Humble Beginnings

Sam perched on the overhang, idly kicking his legs. This spot was an instant favorite of his, and almost everyday he frequented it just before dark. He reached for his beer, feeling approximately five minutes of subjective time pass before his fingers touched the cool condensation on the glass. He took a slug and opened his worn well-thumbed notebook, jotted in a few lines.

He had spent the last year wandering the continent, keeping records, trying to map the Event. It moved east to west like a slow river, he discovered, following the Earth’s rotation, carrying patches with differing properties that drifted like sluggish cumulus clouds through an airspace of relative stability. He felt the current would rotate fully around the planet, and perhaps, if it was constant enough, define a whole new dating system. It was years in the future, and a lot more correlation would need to be done. Meanwhile, he would sit or stand in place for hours and watch, feel the effects, and record his interpretations.

In certain patches subjective experience speeded up and he zipped about in wild acceleration; he generally avoided these after discovering one aged much quicker over lengthy dalliances. Some patches caused his movements to become as if suspended in molasses, and he patiently waited out these instances, gratefully flexing his limbs when it passed. There were patches that decreased the sensation of gravity; he bounded over the trees joyfully, and had leaped out of its field into a patch of zero gravity. He panicked, retching, and after a slow, agonized drifting he managed to snag onto a tree and wait it out. After three days had passed, hunger drove him out. He crawled down its trunk and clutched the blades of grass with his fingers, painfully crawling over the turf, taking extra care to control his momentum lest he flew away into the sun. When he finally passed out the zone’s influence, the crush of gravity was so welcome he sobbed as he foraged in the brush for roots and grubs, having lost his cache of food. Other patches were like walking into a maze of funhouse mirrors.

Some patches had drastic temperature changes that suggested sudden death, and he was careful in his explorations; his left pinky was missing from such a patch where he had felt a numbing sensation and flinched. His finger fell to the ground into black pieces. He buried it out of sheer sentimentality. He was caught by surprise when a normalized climate, the way it was before the Event, all still and quiet, drifted over his camp, and it shocked him so much he had to retreat outside its boundary, into the comfort of everyday psychedelia. He followed it for a few days, testing its climate, until he turned away with distaste towards other endeavors. It was marked on his moving map, and had the shortest description in his journal; he didn’t miss it. He had lost his taste for normalcy.

Sitting on the overhang, Sam decided that he would stay in the area for longer than was his usual, which approximated a month. He enjoyed this city. Los Angeles. It was so used to surreality that it had adapted well to the change. In the twilight, Draco rippled on the horizon and Orion played with his scabbard. Ursa Major pawed at the Twins.

Samuels reached for his beer and watched the city dance languorously in the glittering skyline.


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