Through a Glass Darkly

by Wong Wei Cong

Below the icy surface, there dwelled a race of the most peculiar creature. An indigenous tribe of small silver-furred dwarves, with overflowing beards, atrophied limbs, and ashen eyes, they lived an isolated existence. For generations, there had never been any contact outside their kind. It did not help that unlike creatures like us, from the world of the other side, they moved through solid ice the same way we move through air, and just as we are bounded by the earth beneath our feet, they could never breach the celestial boundary between ice and air – the laws of physics of their world forbade them.

They were truly creatures of the ice – forever bound within the constraints of a solid, crystalline aether that followed the meanders of a dead river. They lived and died with the ice.  After aeons of existence (or approximately three human months), at the end
of their world-cycle, the entire race vanished with the annihilation of their world by the wrath of hellfire (as the river thawed). And when the heaving, fecund winter winds blew again, they were reincarnated once more into their nascent frozen universe, cold and fresh from the mould. How they come about remained one of those imponderable questions – they had just existed, just when the wheel of time began to turn.

As one could imagine, their days were dreadfully dull and sorry, being stuck in a
vitreous prison of scattered, latticed light, an expansive space of white and emptiness.

One day, when they stood staring into the glaring heavens, carelessly stroking their beards, a dash of the richest, most sonorous red streaked across the sky. And another. And another. Florid, psychedelic hues were daubed across the firmament, as though fireworks suspended in full bloom, hanging from the empyrean like a curated master-piece. It was unlike anything they had ever seen, not for the countless generations that had come before. They gawked in petrified stupor at the scene of exquisite beauty, of ambrosial red on perennial white. A distant rumble, like a divine echo, tintinnabulated through the ice.

One of them fell to his knees in awe, and the rest followed, kneeling and craning their heads towards the sublime splendour of the heavens, which had spoken so evocatively. Looking up through the ice, it was clear and it was true, that in the most forsaken realm, there existed the divine and the beautiful.

Wong Wei Cong is an aspiring writer and an undergraduate medical student in Singapore, whose previous work has been published in Acumen, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Bridge: The Bluffton University Literary Journal.