© Theo Von Cezar
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Time had passed extremely quickly; it felt as if all the clocks in the world had been melted into just one, conspiring against them, forcing them towards panic. At last, Ahma and Jovian were able to hear the woman’s swift steps returning. The interval between the hearing of the steps and the opening of the squeaky door had changed—it seemed shorter this time, and sounded as if more feet had been added to the woman’s gait, as if she walked on six or eight legs. Ahma and Jovian again heard the childlike ‘laughing’ and the beldam’s ‘whimper’—this time keener. They could also hear the sound of untamed neohorses tramping on wet cobblestones and fiercely neighing.
Ahma and Jovian got up, alerted by a vision that had started to unfold before their eyes; a large mortuary procession, composed of millions of mourners and led by scores of neohorses, clothed birds with human faces skimming beside them, was following its ominous course towards Nebula Cemetery’s gates. An orchestra made of about one thousand meretricious buffoons—they, from time to time, would stop their gait and perform a chaotic song on their perforated guitars, broken drums, twisted violins and golden spoilt trumpets—escorted the vast cortege, the mixture of chaotically played achromatic scales sounding as if the players were tone-deaf.
The wantonness coming from a larger group of individuals—they seemed apart from the rest of the mourners—would occasionally interrupt the buffoons' instrumental performance. These persons shouted strange obscenities at a man with a fancily painted face and clad entirely in black, a quite tall top hat on his head. Apparently, this man, besides being in charge of the buffoons' instrumental band, was also the bandmaster of the queer factious group that now seemed eager to perform a vocal death song.
The verbosity of the boisterous people exceeded all the boundaries of decency yet the buffoon drummers tried to keep the rhythm with the former's indecency, somehow trying to cover it up. Seeing that the buffoons' efforts were in vain, the conductor, adopting a contemptuous mien, intervened and shouted: “SILENCE! Silence, you foolish people! You’re just FOOL! You’re all a bunch of IDIOTS! You are the only species in the entire Universe that have acquired the power to dissect yet you are very close to mass extinction. SHUT UP FOR ONCE! You’ve always been in disagreement with yourselves and other people. SHUT UP! The majority is not always right! There is, and there will always be chaos in our world.”
No one seemed to pay attention to this man however, each mourner hearing something different, each acting differently, in total disagreement with what the ‘mad’ conductor had to say.
“This will inevitably lead to the implosion of our species,” the bandmaster added out of respect for a few remaining decent people.
Ahma and Jovian were wondering who were they going to entomb since there wasn't any casket on the large golden and silver hearses drawn by a dozen wooden like neohorses, the latter majestically trotting ahead of the large disorganized procession, when the vision suddenly stopped, leaving them in awe of a young woman who stood silently, like a statue, on the chair in front of them, her legs widely pulled apart. She was entirely naked except the small resplendent diamonds studded on her skin, and the rose diamond diadem on her high forehead. They had never seen anything like that before; her long silver hair, silky milky-colored skin, the mermaid like body, the long eyelashes, the voluptuous lips, the silver pubic hair, the pointed breasts with rose translucent diamonds instead of nipples, it all looked surreal to them.
“Hey, guys! Can you hear me? Hey!” said the woman who had asked them to accept the jobs for the selling of the redemptive tickets. She stood in the same spot as the naked girl who had appeared before their eyes just seconds before, and whose unique beauty still prevailed in the quiescent air.
“You should sit,” the woman calmly spoke.
Ahma and Jovian each took a seat beside her.
She kept a small silver-edged box coated with dark brown leather on her lap. After a moment of silence, she slowly raised the convex lid and reached inside the small box lined with iridescent mauve satin.
Ahma looked intently at the artistic sublime fingers and the milky color of the woman’s smooth skin. An engagement silver ring with an ‘A’ made of blue sapphires encircled the fourth finger of her left hand; on her middle finger she had a golden signet ring with the symbol ‘G’.
“Not all the tickets serve the same purpose,” the woman said, holding in her hands two rectangular palm-sized packs (one was black and the other immaculate white) which resembled decks of playing cards. She spoke confidently, as if she was sure their answer would be 'Yes.'
“As you can see, there are two different types of tickets. This pocket (she held a white pocket with a big ‘O’ representing the unification of all faiths printed in black on its front side) contains the tickets to Hereafter One.” As she spoke, she kept her veiled face aimed at Ahma. “And this,” she continued, while pointing to a black pack whose margins were bordered with tiny gold flambeaux, “this pack contains tickets to Hereafter Two. Quite simple, isn’t it?” she said, her covered face aiming at Jovian.
