The House of Escher


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I arrived unannounced. The Alchemist’s house was dark and crowded with ornaments. “Tools” the man corrected as we entered deeper into the mansion. As I sat in my new room I marveled at this incredible opportunity. The Stone was now within my reach. After a few hours of unpacking I left my quarters and walked the long hallways of the Alchemist’s abode. Suns, moons, stars, and a snake chasing its own tail garnished the inexplicably tall walls. The Alchemist’s helper caught a glimpse of me. “This house is the belly of the snake,” he said. “Then, is the house the snake?” I asked. “No, no, you are” he smiled. He showed me the different rooms of the house and explained how some of the strange tools worked. “How do you use these to turn metals into gold?” I questioned. He looked at me puzzled and laughed. “Metals? You’ve got it all wrong”.
I noticed that the doors and the ceiling seemed to change shape and size as we explored the mansion. “You will get used to it, however, know that they are always the same shape”.
After dinner, the Alchemist’s helper took me to the main laboratory. The lab was a gigantic golden room with a white stairway that broke into two different paths going left and right. “Where are all the tools?” I asked. “This stairway is the only tool you will need to find the Stone. Go ahead”. I walked up the stairs, I counted nineteen steps. I arrived at the bifurcation. I chose the right path. After climbing nineteen more steps I arrived at another division, left and right. I chose left. Again, after nineteen steps I ended up in a bifurcation. I repeated this process multiple times, left, right, right, left, right, right. Looking back, I realized that I had only ascended the first nineteen steps ascending to the initial division. “They are infinite, however, there is an end to them” the young helper said. “There is one correct combination of lefts and rights that will show you the Philosopher’s Stone”. My eyes were fixed on the mysterious stairs and their infinity. “What is the combination?” I asked hopelessly. “I don’t know” the helper said. “I’ve been looking for it for more than sixty years”. I scoffed and told him he did not look a year older than twenty. After all, he was barely older than me. “There is no time on these stairs, it’s just you chasing your own tail”.
The terror of limitless eternity filled my limited soul. I sat on the stairway, regretting my decision to come to this house to become an alchemist. The young man looked at me with a hint of pity in his eyes. “The Alchemist knows the right combination; he already has a Stone”. Incredible... I marveled. I imagined myself using the Stone to turn anything into precious, golden beauty. “I can’t wait to see him use it” I whispered. The helper chuckled as he shook his head. “You really don’t get it, don’t you?”
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