Here is a sample of "City of Pillars"

Taken from Chapter 5:

The next morning, I got up before dawn and made it to the train station for the 6 am locomotive. It was a comfortable train, but the trip was over three hours long. I initially tried to get some rest, but between the jostling of the cars, and the incredible views, I spent most of my time just staring out the window. The peasants along the train tracks were all very friendly, waving as we passed by. Tourists threw pencils or candy or whatever they had in their purse out the windows to the children. The train pulled into a station for refueling. In the interim minutes, the windows of passenger cars were besieged by hundreds of local peasants trying to sell handicrafts to the sightseers. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo," called one old woman with a tray full of hot corn on the cob. Other women tried to sell dolls, bags, jewelry, rainforest bugs the size of your hand that had been killed, pinned and framed. Train attendants blocked the doors. The peasants weren't allowed to get on. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." I watched the activity on the platform. There was nothing around here. No houses were in view, where were these people coming from? "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." The woman in the seat in front of me was leaning out the window, arguing over the price of a needlework handbag. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." The people here must have hiked a ways to make it to this platform. There were a lot of them. A whole army, convinced that the only way they could make a living was off the charity of travelers from the developed world. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." If only they just put their efforts towards building something for themselves. This place was destined to always have nothing. These people were destined to live in the mud, scrabbling a living by selling corn and baubles. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." They were so far behind, they would never be able to catch up. They weren't even trying. They had been brainwashed well. In their world view, there was nothing but this. There was nothing but scrabbling, nothing but trinkets. My life in San Francisco was so different from theirs that I doubt that they would even be able to comprehend it. Did these people even consider the train passengers to be humans? Two cultures come into contact. On the platform stood people who knew nothing but selling trinkets for pennies, onboard sit consumers who do nothing but collect as many trinkets as they can find. A symbiosis has developed. No one cares what they are making, no one cares what they are buying. Just create and consume, create and consume. No one will question the system, no one will ask why this place exists. Questions like that are not in the vocabulary of either the peasant or the tourist. They have not been taught to think.

Behind the commotion on the platform a few people stood around. Mostly they looked like train workers. My eye spotted two men wearing dark suits. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." They seemed out of place here. This was a place for ponchos, rags, and tattered sandals, not a place for suits. They had not spotted me in the train window, they were talking to each other. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." A railroad worker came over and started speaking to them. The peasants were trying to sell their wares. The men spoke to the train worker. They handed something to him. He smiled. "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." Were they looking for me? Did the worker give them the information they needed? Would they see me in the window? "Choclo, Maize, Choclo." I left my seat and hid in the bathroom until the train had moved well out of the station.

Back in my seat, I remembered the cross that I had found in my pocket the other day, the one that had gotten me out of the strange church. I pulled it out. I still had the pamphlet the man in the airport had given me. I examined the cross again. It didn't seem to be worth anything. I didn't have anything else to do with it, so I put it on. Maybe it would help me if I ever met some more of the cultists, or even if I ran afoul of some Christian thieves. I read the man's pamphlet, trying to get an idea of the sect that he was involved in. It was a typical apocalyptic warning that talked about how you would only be saved by following the instructions herein. I was surprised to see that it didn't solicit money, or even have an address. It talked a lot about symbology. It explained how the cross was a physical representation of the numerical ratio 3:2, and how the rose was the symbolic representation of the perpetual series. It got into fractals and strange geometries and how the world was built on ratios, and how ratios were the language of God, and how the word of God was just a vibrational pattern that the universe was founded upon. Later I was to learn more about all of this and other principles of the secret knowledge that we've been taught to discount, but for now it was all just gibberish and zealotry, and I dismissed it within a few minutes.


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