The river of creation ceases to fall from the sky and the thrashing waves upon the sea calm. In the aftermath of the storm arises new life. From the water’s surface erupts a city made of light and a single glistening elderly Shimmerling finds itself no longer alone…
Rays of pure golden light refract off of smooth surfaces, creating stunning rainbows within the fabric of the material that defines the majority of the newly risen city. Awe inspiring, grand, far reaching structures made of luminous glowing plasma sparkling in the light are scattered throughout the watery landscape… A new cycle has just begun.
From a distance, especially when viewed from above, the city appears to be one massive entity made up of hundreds of smaller ones. At first glance, the structures configuration does not seem to hold any peculiar orientation or meaning. However, when analyzed more meticulously it becomes clear that the randomness the city represents is part of a grander design. A greater meaning conceals itself beyond what is most noticeably observable.
The citizens of Shimmer City, Shimmerlings, are masses of sparkling light and rainbow tinted plasma, much like the structures that they inhabit. Their bodies are primarily spherical hollow globs, which rest upon the surface of the vast ocean their world resides atop. They weigh near nothing, and easily float atop the water’s surface. Composed of the same dazzling rainbow boasting plasma as the city itself, they pass in and out of the buildings and one another as they drift along in mostly unpredictable patterns throughout the city streets. When they come in contact with a structure, sometimes they pass through it, other times they are pushed around it, and yet in some instances they are absorbed into the structure and become a part of it. On occasion, Shimmerlings are born from structures in a similar but reverse manor.
Shimmerlings are conscious, intellectual and kind natured entities that live often brief lives. Only precious few outlive their children and even fewer live long enough to see the cycle of rebirth begin anew. They perceive their world through interconnected emotional exchange and can transfer thoughts, ideas and feelings simply by coming into contact with one another. This ability alleviates the need for spoken or written language. They can also transfer and store ideas, memories, emotions and understandings within the structures that define the city. Even the buildings are, in a sense, alive and conscious, comprised of the same material as the Shimmerlings.
Their society has no need for police, for there is no crime. No need for soldiers, for there is no war. No need for hate, since they can feel only love and appreciation for all things. Beyond these traits, they do not have a currency system, nor is it necessary for them to sleep, eat, or breathe. They do however, need to drink and as such they derive their needed fluids from the ocean which they spend their lives dancing across.
Sometimes Shimmerlings move through their brief lives aimlessly floating, while other times they may ride a specific current to reach a desired destination. For the most part, they are at the mercy of the winds and tide to guide them on the journey through their lives. Who they meet, where they live and where they will eventually die, what they see and do and feel and try, are all defined by the winds of fortune and the current of fate.
One might think that with so little control over their own lives, surely they must support faith in a higher power that governs their reality, yet this notion would be inaccurate. The Shimmerlings do not have a need for religion, they do not believe in concerning one’s self with the afterlife, else one might forget to live and appreciate their current existence. They understand that morals, rules and standards beyond the physical nature of reality are mere fabrications, faint and unneeded whims of lesser-minded beings. Possessing no understanding of hate, aggression or suffering whatsoever, there is hardly a reason to pray in the first place. They view their lives are perfect, and appreciate every blessed moment that the universe provides them.
In this place of light and sparkling rainbow colored plasma the night and day seem to arrive in random intervals. Sometimes the bright light in the sky shines, while other times it fades, sometimes for decades. Ancient tails told by the city’s archives remind the populous of a time when the bright light in the sky vanished for the duration of nearly sixteen thousand cycles of rebirth. Inversely, there have been generations who’ve never known what darkness looks like. Despite the population’s greatest efforts to calculate the abnormalities of their ‘star light,’ no definitive pattern has yet to be established. Part of the issue in establishing the formulas needed to calculate and predict the light cycles is that they tend to last many lifetimes and progress to record data must span generations.
