Monday, January 11, 2010


Once there was a life within the Sun; the girl Iphigenia, whose eyes shone like jewels and whose smile pushed the world (each and every day!) into a brighter tomorrow.

Today, this is not so. The sun is simply a golden disk in the sky, devoid of purpose and intent, and Iphignia -

 Iphigenia is no longer hot; and I will tell you why.

Here where we stand, upon the surface of the earth, we see the Sun travel travel in its arc through the sky, once a day, typically. But we do not see the Sun at night (necessarily!) - and that is because it is, for all the hours of darkness, traveling below the world; where another world lurks, clinging to the underside of our own. And - what is this world like?

In many ways it is reversed from our world. Our oceans are their mountain ranges, our mountains their oceans; what is unseen here is readily visible there, and conversely, so that nakedness and secrets are common and public, but clothes are reserved for the bedroom, and simple truths rarely seen at all (or is that the same as our own world?). But in other ways it is much like our side of the earth; there are plants that live there, and simple animals, and people; and all depend on the light of the sun.

 It was while soaring beneath the world that Iphigenia noticed a large metal bell detach itself from the bottom of the world and hurl towards her. She prepared to take evasive actions, but then saw (to her great surprise) that the bell was already moving to avoid her - a trio of great pistons in its bottom firing gouts of steam downwards at varying angles, positioning it directly above her.

 "Ah," she thought. "A machine, to study me. Clever! Much more clever than all those explorers who burned up trying to reach me." (Iphigenia was still sad about that. She hadn't gotten to speak to anyone in ages, because they all burned up before they could get close enough!) "I will wave," she decided, and promptly did so.

 A gloved hand appeared from within the bell and waved back.


 Iphigenia was rather surprised by this.

 She considered her options.

 "...hello?" she attempted.

 "I must say," the person within the sun-bell said, "I'd rather expected there'd be someone inside the sun. But I was thinking kind of a more - hm. Chariot? Horses? That kind of thing?"

 "This is my prison," Iphigenia said.

 "Ah!" the explorer said in surprise.

 "I also did not expect that the Sun was a prison for a small girl," he admitted.

 " long have you been in there?" he asked.

 "A few millenia, probably," Iphigenia admitted. "I rather lost track after Leviticus, to tell the truth."

 "You don't look thousands of years old," the explorer said, his eyebrows, though hidden by his protective concealment within his diving-bell, still decidedly upraised.

 "I'm not one night older than when I was put here!" Iphigenia said proudly. "That's one of the many advantages of being imprisoned within the Sun!"

 "You'll pardon me if this is overly forward - our just having met - " the explorer said " - but how did you come to be imprisoned within the Sun for several thousand years?"

 "I'll answer you," Iphigenia said, "but only after proper introductions. I'll go first: I'm Iphigenia!"

 "Hello, Iphigenia," the explorer said. "My name is Hero. It's nice to meet you."

 "Very nice to meet you, too, Hero," Iphigenia said. "(That's a funny name.) But here you go: my story."

 "I was walking around," Iphigenia said, "And I heard a great voice above me say: 'LET THERE BE LIGHT.' And there was light - but it was awful and blinding and washed out all the colors! So I complained: 'Hey, whoever did that, you suck! I could do better in my sleep!' Then there was a bit of a pause, and the voice replied: 'THEN YOU WILL DO SO!' And so I made the Sun and got inside and started - you know, circling."

 "That doesn't sound like you were imprisoned," Hero said. "If you made the Sun, couldn't you just get out again?"

 "But I can't!" Iphigenia said. "If I did, the sun would crash - boom! Whoomph! Everything burns up - just like that! I can't even pause, or there'll be droughts and famine and stuff! It totally sucks!"

 "Did you realize that when you made the Sun?" Hero asked.

 "It wasn't that way back then!" Iphigenia said. "Stuff was way less flammable then. But that voice covered the world in plants and animals and stuff - and plants and animals catch on fire! Nice going, voice-dude! Really well thought out there!"

 Hero thought about this. "Well, it seems like you're pretty unhappy about all of this," he said. "Also, you've been doing the same thing for millenia, which seems like reason enough to me to give you a break. Is there anything I can do to help you? Without engulfing the world in flame, that is?" he quickly added.

 Iphigenia thought. She hadn't really considered it! But after a moment she had an answer -

 "Sure!" she said. "Just make another sun!"

 "...another sun?" Hero asked.

 "Yeah!" Iphigenia said. "To light the days and heat the flowers and whatever! But one that'll run on autopilot this time. Then I can crash into the ocean and swim to shore, but everything will still have light and be alive and so on. It's the perfect plan!"

 Hero's brow (still quite unseen!) furrowed fiercely. "It doesn't seem like making the sun would be very easy - " he said.

 "Ehhhh," Iphigenia interrupted. "You're a fancy inventor guy, aren't you? (I can tell by the steam-powered sun-visiting sky-diving-bell.) You can build a new sun! After all, I did, didn't I - and without any practice at all!"

 Hero thought about this for some time. But then a whistle came from within his bell; the signal to return to the surface, should he wish to do so instead of running out of fuel and plunging forever downwards. "I must go now, Iphigenia!" he said. "But I will do this thing - I will free you from your prison! I promise you!"

 "Visit often!" Iphigenia suggested as Hero's bell began to climb. "Give progress reports!"

 He gave no progress reports; and Iphigenia circled the earth many more times before he returned.

 (And the tale of his adventures in building a new Sun - on our side of the world and the other - are a story in themselves)

 - but in the end he did return, and it was with a round sheet of hammered copper in hand.

 "Nice!" Iphigenia said. "That's the new Sun?"

 "It is," Hero said. "You are free!"

 She was!

 It was nice.

 "Man, aging's gonna be weird," Iphigenia observed.

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