The Soul Trade
One. Ethereal and Mundane. The concrete and steel canyons turn the boulevards into wind tunnels, but cast not away low-hanging fog. The skyscrapers finally wore a hole in the sky, she said, tent-posts punctured the very firmament's fabric. Through the breach proceeded haze, rain, and spirits. This calamity (the fog and the ether collapsing, threatening us suffocation) she had foreseen; it was secretly encoded in the blueprints of glittering towers, prophesied by the humming of street lamps patiently awaiting when they would never again be extinguished. The more distant buildings loom in the viscous haze, hover like ghost ships as though clear air were safe harbor. Their windows are lit faintly, each cell of light the presence of innumerable occupants. The structures' foundations are desire, ambition, unbending and unaddressable fears. They are the support and the fuel for the inhabitants which gaze down upon us as we drift through the streets on a fierce wind. Two. Spiritual and Economic Geology Alexandria and I nightly proceed along the currents defined for us by the strata: nearer buildings are an exercise in spiritual and economic geology; one can measure the evolution of the financial, technical, and fiduciary landscape. At low levels, eroded always more deeply by flowing currents of vehicles and people on the streets, were the oldest concepts, business models profitable, but cautious. The highest levels are reserved for the latest, most stunning innovations. And so it is with those drifting above on the luminiferous ether's blind current, but in inverse: among old spirits, colonies fade in the higher levels: ancient ghosts less concerned with the irretrievably solid world below, less bound to it, to cohesion, they hopelessly drift upward into undifferentiated ether. The lowest levels are spirits still most connected to the material world, most concerned with events in lives such as Alexandria and myself. Three. The Soul Trade. These, she said, are the angels and the demons, gods who whisper to us in our sleep even as we whisper unutterable dreams to ourselves. Alexandria was possessed of an eye which penetrated the veil separating curing concrete and steel foundations and equally profound foundations built on dream: ambition, fear, desire. I found the underpinnings revolting; equally I may contribute to them as I flee their station, but how I wish to plow under the contaminating needs which carve patterns into the very land, the ambitions with which Alexandria and I have always scarred ourselves as supplicants before an altar. The scrutinizing apparitions bound to the base of ambition and desire (always unmet, I told my beloved Alexandria, for where you wish to discard a layer of mud there awaits a layer of stone beneath) meddle in our dreams, offering only ambition in exchange for ambition, desire in exchange for desire, fear in exchange for fear: the products of their souls in exchange for the products of ours. These low souls shackled to the base run their coarse hands across us in our sleep, speaking to us and each other in dream language, we shall surely fetch a high price: ruthless ambition must be offered for Alexandria's, unaddressable and horrible fears must be offered for mine; desire fully drained of hope bestowed on both of us, for our foolish, disfigured, and scarred hands offer desire barely traced with hope's last morsel.

©2001 Timothy A. Clark