“What do you see, Aurora?” Tass asked. They were standing in a desert. Somewhere on Earth, but he hadn’t told her where. Aurora wasn’t so conversant with deserts she could tell on sight.
“Sand,” Aurora replied. “Shrubs.” She squinted at the horizon. “Maybe a cactus?” That would mean somewhere in the Americas. They had been here all of ten minutes and she was already sweating through her clothes. Not exactly the best environment to give her patience with this kind of crap.
“That’s not what I mean, girl,” Tass said. He crunched his dark eyes shut – all four of them – and blew out swiftly through his teeth. Apparently sighing was universal? “I’m talking about the source. You see things differently. You always have. That’s what makes you enta viyan. Now concentrate on the details and tell me.”
“So,” Aurora replied, brushing the blowing dust from her face. “If I’ve always seen things differently, how am I supposed to know what to say? Sand, shrubs, cactus. Sky. Sun. Clouds. Wind. Dust. Your ugly face. They look like they look. Is there any chance we could do this somewhere more pleasant, by the way? I feel like I could list nouns quite readily in a forest or something.”
“It’s… simpler out here,” Tass said. “Fewer sapient minds. Details will be clearer. The source will be less… noisy.” He continued to stumble over words, probably lapses in the translator bauble he brought with him. Aurora tried to find it funny, but it was really just annoying at this point. Like he was talking down to her. “These details… will not be there all the time. In times of intense focus, or stress, or perhaps at the edge of sleep. The world made sense in a different way. You knew things you couldn’t, felt things that… you could touch. Control.”
Aurora stopped mid-jibe. That night in the truck-yard. With David there, running after her, drunk. Angry. Scared like she’d never been. The air… the cold… the flow of it. The energy in it. Her breath caught.
Now, she stared at the dust. The flow of it. Swirls, eddied, moving with the heat, with the chaotic patterns of matter and energy. Except no more chaos. Just like then. She wanted control then. She had grabbed it. In that moment, Aurora had understood something. The world had made sense. Then it had all gone wrong. She had wanted David gone… and then he was.
Damn it! Now all she wanted was away from this place. Away from this damned dust. Away from Tass and his irritating pedantics. And away from this damned desert inferno! Like then, she just wanted…
The air cracked. The wind howled, nearly knocking Tass down as air rushed outwards from her. Sweat flash-froze to her skin and hair. Aurora gasped as chilled, rarefied air replaced the scalding breaths of a moment before.
Aurora’s eyes came back into focus. For at least a hundred feet around, the air was clear and the sand was dusted with a fine coating of ice.
Tass opened his eyes and smiled his odd, toothy smile. “Very interesting. Now tell me what you saw.”