By Parson Thru
He woke with a pale-blue sound in his ears, like an empty sky. It sounded like peace. It looked like a dream, but he knew it wasn’t, on account of his being awake. Or at least that’s how it seemed.
Everything had come to a halt. He was surrounded by stillness. Nothing moved, anywhere. He wondered if he might be dead. Do awakedness or sleep have any dominion in the world of the dead?
He felt something moving beneath him and realised it was the ground. He’d never been aware of it before. He stood up unsteadily, balancing carefully. The surface of the planet was moving at a very high speed around its axis. The whole lot was travelling at an unknown velocity through a soup of visible and dark matter. It was all he could do to hang on.
Peace was being subsumed by something that sounded like a colossal orchestra tuning-up. It was the building awareness of eight billion others just like him and all of their inventions. One invention carried people where they didn’t want to be, another carried them back again. One built edifices, while another knocked them down. One rushed to the scene of a fire or an accident caused by another, or to pick someone up from the floor where they’d fallen, having sustained a hole from a stranger’s invention. And in the midst of this cacophony, birds sang.
It was all becoming too much. Out of the mess, one of the howling sounds became louder until it hurt his sensitive spirit. Then it stopped.
He watched two people kneel to the ground without effort. They fussed for a while, then picked up the person with the hole and put him into their waiting invention. It was someone just like him.