AUTHORS NOTE: The music store in town is filled with beautiful and grotesque landscapes. Like all places of business, the area meant for customers is well-represented. Like all places in Fairbanks, even a slight detour off the intended route reveals a universe of frostbitten and inoperable doors, heaps of unidentifiable objects, abandoned schemes, and other scenes not fit for public consumption. This is a narrative on exploring one such location.

I. At Home In Space (One Note From Every Instrument)

Enter the Music Mart of Fairbanks. Brush the snow off your coat and have a look. Marvel at the sheen of the instruments on display. Check your hair in their luster. Hear the sounds of classic rock playing at decibels beneath it’s majesty, and know that it has been selected by one of 3 men who work at the store, between the ages of 42 and 55, their hair approximately 18 inches long. Feel as though the store reflects what you’ve come to know about a musical instrument retailer. Play one note on every instrument until the guitar jockeys appear annoyed:

 

II. What Planet Are We?

 

Notice four staircase, one up, three down. Disregard the “private” sign and descend downward, carefully planning your route down the uneven, old staircase. Land on the lunar expanse at the bottom of the flight. Note the very low ceiling, the dim lights, at sense that no one has set foot here in 30 years. Protect yourself from low-slung lights, vents, stalactites, and frayed wires. Step carefully over a minefield of unidentifiable instrument cadavers. See a stack of tubas in the corner. Break the news to them, somehow, that they will not likely sing songs in their lifetimes.

 

III. Door-Warping In the 5th Dimension

 

Grasp the handles of the ashtray-colored doors. Estimate that, from the look of their dire warping from time and the cold, they are unlikely to reveal further reaches of this dreamland. Confirm your suspicion as one after the other remain stubbornly incongruous with their frames. Peak around the ill-fitting dimensions, hoping to see what trash or treasures are hermitically sealed away. Fail in this endeavor.

 

IV. !!! (???)

 

See strange cave-formations of unfinished rooms, things that resemble kitchens or old living rooms and speculate about the creatures that lived here before and what calamity might have caused their exodus. Find the great bones of a full-grown piano in a small recessed section. Tap lightly upon it, hearing the melancholy dissonance of it’s ribs.

 

V. The Shadow Heart

 

Notice a light flickering in the distance. Go to it. See the door, intermittently illuminated, and press upon it. Feel it bend and resist before finally fitfully submitting under the pressure. See the mouth of a tunnel of stone and permafrost descending further into the earth. Pull out your flashlight and see the photons struggle and wither away as they move down into the rough darkness. Consider if you should call your mom or someone. Like how the light catches on the angular, frosted contours of the tunnel. Carefully step into the tunnel, steadying yourself on the wall. Pull back when your hand gets a shock of cold.

 

VI. (Finale)

 

Walk into the downward sloping tunnel, seeing your breath leave your mouth. Walk for several minutes, puzzling over how unchanging the tunnel is. Wonder how far below Fairbanks you are. Consider how far you’re willing to descend. Turn and realize that there is no visible light in neither direction. Mumble “oh shit” to yourself, and recall your anxiety about being in underground frozen caves in music store basements. Begin to walk quickly in the other direction. Feel like, after 10 minutes of walking, you should have reached the basement of the store by now. Begin to worry. Check your phone and wave it around trying to get service. See the light finally grow in the distance and feel relief wash over you. Climb out of the tunnel, collect your scattered thoughts, move your hands over your chest and legs marveling at your intactness, traverse the lunar basement, and ascend the stairs to the long-hair rockers. Ask them about the tunnel. Get kind of annoyed that they seem to cavalier about a bottomless bit in the basement and just say, “I don’t know man, it’s a tunnel.”

 

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