February 29th, at 5:06am, Porter rose from bed and noticed he still wore his socks, a curious atypicality that should’ve piqued concern except the room he sat up in was not his own. Yet even that escaped Porter’s consideration in lieu of the grotesque, ghostly piers of yellow light shuddering pale and insubstantial through circular windows piercing his walls, as if the silky columns of moonlight themselves had drilled into the room from outside. What sort of morning moves like this, Porter thought, what kind of day will this become when evening fails?
Porter’s clothes were folded neatly on glass columns rising from the polished floor reflecting off mirrored walls to make chromatic colonnades. Ported stepped from bed and felt the cold metal against his feet, realizing why he’d kept his socks on while asleep. An odd smell, bittersweet and sterile, lifted Porter’s head toward the pill-shaped door.
When Porter began dressing he noticed his tattoo. From his ankle to his knee, a series of unfamiliar numerals terminating in an abstract, whale-like figure over his left thigh, almost like the hieroglyphs Porter’d learnt in school. Before he’d time to wonder what it meant or how he got it, the door slid open, hissing as if moved by steam. A woman in flowing, glassy-white garments stood outside the door. “Dear,” she said with soft, monotonous elegance, “your lecture begins in 30 minutes.” Then she turned and seemed to drift away without moving.
Through the window closest to him, Porter stared across a dense landscape of glass and steal distending outward, becoming just reflective texture pushing out and negating a horizon. No sun was hanging, no moon making moonlight Porter thought he’d seen, just sallowness scattered over architecture leaving yellow fog that rose and faded into murky blue.
Porter felt a ringing in his ear, a subtle voice repeating “Porter, it is 5:40am.” He started for the lecture hall, thinking that he’d speak about the ancient oceans, wondering where he’d got that knowledge. Porter remembered just a day ago the warmth of velvet sand that edged the seas. He wondered, growing tired, what he’d done to dry them.