That night, like so many others that year, twinkled on the young ex-battle operator. His name was Casio.
The night cast a purple hue, as if the world was tinted deep violet. And this night, like so many others, Casio stood at the cliffs watching the waves, the stars and the horizon.
Tonight? He took another drink from the long, slender bottle.
No. He sighed and turned his thoughts to more important things.
“Now where is Gabrielle?”
She was in the folio, in front of the screen. The screens of this time are thin. Technology is at such a point that silicon wafers are 1 nanometer, or eight Hydrogen atoms, thick and super cooled to allow for circuits the size of a period (.) and the ability to compute out complex algorithms at near the speed of light. Thus, the screens are about 5 times the thickness of a sheet of paper. This is so that one could set a screen down and it would not blow away.
“Hi, Honey.” He said. He removed his shoes. Actually, shoes nowadays are really a type of supportive fiber optic spring that cushions your feet. There is one strap (since no one runs anymore) and the shoes appear to be more of a sandal than a shoe.
He crossed the floor to the fridge. The floor was warm, being heated by a snake’s pit of semi-conducting coils made of platinum. To decrease heat costs the coils are only activated by human pressure preset by the thermostat on the wall by the fridge. The fridge, well, not a lot has changed there. You still kill the environment every time you throw one out.
Casio opened the fridge and pulled out another long, slender bottle. He pulled the top off and brought the bottle to his lips. “Anything interesting on the screen?”
She changed the screen from the weather, which she was watching, to the cable input. She turned and, seeing the bottle, thought OhGodNotAgain.
“There’s nothing,” she sighed. She turned away so he could not see her tears start.
“But I told you; you won’t find anything on the weather screens or the meteor reports.”
“Then where do I look?” She was a little angry. She crossed over to the clock.
The clock is my favorite piece in their spacious (at least in that time) living room. The clock is built to mimic those of your time, Gabrielle or rather the antique, fancy clocks of your time. It is very gothic. Shaped like a Catholic Cathedral of old, it has three stories and 16 spires total. Adorning the windows and doors are 18 beautiful arches in miniature. Standing guard over the entire scene are 4 gargoyles perched like hideous, winged devil-dogs warning evil of the presence of God in such a hallowed place. The gargoyles sit at the front, rear and midpoints of both side of the Cathedral, pointing, respectably, north, south, east, and west. Slightly removed from the gargoyles are the spouts. These huge, gaping mouths of grotesque animal faces pour forth night’s rain, should it ever come. Inside were thousands of intricately carved and fashioned prayerful minions. They sat on a large number of pews, knelt in serenity and security, and strolled down the aisles. There was no priest. It must have been adoration time.
But look. The peasants move! That’s right. The mechanics of the clock are incredibly complex, and I have not the knowledge or the paper to describe the inner workings of this beautiful timekeeper. The people walk down the aisles, turn back, go to the pew, admire the brilliant stained glass windows, and respect the Blessed Sacrament at the front. As miniature people stuck in a time vortex, repeating the same actions anon unto eternity, these faint memories of the dedicated go about their duties obliviously.
On the front of the clock, stretching from the left corner spire to the right corner spire, was the LCD display. This showed the people what the time was. It also was the brains of the operation. Located inside the crystal display pad was a miniature hard drive and microprocessor. These two combined together act as the basis for the pilgrim’s movements, sometimes according to the date (which would show up if you pulled the North-facing Gargoyles head twice).
The clock struck 11:00 at night. The hard drive inside activated the speakers hidden inside the Cathedral walls. They played a beautiful concerto of symphonic music. As the music died down, a soothing female voice announced the time.
“I don’t think you CAN look. You’ll just have to trust me.”
“You mean your dream? Your unsettling feeling about Midnight? Who’s the scientist here?” she asked. She is probably not considered a scientist by your standards, Gabrielle. “Why can’t you just give me facts?”
