The usual characters are there, unflinching in their expected positions. Pin pricks of light bound together: the bull, the goat, the water carrier. But a new figure has appeared – I say figure, that’s not quite right. ‘Figure’ implies something natural. This is different – uncanny in its perfection. A line of lights, ten, maybe more, drifting across the night’s sky, slicing through the bodies of those familiar constellations with utter disregard.
Those with power soothe that they know what this means – they tell us to be calm. But they cloister themselves away, heads buried in their charts, instruments pointed to the sky. And as each night passes without answers, a lingering sense of unease spreads among the people.
Rumours abound. Some insist with pleading outbursts that is a good sign. Many more are wary. This is a strange sight and with it comes heavy brooding. The latest whispers claim that a single man alone is responsible! He has created hulking great machines and lifted them into the sky. These celestial objects sail through the night air with ease and with them will come wisdom and knowledge the likes of which we have never seen. ‘We must reach out!’ they cry. ‘It is a heavenly gift!’
And so begins the building. Fervent structures raised aloft. Platforms erected high above the ground with a hope of plucking the glowing lights clean out of the sky. The towers are built slowly at first, but soon more and more have rushed to the cause. Trees are cut and carved, metal is hammered into shape, water is poured on dry earth and baked into bricks. Shrines are built in honour of the lights, in honour of the towers. The fields go un-sowed and the harvest rots where it stands.
Those who were once indifferent can no longer stand idly by. People band together and plot action. ‘This is insanity!’ they cry. ‘No good can come from this!’ And with matching fervour they tear down the towers, scatter the shrines into rubble. But as quickly as one tower is torn down, another arises. Scuffles turn to brawls, brawls to battles. The ruins of both past and future stretched out toward the horizon.
And all the while, the glowing orbs track the sky above, their twinkling lights casting shadows on the land below.