Free excerpt from “Sketches of a Worldwide Christo and Jeanne-Claude”

Below you can read an excerpt from the new short story collection “Allusions”. Both ebook and paperback contain the short stories: • “In Snuff Park” • “Babyface Junkie” • “Narcissist Guru” • “Sketches of a Worldwide Christo and Jeanne-Claude” • “Territory Game” • “Beloved Stalker”.

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[From “Sketches of a Worldwide Christo and Jeanne-Claude”:]

Hiding the Sahara from the Sun.

I saw the sun fall. The thousands of students, professors, scientists, technicians, biologists, climatologists, electricians and others involved in the project were scattered across the desert. As far as the eye could see they were standing on trestle-shaped ladders and on the slopes of the sand dunes. They were awaiting the signal, an electrically amplified version of Richard Strauss’s ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ for solo horn. Then, completely in synch, they switched on the thousands of electric winches suspended above them on posts scores of metres high. The winches pulled on thousands of polypropylene ropes, setting in motion the rolled-up fabric hanging between the posts. Because of its strange colour the fabric, although woven from polypropylene, looked like the authentic material used by nomads since time immemorial to erect their Bedouin tents beneath the merciless sun. It had the same seams, let the light through in the same way and had the same colour, which depending on the light could vary from grey-brown or dark blue to black. The woven fabric had been rolled up like a carpet, and attached to the tops of the iron tent poles, driven deep into the loose earth.
The distance between the poles was approximately fifty metres, whatever direction you looked in. As far as the horizon the desert was covered with these symmetrical rows of posts, like a forgotten frame for reinforced concrete, lost in time.
The tent poles followed the contours of the dunes. They always rose three or four metres or so from the sand. The fifty-metre rolls of fabric had been hung up on posts parallel to the horizon and were all unrolled at once and in the same way. Ropes were attached to the rolls of fabric at ten-metre intervals. The traction of the electric winches on the ropes caused the fabric to unroll.
Below, close to the sand, the fabric lengths joined at a height of only a few metres and were fixed together by Velcro edging.
In this way, in just a few minutes a new dark desert floor was created, from the sand dune where I was standing to the horizon. The fabric of this gigantic Bedouin tent was as undulating and steep as the dunes beneath it – like a perfect copy of the sand contours suspended a few metres above them.
This sudden rise in the desert, in the last few hours before sunset, created the illusion that the sun was in free fall. It was a short fall, but an unmistakable one.
From the hilltop, latitude 13º E – longitude 27º N, we looked towards the horizon, at the last embers of the setting sun. The sand dunes of the Sahara had been covered by the gigantic creation. Their capricious contours had been completely obscured from view and straightened into an orderly Bedouin tent with the tips of the supporting tent poles at regular intervals. The artists stood beside me, feet apart, gazing at the fabric, over which the ridges were casting long shadows. They waved at the thousands of workers, who had emerged from under the fabric in order to climb the hill we were standing on.
In those last few minutes of twilight I was sure the sun had actually jumped down and so had skipped a fraction of our precious time.

Visit the Allusions page for more information about the stories, the book, links to the Amazon and iBooks stores.

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