The traveller, looking for Indonesian curios in Java, discovers Jl Surabaya.
Found somewhere amongst Jakarta’s gargantuan sprawl, the street suddenly materialises should a suitable visitor approach. When a secret needs to be shared so too does the Flea Market reveal itself.
Any occult significance is lost on the traveller. The mood is furtive, eye-contact rare. Proprietors’ smiles are welcoming but their gaze tells a different story; the traveller does not comprehend the warning signs.
‘It’s already too late,’ they hear, a distant whine receding on the wind. The world has become opaque; the subsequent loss of perspective startles the traveller. Confused and discombobulated, they stumble down the rapidly darkening road, terrified by the clack of their footsteps.
One by one, the judicious shadow puppets of Jl Surabaya divine and share the traveller’s secrets in their ghastly sing-song voices. These homunculi, housed in countless stalls, wield total dominion and an unseen power, as strong as gravity, forces the traveller to their knees. The time for judgement is at hand.
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It appears first as a whisper. Words no longer have any meaning for the traveller; their previous life was lost as soon as the road chose them. But sounds have taken on new, bold intelligence. The voices have grown louder, their message sharper, their intent bleaker. Echoes attack the traveller unrelentingly as they feel themselves unravelling. The maelstrom stretches into eternity, but the traveller has long since been rendered incapable of reaction. Their cold, uncomprehending eyes stay locked on the puppets as reality bends back into shape.
Jl Surabaya keeps Jakarta’s deepest secrets. Another traveller, having found the street, compliments a stall’s owner on their recent addition; the curiously lifelike form fascinates the passer-by, hypnotising them with its apparent attitude of pleading desperation. The newcomer shakes their head as if to clear away an unwanted thought; the puppet’s bulging eyes and fearful countenance were surely a trick of the light. ‘You get what you come for,’ mutters the proprietor with barely concealed glee. The cycle has begun again.