When he placed a candle on the shelf across the room from him and lit its wick, he came to realize that in fact everything he saw was a flat surface, like a screen – that in fact dimension was an illusion. Everything was a flat surface and the pinpoints of light, whether from a candle on the shelf or a gaslamp above the street, were punctures in that surface – gashes made by somebody behind the screen. He realized then that beyond everything he saw there was an entire realm of blazing sunfire and that colors were only the silhouettes of people in that realm – walking, eating, dancing, doing whatever they were doing behind the screen. It astonished Adolphe that everyone failed to realize they were just figures on a tapestry, the shadows of something else. He was therefore amused by the conceit of women, for instance, who who admired the creamy color of their skin when in fact it was only the haze of some other woman behind the vast screen staring into a mirror. Adolphe could explain all of this to himself but he could not explain Janine: Janine wasn't the same as the others. Janine was like their mother; and Adolphe decided Lulu was from this place beyond the surface and she had, perhaps when she was a little girl, slipped through. Adolphe wondered why Lulu hadn't told them about this and then realized she probably would when she thought they were old enough to understand it. He could see it wasn't something one would want to tell a child too soon.
Steve Erickson
After many years the woman died, of natural causes. And a few years after that, the ogre died. Eventually, his mistresses died, down on the ground, in the people village, over decades. The war men and women died. The human girl who had escaped her early death died, across the land, over by the ocean, in her shack of blue bowls and rocking chairs. The witch, who had originally made the cake and made up up the spell and given it as a gift to her beloved ogre friend, died. The cake went on and on. Time passed...And the cake, always wanting to please, the cake who had found a way to survive its endlessness by recreating its role over and over again, tried to figure out, in its cake way, what this light-dappled object might want to eat. So it became darkness, a cake of darkness. It did not have to be human food. It did not have to be digestible through a familiar tract. It lay there on the dirt, waiting, a simmering cake of darkness. Through time and wind and earthquakes and chance. At last the cloak fell out of the tree and blew across the land and happened upon the cake where it ate its darkness and extinguished its own dappled light. The cloak disappeared into night and was not seen again, as it was only a piece of coat shaped darkness now and could not be spotted so easily, had there been any eyes left to see it. It floated and joined with nowhere. Darkness was overtaking everything, anyway, pouring over the land and sky. The cake itself, still in the shape of darkness, sat on the hillside. 'What's left?' said the cake. It thought in blocks of feeling. It felt the thick darkness all around it. 'What is left to eat me, to take me in?'Darkness did not want to eat more darkness, not especially. Darkness did not care for carrot cake, or apple pie. Darkness did not seem interested in a water cake or a cake of money. Only when the cake filled with light did it come over. The darkness circling around the light, devouring the light. But the cake kept refilling, as we know. This is the spell of the cake. And the darkness eating light and again, light and again, light, lifted.
Aimee Bender