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OM NOM NOMmm...

48

“She’s dreaming at the moment. You can tell by the way her eyes are flickering.”

“But the nightmares? Is she still having the nightmares?”

The doctor smiles. “Not at the moment. Everything is calm, but you never know when storms might be approaching.” She rubs her hands together. “The dream recorder might help give some insight into her mental processes.”

“Dream recorder?”

“Oh yes, a brilliant new piece of kit. You hook it up so that it measures the electrical impulses from her brain while she’s dreaming, and it converts them into a visual representation of what she’s experiencing.”

“You can actually watch her dreams?”

“Oh yes. Some of it is quite fascinating.”

“Isn’t that a bit…intrusive? It’s not like she can give permission…”

“Maybe, but it’s useful to analyse the results so that we may better understand her condition. Come, follow.” The doctor and the visitor walk into a small side room, which contains two chairs, a projector and a large white screen. The visitor sits down and the doctor powers up the projector.

Then they begin to watch the dream.

A dark, terrible scene, with ruined buildings and monuments littering the landscape. The sky is the colour of blood, and the air is thick with dust and debris. In the midst of all this carnage are people; people who have lost everything, whose world has collapsed. But they’re not despairing.

Instead, they are playing. Mindless games amid the wreckage of a doomed civilisation, not a care in the world between them. Not a serious or worried face among them. Playing, smiling, laughing, delighting in being alive, until they collapse from hunger and exhaustion and fade away.

“Regression,” the doctor says, once the reel comes to a shuddering halt and the screen goes blank. “She doesn’t want to face the mundane reality of the world, and so she’s mentally regressed into a childlike state in a world of permanent bliss.”

The visitor smiles hopelessly, and the tears sting her cheeks. “That sounds like a great way to be.”


---​
“I was once stalked by the number 38,” said Molly to Ramon, noticing the number written in the clouds above the ruins of Piedras Negras. The clouds twisted, forming the number 48. Molly eyed the sky with suspicion. “I don’t trust clouds, especially when it concerns the number 8”

Ramon looked sidelong at her, and shook his head. “Geez, what the hell are you talking about, you mad woman? What are we supposed to be looking for again? Some kind of tunnel?”

“Er, yes. Let’s see,” she continued, mostly to herself, “Stephan mentioned something about there supposedly being a Hall of Records hidden beneath these ruins, and a great gateway, and, um, trials.”

They were standing before a large temple, surrounded by boulders with Mayan glyphs carved into them.

“The number 8 is a lucky number in some cultures,” said Ramon, looking with his back to Molly at the surrounding jungle. He tapped his feet, one two three. “When I was younger I spent some time in China. They have a real thing about the number 8, as it sounds like the word for wealth.” Molly didn’t respond, and Ramon stared deeper into the thick, dark mass of trees. Four five six. “On a mountain, somewhere beyond the realm of mortals, there are said to live eight demigods. They also have another name, but I’ve forgotten what it is.” Seven eight.

There was a sound that resembled that of a whooshing air, not unlike that which would be made by someone falling down a mysterious chasm, someone so shocked by this occurrence that they didn’t even have the wits to scream. Ramon turned, and Molly was gone. Where she had been standing there was a gaping hole in the ground that certainly hadn’t been there a few moments before, but before Ramon could do anything it sealed itself up, leaving no trace of it ever having been there. He lit up a cigarette, and stared for a couple of minutes before taking a drag, and saying, “Ah.”

---​
Molly opened her eyes and found herself in total darkness. She rubbed her head, and noticed a sharp pain in her ankle. She groaned, and slowly edged her way upwards, attempting to stand. However, it was too painful, and she slumped back down, in utter confusion.

“Ramon?” she murmured, “What happened? Where the hell am I?” The last thing she knew she had been standing in front of a stepped pyramid temple, and suddenly the ground collapsed and she was sucked down into the earth. “Ramon!” she shouted, but there was no response here, not even a echo. The ground was soft and earthy, which was a mercy considering how awkwardly she had fallen. She gazed around in the dark, and then a light bulb came on in her head.

“This is a trial, right?” she said, to no one. “Stephan mentioned something about there being three trials. What am I supposed to do?”

