to what was to lie beyond its threshold. You well know how I feel about doors.

In keeping with that most basic and fundamental philosophical outlook—that nothing is as it seems—my curiosity was piqued and unfortunately got the better of me. I had to know what this seemingly unimportant doorway’s function was—why it was there, what it concealed, why there wasn’t so much as a sign or a warning. I promptly secured access and scurried inside where I beheld the startling sights in question—and, as I have mentioned, promptly longed for your counsel.

Upon entering I took only the time to ease the door shut while making sure the lock was intact and secured. Upon turning around I was immediately struck by the absurdity of the sight that lie beyond the vestibule. I will attempt to describe what I beheld, but I fear that even my words will bring no justice to the outrageous scene I found. There was a series of skewed catwalks and twisted scaffolds which surrounded a tangled maze of delirious ductwork that appeared to be more of a crazed patch randomly planted by a deranged committee of mad gardeners than it did an orderly apparatus dutifully planned and manufactured by a rational team of engineers.

My Brilliant Bel, imagine a mass of impossible joints and connections bursting through one another at impossible angles. I was ready to believe that is was some form of outrageous New World vegetation until I discovered the occasional rent in the ductwork that revealed the series of planetary gears and multi-segmented rods contained within the stalks. These clearly mechanically impossible contraptions somehow managed to keep their shape and continued to churn away despite being twisted and folded into senseless positions.

I was compelled to force my eyes away to continue exploring the baffling tangle. I fought my way through that tormented maze and stumbled into the main compartment. It was a room of preposterous dimensions that I lack the confidence to describe in any meaningful way. The best I can come is to say it was easily as large as the central transept of the Crystal Palace—but of that I cannot be sure, by this point my senses were rebelling against my rational mind. I certainly could not tell which side was winning.

Along the walls and continuing into the main space itself were a series of trellises securing to themselves strangely distorted platonic-solids that appeared to function as gears. They were connected by a series of control rods, pumps, and various shafts and levers arranged in such a manner as to only make sense to the deranged and the damned. The gears seemed to collapse into themselves as they whirled merrily along in and across all possible dimensions.

Eventually this demented assemblage connected to impossibly large swash plates—which were driving which I could not tell. These many disks were centered in the impossibly high ceiling at unbecoming angles to one another. They were, as far as I could tell being at such a great distance, the size of small elephants.

Notions of perspective and scale were rendered meaningless. I was at once looking at and through the mad assemblage of misaligned and maladjusted parts. The machinery closest to me—breaking out through the rents in the stalks, or simply encased in transparent connectors—appeared to be a replica of the entirety. I felt as if I was being spun in various directions as were the gears themselves.

What was I witnessing my Mad Bel. What strange technological marvels or magics could you have revealed to me. I felt as if I had entered a purgatory that spanned the chasm between the mystical past and the rational present. A netherworld of tormented and broken spells that could only be contained through ingenious, or utterly deranged, engineering. Was this a prison for ill-fitted and criminal charms?

At any given moment I expected to be scourged by angelic-demons which would no doubt emanate screaming from the hallows of the menacing shadows which surrounded me. I made my way as quickly as I could out of that lunacy—which, I am sure, you would have found delightfully engaging. It wasn’t for me!

On uncertain feet I scraped over the catwalks—flimsy under me, and down the scaffolds—twisting within my grasp. I scuttled back along the same path on which I ventured into this arcane den. My retreat was barely more than a series of stumbles across uneven flooring and collisions into warped walls—an eternal ricochet of paranoia and fright.

I was overwhelmed with grief and panic as I fought to gain composure and relief by finding the familiar, the solid, and—above all, the rational. I needed only to return to the safe-haven of my cabin; a measured composition of wood and brass, and kind angles gently complementary to one another.

That is my story, my Kind Confidant, of my misadventure into the strange automatous mechanizations that plot against my sanity and my freedom. It is my forlorn hope that one day you will receive this letter and decipher the madness.

Until then I shall pour our favorite drink and fancifully recall the good times.