“And now, as starters, each of you will be provided with one set of tickets to Hereafter One and one to Hereafter Two. I think this will suffice for you to carry on with your duties for as long as seven days. If you do your job well, you’ll be given more tickets to deliver. Remember that you are dealing with tickets to Hereafter, boys!” she said, a grave tone added to her voice. “Fifty thousand golden bucklers will find their place inside your pockets for every ticket sold, plus a recompense of five hundred thousand bucklers at ten tickets to Hereafter Two sold. That’s a lot of money considering the times we are living in. This is the best-paid job in Nebula City, boys! You should be very proud that you’ve been chosen to do it. Now, the prices: five hundred thousand silver bucklers is the price for a place in Hereafter One. Exactly the same sum is required for a place in Hereafter Two, only that it should be golden bucklers, remember, golden bucklers! You needn't worry, for there will be cravers for these tickets, too. No matter how large their sins are, they have their right to be redeemed too. Is this fair enough for you, boys? Mind you, any deviation from these rules will bring the immediate annulment of the contract, plus severe penalties.”
As she went on, it seemed that she had become more certain of the boys’ acceptance, yet this only made Ahma’s reluctance grow bigger. Should he trust this woman? Who was this woman?
“Now, before going into more details… can I have your answer, boys? Do you accept my offer?” the woman said, her voice returning to a medium tone.
“Come on, boys! Make up your minds! This is not a time for deepening into your thoughts. Why does it take so long for you to decide on a matter of life and death? God, you’re not emos, are you? Just think of all the fresh water you could buy with this amount of money; not mentioning the kind of food you could buy with it. I bet you haven’t even tasted it yet since it’s only for the wealthy nowadays. I’m not talking about that crap... How do they call it? Veggie pies, which is full of synthetic garbage. No wonder no one is ever allowed inside their factories except their workers, who are forced to keep the secret otherwise they get the sack. Those people are all tamed! And where do you think that rotten smell and brownish clouds, which often hover above the city, come from? It’s their disposable garbage! It was said they used pure spinach in the past, but that happened a very long time ago; now it’s a mixture of ‘grass’ grown inside their labs. You thought that that was real spinach, real veggie food, didn’t you? HUH! Thank God at least they put salt in it. Only 1% of it it’s real food, boys; the rest is plastic. All synthesized. You eat synthetic food. In fact, you don’t eat food at all. Only the big bosses, and the State—the rich ones—have access to the real food. They are the real ‘herbivores’ and ‘carnivores’ alive today, not you.
“The future is quite somber for our world, boys. I am waiting for an answer now... What will be your answer, boy?” the woman said, aiming the question at Ahma first.
“I don’t know... I need more time, to think...” Ahma said scowling at the female presence in front of him.
The woman started to show signs of impatience.
“TIME! You need more time, huh? Even if I allowed you more time, it would be the same. The more time I give you, the more will you deepen into your mind and that means only the postponing of an already decided faith. You’re on the verge of beggary for God’s sake, and you say that you need more time! I am offering you life for a service you bring to our God, and you ask for more time. You should make up your mind, boy, before it is too late! Once and for all!
The woman rose to her feet, her face directed towards the ceiling of the building, her arms horizontally wide apart. “The world is collapsing, and he needs more time!” she said.
“Perhaps I haven’t made myself clearly understood! You should remember that you are not in the position of pondering on your own life right now.” She stood very close to Ahma now. Her eyes looked like throwing poisonous darts at him.
“Maybe your friend is a bit cleverer than you. What is your answer, boy?” she said, her face aiming at Jovian, the tone in her voice highly dramatized.
“I’ll do it,” Jovian delivered his answer, his eyes nailed to the floor. He was ashamed by his decision. It seemed as if hunger and thirst had spoken up for him. He felt as if he were betraying Ahma.
“Very good... You’re a smart boy, as I thought. Now, Ahma, can I have your answer, please, or you’re eager to see your life come to an end too soon? To understand that you accept death without a fight?” the woman said, exasperated by Ahma’s incertitude.
