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The Afterlife of Liam Cipher

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Spiraling, down, down, down...

No!

Up? U-up, up up! Wait, do I even know what 'down' and 'up' are?

Colors... so many... I-I don't know what they are called but there's so much bright color... I-I don't know what... what it is! A softer, more normal but gentle, soothing... ~grey~ ... color draws me, I reach out... I-I fall ...

 

***

 

Lavender. That was the color which drew him away from the bright, painful color that he later learned was:

Yellow.

 

Liam awoke lying in the grass, in what seemed to be the same world as that he'd left. Flatland, but not. For one thing, this dimension had color . Another was that this world was not on fire, nor was it destroyed.

"Oh dear, are you alright?"

Liam looked over to see a young triangle, about his own age, actually, looking at him quizzically.

"I-I think so," he said shakily. "Er... what happened?"

"Oh, just another Chaos storm," the triangle said with a shrug. "They've been happening a lot lately. Circles know why." He chuckled a bit. "I say 'Circles' but they're no different than the rest of us, now are they?"

"Er, well... um alright," Liam said, sitting up carefully. He wondered what the Triangle would think once his imperfection was revealed. "Never heard anyone say anything like that, to be honest."

"Well, maybe a hundred years ago," the Triangle said. "back when everyone thought having more sides made you some kind of god." He laughed. "Let me guess, you came from a parallel dimension, where it's still priggish."

"Er, well..."

"Women are stupid and can't be educated, anyone who's irregular should be destroyed--"

"Yes."

The Triangle blinked and tilted sympathetically. "Sorry, mate," he said gently. "My name's Nick. Nicholas Nix. Nice to meet you."

"Liam," the scalene said softly, "Liam Cipher."

"I'm a scientist-- before you say anything, yes, triangles can be scientists in my world-- and I have been hoping to discover the reason for these Chaos storms for a while now. It seems you may have come from the source. Is there anything you can tell me, Liam?"

"Yes, actually..."

 

 

Nick was Scalene as well, to a much lesser degree than Liam. He was a soft shade of warm blue, what might be called 'Marine', which Liam found rather engaging. He was smart, friendly, and apparently comfortable enough financially to own his own home and occasionally host some very interesting cocktail parties...

 

***

 

"Oh I really don't believe that," Laura said, laughing lightly. "Women are fighting for their rights, and have been since time immemorial, Nick. Obviously Liam's dimension was just a bit more backwards, but I don't doubt that the girls he talks about were fighters!" She laughed again and Liam couldn't help but smile a bit with his eye; something he'd rarely done back home.

"Peace cry, good circles! Just another excuse for polygons to suppress feminine superiority!" Another Line, Margot, had slipped in beside Laura and gave a bit of a derisive snort. "Liam, did they really insist on such a thing in your world?"

"Well yes," Liam said slowly, "but the practice was dying out in my time. They did when A. Square was alive though."

Nick just chuckled, sipping his martini. He leaned against the side of the bar casually and surveyed the elegant party gathered in his house. Liam caught that look. Nick was popular and well-liked, wealthy and, well, classy as his friends like to say.

Much like Liam figured Bill would have turned out.

He paused, sighing softly.

"Liam? Are you alright?" Laura said gently, "oh... I should have remembered how you dislike politics... come on, let me show you my latest piece, I think you'll really like it." She put a hand on his angle and softly nudged him along with her, away from Margot and some of the other polygons who were, by now, up to an enthusiastically heated discussion about the upcoming presidential election.

Liam felt Nick's gaze on his back as Laura led him off.

He debated looking back but one thing Bill always liked to point out in their favorite stories; looking back never ended well.
That's why I don't do it!

Liam shook his angle a bit.

"What's wrong?" Laura asked, gazing over at him.

"I was just thinking about my brother, to be perfectly honest," Liam said as they paused in the atrium of Nick's house, where Laura's sculptures were being displayed.

"William, right?"

"Bill, yes."

"You miss him."

He nodded. "I wonder about him. He... he was always clever, smarter than anyone else I knew, and for the most part, I don't think he knew it, at least when he was young and I was with him. Later though... well. All kinds of crazy ideas have occurred to me, Laura. Bill wasn't stupid enough to die in a fire. I-I just know it."
"Was there any evidence to the contrary, though, Liam? Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that he's gone. I know you loved him. I loved my brother. He was sweet and smart and he didn't deserve to die, but he did."

Liam cast her a softly sympathetic look. Laura was kind of amazing. She was kind, sweet, everything his society said a good Line should be, but she was so much more than that. She was fiercely intelligent and creative. She was fun to talk to and they'd hit it off right away. It also so happened that Laura was Nick's half-sister. After an accident that killed her father and her younger brother, another triangle, Laura's mother eventually remarried Nick's father, who'd been divorced (also something that didn't happen in Liam's Flatland). This world was so incredibly modern. Liam loved it and he was certain Bill would have as well.

"Laura..."

She gave a toss of her eye-end and laughed softly. "Oh Liam, come on, look at my art!"

She reminded Liam a lot of Bill as well.

He supposed everyone did, really, in some way.

 

Laura was a respected artist in the modernist community of this Flatland, which he'd learned was Dimension /x7 (slash-ex-seven). Her sculptures were abstract, which was quite an accomplishment for second dimensional beings. He loved to gaze at her work. She'd incorporated Color in ways he'd never dreamed of seeing. Her art just called out to the greater universe, it brought the ideas and fantasies of what second dimensional people believed the universe might be like.
Like his own Flatland, this one had yet to achieve third dimensional contact, but this one was enthusiastically exploring and learning about the other two-dimensional worlds close to them.

They knew the third dimension existed, as did more beyond that.

 

"So, what do you think?"

"It's so bright."

"It's supposed to be, silly."

The figure was something close to a triangle with an eye, like a typical Equalateral. It was a bit free-form, but he could see what she'd intended it to be. It was brightly colored in a shiny, sun-like color and the little figure looked happy. "Is it wearing a top hat, Laura?"

"Yes! I thought you'd like it."

"What's it supposed to be?"

"Your brother... your brother as an angel, Liam," she said softly. "Don't worry, no one else knows about the real meaning of the sculpture besides you and I." She pressed her hands together and glanced down. "I-is it alright? Do you like it?"

Liam gazed at the figure. It did look like Billy. His Billy. He was bright and happy and wearing a top-hat and bow-tie, items he'd always admired in their father's shop. He swallowed hard. Laura had listened to him, so much so, she'd been able to extract his baby brother from Liam's increasingly fragmented memories and... create ...

"It's perfect , Laura," he said, reaching out to tip her end up, so her eye fixed on his. "It's beautiful ."

Her eye lit with happiness. "Oh, good," she whispered, stepping closer to him.

Warmth suffused him at the sound of her delighted voice. "Laura, I-I don't even know what to say--actually I do."
She blinked. "Oh?" She sounded slightly nervous. Worried.

Liam laughed softly. "Could you please tell me what color that is?"

Laura giggled then. It was like soft, bells, tinkling in the gentle rain.

"Oh! It's yellow , silly!"

 

Yellow .