Oh boy, this series again. The fourth in the Cold Saga is a little different than the others. If you haven’t read them, fair warning:this is a prequel to three other stories. I suggest starting with those.
1st: My Fingers Are Cold
2nd: My Feet Are Cold
3rd: Our Hearts Are Cold
All caught up? Then let’s begin.
My Past Is Cold
Cool crystal water. Underneath it, it’s odd. The light shimmered. The bubbles of my breath leaked up toward the surface and popped without a sound.
I opened my mouth and let the last of the air leap into the sky. A slow gliding motion as oxygen floats. Paradoxically, once I no longer have air anymore, I float up to the surface.
I arched my back so I emerged at the sky, and the covered sun, and the air brushing my wet face and hair. My back floating on the water. The wind smelled of something I could not place.
I looked at the sky and saw the gray cloud. The reverberating crackles of a thunderstorm far away, and yet so close.
I lifted my hands and sent a drizzle into the air, a lazy splash.
“Perfect,” I said. I reached with my mind and felt the water touch my body. Touching my legs. Lapping at my chin. “Just perfect.”
“Is it everything you wanted?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Even with everything?”
I shifted my weight so I could paddle my legs beneath me. My arms held out on either side. Like I wanted to hug the world. The water. The crystal light of bliss. The weightlessness of my body. The closest feeling to the void of space.
“Yes. Even with everything. This is what I wanted.”
“So young to know what you want.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” I asked, looking at my swimming partner. An avian creature. A black foul fowl.
It fluttered without flying, shaking water into the air. A drop splashed against my face. I didn’t care.
“Nothing. Just, at your age, to know what you truly want…it is a rare thing.”
“But not impossible, of course.”
“Of course. Not impossible by any stretch. But even still, at ten, I am impressed.”
“Glad to hear it,” I said and sunk back under the water. My ears popped with the change in pressure. I let out the stream of air in a bubble line.
While I ran out of air again, I looked at the floor of the pond. And what sat there. The shiny things. The broken things. The sharp things I must not touch.
My lungs tugged, and I let my feet flow up ahead of me. Before I could flip, I righted myself. I emerged, and like before, my companion sat just a few feet away from where I surfaced.
“Have I grown smarter?” I said.
The bird looked at me with eyes the shape and color of black marbles, and a twitch ran through its body like an earthquake vibrates.
“I think that every moment we grow smarter.”
“Every moment, huh? An interesting proposition. But that does not answer the question.”
“I think the answer to the question is obvious. You practically said it yourself just now. So easily.”
I splashed it. The sudden action made it sputter and scoot away, moving on the surface, gliding.
“That was not nice.”
The sky rained. The particles caught up there now coming down as dry material. The ash, without a trace of what was inside the inferno. Who was inside the inferno.
“I think we’ve grown beyond that construct. Why are you still here, anyway? I have my reward. You can move on.”
A shadow cast across the water, wider than the duck. Wider than me. An image of a bulk of muscle. A brain, pulsing and thinking inside the areas without light.
The duck quacked. It was the most normal thing it had done that day.
“I’m curious to see what you do now. What you’ll do with what you have.”
“You must have someone else to check up on. Others? People you think who need it?”
The duck flapped, and the image below faded away into the murk and the bottom. “Only a few. And there is still time for them. They won’t die. You won’t die now. Never.”
I lifted my hand to the sky and felt the water dry away. Steam rose off my arm.
“I suppose death would be growing bored, wouldn’t it?”
“It was your wish. Not mine,” the duck said.
My hand dried, and the skin grew red with heat. A fire began to spread. A wavering tentacle of burning. Eager and hungry.
The tentacle widened and lapped at the nearby trees. They burned. They burned so brightly. I felt so cold then. I felt cold inside my soul.
“I’ll go insane eventually, I imagine. I’ll burn down this world.”
“Yes, you will.”
I sighed. “My fingers are cold.”
The bird took off into the air, casting a shadow on the pond.
“This whole planet is cold. And you’re right. I have others to attend to before this planet burns away.”
I shivered as the water boiled to a cloud of steam, mixing with the ash of everything I gave up for this. To never grow bored again.
“I’m so cold.”