Archive for drawing

Creativity

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by javedbabar

The Jobs of the Future program was in trouble. How could Shama achieve his goal of doubling training numbers when budgets seemed to halve each year? He knew that the MD was stealing funds, but Shama had only just started as Training Director, and afraid that if he said anything he would lose his job.

He would have to be smart with his use of funds. Who was best to focus attention on? Which group would be most receptive?

He could target seniors, the most out of touch with technology. His efforts there could make their generation economically active. He could target middle-aged people needing to brush up their skills. He could boost productivity of younger workers, and empower the engine of the local economy. Or maybe it was best to focus on children. Yes, that would be the best long-term investment.

The Headmistress welcomed him to the Elementary school. She said, “The children are excited. Their whole life is the future. Some have troubled pasts, it’s true, and we do the best we can for them. We believe there’s hope for every little person here.”

Shama stopped to admire some drawings pinned to the wall. Talking puddings and ants made of jelly – how did they conceive of such things?

That’s it! he thought. He said, “Mrs Johnson, I won’t be needing that projector after all. I’ve had a better idea. Do you have colored pens and paper?”

“For you, or for the class?”

“For everyone. I think that today is a good day for drawing.”

The class was well behaved but restless. The boys especially were itching to speak to him. Once Shama was introduced, a ginger boy put up his hand and shouted, “Do you really have a job in the future?”

Rather than speaking about the future, he thought that Shama was from the future. Before he could correct him, another boy shouted, “What is it? Do you make robots?”

A girl said, “Do you fly spaceships?”

The questions became more general.

“Is it true that you can live inside video games?”

“Can you grow and then eat your own clothes?”

“Can you make sweat into water, for people who live in deserts?”

Shama smiled and said, “Sorry to disappoint you all. I am from today, like you are. I hope that I will have a job in the future, and I hope that you will too, a job that you love, and at which you are brilliant. But I am here today to tell you about the skills you will need to do those jobs.”

He ran through the key areas – pattern recognition, common sense, creativity, imagination, people skills, technical awareness, and clarity. He asked them to draw how they would use those skills.

The children produced the craziest drawings he had ever seen. Some also made models. He was thrilled by their enthusiasm and creativity. Kids are amazing!

At the end of the class he said, “Don’t forget to take these home to show to your brothers and sisters, and parents and grandparents.” Their drawings stuck to fridges, and their models on coffee tables, would be daily reminders to all generations of skills required for jobs of the future.

Hours of the Moon

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2012 by javedbabar

Guru Baba gave his assistant Sami the day off, “But only the day!” he said. “Tonight you will stay up working!”

“May I ask doing what?” said Sami. He was accustomed to Guru Baba’s mysterious utterances, but there was no harm in trying to glean some extra information.

The bearded sage adjusted his orange robe beneath the waist in an unseemly manner, and smiled. He said, “You will see!” He also adjusted the tilt of his turban. “You will see!”

Guru Baba’s first year of retirement to “the nice village with the white mountain above it” had been a confusing period. There were concerns that this famous holy man was suffering from dementia. Many global leaders had come to see him, thinking that he may soon die – it was a valuable PR opportunity not to miss out on! – but here he was in tip-top shape. Sami had given up trying to understand the man. He had developed a deep fondness for him, even when he was being very annoying, like now.

Sami didn’t want to have the day off and work all night. He made another attempt at extracting information. “Guru Baba, what for?”

“What for? What for? Because I said so! I know more than you! Come here at six o’ clock tonight or don’t ever bother coming here again.”

Sami spent the day watching movies and cleaning the house. He should do it more often, not let it build up like this into a disaster zone. Did spiders really think they’d catch sumptuous dinners in his apartment? Bug screens kept all the insects out, but seemed to have no effect on fluff and dust.

Sami appeared at six p.m., as instructed, at the Transparent Temple. Guru Baba said cheerfully, “Come on, let’s go for a walk.” They walked along the canal trail for a kilometre before turning off into a field. “Look,” said Guru Baba. “There’s the moon.”

