We Follow The Dreamer

Posted: March 28, 2008 in Brawl, Dark, Fiction, Sci-Fi

Chapter 25

Zariah throws a limpid gaze back at me. “I’m going to take you back to my house. Until you get your own place, you’ll be staying with me.”
We wind through the meandering streets and hurried citizens, making our way to Zariah’s home. The template of the surrounding area changes subtly, slowly giving way to residential homes and apartments. Each one has a unique look, ranging from wildly abstract and artistic to an austerely Victorian design.
I’m suddenly pulled to a stop in front of a faded-looking patch of what appears to be several different sheets of metal welded together. From brass to tin, it appears to be as multicolored as the stone walls I first saw in Da Vinci. It looks out of place, a piece of metal set into a brick wall.
Zariah drops my hand and places hers on the wall. For a few seconds nothing happens.
Then the door liquifies, the different colors swirling to make a warm, uniform silver color. Zariah’s hand sinks into it and pries open a doorway.
My eyes feel like they’re going to pop out of my head as easily as Zariah’s hand had slipped into the previously solid metal wall.
Zariah frowns. “The door’s sluggish today. That’s strange.” She shrugs with a care-free air about her. “Oh well. Just gotta tweak it a bit. I’ll code your hand into it in a sec. Come on in.”
“What the fuck was that?!” I’m still shocked at what I’ve just witnessed.
Zariah looks surprised for a moment at my outburst, then relaxes. “This is memory alloy. It remains solid until a properly coded hand rests on it. I made it a few years ago, but it’s not a wholesale product yet. Still testing it out. Can’t have it go to the Market when it’s this sluggish at only three years old. I’m aiming for a five year warranty.”
“Holy shit…”
Zariah smiles indulgently at me. “I keep forgetting that you’re a Faller! Things are so different from Earth here. That’s mainly due to Cat, I have to admit.”
“Why–”
“Look, come inside and I’ll answer all the questions you have.” She grabs my hand again and pulls me inside.
The place is actually very neat. I feel strangely surprised, considering the wild pink hair constrained beneath Zariah’s bandanna. There’s a comfortable looking sofa pushed up against the far wall, a simple wooden desk with a computer humming contently on it, and a table with several chairs placed around it. Around the computer lies a bevy of wires and circuitry, a tangled rat’s nest of electronics. Zariah picks up a small pad from the pile, a rectangular object that is slightly larger than an iPod.
“Sit down and place your hand on this.” Zariah smiles encouragingly at me. I sit on the couch and carefully fit my fingers onto the screen. After a moment, pale blue light leaks out from under my hand.
“You’re in.” For the first time since I’ve met her, she locks a steel gaze on me until I look away uncomfortably.
“What, do I have something in my teeth, or–”
“You tell me that you want to know everything about this place. Is that right?” I can’t fathom the meaning of her question; her eyes reveal nothing.
“Yeah…so what?”
“You don’t care about what happened to Earth, your home, your family–”
“I don’t have a family.” My terse tone derails her words and she blinks quickly, obviously not expecting such a response.
“OK…your home then, friends? You don’t miss anything? You just want your life to be here now?”
I pause for a moment. Too long of a moment.
“I mean, it’s none of my business really, but I’d like–”
“The only thing I enjoyed about life was fighting. There’s a hell of a lot more of that here.”
Silence reigns for a while. It’s oppressive, and I feel like Zariah is sliding away from me the more I refuse to speak.
“So, what do you want to know?” Relief blooms up in me at the sound of Zariah’s warm voice. I like this girl a lot and I don’t want to alienate her so soon after meeting her.
“Okay. First off, why is it you guys don’t have any guns? All I’ve seen are those weird crossbow things. Aren’t the Saints a militia?”
Zariah looks pensive, as though she shouldn’t say what she’s thinking. “What you should be asking is how we manufacture things. Let me tell you about that, and I’m sure a lot of your questions will answer themselves.”
She stands and crosses her arms, looking distant as she speaks. “Well, when the first humans arrived here, there were few natural resources that were really renewable, much like Earth. We were determined not to make the same mistakes as last time, exploiting resources for personal gain.
“When Cat arrived, our careful preservation of materials was rendered moot. Though we’re completely solar-powered and all our food is organic, we no longer needed to worry about burning out the planet.
“You know how Cat is the Muse of Dreams, right?”
“Yeah, he told me about Miur and all that.”
“The Noir– where Cat lives– is basically a repository of dreams. It’s his city, his planet, his everything. And when Cat dreams–” Zariah hesitates for a minute, meeting my gaze squarely. She takes a deep breath. “–he can take objects from his dreamworld and physically manifest them in the real world. Everything we have is because of him. Without Cat–” She rubs her eyes. “–we’re nothing.”

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