(Chapter 2 of my NaNoWriMo novel Solus. If you haven’t read part one, I’d suggest starting there.)

[Paul’s Log: Day 694]

Hello, it’s Paul again.

Why do I keep beginning like that?  I mean, who else would it be?  It says Paul’s Log at the top.  This is my computer in my room.  Granted, there’s no way of knowing this is me talking at all.  By me, I mean Paul.   To someone else reading this, I could actually be someone pretending to be Paul.

They would never really know the difference….

Though I’m not sure why someone would pretend to be Paul.  Have I said Paul enough times?

I’ve been thinking about my entry yesterday, and I feel compelled to apologize.  After reading through it, I realized it came off a bit negative.  As if I sit around and complain about my life.  I think it’s really because I rarely sit down and shared my thoughts.  So the bad came out with the good.

It was, however, very…cathartic.

That was last week’s word of the week.  Something cathartic provides psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions.  Maybe that’s the purpose of these entries.

If so, it’s working.

Better than talking with our local counselors has.

Not that I have anything against the Bridges.  Mary and Carl, that is.  They, of course, have a second name because of their marriage.  From what I understand, that’s a little different from how it was on Earth of the Past.

When we were awoken and came the ship, we only had our first names.  That’s all we knew.  As the different pairs decide to begin their lives together, they choose their second name together.  Their children will then carry that name after them.

I’m not entirely sure what happens when their children have children, but I suppose they’ll solve that puzzle when the pieces reveal themselves.

Since I won’t be taking a wife, I gave myself the second name of Solus some time ago.  Mary and Carl urged me to choose something more ’positive’.

“You shouldn’t define yourself by your relational…situation,” Carl said.

“Why not?” I asked.  “Everyone already does.”

“This is true,” said Janice.

“Janice!” said Carl, shaking his head at her.

“I, what I meant to say was yes, everyone does know that fact about you.”

“Everyone knows everything about everyone here,” I responded.

“Is that so?” Carl asked, brushes this hair on his face that’s called a mustache.  “What did I have for breakfast today?”

“Grapes and a pancake,” I said without hesitation.

Carl was frowning.  “How did you…?”

“I notice things.  When you don’t have a specific person occupying your attention, you tend to notice everyone else more.”

“Regardless,” said Janice, “I think Carl has a point.  You should pick something happier.  Like…Rainbow.”

Rainbow?” I said, unenthusiastically.

“Yes, rainbows are those multicolored beams of light that appear in the sky after the rain…” Carl began.

“I know what rainbows are,” I cut him off.  “I’m curious as to why that would better represent me than Solus.”

“For starters,” said Janice, “You can see rainbows, much like we can see you.  Solus is obscure.”

I smiled.  “Much like me.”

“Rainbows are also symbolic,” said Carl, standing from his chair and lifting a finger into the air.  He pointed out a window.  “Rainbows appear after a storm to symbolize that it’s passed.  This could be a metaphor for your life.  You could be a representation of that to the rest of us.  That sign of…hope.”

I didn’t like where he was going.  I didn’t want to be a symbol, I wasn’t certain my storm had passed at all.  If anything, it was getting worse being around those two.  Janice must have noticed that I wasn’t in agreement with her husband.

“Rainbows,” she said, standing and walking to the other side of the room, “Are also similar to bridges.”

She motioned to her husband and then back to herself.  She repeated this action multiple times to make sure I remembered their last name and how it related to this example.  “Except instead of connecting one part of land to another, it’s as though they are connecting the land to the sky.”

I turned to her husband whose face was scrunched, as though he were trying to figure out how he could work off of this newly introduced concept.  He didn’t come up with much.  “Yes, rainbows are beautiful and inspiring and stretch to the clouds above.”

“In that case,” I said, “Maybe you two should adopt that name instead because your brains appear to be in a different plane than mine is currently.”

They didn’t enjoy that comment very much.

I apologized, thanked them for their feedback, and tried to convince them that I would bear my name of Solus with pride.  While they still didn’t really accept it, they at least gave up trying to change my mind.  Most everyone else here did accept it, and they now call me Solus.

Except Nova.

He calls me ‘Solo’.  It means the same thing, more or less.

“It just feels better when I say it,” he says.

So for him, it’s Solo.  It’s a friend-name.  Many of us have come up with different friend-names for each other.  I guess Earth of the Past had a similar custom.  Nick-names.  We prefer our phrasing.  We actually have a Nick here.  Or Nicolai.  That’s his true name.  But some call him Nick.  Other’s call him Olay.

Nova calls him Ollie because Nova calls everyone by a name that’s not actually their name, and he gets away with it because he’s Nova.

Back to the point, Nicolai was one of the first to get a friend-name, and Carl kept trying to say “it’s a nickname” and we kept saying “yes, that is Nick’s name”.  This went on for days until one of the robots made a suggestion.

“If two variables are causing confusion,” the robot said in its hollow, echoing voice, “the best solution may be to change one of them.  Since Nicolai would most likely wish to keep his given name, substituting another word for ‘nickname’ may be more suitable.”

The robots.  They can’t exactly think for themselves, but they are quite good at problem solving.

Except when it comes to problems that are tied to events from before our awakening.  Whether it’s questions about the journey here or life on Earth of the Past, they quickly become silent.  It’s as though they’re programmed to be.

I’ve tried to talk to Nova about it.  After all, he and Stellar are our tech experts.  Techsperts, Nova says.

“Do you ever ask the robots questions?” I asked Nova once.

He scratched his thick blonde hair.  “Sure.  Do math problems count?”

“That’s not…” I gave a feigned laugh, “Yes, those would be questions, though not the type I was thinking.   Also, I would hope you know how to solve math problems.”

“Well of course I do,” he said, leaning his hands back on the grass behind him.  “But they’re so much faster.  IT’s like how you use them to build buildings.”

I scoffed.  “I can’t exactly lift half-ton beams.”

“And I can’t solve advanced quadratic equations in 3 seconds.  What type of questions were you thinking?”

I looked out into the distance.  We were sitting on this cliff-side a short distance away from our settlement.  The orange sun was disappearing behind the clouds, changing the water from gold to gray.

“Nothing in particular, really.  Just things like why we were sent here.  Who sent us here.  Why don’t we remember anything? What exactly happened to the Earth of the Past.  Pretty non-specific stuff overall.”

I could feel his eyes on me.  “You know they don’t answer those things.”

I pulled at the blades of grass in front of me, tearing them up one at a time.  “I know that,” I said.  “I was just wondering if a topic similar to those had been discussed while you were working on them or checking their systems.  Something that maybe you forgot to mention.”

“If something ever does, you’ll be the first person I tell.”

I looked over to him.  “What about Stellar?”

“Like I said, you’ll be the second person I tell.”

We laughed and looked back over the cliff.  The sun had disappeared completely, and the cloud were rumbling with thunder.  I felt a drop touch my arm.

Nova slapped my leg.  “We should head inside before we get covered in rain.”

I stood up and started brushing the grass off of me.  Nova said something, but I only caught the last word: rainbow.

“What did you say?” I tilted my head to the side.

“I said I hope there’s a rainbow.  After the storm passes.  You know, rainbows are those colorful…”

“I know what rainbows are,” I said sharply.

“Right, well, it would be nice to see one later.  Stellar loves them.”

He started walking back while I stood there for a moment, watching the storm swell and spread.

“Everyone does.”

Lightning split through the sky in front of me, and the rain came down hard.

[end log]

Click here to continue to chapter 3 —->

(Thoughts/feelings/questions/suggestions/limericks?  Please share them below.)