This was true. Though it was not yet dusk, a full moon had appeared, more grey than white, in a pale blue sky. Guru Baba said, “You will be learning lessons from the Man in the Moon tonight.” Then he produced a sketch pad and pencil from beneath his robes and said, “Draw the moon.”

“But I can’t really draw,” said Sami. He’d never enjoyed art class.

Sami recognized the signs when Guru Baba was angry. His nose drew up and he shouted, “Draw it! Drawing is just looking! Look at it!”

Sami did the best he could. There was nothing to draw really, just a circle with some shading. “Well done,” said Guru Baba in a conciliatory fashion.

They continued looking. The sage said, “Do you know the Japanese artist Yoshitoshi? He made a series of woodblock prints called One Hundred Views of the Moon. They are very beautiful, and so surprising and original, with lovers, warriors, old women, children, farmers, and monkeys all looking at the moon. They are entranced by it. I want you to always look at the moon like that. Yoshitoshi was the last master of woodblock printing before photography and other forms of mass reproduction destroyed it. His life represents one man’s struggle against time. He eventually lost. We all do. But while he was alive he was always looking.”

Extracted

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2012 by javedbabar

Naomi and her uncle Bobby remained trapped in the drawing that they had created. They’d recently tried tattooing their bodies decoratively as a way to escape it – the thinking being that drawing on yourself within a drawing gave you more control. They had not been successful though, and their tattoos had eventually faded.

Bobby felt an area that still held promise was that of medical tattooing. Placing careful marks on the body allows you to align electronic instruments to perform precise procedures. It is more accurate than a surgeon.

Though human intuition is a wonderful thing, it mustn’t go against the principles of nature. There is a cosmic order based on numbers – on ones, twos, and threes; on pi, the golden section, and harmonic frequencies; on primes, doubles, and squares – which creates the structure of the world. By using medical alignment in reverse, maybe we can access this order and escape our physical limitations. We can free ourselves from spatial confinement.

Bobby spoke to an elder that he’d come to know, and whom he respected deeply. Guru Baba said, “You have tried many ways to escape the drawing, but they have not proved fruitful. There is a reason for this. You have tried to do too much. We know that as Ancestors you have created the mountains, valleys, forests, rivers and towns. We are grateful to you for creating this bountiful world. But that is also the problem. You have created so much that you have become lost in it yourselves. You must remove yourselves from its complexity. The way to do this is to focus on one thing only. The Masters call it Spatial Study. You must study the gap between your thoughts.”

“How do you do that?” said Bobby. “How do you see the gap between your thoughts?”

“That’s a very good question. I don’t know the answer. Only you know the answer for yourself.”

He’s infuriating sometimes, thought Bobby, but I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about. I must be patient. A further hour of confusing conversation led towards an answer. “You must create a cosmic dot. Tattoo a spot between your eyes and use it to focus your energies.” Guru Baba smiled and added, “With laser like precision.”

Sophie was rehearsing her presentation in her office. In an hour she must present her plan to the crisis team. Rising rivers in the Upper Valley had everyone worried that there would be a great flood.

Her phone rang and she fidgeted. This sent the beam from her red laser pointer astray, hitting the framed drawing on her wall.

She was amazed to see the form of a man appear in the drawing, and then tumble to the floor, followed by a girl. The optical amplification and high irradiance of her laser had energized their cosmic dots, creating spatial and temporal coherence, which via spectroscopic principles paralleling the techniques of bloodless surgery, had extracted Bobby and Naomi from the drawing.

She heard a disembodied chuckling. Then a voice with an Indian accent said, “Good shot.”

Erased

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2012 by javedbabar

The city’s elders told Bobby that the way to escape from the drawing was to “Cut through the skin to the edge of the blood flow. There mark thyself.” When he asked them if they meant tattooing, they nodded but said nothing more.

