The Wall of Darkness
When Shervane gazed up at the monstrous ebony sheet that had so troubled his mind, it seemed to be overhanging and about to crush him beneath its falling weight. With difficulty, he tore his eyes away from the hypnotic sight, and went nearer to examine the material of which the Wall was built.
It was true, as Brayldon had told him, that it felt cold to the touch – colder than it had any right to be even in this sunstarved land. It felt neither hard nor soft, for its texture eluded the hand in a way that was difficult to analyze. Shervane had the impression that something was preventing him from actual contact with the surface, yet he could see no space between the Wall and his fingers when he forced them against it. Stranger of all was the uncanny silence of which Brayldon’s uncle had spoken: every word was deadened and all sound died away with unnatural swiftness.
Brayldon had unloades some tools and instruments from the pack horses, and had begun to examine the Wall’s surface. He found very quickly that no drills or cutters would mark it in any way, and presently he came to the conclusion Shervane had already reached. The Wall was not merely adamant: it was unapproachable.
At last, in disgusts, he took a perfectly straight metal rule and pressed its edge against the wall. While Shervane held a mirror to reflect the feeble light of Trilorne along the line of contact, Brayldon peered at the rue from the other side. It was as he had thought: an infinitely narrow streak of light showed unbroken between the two surfaces.
Brayldon looked thoughtfully at his friend. “Shervane,” he said, “I don’t believe the Wall is made of matter, as we know it.”
“Then perhaps the legends were right that said it was never built at all, but created as we see it now”.
“I think so too,” said Brayldon. “The engineers of the First Dynasty had such powers. There are some very ancient buildings in my land that seem to have been made in as single operation from a substance that shows absolutely no sign of weathering. If it were black instead of colored, it would be very much like the material of the Wall.”
He put away his useless tools and began to set up a simple portable theodolite.
“If I can do nothing else,” he said with a wry smile, “at least I can find exactly how high it is!”.
The Universe is even stranger than we can possibly imagine (Haldane’s hypothesis). Illustration : © Megan Jorgensen