Chapter XVI: Oblique

                                                                                            An excerpt from
                                                                                    Diary of the Oblique
                                                                                                 Entry 13:250
                                                                                     Date 65 of 7499 SC

You have no idea what has just happened to me. This is the first time I've been able to get to my Diary since the Incident, as I'm calling it. And believe me, I'm going to tell you everything.

It has always interested me why the Children believed that the Cold Gods were worthy of respect, of reverence, of worship. I remember Mother telling me how the Worship Hall was not originally named so, but dubbed that way by the Children. My only interest in the Cold Gods was to question why my fellow Children believed of their importance. So I decided to have a little poke around.

Nobody noticed me swiping the knife at the eating table the other day, but everyone noticed the absence of my twitch, and I saw several of them check absent-mindedly in their bags to make sure that whatever I had stolen had not been from them. I smirked - they had no idea, no idea at all! And neither did Mother, for I had carefully arranged a wall of crockery in front of the centrepiece, so her fake eyes could not see. In a world where every inch of society was observed by her intruding eyes, I had gained one up on her ...

The knife had come in very handy that night, when Father's droids were in power-saving mode. My desire to investigate was infectious - I knew where the panel was from my previous marauder, the one where I had nearly been caught - but now, now I was concealed in bulky black clothing, a face mask, and thick black gloves, so even Mother's forensic matching algorithms would be useless.

And it excited me to be finally acting out my schemes - it was there, behind the frozen statues, the control panel like so many others I had seen round the Colony. This one was more exciting, though, as it was connected to a bank of machines which seemed to be backed onto the Cold Gods themselves. It was absurdly easy to slip the knife into the gap on the right and wrench the panel open ... once I had pulled it a few millimetres it retracted of its own accord, smoothly into the concrete wall.

It had exposed the control panel beneath it - so many tempting buttons! - I had no idea what each button did, so I pressed three or four ...

... and then things began to happen very quickly.

As I had suspected, something began to happen to the Cold Gods - well, two of them, at least. They began to exude a heavy, freezing gas that expounded and rippled into the room ... the moisture on my breath froze in the air and the floor became covered in ice sheets.

And then the alarms went off, flashing red lights whirling dizzyingly through the frigid air. Father's manifestations powered up immediately, rolling purposefully towards me, humming with electronic precision, and seizing me in their vice like, mechanical grips. I caught a glance, as they wheeled me around, of some Child, running out the door, which was descending to shut off the Worship Hall from the rest of the Colony ...

And then another voice sounded behind me:


And in that shocking moment, I knew that the Cold Gods were alive.

And Father complied!

Father had to respond to the command, I could feel it, as his droid turned slowly around to face the emerging Hierto.

And as I saw him emerging from the roiling gas I could see his palpable air of command. Who else could this be but the leader of the Union? Who else would Father obey so readily?

"Date," said Hierto curtly, as a female Cold God loomed likewise out of the steam.

"Date 65 of 7499 SC," said Mother's voice over the comlink. Hierto smiled complacently.

"Good," he said coolly, "a few hundred days earlier than I expected ... but we shall not need to be kryostasised again, not before Time."

My captor was gripping me painfully, cutting off circulation to my lower arm.

"Get off me!" I yelled angrily, tugging at the mechanical hand.

He turned to me.

"Unhand him," said Hierto tersely. "He has nowhere to escape to."

He paused, carefully examining his fingers and brushing shards of frost off his white coat.

"Was it you who awoke us before Time?"

I just stared, dumbstruck.

"When is Time?" I said, nonplussed.

"Do not be impertinent with me, boy!" said Hierto, his voice rising dangerously. "How is it that you awoke us?"

I pointed at the control panel in the corner, nearly hidden from sight behind the smoke screen that had spread across one end of the Worship Hall.

Hierto frowned thoughtfully.

"All of its counterparts will have opened, all over the Colony," he said brusquely. "Mother, override Code 54C, Authorisation Hierto J-6-Gamma."

"Voice recognition confirmed," said Mother expressionlessly. The alarm deactivated, iron bars slid across the closed door at the Hall's entrance, and at once, the other Cold Gods began dethawing, right before my eyes.

"You have no idea what you have done," said Hierto, in a voice that was colder than his erstwhile prison. "You will not be leaving this hall again. No-one can know of our existence until the time is right."

And with systematic clicks, tthe other Cold Gods unfroze, the gas dissipating as they stepped forward into reality. They stared at me, in the grip of Father's manifestation with strange incredulity, as if they couldn't believe I was there. Then, Hierto gave me one last vindictive look before leading his companions through a concealed door I had never noticed before, followed by a phalanx of manifestations, pulling it shut behind him, sounding a metallic boom of dismal finality that seemed to mark the beginning of my imprisonment.

It's lonely in here, I suppose, sitting on the icy floor, freezing my backside off, writing this, staring longingly at the moons, swaying in their eternal celestial dance. But I've found out and deduced many things, that's probably why they kept me prisoner.

It's blatant, even for someone who has only lived thirteen years, that anyone who can command Mother and Father is a member of the Union. Hierto was clearly the leader - the air of command in his thawing eyes had pinned me, like a vice.

And now, as I sit here writing this, loads of things I never understood before have become clear ... if the Cold Gods have always been alive, and they're the leaders of the Union, and they've been here since the Year of Colonisation, then surely they created our Colony! But they froze themselves in - kryostasis, was it? - so they could endure for 7.500 years, sickeningly extend their lives beyond the normal span of years, so they could be present at either end of our seven and a half millennia history. But why?

I was always nonplussed as to why we had to write these Diaries. If Mother and Father were not allowed to read private Entries, then what was the point of them? ... But no-one said the Union couldn't read the Entries ... the Diaries were for the Cold Gods themselves. So they could read a firsthand account of the entire history of the Colony from the very people who were there at the time! Thousands of years of history from millions of separate viewpoints ... but what could the Cold Gods possibly want with a treasure trove of pointless information?

And I'm almost certain that the change of mating policy has something to do with the rebirth of the Cold Gods ... according to Hierto they had been awoken early ... before Time ... and presumably Time would be the exact point when Year 7,499 changed to Year 7,500. And it's as if the change in mating policy had been plotted on this gargantuan 70 century calendar, as if it had been planned all along ...

But Hierto, if you're reading this entry, know that it is I that discovered the secret that has been hidden from thousands of years of Children. And I'm going to do anything I can to bring you down.

The End

172 comments about this story Feed