Published: Nov 12, 2017 12:00:00 PM

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Part 6: Black Hole

The formless mystics wrote lifelong screeds describing their journeys among the black holes. Fused to spacetime and abusive toward human relativity, the hearsay surrounding those fists of gravity were a deliberate mystery.

One day, a human soul grasped their function. Then a face of cruel form and size spat back and the function was given up.

Upon that soil, and that mystery, and those wells of interdimensional force, Meridian built a foundation.

The small, starry sky was spherical. It poked from the bowl-shaped room's center like a welt, except when Orry took cautious steps around the catastrophe and observed a concave throat. His boots were not waxed down as Rostand's were. Suna was capable of using his hammer as a cane against the slick, metal floor, while Orry and Rahz were sent to their hands and knees like zealots at prayer.

The black hole was a many-dimensional circle, both container and contents. The calm void was its surface and the distant places across the minor cosmic space between the four of them and insurmountable truth. This was an object and many places.

Rostand came the closest. When she put her hand toward it, her form rippled. A whipping force pressed up her arm. She watched herself become a distorted vision. The force tugged her. Rostand caught her balance.

The force released and she steadied. She turned her head to face Orry with a disbelieving expression.

"It's ground-level," Orry said. "The first to stack their amber hedrons within the Inner Spires buried their most feared antiques here. On top of that, and on top of that again, they built Meridian. I cannot say if they dug this up out of the desert and brought it here."

"It's dangerous enough to bury it beneath an entire city," Rahz said. She smiled. "Danger to them. Brick-laying cowards."

Rostand twitched two fingers to beckon Suna. The jangling crone-boy hefted his hammer. The shaft strained. He reeled it back. He braced his knee to the floor, came within splitting distance, and brought the mighty tool down.

The resulting rupture was a jaw snapping shut. It was a clash of fitting force. The black hole sphere split, damaged along microscopic red caverns, and Suna hefted it again to deliver another blow.

"Get it!" Orry shouted in encouragement.

The hammer came down. The space rang with destruction. The sphere came apart in shards. They skittered, flopped, and bucked across the floor. Rostand and Rahz pocketed a few that were small enough. The larger pieces gasped, turning over and liquifying into puddles, then back into split elements.

Suna wiped sweat off his head. He limped with the hammer as a cane, recognizing he had regained traction on the floor. He peered down into the hole where the void had sat.

"Oh, my dear mother," he mumbled.

-- Alex Crumb
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