The Roots That Clutch

by MourningStarsOfLakes

Tags: #Human_Domestication_Guide #scifi #mystery

Even after moving to a rimworld research facility, Slide still feels stuck in between their old life and new one. Perhaps the intergalactic entanglement they are about to become a part of will jostle them forward. Can they escape the roots that clutch? Will they even want to?

Au Lecteur

That was all.  Or rather, not all, since there is no all, no finish; it is not the blow we suffer from but the tedious repercussive anti-climax of it, the rubbishy aftermath to clear from off the very threshold of despair.

— Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner

Violet bars frame a wilting bouquet of diseased white lilies.  The illustration on the book's cover speaks to the decay of beauty, to the withering of things.  Rough fingers flip it open, flicking among the dog-eared pages until they turn no more.  So much of the book is hardened, binding glue on the paper edges making every page past the first twenty more of a lightweight brick than a book.  The poetry beyond page twenty-one lost for practical purposes. 

Had there been other copies?  Of the source?  Of the translation? 


Three glass vials sit nestled into the cutaway compartment within the book.  Sickly red light seeps in faint glows from their contents.  Terrible shadows turn and twist in the spaces between them, unsettling phantoms that compel the hand to close the book again.  The vials are still there and still unbroken, there is no further need to gaze upon the bitter glass.

Just before the few pages that fully remain cover the grim cargo of the smuggler's book, crimson light illuminates the last remaining passage:

Many a gem, the poet mourns, abides

forgotten in the dust,

unnoticed there;

Many a rose regretfully confides

       the secret of its scent

to empty air.


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