Short SciFi: To End The Plague - Part II
He pushed forth into the path with as much speed as he could muster. The effort and the bubbles were draining him and clamping on his mind, but he had to go forth, faster and faster, along the path. Off far to the Stream side he saw an infant female falling towards the heat, tumbling as she fell. She was already dead and the parents had not accompanied her down even this far. Perhaps the parents had already died. Or maybe they had resigned themselves that they soon would be. He slowed and let the With flow take him for a moment as he watched the lifeless body of the little female spiral down into the ever-increasing red. The waste of such a young life was just one among millions, but it touched him even deeper and reinforced his determination to reach The Plague at any cost. His own life was expendable. But he had to do something, anything to stop this. He had to.
He pushed harder and harder along the swirling path, being careful not to lose the trace in the eddies. Suddenly he saw in the far With distance an enormous convection storm of swirling amber yellow that seemed to block his path thousands of body-lengths on both the Stream and Torrent sides. He looked towards the Hot and saw that it arose from the greatest, reddest depths, so he had no choice but to detour around to the Cold. He could not see how Cold it rose, but it couldn't possibly have reached the Solid, so there had to be a way to get around it.
He buoyed almost straight Cold and was so engaged in plotting his course around the giant storm that he didn't even take note of when he passed through Home strata. It was just another strata to pass through on the way to The Plague. As he continued to rise Cold a chill came over him and he began to shiver. The bow wave of the storm had roiled the strata here and had brought in a mass of Cold. It was much colder than it would have been at this strata normally, but nothing was normal. Not anymore.
He kept rising Colder and Colder, far more than he would have initially thought he would have to in order to circumvent the storm. He was quickly approaching the Boundary. When he had been younger, more energetic and imbued by the desire to explore he had briefly broken into the Boundary, as many adventurous youngsters had. Some of them returned invigorated by the experience and communicated tales of the strange small worms and ovoids that didn't glow at all and swirled among the icy floaters. He had never seen any of these tiny creatures. All he remembered about the Boundary was the eerie light that emanated from the Solid. That and a cold that chilled him to his core.
He was about to duplicate his young exploration but this time the journey bore no excitement of adventure. Just the forced necessity of enduring extreme Cold to get around the storm and to The Plague. As he broke through the Boundary the difference was palpable. The Cold caused him to struggle to maintain circulation and the spectral light penetrating the Solid was confusing and unfamiliar, without a trace of wonder. It was just something else to go through on the journey. In a very short time he had travelled from the hottest red to the coldest blue endurable, and he was still travelling Cold/With. Still Colder and Colder.
He began to shut down some circulation to his exterior. He would be able to restore it once he parabolad around the Coldest reaches of the storm. He just hoped that he wouldn't lose any surface area to the Cold. That could weaken him and keep him from reaching his goal.
He was now as Cold or maybe even Colder than anyone had been for many cycles, and maybe ever. The Cold was pervading every sense. He felt a lethargic numbness overtake him, a strong pull into sleep. However he knew that if he would sleep he would quickly die in this frigidity. He forced himself to stay awake and focussed. Small flakes were peeling off his surface, injuries that would normally cause severe pain, but the numbness kept it all at bay. He looked Hot and Against and saw the dark swirl of indigo seeping from his wounds spiraling towards the Hot. He knew he couldn't take much more of this.
He looked Cold and even though his vision was failing from the freezing temperature, he could actually make out some features of the great Solid even though it was many thousands of body-lengths away. It was a crinkled, blocky, endless icy hard sky of white with the merest tinge of blue. He had never heard the Solid described in that way. Perhaps he was Colder than anyone had ever been before. Anyone who ever lived to return to Home strata to communicate it, anyway...
The Cold overcame everything he was. He couldn't take any more. Sharp floating shards of ice were impacting against him, gouging off even more and more of his exterior. His indigo was swirling behind him like a long, ethereal contrail. He had no choice but to abort the parabola and take his chances passing through the exterior wave of the storm. Another moment of Cold and he would die.
With a hard shudder he released his buoyancy and began to fall hard Hot/With. He tried to keep With as much as he could, but he needed to warm up before he could push any further With, so right now he just had the With flow to carry him along. He plummeted back through the Boundary and back to the familiar colours and away from that otherworldly white light of the Solid.
And he still hadn't seen any non-glowing worms or ovoids. Or maybe he did and hadn't noticed. It made no difference.
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