Pavel thought of his cold concrete floor as a king-sized bed. On the night before Loatia’s bi-annual Threnody, Pavel laid rigidly next to his best friend, Metiri. Metiri was a crescent and was twice the size of Pavel. Since Metiri was limbless, Pavel draped a paisley blanket over where its brain was to keep the kind lunula warm at night.

Pavel feared Threnodies.

“Why induce death?” he thought, his face propped up by two pillows, his eyes fixed on the ceiling of his room. His breaths were shallow. Slowly, he sank into thought. Moments later, he realized he was trapped in an asymmetrical section of his mind, cornered by the old intangibles Anxiety and Dread. Pavel was frightened, so he decided to search for irony in the situation.

“How can I be cornered in a room without symmetry?”

+

In Loatia, the Threnody was a sacrificial ceremony where local governments throughout the country would select citizens at random to be dissolved with nitro-hydrochloric acid and poured into the Sea of Murnan, to the east. The Orthodox Lecheorian priests would then sing dirges until sundown of the following day.

The ritual was relatively new to Loatian culture; it was inherited and instated by Lecheorian bureaucrats in the throes of the Lecheor–Jord conflict roughly three centuries prior.

+

A few long seconds passed. Pavel broke free from the immaterial, lopsided room. He saw the ceiling again. He turned to Metiri, felt its cool white light on his callused middle fingers.

“Your feet make me feel safe. They always... always make me feel safe.”

Metiri emanated moonlight that gradually placed Pavel back into a trance. He was back in the asymmetrical room. He saw Fear now. Fear stood squarely in front of Dread and Anxiety, forming a triangle. It was the only symmetry he saw inside of the room. The only symmetry until he saw Metiri enter the room from the east.

Metiri’s presence was brilliant, its bright white light quickly dissolving the phalanx. The room began to shift into a gorgeous regularity; first into a rhombus, then into a perfect square. He was lucid. Nothing was all.

Pavel saw the ceiling again. His hand was now pressed firmly against Metiri’s feet. He felt liberated. Kingly, even.

 

'Pavel and Metiri' was published in the Winter 2015 edition of Panoptic Presents. Copies are available in both print and digital formats.