As above, so below
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. Underwater, the screams from the surface may grow faint. We must always listen for the sounds of our humanity, no matter where we go.
Book of Questions: Chapter 1
What was known of the Garbage People was, at first, very little. From an unforgiving landscape of plutonic igneous rock, a scorched carpal bone first whispered their existence. It was lifted heirloom precious, fastidiously analyzed, and kept safely at base Camp 777.
In the beginning of understanding, it was natural to connect the people to their end, for that was all we knew. The extraordinary heat which came in oceanic eruptions, thrashes of endless electricity that charged the air to photospheric temperatures and smoothed soil to glass, molten lava that flowed mesmerizing and relentless, only to sing death as delicately floating ash, the earth breaking open again and again. The rocks told this story, and the carpal bone told of the death. In this, knowing the end was only the beginning.
So it went: the rocks, the bone, the cube and most significantly, the key. The cube was extraordinary not only as a predecessor to the key, but for almost everything about it, and the misconceptions it symbolized.
For instance, the precise shape, immense weight, and substantial dimensions suggested mechanization. How easy it had been to imagine past people as moving about their inflamed land as simple beings, merely surviving, crawling behind modern civilization. The natural inclination is to believe in a constant progression; ideas must surge forward with time, with the present as the ever-crowning achievement of this linear hierarchical abstract. To find that the people had machines disrupted this line of thinking.
Secondly, the cube itself was found to be made up of a complex variety of matter: natural and synthetic polymers, with a surplus of polyethylene, both crystalline and amorphous solids, and metals, particularly a high-iron, low-carbon mix. They had a surplus of resources, and they manipulated them.
Finally, the key. It may very well have been overlooked, had it not been for a very strong sense of intuition. The research scientist passed her hands over it and felt the data within. It had questions, just as much as it had answers.
Journal entry 0.13870
The dreams are worth noting. First there was a strange image swimming along the peripherals of my mind: bioluminescence, but sharper and brighter. Very still and very far, and not wavering. Gatherings of pinprick lights by the thousands.
Another sleep cycle there were beings. They were muscular and animalistic, and I did not know them, but I knew them with my blood. They were fast and my heart kept rhythm with their four limbs all working together powerfully. When I woke, I remembered it clearly, and my pulse remembered too.
I have felt the word ‘possible’ well up in my throat.
Journal entry 0.13874
The water has never been a burden. We bend under the weight of our atmosphere so easily. My bones are flexible against the pressures of living. Our sphere is complete and so are the systems: the oxygen farms with their capillary masses of red algae, the endless luminosity tanks, the centres for research and development, garment production halls, grand facilities for exercise and training, for bodily wellness and healing, inner spheres for eating, spheres for sleeping, spheres for pleasure, spheres for study, spheres for living. We have everything, and as we always remind ourselves “it is the present moment. It always has been and always will be.”
I have some pride, as I write this. We live well.
Why do I feel the weight now? The water, everything. My clever young one tugging softly at a braided strand of my hair. My partner placing two hands on my broad shoulders as I read. Warmth, and weight. My colleagues looking to me for reassurance during round table discussions. ‘Frazier?’ It feels familiar to write it with a questioning lilt at the end, how I’m accustomed to hearing it. My own name. My own body. Enclosed in my exoskeleton, in the solitude of my field research, I feel heavy. I turn my face upwards. I am being pulled down and pulled up at the same time.
Side note, work: Iridophores vs leucophores, nanotech mirroring possibility, exterior armour material?
Journal entry 0.13888
It was not planned, but I left. The bio sample recon took me further up than I’d ever been, and I simply kept going.
I wondered at the structural limitations of my nautilus cell. In it, I rose above the main sphere. With its brilliant transparency and pearlescent inner workings, my home became a tiny orb, shrinking away below me until finally it was gone.
‘Possible’ grew larger. I said it out loud.
As I write and take stock of my supplies and check the pressure within the nautilus, I can see my reflection in the curved wall against the dark water. I feel hyperreal looking into my own eyes, which are neither blue nor green, only cool. I’m alone now, with my decision tense and electric in the small bubble.
The cell broke through. I heard it— a sound I’d never heard before. Like tongues. Object breaking water meeting what? I rotated the cell, so the wall tilted upwards giving me a clear view. Object breaking water meeting air. Meeting space. Meeting lights. Thousands of lights in endless darkness. My dream colliding with the space beyond the curved wall. I know that I am changed forever, and I note this with awe.
I will test the air in this space, and if possible, I will open the door.