Ex Nihilo, Short Stories, The Augmented World

Ex Nihilo – Through And By The Words

There is a faint wind blowing through the bright orange square. It might be the trees that faintly sway with or the sound of the nearby water source, but it feels to Bright like home. Which is funny and weird and fitting since he is, indeed, home. As home as one can be in the Heart, as home as one can be in a place where Language flows and there is only power. Perhaps it is the rhythms of the wind that make it so, the familiar ways in which it curls around the soft buildings, echoes in the empty-yet-comforting corridors. After all, this is where he has lived most of his life and when he hadn’t, he had lived near. This was his, like our footfall is ours, like our shadows is ours. Which is to say, far less than we would like to believe.

Speaking of footfall, the sound of it began to fill the square, softly inter-playing with half-words, silken grunts and other voices coming from the students. His students, to an extent, but Bright knew that, like all of them, they were only leased to him, temporary droplets struck from flowing source that was the Heart itself. He smiled, to himself and to whoever was watching, and slowly rose from his perch. He wasn’t an old man, not in the ways which mattered here, in this seat of unbridled yet constantly restrained power, but he still enjoyed the luxury of rest. He had been in motion for such a long portion of his life that now, when he has briefly (relatively) stopped here, he enjoys doing nothing. Alas, the time for action has come since the student is like the arrow. “Please stop” he says quietly, his voice nonetheless seeming to bind his students as it of course actually does. Hand still raised in a two-fingered gesture, he walks closer.

The eyes of the students are not those of the hare in the shadow of an eagle but rather of the cub as he observes the elder hunting. Hunger; they hunger for his power. In this place of never-ending conduits, channels, ferry-women, passageways, openings, wellsprings. junctures, nodes, nadirs, whirlpools, openings onto the direct, swift flow of bright light, he is an offshoot, a branch, a sapling and they are a mouth hungry for the water which flows from him. He smiles. Finally completing his adhesive-slow approach, he gently points towards the nearby student. “Look up” he commands but pointedly leaves the words absent of Language, absent of true intent. But the student still complies, a much stronger force than Language compelling her, the desire which takes root in our hearts and turns us into the most subservient pupils possible. The force of curiosity, the force of hope for more. So she looks up and in doing so is disappointed, seeing nothing but the bright blue canopy which covers this place.

Like many before her however, she of course cannot follow a Speaker’s mind but soon, she will be instructed. Now, in fact: “You look around you and you see death. You see a sharp dichotomy: you and your compatriots, who are alive, and the world around you which is dead. You are, of course, correct. But your veracity is boring; you are simply relying on instincts, knowledges that your own body has forced on you”. He draws closer now, standing at the shoulder of the student, his back turned to the rest of the class. Somehow, however, his voice reaches them from every direction, crystal clear and perfect as if he was standing at their shoulder instead. “There is a much more interesting divide between you and it. You speak. It listens. You think. It reacts. You intend. It…well, it is intended. Intended to lie there, in the case of the rock, intended to blow in the case of the wind”. He smiles now, again, more deeply, more ferociously  and turns to face the class once again. “Who intended it to is the pointless question you are all now asking in your heads. Who cares? The question you should be asking is…”.

He pauses, savoring their frames and their sudden forward momentum. “The question you should be asking is ‘how did they communicate their intention?'”. If you’d like, picture some sort of god, an omnipotent, shining, golden being who made everything spin. How did they make it spin? Through what medium does it spin? How does it know where to spin? These are the questions you have been brought here to answer; no one can teach you to answer them yourselves”. Bright turns again, this time walking away from his class. It is over. Only one lesson remains and it is one they will have to learn for themselves, over many lifetimes. “The answer is not simple and yet I can tell it you now. It won’t spoil your classes; you won’t be able to grasp it anyway”. The wind blows again, or still, coaxing Bright’s hair from out of his collar. He savors the moment by looking up, through the canopy, through the distance, through the light years and seconds, through the diffused light of a billion stars, through the ether, through space itself, to a planet where black winds blow, where spires reach for the sky, where one man kills his wife and then himself, where the unraveling of beings, has begun, is coming closer, where finally Bright will rest.

“The answer is you. It used you to make those stars spin. The medium through which they spin is, once again, you. They know where to spin because you tell them. And you can change your mind: you can stop telling them and start saying them. When you do that, we’ll give you your ships. You’ll be your ships. Until then, there is only death for you and for most of you, there will only be death. Unless you say it otherwise; unless you convince me with your story that you live”. Sensing that he is done, the footfalls return to the square, as do the soft grunts. But now, at least in one, Bright can detect an edge; a stony, ice-cold fever that burns through and by the words.

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