- She saw something vast.
- It wasn’t big in the sense that the trees or even the mountains were big. It was big in the way that transcended what she could even see or feel. It was like seeing something bigger than the whole wide planet, except more – this thing that was too large to comprehend to start with, it extended. She didn’t have a better word to describe what she was perceiving. It was as though there were mirror images of it, but each image existed in the same place, some moving differently, and sometimes, very rarely, one image came in contact with with something that the others didn’t. Each of the images was as real and concrete as the others. And this made it big in a way that she couldn’t describe if she were a hundred year old scholar or philosopher with access to the best libraries in the world.
- And it was alive. A living thing.
- She knew without having to think about it, each of those echoes or extensions of the entity was as much a part of a connected whole as her hand or nose was to her. Each was something this living entity was aware of, controlled and moved with intent and purpose. As though it existed and extended into those possible selves all at once.
- It’s dying, she thought. The outermost extensions of the creature were flaking off and breaking into fragments as it swam through an emptiness without air, not moving but sinuously adjusting its self through the existences that held the echoes, shrinking away here and swelling there, carrying itself away at a speed that outpaced light. In its wake, flakes and fragments sloughed off of the entity like seeds from an impossibly large karahindiba, or dandelion, in a steady wind. Seeds more numerous than all the specks of dirt across all the Earth.
- One of those fragments seemed to grow, getting bigger, larger, looming in her consciousness until it was all she could perceive, as though the moon was falling, colliding with the earth. Falling directly on top of her.
- Could be worse. I set my balance and readied to strike with my knives, waiting until he closed in and-
- And I was somewhere else. It was like remembering something profound that I’d forgotten. I’d seen this before.
- Huge creatures filled my perception.
- It was hard to say how I knew they were two different creatures, when each of them existed in multiple parallel spaces all at once. Countless mirror moved in sync with one another, each occupying the same space, just as solid as the others, differing in how they moved and the worlds they interacted with. Each of them folded, unfolded, expanded and shifted without taking more or less space. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, even as I felt there was something like a pattern there.
- Some distant part of me realized I’d seen something similar to that folding and unfolding once, in a much simpler form. A tesseract, a fourth dimensional analogue to the cube. The difference was that while the cube had six flat faces, each ‘side’ of the tesseract had six cubes, each connected to the others another at each corner. To perceptions attuned to three dimensions, it seemed to constantly shift, each side folding or reshaping so that they could all simultaneously be perfect cubes, and each ‘side’ was simultaneously the center cube from which all the others extended outward.
- The primary difference between these things and the tesseract was that these beings I was looking at were alive, and they weren’t simple models I was viewing on a computer screen. They were living entities, lifeforms. There wasn’t anything I could relate to any biology I knew or understood, nothing even remotely recognizable, but they were undoubtedly alive. They were enigmas of organs that were also limbs and also the exteriors of the creatures, each simultaneously some aspect of the entity as it flowed through empty space. It didn’t help that the things were the size of small planets, and the scope of my perceptions was so small. It helped even less that parts of them seemed to move in and out of the other dimensions or realities where the mirror images were.
- The pair moved in sync, spiraling around one another in what I realized was a double helix. Each revolution brought them further and further apart. Innumerable motes drifted from their bodies as they moved, leaving thick trails of shed tissues or energies painting the void of empty space in the wake of their spiraling dance, as though they were made of a vast quantity of sand and they were flying against a gale force headwind.
- When they were too far away to see one another, they communicated, and each message was enormous and violent in scope, expressed with the energy of a star going supernova. One ‘word’, one idea, for each message.
- Destination. Agreement. Trajectory. Agreement.
- They would meet again at the same place. At a set time, they would cease to expand their revolution and contract once again, until they drew together to arrive at their meeting place.
- The pain didn’t stop, but she felt disconnected from it, now. She was calmer, focused. She felt as though she were adrift in a vast, empty space, aware of every part of her body, the wholeness of it, and nothing else.
- An incoherent image flickered across her mind. A landscape of twisted biological shapes that seemed to alter with every passing second, changing into something completely different. An archway of bony growths disconnected and became a bridge over a crevasse. Then a hill. Yet it all seemed to change with logic. It was just a logic she couldn’t comprehend.
- The ground split. Chasms tore into the surface, dividing it, and-
- Another image. Earth. It was as though she was looking at everyone’s face and every object and every living thing on the planet at once, from every angle, but then she was looking at a different everyone and everything, then another. It dawned on her that it wasn’t her doing the looking. She was a bystander. Before she could realize what this other was looking for, the scene changed again.
