GALATIC CO-ORDINATES: 36-48-06-01
SUGGESTED SOUNDTRACK: (See Spotify link at end). At the River, Groove Armada. Love theme from Spartacus (Zero 7 Mix), Terry Callier. This World, Zero 7. Universe Unfolding, Oversoul Feat. Gram’ma Funk. Teardrop, Massive Attack. Lebenese Blonde, Theivery Coporation.
He runs his fingers through the sand. A million particles of former things, former everythings brush against his coarse hands. Sometimes rocks and the roots of tiny plants call his attention. But he carries on. Smoothing and disturbing. Smoothing and disturbing. Smoothing and disturbing.
The first sun is high and fills the sky with its deep orange throb-glow. The boy closes his eyes and feels the heat in waves. It lulls over to him in bass vibrations, touching the blue of his skin, cresting it into reds and golds. Soon the red moon will take over. The eye of the night will watch over them. But for now it is warm and peaceful.
The boy opens his eyes slowly. At the end of the day it is safe to look, safe to absorb. He can hear in the long distance, a rumble of voices, and a clatter of activity. The halls will be full now with eating and chewing. The fans will be waving, anticipating the hot night ahead. He knows he should be back, he knows they will be looking for him eventually. But only eventually. He will go back just before eventually.
He is waiting for them. Every day he waits for them.
On long legs he gets up and stretches. He smiles at the sun and spins his arms round in circles. The sand moves nearby. Sometimes, he thinks the water with its hills and its valleys is the sand without its clothes on. He wants to dig, rub away at it until he finds the wet underneath. He dances. One step and then the other, moving his elbows in a circle. He keeps his hands clasped at the fingers.
He smooths down his leaf-skirt and pushes his long hair backwards over his head. Where are they, he thinks? He goes to the edge of the forest, sighing. Here, great fronds pull and sway in the delicate breeze. The sand gives way into patterns of browns and greens. He pulls at the leaves and twigs and puts them in his belt.
He turns to the beach again.
His eyes open wide. There on the horizon like an ink-blot against the swirling molten sky is a black mark. It grows as it gets nearer until it is the shape of a sky-snake. They are here, he thinks, and hurries towards the water. He can see the blinking lights, reds and greens, like eyes. As it gets closer he can make out undulations as if many sections are connected. It moves slowly across the sky. It cuts through the ripple seams of heat. He can hear it too. A swish like the shaking of a nut-tree. A swish that sends white, milk trails behind it.
Soon the sky is full of them. Lazily they make their way from the end of the ocean over the forest and beyond. The boy wonders where they come from. He wonders where they go. A small one, like an arrowhead passes high above. It is black all over with purple wings. He jumps up and down and waves his arms. But it does not stop. It is a bird, he thinks, birds do not stop for us. His arms in the heat swirl from red to gold.
The sun is a half now. Its edges flicker.
The boy goes to the forest again and gathers some wood. He lays it down in the sand. A triangle to start, then a rectangle behind. He looks for the garn tree, with its purple sub-branches. Its offerings peel off like cooked meat. He arranges the purple twigs either side in leaning wings. He hears the evening music from the halls. Bells and strummed strings sound out.
They will be dancing, he thinks.
The boy stops for a minute and drinks. The heat is wrapping round him now, touching the base of his neck and crawling up his throat. He rolls his head round. He knows what is next. String. He carefully splits up the leaves of the sanga-bush into strands. He works quickly; using the remaining twigs his creation gains height and depth. The rectangle is now a box with no walls. The boy sits inside and holds the front. He swerves it to the left then to the right. He leans forward and laughs. His skin is glowing a bright yellow. He is almost the colour of the sand.
From the forest there is a voice. It tells him to come home. There at the edge of the forest is his mother, her skin swirling green and yellow. She is angry but she will forgive him. He stands up in his creation and tells her he’s coming. He unties the sticks carefully and lays them down until nothing is left. The heat of the evening hovers above the ground.
He heads to the forest. Tomorrow he will return to the beach again. He takes one last look towards the horizon. There is just one starship left, trailing lazily across the sun.