Letter undated.

—-

Dear Ms Muro,

You asked about the Deodand Tower, what I know, what I remember. I wish I could forget. Please do not ask again. It is all tangled up with that first decade after the Displacement. You need to understand that in order to understand what the Tower is. This is what I know - and what I remember - a potted history.

The Deodand Act came into force three years after displacement with its infamous anti-“squatting” and state appropriation agenda. It generated a second wave of internal refugees by the new government. Common Law turned Act of Parliament and twisted beyond recognition. The entire city deemed to be guilty of murder in its movement and proclaimed Deodand. But it was not given up to God, but man. Great swathes of land taken and sold back, or onwards. All to the letter of the law. This town, this city, is nothing if it not a lawful one. Daniel resigned after that. Mind, it did not stop him gaining from the mulct, but I think the consequences disturbed even him.

Seven years after the displacement the government demolished the shanty towns. The slums moved underground. It was this vertical migration from Degraves B-City into the subcity that I believe triggered for the emergence of the Deodand Tower. 

However, I am getting ahead of myself. I know you never witnessed it: the Displacement. I do not recall it, neither the displacement nor the world before it. So, I will use Daniel’s words.

[Section illegible.]

So many people disappeared in that moment. I care not what brought us here. The words of men like Greene expounding on theories of End Times are noise. The words of men do not hold the answer. You just have to listen. The walls, the street, the buzz of a blow fly against a window pane. The city itself has been changed in this movement, that moment. 

If you listen, there are hushed whispers about Bucca, Maw, Tiddalik. Or a dozen of other names appropriated or inherited or otherwise made to fit. The Toad or The Mouth of God or The City Eater: A god that entrapped cities and swallowed them completely before spitting out their bones.

There are layers upon layers of dead metropolises below this one. Human and alien cities piled up on each other in an indiscriminate heap and spread out across the surface of this endless plane. There were so many cities. Most were inaccessible, crushed by the weight of overlying cities. So many empty, dead cities. But, with the exception of the obligate Khi, there is nothing but their skeletal remains. It lends itself to the compulsive and neurotic.

Khi, City, Bucca. None speak for themselves, all are mediated. Here messengers control the message. As to the Deodand Tower itself… Everyone has a theory. Mine is this:

Tophet is the foundation of an ancient Khi city. The area it covers is far larger than Degraves A-City ever was or would have been. Beloved says the Ayt — its root — was so traumatised by the Displacement that it had to be abandoned. It lay dormant while subsequent Displacements layered cities over its carcass. Until Degraves was pulled through. After we were Displaced we did not leave like the khi. We spread out and we started to migrate, not just out, but also DOWN. We woke it - the Ayt - the raving, mad Khi city-brain. The contagion spread through the subcity slums to the B-City. I doubt anyone is free of it. But it is only a theory.

I laugh and cry when I think of it. We are merely meat marionettes to a fungal sentience that is consumed by a necrotrophic god. Don’t think of the Deodand Tower as a building, think of it as a fruiting body.

— Etna