My experiment on Monday yielded no results, so what does that tell me?
- Nobody is actually reading my blog. I know that isn’t entirely true. There are a couple of people who regularly or occasionally engage. They just didn’t respond to my blog yesterday. In truth, neither actually “liked” it, so they may not have read it yet.
- I’m just firing off my random thoughts into the ether as a record of my existence, not for anyone’s delectation.
- People are just liking my posts to get me to read theirs. I do, but I don’t comment unless they speak to me, and I don’t “like” them if I don’t like them. I can be fickle that way. Don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t “like” something, it doesn’t mean I disliked it. I may not have read it yet.
I feel like I should do something creative, so maybe a little more of Erewin:
The snow fell almost as densely in the air as it packed on the ground. It lasted only 10 minutes, but amounted to almost ten inches, midway up my calves. I couldn’t move as it fell, as the visibility was only a few feet in front of me. Had I designs on stealing one of those bodysuits, that quashed them. I would leave a trail of footsteps that would lead them right to me.
Just like Lena.
Not exactly like her. It didn’t snow where she was, at least not this month. The trail she left was Aba and was permanent. Our feet were the same size, to the millimeter. Inches, millimeters, I seemed to be dimensionally ambidextrous. We also seemed to be the same height and weight, but I think that is where the comparison ended. I didn’t look at all like her, especially now. My coloring was almost diametrically opposite hers – pale and blond compared to her olive and jet black, or at least that was her before Aba.
I needed clothing, and this looked like the only opportunity for miles. Hopping the wooden fence was remarkably easy. I cleared by a few feet. My “walk” to her front door took only a matter of seconds. I had hope to consider an excuse to give her to borrow – or take – a bodysuit from her. I had no money. I had nothing. I would need food, too.
What language would she speak?
Langlais, but that was close to English. Most everyone here either spoke or understood Langlais, especially on this side of the planet.
How could I know all of this?
As soon as I considered the question, I knew the answer. I had developed a neural network of Aba both outside and in. I had access to the institutional knowledge of a hive consciousness and a processing speed far beyond anything I had ever known – if I could remember what I had known.
I knocked on the door reminding myself to speak ultra slowly and look pitiful.
The woman who answered looked elderly, yet her skin was smooth, olive, and her hair black. On Earth, I would have guessed she was north African, and she had the physique of a woman who had carried several children. She was 5 inches shorter than me and about 30 pounds heavier. Her bodysuit wouldn’t fit me unless it stretched.
I covered my private parts and shivered. “Cold,” I grunted. Monosyllabic was safest. She let me in. The pity card worked, even if I wasn’t actually cold. She didn’t seem to be too bothered by my nudity.
“Hungrytoo,” I added.
I had said it too quickly. “Huuuungreeeee,” I replied as slowly as I could.
She walked into the kitchen and picked up a roll, and handed it to me. It squirted out of my hands. I would have to train myself how to hold onto things with my slippery hands. The pads of my fingers and feet were rougher than any other part of me, but still on the slippery side. Rather than trying to pick it up, I poked a finger into it to hook and lift it. It had some kind of soft cheese inside.
“You aren’t from around her,” she said, curiously watching my bread saga.
“Not … even … remotely,” I answer, again as slowly as I could. The bread was rustic and exquisite. I couldn’t recognize any of the ingredients. It was a rough flour, eggs, but not from a chicken, butter, but not from a cow or goat. The cheese was from the same animal or group of animals, literally. She churned her own butter and made her own cheese. Aba-me analyzed the ingredients as if she had never tasted human food. I had never tasted food from this planet either.
That is the name of this planet.
“Whatisthis?” I exclaimed eating ravenously. I couldn’t remember my last meal, if you don’t count a mouthful of Aba, which happened to be vitamin rich.
“Huh? Slow down,” the woman urged.
“Itisdifficultformetospeakslowly,” I replied hoping that was slow enough. It wasn’t.
The woman just shrugged her shoulders, took a blanket from a chair in front of the fire, and wrapped it around me. It immediately slid from my shoulders onto the floor. Again, I found a way to loop it around my fingers and pull it over my shoulders. I was definitely not getting the hang of this.
“Please sit,” she said, gesturing towards the chair from which she had taken the blanket.
I made a hash of sitting, too, sliding into a heap on the floor. She laughed. I gathered myself up, along with the blanket, and made another attempt, trying to maintain balance. I was successful, but I was going to have to get used to this. I slid around in the seat and almost off again.
“I’m. Errrrrreeeeewiiiiiin.” I said as slowly as I could, trying to put her at ease.
“Are you the One? The Aba?” she asked. “I’ve heard rumors, but you don’t look as I expected.”
“No,” I replied, “but. Aba. too. She. Lena.”
She looked puzzled.
“Too. complicated,” I explained, becoming slightly more assured in my speech.
“I’m Mona al-Razir,” she said. “May I look at your hands?”