What a strange notion, thought Bobby – drawing on yourself within a drawing. Did that mean that you became more a part of the drawing or less so?

There were no tattooists in the city. No one spoke of it. It was a forbidden art, forever taboo. Then why did the elders mention it to him? Maybe like corruption and murder, or a sweet tooth, it was allowable to some.

He brought needles and ink and asked Naomi to tattoo him. She was too squeamish to do it, and impossible to persuade, but said, “I don’t mind if you do it to me though.”

“You want me to tattoo you? Are you sure?”

“I’ve been to Diya’s house lots of times. We make henna patterns on our arms and hands. It’s lucky.”

Bobby showed her the needles again. One of them had to try it, but he would prefer it to be him. “But this is different. It will hurt you. Do you really want me to do it?” She nodded.

Naomi was remarkably tough. Maybe it was a result of her being in the drawing. She didn’t flinch. Bobby started with a single red flower, and then filled a meadow, which was in a beautiful valley, with a river running either side. There was a white mountain at one end of the valley and a dark one at the other, seeming equals yet opposites. The rivers were teeming with salmon and trout, and the forests were filled with coyotes, deer and bears.

“I feel like I’m home,” she said.

She wasn’t though, her physical location was the same, but she was somewhere else spiritually. She had become the archetypal goddess whose body is the world.

Within the drawing Naomi and Bobby were influential beings. People thought of them as manifestations of the Ancestors Aqu and Pani, so their deeds were observed and copied. Rather than singers, sportswomen, or salesmen, people emulated the Ancestors. They were the ultimate role models.

Whereas before, mutilation was seen as a sin, now it was embraced enthusiastically. Everybody was decorated with tattoos, including priests and leaders.

However Naomi’s tattoos soon began to fade. Maybe it was the effect of early sun-exposure, or her picking away scabs – Bobby told her not to, but she couldn’t resist – or simply Bobby’s lack of skill. When people saw that her tattoos were disappearing, they also began to get theirs removed. The tattoo industry largely disappeared.

They remained however on gladiators, slaves and soldiers – to prevent their escape and desertion. Prisoners were also marked for life here; there was no forgetting of crimes. Gangsters took pride in the markings they’d received in prison, and added to them, creating complex codes. A tear meant you were a killer. A trail of tears, a mass murderer. Livestock continued to be tattooed rather than branded, which was considered cruel.

There were also uses in the field of medicine. Tattoos allowed precise alignment of instruments during medical procedures. These cut through the skin to the edge of the blood flow, and then went deeper. Maybe that was the only way to escape the drawing.

Framed

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie had framed the drawing she’d found by the side of the road. It looked good on her office wall but the colours seemed to be fading, so she’d put it behind her desk, out of the sun. She kept banging her knees on the frame though.

The frame was also causing problems elsewhere. Since the drawing had been bounded by a black wooden strip, covered by glass at the front, and board at the back, things had changed for the people who had created it – Sophie and her uncle Bobby.

One day Naomi said, “Uncle Bobby, things don’t feel right here. Recently I’ve been feeling trapped. I don’t know why. It’s making me sad.”

“I’m feeling the same way, Naomi. I remember being freer, and travelling wherever I wanted to. Now I feel that we’re stuck in this city. Every day is the same.”

They were no longer able to move in and out of the picture. The frame had created a physical barrier that was impossible to cross. It had also created a mental barrier – to leave the drawing was inconceivable – and a spiritual one – there was no other existence possible, no past or future worlds.

Naomi said, “Maybe we should try to think of a way out. Can we do that?”

Bobby wondered where this talk would lead. He didn’t want to disappoint his niece, so should be careful. There’s nothing worse than a sad little girl. But then he thought, she is already sad, so why not go with her idea and try to change things?

He said, “Sure, let’s try. Let’s decide what we want to do, and then make a…”

She interrupted, saying, “I don’t want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. But I don’t know where I want to go to. I don’t know where else there is.”

