• 05 May 2010
    When I came to write the second draft of Ayuamarca, in 1994/1995, I expanded vastly on the first draft, almost doubling the length. I also added a prologue, which I later discarded — in fact, I forgot about it completely until I went back through my paperwork in preparation for work on this site! It’s easy to see why I never used this prologue — it presents too much information too fast, and would be very confusing for anyone unfamiliar with the story. But for those who have read the book, I think it provides another interesting insight into the world of the Cardinal and the Incas, albeit a not-fully-formed insight — this came from a time when I was still working on the dynamics of the plot and the powers of the blind priests, so some of the details here jar with later excerpts in the novels. Still, for the curious, here it is in its entirety, seeing life for the first time anywhere beyond the confines of my office. Enjoy!

    * * *

    The two brothers worked side-by-side in the depths of the building, all through the night, as they had since their hands had first been guided in the way of the lines by their father. They spoke little, only when necessary. When they did it was in a language long since vanished from common use, one kept alive by their family, passed down from generation to generation.

    The room was as dark and lifeless as their blind eyes. Symbols covered the walls, marks of suns and kings and gods remembered only in legends, if at all.

    Their fingers moved surely, subtly, twisting thin wires, moulding glutinous papier mache, snipping cloth. The frame came first, the body, the feet, the hands. Then the face, slowly, cautiously, their rough digits shaping the general features, their scalpels and hooks and scissors defining the finer angles and creases.

    As the brothers worked, another dreamed. He was linked to the two below, in ways none could explain. He was not of their flesh, not of their family, but he was of their world. His mind was their hands, his eyes their guide, his dreams their reality.

    The dreamer tossed, twitched, grunted in his sleep. The brothers paused in their work. This had happened before, often. He would lose interest, or would be distracted, and their work would have to be scrapped. In such cases the unfinished models fed the furnace and they would begin again, anew. They never complained or cursed on such occasions. It was the way.

    His body settled and the dream continued. One of the brothers, the elder of the two, grunted with satisfaction and began to apply the first coat of paint.

    Beyond the building, beyond their city, beyond the confines of mere physicality itself, a body began to form. Bones knit together, muscles and sinews stretched, grew, creaked and connected. Flesh began to creep, drawn from without, directed from within. Water collected in the rapidly forming eyes. Ears curled. Sexual organs unfurled and made the gender known. Inside, the caverns began to fill with organs and meat. Veins and arteries started to snake their way around the body, tunnelling through the flesh like ravenous worms.

    Back in the building the brothers had finished for the night. They laid their creation carefully to one side, returned their instruments to their rightful places, and took their own places on the two stools by the rear wall, where they sat, waiting. They never slept. Sleep was for others, not for the family.

    In the morning the dreamer came, his face bright, his hands sweaty with excitement. He greeted them warmly with the pet names he had long ago applied and asked how they were and how their work was going. They did not answer. He knew they would not. They never had before; there was no reason to expect they would now.

    He examined their work and muttered his approval. When he was through, the brothers left their stools and approached. Linking hands they formed a tight circle, held it for five punctual minutes, during which time the sons of the family chanted in words the other could not comprehend. Then the elder brother broke the circle, raised a hand to his mouth and bit gently into his thumb with his sharpened left incisor, drew blood, and smeared it across the left cheek of the model. His younger brother did likewise with his right incisor and the right cheek. The third, the dreamer, raised both his thumbs and offered them to the pair. They took the hard flesh and reverently sank their teeth in, taking great care not to taste of the blood or spoil it with their saliva. They pressed his thumbs together at the sides, making one single pointer of the two, then withdrew their hands and let him paint the forehead of the daubed figure, leaving his mark, the final key to the ancient code.

    After a brief pause the blood disappeared, sucked into the absorbent flesh. A second later the chest of the model began to throb. It produced a faint noise, tinny and regular. It sounded like rain striking the tiniest drum in the world. And at the same time the heart of the body began to beat and for the first time lungs filled, pupils dilated, blood flowed, and muscles flexed of their own accord.

    The dreamer, caressing the chest fondly, took possession of the warm model, left the brothers to their darkness and their stools, and returned to the upper world. It was a long way up from their depth to his height. It was an ascent they had never made, though he had often offered. The family preferred the darkness.

    Back in his world, in charge once again of his own domain, he lay the model with its companions, took his seat and stared out the window at the rising sun in anticipation. It was going to be a good day, he sensed. A day when anything could happen.

    Crossing his fingers, gingerly sucking the wounded thumbs, keeping his eyes on the sun, he leant back in his chair and braced himself for the wait. It wouldn’t be long.
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