“Honey, I love you. Why don’t you trust me? I’m an artist,” he consolled her. He is probably not considered an artist by your standards, Gabrielle. “I work on inspiration and emotion.”
She took the long, slender bottle from his hands and placed it on the table. Then she put his arms around her and he held her.
“I love you, too,” she looked longingly into his eyes, “but I’m scared. Scared that you’re right, with your emotionalism and romanticism, and that I’m wrong, with my facts and figures and rock-hard, certain proof.”
“I want to be wrong. I know what I have to do, if it happens.”
There was a pause of comfort. Then it was gone.
She whispered, “Hold me tighter.”
Casio woke up early, which was quite contrary to his custom. He was used to sleeping in until noon. Today, he was nervous. It was the day. There was no hangover this morning, surprisingly enough. There was a reason that his prediction had not shown on neither the meteorological nor the astrological charts. This was not an event of either category.
She should have been reading the bible.
He could not explain how he knew, but he did. It was a feeling he had. Moreover, it was, in part, the dream. That had really done it. The dream had ended with that day’s date. A lump rose in his throat. At exactly 11:59 that night, The Dragon would sweep exactly a third of the stars from the sky. At least, that is what he had dreamed.
He stood in front of the fridge with another long, slender bottle and let his eyes and mind unfocus and relax.
Gabrielle rose from the bed and saw Casio in the kitchen. Derivative, a sort of pet, came into the kitchen and joined them. Derivative is a special kind of creature. He is a robot. Derivative is built low to the ground as a sort of moving footstool. He (it) can also function as a calculator, Guard Dog, household encyclopedia, housekeeper, and family friend. The Derivative is square shaped. It has six wheels that stick out from the frame like the wheels of an off-road vehicle. Two latches on the sides allow one to open the top (which is the Derivative’s back). There is a keyboard and a display screen. This explains the ability of the calculator (a useless novelty) and the encyclopedia. Two input feelers (one shaped like a straw, the other like a box and connected lid both with cables retreating back into Derivative) are necessary for the other functions. You can place the first feeler into a liquid and it will scan for a number of poisonous compounds. Reverse wise you can put the straw into a liquid and it will tell you what you have. It goes the same for solids, if you use the box-lid device. It turns out to be quite a wonderful and annoying little gizmo.
Gabrielle walked over to her mate and kissed him on the cheek. The glass in his hand slipped out of his grip and bounced off the floor spilling its expensive contents to the floor. Thankfully, not much is made to break in that time. Derivative immediately floated over to the spill and began to suck it up.
Casio snapped out of it. “Today.”
“No, honey,” she consoled. “Not ever.”
He shook his head. “I’m going to town today.”
He always goes to town, she thought.
“When I come back, around 11:30 tonight, I want you to join me at the cliffs. We’ll watch the end together.”
“Alright. I love you.” He stopped at the door. He looked back.
He said, “Tell me that when I’m right.”
It was 11:30, or so the Cathedral clock showed. The two young lovers stood on the firm ground of the cliffs. Their sea front house overlooked a spectacular view of the ocean. That was all they saw, for there were no islands, boats, or wildlife out there. It was as though the world knew, or at least was wary of, what Casio knew.
Casio was scared.
“Casio,” Gabrielle said, “I want you to know that whatever happens, I still and will always love you. My only regret is that I found you so late in my life. I thank God everyday for you. Do you know that? Everyday.” They embraced. She could feel his tears on her neck.
“I love you more than life itself. From the time I knew this would happen until now I’ve been praying that I’m wrong, pleading with God not because of MY life, but yours. I would die for you, if it meant that you would live.” He kissed her cheek. They broke apart and he took her hand.
It was 11:55. The stars twinkled maliciously. Were some moving? Yes. The brighter, closer stars began a slow deliberate journey to the horizon. The stars got brighter and closer, but they also changed their colors. At first, they were yellow, then green, and blue. When they reached the color blue the stars became a wand with a long azure shaft and sapphire jewel in the tip. The sapphire became indigo and finally purple as it stretched longer and longer and finally smashed into the ocean.
