“Father, why must I leave the Sea?”
“It is the way of things, son,” Photon replied in a gentle voice. “All things must begin, and all things must annihilate.”
“But I want to stay here with you and Mother.”
“I know you do. So say all who are alive yet unborn. But the cycle of life demands action. To live, one must move.”
Positron frowned. It seemed pointless.
“Never fear, son.” Nucleus smiled. “You will always dwell in our hearts, and we in yours.”
“Please don't make me go.”
“It's time, son.” Photon struggled to remain composed. “Your bride is eager to meet you. She waits in the Mirrored Land. Like you, she waits to be born.”
Positron began to cry. He was scared of the Mirrored Land. It was a part of the Sea in which he had never been and could not go. He didn't want to meet anyone from there.
“Come, my love.” Photon took his wife's hand and caressed it. “I can wait no longer. My desire is too great.”
Nucleus gave her son one last smile before turning away.
“No!” Positron wept. “Don't leave me!”
His parents didn't seem to hear. They strode away, hand in hand, like old lovers meeting for the first time.
* * *
Pain, heat, and velocity... Positron had never felt anything like them.
He soared from his home at an impossible speed. Speed... the concept was new and terrifying. The horror of Time struck him to his core. Its grinding sensation wore away his existence, racing him towards some unknowable doom.
He was hot, but also cold, and spinning, and tumbling, and everything around him was so different. It was a new land, a strange land, and beyond his wildest imaginations. He was not in the Sea anymore, nor would he ever see it again.
He stared out into the vast emptiness. “Here I am!” He felt older, harder, less forgiving. Metamorphosis was a frightening thing, but emboldening, and exhilarating, too. He shook a fist at the black nothing. “I am moving! I am alive!”
There was no reply.
“I feel the pull of Time! I have been born anew! I claim this realm as my own!”
Positron lowered his fist. Would he not be challenged? Would no one even meet him? Was there nothing for him in this world?
His parents were gone. No substitute appeared. There were no lovers or beloved. The lonely vacuum enveloped him in cold black arms. He shivered and closed his eyes.
He had been right to fear. The Sea was warm and comfortable. It was home. This strange, scary realm was none of those things, and his newfound bravado quickly ebbed away.
Positron opened his eyes. He wasn't alone after all. There was another in his world, one like him but also unlike him, one whom he could perhaps find some solace. His equal and opposite.
“My name is Electron.” Her voice was feminine and lilting, the music of a thousand suns, and her form lustrous and hypnotic like the life-quanta itself. She smiled coquettishly. “What's your name?”
“Positron.” He swallowed. “You are very beautiful.”
“Thank you.” She blushed. “And you are just what I always wanted in a husband.”
“Yes. I am your bride. If you'll have me.” There was a note of doubt in her voice, and it wavered at the end. Her eyes filled with a desperate longing, a need for something she dare not utter aloud for fear of banishing it forever.
Positron clasped his hands together to stop their shaking. “I don't know how to be a husband. I may fail.”
“I will help you. And you can help me be your bride. We were meant to learn together.” She offered him a delicate hand.
Positron took a deep breath and nodded. “All things must begin—”
“—and all things must annihilate,” she finished.
Positron grinned. They were of one accord. Perhaps the Mirrored Land wasn't such a dark place after all. In fact, how could it be, to produce such a marvelous creature?
He took her hand, and his life ended in a flash of white light.
* * *
Photon awoke. He remembered it all. He had been Positron, but also Electron, and the two had become one. He was both now, but also neither. The substance of his form, and hers, was gone—nothing remained but his new life force, his luminous waveform.
He soared through the blackness at the universal limit and wept. It had been inevitable, yet the deaths of Electron and Positron still hurt. Once again, the loneliness was utter and complete, and it bore down upon him like the weight of the Sea itself.
Forever he flew, for Time no longer existed for him. He could not slow; he could not stop; he could not turn. His vector was fixed as rigidly as any Law or Constant. His life had become binary: soar alone, or collide. It was a despairing choice.
Something caught his eye. He peered ahead into the darkness. What was that? It was something familiar, yet still new. A massive thing, a thing of the substance that he lacked and of which he suddenly realized he craved. He moved closer.
“Hello, my love.” The exotic creature smiled. “My name is Nucleus. I've been waiting for you. So have they.” She gestured towards the Sea.
Positron and Electron swam there on opposite sides, mirror images of one another, oblivious to all that lay beyond their respective nurseries.
Photon watched them with a painful fondness. He looked back to Nucleus. “It will kill me to love you, won't it?”
She nodded sadly. “All things must annihilate—”
“—so that others may begin.” It was the way of things.
Copyright Jeff Tanyard 2015