The Playing-Card Pyramid by Levin A. Diatschenko

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'The Playing card Pyramid' is an excerpt from the forthcoming book 'The Rooftop Sutras' by Levin a. Diatschenko which will be launched during the 2010 NT Writers Festival as part of the 'Tales of the Undergrowth' event.

Click here for more information about this event.



by Levin A. Diatschenko


WHILE he was sleeping, Citizen Uccello heard a ‘knocking’ inside his head. Uccello, like all citizens of his day, only had one dream. It consisted of a single pyramid of playing-cards, stacked high and peaceful on a coffee table. But the present knocking shook the image, and the cards collapsed in a heap.
Uccello opened his eyes. After a moment of silence the knocking continued, only this time it came from the front door.
Uccello disentangled himself from his sheets, put some pants on, and opened the door to the intrusive sunlight, which, after a moment receded and introduced the silhouette of a small man. Uccello rubbed his eyes and focused. The silhouette slowly gained details. It was a police officer.
“Morning Uccello,” said the officer. His voice was too high and squeaky for that time of the morning.
“So it is,” said Uccello.
“You look a little shocked to see a man of the law.”
“Are you sure you have the right house?”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? … But we’ve finally got you, Uccello.”
“What do you want?”
The officer held up a piece of paper in his chubby hand.
“What is it?” Uccello asked.
“It’s a summons.”
“A summons? … I don’t understand.”
The officer just smiled, faded until he was transparent … and then disappeared completely.
Uccello closed the door, sat down in the living room and looked at the letter.

Dear Mr Uccello D----,

Re: Revision of Citizenship

We of the courts have recently become aware of your existence. It is immediately apparent that you have evaded all your legal obligations thus far, possibly constituting a serious crime.
You are hereby summonsed to appear before a judge on this Twenty-Sixth of August, in the year Two Thousand and Seven, for the purpose of justifying your continuing existence. The hearing will be at three o’clock pm, Courtroom Three, the Supreme Court.
If it is found that you cannot provide acceptable justification for the space and resources that you use, or in the case that you do not attend this hearing, your right to exist may be discontinued.
Yours sincerely,

Justice M. Terd

Uccello hung his head and tears welled up in his eyes. When he finally pulled himself together, he stood up and said to himself, “Well, there’s only one thing for it … I need a solicitor.”
Uccello lived in a rural area. It was so peaceful that, not only did the inhabitants dream of undisturbed card-pyramids, but each home actually had a pyramid of undisturbed playing cards on their coffee table. Word has it that generations went by without the cards collapsing.
But on his way out to find a solicitor, Uccello slammed the door and every card-pyramid in the province collapsed. Not realising the harm he caused, Uccello sauntered down the road toward the city, hands shoved deep into his pockets. While he brooded on his troubles, the beautiful sight of the twinkling river and the blossoming trees was lost on him.

The solicitor was a button-eyed man with a hunchback. To Uccello he looked like a pincushion. His boss must have thought so too, because two or three pins were sticking out of the hump.
“How can I help you?” he asked Uccello.
Uccello gave him the letter. “Can you tell me what this means?”
The solicitor glanced at it and said, “It’s quite simple. You’re to justify your existence or they’ll take away everything that you’ve been getting for free.”
“What does that mean?”
“Have you been paying rent on the space you take up?”
“You mean my house?”
“No – your body. For as long as you’ve lived, your body has taken up space on the planet, breathed the planet’s air and consumed its resources. Did you think that was free?”
“I guess I did. How much money is the rent then?”
“You don’t pay in money. You pay in deeds.”
“Deeds? What kind of deeds?”
“Anything that might justify your existence. I suggest you get prepared, because the hearing is tomorrow.”
“Wait,” moaned Uccello. “I’m not sure I’ve done any deeds. How would I identify them?”
“First you need a purpose. Do you have one?”
“Hmm … no. One needs beliefs to have purpose. I don’t have any.”
“You must have some.”
“None at all.”
“Well get some by tomorrow or you can’t be helped.”

Back at home, Uccello paced up and down his living room. Finally he went to his study and pulled out all his ink and watercolour drawings.
“This should do the trick,” he said.

