Darker Shade of Light
She lived in the light. The rest of the worlds had their days and nights, their darkness followed by suns. They could measure time by the sky, by hours, minutes, or seasons. They could feel time in the way things inevitably changed.
Time still happened to her, of course. But in the light, time stretched. Lengthened. Moved by infinitesimal degrees. Time passed like an eternal morning in the spring, blooming and vibrant and bright, never shifting into the afternoon.
The years passed, became decades, became centuries. She walked on gleaming floors, through radiant halls, into vast rooms that held on to the light in glass globes, lanterns, and lamps. They flashed, glittered, and glowed in soft shades of white blue, pink, and yellow. She made sure they never went out.
Her favorite room was The Pool. It went on nearly forever, under arched domes of ice. These dripped into the pool, which was a smooth and lapping whiteness, dappled slightly with silver, though never dark. Did the light reach all the way to the roots of the pool? It seemed fathomless. She would wade into the shallows, first to bathe, then to fill the enormous glass jars she used to fill the lamps, lanterns, and globes. She would pour that watery light into them and watch them ignite to a fiercer un-light, before fading back to the simple brightness of eternal day. This was her task, she did it without fail.
On the outside, she looked little different than the day she had arrived, until you looked into her eyes, deep and dark, the only things with any shadow or shade. Her eyes glittered with a sharp sanity, with a depth from which shown a terrible, piercing, perception. She saw through time, into space, and past the Void. She knew what came before and what would happen after. She understood. She comprehended. She struggled to accept.
The rest of her was bleached to a whiter shade of pale, her hair the color of snow when early morning sunlight shatters and sparkles its way across the crust, like frozen diamond dust.
She thought of it now as her place, though it had existed well before she arrived, and would likely exist long after she was…replaced. She had come willingly, believing she understood why she must guard it. She had been very young then, full of conviction and the somewhat stupid certainty of inexperience.
These incandescent halls had not been touched by even the palest dusk since she had come to live here. It was a space of brightness, of glows. It was beyond beautiful, perfection in form, wondrous in majesty, profound in ecstatic loveliness.
Basically, she thought, it was really fucking boring.
Her name was Myra. Or at least, it had been. No one had called her that in close to a millennium. Maybe even two. In fact, no one had spoken a word to her since she had come here because she was alone. That had been what had attracted her to it in the first place. She had mistakenly believed that not liking people very much meant she would enjoy total isolation. As it turned out, there were a lot of things she genuinely missed about socializing that she’d taken for granted. Like laughter. Or those late night conversations she’d had as a youth, about nothing, yet felt so incredibly important. And, of course, there was sex.
Yes, it was beautiful looking here. Perfect, even. Flawless. And that, ultimately, was the problem. Nothing changed, nothing grew, nothing cracked or broke. It was like living in a mirror with an infinitely static reflection, or close enough as made no difference.
Myra had learned that “forever” and “infinity” were just other words for “a really long damn time” when you’ve lived for far longer than you could have conceived of before. They were abstracts and, ultimately, meaningless.
Sometimes she wondered if she wasn’t maybe getting a bit touched in the head. It would make sense. Living by your self, even under normal circumstances, could make anyone strange. But here, in this palace of light? Knowing what she knew, doing what she did? If there was such a thing as being beyond sanity, of being so sane you were, in fact, mad…but what was the point? This was her life, this was her task, there was no one else to do it. If there had been, they would’ve shown up by now. And yes, the job was important. Vital, even. But it was also tedious. She longed for something, anything, to be different.
Of course, she knew what it would mean if that ever happened.
So, she did what she always did. She collected the light, she hung the lanterns, she bathed in the pool. She wandered the halls and walked the floors and continued the work. She watched. She waited. She understood.
Still. As the years crept on, as the centuries grew thin and the millennia began to feel somehow…stale…she wondered:
Just what the hell had been the point of all this?