the dying of the light comes the birth of darkness. The shattered
dreams of the day are welcomed into the flowing embrace of the night,
reformed at the violet hour to face a new dawn. Memory is mixed with
desire, reducing fear to a handful of dust.
He welcomes the darkness.
body floated twenty feet above the bottom, facedown in the clear
his arms angled out from his sides in a relaxed pose
a blanket of predawn darkness. The temperature of the water was
almost the same as that of his body, minimizing his sense of gravity.
skintight kept his torso dry and regulated his core temperature,
while the marsh grass that stuck to his back helped to disguise
his human shape. The high salt content of the water made him bob
surface like a cork, his long hair drifting around his skull like
a halo of brown seaweed. His fingertips wrinkled into what his
mother called "finger raisins." His eyes saw nothing, his
ears heard nothing, his tongue tasted only the tang of metal from
mouthpiece that supplied his oxygen. His body drifted with the
currents, heading southwest, while his mind drifted elsewhere, heading
into his inner sea.
During the first thirty minutes, as usual, his mind rejected the
black silence, tossing images and thoughts around in his head,
the flotsam and jetsam of his overactive neurons jostling for attention.
His body twitched randomly as his muscles relaxed. Excessive movement
could attract the wards on the shore, so he had to be careful.
fears pecked at his mind: What if he drifted too far out? What
if he fell asleep and drowned? What if some horrible sea creature
searching for a bite to eat? His eyelids flickered, ready for a
reassuring peek at his surroundings, but the contact patches kept
His heart beat faster, then slowed again when he took a deep breath.
The warm water melted his fears. There were no threats here. He
had done this many times, sneaking away from his village to float,
far from the sensors on shore but fully aware that the watchers
could track him from the sky – or so it was said. No matter
how far he drifted, his body would not be lost. The key to this
was his absence of directed motion, relaxation, and his intent
not to look like a swimming human trying to escape.
In the external world, there was no escape, but his internal world
was another matter.
His five-year-old sister, Weed, had spotted him sneaking out into
the light pipe with their little dog in the middle of the night.
The glass?walled light pipe provided secondary access to their
underground home, with a narrow metal ladder clinging to its side.
little girl, Weed had sensed that silence was appropriate, possibly
motivated by the fact that she was also supposed to be in bed instead
of watching the bright full moon casting its silver beams into
the middle rooms of the house. Helix nuzzled her hand and she scratched
the short brown fur between the perky ears that looked so enormous
on his small Chihuahua/terrier head. To reward Weed's silence,
paused to fetch her a mug of warm milk, knowing she wanted it because
he had enjoyed the same thing when he was her age – up in
the middle of the night watching the moon's passage overhead. Tom
thought he was getting away with something for many years until
he began to suspect that his mother, Luna, tolerated this little
After all, Luna's parents had named her after the same celestial
object that fascinated her children. Perhaps she was still humoring
Tom, pretending not to notice his nightly excursions. His younger
brother, Zeke, was the only deep sleeper among his siblings, unaffected
by the magnetic pull of the orb that ruled the night sky. Tom thought
that Zeke had no imagination, but he could also see the practical
benefit of being a good sleeper. Everyone had their special talents.
Of course, the moon and the sea weren't the only reasons Tom went
out at night. On rare occasions, Tempest would also be out there
waiting for him, his dark companion, her eyes glowing with a soft
radiance whenever she saw him. Helix growled softly whenever Tom
and Tempest entered each other's arms, but not because he didn't
trust her – he simply didn't want to be left out. They'd
known each other since they were tots, playing together whenever
growing together and enjoying each other's lives. Then, just over
a year ago, Tempest had whispered to Tom that he was her chosen
one, hoping they would someday find a way to make their relationship
hoping the rules could be broken just this once so they could be
together forever. Tom liked the idea, and the thought of her kept
him warm on cold nights.
The current shifted around his body, spinning him in a lazy circle,
much as the rest of his life spun around in a gentle dance going
nowhere. Twenty years old, with another eighty years or so ahead
of him, Tom had no idea of how he wanted to spend that time; all
he knew for sure was that he didn't want to be a farmer. He honored
his responsibilities on the farm where he lived – digging ditches,
tending the crops, and all the other boring minutiae of a daily life
nurturing the land – but he had to force himself to do it.
He didn't have the natural affinity for farming that was so evident
in his father and his brother. Where they saw dark, rich soil waiting
to be plowed and planted, Tom saw only dirt, and lots of it. There
was too much of a world outside the confines of their patch of
land, and he had seen very little of its secrets. Tom saw the same
with farm life in Weed's young eyes as she waited in the silvery
light for the moon to take her away. Perhaps one day they would
both leave on a moonbeam, but where would they go?
In any case, it was pointless to think about leaving, because the
gods wanted Tom Eliot to remain near the village of Marinwood, plowing
his life into the ground on the family farm. And their choice was
for the Flash-Impaired
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by Scribbling Gargoyle Entertainment Corporation