The Supreme Court was a huge concrete cube. It had a single door at the front, which was merely a rectangular hole. Uccello took a deep breath and slipped inside.
He found himself moving through dimly lit corridors, up and down creaky staircases, and passing portraits of judges and solicitors -- pale hunchbacks, their lipless mouths never smiling, their eyes sunken into shadow but the sparks of desire shining from inside them. They looked so thin that the skull was easily decipherable under the skin. Uccello began to worry that he would be late. The signs on the doors were in no discernable order. He’d pass Courtroom Four, then Courtroom One, Courtroom Seven and so on. Some doors were hung crooked or too small to enter.
Uccello finally saw some staff members, wandering around in their black robes.
“Excuse me…” he said, but nobody acknowledged him. Some of the staff passed right through him like ghosts, and others bounced lightly off him like balloons and floated off in the other direction.
Uccello finally came up against a wooden door with a sign that read ‘Courtroom Three.’
The room was more like a hall. At the other end of the room, Uccello saw a man sitting behind a desk, who was as thin as a stick and wearing a grey wig.
‘Come over here!’ called the judge, his gruff voice bouncing off the walls.
Uccello closed the door and approached the judge. His face was old and angry and his eyes and cheeks sunken, revealing the shape of his skull.
“Are you Citizen Uccello?” asked the judge.
“Right on time. Very good. Well, don’t just stand there boy, have a seat.”
Uccello sat on the rickety chair, holding the watercolours on his lap.
“Do you understand the seriousness of this matter?” asked the judge.
“I think so, Your Honour.”
“You think so? My boy, do you know what it means to get your existence cancelled?”
“Not exactly. I’ll have to leave?”
“You won’t have to do anything! We’ll do it all for you, me boy!” His voice bounced off the walls and repeated itself – “We’ll do it for you!”
“Oh … Do what, exactly, Your Honour?”
“Sentence you to Life in the Suburbs!” The judge’s shoulder creaked as he raised his hand in a sweeping motion, “Which is to say Death in the Suburbs. And the end of you!”
Uccello ran his palm over his closely cropped head, but said nothing.
“You’re twenty-seven today. Is that right?”
“That’s right,” answered Uccello.
“How did you manage to go unnoticed for so long?”
“I don’t know. The first time I ever saw a cop was when I got this summons. I always thought they were a fairy story.”
“Listen closely. This is your current status.” Judge Terd opened the folder on the desk in front of him and ran his bony finger along some facts.
 “You have no position,” began the judge, “no money, no woman and no prospects. Shall I go on, boy?”
Uccello started to say no, but a wave of emotion took his voice.
Judge Terd’s voice bounced around the walls and off Uccello’s ears: “Well, boy?”
Uccello cleared his throat and tried again. “No.”
“For goodness sake, boy, you’re not going to cry are you?”
“No, Sir … Your Honour.”
“Good. And now, let me get on with it: I hereby charge you with having no good reason to continue existing, for yourself or the community as a whole. Do you understand the charge?”
“Fine. Step Two, then. Can you provide an adequate reason for being granted continuance?”
This was it. Uccello dumped his collection of art on the table.
“What’s this?” sneered the judge, and the whole room creaked as he leaned forward in his chair.
“It’s art,” said Uccello. “Watercolours mostly … and ink drawings.”
The judge took it and perused the pages. “Hmmm,” he mumbled. “What about it?
“I painted them,” said Uccello. “But they’re not finished yet. If you cancel my citizenship they will never be finished. I understand that the law must regard my work as a potential service to the community. What’s more, a potential masterpiece might be among them. Surely, on those grounds, I have the right to go on developing.”
Ever so slowly, the corners of the judge’s mouth creaked downwards.
“Is that true?” said the judge to himself.
“I’m afraid so,” his echo replied, after bouncing off the walls. “The law says that if we discontinue this citizen’s existence, the government may be liable for the prevention of a masterpiece. That’s murder.”
“You are clever, me boy,” said the judge to Uccello.
“However,” added the echo, “if the art proves to be frivolous, a mere work of entertainment – then it need not be completed; the world has plenty already.”
The judge took up the papers again and looked them over. “Hmmm,” he sounded. “This has no underlying purpose – just goes well with the curtains.”
“That’s not fair at all!” cried Uccello.
“Fair? It’s splendid,” said the judge. “I hereby sentence you to Life in the Suburbs, without bail. This sentence takes effect as of right this minute. Have you anything to say?”
Judge Terd slammed the desk with his right hand – only, he didn’t have a right hand. Poking out of his sleeve was a wooden mallet.

