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2023-09-26, 06:30:39
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Author Topic: Short Story - The Pyramid of Soot  (Read 2234 times)
Group: Moderator
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Posts: 1399
... .-.. .. -.. . .-.
A completely different short story style to 'Peltier Goes to Hollywood'.
Many thanks for your opinions, good or bad.

The Pyramid of Soot

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Around the year 1440, German born Johannes Gutenburg invented the printing press.
13000 years earlier in Egypt, the completely forgotten inventor, futurist and psychic, Soot, had predicted the creation of a machine that would manufacture words over and over again automatically.
Soot had in fact foretold a myriad of events and inventions, even built some of them, yet he remains unknown in the history books.
Why is Soot forgotten ?
Who was he ?
Is there any more information ?
I'm glad you asked...let's discover more.

We'll now step back in time to meet Soot, get to know who he was and learn of the future that he envisioned.
The best environment will be quiet, devoid of cellphone ring tones and loud action movies. Pick a good 30 minutes of peace to time travel. If you don't have such a setting right now, i'll wait, these words will be sat here anyway, not being read. It's not like they have anything better to do, they could be clicked away like they were never here, much like Soot himself !

Please find a triangular object of some type, to place in the corner eye view while reading, it will symbolise an Egyptian pyramid and allow our time machine to work correctly. Heck, the logo on a packet of Marlboro cigarettes will work, it doesn't need to be anything fancy.
Clear the mind, give worries a break, relax into the story, the journey.
Take one deep breath, just the one is fine.
Let's set off in the minds eye, to the distant past.

Chapter 2 - Travel

You are walking through a wooded area in the Summer, in the middle of the afternoon. Clothing is a light coloured tee-shirt, dark coloured trousers and comfortable shoes.
The foliage of the trees is slightly thinning in front as you walk forwards. The green foliage above is gently changing to the blue of the sky. Pinecones and small branches are on the floor, but it's a trail used by many walkers over the years, a trail that is easy to follow.
Walk quite quickly now, forwards toward the thinned out trees.
A twig catches on your arm, you react as it brushes past, yet can't feel the scratch or a tug. All good, it's how it's supposed to be.
In front, is the edge of the woods and a large lush grassy field, lit by the Summer sun.
Exit the wooded area into the field. The expanse of basically nothing should be quite refreshing, compared to the denser tree imagery.
A wide open landscape is in front, without mountains, rivers, buildings or animals, just the sounds of nature as a background noise on this pleasant afternoon. Pause for a moment and feel the warmth of the sun on your face.
Move into the field and begin to walk through the ankle height grass. There are no stinging creatures here or nettles, it's just acre upon acre of soft grass stretching off into the distance.
After several paces you see a black topped bar stool in front and on the seat is a pocketwatch. Pick up the watch and sit on the stool. Now turn around on the stool, to face the wooded area that you just came from.
Notice the small white access gate to the left side of the path ?
I wonder why that is there. Well, no matter, there's no appeal to walk back and try the gate anyway.