Whose fight was that? Ahma thought. Selling hope to people! Although he had a bad premonition, he now needed to embark on the same boat as Jovian. Who is this woman to be trusted, anyway? Maybe if he had more time... NO! She was right, for it would make no difference. He needed to decide. Now! He would wait for her to ask him again if he accepted the job before he delivered his final answer.
“May I have your answer, boy?” the woman impatiently said.
“Yes! The answer is yes. I will accept the job.” Ahma was almost sure that behind that veil a satisfying smile crossed the woman’s face; the deep green in her eyes had switched to a lighter hue.
“Good boy,” said the woman, her voice regressing back to its normal pitch. “You’ve taken the right decision. Now we should proceed with more details. I know you hate this part but it is necessary for your carrying an excellent job. This is the place where we will meet, on the first day of the week, always at sundown. You’ll have to bring me back all the unsold tickets on each Hailday, and I'll provide you with brand-new ones...”
As the woman spoke, a shadow of regret crossed Ahma’s mind, but it was too late for him to pull away from it. He was hearing her as if she were part of a distant world...
“…You don’t have the right to choose to whom you sell the tickets and to whom not. You don’t have the right to judge! You should always remember that you're just two servants! Any breach of contract will be seen as such and consequently you will be fired and meet with other penalties as well. Trust me, any deviation from the plan will make you regret that you’re still alive! Also, I advise you not to be together when you advertise or sell the tickets; it could lead to spontaneous conflicts between the cravers!
“Now, you're probably wondering how these tickets come into effect! It’s very simple! One has to place the ticket on his forehead and keep it there until he feels enlightened. Activation will usually occur within a minute, if the sins of the craver are not too serious. I’m talking about grave offenses here, such as murder, rape, gluttony, yet even these can be forgiven and erased. However, after the activation occurs, the redemptive ticket will become a non-valid ticket, but the sinner—when the time has come—will be granted eternal life in Hereafter. You must give these instructions to everyone who buys a ticket. Any questions?”
“Where do these tickets come from?” Jovian asked.
“Had I told you these tickets came directly from God, you would've certainly asked yourself why God would put any price on them. I'm going to tell you a little secret: Why do we sell these tickets? Because everything that has a price on it becomes more craved. You know that our world has been suffering from a lack of faith lately, and that’s because of the massive secularization of our world. Not even the Great Purge put an end to it! We need a revival of the spirit, especially now when the time of enlightenment is about to come.
“And now, to express my gratitude... There’s a gallon of fresh water, two loaves of bread and some salami—real bread and real meat—over there behind that thing,” the woman said, pointing to the lectern. “And through the generosity of our Master... Here… one million bucklers for each of you.”
Ahma and Jovian took hold of the money. There was a moment of silence.
“You should know that I’m not your benefactor,” the woman said. “Do not ask why I’m helping you, for it is not me who wants to help you. I’m only a servant, like all the others are. Everything you get does not come from me—it comes from our Master!
The woman handed the packs containing the redemptive tickets to Ahma and Jovian, and stood up.
“And now, it’s time for me to leave and for you to start your jobs. Oh, and something else before I go,” she said, standing perfectly upright. “Do not try to make contact with me before the settled time. You should never try to find me, for I will always find you. And don’t forget to be here on every Hailday, at sundown... WE FOLLOW!” the woman ranted and repeatedly made the sign of ‘O’. “There is Hereafter Two on Earth, and Hereafter Two above, if you haven’t known that by now. Au revoir, dear citizens.”
‘There is Hereafter Two also in our minds,’ a usurping voice called out into Ahma and Jovian’s mind.
It was impossible to say what kind of face stood behind that veil. They had tried in vain to guess her age by her voice, eyes and by her way of walking. As she passed by, the elegance of her movements mesmerized them. And the deep fabulous scent of lilac...
Their minds needed more time so they could process the event they had just been part of. Even after she was gone, Ahma and Jovian remained spellbound. They waited until the woman had slipped out of the church before they fell upon the food and water like two birds of prey.
‘The only true fight is that which one has with himself,’ a soothing voice whispered in their minds.
Two years later—the year 159, Nebula Era.
From the 107th floor apartment in the pyramidal structure, Ahma had a fantastic view over half of Nebula City, presently overlooking the most grandiose architecture of the new Nebula Era—the Godocortex, with the Corpus Callosum rising in between the two brain-like hemispheres, 1,700 feet towards the sky. The Godocortex still shined, changing its vivid colors according to the weather, on the greyest days resembling quicksilver, which gave it a rather somber air.