I held one out, and inevitably the blanket slid off that side of me. She couldn’t grab my hand, so I held it as steady as I could. She slid her hand up my arm to my shoulder and peered directly into my eyes. I shuddered with embarrassment, as it seemed overtly intimate.
“Extraordinary!” she exclaimed. “This was not foretold.”
“Foretold?” It was still best to stick to single word answers.
“The incarnation of Aba was a sign of the End Times, but you are not mentioned at all. Where have you come from?”
“Iawokefloatinginthelake,” I replied, forgetting myself. I repeated more slowly.
“Floating in Aba?”
“Nothing survives the Aba,” she said in awe. “Who are you again?”
“Erewin.” There, I had said my name at a normal pace. It felt palpably pleasing on my tongue, as if I had never properly said it before. It was like I had finally calibrated my speed. “Please, I need something to wear. Something that won’t slip off. Do you have another of those bodysuits in my size?”
“You mean a Col?”
“My daughter is a little smaller than you, but hers might fit.”
“I have nothing. I can’t pay you.”
“You already have. Just meeting you.” She slipped off into the next room and came back with a cerulean blue Col with a slight sheen on the lower half, flat on top. You will be recognized with our family colors, but that shouldn’t be a bad thing. We are an ancient family.
I carefully stood and stepped into it. It zipped up my chest, with the seam becoming invisible, as if it was my skin. It was a good thing that it was tight on me, since I slid around inside of it, and a correct fit would have spun around awkwardly. It was a natural fabric, but thin like vinyl or latex and stretchy like spandex, yet warm. Although Mona wasn’t wearing her hood indoors, I tried to see if I could wear it. It stayed up for a second and then slid off my hair. “How inconspicuous can I be, wearing this?” I asked.
“You will have a certain status in this region, and you may have to explain your origin. Call yourself Erewin ne-Razir. It places you as a wife of my late first husband. We weren’t married long before he died. I, and now you, were his only wives. Few will remember him. Your fair skin and light hair will mark you out more. Your blue eyes won’t pass as albino. You might say your family are from Palania, which is very far north. They get little light there. It is dark above the Coroda year round, well, for 100 more of your years, which were similar to our years before the advent of the singularity. Most Palanians emigrated south centuries ago, but a few remained.”
That explained the strange sky as well as the end times. They were being sucked into a black hole. “How many wives are customary?” I asked, avoiding the obvious issue.
“It varies by region. We have large family groups: two men, four women, or three and three. Usually several children.”
“Aren’t I too young?”
“Second wives tend to be much younger than the first. You might have married as early as eleven while you were training at the Techicalinstitute. The first bears the first children, the second works in the city, the third works on the farm, and the fourth rears the children. She is often the eldest and may have lost her first husband.”
“Do you have a family trade other than farming?” I wanted to be able to answer any question I might be asked.
“It depends on your training. If you trained at the South Talean TI, you would be a mathematician. That is on the far side of the lake. The nearby Western Institute of Talrazin, would have taught you the physical sciences. Nari hunc-Razir studied there. She will return from work shortly, as have three of our children. All are working age now.”
“What about your husbands?”
“Ranou Razir is out in the fields now, probably clearing the snow from his machinery. Razaq is in Talrazin purchasing supplies.”
“Are there other wives?”
“Narir is one with Aba, bless her, and Nabih works the neighbor’s farm now. Tell me about you,” she said, gesturing me back to the chair.
Sitting was more elegant this time in the Col. “I have nothing to tell you. I don’t remember anything from my past other than fragmentary details. I lived a planet called Earth. I traveled extensively.”
“You have come a long way. Where had you traveled?”
“I’m not sure. I know I have bathed in the Dead Sea. I think Europe and America. I don’t know where home was.”
“Your accent is American.”
“How would you know that?”
“Razaq spent a long time stationed there and returned with an accent. He had to sound like a native.”
“Earth is an outpost. It is a complicated story if you don’t know the history. Much of it is confidential. Some is legend. You would have to read some religious texts to know what most of us are told in school. Little of it is true, just mumbo-jumbo. We aren’t religious.”
“But you seem to know what is foretold.”
“Everyone does,” she replied. I sensed that she wasn’t being very truthful or complete in her answer. “Besides, you are a conundrum, a fallacy in their teachings.”
“I’m not sure what I am supposed to do. I don’t know my role in this. I think I need to find Lena.”
“She will come to you in time.”
“How do you know that?” If I wasn’t foretold, that is.
“I think she will need you. You are unlike any other person here, and you both come from the same world, if what people say is true. You are …” She stopped and refused to continue. “It is better that you do not know. You should go to Talrazin. Our credit is good there. Find a place to stay, perhaps Hotel Bastet. Tell them I sent you. You may stay here and dine with us tonight. The snow will be gone by morning. Nari can tell you all you need to know about the Institute, if you feel you are strong enough on physical sciences to get by in a casual conversation. Nari can judge that.”
Thanks to Aba, I was probably passable, although much better in mathematics. Setting out in the morning armed with local information sounded like the best plan.