Hold the watch in outsretched arms, with the watch face toward you so you can see it clearly. If you wear glasses, mentally take them off and put them in your right side trouser pocket. Vision is good without the glasses, sometimes that's surprising to realise. If need be, put the glasses back on and take them off again, eyesight is just as good with them or without them, as though the glass isn't there.
It's an old pocketwatch, a light gold colour, with regular but large numbers around the face and it's ticking. If you hold it to your right ear you can hear it.
Outstretched arms again, now you also notice that there is a thin seconds hand on this thing, quite the rare function on such a watch. But, after all, this is a time piece in the true meaning of those words. 
Look directly at the pocketwatch face, after 3 or 4 ticks the seconds hand has stopped moving. It begins to tick backwards, slowly at first, struggling. Focus on the watch more than these words, it helps the process and therefore the watch to work. The hand speeds up and then the other dials turn in the wrong direction too.
Time is going backwards.
The lighting is changing, the grass at your feet has dew on it. It's now no longer mid afternoon, it's early morning and somewhat cooler.
You become aware of the background sounds warping and morphing into reverse, all the while keeping the watch face in central view. Night becomes evening, becomes daytime and then morning again, the changes are quickening. It's last week, last month, last year. Images to the sides of vision flash briefly, as you move further and further back in time.
Wind it all backwards, see the quickly changing patterns of the seasons as the years roll past, the trees in front becoming younger, replaced by a barren hill, the centuries are passing, flashing past, quicker and quicker. You may feel a little nauseous as you keep focused on reading, but feel the energy of time travel taking place, quickening.
The mind falters.
There's an awareness that the location is now changing, the Earths spin and placement in the cosmos has shifted, the mental time machine is now striding through time and distance at a galloping pace.
Backwards, backwards, a tidal push of increasing rapidity into the past, a slight breeze is felt on the face and arms.
Everything blurs, the watch, the seat, even the air is vibrating, pulsing, warping.
Quicker and quicker, the breeze has picked up to be stronger, everything is flickering backwards.
Light is bending, whooshing, becoming brighter.
Imagery is lost to a bright white glow all around, the wind now feels much stronger.
 -- STOP.
Don't fall off the chair !
Steady the body and let sight, sound, smell and touch return to normal. Slow down everything to normal speed. All is peaceful, tranquil, the wind has stopped. It's still warm, but the air smells different, a little dusty.
This is Egypt, in 14960BC.
Let your real eyes focus on this next word - ARRIVED
And this next one - SMILE
The minds eye is now locked into 14960BC. You are there and here in a duality.
It may not make much sense to dwell on, but the minds eye now has a mildly musky aged feel to it, hence the change in the perception of the air. It's like the cellar of a fine wines collection that hasn't been cleaned out in decades.
You made it, you've time travelled back into history.
In the minds eye - directly to your left is a 5ft tall wall made of a white rock. Can you see the joins between the stones, there is a fine white gravel surface at your feet, made from crushed stones.
Putting the watch in your left pocket for later, you see you are in fact within a walled courtyard. Returning the eyes to straight ahead, about 10ft away is a young Egyptian man wearing an off white robe, with curled black hair and without shoes. He has a rounded stone in his right hand. A crude saw blade looking contraption is placed to the right side of what appears to be his work area.
This is Soot, the central character of the story. 

He is now tied to both timelines. You can take a break if you wish and jump back into reading at any time....that gate can be used that we saw earlier at the edge of the woods. Simply picture it and mentally open it toward the field to return.


Chapter 3 - The parchment

Life in these distant times is completely different to the 21st century. Simpler, more chores but less hectic, richer in terms of cultural identity, worse off for the lack of helpful equipment and gizmos that we all take for granted today.
Soot is helping to build an entrance portico for the village. It's the sort of project that he has been employed within for the past year, but, apparently due to good problem solving skills the elders wish him to develop the techniques as a trade.
He pays no attention to the foreign traveler sitting on the stool. Maybe he can't see you, maybe he's wrapped up in his work. With a precision developed over time, Soot continues to break chunks from the edging of the piece he is working on, with the stone he is holding. Curiously, more stone falls to the floor than would be imagined from simply pounding at it.
After watching for several seconds, your eyes are taken away by the entrance into the courtyard of another similarly dressed young man and a woman dressed in pale blue. Both people are around 25 years old. They shout over to Soot, who places the stone tool down and walks toward them.
The woman is now pointing directly at you, you become very self conscious and, before having time to say or do anything, find that she has placed a drawing into your hands.
It's a picture of someone sat on a stool, looking at a piece of paper...quite surreal. With whoops of joy and much clapping of hands from all 3 new acquaintances, you deduce that the drawing must have been created earlier and confirms this event !

The exact sensation of a cellphone vibrate alert is felt in your left pocket. Quite startling, it must be the pocket watch. Sure enough, on removing it, it vibrates again. Looking around the edging of the bezel, you find a small lip in the metal, you pull upon it and the back opens. Inside the watch are a pair of earbuds, no wires but definitely earbuds. Hmm, maybe they're Bluetooth or similar. You pop them in and suddenly the conversation that the 3 are having can be clearly understood ! It's an automatic translator !

