By Gian Ellis-Gannell
Editor in Chief
Twice before, a book had turned him inside out and altered who he was, had blasted apart his assumptions about the world and thrust him onto a new ground where everything in the world suddenly looked different- and would remain different for the rest of time, for as long as he himself went on living in time and occupied space in the world.
Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1
Enamoured as she was with the rough prism between her palms, tendrils of anticipation shook expectant hands. Its fine crafting, its flawless lines; Rain was awed by the wondrous, imperfect thing.
What kind of a world had inspired the creation of such a strange object? To put it in a capsule and send it hurtling into the unknown… What desperation had existed, that the inhabitants of Earth would so willingly part with their creation?
Rain considered this as she stared into the glass coating of the prism. The capsule containing it had hurtled into their small colony; displacing dust that now coated their solar panels. Tree had gone out to retrieve the foreign object and haul it back into the hub. Rain was instantly captivated by its strange familiarity.
Now transfixed by the glint of a red blinking in the control room, she rapped her nails on tempered glass in time with the pulsating, wondering what the prisms’ purpose could be-
brushing each side of the object, cool steel whispered against her fingertips…
a small indent clicked inward.
English words appeared on the glass that was now a screen, accompanied by a peculiar, green-hued image.
Her heartbeat rose as each phrase emerged, and she read of ‘bark’ and ‘leaves’. With the same look of incredulousness as a child first seeing snow, she took in the height, the rawness, the natural perfection of what they called a ‘tree’.
There was nothing like this on Newhome. She tried to imagine how it would feel to touch such a miraculous, living thing, for just a moment. But holding metal, and completely encased in fabricated cubes of metal, she could not know. What would it be like, to watch a real tree, live and grow over the years? In her mind, it struggled to exist.
Gradually though, Rain began to piece together the world that she belonged to- somewhere animals roamed freely, and plants made oxygen for all. Where trees gave you shelter, warmth and paper.
A sorrowful smile- this was the sacrifice to be made for books.
This world was her identity. She had to know.
The sacred knowledge within this prismic book had been written by human hands, not the artificial-intelligence of Newhome.
She kept reading.
Time drifted away, and Rain reached the end, where
the words described something wonderful…
clouds of condensation and replenished the Earth.
She smiled softly- a process so simple sustained an entire planet.
Eagerly, she searched to see what this falling water looked like,
But where everything else had an image,
there was only black.
turned the power off and on
crashed her hand against the screen…
Still, blackness remained
Then, where there had been blackness, a strange, triangular symbol appeared.
She pressed it.
And waited -
a soft crackle broke the silence.
At first a blur of white noise, a rhythm emerged from the nothing. A soft, soothing drumming that whispered of safety and life and called to her.
What was it?
It was… so familiar, so comforting. She had never heard it before, yet somehow it meant… everything.
And suddenly then, her name had meaning, for the drumming was water,
from a great height.
Some primal part of her stirred, recognising her namesake.
And she smiled, for she was possibly the only one alive to know what rain truly was. What it sounded like.
Newhome ceased to be hers after this moment,
Because though Earth didn’t belong to Rain in words or pictures.
Earth belonged to Rain when it was her name that rose above the silence
And though she would never see it, staring out into the nothingness of Newhome’s sky, she took solace in knowing that she would always know it, and that nothing could take away
the sound of rain.