I Like the Day

I like the Day. It helps me to remember things, things I don’t normally remember, like my name.

Winston, I think it is. No, that was the name of a character out of a book. Kris. My name is Kris. Or was it Karl? I’d like to be called Ptolemy. Then everyone else knows your name, and you don’t have to remember it.

People used to write their names on their clothes. I wish I had clothes. I’m sure my name would be on them.

It gets cold here at Night. Nights are the worst of the three times: Day, Night and In Between, when the Pageantheirs come for their daily check up. They prod and poke, pierce and probe. Every capillary, every bit of juice, every cell has to be checked. They are thorough, but not gentle, especially going in.

Still, Night is even worse than that.

The sun poured over me. Warmth, energy, sweet radiation. I felt the radiation shred my genetic material, luxuriated as it reformed afterwards. I tried to absorb it all, to store it up, ready for another Night.

The sun never has to remember its name.

A psilopod poked its head around a demented bush. It clicked and popped out a passing tune, then disappeared. It wanted me to follow it. Chasing a psilopod around the gardens wasn’t my idea of fun, especially when I had the In Between to come. To mentally prepare for the In Between I remembered everything, catalogued it, made sure I would be able to remember it after.

I hoped it didn’t want me to speak. My mouth and tongue were already numb through lack of use.

The air made way for my superior density. The sun couldn’t penetrate the place the psilopod disappeared, beneath a twisted tree. I wondered, what is the tree’s name? Nothing occurred, so I couldn’t have been a botanist before the Pageantheirs captured me and began their explorations of particles.

I hesitated.

To follow the psilopod would sacrifice the Day. Would I have enough sun to make it through the Night, especially if the Pageantheirs were rougher than normal? (They always were. They had no normal.)

I decided and ducked into the tree’s inner world, bitter air stagnant with rotting vegetation and the ink of a thousand or two dead spiders.

The interior of the tree twisted in upon itself—extra-dimensional space—so that the psilopod appeared to stand several metres ahead of me, even though the tree was no more than a metre in diameter.

The psilopod winked at me and flitted into the depths. I followed carefully, soon further inside the tree that I had ever ventured. The air froze. Spider carcasses littered the ground like carpet. I smelt them as I passed: rotting gizzards and fermenting poison.

Still deeper the psilopod drew me, popping and clicking when I hesitated. I drew my skin closer around my body. In the garden, during the Day, I had no need of clothes, even if they might have named me. Here, the cold permeated every pore and sucked warmth with nearly as much greed as the Night.

I lost sensation in feet. My breath frosted out in crystallised patterns. The psilopod had to wrap a limb around me to keep my legs plodding along.

The walls converged in the distance to a point. I felt myself shrinking as I moved towards that distant horizon. The psilopod released its grip and dropped behind me. Now I moved not of my own accord, but from the attraction of the convergence point.

I accelerated and diminished. Exotic particles appeared and disappeared around me as the forces of the universe created and annihilated them with small discharges of energy.

It must have been well past In Between in the garden. The Pageantheirs would be looking for me, and they would be enraged to find me gone. I’m not even sure if Night could come without me, there.

Sometimes it felt like I drove the cycles. They needed me and despised me because of it. Maybe now they would be stuck in an endless Day, or a moribund In Between where their probes and pincers clicked and clacked and waited and yearned to be thrust into places that were no longer available.

I rode along towards a horizon that never appeared any nearer. Time and I stretched towards infinity. Obviously when I get there I’ll be sure to tell you.

Ω

Ashley Arnold  Ashley Arnold's website is an Adelaide-based writer with stories published online (such as Ruthless Peoples Magazine, New Myths and Nanobison) and in a number of print anthologies (Triangulation: End of Time, The Workers' Paradise, Shadow Plays). He rarely battles radioactive mutant sheep to the death.