Chapter 4 - Soot's progress

Over the course of the next hour, you learn of Soot's education here, in what you deduce to be Amheida, in Egypt's western desert. How being cut off from strong trade routes, the towns people have skipped being guided by trends and fashions, new fabrics or fragrances, or politics. Minds can develop, friendships can last, respect is maintained from elders to youngsters.
The new ideas and inventive devices that Soot has developed are now explained, as, quite fortunately you are sitting comfortably for such an explanation.
Tools, such as the metal serrated sawblade still resting in the work area, to cut fine channels in the rock that he's working on. When several closely spaced channels have been cut, he can pound them with the regular rock and remove 10 times the material, in a 10th of the time.
While mixing pigments for paints, he had discovered a form of photography. A reed stalk had cast a shadow on the parchment paper that was being used to test the pigments and, when thoroughly dried, the image of the stalk could be seen on the paper. That technique was now in wide use within the walls of the town, to decorate the outsides of the otherwise drab and uniform house structures. Apparently, the idea was copied by traveling business persons and sold to artists abroad. But it didn't work, didn't produce the shadowing photographic effect. It became obvious that the blue berries from the trees around the town were actually more important to the process than the dye colour they produced. 
He shows you parchments with drawings on, some make sense some don't.
Some ideas are half there, such as depictions resembling a helicopter, a powerboat, an airplane.
Fancifully, thoughts turn to the quite famous artwork on a ceiling beam in the Egyptian Abydos temple.
However, human flight is indeed discussed next. It would be based on scaling up the weight and muscles of a bird. Soot states that fixed wings would be best, for less mechanical action and would do better imitating a soaring bird than a tiny garden variety. Such a machine would need to be powered and would need to be controlled, for which he designed small pulleys and gearing systems, centuries before the Chinese with their 'South Pointing Chariot', or anything based on Aristotle's principles.
But, he viewed his greatest contribution to society as the pyramid.
A method of building that was based on his inventing style. Strong foundations of need, cost and the ability to create it, solid planning and research above, upward to usefulness and extra benefits during the prototyping and testing phases, until reaching the pinnacle itself, the realised product. He would always ask himself if he would use the invention himself and, only if the answer was an immediate yes, would he begin to design and construct the idea.
Several friends had put forward the concept as an actual building method, to foremen and overseers of the great works at Giza that had been in the planning stages. Following the principles and after testing out small pyramidal structures near to what would become the Fayum Oasis in Upper Egypt, 3 large scale pyramids were to be built. Soot, was unfortunately not named as the chief architectural designer, even though he deserved such praise. Instead, it was to be a group collaboration, with no names or other markings to be carved into the stonework.
Nobody would own them, because everybody would use the processed and sterile healing waters that would be the purpose of the largest of the constructions. Tests of the bedrock had confirmed that channels and ducts could carry Nile water to the main pyramidal structure.
Why construct such a huge thing ?
Legend had foretold of a great disaster and within living memory a plague had ripped through the whole continent. Thus the constructions would be large enough to handle treating the whole population, including those of adjoining lands. Whether friend or foe, if the plague should re-emerge all would be welcome. Such structures would also be highly visible, while standing firm throughout any other imagined disaster.
Soot didn't seem to be upset about this situation, preferring instead to accept that his ideas were vindicated, that would suffice.
He continued, with his foreseeing of future events.
A millennium from now (12500-13000 BC) a huge flood would cover the Earth and, could possibly be the foretold disaster, instead of the dreaded plague. Large groups of people would move back down from the hills and mountains, which had offered safety. They would be fighting, setting up kingdoms, laying siege to the new lands as well as reclaiming the old. Such events would take place all over the known world, with huge problems arising due to missing villages, washed away tracks, marker points having been destroyed. Various tribes of peoples would rebrand ancient structures as their own. Earlier works in Egypt, such as the Giza pyramids and great Sphinx would be revered and emulated by returning Egyptians, taking up the custodianship of that land. If treaties were broken, promises left unkept and with much battling for the smallest of tracts of land, Egypt may rise again on its own to be worthy of the term kingdom. The historians would call this time period, not the previous one Ancient Egypt. How could they know any different ? nearly all the evidence would have been washed away. The argument did make sense.
Although many thousands would perish during the flood and with them the master craftsmen and keepers of knowledge, there would be attempts to emulate the pyramid building techniques. Soot reasoned that, although some would be gifted stone masons and many would understand the principles, it takes generations of knowledge to finely craft and not make stone splitting flaws of judgment !
Some of those miscalculations along the way would result in literally monumental mistakes (the still existing bent pyramid for example in modern Egypt) and some structures would last no more than a few years before erosion would cause a collapse. Indeed, many such attempts can still be found, if satellite imagery is closely inspected...perhaps Soot was correct about the future events. 
He also explained his vision of a society, where common ailments could be treated with only tablets containing active combative ingredients and bodily rest. How education would be central to the awareness of the peoples identity, not a threat to elected rulers and how, bizarrely for his time he wished to make a writing device with plant extract ink contained within a tube. A tiny rolling bead at the end of it would dispense the ink.

