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This cover was illustrated by the author and Taylor Yerdon.

I slumbered in the dark when my friend left me. We’d trudged through the expanse for some time, battling the native shell-bellies and doing our best to save the souls hunted by their life-devouring drive.

Once, we’d fallen from an island floating in the void. Adrift at sea upon a raft made of my sorcery, we found a village of beings beneath the waves. A festival beneath the water vibrant with song which whispered to the surface. The lights played beneath us as we drifted along. Skedder flew down into the waves and clacked her spoons to the rhythm. The festival is a fond, serene seafaring memory.

A family of wizards appeared in the liminality. No shell-bellies came for them, as they didn’t always come, and so we explained to them where they’d arrived. I’d never seen such a reaction. Children cheering. Parents in tears with excitement. They wanted this.

They were together, and that is what counts.

When I think of Yallo, I think of those times. Not the battles and the losses or the victories. What I remember most before she left are the calm moments. The quieter times when the storms of our mission quelled when Skedder would stare silently to the horizons as Yallo and I told stories of our lives.


The fire burned low, though steady. I hadn’t pumped any sorcery into the wood for an hour. The chemical processes took the reigns. When we made campfires, I always forged the wood from sorcery and sparked the flame. This time, I didn’t create the wood.

We camped atop a boulder in the midst of a misty forest. Ferns shook in the light of a silver moon above us. The boulder split a creek which trickled down both sides, and the canopies were tall enough to stretch across the creek near us. The trees couldn’t block the sun, though.

Skedder took the form of a six legged hound formed of spoons. She lie with her paws beneath her snout beside the flames—far closer than any being made of flesh could come to the fire.

She didn’t speak, but we’d grown close over the past few months. Through expressions of warmth and compassion. Months passed indeed, counted by the time system of Yallo’s watch. In what I estimated to be my home world’s time, we’d likely spent three to four together.

A mere blip in the six hundred and twenty years spent in the Liminality. Mighty a thought; how a blip can have such resonance in life.

The patchwork tablecloth rested by the fire, my paws and Yallo’s claws intermittently—and with ease—progressing through another game. Skedder rested after beating Yallo a fair twelve times. The Master of Spoons held some wicked mind for strategy.

“I reckon its the spacial awareness,” I said to Yallo as she advanced into my half of the board with her badger-shaped pieces, using the original set from the teacup.

“How so?” the lizard said, stretching her tail and licking her eye lenses clean. She carved a small hunk of stone with her foreclaws.

“Looks remarkably unlike a lizard,” I said of her piece—meant to comprise her personalized Patchwork set. “Spacial awareness as in that she is a congregation of floating spoons. She can probably feel where her pieces are in space sort of the way we feel a touch to our flesh.”

“Ah,” Yallo shook her head, frills rippling, “cheater.”

A nebula above us danced in time speeding by. Several ringed planetary systems hovered around an incomprehensibly sized blue and green candy cane. I’d stared at the sun-sized mass of sugar for hours until I decided based on its textures and reflections that it was, in fact, some sort of enlarged candy cane.

“Unfair indeed,” I defended a piece of mine against Yallo’s advances. “Murdered.” I took her piece into my admittedly small pile of three.

“I’ll murder you,” she eyed the board for her next opportunity, but the reptile’s focus lie on her sculpture. “You mentioned that a small cup invented this game?”

“A teacup.”

“We did not have tea on my homeworld but I am familiar with the steeping of herbs. Often associated with rituals or warm pastoral parties, I would think, and not strategic games of murder.” Yallo sighed. Her claw chipped off a tad too much stone. She took another riverstone from a blue velvet pouch—collected from the banks of a mountain range waterfall spiraling in on itself through some wicked gravitational field—and began anew.

She collected a dozen stones from that river. All a sweet, white and blue marble speckled in crystal sparks. This was her eighth attempt at carving a piece.

“He was a strange cup of tea. A lonely little one who wished for company, and made games to find it.” I remembered the teacup in the woods and his big blue friend. How they both asked of Beep. I set my jaw as the waves of memory churned from comfortable tides to the maelstrom of Beep’s death.

Yallo eyed me across the board, firelight sparking in her pupils, “Sorrow can drive us to the most dreadful of endeavors.”

“I find melancholy can drive people to the greatest warmth.”