“Okay,” he said. “Why don’t we make a mind map? It’s always useful to write things down.”

She wrote the word escape at the centre of the page. Then she joined it to freedom, imagination, desire, will and pleasure.

“That’s a good start,” said Bobby.

She looked at him desperately. “But it’s not changing anything,” she said.

“When I was your age, I loved different languages and scripts. Shall we try some other ones?” She nodded with enthusiasm.

“Okay, I know some letters in an ancient writing system called cuneiform.” He wrote the symbols for dream and vision.

“And here are the Egyptian hieroglyphs for beauty and joy.”

Then he drew astroglyphs for the sun, moon and stars. “Should we go to another star or planet?” Naomi looked amazed, but then looked sad.

She said, “I like all the languages, but they haven’t changed anything. We’re still here.”

The next day Bobby consulted the city’s elders. They said that there was indeed another world beyond this one, but to reach it you must engage in body modification. Between this world and the other world was a permeable layer, accessible by imagery. They repeated ancient words, “Cut through the skin to the edge of the blood flow. There mark thyself.”

It seemed that the way out of the drawing was more drawing.

Copied

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2012 by javedbabar

That picture is always changing, thought Sophie. Yesterday it had a bluish palette and today it seems browner. Maybe it looks different throughout the day or maybe it’s just fading in the sun. She looked at the picture more closely, “Hmmm…” she said to herself, “maybe it isn’t a drawing after all. Maybe it’s a cheap print.”

That would be very disappointing if true, as she’d spent $100 getting it framed. But what if it was an original artwork, a very fragile one that needed more care?

She removed it from the wall and put it behind her desk, to at least get it out of the sun. Maybe she should photocopy it before it changed some more. At least she’d have a reference. It was a big drawing though, three foot square; she would have to do it in sections.

Sophie turned the picture around and removed the back of the frame. Then she systematically copied each section. There was a little overlapping on each one, and she completed the job with a total of twenty copies. She taped them all together and folded the whole thing down to fit into a folder.

Sophie’s actions created panic in the drawing. Its citizens were dumbstruck by the overwhelming flashes of light that seemed never ending but eventually stopped. Then there was an earthquake that caused considerable damage. They prayed harder than ever to the Ancestors Aqu and Pani, who had once manifested in their city as Bobby and Naomi.

“Save us!” they cried. “Forgive us!”

Naomi and Bobby were stuck in the drawing. They decided to go into hiding for a while to think things through. They made camp in a cave on the outskirts of the city, near a source of fresh water. Bobby managed to find fruits and berries and catch some grouse – who virtually came and offered themselves up, stupid birds.

Naomi said, “Uncle Bobby, I’m feeling very strange since those flashes occurred. I hear echoes of my thoughts. “

“Echoes of your thoughts?” said Bobby.

“Yes, it’s like everything I think ripples outwards and returns. Right now, I’m feeling scared, and somehow feel that I’m scaring others…”

“Shhh!” said Bobby. “There are people coming. Be quiet.”

A crowd of men and women emerged from the forest and headed towards them. “There they are,” cried one of them. “Aqu and Pani are here!”

Bobby tried to shield Naomi but the crowd pulled her away. They were both held down and presented to a shaven-headed man in black robes. He said to them. “Excuse our rudeness, Holy Ones, but our need is urgent. I am Ozwald Malchizedek, prophet of Aqu, who like all others, is formed of dark ink and Ancestor’s blood. There have been powerful omens – both on land and in sky. They have spoken to me in divine language. They say you are required to complete your cycles of return.”

Bobby and Naomi were taken to the top of Mt Alba, where they had their throats slit. Naomi’s screams beforehand echoed throughout the valley and into the original drawing, where the genuine Naomi felt that a part of her somewhere had died.

