Eden was a dream made real. It was unlike anything the primitive Earth had ever known, such color, such harmony, green fields and farmland to the East, metropolitan structures of office buildings and highways of constant motion in the West, the suburbs in the South, and the foundation of Eden, the heart of all function, the Citadel standing proud in the North. A great dome of glass encompassed it all, altering the weather to whatever was necessary for the harvest, the roads, perfect balance, perfect need. Indeed, it was the realization of a dream. It was also the last city on earth.

"Now the LORD God planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed…"

"But what was there before that?" a womanly voice said from the back of the learning center, colorless walls reaching up around them in perfect geometry, stark surfaces of a candid white. The female was only a girl—seventeen, dark and slippery hair, skin so pale, it was as though she had been drowned in a previous life. The white scrub uniform she wore did not compliment her complexion, the same wear for all the children in that facility—there must have been a dozen of them, ten to seventeen, and one instructor who recited the early days of Eden so that every student knew it by heart.

"Before God?" one of the students questioned uncertainly. The next moment, the chamber erupted in the sounds of little laughs, small, infantile, innocent and ignorant at once. Each and every one of them, including the instructor, was garbed by the same colorless white, flawless uniformity, as though it was a hospital… or an asylum.

"No," the girl persisted once more. "What was there before Eden… what's outside the dome?"

The class erupted again with the same prevalent chime, but it soon became clear to the inquisitor that not all were laughing. The instructor stood behind them, tall, dark eyes piercing through to the object of the pandemonium. After a short time, the children grew quiet again, and the woman chose to speak.

"There is nothing Outside, Winter," the instructor spoke in a firm but gentle voice, "there never was. This is all there ever was or ever will be."

"I heard there were strange things on the Outside," one of the boys contributed good-naturedly, "wastelands, and fields, and people that can move things with their mind!"

The roar resurfaced, including the young boy, and this time, the teacher as well. All but Winter.

"Of course, they were just bedtime stories," the boy reconciled himself with a grin. "That could never happen for real."

"Of course it couldn't," the teacher gleamed and put down her Bible to turn to the chalkboard. "Can anyone remember Isaac Newton's Third Law?"

In that moment, the class spoke in different rates and different times, save for Winter, resulting in the chaotic nonsensical murmur as the instructor wrote, in white, what she already knew by heart.

"That's right…" she said, turning so the class could see what she had written. "Force A on B equals a negative force B on A. Can something react to force if the force is zero?"

The class said in unison, "No!"

"And what a strange graph that would make!" she turned back to the board and scratched down the image under the equation.

0N 1N 2N 3N 4N





"That doesn't make any sense!" one of the students grinned triumphantly at their assessment. The instructor nodded in reply.

"Do you understand now, Winter? There can't be anything on the Outside because it wouldn't make any sense. What can there be if God never made it? It would just be unnatural. Understand?"

Winter did not reply.

Winter was a curious creature amongst those of Eden city, dark eyes always searching for questions, problems, reasons to confront, ridicule, and perfect. Perhaps unbeknownst to she, the young girl was often considered a threat. Though young, though small, though perhaps experiencing some phase to subside with the passing of time into adulthood, she was a threat nonetheless.

"I hate that patronizing instructor," Winter said after the session had ended. Her voice was small, like the hiss of a snake, and a certain downward curl of her lip did nothing to deter the similarity. "Why is there a gatekeeper if nothing is on the other side of the door? Why is it so hard to believe that there might be something else?"

"The same reason why eggs are for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and everything else for dinner," said a companion that, though tall, could not help but stand in the shadow of her chaos. He wore the same uniform, just like everyone else. Just like the businessmen, parents, brothers, sisters, all peoples of Eden. "Because they say so."

"That is what you think, Summer?" she questioned disdainfully. "And why am I the only one who questions?"

"Well," he shrugged, "we like eggs."

The answer was not satisfactory.

"I will find out what's on the other side," she said, pale face looking up with contemptuous promise. "And you will help me."

Summer stopped short, wry look on his face.

"Your father is a technician. You can get access to the gateway if you try. I'll take care of the rest."

"But I don't understand," Summer replied. "Why the sudden interest?"

Winter chose not to say. Truth be told, mere curiosity had turned to action in the past few months. Wonder of the Outside world transformed into equations, how little sense they seemed to make; but things had slipped before. Things like what the young boy had said not long before, thing like old lies of the Serpent, things the instructors would say. Someone had found out, and someone took it.

"If I can't found out in here," she said, "maybe I will out there."

