The Temple of the Inevitable

Peter Morrison

If you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable the inevitable was. Terry Eagleton

The matronly blonde woman on the information desk is still on the phone and precious seconds of Laban Wilmer's holiday are passing every minute. The shiny silver name badge reads "Colaiezzi Ican", she notes, again. Huffs for a moment, then puffs for a moment. But neither make a difference, the phone conversation seems to be so engrossing that a mere visitor to the museum couldn't take Mrs Ican away from the intrigue.

Laban has been planning this trip for months, carefully researching Big City attractions. Everyone has been to Big City – they all go see Bacon's Column, the Tower Bell and the Pyramid Eye. Laban wanted her visit to be different; she has spent time making lists and notes, notes and lists, of unusual things to see in the city. Lunch time of her last day at work she had carefully printed these out, careful in her conciseness, careful to use as little work paper as possible. She had folded those few sheets, carefully, and slid them into her bag, with a sense that now she was prepared for her great adventure.

But things aren't going entirely well. Laban is disappointed by the progress here at the first stop on her check list – Dey Esoterich Musuum O Anthroapology. Here, there is reputed to be many an unusual and esoteric exhibit, but the prize among prizes and the top draw for her is The Temple of The Inevitable. The ancient temple was uncovered on the shores of the northernmost island of Smaisla (she had read on the blog post), which had put this particular item at the top of her must-see list. An obscure and largely overlooked temple from the Inevitable faith. Awesome!

Except she can't find it. Laban has read all the signs. Laban has read the fold-out pages of the guide. Laban is desperately waiting to ask a member of staff, keen not to be thwarted so easily this early on in her trip. But Colaiezzi Do they call her Cola for short? is not cooperating one bit. Laban dabbles with the old huffing and puffing again, just for the sake of form, because she is confident that she can huff and puff as much as she wants, to no avail.

Footsteps. Laban whips round. There! A security guard of some kind – stereotypical in his black trousers, shiny shoes, white collar peeking out from behind a jumper, blue, with shoulder epaulettes, and the museum's logo at the breast. He is slightly podgy, balding, and looks amiable enough, this Kung Britney, Laban thinks, automatically reading his name badge and filing the details away, same as she always does. She trots to catch up with him, establishing that balance between looking dignified and not losing the man as he does another circuit.

"Excuse me?" Laban calls, pitching her voice at casual and inquisitive. Kung turns to her slowly, raising a quizzical eyebrow at her, like he has all the time in the world, and with a job like this she suspects he might well do. His face suggests he is wondering where she came from. Here he is, having a casual stroll, only to be accosted by strangers. Which causes Laban to reflect on the fact that she hasn't seen any other visitors so far, in her initial, cursory, wanderings.

"Yes?" he nods, in a manner which conveys that if you'll only just give him a minute he will say more. "Can I help you?" This said with a tone that expresses doubt about the chances of that being the case. He looks her up and down, taking in her holiday attire – her favourite Edie Eunji art t-shirt, her worn-out comfy jeans, her black hair in a pony tail, new trainers bought for holiday walking. He seems to be confused by it all.

She wields the crumpled piece of paper in front of her, held clasped in her hand anxiously this whole time – conscious of how confidently she had circled that first item on the list in blue ink in preparation for her adding a big tick once she has finally "Been there. Done that." She holds the paper up, "I'm looking for an exhibit – can you help me? It is the Temple of The Inevitable?"

"The what have you?" He glances at the paper, but only in the most perfunctory fashion, before looking back at her, his expression slowly morphing into that of confusion. Confusion turning into a frown, as if to say that she isn't going to pull one over him as easily as that. After all, does she know how many years he has worked here and never had such a preposterous enquiry?

"The temple?" She smiles and nods encouragingly, as if she thinks it might help, though she is already deep into the conviction that she is wasting her time, "Of inevitability," she adds, with a glimmer of false hope, "You know?"

"No," he shakes his head to emphasize the word, "I don't know. Of course, we have many temples in the Museum – have you tried the Room of Stray Temple Pillars or the Array of Reconstructed Probable Temple Structures?" He asks this while pursing his lips thoughtfully, before glancing at the clock above the information desk, clearly more interested in wistfully counting the minutes to his next tea break.

"I looked. But none of those were inevitable," Laban sighs with weary insistence.

"Well perhaps that is because it doesn't exist? Whoever heard of an inevitable religion?" He reaches forward and takes her precious crumpled paper from her, gives it a substantially perfunctory glance. Taking in the web address for the blog which is included beside the bullet-pointed destination, "Ah, you read about it on the internet? Always a reliable source, pet. Sounds like you've been had."