Dried

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Global Travel, Mystical Experience, Uncategorized, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie had been affected by the drawing she’d found this morning on the Lucerne Valley Road. She decided to display it on her office wall. She couldn’t make out any details clearly, but it gave the impression of a vast, complex city, filled with human activity. Framing it had been a good idea. It filled the boring expanse of beige opposite her window. People looking into the office now had something to see.

She was mostly out of her office that afternoon, at crisis meetings about rising water levels in the Upper Valley. Two straight weeks of blazing sun had melted snow caps and caused the highest river levels since the last great flood of 2008.

She’d pulled her door closed behind her when she’d left, as per regulations. There was no need to lock it though. Every door opening was recorded on the surveillance system, which was enough to deter unauthorized staff from entering her office.

To improve village hall’s green rating, the office manager had switched off air-conditioning systems, and the building’s passive solar design was meant to keep it cool. However the angle of the sun today was such that the overhang was insufficient. Sunshine poured in throughout the day and made her office an oven.

The framed drawing took a direct hit of sunshine for over an hour. The city portrayed within it heated unbearably and began to suffer droughts. Its reservoirs were exhausted and aquifers dry. Its infrastructure had been repaired after the recent “nuclear accident” which most citizens knew had really been a war. However, due to corruption and incompetence, it had not been fixed well. The little water supply there was suffered big losses, causing The Authority to implement rationing and initiate Level Three hydrostatic measures.

Tensions arose on the streets, and there were simultaneous water riots all over the city. Ozwald Malchizedek claimed to be the Prophet of Aqu – the god of fresh water. He called a citizens’ gathering outside the Transparent Temple and said, “People of the holy city, we have displeased Aqu. He is withholding his water from us, the blood of life. He no longer fertilizes mother earth with his fluid seed. He withholds his kindness and displays his strength. He is angry because we have forgotten him!”

There were shouts of agreement.

He continued, “Let us remember the Dreamtime story of the first parents – Aqu, in the form of Bobby, and Pani, as Naomi – who came from another world and created this one. Their pathways became our waterways. Their dreamlines are our bloodlines. Let us build more vessels for water. I call for the initiation of a mighty canal-building project for transport, leisure, and trade. Let us show that we are worthy to be blessed with the gift of water. If we build the canals, they will send water.”

The Authority had no choice but to supply the machines, tools, and workers required. They knew that drawing water was a matter of life and death. Right now they were powerless, but let Aqu and Pani take the blame. Religion is useful for civic order. Amen!

Cropped

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama pulled up in his silver pick-up truck. “Having car trouble?” he said.

“No, I’m not,” said Sophie. “More like brain trouble. I had a rough night and don’t feel like driving this morning. Are you heading into town?”

He said, “I sure am. Jump in.”

Despite feeling bad, Sophie was looking good this morning. A white summer dress always works wonders with a tan. Her relationship with Danny had cooled off since they’d got engaged. Though her friends had said this was normal after reaching such a milestone, she hoped it would revive soon.

Shama dropped her in the village and she went straight into a crisis. The Lilly River was rising in the Upper Valley, setting off alarm bells. Four years ago the Village office had been slow to heed warnings and the flood had claimed ten lives. The Authority had made the mayor and council scapegoats and removed them.

No one was taking chances this time. Geologists had been called in from the city, and old timers with personal experience of the great floods of ’43, ’68, ’89, and 2008 were consulted. Search and rescue teams stood on standby.

At lunchtime Sophie remembered the drawing. Why would someone throw away such a detailed artwork? It must have taken days of careful sketching. Then she thought, well, everything changes. Maybe they were redecorating their house and it no longer suited their scheme. There’s days when there’s just too much stuff, and you can’t even breathe till it’s sorted and gone. Maybe somebody had one of those days.

The drawing had not been casually tossed aside though. It had been properly screwed up and stuffed into garbage. Sophie opened it out on her desk. Again she felt assaulted by the detail and somehow drawn into it. It seemed alive.

