30 Days of Souvenirs: Day 7

Six was sitting on a large phoenix stone as I approached. I unplugged the vortex feather and floated down to her position. She looked more than a little tired and was using her shield vacuum to remove drops of sweat from her helmet. The acetylene dust was making it hard to see for more than a few feet, and I had forgotten how hard these scavenging missions were. They usually never sent the scientists to do this type of work but Six and I volunteered just to get out of the lab and into some fresh air. Air….Jesus, I’m old. I haven’t used that word in years….if my son heard me talk about air he’d never let me hang out with him. I feel as prehistoric as these phoenix stones and the scattered rust petroleum buttons that they produce. I remember thinking about eternal life when I was a kid and it seemed so fictional….now, it’s been two thousand years and my face hasn’t changed since I was thirty five. But inside…it’s hard to explain. It’s not what it’s cracked up to be, that’s for sure. But being a scientist during the conversion years has been more than remarkable…watching whole ecosystems grow, evolve, and then suddenly disappear over the course of a hundred years. It’s been surreal watching this planet slowly die and be reborn. I’ve already had the honor of having twenty five new species of stone and quartz named in my honor, and I’m discovering new stone species monthly. Now I’m here with Six and being out on the planets face is bringing back the realization that I really need to start using my legs and not depending on these damn hydro-poles all the time. “Let’s keep moving!” Six is up and floating off towards a particularly milky cloud of rind pebbles. I watch her stop suddenly and peer down towards the ground, and levitating a foot from the surface, she grasps an object in her gloves and turns, beckoning me...

Six is still young, and always finding ‘earth trash’ that she hopes an old salt like myself will help her understand. She likes the stories, I suppose, that I wind around each object. But that’s all it is for her, a story about a thing that has no meaning in this new world. As I approach I notice the small wood and metal thing she holds in her hand. Somewhere in the back of my memory I know this shape, and for whatever reason I’m suddenly apprehensive. I can’t explain the fear, but I tell her to put it down. “No way!” she shouts. “this is going in my cube!’ She’s been fixing up her flat, or cube, for a while, and the last time I was over she had built a ‘wood’ floor and wall in the place. The wood almost looked real. But of course it was woodstone. “Do you know what it is? It looks very primitive, almost like a tool for some type of machine..” I stared for a long time, not being able to connect synapses and recreate the memory of this thing. “Let me take a look.” I took the tool from her hand, and noticing a small lever, pulled it back. There was another lever connected to a handle. It begged to be touched. I tried to wrap my glove around the handle but my hand was too large. I handed it back to her. “I’ll put it with my other tools” she said. And as we moved along the red rock crevice back to the portal, I felt an uneasiness crawling behind me.

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