Death had been unpleasant, and resurrection hardly less traumatic – but how much worse was the emptiness that followed. Nuncio Aila had walked the arcades of Heaven, vainly hoping to rekindle that internal flame of which she had scarcely been aware until it was extinguished.
I am the shadow without the substance, she thought, as her mathematically rendered heart pulsed differential equations around the fractal architecture of her veins, a lifeless machine, built in my own image. What had it felt to be alive? She could only half-remember: the notes without the melody, the rose without the scent.
Night followed day in metronomic succession – quanta of eternity, identical and endless. The sky blushed pale yellow to vibrant blue, and back, before submitting to night: a too-dark blackness studded with glittering, porcelain stars. She breathed and blinked; ate, drank, defecated; woke and slept – a slave to somatic memory.
And so she remained, enduring by unalive – until one day he appeared at her door.