Strange: part 2

by jamesmerolla

Anna hung back from the rest of the tour group. She watched her muted reflection in the polished marble floor while the tour guide’s voice echoed through the vaulted spaces of the museum.

She felt the hopelessness creeping behind her again.  It was the kind of hopelessness that buries futures in cold soil and blocks out the sun while you mourn, and epitaphs no one will read.

She was an unsettled young woman from the Midwest, who ran to the city with her hair on fire, having burned all the dry fields of the heartland behind her, back when she had a spine like an oak tree. But soon the fire burned from the inside out, a slow burn, unnoticed until her hands were smeared with ash.

Someday fragments of her life would be treated with all the delicacy and care her present day lacked. Centuries later, people would finally wonder who she was.

     And here we have an interesting piece. This was one of the first artifacts discovered in a part of the grid thought to be destroyed during the Great Information Wars of the 23nd century. Does anyone know what this is?

     Is it a God Calculation?

     Yes, many ancient civilizations believed they could speak to their God through numbers, of course that sounds ridiculous to us today, but ancients were still a long way off from the discoveries and enlightenments we have now. However, this particular God Calculation is unique. Can anyone tell me why?

     It isn’t finished?

     Well, technically no God Calculation is complete, since we know none of them reached ‘God’.

Anna stepped closer to the display. She felt an unfamiliar magnetism between her and the numbers. She scrolled through the calculation, slipping deeper into it.

     It is finished

She said.

     Yes, but what else is odd about it?

Her mind raced through the calculation again and again, devouring the numbers, until she reached the final conclusion.

     The answer, it doesn’t seem to represent anything. It’s just a number.

     Correct, this calculation seems uninterested in god. It’s almost as if it’s calling out to us instead.

     What does it say?

     And that is where the mystery seems to end. Our museum’s own Dr. Fuller, who has studied the artifact since its discovery 10 years ago, hasn’t been able to translate it yet.

     What does he think it says?

     Well, she fears it translates into an ancient language we still have very little knowledge of. If that were the case we may not have it translated for a while.

     Why does she think it translates into a language at all?

     That’s just one of the theories.

Being aware of the time, and growing tired of the group’s questions, the guide began to direct everyone’s attention towards the next display.

The tour group slipped away from Anna as she remained stationed in front of the calculation. Her hands pressed against the display with an odd magnetism. She felt like she was at a funeral viewing.

She ended her tour and quickly returned home with a copy of her fascination.

Three days passed in her small apartment, scrolling through the numbers one line after another. The meaning continued to evade her. The twist of desperation tightened in her stomach.

She studied her frustrated reflection in the window that overlooked the park. Her green eyes were distant, her hair hung ragged over her bare shoulders. She pretended to smile.

Maxwell’s calculation was just as frustrated. It had waited so long to be touched. It felt Anna’s doubt hovering in the room. There was so much it wanted to tell her.

She moved to the bedroom. Maybe she’d sleep. She thought of her former lover, and wondered how much of him remained. She looked under the bed for traces of him. How would she feel if she found something? Even lonelier, she suspected.

All her life she wished to be understood, but she spited her wishes with rebellion, her last thought before sleep overtook her.

The morning brought no memory of dreams, as she shuffled into the living room. The gnawing presence of the calculation weighted the air.

She curled her lip in disgust at the sight of it. She had failed. There was no use in continuing her obsession. It would probably end in disappointment anyway.

But, she knew she wouldn’t let it go. It was the best company she had.

Casually sipping her coffee in the kitchen, the scrolling of numbers crept over her mind. A breathless silence filled the room with a feeling of home, familiar, safe.

Her mind relaxed, and she began to spin through the numbers with a thumping rhythm, steady and precise. They moved together in one motion, waves rolling.

They told her such secrets, so many confessions of passion, all echoed from a voice longing to be heard. It was beauty untouched, without piers. It was the unmistakable warmth of one soul lending itself to another.

Anna and Maxwell spoke softly to each other with simple phrases uttered through time. Both of them squinting in each other’s light, reaching to touch the other side. And with a sudden flash it was over, sparks darted into the black, destined to spark again.

Anna wept.