The Spheres

On 07/23/2001, Archivists Ryka and Gautam Baral identified a shared signature between a series of files in the dataspace. Believed to originate from the same extra-baseline source, each file encodes a text document. While snippets of certain other files were able to be interpreted, only 17 constituted a (at least partially)complete text. Each of the aforementioned documents is written in a different baseline language, including Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Maltese, Rioplatense Spanish1, and Hindi. The contents of the texts, however, appear roughly the same across languages. The other recovered files near three hundred in number and are completely indecipherable; around two thirds of said files appear to be junk code. Due to a similarity in organization, the remaining 94 currently indecipherable documents are believed to also contain versions of the aforementioned text, and have been theorized to be translations into currently unknown languages.

Access to the files degraded in the dataspace during the retrieval process. Only around half of the available files were properly documented; the rest are now inaccessible, as the link through the dataspace to the files’ origin space appears to have closed permanently. It is unlikely the theoretical writer of these documents, who likely has no understanding of the dataspace or its applications in inter-space communication, ever noticed the temporary connection to baseline or any interaction with the Archivists.

An English translation of the Spanish version of the text is displayed below.

On the World

The world is composed of an indefinite number of hollow spheres of glass, each containing what I assume to be a planet, arranged in a straight line stretching in two directions, perhaps to two infinities. Each sphere is attached to the ones before and after it by identical ladders; each ladder has seventy-two million three-hundred-twenty-nine thousand five-hundred ninety-one rungs. As the ratio between planet diameter to surrounding sphere diameter is maintained at around five to seven, the spheres may vary greatly in their dimensions due to the diversity in planet size. All, however, are so large that when I stand upon one, the surface does not register as curved. The smallest I have encountered(save for one particular exception) took roughly two-hundred and thirty-six rotations to circumnavigate in full. The spheres are entirely impenetrable and appear unable to sustain damage.(This has been tested thoroughly.)

The planets are one subject of my study. In case said nomenclature is foreign to you, I will describe the four main properties of a planet.

They are generally spherical. Some planets are strangely oblong, and two that I have encountered were entirely non-spherical. In the case of these outliers, it appears their shapes had no influence on the shape of their surrounding glass shells, which were all spherical as usual.

They are very large. If I were somehow able to gain access to the surface of the average planet, I estimate that full circumnavigation would take around one-hundred fifty rotations—only marginally less than if I instead circled its surrounding sphere.

On almost all planets there is always light, one side bathed in it, the other kept in darkness. On most planets the half-lights do not move from their initial position, but in a significant minority they instead rotate about a set axis. The side chosen to be lit on the former and the axis chosen for the half-light’s rotation on the latter appears completely random.

On the illuminated side one may see undulating patterns of orange, or red, or blue, swirling blotches of white and green and purple. On the other side there is nothing. If you were to somehow join me in the world, I will warn you that no matter how pleasurable it is to look upon the patterns, chasing a moving light is a fool's errand. I have tried; the light is always faster.

I have not yet determined the origin of the great lights. On fourthree planets bright dots appear when the darkness comes; on one other I saw light come suddenly from three points before being smothered by a layer of gray. Sometimes, on certain planets, shaky rings of green momentarily appear and glow dancing beneath the glass before fading away. Save for those exceptions the only other thing I know of that emits light is my possession. But my possession glows blue. All other light is yellow, or red, or green, or gray. When I stand on a sphere’s dark face, I have only the color blue.

They exert a pull upon me and my possession. The pull is greater the closer a thing is to said planet. This property is what allows me to walk along the glass, and is the only reason I have not lost myself in the darkness of space.

- - -
When I was younger I played a game where I would find the point on a ladder between two spheres where their pulls equalized, and I would float there for many rotations. I ceased this play after a frightening incident occurred between Four-hundred fifty-three and Four-hundred fifty-four; I believe it showcases the limitations of a planet’s pull.

I had arrived at the correct position there in the thin space where I could float undisturbed; enjoying the feeling of the separate pulls on my arms and my legs, I closed my eyes for a single moment, I stretched. When my eyes opened I found myself propelled horizontally away from the ladder(likely due to an arm or leg accidentally striking it), clutching my possession, heading towards the infinite black.

Panicking, I began to spin and undulate my body in an attempt to return to the ladder; this had no effect. Slowly I watched the spheres grow smaller and smaller until they registered in my sight as but a line of infinitely small bright points. A thought crossed my mind: perhaps my possession may be used as an ejector mass for my propulsion back to the spheres. This was a terrible thought which I stifled quickly. But I could think of no other options. Enveloped in that crude and infinite dark, I fell into despair. Then I choked on my own spittle. I noticed then that my body produced an infinite amount of vital fluids: blood, gall, saliva.

I began spitting into the void; the moment the fluid left my mouth it was replenished. At first there was no discernible effect. But after what must have been many rotations of spitting, with my gums sore and my lips cracked, I began to see the lights of the planets slowly become larger in the distance; with newfound fervor I continued. In this manner I returned to the illuminated ladder, barely hooking it with my little finger as I reached it in that threshold between two fields of pull.

