Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
We are alone. There is no body and no thing out there in the ink that surrounds our spinning ball of candy streaked blue. No migratory Sibylla trees on Aeneas 10, no carnivorous Hing fungus hanging in carnal embrace from the ceiling of the public latrine on the outskirts of Haz. No beings, sentient or otherwise, whittling away their days beneath distant and alien suns.
But there is a place. A room with a bed, set alone and stark on a clastic plain upon which even the minim specks of its shale lay deathly dormant and unstirred. The pale grey face of a moon cast beneath the half-light dim of a dying star, the spindly reach of whose fingers offer just enough light to ward off the ice, but never the gnawing black cold.
A room on the very farthest edge of the universe, a place where space has thinned to a wisp, where it undulates and flaps like the mottled scrag edge of a flag. Embattled and weary, forgotten and defeated by time.
The room is a cube, a sterile and functionary space. In it the aforementioned bed and, at its foot, a chair that screeches as it swivels.
“Hello Frances”, offers the doctor, now sitting and swiveling and screeching.
“Why do you call me that?”, answers Frances, thinking that she may possibly be Frances while, at once, also pretty certain that she is not.
“It’s a family name. But, my Frances is now long since gone. I think it suits you.”
“Who am I?”, she snaps and her fists ball and knuckles crack as her fingernails dig deep into her palms.
“You’re nothing. You have no name. You know this.”
“I don’t want to be here. I’m awake when I sleep and I sleep when I wake. I’m feeble, stupid. I’m weak”.
“You’ve always been here.”
Frustration milks sweat and sweat loosens the restraints that bind Frances to the anchor that is her bed. She rises and lunges and a forearm is stiffened and smashed up and under the doctor’s chin. Teeth snap together and the tip of her tongue is severed. A lump of still spasming meat that now curls and licks at the floor.
“You want to hurt me?”, spits the doctor. “You want me naked? You want me servile or, do you want me to hit you?”
“Stop. I want this to stop. I’m so tired of this fucking nothing.”
“And, so, you become violence? Frustration, and you lash out? Basic instincts, Frances.”
“Stop calling me that. I don’t want to be like this anymore. You’re killing me.”
“It’s not death. In sixteen minutes you’ll be born. You won’t remember me nor this place. But you will wonder as you get older and you will question what is to come after you end. This is it. Nothingness. Make your life count. I’ll see you soon.”
The window in the room plays with a mind now in flux as it burns with the barest of light. The voyeur monocle of a moon so lonely and dark and barren. It peeks at its prisoner, its ward, itself as Frances hovers on the edge of her stained sheet strewn bed and it hopes for a glimpse of her breasts.
Her stygian hair undulates about her face like plants that grow in the sea. Covering her mouth, muting her voice and stealing her breath as she sinks ever further into the canal, and the room and the doctor flake and peel and fall away and a baby girl she is born.