Chapter 5

Quite suddenly, after that hour was over, the earbuds stopped working. The dial of the pocketwatch was seen to flash and a weak pulsing was beginning to grow stronger. The dial hands started to move forwards at 1 tick per 5 seconds. Realising that the energy fields or time rift was likely straining and, without a wish to be marooned in time, you wave your goodbyes to those 3 new friends.
You shift your position to have both feet again at the stool base, turn the pocketwatch to face the eyes, outstretch the arms and focus on the seconds hand. It begins to move backwards, which takes you by surprise !
After several seconds, actual seconds, the hand stops and now begins to move forwards again. The seconds hand speeds up, moving forwards faster. The 3 friends wave and smile, seemingly quite bemused but also appearing to understand that you are now leaving them.
Had Soot drawn out this event too ?!
Now, faster and faster, all the dials move forwards.
Again the imagery to the sides of vision starts to blur, seasons change, centuries zip past.
Just as fast as time reversed, it motors forwards, bringing you back to the present day.
The colours swirl, the lateral position in time and space shifts, just like it did earlier.
The rear left leg of the chair buckles and you fall backwards off the chair !
Hell, what's happened ?
Where is this ? what century is this ?
All movement has stopped, all of anything has stopped.
You can see green fields, can see the wooded area in front, but when is this ?
Looking at the ground, the snapped leg isn't there, the stool isn't there, the pocket watch has also disappeared.
Now steadying the self and rising to begin walking, an idea begins to take shape. Just maybe that snap was a neural connection being made, a change in formerly well routed thinking. A new thought direction about times of old, cultures, people, history. Was it some kind of symbolic break.
As you walk, you see the gate to the left of the pathway into the woods. On reaching it, you open it and step into the wooded area. Ah, this must be the mind, the connections are the branches, the pathways are the mental pathways, the gate is the access to a little trip into the past whenever wished !
With the sighting below of the final line of reading, the end of the journey has been reached.

I hope you've enjoyed this short trip...thank you for your time.



ʎɐqǝ from pɹɐoqʎǝʞ a ʎnq ɹǝʌǝu

Group: Tinkerer
Hero Member

Posts: 3055
I've always envied those who have the kind of
imagination and ability required to write these
sorts of stories.

I believe you will find success as you continue
your writing.

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Group: Experimentalist
Hero Member

Posts: 731
Believing in something false doesn't make it true.
I liked Peltier better, but this is also a good story.  The subtle humor of Peltier is what caught my attention.

Now it seems we have two capable writers on this forum.

Are you going to try and get published like GiantKiller?

A fairly cheap way to get published in a limited way is through the website "Smashwords".  Books there range from free for books from new authors  to $9.99 for more established authors.  I have gotten some really good books from there.


Just because it is on YouTube does not make it real.
Group: Moderator
Hero Member

Posts: 1399
... .-.. .. -.. . .-.
*wipes brow*
Such kind comments too.
This one was very different, but luckily did write itself again, which I find very enjoyable.
Thanks again for the opinions and yep, I will check out 'Smashwords' Carroll, great tip !

ʎɐqǝ from pɹɐoqʎǝʞ a ʎnq ɹǝʌǝu
Group: Ambassador
Hero Member

Posts: 3904
That was fun..

thanks for the respite ,and hopefully more to come [off to read your other work..

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