Two Fictions
Joachim Frank

Changes to Vision 5002

Instead of the green monkey, a chest of drawers should be put at the place where the oversized knuckle-duster was located in Vision 5001. During the soaring of the protagonist through the room, the vagueness of the accompanying sensation should receive greater emphasis. The invisible and inaudible choir should at least move around; if this requirement proves to be in conflict with others, the choir should be eliminated altogether. The fight of the rats should now take place in the chicken-coop. The index finger pointing through the clouds should be replaced by a commensurately scaled middle finger. The thunder, which has been scheduled much too early, should be synchronized with the general departure of the carpenters. At the onset of the finale, the flute should be replaced by a trombone. The trombone player should be good-sized, blond, married, one child, and be wearing sun glasses and a black tie. The lawn should be meticulously short, and a gardener should be walking on it with a rake, as an indication that the grass has just been cut.

The Find

Among the finds in square 553 is a remarkable handwritten fragment. The piece is in blue ink on ruled paper bordered by three equispaced holes in the fashion characteristic for that time (20th Century AC) and that particular part of the globe. The hand appears energetic, and the language is a version of the then-common Queen's English. The fragment starts with a reference to a small body of water, presumably a public swimming pool, located on Lamma's Land. Lamma's Land, according to documents that the author traced back to the 12th Century AC, was one of the publicly owned lands, or Commons, in that part of what was then known as South-East England.
The fragment goes into lengths describing a letter the author found on the bottom of the pool. The letter, according to the author, was incomplete, and might have been abandoned by its writer. Due to the adverse chemical environment in the pool, aggravated -- as he or she speculates -- by the urine passed by children, as often happens when they walk into the water at the point when the lower abdomen is immersed, the document appears to have been barely legible. Drying the sheets in the sun (a procedure which the author describes painstakingly, without advancing the story) must have made matters worse, despite the paucity of ultraviolet light reaching that part of the country at that time. Nothing is said in the document about the circumstances under which the author retrieved the letter. Equally unknown is his/her age, gender and profession, although the articulate use of written language places the writer into the upper 5 per cent echelon of his then quite class-conscious society.
The letter described in the text fragment was addressed to a woman residing in Australia by what seemed to be the aunt of her husband, accusing her flatly of having stolen a diamond brooch. The letter made reference to a photograph of the young woman at another family member's wedding, which both of them had attended thirty years before, showing her wearing the brooch allegedly borrowed for that particular occasion but never returned. It is quite likely that a copy of the photograph was enclosed, or that the writer of the letter at least intended to enclose it before abandoning her project. Why the letter had never been finished nor sent was unclear, the author of the fragment muses at this point: had the old lady taken ill -- a heart attack? -- as a consequence of having to re-live, in her letter-writing, the galling, unresolved family episode? Infuriated about the absence of a will, her next-to-kin might then have dumped all other written material they found on the premises in a popular illegal nettle-infested dumping ground along the river Cam. Or had she abandoned her half-finished letter to one of the frequent afternoon breezes on Lamma's Land when she discovered, upon re-reading it, that she had gone too far in her fury? Or had the brooch in fact been returned, by insured and registered mail, the very day she had sat down to write her raging allegations, prompting her to toss the letter out of her window, located, as this version had to assume, in an apartment building overlooking Lamma's Land?
According to a close reading of the text fragment, each of these hypotheses was equally intriguing to the author, and one cannot fail to sympathize with the sense of frustration that permeates his almost scholarly treatise -- and might have prompted the abandonment of his project -- about the absence of any clues beyond what was initially at hand: a soaked, floating relict of an attempted arcane 20th Century communication around the globe prior to the invention of electronic mail.