So here's my third book. When I look back, I still can't believe this was only the third. I could almost swear I wrote more books between the last one and this. Maybe that was the year I was trying my hand at short stories. :shrug:
Here it is in all its glory: Blink of an I. (For those of you in a different font - that's capital I, not a lower-case L.) It's a speculative fiction - set way way in the future after the world has already been ruined. It begins in one isolated city where the populous has been split into castes...
Seven colors, seven castes,
Created so our Union lasts.
Seven colors, Black and White—
Keep our Union future bright.
Violet heeds the servant call.
Indigos are helpmates all.
Management is left to Blue.
Health belongs to Greenish hue.
Yellow creates for Union needs.
Orange educates for Union deeds.
Leaving Red to shepherd all.
We answer our great Union’s call.
Beyond the colors, above the caste
Black maintains the laws they’ve passed.
Above all others, as is their right,
The Union wears the color White.
The shining light above us ever,
May the Union live forever.
The twisted hulk stretched into the air above her like a man straining to grasp the hand of a loved one being pulled away. On the opposite side of the strait, Mary could almost make out another someone reaching through the fog.
Or maybe she was only remembering that it was there. Every chance she got, she trekked the many blocks to stand on this strip of land between the ocean and the bay to wait. Unsure of what she was waiting for, and yet still waiting. On sunny days, she could see across the thick belt of water where a twin husk reached toward the city. The two corroded towers between rose from the waves—silent guardians of a past she would never know.
Her fingers traced, yet again, the strange symbols rising off the brass plate at the base. They probably told what the expanse was for, but their meaning was lost to her. Below her the surf crashed against the rocks, and silently slithered back into the bay, whispering secrets in a language she wished to understand.
Turning her back to the mystery, she cast her eyes across the bay toward the hills and wondered if the upper castes who lived there knew what any of it meant. Surely someone up there had been taught these things. At some point someone thought this structure was important enough to build. It ought to be important enough for someone to remember, even after all the years that must’ve passed.
But if anyone still understood, she knew they would never tell someone like her. She was nothing to them.
Trailing her fingers through the rust, she tried to let go of the pain struggling against her station always brought. In this place, her caste level didn’t matter. The structure behind her didn’t care if she was a lowly Indigo or a lofty Red. After her years in the foundling home, she found structures were better company anyway. The wasted creation above never pointed and laughed at her questionable parentage. It never shunned her because her jumper was a coarser cloth or a poorer color. The warped and corroded metal simply stood, making her feel that maybe once upon a time people didn’t care about such things either. Clearly if men could build such mysterious monuments, they wouldn’t have had time to dwell on origins and castes.
Her gaze drifted partway along the coast and a few blocks in. Nestled inside the grid of streets was her other favorite place in the city. Nothing more than sandy brick and dusty windows, without any outstanding characteristics to draw anyone’s attention, the building—whatever was within—was still prominent amongst the surrounding derelicts surrounding. Like its brethren, it was worn with age. Unlike them, it wore age proudly. Though there was a cracked window pane here and a crumbling brick there, those minor details did nothing to associate the structure with the stolid sentinels around it. None of the others would ever rise to the grandeur it must’ve once been wrapped in.
She never saw a pair of bright eyes peek from between the heavy draperies, but each time she watched, she was sure they were there. Somehow she just knew there was a warm body tucked away, secure behind their folds. She couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Maybe tomorrow she would visit. Perhaps then she would summon the courage to quench her curiosity.
If there was time. Between work and sleep, there was never enough time.
From her perch above the city, she could see the first bright fingers of dawn, inching over the hills to chase away the mist. Their arrival was her cue, and as much as she was loathe to leave, she turned her feet away from the mystery.
The first dozen steps were little more than the shuffle of a child sent off to bed too soon. She never wanted to leave this place. The structure, whatever use had once served, was now a treasured friend. When a bell sounded in the distance, though, her heart seized against her ribs, and her pace quickened. By the time she moved another ten paces, she was running.
“Late again,” her superior would say with a terse shake of his head. She would be shuttled into her cube, and set to do twice the work, if only as punishment for her transgressions. If she worked very hard, she might be released to leave before the clock blinked twelve.
Not until she reached the two-story building that held her workhome did she finally slow her pace. She gasped for breath like the fish the Violet fishermen pulled from the bay with their great nets. “Just a few more minutes,” she thought as she tried to right herself. She cast a glance toward the sickly shell. “They can wait a few more…”
“You okay?” said a rough voice behind her. “Look pretty done in to me. Sick maybe? You want I should get some help?”
She opened her mouth to answer, but the dark purple of his coverall stayed her words. One glance toward the vidcam above them, and she swallowed her reply. She was in enough trouble already. Talking to a Violet would ruin her for sure—if the Union Guard was bothering to watch the playback. Most days they didn’t bother with the vidcams in her sector, but the way her luck always ran, today would be the day. He’d probably get the worst of it, but she couldn’t afford to have another mark in what she was sure was a very thick Union Guard file.
Giving him no more than a quick nod, she pushed herself away from the lamppost. His eyes narrowed and he reached out to steady her. Shrugging his hands away, she hissed, “Get back to work before they see you,” under her breath as she staggered away. One quick tug to straighten her own indigo coverall and she was as ready as she would ever be.
The Violet was still standing on the sidewalk staring after her when she closed the door. His soft brown hair fell over one eye, and despite the fact those eyes were now clouded with hurt, she could see they might easily sparkle with laughter. He looked like someone she would’ve enjoyed talking to in another world.
But this was the only world she had to live in.
Speculative fiction is my first love and I still believe in this book. Maybe someday someone else will believe in it, too.