Skedder rolled over and lost her hound-like form, becoming a motionless pile of spoons. I suspected this is what happened when she truly relaxed her subconscious.

“You miss them,” Yallo said.

I nodded, “It is hard to become so close and feel the distance tear you away. They’re my friends and I may never find them again. I found Skedder.” I exhaled but the memories of those I loved did not follow my breath. “I’m forever grateful for that.”

“A coincidence of fate in an improbable position,” Yallo set her carving stone on the board. It seemed the game faded into a conversation.

“I believe I will see them again. Improbability, I find, is a suggestion by the higher forces at work.”

“Forces beyond our control.”

“Suggestions for a way of interpreting or reacting.” The Genesar upon the White Island flashed in my mind. The first time I blipped after half a century; and my family was torn away. Being saved by my future self and confronting my destiny. “I walk my path the way I wish to walk it. I’ve slipped between the stones of impossibility one too many times to believe in its power anymore.”

“A fair way to walk.”

“You believe differently?”

“I believe that impossible is a concept created by the ignorant to explain what they don’t understand. A way for mortals to explain the divinity in our universe. That, because they cannot believe something or achieve a feat themselves, then it must not be achievable or believable.” Yallo breathed slow. “But I also believe that I do not understand much of my existence, and that which I do understand humbles me greatly.”

“A fair way to think.” My own beliefs led me to thinking on the philosophies of my companions, and this brought me to remembering them at all. Porbiyo’s maniacal rhyming played in my head—how he’d speak so mundane one moment then burst into poetry. Threshold’s dominion over all she walked. “Who did you spend your time with? Before you found me with the crashing bus.”

“I spent my time alone,” she whispered.

“I assumed.”

“Always alone,” she said, “I never had companions. You followed me and I did not question it. But opening the door for another to walk in will always invite that inevitable loss.” She motioned to Skedder, “You must lose to desire finding. Is that not the nature of missing something? You’ve lost most of them all.”

“I’ll find them again. Once I learn to navigate this realm between realms, I will seek them out as I seek out my destiny.”

“I have tried to learn how to read the winds and move through this place. Impossible,” Yallo said. “None can find what they want, here, merely accept what is given to them. Those who traverse this eternity are birds whose perch seeks them. The wings carry them from fate to fate. The branch meets their talons but their wings do not choose where to land.”

“Perhaps you’re correct.” I smiled, “Maybe the branch merely needs a friend with whom to converse. Maybe then the branch I seek will meet me. I’ll find them.”

“Says the rat who ignores impossibility. I have had too much taken from me to believe in finding what I’ve lost again. Better to keep what I have and continue on then hold onto those I’ll grieve someday.”

We curled by the fire, and I found myself nodding off. Likely a week without sleep and my body—however immortal—still enjoyed rest here and there. The process didn’t revitalize me so much as give me peace. By the fire, after a lengthy night of games and stories, what was I to do but dream at the edge of the frontier?

When I woke sometime later, the sky was consumed in purple clouds. A swarm of winged lightbulbs lit the rock on which we camped in a twinkle of shimmering gold and silver. Skedder reflected the light. She sat by the fire in the shape of a six legged, horned frog. Her expression gave me pause.

As if the light swept her away, Yallo was gone.

After she left, time passed differently. Months and years began to slide into the fade. The numbness settled for certain. This time, my friend left on her own accord. Some grand cosmic power did not snatch her away against her will.

This time, my friend chose to leave.

I’ll never know why exactly she left. I have my thoughts on the matter and I assume the answer is clearly in what I’ve recited thus far. But again I found myself alone.

Skedder stayed with me. We would never separate from one another, not after the slim chance of discovery. We were bound. So in bodies, we had two. But in my spirit, the solitude reigned. I’d been abandoned. No—never abandoned, merely left alone.

“Opaline,” called a voice in the wake of the sea of swelling lights above us. As the last of the little angels flew off in the clouds, the form of a friend swept from the returning darkness.

A dragon descended. Ehlonniabatur embraced me.

“My friend,” she said.

“My friend,” I said.

What I remember most is not the warm touch of my friend, or the conversation about not the grand existential threats of our purpose and existence, but the talk of missing one another. She stayed awhile.

We brought ourselves together. Perhaps that is all the compass one needs.



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