Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More from The Guide to the Dark City

There is a street in the Dark City which it is just as well to avoid. It looks ordinary enough, well-lit, and with a few shops, a lens-grinding concern, and a medium-priced restaurant (try the blackened vlatbrot for which it is known; the deserts, too, are said to be unusual). The people who live there, mostly in upper stories, are ordinary enough, if rather quiet. The street’s sole distinction is that if you follow it to its end you will find yourself in Hell.

I won’t mention the street’s name, since it changes frequently. Be assured that, if you look for it you will find it, and that the same will happen if it looks for you. If through fate or mischance or the machinations of an irritated cat you find yourself in Hell, there are two things you should remember. The first, as they must have taught you in school, is to try and find a raven. Ravens know all the byways and, most importantly, all the exits from Hell. If they take a fancy to you, or if you have the wit to know what coin they’ll take as pay, they will lead you out and you’ll go back to your hotel with only some fascinating memories and a tendency to tremble as souvenirs.

The second thing to remember is to note Pride when you see him. He is honored in the Dark City.

You may have seen Pride in old paintings of Hell, or in one of Dauguerre’s early experimental plates. Two things render him unmistakable. One is that he will be wearing a marvelous hat. Sometimes it is a large affair, bejeweled and feathered. Other times it is a glossy silk thing, or a disturbingly embroidered sombrero. He will be wearing it cocked at an angle, and he will be dancing. No one else in Hell dances.

Watch him long enough and you will start to hear the music to which his feet are keeping time. He is a heavy man, but his feet move lightly. There is a story that when the on the last day of all, Pride will emerge from Hell, still dancing, and under his banner, playing his music, the denizens of the Dark City will march forth through streets illuminated by blazing buildings. If, on your return from Hell, you bring us a note or two of that music you will find the Council knows how to be generous.

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