- - -

There is no one else.

On Four Notable Planets

I estimate the length of my memory to stretch for around nine million rotations. This is an imprecise measurement; by the time I had found the planet which standardized the unit, and by the time I had decided to track the length of time I had been in the world for in these rotations, it had already been a long time since my first memory. In this time I have walked upon the outer spheres of thirteen-thousand eight-hundred seventy-six planets. I travel only in one direction. The planet on which I had my first memory is named “One”, the next “Two”, and so on.

All planets are unique. In recent times, however, more similarities have become clear to me. An example: Eleven-thousand four-hundred sixty-eight and Six-thousand three-hundred seven’s gray landscapes appear to differ only in the placement of a few thin circles in the sole lit face of the planets. A thought: perhaps I will walk for nine million more rotations, cross thirteen-thousand eight-hundred seventy-six more ladders, and realize then that the array of planets presented to me, whose discovery and observation is the source of so much of my joy, no longer has any novelty in its roster. A horrible possibility.

I have noted four planets below in no particular order; a more expansive list is elsewhere.

I began counting my time in rotations after I witnessed the sudden disappearance of Five-thousand seven-hundred twenty-two, when it turned from a planet painted with red and purple with wrinkles near the edges to a ball of pulsating pinks filled with holes through which one could see infinite things, until the flashing abscesses consumed it ultimately and then consumed themselves. It had not occurred to me until then that light could be so odious, and that a planet may be there one rotation and gone the other. In honor of Five-thousand seven-hundred twenty-two, the length of time required for its half-light to circle its perimeter is now the unit I use to measure time. It took ninety-six thousand one-hundred and ninety-eight rotations of its light for it to fade away.

One of the most brilliant planets I have observed had a similar property. I discovered the strange green glow of Seven-thousand two-hundred and five looking at it from the sphere before it. It was very bright, so much so that it took almost a full rotation for my eyes to adjust. Another irregularity was noted as I climbed the ladder between the spheres; its shape was non-spherical, and it was the second I had encountered so far with such a property. Whereas the first was shaped like a uniform disk, this planet was absurdly small(the exception I mentioned at the beginning) and with a shape like a dulled crescent. Its sphere was so small that when I stood upon its surface I could see the curvature of the glass.

This planet had the unique property of rotating independent of its outer shell, and it did so with a jittery and unpredictable motion, twisting, turning, so that at any moment its surface was a blur, almost completely unobservable save for a vague sheen of green-blue. It sprayed from it a wide shroud of sharp white which enveloped it completely and pointed at a fixed point in the void. I stayed for nine-hundred rotations upon Seven-thousand two-hundred and five simply watching its tumbling motion, contemplating its colors. I noticed that it was decreasing in size. Going by the rate at which it was diminishing, if I were to take the approximately three-million rotation long journey back to it at this very moment of writing, I would return only to a small glass shell containing a bubble of empty space.

Four-thousand three-hundred eighty-seven was the first planet with lights which shone through the darkness when the half-light moved away. It was on the smaller side; complete circumambulation required only two-hundred and twenty-nine rotations. A full rotation of its half-light takes one point two rotations approximately. When the greater light shines the planet is mostly blue, green in the middle, brown in spots, white at the ends. When the half-light leaves its dark-lights are yellow. The lights are spread across where the green and the brown were at night. They form webs and pulsate at times.

When I first arrived there were very few lights; captivated, I watched the planet for what was tens of thousands of rotations(I apologize for the imprecision), and over this time the lights stretched all across its surface. I will share with you an embarrassing anecdote. One rotation I noticed a gray thing orbiting the planet. It was tube-shaped, with right angles, square wings which jutted perpendicular to the sides. I was so excited that I ran at a speed I had not ever seen from my legs; for short moments I could keep up somehow with its circular flight. I shouted: “You, hello! Hello! I am too like you; I too am unbound from the planets, I too am one who looks downwards!” It seems sound does not travel well through glass.

When I first saw Two-thousand seven-hundred and thirty-three, I thought that my eyes had finally ceased their functioning after so much time. From my position at the base of the ladder I looked up; its shape faded softly into the darkness. I had waited some thirty rotations(I apologize, again, for the imprecision) for any amount of light to shine out from the sphere which was to be my next destination. It did not come. With no other option I began to haul myself and my possession to it anyways. I could not see the ladder; I groped in the dark for the rungs. When I arrived I was not greeted by any modicum of light. Illuminating the glass with my possession’s screen I walked. I searched for the exit frantically; it was invisible in the infinite black. During the long time I navigated the sphere of Two-thousand seven-hundred and thirty-three my eyes adjusted and I could make out a vague round shape in the void beneath the glass. I cannot bear to think of it; the memory of its form is still heavy in my skull. I found the ladder after what must have been hundreds of rotations. I left in a hurry.

