The Dead City in Sarajevo was buried under nearly a mile of rocks & dirt. It resembles nothing so much as a Versailles grown exponentially, a vast lavish Kowloon of opulence...but carbon dating puts it at roughly 100,000 years old. It is immaculately preserved; excavated by investors & academic groups but not entered, leaving it to lay in a pit, scraped clean. I am one of the first group to go in, & I immediately understand that it is not the Dead City, but rather the Sleeping City. The place is empty...except the bedrooms, where the white noise of sleep comes from-- ominous rustlings, snoring, monstrous presences-- which we avoid. The Sleeping City is an elaborate, decadent House of Leaves, twisting hallways gilded with precious metals & rare antiques, but everything is tinged with a malice, a sense telling us not to get caught, not to wake things up. At one point I muster up my daring-- more hubris than courage-- & enter one of the bedrooms quiet as can be. It is too dark to see anything & I am nearly petrified with fear. I inch along the room for what seems like an hour, fruitlessly, pinned to the wall like a butterfly in a glass collection frame, until finally I break & flee.
My theory is that the Sleeping City was a human settlement that made the Great Leap Forward far earlier than the Leap that ended up establishing human civilization. A protoculture that evolved independently; if human culture now is predicated on about 10,000 years of civilization, what could another culture have done with more time? It could be 50,000 years of age, more even, millennia of spiraling into itself like a nautilus shell of...well, of all the sybaritism & degeneracy that seems to be heavy in the air, suffocating us. I continue my theory-- based on what, I don't know-- that the Sleepers are humans that managed to turn on all their genes, to activate their introns, to make their junk DNA manifest in their genotype. They became monsters & their world froze; their dreams are what make the dream worlds others walk in. The weird parts of your sleep that make no sense-- the nightmares, the strange sex stuff-- come from them. From here. In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
Back at the hotel, there is a movie about the Dead City on the television. In it, a team of people like our team goes into it. Eerily like our team; the abstractions of their intimate relationships resemble our interpersonal dynamics more closely than could be coincidental. The team in the movie have a black mass in the center of the Dead City, an orgy complete with a Pan or Satan with satyr legs & hooves. The movie is one of those horror movies that focus more on the sexual dynamics than on the monsters, for the bulk of it, until finally they find something in the Dead City-- a black cube about waist high, sitting on a bed, covers in disarray. The perfect black of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the movie team find it, they start seeing them everywhere-- even when they leave. Inside of a car. On the side of the road. Sitting on top of the water. Then when they get back to Sarajevo-- they are clearly filming in Prague-- all the buildings are topped with irregular black non-Euclidean shapes. I have fallen asleep watching this movie, a dream inside of a dream, & I am in the meta-dream swimming in the lake, but black shapes are appearing over my limbs, weighing me down. Encasing my legs, then my arms, & my head. A block humanoid figure that slowly accumulates move geometric regularity as a drown.