The Pulse: The Great Void

Antiny the 23rd

Antiny adjusted his quantum lens in the direction of the thin pink line he saw on the edges of his spectrometer.

It looked like the line he’d seen in his dreams, yet it was unlike any colour he’d seen. It was as if someone had taken the crimson of his native sky and then burnished it in a forge so that it lit up the sky like a strange flare from Nowhere.

300 million years ago Antiny had left the lonely planet of Antigua, which was a mere 800 kilometres in diameter. It had floated in the Void for over 80 trillion years. For aeons it floated, solitary, in a vacuum so dark that no one on that planet imagined there was any other source of light, of life, of company in the entirety of space. The Antiguans had never seen a sun, and had never been guided by any light save that generated by the cobalt-coloured glow of the soil.

Yet the Antiguans were a patient species. They were resigned as Icelanders to the brutal vicissitudes of a meaningless fate. And like Vikings they gnawed against the ropes that kept their houses tethered in the cold north wind. They chomped at the bits that kept their horses glued to the rocky surface of their dark blue fields. Eventually, they turned their tether ropes into tiller ropes and bolt ropes, and set sail for the inky void.

The Antiguans survived their long journeys by telling themselves stories. Having mined the secrets of dark matter infraction, they had endless internal realms into which their narratives could expand. Antiguans judged each other by the degree to which their epics cohered, and the degree to which they mined mirror meanings and fringe meanings, which lay within the reader but just out of reach, just beyond the edges of what could be clearly grasped. Like Chinese poets, they used words to push their readers beyond words, into a landscape of possible meanings.

Their narratives started out in a straight line, but soon took fantastic tangents, bending in arcs this way and that. The true connoisseur of Antiguan Literature looked within and beyond the circles and arcs, and guessed at the general direction which could only be verified later, or perhaps never at all. The art of the writer was to keep the reader guessing. As in art, so in life, so said Antiguinius the 7th, who was the first Antiguan to demonstrate that imaginary worlds were infinitely more interesting than the dark grim planet of Antigua.

Antiny adjusted his quantum lens in the direction of the thin pink line he saw on the edges of his spectrometer.

——

Next: Jason & the Diplomat: Part 1

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