Ahma looked at the elephantine letters that waved like flaming torches at the top of the brain-shaped stately building. He read:
And above, in gold lettering:
For some reason, the eighteen-year-old boy visualized the words in reverse order: that is TIME, UNIVERSE, MIND, and without GOD at the top.
In more recent years, that meaning at least one hundred years into the new era, a multitude of much smaller multicolored buildings, standing at only 500 feet in height and having the shape of rectangular giant wafers, had been annexed to the powerful Godocortex—the place where the rulers of the once theo-technocratic system had had their headquarters. Furthermore, other similar structures, nonetheless of the same importance, had arisen throughout the entire world, big immaculate white ‘O’s wavering atop of each of them. Thousands and thousands of Thought Factories (this was their official name) still awaited completion, a completion that would never come though. If, in the past, the Thought Factories had served as Enlightenment Houses, and at some point had been bailed out from imminent collapse by the mighty State itself, presently they served as bailouts for those who were simply in need of cash or owned large amounts of money to MondoCash. There had been rumors saying that the Godocortex connected with all the Thought Factories through a vast network of tunnels that stretched almost endlessly under plain ground, seas, oceans, mountains and deserts, but no one knew exactly how vast these connections really were.
He was one of the less ill-fated dwellers of Nebula City, Ahma contemplated while looking at the stately building. The Godocortex stood in complete darkness except the upper part of it; there, one could discern a few flickering lights that bore the appearance of distant stars.
He should be glad that he was not indebted for life to MondoCash—the half-state half-private bank—and thus forced to pawn his thoughts at a Thought Factory, he thought; or, even worse, at a pawn machine, in exchange for a quick buck. He had a good place to live, and, fortunately, he was still able to hold a job: he was selling hope to people—redemptive tickets they were named.
Two years had passed since he and Jovian had met their contractor, the one whom they would afterwards dub Black Petal, and he still felt ashamed that he had to rely on instincts rather than his judgment. He would find his own excuse though: he was obliged to make this compromise as a pretext to survive. For, he thought, it was impossible for an individual to find an honest way to break through these callous times, too much hatred having gushed, and still gushing, from the minds and chests of the human race, afterwards disseminating into space, ultimately to awaken the antipathy of an entire Universe.
Suddenly, a lightning bolt came from between two merging thunderclouds. Even the sky seemed to copy and obey the doctrine of the presently defunct State. Three seconds later a thunder cracked, the infernal noise shaking the window glass. It sounded as if an explosion had taken place somewhere within Nebula City.
There might be another revolt growing roots out there, Ahma thought and looked at the greenish droplets of rain that started maliciously tapping the panoramic window.
Bits of the profound dream he had had overnight were still fresh in his mind. In this dream, there were obsolete cell phones everywhere, soldered together with a translucent resin, which kept his legs trapped like in a vise. He was in a yawning depth, a factitious light coming from above. The air was damp and heavy, full of particles of zinc and copper, but strangely, he did not seem to be in need of air, as if his thorax were devoid of lungs; as if he were a robotic creature perfectly adapted to the lack of oxygen.
In an almost suffocated voice, he started screaming: “Help! Help!” his desperate cries greeted only by his own despair.
Suddenly, a variety of voices—they all called out: ‘Ahma, Ahma’,—poured forth into the gray atmosphere, at the same time thousands of electronic circuits starting to glow inside the translucent cell phones. A delicate white hand, having succeeded in penetrating the unbreathable air, presently started scribbling down intricate equations, small clown heads standing as their macabre exponents. Their faces looked cadaveric and they would twitch mockingly, all at once. One could feel the gory smell of death diffuse through the monolith-like atmosphere.
Ahma hadn’t been given enough time to grasp the grotesque imagery when six misshapen faces framed by disheveled jet-black hair appeared as if from nowhere and started looking down on him, their mute possessors standing in a circle on the brim of the toxic pit, their venous forearms folded over their aluminum armored chests.
Meanwhile the white hand continued scrawling down, Ahma, Ahma, along with twisted logarithms and radicals, while a sexless voice—it belonged to one of the grimy spectators—roared, “Let him be a soulless man! Release him from his pain! With or without him, the greatest equation of all times needs to be resolved!”
