- Review -
The key was clank-ing against his breastplate as Eight laboriously trudged through the endless expanse of sand, made to shine like gold, by the gleam of the Midday Suns. The tattered cloak he wore did barely anything to keep the small grains, blowing in the wind, out of his tired joints. It was always a small, but restrained, relief when he could spot his hut through his squinting eyes. He undid the rusting latch, pried open the wooden door, closing and locking it behind him.
He removed his cloak, hearing the almost waterlike sound of grains hitting the stone floor. He hung the cloak over his chair in the corner and sat down at the accompanying desk. He lay his empty satchel down at his feet. Slightly annoyed at a particular and common feeling, he removed his mask and shook out whatever sand was resting in and on it.
Eight was not successful today. He couldn't find any more of the reeds he needed, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. And the day before that.
But Eight couldn't know when a day ended or when a day had begun. The Suns never set - they sat there, motionless in the bright white-blue glare of a sky and stared down at him with furious and blazing contempt.
He was running out of parchment. He would have to paraphrase, then.
The key bumped up against his heartlight, as Eight carefully removed the ancient tweed lanyard holding the key from his neck, poking and twisting the key into the lock on the nearby strongbox sitting on his desk. He removed his most prized possessions from the container - a rough, pulpy and crumpled sheet of parchment paper, made from the reeds he sought, and an ancient stone stylus. He jealously guarded these mundane items, as well as the means to getting them; his protodermis key.
Smoothing the rough paper as flat as he could against his desk, he grasped his stylus and put its point against the top left-hand corner of the page. He sat there for a while, unmoving, as he tried to think of what to write. It might have been an hour, or a few seconds. Eight couldn't know. The Suns just stared at him, daring him to mark down a single character.
It may have been an hour later, or just a single minute, but Eight began to write.
It was something very different each day. Or, rather, every return trip to his hut, since he had no concept of time. Some days, he would write a message to himself, or to someone else, usually one of hate. Almost always one of hate. Other times he would sketch out the little jagged edges of mountains or the slow-curving mounds of sand dunes, scribbling each drawing out into a localized map. Sometimes Eight would try to assemble the pieces of the map together so he'd know where to go to find the reeds, but he always ended up frustrated and empty-handed.
On some days, though, Eight was happy. This was the only time of the year (or month, day, minute, second, etc.) that Eight could truly be happy. He would write numbers on these days, countless numbers of all different patterns - sometimes in groups of fours, in twos, sixes, all different kinds of numbers.
Eight loved numbers. He wished he could just write them forever, but not every day produced the required thoughts to write them down.
Today, he wrote a wonderful sequence.
These were some of the happiest numbers Eight had ever wrote. They seemed to just leap off the page and float and dance around him as he wrote them. Suddenly, he stopped, and the feeling passed. Emptiness returned to fill him, driving out the joy he had felt moments or years earlier.
He became angry. Spiteful. Why couldn't he just write the numbers forever? Why couldn't he just be happy forever?
In his anger, he defaced his page of numbers with some random runes he scribbled shakily.
Eight hated letters. He preferred to write numbers. They were perfect. Mathematical. Letters were ugly and unexpressive.
Frustrated, angry, tired, Eight got up from his desk, taking his silver proto-key, lanyard and all, and walked over to the other side of his small hut. A dank, ragged bed awaited him. Eight lay down and turned over left and right until he found he was comfortable on his back. Adjusting his mask, he held the key up in front of his aging eyes.
He studied the key intently every evening, wondering what the archaic etched messages on its side would tell him. Was it a message of happiness? Of love? Or of jealousy? He set the key down on his heartlight and closed his eyes.
No, he thought.
Always one of hate.
Edited by Enigma Eight, May 06 2014 - 07:18 PM.