I am awake.
My eyes remain shut. I could open them but I choose to lie here in this perfectly comfortable position for just a little longer. I smell grass and clean air. A cool breeze brushes at my face and toes. I know not where I am, but I do believe I have just arrived. I have arrived while asleep. I have arrived as I am now. This is not how one ought to arrive at a new place.
A shadow blocks the light, and I finally open my eyes. A cloud. Just a cloud in front of the sun. Sitting up, I take in the stunning mountain vista the surrounds me. I’m in a meadow. There is an outcropping of rock nearby, and a little further on, a drop off to the valley below. On the other side, mountains march to the horizon, growing taller and snowier as they go.
I feel about me for my things. I don’t have many things. I have my clothes and I have myself. And my journal.
Oh yeah, the journal. I flip through, I reacquaint myself. This is not the desert of the wrought iron music staves. This is nothing like that place. This is no longer a surprise.
Last time… we definitely shared a moment, She and Me. I’m no longer fearful or disturbed by this strange life I lead. I know that, no matter what, She is always not far away and that comforts me immensely. I stand, and stretch my limbs, screaming primally as I do so. It feels good to be alive. It crosses my mind that I have not yet determined that that is what I am, but with no other explanation forthcoming, it’s a reasonable and comforting one from which to proceed and so I shall write it again.
It feels good to be alive.
The mountain air fills my lungs and though it’s cool, I feel no chill. The sun emerges from the clouds and the landscape is lit again. I say lit, but I must be precise. The sun is not bright and yellow as I have come to expect. It is blue. It throws light, but the blueness makes it seem dim, cold. It is neither but such is the nature of blue. Why the sun is blue, I cannot fathom. Perhaps this is not the planet on which I was born. I would not be surprised by that in the slightest, given what I’ve seen.
Sitting in one spot seems to be equally as good a plan as heading out on a walk, and so I go for a walk. To stretch my legs seems like a sound course of action.
As I approach the outcropping of rock, I stop. Something has changed. I felt it? No, that’s not right, but something has changed. I look into the sky and though the clouds are now heading off behind me leaving clear skies, there is… I can’t say. It was there but it wasn’t. Something in the sky. I decide to pay it no heed, regardless of its existence. If it is important, if it matters, it will make itself known. If it is not, it will not. I was walking.
I turn the corner of the rock outcropping and am brought to a halt.
She is here.
She doesn’t smile. She doesn’t frown. But nor does She look through Me. She sees Me. I bite my lip. She twitches her head to her right, and starts walking. I follow. I am obedient. How could I not be?
As we reach the cliff edge, I see that, though steep, there is a passable path down the face and into the valley. It looks rocky, which my bare feet will be unhappy about, but nothing can be done about that.
As the rocks first dig into the flesh of my feet and I wince, I glance at the feet of She. She wears lofty platform heels. Surely these are no more appropriate footwear for this terrain than my bare feet are. Surely She’s going to break an ankle, or worse, stumble and fall all the way to the bottom of the valley. But as I watch, She walks as easily as if She were on a sidewalk in any metropolis on any world. She looks back at me, as I’ve fallen behind. She smirks, then continues on her way. I grit my teeth and try to keep up.
There are no birds here. Apart from my own heavy breathing and the occasional dislodged rock tumbling along the path, only the wind across my ears makes a sound.
At length, I arrive at the bottom of the valley. Here there is a lush forest. Leaning against a tree, She waits for me. As I approach, hoping for a moment’s rest, she gestures onward with her head and walks deeper into the forest. I cannot but follow. But the walk is short and we soon arrive at a small lake. The water is clear. It reflects the blue sunlight that filters down into the clearing. Glancing up, I can’t help but notice that there is now something in the sky, definitely. Something approaching. It doesn’t matter. I step into the lake, just up to my ankles, and feel the cool waters soothe my sore, banged-up feet.
I hear a sigh. She shakes her head at me, and then She, too, walks into the lake.
I say into.
I mean onto.
She walks across the top of the lake, her heels just barely brushing the water. I know not how she does this. I know not what this could mean. I can only watch. Soon, she turns back to me.
Should you go on a voyage, She sings, let’s go together. But when you feel close to your goal, She sings, don’t you realize you’re nowhere near it? The days until then are endless, stretching on forever. I feel this is particularly pointed at me.
If you need to rest your weary wings, She sings, go ahead. I’ll be here. Do you believe in the single photon travelling through our shared light cone, the photon that is us? Or do you fear the oncoming darkness, She sings.
For the darkness does come. And to not fear it is to be foolish. Can belief in our shared destiny overcome the fear? Who can say?
The people who need you, She sings, are forever alone. The people who need you, She sings, are forever laughing by your side.
You can rest your weary wings in the lake with me, She sings, and though the story of us is full of unease, it is also full of hope.
Believe in the photon.
Perceive the light cone.
She stops. She throws her head back and raises her arms to the sky. I follow her gesturing arms.
In the sky, floating like sinister party balloons are multi-coloured spheres of varying sizes. Some seem quite small, the size of a basketball. Some seem as large as a house. They are falling, slowly. They are everywhere. They are falling faster now. They are nearly here. I run towards where She stands on the lake. The water is deeper than I thought, and soon I am swimming and cannot feel the bottom. She remains reaching skyward. The balls are closer, closer.
They are here.
One not much larger than She lands directly on her. It obscures my view. It lifts away from the surface, and She is gone.
The sphere has taken She.
Perhaps She has become the sphere.
She is all the spheres.
I continue to swim but I’m so tired and I have trouble keeping my head above water. I sink.
There, under the water, waiting for me, is another sphere. I scream into the water. The sphere takes me.