There was no changing her mind.

Eden nights were quieter than ought to have been natural. Of course, the evening sequence was installed because it was easier to sleep in the darkness than the light, so the hustle and bustle in the middle of darkness would have been an outright waste... or so was the more accepted opinion, the darkness doing nothing for business, or travel, or work, or talk--but Winter, as always, carried a slightly different opinion.

To her, the darkness was her safeguard.

Winter came at the appointed hour, standing on the edge of Eden, someplace Northeast, between the farmlands and the Citadel. All was silent, a mist taking over the abandoned sidewalks, little light but the false stars and moon guiding her way.

On the very edge, she saw light. Eerie in the midst of darkness, she approached. The end of Eden city was literally that--the horizon ended on a dark blue wall, a door standing in the middle of it. Immense, with many wide hinges and bolts, the gatekeeper was nowhere in sight. Summer kept his end on that technicality. As for the locking mechanism...

With the lightest touch of her pale fingers, the mechanism unhinged, and the light radiated from the opening crack of the door. Her cheeks rose in color like a piece of the moon, pure and pale. Now drawn by some force within her, that magnetic pull of awe and wonder, she stepped on the other side.

It was not what she anticipated; in fact, she wasn't even Outside at all. Instead... instead, she was in some sort of nexus, a hall, enough for six to stand comfortably, twice as many less than comfortably. That blue light projected itself on the barren walls, barren but for the sight she would later be thankful for.

If she had known what a dry suit was, she would have thought it looked something like that. Instead.... instead, she was filled with a thrilling feeling of triumph, knowing she was right all along. Knowing there had to be something on the other side if there was a special suit to travel in-between. She unhinged it from its mount, and kept it raised to the level of her eyes. It looked far too large for her, but this concern would soon subside. Donning it over her uniform, it tightened around her body like a constricting serpent, and she snapped on her helmet before making the final venture to Truth.

If ever she knew darkness, if ever she knew the pitch of black, the gray of earth, and the emptiness of the terrain at night, all these claims of knowledge would be rewritten at the sight of the Outside. The sky carried no moon, no stars, only the eternal sea of sable, and the ground was ash like fire had burned the very dirt. In the expanse of the world, there was nothing. The plain horizon to the left, the right, and straight ahead, but no sign of any kind of life. Not even insects. Dust, rock, ash, and behind her--a dome too high to see the end of.

The light on her helmet activated on its own. She, of course, had not come to turn her back and pretend it wasn't there. The truth was, the stories were not just stories, and the myths were not only myths. The truth was, her tutors and teachers treated her like an idiot to cover up what she had all along. The truth was, Eden was a lie, and had lied, and would continue to do so to hide all this. No. She wasn't turning her back. Not a chance.

The earth crunched underfoot as she walked, some dust rising and falling, others settled on the ground. The beam of light showed her things, few things of mention but the barrenness of the place. What had happened there? What... happened?

Before she knew what she was doing, she was kicking the dust and rocks, waiting for some hypothesis to hold steadfast and true. A wise man once said that one may search and search for answers, but when eating an apple, it would all become clear. For Winter, it was throwing a rock.

Or perhaps 'to throw' was not precise. That was what she intended, of course, having thrown a long line of stones as big as her fist and as small as her most sizable nail. Then... then, one no larger than someone's ring became locked in her fingers, and her foot slid against the ground. She fell; she fell under the weight of a little pebble.

She couldn't see how it was possible. It was like the thing was attached to the ground by an iron string, impossible to raise to her waist, much less throw. She leapt to her feet, confused, patting clean her encounter suit. She slowed as something she hadn't seen before caught her attention from the corner of her eye. She turned and saw... well, she couldn't say exactly what it was she saw. A golden stand, and on the top of it, a sphere... a rotating sphere, with rods extending off of it, orbiting its center. If Winter had known what a solar system was, she would have said it looked like the Sun, and the planets gyrating around it. In either case, she couldn't find the mechanism. She reached out to brush her hand against one of these satellites, but... stopped.

She did not stop because of some aura of foreboding, and she did not stop because she thought the stones beneath her feet could use some examination. She stopped because she could not move.

"You don't want to step any further," she heard some disembodied voice, and she knew not how to reply.

Her feet slid back against the dirt, though she made no motion to move. Her body was being dragged, perfectly straight, perfectly firm. The force on her body was lifted, and she spun like a frightened doe to see who it was who had spoken to her.