Only mortals must complete the trials, Moldavia*. You, on the other hand, get a free pass.

Molly jerked her head around, trying to gauge the direction of the voice, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. It wasn’t one single voice, either, but rather sounded like several voices all speaking in perfect unison in a way that was so disquieting it made her skin itch.

“Hello? Who’s there?” Suddenly she was bathed in light, and she shielded her eyes against the painful brightness. “What’s going on?” she cried desperately, tears filling her eyes. “Tell me! Who is there?”

We are the Immortals, the serene voices eventually replied, known also to some as the Secret Chiefs, the Nobility, the Keepers of the Library and the Elder Brothers, among many other names. We have been waiting for you, Moldavia. Waiting for such a long time…
__________________
*This is Molly's actual first name. No seriously.
 
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Enewald

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Moldavia?

Sky is blood-red? Crimson?

Moldavia? :eek::eek::eek:

Don't tell me she has never heard before of Moldavia. :rofl:
 

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Moldavia (Molly for short) is her name. Her sister is called Bessarabia (Bessie). Their father, for some reason, thought these would make good names.

EDIT: Footnote added :D
 
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No wonder she goes by Molly - does she have a brother named Wally, by any chance? :p

There's a lot more to Molly than meets the eye - besides the fact that she's stir crazy. So she's immortal now, but she's unaware of this herself? Reincarnation, perhaps?

I wonder who the sleeping woman whose thoughts are so callously violated is.
 

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No wonder she goes by Molly - does she have a brother named Wally, by any chance? :p

There's a lot more to Molly than meets the eye - besides the fact that she's stir crazy. So she's immortal now, but she's unaware of this herself? Reincarnation, perhaps?

I wonder who the sleeping woman whose thoughts are so callously violated is.

She's not immortal, but rather is regarded by the voices as someone who is 'not a mortal', whatever that might mean.
 

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what

7^2

Follow, follow…

Molly stumbled after the floating, darting orbs, and once her eyes had adjusted, she could see that she was in a tunnel, with smooth stone walls and a low ceiling. She was still highly disorientated, and was still uncertain whether she should be horrified by the lights, or ‘Immortals’ as they called themselves. Nevertheless she followed.

After about ten minutes of uncomfortable silence, the lights stopped, and the voices said,

Moldavia-

Molly cringed. “Please, just call me Molly."

Very well, Molly. Ahead lies the lost city of the ancients, one of eight such places buried just out of sight, under the earth's surface. We must warn you, no human has set eyes upon this place for over a thousand years. Since the decline and collapse of the Mayan civilisation, no one has dwelt here but us. Our physical forms are long since gone, but we linger on as spirits, in the hope that we may see the dawning of a new age before passing from the material realm altogether…

Molly’s eyes widened, and she really had no idea what she should think. “An entire city, underground?? How is that even possible?” She paused, and a thought came to her. “You said you were Keepers of the Library…is that the same thing as the Hall of Records?”

Correct.

“So wait, what about the Hall of Records in Port-au-Prince? I know that place does strange things to my mind when I look at it…it makes the reality surrounding seem unreal, and it feels as if the Hall is more real than itself. That doesn’t make sense, but then neither does anything anymore, so I don’t really care.”

There was a pause, which Molly felt had an edge to it, despite there being nothing but silence, and then the Immortals said,

Come, walk the streets of the forgotten city. See it with your eyes, that which lies hidden in the remotest places.


There was a bend in the tunnel, and when Molly turned the corner she was faced with a sight like nothing she had ever conceived of before. Before her was a sheer drop, and below lay a vast, sparkling city with building like jagged crystals and streets that glimmered like diamonds, illuminated by some unknown light source. Above there was only cavernous darkness, and the city had a melancholy air of stillness to it, but showed no obvious signs of decline or decay. Rather, it was perfectly preserved.

Once Molly had recovered her wits, she glanced nervously at the drop, and said to the orbs that floated gently in front of her, “How do I get down there? We must be at least a kilometre up here,” and added in a quieter voice, “If I jumped, I would probably survive, considering how weird things have got, but I’d rather not risk it.”

Step out, and we will guide you down.

Molly looked at the formless lights quizzically, and narrowed her eyes. “So, it’s like a…leap of faith?”

