Presence
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During the recent Foundation raid on a Marshall, Carter, and Dark "Exhibition for the Perusal of Artistic Anomalies," Foundation agents discovered the following journal entry. The author, Ms. ██████ ████ (on staff at ██████ Hotel during the exhibition), is being interrogated at the time of this writing.

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The thing… was alive. After a fashion.

Mr. Victor's art is ever so hard to classify, as always. And this one confused us all terribly, when he showed up to the latest exhibition without his usual semi-trucks full of self-assembling wonders — nothing but a single tiny seed, curled in the palm of his hand.

For the two days of convention time before the exhibition began, he had it displayed in the main hall, on his customary glass pedestal. We'd reserved the entire hall for him, expecting the usual Brobdignagianism, so the little thing looked somehow alone sitting there.

Well, not alone. Not really alone. There was something about it… Oh, I still can't put my finger on it. It haunted me, all those two days. I spent far too much time in that hall, just pacing its bounds or standing in front of the pedestal to examine the thing. It was tiny, and somehow inverted — convoluted — curling in on itself. Subtly. All its faint contours led inward, yet its presence filled the entire room.

By the third morning, everyone was sure that the sense of presence was the art — that Victor had abandoned his usual medium completely and gone for something more psychological. There were whispers of pheromones, even hypnotism, among the less anchored of the clientele. That was before he proved us all wrong, of course.

His was the last presentation of the day. He led the gathering into the central hall, said a few words (no one seems to remember what), and picked up the seed. It fit into his palm as if born to it, which I suppose it was. Then he smiled and gestured, and the room fell away.

I've no idea how he'd done it, but in those two days he'd had the convention center remodeled to fold back at his command. The walls slid down, the roof coiled into its beams, and suddenly we were standing on a wide flat platform in the open air. The city stretched around us, its honking clatter suddenly deafening after the genteel chatter of the convention.

He said something else. "I give you this," maybe. I was too astonished to pay much attention. (Or maybe the talk of hypnotism had some merit. Who knows?) But he said it, and he raised his hand to his lips and kissed the seed.

A murmur spread around the roof, audible somehow even over the cars. The seed… fell.

Swish. Tap. It hit the floor and did not bounce.

Silence.

The quiet stretched out, unnaturally poised, until I was sure it would snap and go whipping among us with stinging fury. I almost missed it, even, when the seed began to split.

Its surface cleaved, folding inward along an intricate moire pattern, then bulged out between the clefts. The body of the thing swelled, heaved, and grew. We watched, enraptured.

Arms rose out of it, grasping skeletal tendrils sweeping round to grasp each other… Superstructure, I realized with a jolt, before they connected fully and began to swell and fill the gaps between. They moved like twigs in the wind or like paintbrush strokes. My eyes were unbearably full of the impossible, wrong, beautiful things.

Finally, a second or an hour later, Mr. Victor's sculpture stood complete before us. The shape was familiarly alien, an amalgamation of forms too common to recognize — a teapot, perhaps, or a hunched-over vulture. The silence folded itself away inside the thing's body; the city's clamor rose around us again.

Mr. Victor bowed.

Helpless with awe, we applauded.

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