Home > The Fiction of Fans > Day One Hundred and Twenty-one: A World to Build

Day One Hundred and Twenty-one: A World to Build

I used to be lonely here.

For good reason, of course. I never saw another living soul. Ever. From the moment I woke up on the beach, with the sun rising in my eyes. Cool blue water, verdant grass, and trees everywhere. The sand was bright and hot under the summer sunshine, and the air smelled clean and pure, like it had just come into existence itself. The whole world looked new and clean.

And it was mine. All mine.

The first day I explored. I walked through the forests, silent and perfect. There were animals in those woods, but they were peaceful. Cute, even. Cows, pigs, sheep – there were even wolves, but as long as I didn’t give them any trouble, they left me alone. I walked and I walked, wondering if I would ever see a road or a house or a bridge, or any sign that another person lived there other than me.

But I never did, no matter how far I walked.

The sun rose higher, and it seemed like only minutes had passed since I was on the beach. I called out, and no one answered. I found a high hill and climbed it – there was nothing to see but wilderness for miles and miles. It was a gorgeous wilderness, don’t get me wrong. Sweeping bays and tiny ponds, vast deserts that stretched all the way to the horizon, and soaring mountains that pierced the slow-moving clouds.

No cities. No towns. No villages.

No sign that there was any living, thinking person in the world but me. And I wasn’t even entirely sure who I was anymore. The first thing I could remember was the beach – there was nothing before that. Just a yawning mental blackness that made my stomach turn to contemplate. My name, my life – was I married, did I have kids? Friends? A job, anything?

It was all gone. All of it.

Someone had done this to me. That was the only explanation I could come up with at the time. Someone had taken me from my life and brought me here, to some deserted part of the world, and let me go. But for what? To prove a point? For revenge – had I wronged someone? Had I trespassed in some way that was so horrible that the only way to make up for it was this bizarre exile? I felt, deep in my heart that that couldn’t be right. I couldn’t be the kind of person to do something so horrible.

But how could I know that?

I screamed into the empty, pristine air, and it echoed back and forth among the mountains. It came back to me with all of its rage intact, undiluted by distance, and I felt even worse. It was not the echo mocking me, it was myself. I turned around, looking for someone to attack, someone to blame for this.

There was nothing nearby but trees. So I hit one. I just pounded my fists against it, screaming and raging, words coming out of my mouth that even I couldn’t understand.

And then it happened. The thing that would eventually make this whole place make sense.

A section of the trunk just… fell out. Right in front of me. While the rest of the tree remained upright and calmly enjoying the sunlight. Unconnected to the ground, blithely ignoring gravity, the tree stood. I looked around – no one was watching, there were no supports, no strange devices holding the tree up. I walked towards it, and the block of wood…

It’s hard to explain this. I have no memory of the world as it would have been any other way, but I also know that this isn’t the way the world is supposed to be. Trees don’t float. Blocks of wood don’t jump into your hands and then just go somewhere else until you need them. But here, in this place, they did. I hit the tree again, and another block fell out. I took it, and hit, and took another. When the trunk had gone, the tree’s leaves – still floating in the air with nothing to hold them – just vanished, one by one.

I tried another tree, and had the same result. Soon I was carrying a dozen of these blocks, but I didn’t know where I was carrying them. My hands were empty, and there was no way I could have ever carried five trees worth of wood in my pockets, I knew that much.

The sun was beginning to set, marking the end of a day that seemed to have lasted only minutes. The western sky was going orange and red, and when I turned around, a bright full moon was rising in the east. With night coming, there were plenty of chances to fall and get hurt – the jagged hillsides would be unforgiving if I should stumble, and there were no doctors to be found. I stood on a hilltop and watched the moon come up, surrounded by gently twinkling stars. In the darkness, I could almost pretend I was somewhere normal. I struck the earth at my side. A chunk of it flew into my hands and vanished.

Almost normal.

The night air was cool, and I lay back to watch the sky. And that’s when I heard the noise.

It was somewhere between a growl and a gurgle, and it traveled directly to my brain by way of my spine. I stood and cast around in the moonlight for whatever had made that noise.

I heard it again, and I wanted to be sick. My heart was pounding against my chest, my breath was coming quickly. There was something out here with me, and its breath, its horrible stench rise from the very ground.

The first blow came to the back of my head and I fell to my knees. When I looked up, there was a green-skinned… thing standing before me, its arms stretched out and its mouth open like a gaping wound. It growled and came at me and I screamed-

I woke up on the beach, with the sun rising in my eyes and a scream of horror on my lips.

The day was bright and beautiful and clean. The sand was just beginning to warm. A sheep came over and nuzzled me, just to see what I was. I was on my feet in moments, looking for the thing that had attacked me, but it was nowhere to be seen. All that I had collected was gone – I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. I also knew that this beautiful, peaceful place hid dangers – terrible ones.

I stumbled up a hill and began hitting trees. Within minutes, I had more blocks than I knew what to do with. When I inspected them, I found that they fell apart in my hands, making boards, which in turn would splinter into poles. I made a box, a workbench to craft with. I had poles and boards, so making tools was easy – a primitive shovel, a pick, an axe. They all went into that same no-place as everything else, and they made collecting easier. I found that I could pick up soil, sand, stone – pretty much anything I could see.

And always I kept my eye on the sun.

As it neared the top of the sky, I knew what I lacked – shelter. I threw together a tiny house, all boards and stone and with a wooden door that just barely held back the night, when the night came. And from inside my little shelter, when the darkness came, I could hear them coming for me. I could hear that horrible gurgle-growl of the thing that had gotten me the night before. The clicking and clacking, the hissing and crawling of other creatures that I couldn’t identify, and didn’t want to.

I spent that second night in darkness, but I spent the night alive.

When the sun rose, it burned away the things that wanted me dead. I looked around at my hut, at my tools, and I understood what I had to do.

I had to build. It was me against the world, in the most literal sense. But if I did it right, it would be my world. And I would build my own civilization where those things could not step foot.

I used to be lonely here, but not anymore. Every day is full of collecting and making and building. Every night is filled with making plans and digging into the depths of the earth for the materials I need. The monsters outside the walls don’t trouble me anymore. The ones I meet underground are quick work for my diamond sword.

This is a world of my making. And there is so much more to make….

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