Climbing, climbing. The cement stairs – smooth underfoot, uniform – rising on and on, up and up, switching and curving back and forth in deceptively lazy sweeps, but ever, always up. Over varying landscapes – green forests, sunny glades, rolling hills; spanning lakes and rivers to continue their ascent. Eventually, leaving behind the wild, primordial, and untouched places. Trees transforming to steel I beams; hills to bricks and cinderblocks; waterways to chain link fences. Crowded now. People moving, elbow-to-elbow, hip to shoulder, climbing separately en masse.
The stairs continuing, lifting up into the wide blue, cloud-filled sky. Gradually, each step narrowing – two or three feet wide only. No security of enclosing walls. No handrails. A Dali-esque staircase rising, lifting, floating with no need of supports, anchored unto itself.
Unease creeping in. Worry. Fear of slipping, tripping – a misplaced foot, an endless plunge.
While the stairs are still connected, fastened to a small island of green turf, stepping off the stairs. Entering an enclosed, factory-style, industrial warehouse. Gloom and shadow, here. Feeble light leaking past smudged, yellowed windows.
Bustle of activity – people crouching over desks and counters, faces lit blue by computer screens. Interrupting first one young woman, then another. Neither looking up from their display, their skin washed pale with electric light. Their answers are the same.
There is no way back down.
There is no other stairway.
It is one-way only.
— C.Birde, 5/17