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375. Gathering together (XI)

The pyramid was uncovered on a Saturday. The previous night, I had walked down the narrow lane from my house; the path was completely dark, a real Cornish darkness where it was impossible to see one foot before the other. I always dithered between night-sight and mobile phone torch; and, that night, I took out my phone because—being a moonless night—it was so dark that I might as well have been buried under the Himalayas. We do not know real night in the city, but in this little cove there was not even a streetlight; it was real darkness, and when I looked up I could see star upon star—just as people had looked upon them for century after century, before screen light replaced starlight.

The sea was black as well; it moved beneath my vision as if it were a black creature whose contours were unclear to me. Where the sea met the shore was obscure to me; and the sea’s rough caress on the rocks mingled with the melancholy wind, so that I thought this was the world’s end—as if my little cove opened up to infinity. Perhaps if I had look very closely at the sea I would have seen the little golden tip above the waves, an ancient lighthouse in the darkness; but so far as I could see that night there was nothing.

The next morning, after my croissant and coffee, I wandered back to the beach; my intention was to take the coastal path to Carraway and buy clotted cream there. I never even mounted the path, for when I arrived at the car park it was jammed—the road was jammed on the approach. The expensive council parking meter went unused that day; everything was far too urgent for that. About half an hour after I arrived, the first news drones were up; and I had to take up a position on a dune, away from the main crowd on the slipway, to get see anything at all—a penalty for a late night and a late rising.

What I saw below me you know about already; and, I suppose, as with those images from 9/11, you are already fatigued with the images. It was a pyramid, of course. There was the golden tip, slightly corroded; yet the body was black as black could be, being clad in an unusual marble—so they say. Its smooth blackness recalled the sea the night before. Soft blackness that seemed to bleed into the environment. There was a badly eroded ditch around the whole pyramid; as the oceanographers and hydrologists say, the structure was mostly protected by compacted sand for…—well, a long time. Strange tides that night uncovered the whole, probably at about the time I stood on the shore and watched the sea.

It was, as with a monster flick from the ‘50s, radioactive; everything is like that in Cornwall, of course. When you cross the county line it smells different; radon country—and other gases from the rocks and mines. They say the radon kills people, but I say better a hair from the dog that bit you. You know, a little radiation is probably good for you; our forefathers were not so wrong with their glow-in-the-dark watches and soap—and many benefitted from a weekend at Chernobyl.

Now people ask me, since I live so nearby, if I have any notions as to what the pyramid is exactly. “A temple, that’s what the archaeologists say,” I reply, “except the buggers can’t get in it, can they?” And that is a fact. They have tried for ten years or so now, and still the pyramid keeps its secrets. I go down and watch her in the evening; sometimes I bring my girl, or a vape to blow cherry scents at the structure—a late offering to older gods. And my mind always returns to that first velvet night and the real darkness we lost then.

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