The Suburbs were like a vast prison. People were sent there to prevent them from ever breaking the law. Each Suburb was like a cellblock, the inmates all glossy-eyed and bent over.   
   On the way there, in the Convict Transport Bus, Uccello asked a fellow inmate, “What the hell happened here?”
   They’d been peering out the windows as the bus pushed deeper into the Suburbs, now and then dropping a convict off at his or her assigned house.
   “Aimlessness, I guess,” said the convict, an old timer with a few wisps of grey hair, and neck skin that flapped in the wind.  “Sounds a trifle, but boredom spread through the middle classes like a plague. Had very little control of ourselves when these here houses were built, as I recall. Our actions were barely deliberate. The aimlessness made us weak-willed and we went about our existence like an empty raft on an ocean. Pain of the situation made us reluctant to face it, and so it was a relief to let our thoughts get carried away to another place...”
   He stared out the window for a while before he continued. “Anyway, because of that, certain repetitions formed. The similarity in architecture throughout western cities, for example; the flow of the population as it rounded its daily routine; the colours and the clothes and the dialogue. Everything seemed like unconscious automatons. More accurately, it was an accidental mass hypnotism.”
   “And now they’re capitalising on it, aren’t they?” sneered Uccello. “Those judges!”
   “I used to think that,” said the old man. “But not anymore. Reckon they’re asleep too. Nobody is in control.”        
The cellblock where Uccello was sent, however, was not much of a prison anymore. The stone houses poked up from the earth in rows upon rows, like tombstones in a vast cemetery.
If you’d ever gone there and wiped the dust from the windows, you would have seen Uccello sitting in his living room like a corpse. He spent his days trying to build a card pyramid, but it always collapsed before he could finish it.
One day, Uccello stepped outside and saw his neighbour rolling around on the lawn. Uccello saw that the man had shackles on his wrists and ankles.
“What are you doing?” he called.
The man shook his shackles off and stood up. He had slicked-back hair and his moustache curled up at the ends.
“Practising,” said the man.
Uccello suddenly recognised him: “My God! You’re Loudin the Magnificent, the famous escape-artist!”
The man smiled and bowed low. “The very same.”
Uccello remembered that twelve months ago a prominent newspaper had challenged Loudin to escape from the Suburbs. A huge crowd had watched as he entered the prison/cemetery, waving back and smiling. That was twelve months ago.
“So you’re still here, eh?” said Uccello. “I guess not even you can escape from here.”
“Nonsense,” said Loudin. “I can leave this minute. I stay for dramatic purposes.”
“What do you mean?”
“If I were to escape in only one day, the audience would think the feat is easy. If, however, I wait twelve months and return with ruffled clothes and messed-up hair, they will cheer after having figured me for dead.”
Loudin picked up his shackles. “Besides, one mustn’t try to escape; one must attain and conquer. Would you like a cup of tea?” he asked.
There were photographs of carnival folk all over the walls of Loudin’s living room, and a card pyramid on the coffee table.
“How do you intend to escape?” asked Uccello.
“I can’t reveal my secrets, but I’ll tell you this: The human will can accomplish anything, but only once it gains full control of the mind. Until then there’s little hope.”
“That doesn’t sound like anything I can use.”
“On the contrary, that was THE most useful thing I could have shared.”
Uccello tapped the wall. “All that’s real is what we can touch. Don’t talk to me about abstracts.”
   “If the wall is an illusion then so is your hand. You cannot qualify one illusion with another.”
“You’re clever,” sneered Uccello. “But if you cannot escape from an illusion, it’s as good as real. And I still don’t believe you can escape.”
“Suit yourself,” said Loudin disinterestedly.  “I bet you believe in the police, don’t you?”
“I saw one.”
“A product of your mind, a pestering thought-form. Your subconscious sent him after becoming aware of your lack of purpose.”
Uccello thought for a moment. “Rubbish. There is no purpose, unless you manufacture a fake one.”
   “I could say the same about the police.”

Prison life was a hellish eternity. Each morning the inmates were herded to the factories and offices where they would do the work assigned to them. Afterwards, they were shuffled back to their cells. One or two days per week they were let out-of-doors where they would pace around and enjoy the open sky. Uccello lived for those days.
The streets were oppressively quiet, and if Uccello ever went strolling after work, the hum of silence made his ears ache. Cops were always following him or watching him from street corners. Whenever Uccello attempted to stack a pack of playing cards into a pyramid, a cop would burst inside the house and knock the cards on the floor. Sometimes, sitting in the silence of his living room, Uccello would hear police sirens passing. The noise would build and build until it was deafening. It sounded as if the police were moving in packs. They yelled out orders and taunts and warnings through their microphones, fired guns in the air and sounded their sirens.
Uccello could do nothing but curl up on his couch and shiver. “We’ve already ceased to exist,” he complained. “What more do they want?”