Everything was processed at an incredible speed in Ahma’s brain. When the dream started forcing his entrapped mind towards severer ground, a green arm cut from below the shoulder and ending in six phalanges, bulky signet-rings with silver O’s encircling them, appeared before his eyes, pounding with a Megalosaurus etiolated bone on a firedrake-shaped anvil, therefore producing an unimaginable turmoil.
By this time, one of the sarcastic ‘spectators’ had brought to light two fiery torches which he presently swung above his head while another ‘spectator’ hurled down a thick chain made of gold. Then he remained petrified.
When the commotion made by the cell phones stopped, the substance that had kept them together began dissolving, allowing Ahma to move his legs and get a strong grip on the golden chain sent from above by one of the grimy spectators. He was being vigorously hauled up when a bucket full of flammable reddish liquid was thrown into the pit and the burning torches cast down. Just now Ahma fell out of his huge mahogany bed, without waking up; he was deepening even more into his nightmare.
He had barely reached the brim of the waste pit and howling limbs of fire started rising from beneath. He felt as if white-hot snakes were coiling around his legs. He shook them violently as if to get rid of the 'snakes,' tossing on the floor. Then he saw that the other end of the golden chain had been wound around an erect peg leg belonging to a man dressed in a general’s apparel. Scores of golden medals and rusty tins in which small silver snakes crawled, searching for the light, hung on the man’s dirty tailcoat, the usurper wind making them tinkle as if they were tea bells.
The man—a gray beret with a sickle and a hammer cocked on a small portion of his enormous head—was grinning grotesquely at Ahma while his bulky hands held a pneumatic hammer with which he started boring into the black bitumen in a frenzy state of mind. “I am the General of all beggars and the sole mayor of this bloody city! We will meet again, kid,” said the General and looked intently at Ahma while drilling the asphalt in a fierce manner.
Ahma (meanwhile he had succeeded in rising on his feet) took two wobbly steps aside, only to stumble over a six-legged animal with a crescent back. It was a huge ratocat whose head bore the features of a feral cat, the creature identifying perfectly with the sullen asphalt. By all odds, the surly animal had been disturbed from a lethargic state and before releasing a terrifying howl, it whipped Ahma’s calves with its hairless tail. The stroke left the latter lying inert on his back with all his limbs spread out, his right temple agglutinated to the burning asphalt. From that position, he stared helplessly at how the General continued drilling the asphalt, large bits of black bitumen bespattered in the air.
Undisturbed by the abominable racket, the huge ratocat approached and sniffed Ahma’s crimson lips with his loathsome recessed snout and long mustache exactly when the same men that had stood on the brim of the waste pit (now they wore white smocks and opera hats, surgical black masks covering their mouths) started gravitating around him as if he were a vital star. Then they removed their masks and in a rivalry so typical of earthlings, started blurting out:
“Obliterate his memories and start remanufacturing his brain! He mustn’t have a unique mind. We have failed in processing his thoughts, but we won’t fail in providing him with a submissive neo-cortex. He, like all the others, must obey!” The voice sounded like a choirmaster’s trying to give orders to the entire world and eager to give the green light to other distinct tones. They quickly came and, in disagreement, blared:
“But we haven’t reached a common verdict yet, Your Honor. Until then, he must be free!”
“NO! NEVER! We cannot allow freedom of the mind,” a vengeful voice yelled out. “All the minds must converge on God so we can subsist longer than measurable time. Proceed with the neo-cortex implant. And don’t forget to preserve his mind! We have to monitor his past!”
“But we should remove his ungodly thoughts first!” a peevish voice verbalized.
Then all the speakers’ voices merged into a dictatorial one, which, in an overbearing manner, started shouting: “Submit his mind to God, and to the past…! NOW!”
“HEEELP ME! NOOOOO! HELP MEEEEEEE!” Ahma beseeched, while being inhaled further into the depths of the gigantic and skeptic Universe. And then, “EARTH! EARTH! I don’t wanna go back to the Earth!” he called in a loud voice, his shaking arms stretched forward.
At last, Ahma woke from his night tribulation, regaining his self-awareness, though still unsure whether his mind had been subjected to a nightmare, or a cluster of other people’s thoughts had been wrongly intercepted by his thought-reader. The device would sometimes act chaotically, especially at night-time when a great number of interferences would roam the Earth.
