He liked it by the sea. The soft growl of the waves scurrying up the pebble beach reminded him of the hum of the engines, and the cool breeze felt almost as fresh as newly cleansed air. Most days he would simply lie on his terrace completely naked, but for a blindfold, and let the sound and tickling wind takes his mind back to better times.
She would have liked it here too, but for very different reasons. The tide would have reminded her of purity, a natural sound not lashed to the yoke of man. The wind would have spoken to her about wide open spaces and the possibilities they held within them.
They could have lain naked here together, her head resting on his chest and their fingers entwined. The same sounds and sensations around them; the same contentment in their breasts and yet, they would have been in two uniquely different worlds.
Above him a seagull called out to the clouds. He rolled over onto his stomach, his head resting on his sun warmed arms. She would have liked the birds as well, she’d always liked birds. He had liked them once too. How strange it felt now to think back to those days when, as a young boy, he had stared in amazement at geese in flight. Watching in wonder as they struggled through the sky, blind to their obvious inferiorities.
Again the seagull cawed and, finally, he sat up, tugging off the blindfold and casting it aside. The sun burnt his eyes, but he didn’t mind. Solar flare was something he had had to get used to when he had been a pilot. The glaring light was just another blindfold which allowed him to re-inhabit his old flight suit.
He plodded into the kitchen, noticing with every step how the ground was perfectly still and silent. He liked the kitchen. It was the only place inside the house where he felt vaguely comfortable. It was a redundant room, a ghost from a past when man used to debase himself with plants and beasts. The room had once been littered with machines to help mankind suckle at nature’s teat and the room still bore the scars where the equipment’s electrical cables and pipes had been ripped out.
He only ever entered this room when he was suffering from planet sickness. It wasn’t a place of comfort, more a place of empathy. He felt like he understood the kitchen and that the kitchen understood him. The room was redundant. He was redundant. They had an affinity that calmed his aching body and slowed his troubled mind. While he was in the kitchen he didn’t fantasise about being back on his ship, he didn’t think about the engines’ hum or freshness of the air. While he was in the kitchen he didn’t think of her or of birds or of anything really. It was just a place to be. A place to be now that he wasn’t needed. The room was redundant and he was redundant, but together at least they gave each other something. At least, as he stood in the room, the kitchen was there to keep him inside, and he was there to be inside the kitchen. They defined each other.
He stood silently for almost an hour in the centre of the kitchen, the only movement coming from the warm liquid leaking out of him as he urinated onto the floor. Years of wearing a flight suit had retarded his bladder control; he didn’t even notice the liquid gushing out of him anymore, why should it matter anyway? Why should he care?
Outside the waves of the sea crashed up against the concrete barriers, the rattle of scurrying stones turning into the cracking of an earthquake. Through a window, if he had cared to look, hosts of seagulls could be seen, dive bombing the sea in pursuit of the concussed fish who were being smashed against the barriers with each fresh wave.
A fine spray drifted up from the barriers into the sky and across the land. Individual droplets ripped from their oceanic home and cast aside into the air. Isolated, all the power of the angry waves lost. They could no longer provide a home for fish or quench a man’s thirst. They could no longer turn jagged rocks into smooth contours or change the climate of a whole continent by simply flowing in a different direction. Their power had been taken from them and, with that, so had their purpose. They could no longer do anything but wait for the winds of chance to decide their fate.
The sun slowly dipped down towards the sea and the rays of light started to make the spray flash into a multitude of colours. He glanced out through the window, his eyes tracing the rays of light, and, as he watched the mist swirl up from the rough concrete barriers into the sky, he felt an anger rise within him.
The individual droplets of water screamed before his eyes, like a thousand howling souls being dragged towards the underworld. The kitchen around him stood silently, catatonic before its impending torment of an eternity without reason. And he stood there with them, alone, without her or his ship. He glanced upwards, though the small glass pane of the skylight directly above him and watched a seagull glide through the air on its ghostly white wings.
It was all very clear now. He looked around the kitchen at the chipped plaster and running cracks where the obsolete equipment had been ripped out. The equipment that had been so useful until Man had replaced livestock and crops with pills and fluids. Animals, which had had their wildness and nature bred out of them, had been cast aside and forgotten.
He looked down at his own hands and urine soaked legs. He was just another particle of water floating on the wind; another sheep left out in the field; another piece of equipment that no longer had a use. Man had done what it has always done, and he was obsolete.
The walls of the Kitchen closed in on him, hugging him with their baron faces. Man had taken his purpose as it takes everything else’s. Man thought it was the beginning and the end, the giver and the taker, but he would show it. Quickly, with an energy they had not felt in years, his legs scrambled him out of the kitchen and back out onto the terrace. Climbing onto the low wall he turned back against the house and scrambled up onto the roof.
He had fallen for it all of course, blaming nature for taking her, blaming the world and all its ignorance for his misfortune. But it was clear now. It wasn’t the world that had taken his life from him, it was the men who had programmed the computers to fly the spaceships; it was the men who had moved funding from medicine in favour of robotics; it was the men who had determined what the use of something was and then discarded it once the use was no longer important to them.
It wasn’t the world; the world had suffered the same as him. Man, his species, had taken all that had meant something. Taken it, changed it, and discarded it. But he was going to give something back. He was going to give what he could not have himself.
Clambering over the roof he swiftly made his way to the Kitchen’s skylight. Below him he could see the pool of urine soaking into the floor. The corners of his mouth quivered slightly, a faint shadow of a smile sitting on his lips. He would give the kitchen what it used to have, what he used to have, until man took it away from both of them. He couldn’t make it a kitchen again, he couldn’t fix the damage that had already been done, but he could make it something else. He would give the kitchen a purpose, a purpose for eternity. He would make it his tomb.
He stepped onto the skylight, which shattered into thousands of glittering shards of glass that fell around him like tiny water droplets. Thousands of individuals that had once been unified as a whole.