Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


People know of the sphinxes. It’d be idiotic to believe otherwise. But some people insist that since no one talked about them, or since no one visited them, they didn't know they were there.

Buncha idiots, you ask me.

The sphinxes, and I know they have names, but they elude me for the time being, mark the borders of our fair city. “But, Toman,” I hear you say. “They're so far away! How can they be the borders?”

And to that I reply, fuck you, that's how.

How our situation came to be is irrelevant. What’s relevant is the sphinxes themselves. We, as in our kind, didn’t make them. They were already there when we came along.

I’m not a historian, I don’t know how old they are. There are some who claim to know, but they claim to know a lot of stuff that can never be proven, so I take their stories with a grain of salt.

You’re not here for a history lesson though. Or maybe you are. I’m the wrong person to talk to if that’s the case though.

All I know is that the only way to go to the sphinxes is if you’re leaving town. I don’t make the rules. And I ain’t about to break them.

I’ve seen pictures of them, course. They’re in the library, free for anyone to view. Same as anything else from around here. We take care not to hide away information.

I’ve never been up there, of course. I have no care to leave town and neither does my family.

I don’t know what’s beyond the sphinxes in any specific way. I’m told there are other towns in the desert, but the nearest is still some distance away, even riding.

I’m afraid that aside from the basic things I learnt in school, I don’t know much about them. They’re made of gold, they’ve been there longer than we have, they act as a gate to our territory.

Oh yes, and no one who passes through them comes back. Whether that means they die out there or something else is a matter for speculation.

I’m sorry, I’m awfully busy, please excuse me.

Superstition? About the sphinxes? I guess so? I’ve never really thought about it to be honest. They’re not a big part of our lives. They’re just out there, you know? Doing whatever it is that statues do when no one’s watching them.

I'm not afraid of them, and I don't know that anyone is. It’s always a possibility of course, I've just never heard of it.

The schools take responsibility for teaching the little ones about the rules of this place. Where to go and so forth. The sphinxes are covered in that. There's no real need for us to go over it with them.

There are always stories about people going out there, just to see them. When you're a kid, these stories always end up with the sphinxes eating the poor soul, but when you grow up, you stop believing in nonsense.

Other stories? Like what? I dunno. I've never heard anything like that. They're a gate more than anything. You can go to the library and see them. They're not like actual creatures or anything. They're made of gold and are stuck into the mountain.

They have wings, huge wings. I guess that means they could fly, you know if they were real. No faces though. I don't know what that means.

No, no one ever comes here. We’re all there is on this side of the mountains. My friend had an uncle who left. We were kids, and his wife, my friends aunt, she killed herself when she learnt that he had gone. My friend was famous around the school for having the crazy family. Never quite got over it. Not that kind of fame.

Real? No, not at all. They're gold statues. Everyone knows that. Models? Of what?

No, I don't talk to my friend anymore. I don't even know where she lives these days, or what she’s doing. Shame, I suppose.

Oh yes, they're very old. Older than old. Most anthropologists or biologists, or whatever, claim that we, as a species, have only been around a few hundred thousand years. A long time for us, sure, but nothing compared to the planet itself. The point is, those statues? They're older. Millions of years old at least.

Oh, someone did research some time ago. The paper is available in the library, you should read it if you're this interested in the things. I found it a little dull, but it does answer a lot of the questions you're asking.

Ha ha, no. I've met no one who has passed through those gates. No one comes back from going up there. It’s the rules.

Sure. I went through the gates. More than once. They're fucking statues, aren't they? Not like they can stop you from walking underneath them. Unless they fall on you. But they're carved out of the mountain itself, aren't they? Ain’t no mountain falling down click just like that.

Gold? Don't make me laugh, boy. Course they're not made of gold. Can you imagine? A city full of thieves and liars like this and twin gold statues sitting there for the taking? You're talking madness. No no, they're rock, same as all the other statues.

Oh yes, there are others. All around this pit of a city. I don't know why, who made them or nothing like that. They're just there.

I'm a betting man, I am. I’d bet they're gods, trapped and waiting. Ha ha I'm messing with ya. They're just statues. Nothing more and nothing less. There's a whole section of the library on that. Go read.

I'm sorry about Mr Mankle. He has a tough time remembering whether or not things were dreams. He can go on, but he won’t hurt you. And I'm sure he was grateful for the conversation.

Oh, I'm afraid I know nothing about any statues.

Of course. Thank you for your visit. Please come again.