Another from Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation, what somewhere has been called series whose figments bear strange shadowforms of H. P. Lovecraft:
“Should we go back?” the surveyor would say, or I would say.
And the other would say, “Just around the next corner. Just a little farther, and then we will go back.” It was a test of fragile trust. It was a test of our curiosity and fascination, which walked side by side with our fear. A test of whether we preferred to be ignorant or unsafe. The feel of our boots as we advanced step by careful step through that viscous discharge, the way in which the stickiness seemed to mire us even when we managed to keep moving, would eventually end in inertia, we knew. If we pushed it too far.
But then the surveyor rounded a corner ahead of me and recoiled into me, shoved me back up the steps, and I let her. (58-59)
Dog-eared, a page and its few lines I at first associated with initiates, treacherous descent, down a squish stairwell, footfalls better lace up your boots. But the shambles memory cast as “I would say” or “the other would say,” a whatever dialogue, both of them knowing forward means down deeper and down deeper means longer back. Or end. End in inertia. And with this it’s not only initiates down a staircase into the unknown below but a tandem pursuit-non-pursuit, a companionable procession whose interruption–please someone shove–they both seemed to be ready for, to welcome when, let’s return, let’s go back up again, it came.