This story begins with Masked – The Fortress (1). To access installments in narrative sequence, click on an entry title, then click on “Next” at the end of that installment.
Bloodwater wore clothing only to protect his body from the sharp edges of his diamond cavern. When he had first arrived in Aum, he had looked down to see himself dressed like a monk from the monastery near the German village where he had grown up, and he had liked the look. Ages later, he still wore the belted, hooded brown robe. Whenever he paused from his scrying to think about himself, he allowed himself to age a bit. Long hair and a long beard to match, the color of iron, hung from his head. His sallow skin wrinkled across his forehead, and at the corners of his eyes and mouth.
He liked to scry from a reclining position. He didn’t need to sleep anymore, or eat. He would lie on his side, on a ledge he had pulled from the side of his cavern with his mind, and watch the images of Earth that he projected on the opposite wall. He cushioned his body with pillows of pale gel he had made from the air. Did Aum really have air? He had come to the conclusion that his experience in Aum was his mind’s interpretation of magic. He felt like he still had a physical body, and he still experienced linear time, but that was leftover from his life on Earth. Like the rest of Aum, he existed outside of time and space now. Using his scrying, he had seen his own death many times. Watching it no longer affected him emotionally, any more than watching an icicle melt, or an anonymous stranger walk down a street.
The mantises, beetles and ants that he remembered from his former life and now formed from diamonds loose in the cavern crawled across his scrying wall casually. Their motion did not distract him. The images he perused in this breath formed the face of a human that currently fascinated him from the Information Age. John Kosearas. Kindred spirit in a life of drudgery. Bloodwater had found his own fingerprints on Earth’s history five times so far in his scrying, and one of those times was in the life of John Kosearas. Bloodwater knew how the encounter would resolve before he made contact. From his perspective, the timing depended only on his own whim.
He sorted through the moments that made up John’s life. In this one – too early – John discovered that he did not like blue raspberry candy. In this one – too late – John read the results of his colonoscopy with mounting panic. Bloodwater knew in which moment he made contact. He just needed to find it. Late at night. Vulnerability. The death of a fond hope would leave John wanting closeness. Bloodwater could offer an answer known to few in human history.
He reached out with spindly fingers. A transparent scarab beetle scuttled into his palm. There. There was the night. John sat in a dark room eating slowly, his thoughts turning on regret. Bloodwater had found the moment.
Thank you for reading! Coming up next week: Bloodwater contacts John in his moment of weakness.
Previous Aum stories include Globe Without Goodbye.
If you are enjoying Masked, please support my writing on Patreon.