Day 16: Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Every foot­fall sent ripples chas­ing each other across the sur­face of the strange mater­ial he walked on. It was a trans­lu­cent blue, and the sky, from hori­zon to hori­zon, was a uni­form pink. The place, wherever it was, didn’t smell of much except the blue stuff, which itself had a faintly sweet, fruity smell. It tasted like rasp­ber­ries, which he thought was odd, and any scoops he took gradu­ally filled in again. It wasn’t pois­on­ous, as far as he knew; he’d been eat­ing the stuff for days and had suffered no ill effects. He hadn’t needed to excrete either, which was good because he felt a bit weird about eat­ing where he shat.

It got dark where he was. He didn’t know how or why; there didn’t seem to be any dis­cern­ible light source dur­ing the day (“day”, he sup­posed) and so noth­ing to dis­ap­pear when it got dark. It just did. He star­ted feel­ing tired when it got dark and would stop wan­der­ing, lie down on the blue stuff and fall asleep. It was com­fort­able, wasn’t sticky and moul­ded to his body. He had no cov­ers but the air was warm and still. He’d had some good nights’ sleep on it. He’d had bad nights too, where he woke up sweat­ing and scream­ing from night­mares in which the blue stuff sud­denly sucked him down and he could only wave his arms inef­fec­tu­ally, star­ing up at the dis­ap­pear­ing pink­ness above him and suffocating.

Some­times he saw other wan­der­ers cross­ing the blue stuff. He would wave and jump and try to catch their atten­tion, and most of the time he man­aged to. Yelling didn’t do any­thing, but if they could see him (which was when they were walk­ing towards him, rather than away from him) they’d even­tu­ally look up and start wav­ing back. At least, some of them waved back. Oth­ers would just look at him for a minute and then head off in another dir­ec­tion, one from which they couldn’t see him.

He’d tried walk­ing towards a few of the ones he’d met. Some of them had even set off towards him too, but they never seemed to get any closer. It always appeared as if they were get­ting closer, yet they never arrived and, if you thought about it for a moment, you could see that they were just as far away as before. Even­tu­ally both would give up, one some­times long before the other. He had seen people walk all day, not even stop­ping as the sky began to darken. He found the situ­ation miser­able and even­tu­ally stopped walk­ing, see­ing if they would reach him, and real­ised that must be what the wan­der­ers that didn’t move when they saw him were doing. When that didn’t work, he star­ted turn­ing away from any­body who began walk­ing towards him, just like the others.

He prom­ised him­self it was only when they began walk­ing towards him that he would turn away though. He’d some­times spend hours sig­nalling to the other wan­der­ers, try­ing to make sense of their move­ments and make them see mean­ing in his, but it never worked, everything was simply gib­ber­ish regard­less of who he tried it with. Even­tu­ally he stopped reply­ing to them and would just sit down and watch them, find­ing a break in the uni­form land­scape stim­u­lat­ing at a most basic level. The only real shared mean­ing came when he saw other wan­der­ers do the same, and real­ised that they were think­ing the same things as he was, and that the only shared lan­guage in this place was that of futil­ity. Of wasted effort and unat­tain­able outcomes.

Some­times they would sit and stare at each other until the light began to dis­ap­pear, peer­ing through the dark­ness until finally everything was pitch black and noth­ing could be made out. When the light came again and he woke up, they couldn’t be seen. He didn’t know if they left in the night, if they had woken before him and left or if they just weren’t there any­more, and he sup­posed he would never find out.

One day, he was walk­ing along and saw a pile of rags in the dis­tance. He walked towards it, expect­ing it to main­tain its dis­tance, never reach­ing him, and it did. He stopped and stared some more. They were def­in­itely rags, with some white, shin­ing things stick­ing out of them and glint­ing in the sun.

Maybe, he thought, they are bones, stick­ing out of clothes that are slowly rot­ting. Maybe some­body found that the only way to escape this place was by dying.

But maybe it was just some­body lying down and star­ing at the sky, he also thought, as he had done some days, when the sight of blue forever was too much, and the pink noth­ing­ness let you drift away, if only for a while, and for­get that you were.

He wondered how you would die here. He suffered no injur­ies and he didn’t age. His hair had not grown and his clothes had not faded. He had tried not eat­ing a few times, but the hun­ger was unima­gin­able and he always gave in.

He walked away from the rags or clothes or bones.

For a long, long time, noth­ing was dif­fer­ent. He met other wan­der­ers and would sit and stare at them if they stared back, walk away if they waved or moved towards him, and wake up the next day with no sign of them around him. He ate the blue stuff and walked under the pink sky and put one foot in front of the other, send­ing ripples across the surface.

Then, one day, as he was walk­ing with his head slumped, watch­ing the ripples dance away from his feet. Some­thing in the corner of his vis­ion caught his atten­tion and he looked up. A wan­derer was stood still, star­ing at him. He didn’t know how long he had been watched. He stopped and turned to face the wan­derer, who did not wave, or start towards him or do any­thing but stare back, just as many before had.

He looked at the wan­derer, and the pink sky, and the blue ground, and he turned away and walked, not watch­ing as the man behind him dis­ap­peared into the horizon.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

One thought on “Day 16: Into the Wild Blue Yonder

  1. Pingback: Raspberry Jelly and the Colour Pink | Fingerwords