6. From hungry visitors, companionship

Between now and then, an antipode came to me. I fed myself to it and then it inscribed to me a question.

How did it come about that you started interacting with antipodes?

I signed as follows:

Sometimes the antipodes come would to me. The ones I tended to meet were just visitors, though they weren't blown here by the stellar winds of some horribly awful stellar cataclysm or another. Unlike for the filaments, for them travel was a choice.

I'm, to say the least, jealous. I'd like to travel freely too. I can barely make it out of the pastry aisle in a controlled fashion, let alone hop off the planet for a while... Nope, the lucky bastards get all the freedom to themselves! Grr! Err, I don't mean offence, you understand? Right, where was I...

Yes, antipodes, endless voyagers, in search of the boundary of everything. They all were so very much older than I'm, and they have seen much more. I didn't like the antipodes visiting me so much at first. You guys represent the dark matter that in the quest for perfection pulls on the universe and slowly cuts apart everything to dust. I find that unnerving. I mean, perfection is cool and all, but the means...

If you're a wish or even a stupid filament such as myself, you cannot really notice an antipode. Seeing your kind is a tough skill, even with the stellar vision of an aspect. I didn't have this skill at first. Not like they teach it at school and not like I went to school either. There's one way to tell how an antipode is nearby if you aren't skilled or education. It's a very a different way than relying on eyeballs. Not really vision, and it isn't a pleasant experience either. You see, I know how it's to be fed upon.

The situation is always very similar. I'm travelling, traversing some street or an avenue. I lose myself in my own light. My mind is on something different. An idea, a thought. I'm dreaming, imagining. And then... I'm jolted awake from my dreams, seeing very clearly what is going around me. That is how a presence of an antipode feels like to me: A return of all reality and a complete severing apart of all the thoughts I might have been sweetly having. That is how it feels when the antipodes feed on me.

There's an effect on my shell as well. Effectively a part of me suddenly becomes missing. Without me the shell would dry up and collapse into nothingness. It's complicated and a long story too. Anyway, my shell coughs, stumbles. Sometimes I can't control the screams, but I got much better at it lately. After being hurt, in a minute or two, I manage to renew myself enough so that my shell stabilizes. I'm young and small. I grow back quickly. All filaments eventually grow back. We're indestructible!

This kind of feeding happens quite often, a few times a week. I may be wearing a wish image, but I'm still nothing but a fragile dream, a filament. I'm very easy to feed upon and accordingly the antipodes like to munch on me. My mind is much easier to penetrate than the foggy static around dimly wishing heads. I'm a richer, more concentrated source of thinking than the wishes are.

I may be a convenient prey for you, but I'm fully aware that you guys are not evil and I totally bear no grudges towards anyone here. As long as you only take from me what you need to get by, we're cool. And usually cool is how the relationship has been. If one of you has just fed on me, then the others will give me rest and peace until I'm ready to play the role of the main course again. Compassion is a universal trait of all stellar aspects. I appreciate it. We have an understanding!

Things changed on a Tuesday, about a quarter of a decay cycle ago. It was late in my shell's personal solar cycle. What to the others was the middle of their cycle, to me was the end of mine. My shell's eyes were closing despite my tugging at them to stay open. I could have forced them open, or temporarily burned the eyelids away, but that was unnecessarily violent. I really wanted some company, someone who knows the resonance of the universe. This is when I felt an antipode take a juicy slice out of me.

Compassion is a universal trait of all stellar matter. Seeing how desperately voracious it was, I let it feed freely. I was glad for the company and to be of service. It hurt, just like it always does, but I just dreamed intensely to give as much as I could. There is nothing to be offended by here. This is the fulfillment of our roles. I know my place.

I missed the stellar resonance incredibly. The isolation from the vibrations of the stars is sometimes hard to endure. On a whim, I tried to sign. I usually don't sign in the bright language of the stars. I didn't think I'd be understood. The wishes recoil. The signing burns them. They lose their minds. An antipode, a dark shape, would likely be even less able to stand up the burning. Still, it wouldn't hurt to try, now would it?

I decided to sign the stellar sign of the luminous aether. The aether is the domain of the filaments and its symbol is how filaments greet each other. I didn't have any better idea, and I didn't want my visitor to depart before I tried to communicate.

And so I signed, as brightly as I could. I don't know what was I thinking. The antipode convulsed, burning. The matter around us rippled with its agony. I made a great mistake. I should have been signing gently, but I really wanted to get my message across. Thankfully, the antipode had compassion. To my amazement it inscribed a response. It was incredibly harsh and it hurt to read it. Then, after trying for a while, with my vision of a filament, I saw it. Three lines and a curve. Dark matter. The mark of the antipodes. Their greeting.

We communicated. This antipode was just stopping for a meal on their way to whatever their destination was. We had great problems with understanding each other. I was signing too brightly and it was inscribing too deeply. We both thought it would help get the messages across, but it only made things worse. The antipode left after a brief while, but the idea of reaching out to the antipodes stayed with me.

I kept at it. I'm persistent as nails. With practice it got better and better. Antipodes can understand me now and sometimes even keep me company. I still sometimes screw up. I forget and sign too brightly. With practice I'll get better at it all. Maybe one day I'll even take up inscribing. Easier on the senses, no?

I learned to truly see, instead of just feeling the feeding on me. In retrospect it was obvious. You cannot look for something that is, you have to look for something that isn't. The nothingness of the complete void is easy to see once you get used to looking for the negative spaces.

And here we are! Neat, no?

And with that, the antipode left my attic, leaving me excited for the future.

Next: 7. From voids, cruel obliques