She knew that good art affects you. This drawing was doing that. Maybe I’ll get it framed, she thought. She went to the local art shop, which also offered a framing service. The owner priced it up. “It’s three feet by four, that’s twelve square feet at thirty dollars a foot – so that’s three hundred and sixty dollars.”

“Three hundred and sixty?” said Sophie. “Really? I didn’t think it would be that much.”

“It’s a specialist job. It if was three feet square, I could sell you a standard frame for a hundred dollars.” The owner gave her a mean look. “Why support local artisans when you can support factory workers in China?”

What a stupid comment, thought Sophie. She’s offering Chinese products in her shop. No one is making her do that. There was no question though. “Why don’t you crop the picture for me, and I’ll take the hundred dollar frame.”

The woman sliced a one foot strip off the end, and fitted the drawing in the hundred dollar frame. “There,” she said. “How does that look?”

“It looks good,” said Sophie, thinking that it looked different somehow.

It seemed darker and quieter.

She didn’t know that the slicing of the city had caused agony for suburbans, who had suddenly lost all power and communications. Huge fault-lines had appeared. Disaster recovery teams had been despatched to patch up the broken edges of the city.

Discarded

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on August 12, 2012 by javedbabar

Naomi and her uncle Bobby were lost in their own drawing. What had started out as a bit of fun together had become a serious business. They had created a village, extracted resources and developed technologies, expanded it into a city with a vibrant creative economy, allowed it to become a totalitarian city-state undermined by revolution, but too late to stop a nuclear war, and their world’s ultimate evolution was into a black and white digital territory. Naomi’s mum coming home early, screwing up the drawing and throwing it away, had been a setback, as Naomi and Bobby were now trapped within it.

Naomi’s mum assumed that her brother had taken Naomi on a surprise adventure, like he often did, and they’d be back tomorrow. He was a good uncle.

The black garbage bag sat outside that night, leaking aromas of old dinners. The most prominent smell was from Bobby’s famous lemon chicken, a dish that he was very proud of but which failed to impress most others. They all said it was wonderful that he’d made his lemon sauce from scratch without using a recipe, and then scraped away half their plateful when he wasn’t looking. Naomi had done the same.

Local coyotes however had fewer issues with lemon chicken. They came soon after dusk and ripped the bag apart. They devoured the chicken, even licked up lemon sauce, and left a mess of onion peels, garlic skins, wasted rice, and eggshells mixed with plastic and paper.

Naomi and Bobby’s drawing was curiously unspoiled. It had taken only a light hit of lemon chicken, and wasn’t soggy. It had flown out of the bag along with everything else, and now caught the wind and rolled into the road. What strange tumbleweed, containing a whole world.

Sophie was driving her Toyota too fast down the Lucerne Valley Road. She saw a torn garbage bag sitting by the verge. How stupid, she thought, people really should know better – putting out stuff that was sure to attract bears.

Something white came towards her, causing her to panic. Was it a seagull swooping down? It was pretty far from the lake. Maybe a ball of cottonwood seeds?

The drawing hit her windscreen and became tangled in a wiper. Sophie screeched to a halt. There was something scary about the image before her. Its detail assaulted her and she felt drawn in. She couldn’t make out the forms but it seemed like a city plan. There were brief snatches of grinding sounds and sirens, and wafts of singeing and decay.

Sophie thought, I really did drink too much last night. And from now on, no more disaster movies. I can’t believe that they’re affecting my alertness the next day! Maybe I’ll park here and hitch into town. I don’t trust my reflexes this morning.

She was intrigued by the drawing though. She grabbed it from the windscreen and stuffed it in her bag.

New World

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by javedbabar

“It’s time for dinner, sweetie,” said Bobby. When there was no response, he said loudly, “It’s time for dinner Naomi. Your mom is coming in half an hour and I’ll get into trouble for not feeding you.” There was still no response. “Naomi, can you please come into the kitchen?”

