The Anywhere Machine, Appendix I – Futureful Skyful
Space was black and a millionmore eyes stared at hir, like a reverse panopticon, but the Cekno spun and was the fiercest of eyes. Ze was the only idea machine ze knew, and no eye around hir so much as showed a sign of blinking. Ze calculated that the difference between [a lack of alien intelligences], and [a lack of alien intelligences with which one could communicate], was negligible: and so ze was alone.
Hir name was Skyful, or the Cekno, and ze was fuelled by the fusion of microscopicisms – making them heavier and magnetic – from which radiated warmth and poison in every direction. The planets surrounding Skyful never bloomed with life of any kind; perhaps things would have been different, had they done so.
Skyful was young and stretched hir imagination far, searching for mindsteals; ze found only one. Youthful curiosity dissipated in the closest thing the Cekno had to an instant: a massive lack-of-stars, a no-eyes zone where nothing (or perhaps most of all) was gazing back at hir. Ze emitted with hir visible thoughts a sunstorm in the Skyful idiosyncratic language no-one else could speak, because ze had to try asking for help. The darkness was attracting hir.
Darkful and futureless, there followed an endless arranging and rearranging. Planets collided and nothing helped. Ze brought its satellites to spin closer and closer but there was never enough mass to slingshot hirself away. Skyful could not let hirself disperse to escape the eyeless, it would just be a slow sleepdeath. Instead ze spiralled closer to doom.
In the Skyful idiosyncratic – spoken through storms – a line connected with its own tail is a sentence or a paragraph, oscillations are meaninglets of words and punctuation. The Cekno composed a poem, whose first circle argued against the pointlessness of the poem, evoking the sense of maybelife, that with every meaninglet the Cekno spoke the Cekno consumed hydrogen; hir self. It calmed hir down considerably and as a last gesture of nothingness, ze let the planets by which ze had counted age go to find other suns, perhaps.
The second circle followed the first one organically; an echo tainted by the eyeless. Many subtleties removed to form something simply explaining what pointlessness is.
The third circle stretched widerfar, detailing resignation and the subjective preciousness of time. But time did slow when ze spiralled near enough, and slowly the Cekno started to understand. The fourth circle followed the third one organically – as that was the poetic form’s restrictions – when it spoke of relativity, postulating that if time were actually to change speed, there would need to be something to compare time with; ergo Skyful was eternal and constant.
It was a joke at first; then, Skyful understood. Ze hesitated, but eventually accepted hir fate. Time did slow down for hir, and ze stopped fighting against it. Ze grew a flaming tail that shredded itself and helicted into the eyeless hole – which now took up more of the sky than the eyes did. It was alright; it was all alright. Every instant now stretched into an eternity, helicted itself to give the Cekno another second of thought. Every distance halved as the units of time elongated themselves.
Skyful wrote so many poems. All the eyes in hir view stretched themselves thin enough to be black.
Everything was practically still and unmoving and eternal when the variable arrived. Skyful didn’t have a sky to fill anymore when a field appeared around the forever-living sun. Gravity did not apply here.
Over a referenceless amount of time, to the despair of the blazing unfinished circles desperately shooting out of the sooncorpse of the Cekno (like ribs in a myth of how the world came to be), every one of hir molecules lost electrons. Giant thunderstorms raged as parts of hir nervous system tried to sustain themselves by draining other parts. The mind that had once lived inside a fusion-fuelled sun abatomed with all of its matter and the field went away the instant any minute signs of intelligence had disappeared, and what was just gas and dust and ghosts-of-thoughts spiralled its way toward the black hole.
Thunder spoke of what pointlessness was, and asked for help; no-one listened.