- Utter blackness and silence. It was only in this stillness and quiet that Jamie realized there was an undercurrent. An impression. She hesitated to call it an emotion.
- Reaching. It was the only word she could use to place it, and it didn’t quite fit. It was an action that was simultaneously frustrated and frustrating.
- The pain cleared away so quickly she thought she might have imagined it.
- I could feel my heart pounding, pounding, then stop. The pain was gone. I was gone too. I had no body, only perception.
- The scene was familiar. At the same time, I couldn’t have said what happened next. It was like a book I’d read years ago and promptly forgotten, too strange to commit to memory.
- Two beings spiraled through an airless void, past suns, stars and moons. They rode the ebbs and flows of gravity, ate ambient radiation and light and drew on other things I couldn’t perceive. They slipped portions of themselves in and out of reality to reshape themselves. Push further into this reality to ride the pull of one planet, shift into another to ride that slingshot momentum, or to find some other source of momentum elsewhere. Ten thousand thousands of each of the two entities existed simultaneously, complemented each other, drew each other forward. They shrugged off even the physical laws that limited the movement of light, moving faster with every instant. The only thing that slowed them was their own desire to stay close, to keep each other in sight and match their speeds. Yet somehow this movement was graceful, fluid, beautiful even. Two impossible creatures moving in absolute harmony with the universe, leaving a trail of essence in their wakes.
- I focused on one of them, and I got the sensation that this wasn’t a scene I’d seen before.
- I could see what it saw. It was looking forward, but not in distance. Ten thousand pictures at once. Seeing situations where it arrived at its final destination. Earth. The farther forward it looked, the broader the possibilities. It was looking for something. Paring away the branches where the possibilities were few. An Earth in a perpetual winter. An Earth with a population of hundreds. An earth with a population of more than twelve billion, that had stalled culturally, a modern dark age with a singular religion.
- And it communicated with its partner. Signals transmitted not through noise, but wavelengths transmitted across the most fundamental forces of the universe. In the same way, it received information, it worked with its partner to decide the destination.
- It viewed a world, one point in time in the present, and in a heartbeat, it took in trillions of images. Billions of individuals, viewed separately and as a tableau. Innumerable scenes, landscapes, fragments of text, even ideas. In that one heartbeat, I saw people who were somehow familiar. A young man, a teenager, out of place among his peers, men who were burly with muscle. They were drinking. He was tan, with narrow hips, his forehead creased in worry above thick glasses, but his mouth was curled in the smallest of wry smiles over something one of the men was saying. A snapshot, an image of a moment.
- It was my world, my Earth it was looking at.
- Coming to a consensus, it transmitted a decision. Destination.
- The reply was almost immediate. Agreement.
- More signals passed between them, blatant and subtle. A melding of minds, a sharing of ideas, as intimate as anything I’d seen. They continued to communicate, focusing on that one world, on the possible futures that could unfold, committing to none, but explored the possibilities that lay before them.
- They broke apart, the two massive beings that spiralled together, and I gradually lost my glimpse into what they were thinking, what they were communicating. Whatever view they’d had of the future, they were losing it. It was too much to pick through on their own.
- Where have I seen this before? I thought.
- Some of the others departed early. Others were readied to depart soon after arrival. Still others, this one included, were to wait.
- They were one, they were all. A collective, a single entity, a trillion times a trillion entities. Each with a function in the whole, each with a role in the cycles, each with an individual identity.
- As one, they traveled. The distance was immeasurable, the passage of time impossible to convey. There was no standard, for there were realms they had traveled where time and space operated on different levels.
- For all, their own kind was the only standard, the only thing that remained relatively static through the cycles. When they met their own kind they shared with each other. When a new cycle was carried out, everything of the parent was borne by their spawn.
- And the collective moved toward their destination. They operated as a whole to decipher it, to pick apart the permutations, see the futures and the possibilities.
- But for this one entity, which existed as part of the whole, there was a target within that destination. When it came time for this one to depart, it would seek out a particular individual, and it would bond with that individual. This one would fragment itself if others met the criteria; if there was time and opportunity enough then it would move to better candidates, younger or more able ones with a greater ability to affect the cycle. This one would wait until the time was right, and then it would activate, come into the identity and role that had been ingrained into its being.
- All to serve this cycle.
- With the help of the collective, this one could see its objective. A single living being. This one encoded that being, the time and place in its very makeup. It would be ready.
a guest May 12th, 2013 599 Never
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