Shad: ABC Is For
Artificial Beings Crimes
|Sea of Glass
Sea of Glass
by Barry B. Longyear
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who had overcome the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
The Apocalypse 15, 2
Year is as long as it takes for Earth to travel around Sun. 365 days make up Year, except every fourth year when an extra day is added.
Day is sunrise to sunset. Night is sunset to sunrise, but Night is also a part of Day.
Day is divided into hours.
Hours are divided into minutes.
Minutes are divided into seconds.
Daddy says this. I try so hard to look like I understand but there is no Earth, there is no Sun. Because there is no Sun Mommy makes me take pills. But Daddy says there is Sun and it is Outside with Day, Night, and Moon.
Daddy says that this is the year Two Thousand and Twelve. I wonder why Year has that, or any, number.
Sun, Day, and Night are Outside with the men in black.
Hours, minutes, and seconds are kept in a box on the wall.
I must remember to ask again about Moon.
In the time called winter the world smells like burning wood. The world is both dark and light, full of love and fear.
The windows are dark. Painted black and nailed shut. If they weren't, things from Outside might see us and get in. We must never let the Thing from Outside see in.
The light is the fireplace. It is red. And the light is the electric lamp beside my bed, my mother's face, my father's arms. There, too, is the warmth and the love.
The world is the house.
Daddy says that the house is in a city called Peterborough, which is in a province called Ontario. Ontario belongs to a national district called Canada, which belongs to the Compact of Nations. They are curious words, but they are like Earth and Sun: only words.
I only see the house, so the house is the world.
Daddy says that Peterborough is also called Petertown, but not to call it Petertown because Mommy doesn't like the name.
"'All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you—'"
Mommy smiles as she looks up from the book and strokes my cheek. "Frith isn't mean. If he lets the rabbits multiply and eat up all of the food in the world, all of the other animals will starve. Frith must look out for all of the animals."
"Because. Just because."
"Is Frith God?"
"It's just a story, Tommy."
The world is fear.
The fear comes from the men in black. Daddy says it again and again: "Tommy,
"Never open a window.
"Never move the downstairs shades.
"Never talk, laugh, or cry loudly.
"Never answer the door.
"Never answer the telephone.
"Never, never go Outside.
"If anyone comes to the house, hide in your attic room and be very, very still. And you must obey this. If you disobey about this like you do sometimes when you should clean up your room, and give me that little smile and that twinkle in your eye, it won't be like when you should clean up your room.
"I won't get cross for a moment and then laugh.
"I will die.
"Your mommy will die.
"And the men in black will come and take you away forever."
I ask my daddy "Why?"
"Because. Just because."
Because must be a terrible monster. I imagine Because as it hovers over the world flapping its leathery wings, waiting with its great hooked beak and sharp talons to fall in swift horror upon those foolish children who venture Outside. . . .
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