Part VII: Anaerobe
Ever since Heart had shriveled to silence in the high humidity environment created by biogas production, his corpse had begun to rot. First came the black molds, then the white, and finally the anaerobes had marched in on their chariots of gas, corroding the glues that held Heart together. Now he was nothing more than a lump in the corner.
“Don’t remember me as a pop star or a debutante,” pleaded Brittney, at the end. Her shiny surface had splayed and disassociated from the alloys ingrained with her music. “I know you never heard my music, but that’s okay. Remember the talks we had with Heart, Orange. The arguments. The fact that none of us ever won. We never won.”
“I will,” said Orange, “and by the way, I think you won more often than he did.”
“That’s a nice thing to say.” She sighed. “I wish I could have performed for him. Something black that sounded like savages dancing on a streambank…”
“He might even have listened,” returned Orange, but Brittney didn’t hear, for she had cracked in half. Two days later, the source of the bulge that had grown beneath her tattered frame made itself known through the buoyant force of Tire, who rose through the rows of refuse on his way to the open world.
“It’s sunlight I crave, and the open road,” announced Tire, as he continued to ascend.
“Good luck,” said Orange, who had wanted to ask for a lift to the surface, where the sun still was. But then Tire was gone, and the last of Orange’s talking friends had vanished. He huddled near the remains of Brittney Spears.
Orange held out for a few more months, but the blackness creeping along his skin got the better of him. The first chunk of peel that fell off did so suddenly, admitting a chill to Orange’s innards. Blackness crept; it burrowed through the white fibres and into the emaciated flesh, parting the slices as it sought Orange’s essence.
“Please,” Orange beseeched the anaerobes, but the tiny organisms were only alive to eat and breed.
When the peel was gone, it took all of Orange’s strength to stop the slices from coming apart. Instead, the anaerobes chewed at him, suckling upon his flesh and converting him into a fine vapour. Orange slipped away slowly, each molecule a perfect stochiometric tribute to the reactions that take place when there is no oxygen, and where there is no light. Orange faded into the dusty equivalents of off-gas, atomic simplicities of carbon dioxide and water and then finally, after the acidity of Orange’s corpse was in the right range, rawest single-C methane. The gases rose on wings of water, sailing through pockets and crevices of waste, through the permeability and porosity of barrows erected by human beings to memorialize civilization; and when the convective force of the underlying gases rushed upwards, that is when Orange truly found flight.
Light, like light itself, Orange’s form snaked through the mound until he saw a tendril of sun. Light, like daylight, in daylight he emerged into the colour of sun-dawn red but then orange, orange but then white and afterwards light. Gasping, wondering that he was still alive, Orange soared for height and then the heights, and then brightness beyond the heightening daylight. When he emerged into the world, it was as a ghost, the same type that haunts the weather and brings the rain, the same kind that lies in the sewers and tugs at the ocean from a pearl-built seat on the moon. The sun was warm. The sky was pale. Orange had eyes only for the sky and the heights of daylight’s light; but then he saw a tinge of mystery beyond the blue and knew with certainty that knew, that mysteries are the red-shifted cousins of reality’s truths. And Orange the ghost, in time, Orange soared.