Uccello visited Loudin ever now and then.  He wanted to prod Loudin and find out what he really knew about the nature of things, or whether he was just another prisoner. Besides that, Uccello enjoyed Loudin’s company. Morning tea at Loudin’s became a regular occurrence.
   Loudin didn’t say much. He mostly sat on his veranda, drinking tea and watching the street. The silence was unusually rejuvenating; the police never seemed to show up there.
   “You don’t talk much,” Uccello said one day, breaking the mood.
   “No,” said Loudin.
   When no explanation came, Uccello asked: “Well? Why don’t you tell me about your escape method?”
   “There’s no point. You will believe nothing you haven’t experienced yourself.”
   “If you tell me your method, I can then try it out!”
   “The only useful kind of talk is debriefing—and you haven’t done anything to debrief. Try to escape yourself, and then if it fails I will talk.”
   “And if my method doesn’t fail?”
   “Then you won’t need to talk.”



The next day, Uccello went to visit Loudin again, but he did not answer the door. Uccello knocked harder and the door creaked open. The house was empty. Left behind were a few carnival photographs and the card pyramid still intact.
After gazing a while at the pyramid, Uccello returned to his cell.

The routine ground away at Uccello. He decided to escape before he was reduced to dust.
Using the money he had saved from working, Uccello bought himself a rusty old car that would be entirely adequate for the one-way trip. He filled it with food and hit the road.
As Uccello came to the edge of the Suburbs, a sign reared up from the bitumen: “You Are Now Leaving the Suburbs”.
   Uccello swerved and missed it by an atom or two.
   Uccello had not zoomed one hundred kilometres down the highway before he saw the smoke cloud of a band of police cars in his rear-view mirror.
   The sirens began screaming.
   Uccello stepped on it and tried to lose them. But the farther he got, the longer the line of cops pursuing him became. “By the amount of cops I attract you’d think I did exist, and that I was important.”
   It was no use. The police were catching up. The sirens screeched loudly, and     
   Uccello felt fatigued. He turned the car radio on and up, in order to drown the sirens out.
   The entire hoard of police cars vanished without a trace.
   Nothing could be heard except Uccello’s car radio. Uccello pulled over. He got out of the car, peered up the road, and found that he was still alone.
“I can’t believe it!” he exclaimed. There wasn’t a trace of the police. “What happened?”
Without the slightest spark of understanding, Uccello hopped back into his car and continued on his road to freedom. He turned the music up and bopped his head.
   Later that night, Uccello parked away from the road and slept. When sunlight hit him the next morning, he opened his eyes.
   Looking around, he had an uneasy feeling. He left his car where it was and walked out to the road to take a look.
   He heard engines revving. Then he saw a dust cloud. Within seconds the cloud grew larger and carried with it a pack of snarling police cars.
   Uccello bolted back to the car. Sitting in the driver’s seat, he listened and waited … hopefully the cops would pass him by.
   Sirens sounded. More police cars burst into view and screeched to a halt around Uccello’s car – he was surrounded in seconds. Looking right into the eyes of his captors, Uccello saw that they were shaking with laughter.
   Uccello fumbled for his key and turned the engine on. He would still go through the formality of resisting till the end.
   The night before, Uccello had not turned the radio off. It simply went off with the car engine. Therefore, now – when he jerked the engine back on – an early morning talk show that was on the radio also came on. “ … Marvellous day ahead of us,” the host was saying, “Absolutely brilliant …”
   Uccello found himself alone again. Even the dust from the police cars seemed to have vanished.  
   “Where the fuck did they go?” he gasped.
   “We’ll be playing the same classic rock songs again and again and again … all morning long!” said the radio.
   Uccello revved the car, steered it back to the empty highway and drove it to the horizon.