Bobby found her sitting on the floor of the lounge, still drawing. They’d been drawing together all day – starting with a jungle, which they’d erased to make a village, which grew into a city that was in danger of destruction by strange black spots, which seemed to be bombs. Naomi had averted war by entering the drawing and somehow defusing, and not diffusing, the bombs. But she needed to stop drawing now to avert another war between him and his sister, who would say that he was an irresponsible uncle for not feeding his niece.

“Naomi!” he said sharply. “I’ve been calling you for ages. Why haven’t you come for dinner?” He softened his tone. “It’s your favourite – rainbow roast.”

She was rushing to finish the drawing; to colour the world that she had just saved; to make it cheerful. The botanical gardens at the edge of the City were lovely already, filled with exotic, strong-smelling blooms, but a large bed of flowers still required shading. She was blitzing those blooms in red, blue, purple, tangerine, and gold.

“Naomi!” he called again.

His niece’s hand jolted and knocked a glass of water that she’d been using to dip her pencils, whose colour acquired a special consistency when wet; their shades became softer and richer, and according to Naomi, “lovelilicious.” These were special fat pencils, natural wood coloured, with only their leads indicating their colours. They had been given to her by an old man called Dada who she met in the park, walking his black and white wolves who he said were “the best pets possible”.

Some water spilled from the glass onto the drawing. Nothing too serious, but when Naomi tried to wipe it off, she knocked and spilled the whole glassful. The drawing didn’t smudge but its colours faded and disappeared. The bright botanical gardens suddenly became a black and white world.

Naomi called out, “Uncle Bobby! What shall I do? The colours are disappearing!”

Bobby rushed towards the drawing and helped her brush off the water, but it was too late. What had been a beautifully drawn and shaded city, filled with golden marble temples, red brick houses, verdant parks, with a turquoise river snaking through its middle, was now composed of hard lines, like a gothic graphic novel, with no shading at all.

Bobby’s attention returned to the room. He realized that Naomi was missing, and wondered if she’d slipped into the drawing again, like she’d done when it was jungle, and periodically during its development. She had been easy to find in the rainforest, which, despite its dense vegetation, was still and quiet; it was easy to spot leaves wobbling. It had also been easy to find her in the village, for it had only one main square and one main road, and she was generally somewhere along it. But she was impossible to find in the city, a vast anonymous place, even more so without colour. In a sense the essence of the city was now revealed – soulless monochrome.

He’d better go and find her. Her mother was due in half an hour. Boy, he’d be in trouble if she wasn’t washed and brushed and fed – and most importantly – here!

Bobby pushed aside some lines in the drawing. They had a consistency like heavy pasta and moved easily enough. In places they were tangled, and needed to be pulled apart. Thin lines could be hauled in and reused, and made into pathways, and climbing ropes, to reach tricky vantage points from where to look out for his niece. Then he remembered that he had a pen in his pocket, and could draw his own lines too.

He wrote her name to attract her – first as graffiti, and then in a speech bubble. Where was that girl! He had a bright idea – why didn’t he call her using his smartphone? Signals would travel as lines along every possible pathway until they found her phone.

This was a big mistake. The phone’s electrical signal transformed the drawing’s analogue world into a digital world. It moved from a spectrum of possibilities to duality. One and zero. Binary code. Bobby and Naomi were just numbers now. In the distance Bobby heard black and white wolves howling.

Naomi’s mom knocked on the door but no one answered. “Naomi?” she called out. “Bobby?” But there was no one there. Where had they gone? she wondered. She’d told Bobby she would be back at eight to pick up her daughter. She saw a notebook sitting on the table. What great drawings, she thought. The wet paper on top would ruin the other pages though. She tore it out, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it into the garbage.

Naomi and Bobby felt a sudden wrench. They were now trapped in their monochrome world. “Let’s built a shelter,” said Bobby. “I think we’ll need it.”