||[Jan. 16th, 2006|11:27 am]
The lake path ran a surprisingly long way, close to half a mile, the wall to our left unbroken by anything more than the occasional small outlet pipe. (The third such pipe was marked with a set of the by-now-familiar white triangles.) We heard more bird calls, and the occasional splash of fish or frogs or other small marsh dwellers. Once, there was a startle of giant wings, and a great grim heron launched itself out of a stand of cattails and sailed low and slow across the water before vanishing into the fog. It appeared to be the familiar Ardea herodias but of course, without a specimen, it was hard to tell, and for once, Heinrich was too slow off the mark with the frying pan.|
At last, the path ended, at a broad expanse of reedy islets, basically mud and grass and metal cut by meandering streams, stretching as far as the eye could see in the fog, which wasn’t very. It would probably be possible to walk a little distance across the marsh, but with the sharp wire root systems in the mud, I did not want to risk Mirabelle’s hooves—or my own!—on such a venture just yet.
A giant gear, twice as tall as I was, thrust out of the water at a slant, like an ancient shipwreck, webbed with dark weed near the waterline. The metal reeds grew particularly thickly in the shadow of the gear, which makes no sense at all, since the entire system is in a large room underground, and cannot possibly have harsh weather or winds or blazing sun or anything else like it, and anyway the reeds are made of metal to begin with. Perhaps it was simply an aesthetic decision by whoever placed these artificial reeds, like a meditation garden for someone who was not terribly enamored of raked stone.
There was a single doorway at the end of the path, in the lefthand wall; a plain, unadorned rectangle punched in the wall, with a single spar of rebar running across the top. We went in.