2017-09-11 14:01 short-story fiction science-fiction return-to-ebyx Benjamin Brood

Qimmiq

Qimmiq wrote everything down. At first he wrote on leaves, but as time went on he created rolls of flat thin sheets by pulping, hammering, then drying them. He recorded everything that he saw or heard, and traveled with his inks and rolls all the time. The Tellers of the village barely tolerated this, after all wasn't it their responsibility to keep the stories and tell the things that were — all the things Qimmiq wrote down, all those details, what good was it?

Soon Qimmiq's home was cluttered and filled with scrolls, so much so it became difficult to get in or out. But one night there was a fire. A stray ember from a stove found its way through the window and onto a dry pile of scrolls. They went up instantly, and moments later the entire room was burning.

Qimmiq escaped, but he was never the same. He was taken in by one of the widows of the village, who nursed him back to health.

His scrolls, however, were lost. He didn't create any more, he stopped keeping them. And everyone agreed, he was changed. He had no memories from before the fire. He knew his own name, yet any details of who he was or what he'd done were missing.

At night, when everyone else was asleep, another him, a Second, would get up and wander the village, pausing in places and writing something down with an invisible pen on an invisible scroll. The Second would sometimes stand in the back of a crowd carefully recording events. People of the village got used to seeing the Second and would say, "oh that's just funny old Second Qimmiq".

After Qimmiq recovered he married the widow and they had children. The Second would come and go, and they built a tiny door for it in the back of their home. It did not stand around the house, it did not bother them, it did not eat their food. Sometimes it would disappear for weeks at a time, perhaps traveling the country. And as Qimmiq got older so did Second Qimmiq.

When Qimmiq died, over the next few days people began to find scrolls in their homes. Scrolls that listed the things they had done in their lives, everything good and bad, and everything that they wanted to remember but also all the things they'd wanted to forget. Sometimes Second Qimmiq would be seen by the grave of First Qimmiq, no longer scribbling, just standing and waiting.