The beam of light on her helmet reflected off the faces of a great many people. Strange garments adorned them, tattered clothing with odd straps and contraptions what went over in layers, and they were not all white like the uniforms in Eden. At the sight of the illumination, they all shielded their eyes at the sudden burst of light... they all turned back but one.

He did not flinch like the others. No... he was firm. Grim. She could see, by his movements, or there lack of, that his eyes were dilated, large and black--likely due to the constant darkness.

The others sidled back into the night, but the figure ahead made no motion.

"What you saw was the Field," he said. "Nothing stops moving there. I wouldn't have been able to get you out if you got caught in it."

Winter did not reply. Instead, she turned, and saw beyond the planetary model. Other things, floating, flying, moving through the air despite that friction would eventually make them stop. Most went in a line, moving across the land in the same general direction, in that... Field, as the man had called it.

"What is this place?" Winter found herself asking as she gradually collected herself, not altogether effectively.

"Outside," he said simply.

"And you?"

"My name is Autumn," he said to her in the deep voice that he had. "I am the Guide here. And you are...?"

She turned to see him.


"No," he shook his head, brushing away her introduction, "I mean--you're from in there?"

"Yes..." she replied uncertainly. "Yes, I am."

"Ahh," Autumn grinned a grin of immense relief, as though he had been waiting his entire life to hear that. He seated himself on the ground, almost collapsed on the ground. "What's it like there?"

"Terrible," Winter hissed at the thought of it. "Everyone's hiding something, keeping you down when you know you're right."

"Yes, yes, yes," Autumn interrupted. "But what's it like?"

It was like being asked 'how is it, being a girl?' She did not know how to respond. There was no way to respond. She was silent when the man carried on after her quietude.

"I've heard stories about that place," he mused like reciting an old dream, an old tale, an ambition never fully understood. "Blue sky, sun, stars."

"But none of it is real," Winter protested. "Is it?"

Autumn seemed to hesitate at this. He pressed his hands against his knees and rose himself, turning to see her.

"You came to find out why," he said, "didn't you?"

Winter said nothing.

"Well, then, you'll have it. This place... everything outside your Eden is twisted in broken rules and twisted realities. The world is like this because of a... holy war. I expect you know what that is?"

"Like the battle between God and the Serpent?" Winter questioned.

"Yes. Except it was between man and man. One side devised a weapon that would destroy the rules of reality, and send them into chaos."

"Like the Field?" Winter asked. Autumn nodded in reply.

"Newton's first law," he said. "Despite whatever gets in its way, the objects never--ever--stop moving on their path; around the world, some believe. It keeps us divided, particularly being that they appear in many places. Sometimes you can see people on the other side, but we will never really meet. When you get stuck, no one will be able to save you.

"Also, mass has become disproportionate." As Autumn spoke, Winter remembered the stone. "We have learned to fear the rain, human touch, and sometimes, one's organs are not properly weighted. The result is never good."

Autumn came closer, closer than what made Winter feel comfortable.

"That suit of yours... I expect it protects you? I can't see why else you'd need it."

"Tell me more about your world," Winter interrupted him. "I want to know."

"Very well," Autumn frowned. "Eden was a place designed as a base against the weapon--but the range of this weapon was much wider than initially thought, and after exchange and exchange, both sides lost the war. Eden was the last city standing-"

"-and for how long?" Winter demanded. "Is there anyone left who remembers the war?"


"So for generations, basically, we were lied to. So what, they could hide their mistakes? Put themselves on the top of our small world?"

"But isn't that always the reason?"

"Fine," Winter seethed. "But that doesn't make it right. The deceit isn't right, and neither is cutting off half the world from safety."

Autumn smiled.

"No, it's not," he said. "But that's how it is. You don't have a gatekeeper for nothing, you know."

It dawned on her. She stood there, for a moment, transfixed, joints locking in place at the words resounded in her head.

She ran.

Autumn stood by, a wheel of small stones circling slowly in the air as he flexed his fingers, eyes drawn to the motions of the rocks he moved with his mind.

A figure slinked behind him, masked by shadow.

"Another chamber?" he asked.

"Yes," Autumn replied without looking up. "Yes, another."

The dome came in sight. Winter slammed herself against its exterior, banging against the surface, throttling the door, though it did not move. At her persistent bashing, a screen activated, playing a message that almost certainly had been played before.

"So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."

There was nothing left to do, nothing more to say. Knowledge could not live in ignorance, and revelation cost more than what she had been lead to believe. Nothing more to do; so she removed her helmet and embraced the Spring.