The Great Staircase

short story, digital collages

The absurd short story The Great Staircase (below) and a set of digital collages The Unicorn, The Birth of Man, The Dictator - the Equestrian Monument, The Big Colon(el), responds to human history marked by a struggle for power and prestige. Religion was a very useful tool in this struggle to control a wide mass of simple people. As a reward for obedience, the idea of paradise or a utopian vision of a better world was offered. Dictators of the 20th century often used utopian ideas for propaganda to rise to absolutist power.

The Big Colon(el): The large intestine is inhabited by millions of microbes, which fundamentally affect the proper functioning of the whole organism. In this case, it is filled with harmful bacteria - the names of 20th century dictators who have caused, or are still causing, cancer in certain societies. The list includes the names of the presidents and generals of Europe, Africa, Asia and America, who have taken absolute power and violated human rights. The list is not exhaustive.

Dictator - equestrian monument is a reflection of monuments built in public space as part of power and political propaganda. Instead of the horse's back, the dictator is placed on the human back, which more accurately expresses the true nature of power.


When I was little, I used to play with monkeys. They felt almost human to me. They would take their heads off their shoulders to build stairs that they could use to reach the tops of the trees with ease. My monkeys had never met a dinosaur. They thought that they were mountains moving along magnetic field lines. They plotted these movements carefully in diagrams and determined the rules, ruling out any exceptions. They also recorded other things, like the movements of celestial objects. Because the objects were in the sky, they attributed a spiritual significance to them. Every night they would offer sacrifices to them, and this helped them to get rid of any unwelcome clan members. The sacrifice gave them the confidence that the vast celestial vault with all its flashing trumpery would not come crashing down upon their heads.

The monkeys and I understood each other very well. We never argued but we would make up games together. One of these games was the one we called A Game About a Mole. The aim of the game was to find out who could dig the deepest. If you came across a mole during your exertions, you could do whatever you wanted with it. Sometimes there was a party. Everyone who was liked by the others was invited to the feast, and therefore attending the feast was a good sign that you had not yet fallen out of favour. If someone was popular with many of the monkeys at the same time, they received an award. This could be a certificate written in calligraphy or it could be a metal plate. The plate was more popular because it did not get wet in the rain. I never received the award. This was due to the fact that I was different, and the monkeys never fully accepted me. In the beginning I was sad about his, but I soon got used to it. It was still better than contributing my own head to the building of the Grand Staircase. A new ambition was announced: the building of a staircase to heaven. The sooner this goal was achieved, the sooner everyone, or at least some of them, would be able to reach the space satellites. One of the satellites was thought to be the gateway to paradise.

In paradise, everything is different. The floors are made from soft clouds that tickle your feet. Thanks to the reduced gravity, you can bounce on them like on a trampoline. It is incredible fun. When you jump up, you can tear off something from the large collection of canned food hanging on clotheslines. Clothes never hang from these lines because there is no need for them. The locals are naked, dressed only in light tubes connected to Christmas lights. They greet each other by sticking out their penises and blinking their right eye. They only have one visible eye. The other is turned inwards. Although they are omniscient, they have no interest whatsoever in what is happening on Earth. Why should they?

They focused all of their efforts on the colonisation of Antimatter. When they enter Antimatter, they take off their light tubes and turn both eyes inwards. It is hot and slippery inside Antimatter. The space is filled with sticky phosphorus mucus. So far, they have not managed to create a reformed paradise garden there. All of their ingenious plans have failed so far. The geometrically harmonious floor plans all melted after the excavation, not to mention the mucus sticking to the skin. That is when the question arose of what to do with the Unicorn. How will he be able gallop with all the mucus on his hooves??? With the rainbow, things looked a bit more promising - although it was difficult to maintain the prescribed arched shape, it successfully fractalized across several dimensions. Ultimately it was decided that the Unicorn would not be needed in the reformed paradise. If the worst came to the worst, they could always give him to the monkeys. The risk was that the monkeys would learn how to saddle him during the laser wars. The monkeys have a complicated nature, and it is difficult to negotiate with them. They were always coming up with new tricks.

The Terrestrials told themselves that the indifference of the Celestials towards them was a result of their highborn nobility. They cut down an entire forest to build a celebratory monument to them. The monument was magnificent, decorated with metal plates around its perimeter. Despite the general enthusiasm, an unknown assailant appeared and set it on fire. This provoked general outrage and calls for bloody revenge. Another forest was felled to build gallows. Some were in the shape of a cross or a guillotine. They crucified all those who disagreed and appropriated their telepathic portable devices and titanium dentures.

The Celestials viewed these events with disinterest. They did not want to interfere, but on the other hand they hoped that the Terrestrials would actively eliminate themself. The project of a reformed paradise could thus be transferred from Antimatter to Earth. They were tired of the endless modification of mucous terraced fields.

Meanwhile, the monkeys were working hard to build the Grand Staircase. I was following their progress from a distance because I was very busy at the time. I was involved in the resistance. There were too many heads rolling down the hillsides. As part of the resistance, we planted carnivorous flowers that cleaned up the environment naturally. The main principle was to stop the planting of trees that could evoke the desire to build new monuments.

This was also a period in which I was excessively wasteful. I wore a different gas mask every day. My favourite one had a laser-inscribed star over the filter. This sign allowed me to enter otherwise inaccessible places, and one time I was even able to visit the Queen. The visit was preceded by a rigorous physical examination, during which the soldiers cut my hair and tore my nails. The Queen's chamber was a high, circular room with a ribbed central pillar. The servants cowered along the walls, adjusting the Queen's dress with her every movement so that the fabric constantly covered the entire room. Her figure was imposing, hovering under a crystal chandelier. Nevertheless, it was evident that she was of short stature, gliding above the floor on antigravity feet. After long hours of waiting, she ordered me to stop planting carnivorous plants and to fetch her a rainbow Unicorn tout suite.

This was by no means an easy assignment. The Unicorn was still part of the reformed paradise garden plan. Therefore, I decided to consult with the Commander-in-Chief, who was said to be an extremely charismatic person. Everyone respected him and the Terrestrials held ceremonial processions in his honour. The entrance to his office building was extremely impressive. After being checked with a three-dimensional scanner, four armoured doors opened automatically, and I entered a space that resembled a luxuriously furnished living room. In the room, a gloomy colon was sitting on the sofa. In front of him was a colourful glockenspiel on which he wearily tapped out the melody to a military march. From time to time, he nodded along with the melody and whistled through his anus. As soon as he noticed me, he crumpled up his oval body and spat out lumps of chocolate pudding. A neon sign on the opposite wall caught my eye: the Generalissimo is always right. I thanked him politely and backed out of the room.

But from that time onwards, I no longer felt safe. The order to bring the Unicorn to the Queen robbed me of my sleep. I started to hear the rumours about a group of secret police who were taking large numbers of Terrestrials to an unknown location day after day. I inspected all the corners of the apartment in an effort to find an escape route, but the asbestos floor was connected smoothly with the asbestos wall. In the end, I decided to get away. Using Morse code, I contacted a friendly monkey who advised me how to find a new hiding place. In the middle of the night, she led me blindfold to the concrete bunker under the Grand Staircase. Over time, she brought me a blanket, some canned meat, and a few items of stationery.