The intolerable drone of the engines, and stagnant, recycled air had drastically subdued  signal-to-noise ratio expectations in most of my senses. I looked out the window for some visual stimulation. The Earth did not disappoint.  The Sun had set enough to allow stares at the horizon, but not enough to blot the blue canvas, and reveal the stars. It was not the sky that fascinated me that twilight hour.

I scanned the burning edge if the Earth, trying to gauge its curvature. Given the altitude, the air below was surprisingly cloudless, affording me a panoramic view of a mountainous landscape, naked of all flora, accented by self-shadows of geological scars. An enlightened mind could have inferred its tell-tale formation history with but a glimpse. This too was fluid.

And then, there it was. A lone light. A beacon atop an isolated, colossal butte. There was no guessing its scale (although in retrospect, knowledge of my altitude and solid-angle could have helped). Impossible to know if it were one light or many. And then another one, and another. A sparse constellation of singularities punctuated the landscape. It was as if aeons after the big-bang and the inevitable quench that followed, just as one is about to give up on them, the first stars had come on. Suddenly, the abyss had a means with which to communicate.

The beacons were at first seemingly isolated (and strangely so). They were akin to cave-fires lit by uncontacted tribes of desert people, who huddle close to their weak circles of heat every dusk, and entertain myths about each other, and the heavens.

But as we flew onward, time progressed, nightfall came, and the first cities emerged. The lights grew numerous and clustered in hives. Some dim, others bright strokes on the blackness. Some snake like dragons over long expanses. But most were content with forming strange shapes, composed of lines and curves. Every cluster, every city, spelt its own, unique glyph, announcing its intent to the Universe in a long dead tongue and script. And this too was fluid.

Grant Morrison once claimed that connecting all the McDonald outlets on a map of London with a pencil would draw out the Sigil of Mammon. The price of sentience is the urge to see meaning where there might be none. The ancients have proved as much, by reading the “static” stars for signs. But do the Gods ever look down upon the Earth, and attempt to read the shifting message humanity transmits to them, over time? Are we writing the future? Or telling of our past? And who is recording this narrative of artificial lights? The cities of old are said to have mimicked astronomical events in their form and essence. Perhaps we are attempting to influence our stars, by holding up a fake mirror to the Night.


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