Toris Journal Excerpt, Date Unknown by Ryan Cassano

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SUMMARY: Imagination is all that this human has left of his homeworld he has never known.

Typically the hour is late when I open my underground vault and step inside a world I have always longed to know. It is filled with momentos of the Earth, collected from far reaching corners of the galaxy. Some from the strange merchants of neon-lit bazaars, while others stolen from palace walls of royalty, uncaring of their worth or significance.

Yearning sets in as I trace the edges of these relics with my fingers, imagining their shapes being forged by their creators a longing for that blue world, swaddled in white clouds that hangs like a jewel in a sea of stars.

Oft I had wandered the barren valleys of many a faroff moon, where my mind's eye would superimpose the Earth's soil under my feet. Ironically, the makeup of these places, these fruitless lands, are the only realities I know. Yet they still seem foreign to me their wonders, while significant, seem to pale in comparison to my beloved Mother World.

And while the Earth's splendors can be replicated through a number of different means, it's ultimately a broken experience; it's as if I am studying artifacts of a nameless, forgotten city and while I may physically hold its fabrics in my very hands, its true essense is never experienced, but rather devised from my imagination. Its walls, avenues, odors and neauances are unknown to me, lost forever with those who have perished.

Oh what I would give to have their senses! These smallest of things that they give nary a thought, unconsciously filed away in the recess of their forgettable memory. These are the things so precious to an offworld stranger such as myself. And it is with great anxiousness that I collect these objects...these trinkets....for as it stands now, my dreams will have to suffice.

And of those dreams, their gods beckon me now as the midnight hours wane. I load my sunrise file and set its timer. As soon as I rest my head, it is not long before the waking world has faded away.

My dreams are often smeared in greens and blues, but one that comes to me most often places me on the Earth's moon. It is a cold, gray place but its features fascinating unto its own marvelous are its craters and shadow play, its utter stillness in in the otherwise darkness.

I bob along the surface, taking mental note of the soil I stir for surely these silver dusts have laid unmoved for millennia. I spot an anomaly in the terra firma a lean shadow pushing up from the ground. I edge closer to have a look and to my startlement, find that it is a

single, blue tulip.

The first few times I dreamt this, my pragmatic mind would fidget for a rational explanation for how this could be; but over time I noticed that it became more the point where I would come to expect it.

Some times I would pluck it and examine close, other times sit at its side and gaze at its delicate beauty. On more nightmarish occasions, I would thoughtlessly release my face shield, anxious to take in its scent. My face would immediately freeze and the vacuum of space would rip all the air from me.

In almost all cases though, these dreams were stirred with the familiar light of Sol (or as Earthlings referred to it, "the sun"), illuminating the pinkness of my eyelids with its light. I open them and see it beginning to spill over the distant hillsides, black under its rising face.

As I watch it, I ponder the amount of times the average Earthling may see a sunrise in their lifetime. Perhaps six, maybe a dozen. But I have eclipsed this number countless times over via my playback monitor I try and ignore the black space surrounding the screen, so I can fasten myself in the deepest of fantasy.

I had bought the footage in the metropolis of Knaeju. I've spent hours restoring it to preserve its longevity, but I've resisted the temptation to render it and overlay it with enhanced composites. I want to feel its antiquity, I want to feel its age.

But my trance is broken with the muffled thud of nearby drivers launching ships into orbit. All too quickly the color of my vision fades and I am reminded again that I am alone -- I am reminded again that I am the last human in the known universe.