Just follow our instructions, came the terse reply, sounding almost weary. Molly did what the said, and found herself floating downwards, as if she had some kind of invisible parachute. No need to fear. We would not let you fall, after we have protected you long enough to get you here.

Molly’s feet touched solid ground, and she felt a bit more relaxed. “Why, what was so dangerous in that tunnel? It seemed pretty lacking in threat to me.”

There was a strange gurgling sound, that Molly realised was the Immortal’s collective laughter. There are in fact a multitude of traps in the passage, but most who traverse it do not have the guidance of the Immortals. But no, we have been keeping guard over you for much longer than that.

“What do you mean?” said Molly, as she walked down what looked like a main street, surrounded by the crystalline buildings and the dead. The wall beside her was as polished as glass, and as she gazed at her reflection she saw that her saffron-coloured top was covered in all kinds of grime and dirt.

You remember, I take it, the troublesome situation you got yourself into Havana? You wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for our timely intervention.


Molly gasped. “That was you??”

Indeed. Unfortunately we had to erase a month of memory from you, as the human mind is a brittle thing, subject to breakdown at the slightest hint of trauma.

“So, wait, you intervened to save me? But what about Pierre? He’s vanished off the face of the earth, dead for all I know.” Molly’s tone was accusing, but calm. “And what about Toussaint? I know he’s dead, as that Eryx woman spoke at his funeral. Why didn’t you save him?”

Both Pierre Legrand and Jean Toussaint are still alive.

Molly stopped, and shook her head. “No, Toussaint is dead,” she said, almost to herself. “Stephan said they found his body washed up on the beach, about a week after he went missing. It was him, it was definitely him.”

No reply came from the orbs. The street she was treading had ended, and before her was a vast pyramidal building, with a gaping rectangular doorway at the front. Unthinkingly, Molly walked into the building, and she instinctively knew that it was the Hall of Records.

Pierre has been isolated for his own safety, and Toussaint was stolen. We couldn’t prevent it.

Molly carried on walking, ever forward into the darkness. “Why me?” she eventually said. “Why am I so special?”

Because you noticed.

“I noticed what?”

Everything. You noticed everything.

“Please stop speaking in riddles,” Molly said, exasperated. She stopped, now deep inside the pyramid, and from the light of the Immortals she could she that she was in a room full of ancient jars, endless rows of jars with scrolls and manuscripts poking out of their tops.

For a long time, the nation of Haiti has been under a terrible spell; an accidental spell but a terrible one nonetheless. You have seen the sky. It is empty. The life force, the bio energy, the ‘orgone’, as it is commonly called these days, has been sucked out. This, in turn, has changed people, taken something away from them. The people of Haiti live their life as in a dream, and they cannot hear the voices of the gods. They don’t notice them. They don’t notice the Hall of Records, that terrible mockery of our sacred temples, squatting in the centre of Port-au-Prince like a big fat leech, sucking everything dry. They don’t notice that the Haitian democracy is a sham. There has been only one government, and the votes people place don’t have any effect on who ends up winning. It’s more like a play than a political system, a scripted play.

“So wait, you’re saying that every single election in Haitian history has been fraudulent, and that there’s some big conspiracy that’s been pulling this off, completely unnoticed by, well, everybody??”

Yes. They don’t even need to try to keep it a secret, because they know people won’t notice, and if they do they won’t care. There have been quite radical attempts by individuals friendly to our cause to wake people from this stupor, but they have met with little success. People don’t even notice the most monumental of things, it would seem.

“I see. But what about Pierre? He noticed stuff.”

Pierre isn’t real.


“I…what do you mean, Pierre isn’t real??”

Pierre is merely an aspect of Legba, and Pierre is Eleazar and Eleazar is Pierre. Reality is an infinite spectrum, and Pierre falls outside that spectrum. However, in some respects, Pierre is more real than anything else. Soon, we must leave this place, as we belong to a different age. The divided man must be reunified, and the dawn must open the gates of heaven so that the sun can punish his errant daughter.

“I have no idea what you are talking about now,” said Molly, completely honestly. “It’s almost like you’re talking another language.”

