When all four moons swung around to his side of Junireng, the Beachcomber found the most miraculous things on the bottom of the sea.
Today was not one of the better days for moon alignment.
Only three of the four hung over the horizon and one of them had waned down to a sliver. If anyone had ever bothered to name them, he’d never heard about it. His son called them Chubby, Smear, and Smallest (Lump was the absent moon today). The simple names worked well enough as identifiers for the Beachcomber. He only cared how they clustered up, not what they were called. This particular configuration meant that the tide pulled back a bit more than normal, but only for a few hours. It was the type of day he always debated. Should he bother with the more arduous trip further out? The likelihood of finding something good increased, but there wasn’t always time for transporting it home. Also, while there was a greater chance of discovery, there were other, more dangerous, things that lived on the bottom he needed to consider.
He decided he’d make up his mind on the way.
The seafloor was a coral coated junkyard. Trash and abandoned objects washed up on the beach daily, and when the tide pulled back, a reef of barnacle laced garbage was revealed. Much of it was in ruin, rusted, and barely recognizable, permeated with anemone and gorgonian fans. This foundation of old junk was constantly rebuilt as new material washed in. None of it lasted particularly long as objects were all quickly absorbed by the ecosystem. The corals had evolved a wide palate and were more similar to plants with aggressive roots than their traditional filter feeding ancestors. They made short work of the waste, whatever it was made of.
This odd spot, with its strange habitat and constant influx of materials, was unique on Junireng. It was unique to the galaxy and, in fact, this entire universe. The phenomenon was on account of its proximity to the Pinhole; a single point driving down through infinite alternate realities. On any given day, who knew what might slip through the incinerators to be swirled around by the turbulent Junireng seas.
It was this steady stream of inter-dimensional flotsam that built the reef and held the treasures the Beachcomber sought. He wandered through a canyon of debris, ducking beneath a cluster of plate corals, and stepped over a tree-trunk sized toothbrush. Within the walls along-side him were the remains of a purple motorcycle, triangular dinnerware, some sort of animal cage, a spiral staircase, and dozens of colorful household items. Most of these were built differently in one way or another or were marked with unfamiliar logos or brands. Some were hard to identify at first, but a brief inspection could usually surmise their purpose. In his time, he’d seen no less than forty different variations of toaster and a hundred types of television. Many of the things were made of rare or strange materials; metallic woven fabrics, crystal footwear, nano-bound sand swords, and diamond juice boxes. Regardless of value, he ignored these things. It was not what he was after.
The Beachcomber didn’t know what he wanted.
More specifically, he wanted what he didn’t know what it was. If he could recognize it, or determine it’s function, he didn’t collect it. He only cared about the unknown and the unknowable. The things that were so odd, from places so different and strange, that he could only look at them and squint in confusion.
Those were the treasures.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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