Previously on Darklight: a traveller, the railway guard Anélia, and the Ibid Bird, came to the Inverse Realms, where time runs backwards. They have taken the electro-trolley to Sonandinho, where Selena lives. The first episode is here.
We disembarked, I complained about
the less-than-clement weather: rain flakes
and snowlets that rose and fell around us,
the cycle of water in an inconvenient microcosm,
and there we were.
I was knocking at Selena’s sunset door,
while the Ibid Bird was pecking at her window,
like some rhymeless raven,
and Selena answered, anticlimactically.
Hello strangers, do come in. I’ve brewed
some tea. Are you selling something?
Selena was glowing more than I remembered,
and when she spoke, there was an unexpected echo.
Her lips were out of sync, as if reality was overdubbed.
I wondered aloud, and she explained.
You’re not from—it is not—the Realms—an echo,
it’s the—the Realms—immediate future—an echo,
it’s the immediate—my future words—future
Concentrate, Anélia told me, it helps to have
at a time,
and to Selena, He takes his tea
with a lot of milk and three sugars.
Anélia had guessed correctly, but I was troubled.
I remembered every moment of our year together,
yet Selena had forgotten me completely.
When she’d served refreshments,
I showed her the object* she’d given me
long ago, as mysterious as ever, and told her
of my quest to find her.
It’s an unclassifier, a relic
from the Late Romantic Era
of the Trilobite Ascendancy,
an inelegant design, engineered
to serve no purpose whatsoever.
Anélia thought differently.
Those romantic trilobites were no fools.
We classify the unknown, file its representatives
in pigeonholes: shop assistants, railway guards,
and strangers. All it takes to change
that careless disrespect is a single thought.
The Bird left the rim of his teacup
and perched on Anélia’s shoulder.
If you’re right, the object is no more
than a placebo. I have it somewhere.
She searched the cupboards,
and produced a pebble identical
to the one in my hand, etched with
the same obscure symbols.
I looked from one to the other,
a bewildered oscillation,
until Selena clarified.
I haven’t given it to you yet.
For me, this is our first meeting,
and apparently, I’ll meet you
in the future, and gift you
Do you see? My future is your past.
It always was and always will be thus,
farewell and hello, as surely as
the night and day chase each other.
And you will never return here,
because you’ve never visited before.
My unclassifier clattered on the parquetry,
and I spilled my tea in the saucer.
*the mysterious object appeared here
- Time travel causes paradoxes, which I’ve discussed here. The Realms are equivalent to time travel, and there are paradoxes roaming freely in Darklight.
- The Beatles, Hello, Goodbye – youtube.
As described in good news for axolotls, long ago, the Goddess of Start-ups allowed evolution to go too far, and baboons wearing lab coats and Armani silk ties came to rule the earth. It did not end well.
She was persuaded to try again, and the second time, she truncated evolution at the axolotls. They were cute, and their amphibious civilization rose to dominance. Although they wore no ties, or any clothes apart from colorful scarfs, they too destroyed the planet.
“Third time lucky,” the goddess thought, and stopped evolution at the trilobites. The story of the Trilobite Ascendancy is best left for the trilobites themselves to tell.
A look at the trilobite ascendancy (youtube video), from a photograph of Sydney’s badly polluted Cooks River. The soundtrack is based on my lack of understanding of how advanced trilobites would communicate and travel. Ascendancy is a UHD video made with VEE, the Visual Evolution Engine, and ALISA, adaptive art automation, rather than animation. Reduced quality, but best viewed in 4K/full screen.