A mind surgeon would fix this problem, Ahma thought, trying to soothe himself. Yet those who performed such operations were very rare in those days, and they would ask for astronomical prices just for the scanning of one’s brain. He couldn’t afford that. He could wait until a reset of the device would normally come; that would happen once in four years. On the other hand, he could try a forced restoration of his thoughts: a Déjà vu they called it. However, that was too risky, for he could lose all his memories in the process, or worse, another person’s memories could be transferred into his brain and his memories into another person’s brain.
Breathing heavily, his body damp with perspiration, Ahma stood up, staring at his own reflection in the ebony floor mirror, about four feet in front of him. He had fallen asleep with the lights turned on. “What an ordeal of a dream!” he said in a low voice, and using the back of his right hand, he suppressed a crystalline tear from going further down on a sinuous course towards his crimson feminine lips.
Dressed in a pair of large shorts, Ahma started towards the bathroom. The door to his friend Jovian’s bedroom had been left open. He switched on the light and put his nose in. The bed was empty.
By the time he reached the bathroom door, bits of the nightmare he had had overnight already vanished. In an instant, he was inside the shower booth, relaxed, waiting for the water to spout from the brass showerhead. He closed his eyes and waited; nothing gushed forth though, not a single drop of liquid, only a ‘lazy’ drone could be heard somewhere behind the concave walls.
There had been problems of this kind in the past (sometimes Ahma would have difficulty in regulating the exact temperature of the water), but now it was different: the water, no matter how hard he thought, would simply refuse to flow.
“Damn!” He had forgotten that his thought-reader was not working properly. He needed to handle the shower faucet manually. There was a button with TEPID WATER inscribed on it. Ahma reopened his eyes, bent forward, and pressed it. The same drone hummed from behind the walls, and then the much-expected sound of flowing water came. Finally! Ahma closed his eyes, relapsing again into the same relaxed position.
We are the victims of our own technological advancement, a thought was running through his mind when something alien invaded his body. It was definitely not only tepid water.
“What a...” Ahma was appalled by what he saw—black tiny worms were creeping all over his body, along with foul rusty water. He was immediately out of the washing cabin, looking with disgust at the small unpleasant creatures. Panic-stricken, he snatched a towel from a skull towel holder and zestfully started rubbing his body, at the same time pressing the TEPID WATER button to choke off the smelly liquid.
At this point, a merry clown waist-deep in the wall crystal mirror Ahma was presently facing, bent forwards and said: “It is in your best interest to repair your thought-device, boy.” Then winking haughtily at Ahma, he said, “Otherwise you’re not going to get through the harshest times in the written and unwritten history of mankind. Or maybe you should try a… How do they call it? Thought-restoration? Damn it, my airborne mind is playing tricks on me. Oh, and don’t forget that the window is the tabloscreen.”
It was a smart spectral hologram. Ahma was sick of them. They popped up in front of one at the most unexpected time.
After a few more winks and six repetitions of the same kind, the clown disintegrated like a soap bubble into hundreds of little motley clowns, which in turn split into thousands of small pink dinosaurs; the latter started floating above foamy, sea-blue waves and knife-edged cliffs, the entire scene happening inside the lovebirds’ oval mirror.
The smell of fine summer sand and shells of pearl oysters still prevailed in the air when the desired tepid water started pouring out of the showerhead, wrinkled vapors of hot liquid rising towards the wooden ceiling. Ahma tried it with one finger first, then he dragged his entire body inside the shower cabin. All he wanted was to get rid of the small creatures and the horrible smell already impregnated in his skin.
Twenty minutes later, Ahma (meanwhile he had put on a white embroidered shirt, tight black jeans and cowboy boots—apparel he had bought from an antiques shop a few months earlier) stood entirely refreshed in front of the large panoramic window in the living room, sipping strong black tea from a ceramic mug with winged mirthful creatures stamped on its immaculate white surface. It was not yet light, yet an inner sense told him the clocks would strike six soon. He was right; no sooner had he thought that than the Big Bang Horologe started chiming, “Ding… Dong…” Six times in all, in a shrill metallic sound. Usually, the horologe would change its tune according to what day it was, and since today it was Hailday, the horologe should’ve played the song of a nightingale. It played no song anyway.
That is weird, Ahma thought, and instinctively placed his hand on the lower right corner of the panoramic window. He kept it there for a few seconds, the window eventually turning into a tabloscreen. The clown hadn't lied to him—the window was the tabloscreen.