At first the world was just one spiral.
Then that spiral grew a face.
The face was hungry. It filled with water. The face was silent, but never sleeping. A single tooth grew through the bottom.
The face was a word, and that word was “lake.”
The lake was tended by older creatures. Giants with horns and black spiral faces. The whole earth cooled beneath their shadow. They danced over the hills on cloven feet.
The lake was the twisting center of a universe. Gears were built to keep it all in motion. Fish were constructed, to keep the water swirling. If a fish got caught in the gears, well, that was tragic. But they found it made the machine spin even faster. All that was needed was heat. A touch of fire.
The lake was a factory that ran on smoke.
Empty space hung above the lake. A vacuum, roaring. This displeased the spiral giants, so they painted over it with sky. Papered over it with clouds as the bright blue paint dried. They attached blackbirds there with nails and a length of wire. Smoke was bound to paper wings.
The giants pulled dirt from their hooves, wrapped it in trench coats. They called the dirt “policemen,” and told them to stand guard over the lake.
Now the world was almost ready. Each part fit together. The sky. The stars. The fish. The blackbirds. Everything clicked in its proper position. Held with wire. Moving in slow motion. Line upon line, tracing the outer counters of the lake.
And the world was good.
Or, at the very least, not as terrible as it could be.
Then the giants carved themselves coffins out of lake water, and lay their bodies down to sleep, leaving the rest of it there to spin and spin
So much smoke and hurt and fishbones. So many chewed up blocks of ice.
But beneath the lake, the fish were changing.
Their bodies grew long. They started speaking. They climbed to the top of the lake, and decided to stay there. They had fallen in love with their own reflections. The sight of their new shapely legs.
From there, everything moved quickly. The fish wore fur. They turned into foxes and bears and people. They climbed even higher, and mated with blackbirds. Their children took stones, and built a city in the sky. They lived in relative peace there, putting on corsets and inventing light bulbs. They paid their rent, and poured white powder on their wigs.
In time the fish forgot about the caves and gears beneath the lake. They forgot the smoke and all that spinning. The constant hunger of the waves.
But a lake needs fuel to keep it spinning. Something disposable to burn. So each night the clouds would roll in, weighed down with the dead, the dying. The sick and ruined. Or those just left behind.
A door would bloom in each cloud’s belly. The knob would turn, the hinges creaking. A bloom of heat, and the sky would turn orange. Like a second sunset, only this one framed in writhing bodies. Wrapped in flame and crying softly. From a distance they looked so small you might not even see them clearly. You might mistake them for fireworks over the lake.
Afterwards the doors would shut. The clouds would retreat. The lake was fed, and the world kept spinning. Things went on like this for years. A mound of bodies formed in the lake’s center. Each night it grew by a few inches.
Soon the mound became a mountain, and the fire inside was not so small.