She was alone. Not only there was nobody around, there was nothing, as well. The soil was dry, dusty. Everything was red, even the sky, even the sun. The sun was far, further than it should, and Laika suddenly realized it was cold. It was strange for her to feel cold in a place that resembled a desert, red sand all around, and where the sun shone. She looked around, but there was no hideouts, no cover, nothing she could use to make fire.
She sat down. She couldn’t tell where to go and she could see no signs of cities, so she sat down. Watching the sun slowly move across the sky, realizing it soon would be dark. It was a scary thought, to be alone in such a place, in the dark. But she was not scared. She felt peaceful. It had been a while, now, since she’d felt this way.
She tried to close her eyes but realized they were already closed and she believed she’d never need to open them again and she wished she didn’t. She took a long breath, lay down. Almost too good...
She woke up. As her senses came back to her, she noticed she was still there. If it was a dream, it was a long one. Is there any difference between life and a dream in which you believed? If only it could last... And it did. Laika spent days gazing at the red horizon. Every night, when the red sun dived into the mountains far away, as Laika readied to sleep, she hoped she wouldn’t dream or that, if she did, that she wouldn’t dream of people.
After a few days on that strange place, or what felt like a few days, for it was hard to be sure, Laika noticed someone or something nearby. It made her upset to lose her sense of loneliness, but the person — or thing — did not make any effort to make its presence known. So, she decided to ignore it as long as she could, which was not too long, as it turned out, curiosity quickly winning her over. It annoyed her even more, but she started looking for whatever it was she felt there.
Then, she found a small creature. It was very queer and deformed, but somehow, it was clearly human-shaped. In fact, it was not merely human-shaped: it was Laika-shaped; as if a very inapt sculptor had tried to reproduce her forms, capturing the main aspects, but failing to comply with proportions and the general disposition of her traces. The thing was hidden, but as she started looking for it, it quickly revealed itself.
What... Who are you?
Who am i, the creature repeated, laughing. Well, who are you?
I am Laika. Who are you?
I am Laika.
Stop repeating me. Who are you?
Stop repeating yourself. It laughed very loud. I am Laika.
Are you... me?
Are you me, now?
I am part of you. It laughed again. The best part of you.
Where are we?
It seemed to have become very upset with the question. Its face became angry and it jumped over Laika, dropping her and putting its finger on her face. How should i know where we are, huh? What the fuck do you think i am? Laika became white with fear and tried to retreat, but as fast as the creature had become angry, it started laughing again. How should i know where we are, huh? , it repeated.
Sorry for what, kid? You confuse me.
So, what are you doing here?
Same as you, kid. What are you doing here?
That’s correct! It clacked its tongue. NO-THING. Rien. Nada.
That’s fine, Laika said, sitting down. Nothing is fine. I mean... It’s not that nothing is fine, as in all is bad. It’s just that nothing... It’s fine.
I see. I also think so. I enjoy giving up.
I’m not giving up.
Oh, i beg your pardon. What are you doing, then?
I am painting.
The creature laughed for more than a minute, unable to recover its breath. When it came back to it, it said: Of course you are; and laughed some more.
I will find him.
Him? , the thing asked, though it knew what she was talking about. The thing liked to be inquisitive, regardless of the necessity of such inquisitions. Asking questions was a mean of appearing to be attent.
The one blogging about me.
Oh, you will.
Are you mocking me?
No. Well, i am, but i’m serious about this. Of course, i can’t be too sure, but i am partially sure and completely confident that you will.
Laika lay down, smiling. Thanks for the confidence, she said.
And then, what?
Then things will be ok. Because everyone will know.
Nothing, nothing. It’s good to have faith, i guess. You know, i am, myself, a believer.
He succeeded in making Laika suspicious. Why wouldn’t it be ok?
I never said it wouldn’t.
Yes, but it takes being a believer not to say so, right?
The creature laughed. Well, good thing is: everyone’s a believer, to some point.
You are outdated. Living here for too long made you lose contact with reality. People aren’t that credulous anymore.
The thing burst into laugh. For some minutes, it couldn’t even reply. Then, it said: Laika, Laika, you’ll kill me! Not that credulous?
No, it’s not true. The creature spoke crisply. You saying it is true is further proof that it isn’t! Look at you, Laika. For pit’s sake, look at you. You are so fucked up you have ended up here. And still, you come to me and talk about salvation! You are an offence to reason, that’s what you are. Laika scared herself and retreated, but there was nowhere to hide. The creature walked in little jumps, due to its deformed figure, and it approached her smiling. When it spoke, its voice was gentle and reassuring. Oh, but don’t you worry, poor thing, and don’t you cry, it said. You believe in absurd things, alright, but you are not alone. Look at all your fellows, all the stupid and lost people from your town. They were tired, too, of their senseless lives. They needed relief. Something to believe. And then a man came and told them all these fantastic tales. How could they resist?
Laika’s breath slowed down, although she was obviously not relieved. She felt an unreasonable fear of the creature.
So, it went on, do you really think you need to pursue the one behind said tales?
Yes, she said.
Even if it will probably not change a thing?
Yes, she repeated with stronger conviction.
Good, he said, for i like vengeance all the most.
They stood silent, but the tension was nearly visible on the air. The creature seemed happy, but it wasn’t smiling anymore.
It said: So, what are you gonna do?
Investigate who did that.
The creature became angry again. No!, it shouted. Not investigate! Think, Laika!
I... I must find out who...
No!, no! You know, Laika, you already know!
Oh, for crying out loud! How could i not know you know? I am your judgements, Laika, or part of them. I am your instincts. I am your prejudice. You know who’s done it.
And with these words, it walked away, disappearing in the red distance.