Rebirth: Chapter i - The Orb by Roy Neyman


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The cavern is dominated by a single spire. It rises, spindly, out of the ebon depths, distinguished from the darkness only by the faint, green reflection on the cavern walls. Perhaps there are no walls at all, but just the hard surfaces of nothingness that frighten the light back towards its source.

Ascending from below, you see that the ancient finger of black has a hard, lily pad of stone balanced precariously at its tip. It fans out above you and as you rise you look down. Nothing is visible against the darkness. No torso. No legs. No feet. Even though you can sense your hand before your face and feel your fingers splay and flex in front of you, there is nothing to see.

Still floating upward, you break from the depths of darkness as you come even with the fragile lip of the lily pad and your eyes splash through the surface of light spraying outward from a source that lies low within a small structure at its center. Oddly, though there is nothing to see at the end of your arm, ...no fingers, no skin, the shadow of your hand blocks the light with five stubby, infantile forms. Its edges are sharp against the green glow, but the shape is of soft, prenatal curves that hardly even seem to be human.

It's as if the very darkness upon which this strange platform floats has been called upon to grant you life, that the substance of your being has been summoned up out of that emptiness. Now you are being called upon to witness the only thing that defines the darkness all around you. This place is of no material existence, it is only pale green light caught in a tense truce with the inky black.

The same force, ...no, compulsion that has drawn you upwards tugs you toward its source. With extreme effort, you turn your sight away, curious to see what testament of light and dark stretches behind. What you see there has been pulled like taffy into the distance and you can't tell if it's the shadow of an adult or the distorted form of an infant. You give up the struggle and your view snaps back to the light.

Slowly the form of a wizened old man takes shape, defining itself as you draw near. He seems to carry the only living substance to be found in this place, yet the surface of his body is waxen, pale, translucent. The light bears witness to his skin, but only in passing, for there are no shadows. He is there, ...but not there. A ghost in the darkness with eyes that focus on nothing and everything and only one thing. The orb.

At once blinding and gentle, the orb is the source of the green essence that fills this place. The old man's right hand shimmers beneath it as he cradles it before him, but the orb seems to float an infinitesimal height above, rotating about no particular axis. His other hand twitches slightly as his eyes draw up to focus on yours. His arm seems to levitate, unfolding outwards to point into the dark. His translucent hand makes a strangely familiar gesture as the middle finger and thumb come together, index finger still pointing away. That next instant is lost as his middle finger flicks toward his palm.

You don't even hear the snap..