We apologise for any confusion, but it is necessary you understand. We are destined to die, and the Mayans were very precise when it came to such calculations. The date of our death, they managed to work out, is 12.19.15.14.10*, or in your dating system, the 2nd November 2008.

“Fet Gede, the Day of the Dead…”

Correct. Now, why did you come to this place?

“Uh, well, I was investigating the disappearance of a man called Albert Louverture, and his notebook mentioned something about an entrance in the black stones.”

Albert Louverture was a very observant man, wasn’t he? He is alive, and in great peril, but at least his mind remains free.

“So you know where he is?”

Indeed. He is on the isle of Aiaia, under an enchanted from an ancient evil sorceress called Circe.

“You know, I should find that surprising or ridiculous, but for some reason I don’t. Strange, huh?”

Circe has designs not just on this universe, but all parallel universes in existence. She knows of what is meant to occur on the Fet Gede, and plans to twist it to her advantage, essentially destroying every universe but this one, which will instead be sucked dry of orgone, creating a subservient race of zombies out of the humanity.

“So I need to go to this island, defeat the evil witch and save the academic-in-distress. Sounds like it will be quite a jaunt!”

Please, take things seriously. There’s more to it than that. You see, Circe owes a rather large debt to an entity known as The Criminal, who gave her a physical form and an island in return for a promise for control of the souls of the entire human race after death. Circe will rule the living, and The Criminal will rule over the dead. The only trouble is, Circe has no intention of honouring her end of the bargain, and when The Criminal comes to settle his debts on Fet Gede, which he inevitably will, she plans to use her new-found power to banish him into the void and take the entirety of reality for herself.

"Wow."

Wow indeed. But anyway, good luck, Molly, they said abruptly. Just remember that you are the third of three. You won’t have much time. Farewell...

Molly looked around in confusion as the lights vanished, and she was left alone in the darkness of the Hall of Records. “No! Don’t leave! What am I supposed to do?” She slumped her shoulders, and-

-she was on her settee back in her flat in Port-au-Prince, holding a mug of coffee sat in front of the TV. She frantically eyed her surroundings, and then sighed. She put the coffee down on the arm of the sofa, and found a newspaper on the table. The date, much to her non-surprise, said,

22nd September 2008.
__________________

*This is the genuine Mayan Long Count equivalent of the 2nd November 2008. There has been a lot of interest in the Mayan Long Count recently, due to the supposed impending apocalypse in 2012. It should be noted that the Long Count doesn't in fact finish on December 21st 2012, and that overall, the Mayan calendar will last for many millions of years yet. The actual formulation of the calendar is too complex to go into any detail here, but the supposedly apocalyptic date will be represented in Mayan terms as 13.0.0.0.0, and so 21/12/12 will be the beginning of the 14th baktun cycle, which in itself is fairly unremarkable. A new baktun cycle starts every 394 years, so we have survived plenty such cycles without the world ending, and thus there's no reason to believe 2012 will be any different. The end of the 20th baktun cycle, in around the year 4772, will be more interesting, as the calendar date will then be 1.0.0.0.0.0, the end of the first pictun cycle and the start of the second. The Mayans believed that at the end of each pictun cycle, the universe is destroyed and created anew.
 
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Molly is taking it all in rather well (even if she admits she doesn't understand a thing, at least she hasn't gone completely bonkers yet). The pieces are beginning to fall in place now...
 

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Molly is taking it all in rather well (even if she admits she doesn't understand a thing, at least she hasn't gone completely bonkers yet). The pieces are beginning to fall in place now...

I think it's just that things have got so weird that she's just going with the flow and she is no longer surprised by it.
 

Enewald

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Well, maybe the universe gets recreated without us seeing nor feeling it.
 

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September 23rd 2008

50

The wind blows to the north. Indeed, it blows to the north. The one who sits in judgement, taking it apart and putting it back together for his own amusement. The one who takes apart a human mind, but gets distracted, leaving it scattered into a million pieces. I forgot. I’m sorry.

There was a knock on the door. No reply. There was a knock on the door.

“I’m not here,” Molly moaned quietly, glaring at the door from the couch in her flat. It had been a while since she had slept.

