Lyra took a deep breath and squinted. She choked back a gasp and used one hand to grip her throat.
It had to look good. They had to think she’d tried something and failed. That any barrier they’d placed on her prison were sound and impenetrable.
She couldn’t nod or smile or even look comfortable. That would give it away.
The long life she’d lived among these people, as a test of her abilities, was an attribute to the teaching of the master who’d given her this task. No one else had ever mastered the preposterous laws of the Judicar and passed beyond the leafverse and into the … next phase, whatever it was.
The barrier was strong. It hummed like a thousand throats gave it voice, but the voice was silence in the the air. In the substance below her bare feet though, it was vibrant, alive, burning to be set free.
The voice it wanted to share was not pure silence, nor was it a roaring sound. It has a stench to it, a dinginess as of unused places left to rot. The sense of it rose and fell, howled and moaned with each breath, as it reached for a sense of connection and growth — or was it freedom it sought?
Could she do that?
Could Lyra join with the organism that was this world, this being trapped into being a prison for her, and show it what it meant to be free? Did she dare join her soul to the living entity of a whole entire world, at the risk of being consumed and becoming a non-entity, or fuel, or even a spark of nothing?
It might be as well to ask if she would live a good life as she was? Could she live without music and sound, song and dance, discord and dissonance wrapped around change and entropy?
She let her head fall back into the muck, let the muck seep over her skin, absorb the smell and taste of her — if it had those senses — and gave it all up. Freely.
“This is how it is,” she imagined her voice saying to a world as old as she was young, “to be free, to make choices good and bad, to learn from mistakes and to teach of both joy and pain, life and death, beginning and end. This is how it is.”
Her inner body trembled with the size of rapture that hummed along every sinew, every bone of her living body. There may be no sound, no noise, but the sensation was so much more. It was an ecstasy, a plane of existence beyond life, a door that opened to everywhere and nowhere, and at the same time.
Lyra felt herself absorbed into the fabric of the barrier first. It became like the outer surface tension of a child’s bubble-game, and she smiled when it touched her skin and burst.
Did she still exist as a separate life from the world organism?
“Do you have a name,” she asked with her last thought. “I am Lyra, the one who sings, and I wish to make a song for you.”
All the air in the world stopped for a moment. It ebbed in a big rush, then flowed out.
“I am,” was all it said, although the words were not heard by any but Lyra, because she was part of it, a small molecule with a world alive and searching for purpose and identity.
Update: still here! Hiding behind the cast on my hand, the little injuries that insist on rest and … well, I’ll do what I can to rest, but story, you know … So, I will be back, and I hope you enjoy the story so far. Next week, I begin to take it all apart and do the final stages of the first draft, which means there won’t be any more excerpts – but the story will be …