I sit before a morning sunrise stained in blushing violets, delicate crimsons, and sensual wines. The sand is cool against my skin. Languidly, the sun stretches towards me, spilling her light over the sea in wet velvety folds. On my cheek, I feel her fingertips pressing warmly, against my breast her soft golden lips, her stiff yellow tongue.
I close my eyes to crashing waves, to crying gulls.
"How do you feel?" Asks a mild voice.
I open my eyes to darkness, and thin strands of sleep clinging to my lashes. I am lying down.
In my ears the waves bleed seamlessly into the rumble of engines.
"How do you feel?" Above me a face floats, snaking downward as it speaks. In the pale light I see that it is suspended by a translucent cable wrapped in blue fluid-coursing veins. As I watch, its features shift, its chin elongates, its cheekbones arch, its lips draw back from bone-white porcelain teeth. In its face, I see my own.
Soft light radiates behind me, and through a transparent section of station hull I see Jupiters eye raging.
"Where is the sea?" I ask, the base of my skull beginning to ache. "What do you remember?" The mask slides down silently to stop inches from my face. Condensation from my breath beads on its cheek.
I smell its syntheticness, its silicon beauty.
I close my eyes.
In the darkness, I feel Jupiter watching.
I lie on the beach naked, droplets of morning sunlight raining on my shoulders. With a burst of life, icy foam cascades over my feet and legs, trailing tendrils of fine white sand.
I lean up, shading my eyes from the sun, and look out over the sea.
On the horizon, they churn like a storm. Leaping and bucking in the water, shooting columns of foamy spray high into the clear morning air, all the while drawing nearer to shore.
For days I watch the school, dreaming of my shadow growing long in front of me, stretching out sand-ridden, devoured a thousand fold, and reborn.
They are closer now, and calmer, floating gently just beyond the sandbar. Against the late afternoon sun, I watch a single dolphin break from the school and leap the sandbar. I watch her fin cut the water, gleaming in the sunlight like a crystal blade. I am transfixed at the deep stokes of her fins, at the smoothness of her skin as she glides to rest beside me on the sand.
Her body glitters in the setting sun.
Her eyes are pools of deep water, and thoughtlessly they swallow me. Whistles and clicks tumble from her blow hole: thoughts tinged with roses, promise laced lilacs.
In the waning light, the school beyond the sandbar fades to a slight ripple, then vanishes.
The sun sets.
I close my eyes.
And I dream.
"Do you remember anything about the accident?" The mask exhales, its irises dilating fully.
The silence deafens me and I am blind and then the roar.
The roar swallows me and the mask blurs into a streak of silver and it is looking up. In its blue coursing metallicness I see Jupiter, seething scarlet, vibrant and alive. A sparkling liquid glow washes over the masks surface, and languidly it melts back into the soft glow of skin.
I stare at myself.
The engines recede.
"Yes." I tell myself.
"What do you remember?"
I awake to sunlight through closed eyes and the sound of waves gently lapping the shore.
She is beside me, lying on her side, facing a sea the color of violets. Her hair falls onto the sand in deep chocolate ringlets. The nape of her neck flows delicately into the curve of her spine, into the cream ridges of her back and waist. Her buttocks swell into sensuous mounds which tuck under gently to meet her thighs.
She is immaculate.
The sun spills off her body. She stretches and rolls onto her back. Her breasts pool into golden mounds; her chocolate areola grow stiff in the slight breeze. She looks with eyes the color of the sea and holds out her arms.
My breathing stops.
And I fall.
"I remember her," I tell myself.
The engines have stopped.
And the silence is deafening.
A sudden rush of white pain floods the chambers of my heart and I curl inward clutching my breast. Jupiter looms through the station hull, bloated. It fills the entire wall now, swallowing my field of view.
"The way she looked in the sunlight," I whisper. "The way she looked when I touched her, when I pressed my lips to hers . . ."
An enhanced voice explodes from my floating face. "YOU NOW HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO REACH A SAFE DISTANCE . . . DISTANCE . . . DISTANCE . . . " A red wave washes over my cheeks and I can see the whole room from my eyes and the skies of Jupiter bleeding through this warmth. The red wave slides like slick blood off the mask.
". . . and the color of her hair in the sunlight and the feeling of her lips on my chest . . ."
"But the accident, Captain?" I probe, tilting my head inquisitively, cooling the temperature of the ceramic floor four degrees. "What do you . . . DISTANCE . . . remember about the . . . DISTANCE . . . accident? How can we stop . . ."
My irises draw down to pinpoints.
"I remember what it was like to die."
When I close my eyes, I see her,
and the sunlight
on my fins
[Scott Pohlenz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is one of the layout designers of For Dickheads Only and an avid collector of SF and Dicks work in particular. "Silicon Embrace" is one of a number of "reality" pieces Scott has done.]