“Molly? It’s Lois! We arranged to meet up and go for lunch!” Molly was grateful for the exposition, as she had no memory of having any contact with Lois since she left the police force. But then, that would the Immortal’s fault, wouldn’t it?
Open the door of perception, open your third eye. The shelter is breached!
“What? Oh fine.” She stood up, rubbed her eyes, and shouted, “Okay, I’m coming!” She stumbled to the door and found Lois standing at the door wearing what could only be described as a fluorescent pink top and an oversized hat, along with her characteristic golden rings and blue earrings. Molly was hit by the powerful smell of perfume, and had to take a step back.

“Molly, forgive me, but look like a mess! You still up for lunch?”

Molly nodded silently, and closed the door behind her. A short while later they were heading towards the Hall of Records, as Lois had insisted on getting food at the very same café where Molly had met the old man, the one who had given her the web address for the Parasol forums. The Divided Man, that’s what the story was called. The Immortals mentioned the Divided Man. Parasol-
-Para, meaning against, and sol, meaning sun. Against the sun-​
Yes, Parasol…something to do with Toussaint. But what is Parasol?
Parasol is an art installation at the National Haitian Gallery, by a man called Duchamp. He is a modern artist, an idiotic genius-​
So Parasol is this Duchamp person? And who’s Eleazar?
Eleazar is Lazarus​
Doesn’t help. That city, the sparkling city under the ground. It’s hidden from the sun. Are you Parasol? You are-
-Not-​
-the only one who understands. She is so beautiful, why is beauty wasted on the beautiful? Free from the memories…will I ever be free from the memories. I keep it hidden, secret, safe, buried deep within me. I hide it from myself. I am in permanent crisis. It’s like the repression of trauma, sometimes the mind just can’t cope, so it forces you to forget. Is it like that? It’s exactly like that. I abandoned…oh, stop, hold in a sob. Sit in judgement, playing a game.

I’m sorry. It’s not a game. This, like the Grid, is serious business. You know that it was not supposed to happen in the near future, but I couldn’t tolerate things to continue in this state for that long…

Molly and Lois walked through the Mall, a great cathedral to commerce with its modern archways and glass panels, intersliced with dolorous stained-glass images of the saints, which Molly gazed at with glazed eyes. “I always thought that one looks like you, Lois. The one with the tears.”

They traversed the labyrinth with success, the Hall of Records licking its lips and belching with no regard for decorum, smug and overfed, and found the café. I wasn’t in there this time. They found a table, and sat down.

“13”, said Lois.

“What?” said Molly.

Lois shook her head, looking at the table with her thicky made up eyes. “Oh, just some graffiti on the table. “Thirteen oh four seventeen oh four fourteen. Looks like an IP address.”

“Mmm.”

Molly ordered some extra strong Venezuelan coffee, while Lois got a coke. They got some food and ate.

“So, what happened to the Saint Martin Police station? Anney and Maurice just disappeared, and Bandersnatch seemed to go mad, and you never came back.”

Molly snapped her head up. IP address? “Oh, erm, well I went to Guatemala, on holiday. Ou said I needed a holiday, so I…went on holiday. To Guatemala.”

Lois nodded, and laughed. “Your parents live in Jamaica, and yet Molly goes to Guatemala! What a strange world you live in, girl!”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Molly murmured, taking a sip from her cup. “Anney probably went back to America or something, and Maurice…oh. Oh god, I remember now! He was there!”

Lois looked in surprise at Molly’s sudden outburst. “He was where?”

“With the libido, the albino and the mosquito! With the midnight man…Oh hell, don’t tell me he’s Eleazar?!”

“Molly, you’re not making any sense!” She’s making more sense than you’d like to admit, you devil woman! Pretending you’re real. “What is a midnight man?”

“A doppelganger! Lazarus, come from the dead, come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all! And then there was me, of course…maybe it wasn’t a perverse joke, but a warning? A coded message of some sort…”

You should have left her alone. You know that she is fragile, damaged. There is no graffiti on the table, is there? I am actually quite angry right now, but I’m sure you know that. And I’m sure you know that there’s nothing I can do. I left her in the land of giants to search for the fire...

“To search for the fire…” Lois murmured, before laughing. “Who are you talking about?”

