Chapter 24: Sightlines

I stood back, unsettled, and watched the Ship almost seem to build itself around me as Lindsi slowly and carefully climbed out of the hatch. There was nobody here but us, this space just a kind of narrow alley between one wall and another. I looked up to see how high it went, but it just vanished into darkness. Beside me, Lindsi was looking left and right, and when I looked as well, I saw that both directions existed now. It was brighter off to the left, and it looked like this dusty, empty alley opened onto somewhere lighter. To the right it was mostly pretty dark — but a real darkness now, not an absence like it had been before. I looked up again, but that was still infinitely black, empty.

Did you see it? I whispered to Lindsi. She looked at me and shook her head slightly, whispering back.

“No. Everything looks like it’s been here a long time…”

Look down, I told her, and she obeyed. Maybe you can catch it… and I tilted my own head back, staring up into the unsettling blackness …if you look up!

Lindsi’s head shot up, and at once the blackness shot away, filling in a shadowy grey shaft that must have continued up for at least three floors before ending in a dull ceiling. She frowned at it, then shook her head.

“I still just see this corridor. No movement… nothing.”

I saw it, I insisted, but I could hear my voice starting to go from worry to fear. What was happening here? Was this even real, or was one of us going crazy?

“I believe you,” Lindsi murmured. “But I haven’t seen it yet.” She hesitated. “Maybe we should keep going. We came here to find out what was going on, and something has to be causing this.”

She had a good point. The longer we stood around talking, the more danger we were in, and I had no idea what might prove to lurk in the blackness. It seemed to be retreating wherever Lindsi looked, and if that didn’t change, it would mean I wouldn’t be able to warn her of what was coming.

You’re right, I agreed, a little reluctantly but knowing she was. I’ll go ahead and see if I can see anything. Which way?

“It’s brighter that way,” Lindsi whispered, pointing left. I nodded; it made sense.

All right. I turned away from her and headed towards the light, walking quickly, but staying close to the wall. My feet made no sound on the floor I guessed I probably wasn’t really touching, and I was glad of it. I had no idea what might be waiting for us at the end.

I quickly found what appeared to be a T-junction. The alley, such as it was, continued straight ahead and back into the darkness, but light was shining in from somewhere to the right. I still hadn’t seen anybody, which was a good sign. The closer I got to the junction, the easier I could see that the far wall vanished into blackness not too far around the corner. I wasn’t sure what I’d see when I looked around, and I stood by the corner for a moment before leaning past.

I’d thought standing in the blackness and watching walls rise around me was creepy, but it was nothing compared to this. The light shining in was shining out of blackness, and I was looking into it, into a light bright enough to make me squint slightly after being in the dark alley and yet into perfect, utter darkness. My mind wanted to rebel; I couldn’t work out what I was seeing. I wanted to get away from it, but I made myself stand there and stare, trying to understand it. I couldn’t. How do you even begin to think of a light without a source, radiating out of somewhere you can’t see?

After a little, I turned and jogged back to Lindsi.

“What’d you see?”

I… I don’t know. There’s a corner up there, that’s where the light’s coming from, but it’s just shining out of… out of blackness. I was all too aware how stupid that sounded. It makes my mind hurt just looking at it. I can’t see anything.

Lindsi looked at me, frowning, and I saw her square her shoulders as she made up her mind. “All right. I’ll come and look.”

Be careful, I warned her, and I meant it.

“You bet.”

She followed me as I led the way back to the corner. Keeping some distance ahead of her, I could see the wall on the far side slowly growing outwards as we approached. It was just enough to be visible, tracking back about in line with what I could see, but not… quite…

I turned and held my hand up to Lindsi, and she stopped at once, waiting. I hurried to the corner and forced myself to step out. The blackness extended in a straight line from the corner to the end of the visible part of the far wall, and…

Taking a deep breath and screwing up my courage, I stepped out and walked to the far end of that diagonal black line. I didn’t look directly into it this time, instead walking to the wall, turning around so I could see Lindsi, shutting one eye, and moving slowly towards the blackness, watching her face. She looked a bit puzzled as I leaned slowly out of her sight — and the moment I could no longer see her eyes was the moment my open eye was in the blackness. She leaned to the side to look at me again, and the diagonal I was standing in moved.

That was it. Somehow, I could only see what she saw. No matter where I was standing, if she hadn’t seen it, it didn’t exist for me. I wasn’t sure what that meant, and it didn’t really make me feel any safer… but at least I knew what it was. I walked back to the corner and beckoned Lindsi forwards. She approached carefully, quietly, and looked at me with a silent question in her eyes.

I don’t know why, I whispered to her, but I think the blackness is linked to what you can see. If you can’t see it… neither can I.

She looked at me, frowning in thought. But I knew she still hadn’t seen the blackness, or she’d have reacted to it. As she’d opened the hatch cover, I’d seen the slice of dusty grey floor that she could see. As she’d pushed it further open and started to see the wall, that’s what I’d seen too. As she looked up, I’d seen the ceiling fill itself in. I could see behind her, but then, I didn’t think the walls were going to have gone anywhere. If they’d somehow moved, I wasn’t at all sure I’d even know.

“O-kay…” she whispered back, eventually. “Any idea how? Or why?”

I shook my head. I didn’t have an answer to either of those questions. The only thing that I was almost sure of was that anywhere that was out of Lindsi’s line of sight, I would only see blackness. That, or that one place in the middle of the darkness where I had been able to see…

“Well, I guess there’s nothing for it, then,” she whispered, and shut her eyes for a moment. I saw her taking a deep breath. Who knew what was out there?

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The Fused by V. L. Bending is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.