   After a night and a morning of straight driving, Uccello arrived at the outskirts of a new town. He saw cattle and fences, signs and a few shacks. On the horizon he saw rooftops.
   Without warning, a street sign reared up at the car. It said, “Welcome to the Suburbs”.
   Uccello swerved and went white. He recognised the streets. But how could that be?    Street by street, Uccello felt sicker and sicker. This place was exactly the same as the town/prison he’d fled from, right down to every loose brick.
   When Uccello arrived at his own house, he opened the car door and vomited into the gutter. He saw that his hands were shaking.
   As he dragged his feet toward his house, he saw a police car parked across the road.    When he opened the front door, entered and closed it behind him, he heard the cops drive away.
   Uccello looked around him. It was his home all right.
   “It doesn’t make sense. How’d I end up here?” he asked himself. “It was one road without any turns!”
   He went to bed, assuming his death pose.

   Later that day, Uccello climbed onto the roof and dived off. Perhaps it’s the only way out, he mused.
   He seemed to sail down peacefully, accompanied only by the hollow sound of the wind. It felt good, but with a pinch of fear.
He slammed into the ground. Everything went black.
Within the blackness, gradually a pinpoint of light appeared. It grew larger and larger, until Uccello felt that the darkness was a tunnel, leading towards the light. It was an opening.
Uccello zoomed into the opening of light. It was so bright that all he could discern was whiteness. He waited and floated in the whiteness. Finally the harshness of the light lessened and Uccello began to see forms. He felt that he was standing on solid ground again. The light retreated into a sphere that hovered high in the distance … surrounded by a blue sky. A sun.
Uccello then looked down from the sun… And he saw his house.
Uccello was ‘alive’ and standing in the street. He fell to his knees and sobbed.
He seemed to have ‘reincarnated’ into exactly the same situation he had known before. So much for escaping, he thought.

   He awoke at noon the next day and read the newspaper. There was an article about Loudin the Magnificent’s “Brilliant escape from the Suburbs”.
“Smug bastard,” said Uccello. “Wonder how he did it.”
Uccello then looked at his scattered deck of cards. He knew he should make the attempt to build a pyramid, but for now he just didn’t feel like it. So he put on a shirt and went for a stroll outside.
The Suburb was stagnant. Uccello kind of liked that; it reflected how he felt.
He strolled around the block peering inside various houses, he saw many tables with cards scattered over them. Sometimes there were half-built pyramids. The Suburbanites had their radios and televisions on constantly. Drivers had their car radios on too.
   One needs Background Noise to get by in the suburbs, he thought. Police seemed to avoid the ‘choppy waters’ of tumultuous soundwaves, but they swarmed to any gap of silence.
It occurred to Uccello that Loudin was the only person he met in the Suburbs who had successfully built and maintained a card pyramid. Moreover, Loudin was neither bothered by police, nor was he a user of Background Noise.
   Uccello remembered Loudin’s remark. He went back home and looked at his scattered cards. How can I do things like escape when I cannot even rebuild my cards?, he thought. And how can I rebuild my cards if I cannot even maintain the pyramid in my mind?
First I must attain the representation of the pyramid in my mind, then I must conquer the cards in my living room. Attain a pyramid of the ones in my living room then conquer the prison and the police. Attain and conquer, attain and conquer, again and again…

   So, each night and each morning, Uccello sat in a chair and closed his eyes. He visualised a deck of playing cards and, one at a time, he pictured himself building them into a pyramid.
The distant sounds of the police interrupted him countless times, but the more Uccello practiced, the stronger his willpower became – and thus the stronger his concentration became.
Eventually, he built a full pyramid inside his mind. It became stronger by degrees, until Uccello visualised snowstorms and hurricanes attacking the pyramid with no effect. The pyramid held sturdy!
During his days off work and in the evenings, Uccello sat at his coffee table and carefully worked on his actual card pyramid. Ever so slowly, the first floor was attained, and the next started on. But he knew the whole deck of cards would take months to finish, so Uccello just balanced a card or two (maybe four on a good day) per sitting.