There was a purple flash, and they saw a wall of purplish seawater stretch up into the sky as a ring of water the same color started towards them. Then, preceding the purple wave, came a sound wave. It rushed over the water at 346 meters per second. Like a wind, the sound blast brought with it a spray of warm water after it threw Casio and Gabrielle to the ground. They were wet and got back up. Casio saw the horizon as more stars went crashing into it, sending their watery arms up into the sky, their rings out at the world, and their sounds blasts likewise.
Casio yelled at Gabrielle to get into the house and seal it. The house still stood. If it had been constructed out of materials from your time, Gabrielle, it would have been faggots. She ran through the door and pushed the green button under the guard box. Immediately all the doors locked, all the windows shut and latched and the house began to sink. The outline of the house had been dug deep, 150 feet deep, into the earth and reinforced with Adamantium, an incredibly strong metal alloy. Gabrielle thought back to when Casio had requested this wholly unnecessary security measure and wondered if even back then he knew something. The house came to a stop and the lights went out. The only light came from the display pad of the beautiful Cathedral clock. The time was 12:15.
Casio saw the first ring of water fast approaching. Then he heard the metallic click as the metal plates sealed off the hole to his house and his wife. He stood his ground. He did not think he would die. In fact, he was sure that he would live on, that is what had happened in his dream…
The wave hit. The wave itself rose 150 feet over his head and came smashing down with enough force to shatter the house Casio had just sent into the ground. But, thankfully, his house was underground now. His Gabrielle was safe. That was all that mattered.
The wave hit.
At that second he was gone. Instead of killing him, the wave took him away from the world. He was pulled from reality and thrown into another world. A world of winter. Everything was white but a dark white. When he peered up into the sky all he saw was blackness: no clouds, no celestial bodies, nothing. He was in a forest where the trees still had leaves though those broad, green limbs of the foliage should have fallen off long ago. Piles of snow sat on the green grass (yes, he could see the grass in parts looking as healthy as in summer) and light airy flakes of snow floated leisurely from the sky. Then he saw before him an arch and beneath it a door.
He started walking towards the door. At first, his gait was paced and methodic. Nevertheless, he felt something in the pit of his stomach that told him to walk faster. He picked up the pace. Faster. Faster. Soon he was jogging, and then running. He got closer and closer. He was sprinting towards the door now, but it was not towards a door, it was towards something else. Towards… Gabrielle? Yes. Exit? No. Life? Yes. Yes. Yes!
Then he realized. He stopped just short of the door. That same feeling that had gotten him running had stopped him in his tracks. His eyes unfocused and his brain stopped thinking. He had his hand raised to the doorknob, but stopped it and dropped the hand to his side. He fell to his knees, but he was already down. He slumped over, but he was already on the ground. He closed his eyes, but they were already closed.
He died, but he was already dead.
The mind can be a terrible thing, Gabrielle, when faced with death. Especially its own. It is one of those devices that, being one of stubborn fiber, holds on to a pleasant unreality for as long as it can. Up until the last drop of blood rids itself of the gray matter and the brain finally calls it quits.
Casio, in those few seconds before his death, had pushed himself into a world that did not exist, and so filled himself with false hope and clung desperately to the little life he had left.
Gabrielle never knew this. When she woke the next morning, her husband was sleeping as usual, but something was different. She screamed as she realized he had died in his sleep. Just the night before he had been out stargazing, as if nothing was wrong, and then he was gone. She knew it was his drinking. That had done it. It was a tragic thing, but if one goes into town everyday and drinks himself ignorant and unfeeling, one cannot expect to live long. The shame comes in that his lover didn’t know this. It’s said that she cried for years, but that is another story. This one is about Casio. Casio who died, but he was already dead.