Another trying task for the Shimmerlings is that there are few ways for them to perceive what their world looks like beyond what they are capable of physically observing from their limited point of view. While the Shimmerlings exist in a three dimensional space, they have few ways to move beyond a two-dimensional plain of perception. Moving left, right, forwards and backwards are not problematic, however the only way for them to move on the vertical axis is to ascend within one of their structures. At the very top of the tallest structure one can see out across much of the city, however from this prospective the refracting light makes it difficult to differentiate much of anything.
Once, as legends tell, there was a group of citizens that called themselves ‘The wanderers.’ They, unlike their fellow kin, embraced and willingly allowed the water’s current to carry them out beyond the cities limits and into the vast unknown… Not all wanderers leave by choice however, some were swept away by powerful currents as titanic downpours of new plasma and water arrived from the ‘source,’ in a process known as the ‘Rebirth’. Of those who venture beyond the city limits, unfortunately most spent their entire lives on a venture towards the outer walls of their reality, but never made it. A journey that is long and lonely, transcending the vast flat, watery unknown. Those who died at sea were reabsorbed by the waters that had held them up all their lives… their search ending in vain. A lucky few however, did make it to the ‘barrier.’
At the edge of their world lies a wall, a massive wall that stretches infinitely in all directions reaching upwards towards the heavens and touching the source, the point in the sky from which new life arrives. Bordering the wall are the few who reached it and decided, for whatever reason, to remain. They anchored themselves down and held firm to the walls. With little to no current this far out into the ocean anchoring on to the wall proves a simple task. Only when a rebirth occurs are the shockwaves large enough to possibly displace those on the outermost rim of their world. It is possible for one who has reached the wall to allow the rebirth current to carry them back into the city, however only a very select few who reach the wall ever make it back. In the history of their world it is possible as few as five have ever made the round trip.
Looking back at the city from the wall, one can see nothing but vast cornucopias of light refracting off of the water’s surface. To behold the sight is said to grant the meaning of one’s life and purpose in this world. Beyond the wall, no one has ever traveled nor is there a way for a Shimmerling to do so. Traversing the thick grey boundary is impossible. Some have tried to pass through the wall, yet unlike most other things in their world, the barrier does not allow them to phase through it.
As the cycle of life comes to its end the majority of the Shimmerlings die, becoming reabsorbed by the ocean. Structures explode into mist and the city grows sparse of life. Some of the structures float away, breaking off from the main colony and drifting into the beyond, taking with them groups of the remaining population. After a long enough time, the currents calm, the winds die down and eventually all goes nearly silent. At this phase only a select few Shimmerlings remain. They cling to the boundary, or gather in small clusters around what few structures remain, far from where they primary city once rested… eventually, nearly all of them die.
In a vast, cold and almost completely still, silent and empty world the last Shimmerling, an elder who has superseded the cycle of rebirth floats endlessly in the nothingness. Suddenly, the great light in the sky dims and remains obstructed from a great duration of time. The rebirth is about to occur once more, the ancient Shimmerling can feel it in its quivering plasma membrane. For a while longer the elder waits patiently, and then, it happens…
A column of energy, carrying the life sustaining nectar of creation descends from the heavens and crashes down into the center of the ocean sending out massive shockwaves. From the impact arises a vast new city, thrumming with energy and life. The elder looks on from a distance and revels in the understanding that it has witnessed what only the luckiest of Shimmerlings will ever know…
Meanwhile, beyond the boundaries of the border, within a large room filled with trashcans and boxes containing soap and shampoo, a young male employee of a small beauty care company walks over to bottle of expired shampoo. He picks up the bottle and then proceeds to move over top of the nearest plastic trashcan. His body casts a shadow into the bin as he angles the bottle downwards and delivers its contents into the waist bin.
As the shampoo contacts the water in the trashcan it erupts into thousands of bubbles, dancing across the water’s surface. The boy looks on and marvels at each shimmering bubble. He watches them carefully, amused by their brief existences and sporadic behavior. As he watches them pop, one after the other, he contemplates the briefness of his own existence and wonders… when will his cycle come to an end?