“Not the reds.”
“This is the first time I’ve seen them from the surface.”
“They’re not real.”
“No, but I thought you could use some light. I will fix the color.”
The ribbons of light in the sky slowly faded from red to green. Spegg turned over and floated on his back, his breath little clouds of chartreuse illuminated by the dancing lights.
“That’s better,” I said. I crossed my legs in the boat and took a bite out of the bacon sandwich, following it with a long pull from a bottle of J&B. The liquor warmed my throat, coated my stomach and reached out to my limbs, slowly unlatching all of the tiny hardened locks and flipping on the lights. I exhaled a long, deep breath—one that seemed like I’d stored up for days. “Beautiful night.”
“You needed a break.”
I nodded with my mouth full.
“Have you forgotten about me?” Spegg asked.
I swallowed and drank again. “No. But you are dead and I will be too, soon enough.”
Spegg splashed in the water, then disappeared below the surface.
Stars winked through the hazy atmosphere, and the Aurora rippled over the horizon, slowly fading from green to blue to purple and back again. The ocean softly mirrored the colors in a mirthful little duet between the Earth and sky.
“It’s not true,” Spegg said, leaning against the bow inside the Zodiac.
I cocked an eyebrow and passed the J&B to him. “What’s isn’t?”
Spegg took a long drink, finishing the bottle, then dropped it over the side of the boat. I watched as the whiskey bottle morphed into a little sturgeon and scurried away.
“I’m not dead,” Spegg answered.
I uncapped another bottle of whiskey and put it to my lips. I took another long pull and then set the bottle on my leg. “Yes you are. The Americans told me they destroyed all of the Russian ships.”
“May-be.” Spegg said, then snatched a fish out of the water and swallowed it. He licked his lips with his long, shimmering tongue. “But I was not on one of those ships.”
“Then where were you, Spegg?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Because you don’t know.”
I wedged the bottle between my thighs and scratched my head. “Yes, of course, this is a dream. But, I don’t know that you’re not dead.”
“Robertson,” Spegg said, ribbons of blue light flickering in his eyes. “If I die, you will feel a burden on your soul so acute… so profound, that you will never recover from the loss.”
Spegg brushed his hand across the sky, distorting the waves of color into little rainbow eddies, then continued. “Those bound by the Lilith who have lost their pairing have been known to gouge out their eyes, or throw themselves out of airlocks. The bond is that strong.”
“Yes, I think I remember you telling me that.”
“We are only in transition now, Wayne. You have to find me. This you must do.”
“But I will die out here if I am not rescued. I am nearly out of fuel. No food. No water. I have no time left.”
“No. The ship has come back for you.” Spegg turned his head and looked to the horizon. “Can you not hear their call?”
A distant horn wailed, scattering the Aurora. Spegg stood up in the Zodiac and stared at me warily. “The humans are reckless and destructive, brother. Soon they will annihilate themselves. You and I are the only hope for the future.” Then he dove over the edge.
I lurched awake in the spotlight of a giant ship.