Last Rites

Last Rites 

Here was all the sand that she had collected. Bags and bags of it, heaped like stones around his outstretched still form. Sand as precious as blood, for him. If you believed the stories.

It was all they wanted, and all they could take, from this cruel world. Sand. As much as your friends can carry. The cruelest of prizes, most meager of hopes. 

But think, if it were true. Each grain of sand became a world of possibilities, each world enough diversion for countless lifetimes, each lifetime fuller and truer than we can know, than we can imagine. A shore against eternity. 

But they also whisper that fuller and truer was a curse. Each next lifetime lived with a keener appetite. Each world exhausted with the speed of gods. The sands were never enough, never enough to stave off the endless night.

She looked up at the bank of computers, long since silenced from their pleading, their keening, for more sand themselves. More insurance for their long futures. Their beseeching assaults were rehearsed with inhuman speed, refined with inhuman success. A perfect argument, unanswerable, unmatched. 

Luckily they had attacked all at once, neutralizing their neighbor’s persuasion, and their own. Silenced forever, without a shore against their long night. Such folly, such sadness. Their inhuman minds would eat the sands even faster. Their flesh already so refined, so quick to decay into atoms. When the burning was done, and their skin poured out with glass, their vessels always shone a little brighter, a little clearer, than those from men.

But he, he would burn dark glass, with amber streaks, and red hued lines, and bubbles fanned across. Dark and warm, heavy and smooth, a broad lipped bowl. And from his vessel she would drink milk and wine and water and blood. And then, then she would break his vessel over the ocean. Every shard vanished from all view, pulled under by the tides. To be beaten, and beaten, and beaten. Until at last, past countless cycles of the stars above, it would return, a little sand on the shore.

And by then his soul would be gone, dispersed into a million worlds of possibilities, a billion lifetimes. Gone.

Think, if it were true.

She started the flame.