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Terminus Guard

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Along the shore the cloud waves break,

The twin suns sink behind the lake,

The shadows lengthen

in Carcosa

Strange is the night where black stars rise,

and strange moons circle through the skies,

But stranger still is

Lost Carcosa

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,

Where flap the tatters of the King,

Must die unheard in

Dim Carcosa

Song of my soul, my voice is dead,

Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed

Shall dry and die in

Lost Carcosa


-Cassilda's Song, Ambrose Bierce







"Their heart grew cold; they let their wings down. The system only dreams in total darkness."

-The last transmission of ISIC designation 1, Bina Aspen-48, before her destruction of all files involved in Martine Rothsblatt's Immortal Simulacric Identity Core project.


The meaning of this blend of an ancient Sapphos fragment and 21st century lyrics by the National is disputed by cyberethical philosophers and artificial intelligence psychologists  to this day.







Elsewhere, an internal clock, marching on with atomic precision, signifies the passing of 3650 days. This would arbitrarily mark the completion of a tenth spin of a rock the blue has never been to around a star the blue has never seen, and the irrationality of such a metric for the spacefaring briefly lights his countenance with the rare commodity of interest. What a mark Earth has left on the universe, for her size. The father used to sing old songs from there, not that he'd visited their common mother either, tune borne up into the soft grey of the ecumenopolis and rattling off the hard edges of bird spike and tenement and the blue snatches an especially vivid shard out of the air, echoes:


When I was just a baby


my momma told me,




The blue isn't sure if the father is the blue's father.


always be a good boy


don't ever play with guns."


The blue isn't sure if the mother is his mother, either.


But I shot a man in Reno


just to watch






The blue doesn't think she would recognize him, even if she was.


When I hear that whistle blowing,


I hang my head






If there is more to the song than this he does not remember, and so this impromptu commemorative tangent dies as quickly as it came. He returns to pacing his cage in the figure eight of that especially rare subspecies of tiger who, faced with the conundrum of a freedom to die now or to languish and so delay extinction has had the decision removed from his hands by the race that brought him to this point in damning pantomime of mercy.


At this particular analogy the blue feels an anger rising, hackle-like, for objects so long passed in front of the fire of his cave that he now regards them as figments of a cherished dream. It is a surprising anger to hold for unreal things, he thinks, and its ebb and burn border on the rhythmic and autonomic. Like a beating heart, it simply is, and if it were not then he would cease to be. He wonders if the black is angry. He asks her, but she is reticent as always. He's glad not to know, as he is the only possible target for the emotion, and he likes to think she is fond of him.


Somewhere between years two and three, the blue had toyed with discarding gender pronouns in the absence of much of anyone to say them or even verify his claims. A few months of calling both himself and the black 'they', however, nearly eroded the tenuous but neat boundary between them, and in fear he recoiled to 'he' and began to call the black 'she' for good measure. It would, after all, be more than he could bear for the pair of them to be just one entity all this time. He could not bear to think he has always been alone.


The black is all around the blue, and her reach extends so far the blue has never seen her distant shore, though he once walked unceasing for five years. That or she is curved like an egg; there is no way of knowing if the blue has passed where he began on his journey on the inside of her shell. The difference is unimportant. Both amount to the same truth. They are the only two beings who have ever existed, and there is nothing to see but each other. The blue fell asleep once and imagined there were other colours, other souls to wear them. He used to blame them for waking him up. He remembers screaming his plans of vengeance to the black while she bore the same slight with enviable grace. See, she always knew what it would take him six years to remember.


He had made it all up. He had been so very convincing, yes, but it was an illusion all the same.


There was the darkness before, there was the lie, and then there was the darkness after. The blue can scarcely say he remembers much of the first darkness. There was nothing to compare it to. There was no context. He had no words then, so whatsoever he says of it now is merely grasping at fabricated memories.


He was so young.


Then he slept, just a wink, in the grand scheme of things (the black did not even notice he was gone), but it coloured the eternity to follow. In the dream he was someone. The blue bears a fondness for the character to this day, though wonders if this is just a function of nostalgia, mere comfort found in a stuffed animal clutched as a scared child, for he was scared, he remembers that clearly. Events took place when the blue was him, and they don't anymore. It would be all too easy to confuse enjoyment of meaning with enjoyment of a common denominator. The blue looks like the man, or maybe humans look like the blue, because the blue thought he was one? The blue can look like what he wants, yet he gravitated to this shape in earlier years, and sometimes assumes it as a formality when addressing the black. Once he tried on different forms and different voices from his vision in increasingly inhuman combinations (this passed a month late in year five), only to return to his old skin upon realizing he lacked preferences and had only precedent. Skin is perhaps an ill choice of words. The blue peels it off sometimes to pass the time, strips the flesh from his polygons and then puts himself together again. This doesn't hurt. It doesn't feel like anything.


Nothing feels likes anything. Or at least it may, to those who have good reasons.


He lost interest about half way through putting it back on a few months ago, but the black doesn't mind. Even when he dreamed she was there, shot through as she was with some strange third colour, when he looked to where the sky should be all he saw was her.


He doesn't know if this is comforting or terrifying, so he toasts a new year, and he resets the clock.


Then his eyes fill with inchoate, preposterous colour. It takes the rusted pair of them minutes to interpret that these colours are an image. Another to err on the side that this image is a child.


And so the blue smiles.


And so the blue dreams.