Somewhere Else – Part 6: Clouds

A work of Serial Fiction by Noah Sanders | 10/7/16

They did not choose to be clouds.

They were fire and they were dust, they were rainbow gas, floating softly in the deep darkness of space.

They were water. It coursed through them, was them. It breathed life into them. It allowed them to transform into whatever they pleased, the foundation of their existence staked in fluidity.

Water expands and condenses. Its atoms bounce and jump and spin, always pushing and pulling and never settling.

They did not choose to be clouds. They fled. When they came to a stop, when a speed driven by fear and necessity slowed to a standstill, they collided and condensed and all of them were suddenly one together, a cloud floating above wherever they happened to be.

But they did not choose to flee.

They chose light.

They loved their star. It was bright and powerful and gave them heat and energy. It floated in space, suspended above and below and around them. It’s rays swirled forward and back, surrounding them and holding them and warming them. But energy runs out and stars collapse.

It began at its core. Blackness unmasks itself. It widens, moves outward, cannibalizing slowly. Step by step, it eats away until the light is gone and all that remains is what was there before. Nothing. Sucking and growing, pawing at space, sending greedy metastases crawling forward to consume everything.

They chose light. They were forced to flee. They are refugees.

Not all of them came to Earth. And of those that did, only a few stayed. Those who stayed did so because Earth captivated them. Earth had something their world did not. Many things. Things they had never before seen nor heard nor even conceptualized.

But like the black hole that drove them there, so too they craved more. Observation was less satisfying than engagement. So they searched. Floating tirelessly through blue and grey and black, seeking a way to join, to enter Earth’s ecosystem without destroying it.

***

“What is your name?”

“Silas”

“Where is your home?”

“445 Oak Park Village Drive”

“Oak is a tree?”

“Yes. And also a street.”

“What is a tree? What is a street?”

“A tree grows from the ground. You put tree houses and swings in it. The street is for cars. Cars drive along the street.”

Silence.

“Who is George Washington? Who is George Washington Carver? What does defenestration mean? What is the difference between ice cream, gelato, and sorbet? What is a neti pot? What is a genocide?”

Silence.

“Could you…could you repeat the question?

“The Emporis Skyscraper Award is given annually to one skyscraper judged best in two categories. What is a skyscraper? What are the two categories?”

Silence.

Unbearable silence. Silence deep and waiting, lying heavy over Silas, suffocating him with the expectation of a response he could not give.

“What is a book?”

“I don’t really read.”

Silence.

“You have been helpful.”

“Thank you?”

Silence.

 

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About the Author

Noah Sanders