Iteration III


June 15, 2007

Once, not so long ago, there was a secret town in Russia. It was far to the north, where the snow piled up in such mountains that sometimes it lasted through the whole summer, and people would keep their meats cold in it during the warm months. If you were to come across this secret town, you would not know it was special. There would be no way to tell that it was any different from a thousand other little towns in northern Russia. Its secret was not protected by anything so dramatic as a magic spell or one of the baba yaga or the leshachikha (though such creatures were spoken of by the old women who lived there, and there were always children who claimed to have seen a tall man covered in hair by one of the little streams that unfroze in the height of summer).

Even that far north there were visitors in the summer. Explorers and traders and travelers who brought news of the outside world. But they never seemed to remember the town when they returned home. “I stopped in six or seven villages” they’d tell people, with a little bit of a frown on their faces. The more perceptive, careful travelers would be disturbed by the fact that their journals seemed to indicate an extra stop that they didn’t remember very well, in a town they had neglected to take down the name of, but it could always be explained away by fatigue or oversight.

Those travelers were not alone in their oversight. Indeed, no one had ever taken down the name of the town. It was on no maps, mentioned in no histories, and spoken on no lips. The little town had no name. It could not be spoken of, nor even thought of. There was no force that prevented it, the town simply did not fit into a mind. It is not so surprising, really. There are sounds no ears can hear, colors no eyes can see, and in just the same way, there are things that no mind can think of. One of these things was a little town in the north of Russia, where no one will ever remember that they have been.