Zelda, a linguist, stands on a bamboo bridge in front of an artifact. The artifact is a 450 feet cubed teardrop. Its sharp end points directly at Earth’s gravitational center. It reflects no energy. William guides Zelda’s hand to a tactile patch. She swipes a surface that feels like a cat’s tongue.

“I found this patch of texture by touch. It isn’t visible.” William says.

“Nonbinary.” Zelda says.

“Huh?” William says.

“The linguistic structure is nonbinary.” Zelda explains.

Zelda swipes two fingers, and a smooth sphincter opens for her. She unfolds her mobility cane, explores the entrance. Zelda steps in, free hand touching a membrane. The opening closes. The air becomes cool, humid. The membrane slides open.

Insight: A clear Braille number pad set over a touchscreen“Air lock.” Zelda says.

“My flashlight is useless.” William says.

Zelda chuckles. Her hand crosses over line and dot clusters.

“Buttons.” She says, trying to read them.

“Light switch?” William asks.

“There are no lights.” Zelda says.

Zelda is stripped bare, William is gone. She isn’t naked, precisely. Something as thin as lotion now coats her skin. A mental query of concern returns an assurance that William has been placed safely outside the artifact. Zelda feels a sculpted pressure, wind and needles pressing a map against her skin. Her fingertips read the words of an alien language that exists as a product of dimension, depth, and intention. Her mind feels space as distance the way her toes feel sand bending to water, can sense every passage inside the artifact as pressure against her skin.

Let’s go. Says the windy rush of symbols on her fingers.

Zelda silently agrees. The artifact transmigrates to a plane where light and sound are uncommon. Zelda is overwhelmed by a primal ecstasy. She screams quietly in a mix of joy and release.

Thank You. Zelda laughs.

Food, water, comfort. Always learning.

Ever the student, Zelda agrees to stay.


The bridge has shattered. William stares at the empty space that had once held the artifact, certain he will never see Zelda again.


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