After writing yesterday’s chapter fragment, my head kept spinning, so here is some more:
Erewin gazed at the stars as she floated in Aba. In the middle of this silvery sea, there was no where to go, and no hurry to get there. Like in the Dead Sea, she floated without effort. She had been there once long ago, a forgotten lifetime ago.
Something seemed wrong. All the stars were nearly on a single plane, and seemed closer than they should. The two moons, at a more careful inspection were gas giants in the same plane with a weak glow from the nearest cluster of stars, not from this planet’s sun.
The night seemed too bright, and this planet’s rotation had slowed to weeks, rather than hours.
She sensed a chill, as her breath fogged in the air, although the Aba protected her. It was warm, and she was still warm where she floated above it. The air temperature was 31° F. Aba was 98.7°.
She knew she had to act. It was either a sea or large lake, and it was deep, very deep. Her unnatural ability told her it was 7994.63 miles deep, the diameter of the planet, and she was at the exact center of its surface on this side, 10 miles from the shore on all sides. She should have been able to see it, but the reflection of the stars in a mist that hovered over the briny liquid obscured her view.
10 miles in every direction, she thought. That’s a long swim.
12 minutes and 33 seconds. The notion was ridiculous. She would have to swim almost 50 mph. Deep inside, however, she knew she could do it. The mind said no, Aba said yes. She lay still. A baby cried somewhere, 13.56 miles due west. That would be her direction.
Skimming on top of this calm sea, her strokes were machine-like, efficient, and lightning fast. Without significant effort.
Without almost any effort at all.
The shore was boggy, and permeated by Aba, as well as another black substance – completely black with no reflection. Aba and this other liquid did not mix.
Aba and Tan did not mix. It rolled off her hand like oil droplets off water. Tan was dangerous. To others, not her.
Aba, she thought, was a consciousness. It didn’t speak to her, but she could sense it inside her. Erewin had arrived unexpectedly, and Aba didn’t trust her at first. Those who had arrived with her had been absorbed into Aba’s hive consciousness instantly, except (miraculously) for the owner of the hand that had tried to pull her under, none of whom she could remember.
Erewin had another name, but she couldn’t remember it. She knew that Lena also had another name: Carthage, a city in Africa, on Earth. She knew where Lena was, approximately, at least Lena’s last connection with Aba. She was on the other side of the planet, the day side. She knew that they would meet, eventually. They would be drawn to one another.
On dry land, Erewin took the opportunity to survey her body. She was tall and very thin with blond curly hair that draped onto her shoulders, and she was instantly completely dry. She also knew that her blue eyes and alabaster skin would set her apart here. As it was while she was while she floated, the microscopically thin layer of Aba made her skin slippery and impervious. Nothing would stick to it, except in the palms of her hands and the bottoms of her feet.
Her clothing (which she also couldn’t remember) had disintegrated at first contact with Aba. She had floated for 3 hours, 47 minutes and 26.42 seconds before she had awoken. She needed to find something to wear, something that wouldn’t slip right off, something that hung over her shoulders. Panties, a skirt, trousers, would slide off, since they relied on friction to stay on. Something that pulled tight around her waist might stay up, but they would twist around easily. Shoes were unlikely to stay on.
Naked, she would also stick out in the freezing temperatures. It was about to snow, too. The stars were gone above the land. A quarter mile to her right, she noticed a freezing pyre. It looked like flame, but shot up like icy water being belched up from deep underground. There were 12 of these pyres equally spaced around the sea. She decided to take a closer look. She stepped toward the pyre, and arrived in 4 seconds. She had very little control over her speed.
“Onetwothreefourfivesixseven,” she said, testing out her voice. It sounded like, “One-en.”
She would have to practice doing things slowly. Aba had not only radically augmented the speed of calculation in her brain and her awareness, but it had a similar effect on her body. She wondered how quickly she could run, if she pushed herself. The next pyre was around 5 miles away, the calculation came back quickly, just like her swim. 3:06 minutes, based on an estimate of 100 mph. Barefoot and naked, she didn’t want to test it.
The pyre sent super-cooled water up to a height of 144 ft. She knew that Aba would protect her if she touched it, but that was too much of a leap for her humanity. Unlike Lena, Erewin retained a physical vestige of humanity. She knew more than she should, calculated too quickly, and moved at superhuman speed. Not only was she a superwoman, she was a supercomputer.
Every molecule of Aba was equivalent to what she knew as a supercomputer. Aba hadn’t spoken to her; the knowledge was just … there.
The baby cried again. It was about 8 miles away, but she could still hear it. Erewin added that to her known abilities. Running to the baby at 100 mph barefoot on boggy unfamiliar ground was dangerous, so she decided that she would take it slowly. She would pinpoint a goal and try to walk there.
There were no trees in this bog, so she looked for small ground formations, took a step and was there almost instantly. After ten attempts, she started to get a feel for walking slowly, still meaning faster than humans could run.
After 15 minutes, she had traversed most of the distance, stopping at a fence on the edge of a farm. Along the way, she ignored the carnage of frozen bodies sticking out of the ground. It was too disturbing for her to handle. She knew what it was. The bog was a thin layer of soil set on top of Aba. If someone stepped on weak ground, they were trapped in the Aba. Eventually, they froze, but not to death. Aba sustained them. They would awaken during the month of daytime to freeze again at night. Pulling them from the Aba would kill them. She processed the information and let it go, trying not to be emotional.
What would a super-emotion be like? She dared not consider it.
It was a bucolic scene of a mother, wearing a bi-colored one-piece bodysuit, trying to settle an infant on the patio of a farmhouse.
I could wear one of those, Erewin thought, although she was almost a foot taller than that woman. A brief glance, a moment of recognition, and the woman fled inside.
As this was the only farm Erewin could see in the vicinity, she plotted how to obtain one of those suits.
It began to snow heavily.