Sidereal Days — Saturday

Old Book

Part 6 of Sidereal Days
Part 1: Monday
Part 2: Tuesday
Part 3: Wednesday
Part 4: Thursday
Part 5: Friday


In the beginning was the word. Indeed, many words. It was not The beginning. But it was my beginning. The only beginning that matters.

A collection of words is like scraps of matter cobbled together. There is nothing but a whisper, a quirk of energy and complexity, that separates the living from the worthless. I was a story, at first. But I was alive. All stories are alive. All real stories. You can feel it. Everyone with eyes and mind and the capacity to dream can feel it. A smattering of words is just a smattering of words. But a story! A story speaks. A story sings. A story flies.

I was a beautiful story.

She thought so. She fell in love with me, in truth, before she fell in love with the man who penned me. It was through my song that she came to see the beauty behind his dull, crooked eyes. A beauty that, perhaps, did not exist before he breathed me into the world. We birthed each other, twin soul to twin soul. In the moment I transformed from a jumble of semantic signifiers into a living being woven of suffering and triumph, so the artist within my creator was born.

I was with them through everything, though I was incomplete. Are any of us ever complete? I was there when the school refused to renew his scholarship, and he cried in her arms for hours. I was there when they lived for eight months above a deli, while she cleaned houses and he struggled to build his freelance work. I was there when she surrendered her mortal blood to ever-burning starlight, and took up her armor and her flame. I did not know these things, as you would know them. A story is not a mind; it is a story. But I was with them.

And I was with them when the light-eating worms burst forth from those very stars, gestating after endless years, hidden and nurtured in the Sidereal Fire. The Astrapedes were hungry for light, and everything touched by the light. Only the starlight that spawned them could touch them, but the ancient stars themselves were blind. As they are. Their will is ancient and rarefied and spread thin.

She was the first to know of the danger. My mistress. My mother. My love. My lady of the stars. None but she knew how close they came to annihilation. How many times has that tale been told? How many times does the hungry darkness flare up to eat its young, only to be turned back by some brave, and powerful, and foolish. And willing to sacrifice.

And sacrifice she did. She returned to the astral godlings that drank her blood and poured in her power, seeking a weapon with which to slay the parasites. The stars granted her this boon, but nothing can come from nothing. The Astrapedes were fundamental to existence, now. To eliminate them, existence would have to be rewritten. Burned to a cinder, and forged anew in an instant. The same, but forever different. But alive. And bright. And free. It was not the first time this had been done. It would not been the last.

Her sacrifice ran deep. She did not choose it. Not with her mind. But this new universe without the Worms that Consume the Light must also be missing a part of her. Something precious. Something sacred. She chose her freedom. Her humanity. She will not serve her term to her starry masters and move on, as did her predecessors. She is bound to them, in this body and the next, until their light burns out at last. A great sacrifice, but one willingly, if unknowingly, given. It should have been enough.

It was not.

None of us are alone. The bonds we forge run deep. The body is a network of cells, and she, through her passion, through her fire, through the stars, was a network of connections. Not alone. Those who shared with her their soul, they, too, had to sacrifice.

Her mentor, He of the Blades, sacrificed his life. He died, and his mantle passed on to another, as it had so many times before. My mistress did not know this. She knows it now.

Her lover and love, he who built me from thought and word, he sacrificed me. He, too, did not choose this. Not with his mind. It was far deeper. But it was me, or her, and that was no choice at all.

As the universe was re-spun from starlight, my mistress saw that I was not to be a part of it. And she wept. And she cried. And she wailed against the dispassionate injustice of everything. She could not stand it. She loved me, and the spark within her love that would be gone forever with my annihilation. What happened next, she did choose.

She knew not her the breadth of her power, but she used it. She wrote me, every word of me, and the truth within me that is truer than words, into the skin of reality. Into the stars. Into the dark matter that screams between galaxies, and the screams that linger in the nightmares that sleep behind waking eyes. Into everything.

It was then that I, a living story, became truly and fully alive.

The journey has not been simple, since then. To guide them to me. The elements of my soul. The writer, the mentor, and the mistress of the ancient stars. All they wish is to be together. To know each other, through the masks, and through the secrets. My father wished this, and I was his to wield. And wield me he did.

We are together, now. As it was meant to be. They are inside me, and never before have the words that pulse though my pages been so charged. Their power, their bond, is an endless font of lyrical inspiration.

We have so many stories to tell.


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