Oblivion. That’s what most beings are scared of. Yes, they’re scared of death or pain but oblivion is worse. Everyone dies eventually. Even stars, which…
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That's what most beings are scared of. Yes, they're scared of death or pain but oblivion is worse. Everyone dies eventually. Even stars, which can live billions of years, eventually die. But if you die at least you existed. Oblivion means you are completely gone.
There are methods of torture called solitary confinement or "white torture", where all sensation is stripped away. Sensory deprivation could break you. Many people said it was worse than physical torture. The lack of stimuli causing you to wonder what was real and what was not. Causing you to wonder if you were real.
Nyrillah wondered what it would be like when she was gone. Would she feel anything? Would she think at all? Or would she be... nothing? Oblivion.
The balls of light floated around her. She trailed a hand through one and it giggled lightly. It was close to gaining sentience. She remembered in a vague way when she had been like that. Her mouth curved in a sad smile.
The hem of her skirts snagged on the flotsam of the forest floor as she walked. She could have floated, she supposed, but she was being human right now. What better way to spend her last day than as a human, the beings most conscious of their mortality?
She spun in a circle, her skirts floating out around her. The tulle was a thin and filmy defense against the evening chill but Nyrillah embraced the sensation. It was, after all, one of her last. Her senses seemed heightened because of it.
The balls of light danced around her, drawn to one of their own. She could hear the faint hum they emitted.
Nyrillah halted her spin and braced herself with a hand to the rough bark of a nearby tree. She gazed at the lights surrounding her.
"It's my last day, little sisters. But you… these days are only your first. Life goes on. "
One of the lights crept closer, whining at her. She ran a hand through it fondly.
"Yes, I'll miss you guys too. But let us enjoy these last moments we have without regret for what is to come."
So she picked up her skirts and ran through the forest, laughing as the lights danced around and ahead of her, leading her on. Further up. Further in.
The earth of the forest was cool and loamy under her bare feet. She reveled in the feeling.
"Your shine won't last forever. But you'll foreverglow," she sang under her breath.
In her life, she had flitted through the human world and found herself impressed by many things. Their music had been one of them.
Nyrillah was made of light. At this advanced stage of her life, she could shape shift into anything she desired. The humans had never guessed she was not one of them.
The foliage got thicker as she went deeper in the forest, branches slapping her face and underbrush tangling her feet. Her hair collected bits of debris: leaves, berries, flowers. Her skirt was a mess- torn and stained- but she didn't care. It wasn't like she'd need it ever again.
The bubbling of a stream drew her. She slipped past the outstretched hands of an oak, a little slip of a girl in a large forest. She liked feeling small. It was an honest sensation. Some people think that they are big, that the world revolves around them. It is understandable that they are the heroes of their own stories. But the reality is that the world is a large place. We are here to make it a better place. It does not cater to us.
Perhaps we don't need to leave big marks on the world. We don't need to feel important. Little ripples of good. A butterfly effect. That is all.
To do more good than harm before you leave.
That had been Nyrillah's goal.
She had no regrets. She would enjoy her last day and then go into the unknown.
She waded into the stream, feet sliding on the algae-coated rocks. The water pushed against her, urging her to join their relentless quest for the ocean. She had been water before. Followed the whole cycle out of curiosity. She'd merged with this very stream and followed it to the ocean. She had crashed upon the shores of the world in dizzying waves. She had evaporated into the air, to become a cloud. Rain, fog, snow, sleet, hail- she had been them all. Dew on the leaves of plants. Water sinking through earth, searching for the water table. She found the workings of the world fascinating.
The water seeped up her skirt as she went in deeper. Fish tickled her legs. She submerged her head in the water and watched them swim. When she pulled her head back up, her hair was a dripping mess. She grinned up at the sky.
Stars were blinking into existence. She had so little time.
She shifted into a rock and sat on the bottom of the stream, letting the water caress her.
She respected water. It made its changes gently but undeniably, changing the rocks and the land over the centuries. Water was essential to life.
She wondered if she should stay like this, waiting for the end with the water washing over her. It was calm and beautiful.
But it was not the way for her.
She shifted into a fish and rode the eddies of the stream. When she was further downstream, she returned to her human form and emerged from the water. It clung to her skirts, not wanting to release her.
She trailed a hand through it.
"Thank you," she whispered to it. Her sisters of light danced over the stream.
Her footsteps were heavier now as she continued her journey. She dripped her way through the forest, her thoughts holding her captive.
What would it be like to be really human? To not know when your last day would come. To live so loud, so forcefully?
Nyrillah was everything and nothing. Everyone and no one. She wasn't jealous, she wasn't passionate. She just was. She saw all sides. The good and the bad.
The dark and the light.
I was here to illumine the world, she thought to herself.
She was coming to the edge of the forest. The trees were less frequent, the underbrush thinner. Finally she stepped out from under the trees.
Her sisters of light had stayed in the forest. Only one had followed her out of it. She glanced its way.
"You and me here at the end, little sister?" she asked it.
It began to pulse with light. Blue, their natural color. Gold, pink, green, white. Iridescent sparks drifted off in a shower of light as it shifted, leaving in its place a human.
"Sister," the new shape shifter addressed her. The girl was young, like Nyrillah herself. Black waves of hair tumbled around her sweet face.
"Sister," Nyrillah returned.
The new being reached out and grasped Nyrillah's hand.
"I am Maianaia," she informed her.
"Welcome, Maianaia," Nyrillah said. "As I end, you begin. Illumine the world, little sister."
Maianaia smiled at her sadly. "Today is your last day," she stated.
Nyrillah nodded. "The last hour of the last day. My end is near."
They embraced. "I will take up your task," Maianaia promised in her ear. "I will illumine the world."
Then the two parted and Nyrillah was alone.
She walked further into the open and looked up at the stars. The constellations returned her gaze.
Humans stargaze. They don't realize that stars humangaze.
Although Nyrillah wasn't human.
In these last moments, she knew how she should go out: the way she had come. As light.
She shifted into her original state. She was a large ball of blue light, pulsing and bright.
Time seemed to stand still. Time seemed to speed up. Nyrillah was everything and nothing. She was the light in the darkness. She began to drift away, particles of light dissipating in the night. The end was near.
Would it hurt when she was completely gone?
She felt so small. She felt so large. She was everything and nothing.
She was illumination.
The little pieces of her merged with the world. Perhaps there was a cycle of light, like there was a cycle of water. Perhaps someday she would return to sentience.
She could feel herself slipping away.
She danced among the water and the stars, the trees and the clouds. She reached out and-
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