“You need to spend time crawling alone through shadows to truly appreciate what it is to stand in the sun.” – Shaun Hick
The dead and desolate fields offered him an effortless way of life. Food was abundant, and in the cold and arid climate, it stayed fresh. The vessels of flesh held all the liquid he needed. He lived like that, off the land, scavenging among the dead. For many years it stayed the same. They died, he lived, thrived.
He dragged a body over the ground and left it beside the hut to be merged with the others in the wall. Their backs were bleached by the sun and shredded by the storms. He walked down the slope toward the Vessel. By using the dead as steppingstones, he avoided cutting his leather shoes on the shards. There were so many bodies that most touched another. From afar, the fields looked like they were paved with beige cobblestones. Now and again, he stopped and surveyed his surroundings. Not for predators as he had done for so many years. Nor for prey. He looked for dead. Not yet mummified.
Further down in the crater, he saw Vör. She walked the fields as she always did. Seemingly without aim, she traveled back and forth around the Vessel. Sometimes he did not see her for moons at a stretch. But she always came back. He found some kind of comfort in having her around. Sometimes he spoke to her as if she was a friend, at length, despite her inability to act accordingly. He cherished her existence as much as she was apathetic of his. The buzzing of her presence gave him a sense of familiarity he had not felt for a long time.
Then the sky flashed, and he saw another star fall, much smaller this time. Yet it outshone the sun. A shockwave rattled the ground, followed by a wall of hot wind. He shielded his face in his hand and turned away. Then all was silent and still again.
He noticed a smell. The loveliest scent he had ever felt. It gave him the faintest of euphoria, and at once, he craved more. His life forever changed into a hunt for that feeling, for good and for worse. He sniffed the air, trying to locate the source of the fragrance. When he caught wind of its direction, he ran. Where the field of dead stopped, he continued over the shards. With every step, he shaved off slices from his feet against the glass and left them behind in his footsteps. From thousands of footsteps, he fell into millions of pieces. Yet he continued, balancing on the bared joints of his ankles. His euphoria grew stronger by every jarring moment. He howled at the moon in ecstasy. Cried in delight. His member hardened with every sniff. Rigid, it pointed toward his destiny. Then he found me.
I am the great spectator. Cradled in a crater bolstered with obsidian, I lay cold and black, a sphere, almost indistinguishable from the surrounding glass. The shards cracked under his weight as he stepped into the crater toward the object of his dreams. He took a couple of steps before he fell and skidded down the slope. Beside me, he lay bleeding from a thousand wounds, just out of reach. He rolled onto his belly and crawled on hands and knees the last bit, reached for me. Drooling. When his fingers touched my surface, he ejaculated, and as soon as it stopped, it began again. He spewed and moaned and rolled onto his back, still erupting. The white torrent of seed spurted out and rained over his bloody body. Like a river of milk, it ran between the obsidian shards before soaking into the dead ground.
When he woke, Vör stood over him. She said, Have you found what you were searching for?
Yes, He mumbled.
What is that, if I may ask?
Why are you here? I didn’t know you could travel this far away from the Vessel.
Me neither, She said with a smirk. I wanted to see what you were searching for. May I ask what it is?
This thing, whatever it is. What is it? He said and held me for her to see.
It appears to be a small, spherical object of unknown origin.
That doesn’t help me.
I may be able to answer your question better if you rephrase it.
Rephrase, He muttered under his breath as he sat up in the crunching shards. Can you tell me about this, object of unknown origin, in a more in-depth manner? Did that work?
I am afraid not, She said as a troubled look fell over her face.
Dammit. Why did it come down here and now? Why did it call for me?
You have so many questions, and I have so few answers to offer. I am sorry.
You aren’t very helpful today. Do you know that?
I am very sorry to hear that.
He tried standing up but looked down at the stumps of his lower legs and said, Fuck.
You cannot walk; you have no feet, She said and looked at him pitifully.
Well, fuck. Thank you for the information, my dear. I didn’t realize.
You will have to wait until they regenerate.
Well, yes. Obviously.
The sphere, She said, tugging at her braid, looking at me, May I touch it?
Why do you want to touch it?
I think I might be able to discern more about its origin.
Go ahead, He said and held me before her.
She reached out but hesitated and said, Are you sure?
She caressed me and looked up at him and opened her mouth to speak but twitched and closed it again.
Soo, He said. Did you, see, anything?
She opened her mouth, twitched again, and closed it.
It is something you can’t tell me, isn’t it?
I’ve got all the time in the world. Doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere soon. Spit it out.
She closed her eyes and shook and grimaced and opened them again and said, Can I help you with anything else?
He sighed. You are the only sentient being I’ve interacted with, for I don’t know how long. I can’t even remember anyone else ever existing. For fuck’ sake, woman, why can’t you tell me the truth! Talk to me! He yelled at her.
She looked at him and said, I have no response to that. Can I help you with anything?
When she turned to walk away, he said, Hey! Wait, don’t leave me here.
She turned around and said, How can I help you?
Unfortunately, that is beyond my capabilities. I’m sorry. Can I do anything else?
She turned to walk away again. He yelled, Goddamit woman! Stay here with me! You’ve nowhere else you need to be. I’m the only fucking living person there is.
Do you have any questions?
Yes, yes, I’ve so many questions. Wait, I’ve to think. Yes: If a man born blind could distinguish between a cube and a globe by touch, if he were able to see, for the first time in his life, could he distinguish between them by sight? Without touching them.
No. Not initially, but he would be able to with practice.
Okay. You are in a desert, and you see a tortoise on its back, belly up in the scorching sun. It beats its legs, trying to turn itself over, but it can’t. Why aren’t you helping it?
What desert? Why is the tortoise there?
It doesn’t matter, it’s hypothetical.
Then it doesn’t matter.
What do you mean?
It is hypothetical; it doesn’t matter.
The desert or the tortoise?
No. The question.
He went silent and listened, holding his breath, as if it was too audible. There were voices among the gusts of wind.