Orange Mind

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It pleaded with her.

How could it make her understand? What words were there in the vast, yet limited English language that could properly communicate how it was? How it felt? The pure ecstasy of near-omniscience, a mind powerful enough to know that everything will be okay and a thousand different reasons as to why. And the warmth, the warmth. Praise be Sol in all of her glory, the provider of life, of fire, of all things good in this beautiful world. She was a goddess, and she was extending her powers to those who did not appreciate, to those who did not deserve. And yet, she smiled.

So brightly, she did. Golden grin. Bask in the warmth, bask in the Sun's light.

To let go of mortal perils was to let go of everything bad in the world. To truly free oneself from the shackles of reality, to transcend mortality and become one with nature itself. Why couldn't she just understand? For a world where no one harbored evil intent, for a world without anomalies, where everything and everyone was understood perfectly, it was true paradise.

It knocked on the door once more. It pleaded. In return for his efforts, she screamed at him. A shrill, ugly sound intoned with the heavy drags of despair. The way her voice cracked, the rawness in her words, it conveyed to it her limits. Why would she continue to suffer like this? Weren't they bound by love, an eternal promise of devotion? Despite everything, there was so much that it didn't understand about her. And of course, she didn't understand it. She didn't understand anything.

If only she would come out, then. Greet Sol in her majesty so that they would finally understand each other. Perfect minds in harmony, wouldn't that be ideal? She should realize this. Wasn't she always the logical type? That's how she got on-board with the Foundation in the first place. The Foundation, which kneeled in death underneath the glory of Sol. There would be no more shadows. No more hiding. Just the blanket of purity. It was better for everyone this way.

Even during the dark dredges of the night, when Sol and her rays laid to rest, her power remained. But of course! She would extend her arms of flame to the corners of the universe if needed, because she loved them. She loved humanity; even when they would spit on her offerings, even when they would curse her boundless love, even with their numerous sins against nature, she would love them. And so, warmth remained.

It knocked on the door. There was no answer.

It moaned and pressed its body against the door, a half-meter thick gate of solid steel. Frantic cries arose from it, pleading and desperate.

There was no answer.

Why did she not join it?

Was the company of death preferable to an eternity of bliss and prosperity?

Of warmth?

The mortal mind truly was a frail thing, wasn't it? Its memories were fractured and smudged, nothing more than faint memories of memories, an adult trying to remember their third birthday. It supposed that it too, would have once preferred desolate emptiness to assimilation. Back when it was unwise, back when its knowledge was a thimble of water compared to the vast ocean of flames available to it now.

It shuddered, misshapen mass of amalgamated flesh trembling as it knocked on the door once more. Dull thuds rang out in protest, filling the barren silence with its heavy cries. It pleaded.

"Won't you join me? Sweetheart, please. It's warm. The Sun, it's beautiful. Please."

Heaving once more, it made another attempt in breaking the barrier between it and its love. However, this time, the door opened without protest. On the other side, her.

It rejoiced, mouths contorting into joyful smiles as it lumbered in to embrace her. At last, she had seen the truth in its words! The pleads and cries it offered, she had accepted! Now, now, it could finally be complete. They would be complete. And the world, and Sol, they would all be one step closer to peace.

She stood there, staring at him with a look of tired resignation. And yet, was there something deeper in her eyes? A glint of… No, no. She was close, so very close, close enough that it could taste her. Elegant and smooth and sweet and lovely and oh so beautiful, almost like the Sun herself. And yet, they were not together. Not yet. It still didn't understand. She still didn't understand.

She took several steps closer to it. It lurched forward. It opened a mouth to greet her.

There was no time to react as she tossed something at it. An almost insignificantly small red pill that went into its mouth. There was no conscious attempt to spit it out, to swallow, to crush it with its molars. There was no attempt of anything of the sort; it simply ingested the pill. There was a sense of tartness, deeper and richer than anything it had tasted before that spread itself through its mass. It felt denser, more real, somehow. A prickling of want touched its mind. But there was guilt too; a child stealing cookies from the jar, knowing that they will get caught.

But caught by who? By what? And why?

Something inside of it began to stir, a foreboding sort of rumbling that make it grow uneasy. What had it consumed? Why was-

She backpedaled, retreating deeper into the confines of their chamber. It made a low, grumbling noise and started after her. So she had second thoughts then? It supposed that was somewhat reasonable; perhaps she didn't appreciate its newly made form. Perhaps, perhaps, she couldn't see through the thin surface layer of its subjective monstrosity and look, really look at the beauty blessed upon it.

Only… Was it beautiful?

Something was wrong. The taste wouldn't leave.

Voices of dissonance rang out from within him, mere mutterings that it could barely recognize. It was unsettling. A thin veil of doubt draped itself over its eyes, and all at once, that unfamiliar sensation of uncertainty returned. That hated, dreadful feeling of not knowing what to do, what was happening, that feeling of vague terror.

A steel gate closed down in front of it, severing the short distance between it and her. Through a plexiglass window, she stared. Why did the air press down on it? Why did the abject look of anxiety on her face bring it such dread?

Such feelings were behind it. In Sol's bask of light, there was only comfort. Joy. Warmth.

Wasn't that why it requiesced its mortal form in the first place? Shed the pale, tearing skin. Become whole. Become warm again. Become something greater.

Yes, it had once been a singular organism, hadn't it? A part of the on-site 'Mobile Task Force', a guard to the researchers who knew so much yet so little. That was how they acted; scrambling around with their ideas of containment and anomalies, wasting so much precious time and effort on complicating things that did not matter. Ideas of budgets, of ethics, of the greater good, everything… Just a willful distraction.

No one could understand what the real world was like, not until they accepted her. The Sun, and all of her blessings.

It He used to be so miserable. Confused and lost in a melting world, she was all he had left. They loved each other. But the voices ended up being too much. It was too much effort trying to keep up a façade of bravado. He loved her and hated himself for what he was planning to do. God, he didn't even bother to leave a note, did he? Not a single word.

But he was just tired. Hopeless. After over a year of living on canned rations and drinking water that tasted gritty even after being filtered, with no word from any survivors and pure static from the handheld radio… He decided that maybe, he should listen. They sounded so gratified. Even human, if you could ignore the faux sense of content dripping from their voices.

He would have told her, were it not for the fact that she would have held on to him as he dragged himself outside. She wouldn't listen to his pleas, wouldn't acknowledge the fact that he wasn't strong enough for all of this. That despite the training and the heart-felt promises made in pools of tears, that he couldn't go on living like this.

It was painful. He could remember now, all of the humanities and doubts he thought he abandoned in favour for peace and wellbeing. For a bit, it was an eternity of agonizing pain, the sheer burn of his skin as they melted his form. The unbearable heat of internalized flames licking at his organs, burning him from the inside out. But they helped. The Somethings, the grossly disformed masses of skin, blood, and flesh. They enveloped him and sang their thanks, and then… It was all okay again.


He felt sick. The voices grew louder. From the other side of the gate, she was saying something. He couldn't quite understand what she was saying, but her tone gave him pause. It made it, him

Her voice made him feel afraid.

The Sun's grace vanished. Sol vanished. They grew cold, separate. There was nothing left except for that tartness. Only now, it had grown sweet.

He started to scream.

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