On My Possession

When stood up, it comes to my shins. It is box-shaped. It is not heavy, but its shape makes it inconvenient to hold when traversing the ladders between spheres. Two of its corners are dented; one dent was present in my first memory, the other was caused on account of carelessness by a younger self. Five of its six walls are rough and somewhat like skin in material; the other is glass. It is from this glass which light emanates. It forms white words upon blue, and its glow is so weak that when a planet’s great halfway-light comes I sometimes can only see my reflection on its surface.

Attached to its base is a retractable board with many bumps, each branded with a sigil. There are four-hundred fifty-eight sigils in total. By pressing on a bump, it makes a pleasant clicking sound and the corresponding sigil appears upon the glass. In this way I can create and store series of words.

By inputting certain sigils, I can bring my possession to display a rectangle; each unique combination of sigils placed into this rectangle tells my possession to fill my screen with a unique page of words. On average, for every forty-nine-thousand seven-hundred and forty-seven combinations of sigils entered, my possession grants me one page of readable text. However, I do not wish to dismiss all other texts as useless nonsense. For one, even being indecipherable, they can be very entertaining. I have spent many rotations randomly inputting sigils to see what strange combinations my possession produces. Let me show you an entertaining snippet I acquired recently: “hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö”. What fun! I also understand that there likely is a great deal which I am ignorant of. Perhaps, when my possession shows me the sentence “YYasdfjllu*gipris8jjj fukzscn.98]] [[023sdfjasd;kc”2, it is not the contents of the text which are useless, but the contents of my mind. This idea brings me no joy.

With this method I have cataloged four-hundred twenty-nine thousand three-hundred and two legible pages. Some notable pages are titled: “The Ring of Many Rings”, “Fifth Four Seventh”, “Balanced Place of Liquid Stone”, and “A Grave of Chickadees”.

My possession is the subject of my first memory. I remember the exact phrase it then displayed: “Please reset gavial communicators”. It was a command; I understood it, then was surprised that I understood it. Here is a short list of common words my possession displays without my input.3

  • Loading
  • Yes
  • If
  • Continue
  • Left
  • No
  • Up

Of course there are many other words, but I am storing them in a separate file. I will write more regarding words in the section titled “On Words and Documents.”

My current method to secure my possession from falling as I traverse the ladders requires me to wrap one arm about its width and use the other to pull myself up. Every time I traverse a rung I must check to see if my grip on my possession has faltered. I use a small mat made from hair ripped from my scalp to wipe the moisture from my hands.

I am so cautious because of an incident which occurred while traversing between Two-thousand one-hundred thirty-nine and Two-thousand one-hundred forty, where it slipped somehow from my grasp and plummeted downwards. With no other choice I turned myself over, planted my feet against the rungs and pushed off. I accelerated; a few hundred rungs before the transparent surface of the sphere I collided with my possession and wrapped all of my limbs save my right arm about its shape. I threw my arm out once, twice, thrice, to catch the rungs which were shooting past my eyes, I failed the fourth and fifth attempts, caught it on the sixth. A noise, somewhere between a squelch and a crack, was produced. There was a great amount of pain.

My momentum stopped; I hung from a string by my arm which was lodged misshapen between two hard rungs, the rope of the ladder shaking slightly from the impact. If I had been unsuccessful in grabbing onto the ladder at that time, my only option would’ve been to curl into a ball about my possession to minimize damage to it. I do not know if this would have worked. This is why I must be so careful when traversing the ladders; I am repairable, my possession is not.

On Words and Documents

I know a great number of words. What I know about words is that they each fit into a set(or sets) called a “language”, and certain arrangements of words following certain rules encode certain meanings. In total I have identified four-hundred-forty-seven-million nine-hundred-twelve-thousand three-hundred forty-eight words known to me by instinct, two-thousand three-hundred forty-five different languages, seven-hundred eighty-eight which I can encode in some way(including approximations to other languages) utilizing the four-hundred fifty-eight separate sigils present on my possession, seven-hundred thirty-four of which I have seen utilized within a document. In summary, words encapsulate and describe reality, and thus serve as communication. I hope this is already understood because otherwise we share no link and this text is completely obscure to you.

Sometimes I wonder: in my mind there exist words like "top" and "bottom", "left" and "right", and yet those things do not exist in the world. This confuses me greatly, especially as I often find myself utilizing these words anyhow. I have concluded that the things modeled within these words must exist; their being is what is referred to when they appear in my mind. Somewhere in the world there must be left and there must be right, there must be up and there must be down, there must be warm and cold, there must be life and death. They are my companions in the blackness of the space outside the spheres. This must be the case. I must not be alone in the world. I must not be.

You may have noticed my usage of one of these words. I assigned this word first to the glass of the spheres, then to the planets themselves, then to my possession, and finally to you, to whom this is addressed.

The documents; the things outlined by their words must also be in the darkness. There must be a plane of spears and a stomach of stomachs, an abandoned schoolhouse and a dying tower. There must be a thing as a "human being" which looks somewhat like me; there must. Other documents exist inherent within my memory, so thus in the world there must too be a Don Quixote, a Dream of the Red Chamber, a Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty. But they are not with me now.

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