He turns from her, and walks away, giving her the momentary impression that he is blatantly dismissing her. But she realises that he is in fact walking towards the display which contains the folded floor plans of the museum. She trots discreetly to try and catch up with him, as though she has understood his intent from the start, regardless of his blatant bad manners. He flips out the flaps of the folded floor maps, runs a finger along the indexed list of exhibitions, then glances at the ground floor, the first floor, the second floor, and special exhibition space, before declaring with some satisfaction "See! We do not have an inevitable temple!"

She sighs, disappointed. She has already looked at the map and the indexed list, but is of the opinion that it must surely be out of date. Given the burgeoning enthusiasm and effort she put into researching and scheduling this morning visit to the inevitable temple, Laban is disappointed. She searches Kung's face for some sense that at least some part of him registers this fact. Perhaps his emotions are at least a little conflicted? Despite the sense of glee at being proved right he seems to be demonstrating.

"Have you tried the Mesopotatian Temple of Doom in the special exhibit space? It really is rather good, if you like that kind of thing," he offers in consolation with a shrug. Not wanting to give her the wrong impression, after all.

"I"ll go take a look," Laban nods sadly at Kung. As she enters the body of the museum once again, she pulls out her phone, frustrated and determined. The temple must be here somewhere! An international conspiracy to hide it from the prying eyes of the public, she decides, it seems like the only rational explanation. She pokes the screen, scrolling through to the internet, which is how she finds herself back on the page for Friends of The Inevitable. But this time her GPS flickers, her coordinates appear on the screen in a way that they haven't any time she has previously accessed the site. The text that shows her coordinates pulses for a moment, before turning green. A new icon appears, with the hovering text that says: The Inevitable App. Without hesitation she downloads and installs the piece of software, curious as to what it is going to reveal.

Once installed, her screen lights up, the camera switches on, so that she can see the room through the lens. She waves it over the map that she is holding, mainly for the sake of it, not really expecting any reaction. So it is with some surprise when she sees the flash of another annexe to the building appear on the map. She looks at the tangible paper map in her hand, it shows the same old map, she looks through the phone and the additional structure persists.

Yes! I knew it. She cheers silently, understanding now that the game is afoot, that shadowy forces stand between her and the inevitable. Raising the device, Laban waves it around in front of her, watching the screen attentively. She swings round, passing over the various exits off The Hall of Weapons in Glass Cases, where she is currently standing. She gets an arrow flash up over one of the entrances, so she starts to walk in that direction, relishing her sense of victory.

Through the door, she finds herself in The Corridor of Ancient Marble Statues Without Noses. Every museum seems to have one of these, she reflects. She checks the app every couple of steps, till it directs her down a flight of stairs and around a corner. Here are the Patalonian Gateways, there the Sphinx of the Maztexan Emperors, and according to the map she is close to finding the temple. Which is when she spots Kung Britney once more – How did he get down here ahead of her? Why did he come this way? What is he trying to hide?

She concludes he must know about the temple, must be a member of the ancient order who persist in trying to hide it from the world! Dastardly rascals! She smirks, amused by the silliness of the whole idea. Now she is starting to enjoy her holiday. She hides, pressing herself against a case of Bulgoslav Stone Age Pop Art, trying to regulate her breathing to make as little noise as possible.

Kung seems to be wandering aimlessly, strolling round the exhibits in the most unremarkable manner of any person she has ever seen. She follows him as he ambles towards where she thinks the temple should be, cautious, hanging back. She slides from the case of Cubetic Grooming Combs, to the display of Iroqccan Nightmare Masks. Ensuring that she isn't seen.

Kung strolls round the bulk of Canilan Pyramid, Laban follows him, but is surprised when he reaches the point where the temple should be and walks right past the big blank exterior wall that is actually there. This is where it should be. There are windows above her head height, she can see the sky; beyond this wall is the outside world, not the revelation she is looking for.

Laban pouts, What is going on here? Maybe he was right? Maybe this is some kind of strange and elaborate internet prank, which no one but she would fall for? What does the Church of the Inevitable even represent with its elusive historical temple? Kung disappears round the corner through to the Room Containing Skeletal Remains of Improbable Monsters. She rests her body against the convenient case full of the Teeth of Transylwegian Goat Herders. Staring at this, the dullest of walls. She feels a certain disappointment. There is nothing here.

A moment passes before she recalls the app on her phone that gave her sudden hope before. She brings it up, waves it in front of the wall, and is unsurprised to find that the camera function reveals nothing new. It is just a wall. Defeated, she is lowering the device again, nearly missing a flash of something in the process. Quickly, she raises the phone, spins, trying to establish what seductive hint of a thing she had glimpsed. And there it is, at last, revealed, just off to the side of where she is standing – the inevitable.

© Peter Morrison 2013 All Rights Reserved

Date and time of last update 10:56 Sat 09 Mar 2013
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