During this ‘constructive’ period, while out walking, Uccello came upon an old friend and fellow artist. They clung to each other and wept.
“What are the chances!” Uccello said, “that we would be sentenced to the same Suburb!”
Hanna had been an artistic activist.  After the bout of depression following her arrest (she was arrested two years before Uccello), she resumed her activism in the Suburbs. Her plans involved breaking into establishments and homes and leaving card pyramids there to be discovered in the morning. She attempted to leave pyramids in the middle of traffic intersections, and to climb onto houses and drop cards over the streets.  Uccello told Hanna of his escape attempts and his current card-stacking discipline.
They met every now and then for coffee, in cafes where the music was always on and the volume always turned up. He looked forward to their get-togethers. She seemed to, as well, always rambling enthusiastically about her latest venture. She couldn’t understand why Uccello didn’t participate.
“That’s all very well, you building that pyramid,” said Hanna, “but what about the rest of the Suburb? It’s not going to beat the police force.”
Uccello did not defend himself. He didn’t feel he needed to; she wasn’t judging him, she was inviting him.
Hanna went on to explain that card pyramids were impractical, anyway. “All the pyramids I’ve tried to build in houses or in public places blow down or collapse before I’m even finished,” she said.
“That’s the point,” said Uccello.
“So, I’ve moved on to radios. I break into buildings and plant blaring radios in the middle of the floor and the cops are blasted clear. You should see it!”
On some days, Uccello would see Hanna’s accomplices walking around with ghetto blasters in a show of rivalry to the police gangs. In their wake, police seemed to gather like darkness around a dying flame.
“I admire what you’re doing,” said Uccello to Hanna on one of their get-togethers, “but don’t you ever crave silence?”
“There is no silence, silly!” she said. “Do you want to attract the cops? The choice is either noise or cops.”
Then he told her about Loudin the Magnificent, and how his home had neither of the choices.
“Wow! You actually met him out here?” Hanna’s eyes lit up. “He must have had some background noise, surely?”
“I can’t recall any. His home was so peaceful …”

Later that night, Uccello came home to discover his house had been broken into. Debussy’s opera ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’ was playing through the house. Uccello didn’t mind that at all.
Hanna was waiting in his bed with a smile on her face.
Hanna stayed with Uccello often after that. She watched him in the mornings while he carefully placed cards on top of cards, picked up the ones that had fallen and tirelessly rebuilt them.
Uccello came to realise that when Hanna was around, there were fewer cops about the place, and when she was gone there were twice as many as before. He hated being without her.
“It’s true,” he confessed one night. “Though I don’t believe in your methods, it’s as if your presence alone is a force that can not be imprisoned for long.”
   Shocked, she said that she thought the same about him. “It’s not me who the police are avoiding!” she said. “It’s you! I’ve never been so at peace than when I’m lying here with you.”
   “Maybe we ought to build a collective card-pyramid,” mused Uccello.
   “Wow, that’s it!” said Hanna. “We could see our culture and civilization as a cooperative art form, you know, that you would refer to in the same way as, say, Egyptian Art or Mayan Art. You follow? This way the Suburbs would cease to exist.”
   “I’m following,” said Uccello.

More and more, Uccello worked on his deck of cards. It got to the point where he’d be up most of the night working on them. In the beginning they had collapsed every time he’d gotten to the third level. But now, he was reaching the fourth and even fifth levels before his attention and hands started shaking. When that happened, he’d leave it alone for the night – if he were patient, that is. If he weren’t, he’d continue and end up knocking the whole thing over again. It was all about patience.   
Hanna came into the living room one night and said, “Aren’t you coming to bed?”
Uccello looked up with bloodshot eyes. “Oh,” he exclaimed, “what a wonderful thing is perspective!”
Uccello’s coffee table pyramid was almost complete. The structure only needed three more cards on top. They would form the triangle at the peek, but the interruption had shaken Uccello’s concentration … and, just to be safe, he left the three cards alone, to be finished tomorrow.
Hanna and Uccello hadn’t seen a police officer in months even though they’d ceased using Background Noise. They were living in a calm bubble of silence.
“Perhaps its time for us to disappear,” said Uccello.
“There’s nothing to stop us,” said Hanna. “The police seem to have disbanded.”

When Citizen Uccello finally disappeared from the Suburbs, he left behind an indestructible card pyramid on his coffee table. Next door, Loudin’s pyramid is also still standing. Across the Suburbs more and more houses attained card pyramids and the peaceful aura of strength that came with them, until eventually each house had one.
In time, the streets and houses became more like an art gallery, than a prison. Each street, public place and private home, was decorated with card sculptures.
People still visit the empty Suburbs to gaze at the beauty there – and to wonder what kind of people once inhabited them. They are no less mysterious and awe-inspiring than the ancient Egyptians or the Mayans. Why did they vanish? Where did they go? Perhaps we’ll never know.


Perhaps we will.