“Toussaint, Professor Toussaint. The Midnight Man-Eleazar, as I might as well call him, and Maurice. They were searching for porridge-him and Anney, I mean. I wonder if they ever found him.”

“There was always something a bit...wolf-like about Maurice Molyneux. I can’t say I’m sorry that he’s vanished. But Anney was a good laugh. You know, I miss those days. What are you doing for money at the moment?”

“Living off savings. I managed to save up quite a lot of cash…what were those numbers again?” asked Molly, distractedly.

“13.04.17.04.14,” replied serene Lois.
 
Last edited:

Fiftypence

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Awesome, another little piece of intertextuality that no one will get! :p

51

When Molly got home, she went straight to bed and tried to go to sleep. However, no matter how hard she tried, despite her physical and mental exhaustion, sleep just wouldn’t come. After over three hours of fruitless labour she decided to give up, and got up and got dressed. She opened her drawer and picked up a saffron coloured cardigan; the same one she had been wearing when she went to Piedras Negras. Then it had been covered in dirt, but here it was folded up, spotlessly clean. She shook her head and put it aside on the floor, and then after a moment’s pause picked it up again.

“What does it mean?” she muttered to the cardigan. “What am I supposed to do?” The cardigan, surprisingly enough, didn’t respond. “My intention throughout everything has been to find the truth. That’s all I want, the plain, simple, honest truth.” She sighed, and wiped her eyes.

On her bedside table was a copy of the Odyssey she had picked up on the way home, after a quick visit to the National Library. She sat down on her bed and picked it up, and flipped through it until she found the section where Odysseus lands on Circe’s island, and all his crew are turned into pigs. She read it, and then re-read it, and put the book down.

“Mmm. So what happened to Circe after Odysseus left her island?”

Molly went into the main room and switched on her computer. While it was booting up she made herself an ultra-strong coffee, and typed “Circe” into the Yahoo search box.

“Lessee, so she was a sorceress, or a goddess…the daughter of Helios, the sun god. Except he wasn’t the sun god, because Apollo usurped his position, but anyway…Circe turned them all into pigs, and then Hermes comes along and tells Odysseus of a herb than can protect against her devilish potions. Ha, the holy moly herb! Moly sounds like Molly, I’m a herb! Oh god I need sleep…! Soo where was I? Oh, according to Hesiod, she had three sons by Odysseus, and then…she turns a guy into a woodpecker, and then…nothing.”

Molly ran her tongue over her front teeth and then puffed out her cheeks. If Circe really was real, then that would mean her father Helios must also be real. The idea of a Greek god being real did not seem particularly outlandish to her after everything else, but still it raised some daunting questions. What happened to Helios? Is he still, in some form or another, still around somewhere?

What about the other gods?

Molly didn’t know what the Immortals were, but they didn’t seem powerful enough to be gods. They’re probably something boring and mundane like aliens, she thought with a smile. So anyway, they say Circe has returned and is holding Albert Louverture captive on her island. Where is her island? Is it in the Mediterranean, or somewhere else? Why did she kidnap him?

That was the thing. Why?? Why was any of this happening? Molly felt more lost than she had for a very long time, since…never mind, but anyway, she just felt completely inundated by unanswerable questions. I’m supposed to do something. And there was something else the Immortals said that didn’t make any sense, now what was it…?

“I am the third of three.” What does that mean? “Damnit, why did they have to be so vague and ominous? I don’t even know if it was real…what if it was one big hallucination? How can I trust my senses? It’s the same thing, it’s destroying me, I…I…please, I can't even say it, my brain won't let my mouth do it, Na…ta…huh?”

She closed her eyes, and opened them again. Daylight streamed in through the gaps between the curtains, and Molly frowned. Why did I notice that in particular? It was already day-time before.

In front of her the computer had gone into sleep mode. She wiggled the mouse, and once it had woken up she went back into the Grid, and clicked on the address toolbar. The cursor flickered, and Molly stared into nothingness. The blank, empty space of the toolbar. “Thirteen,” she whispered hoarsely, as if possessed, “…zero four…seventeen…zero four…fourteen.”

With some trepidation she pressed Enter, and up popped a box, asking her to enter a username and a password. After a moment’s thought, she entered as her username ‘third of three’, and as password she typed, a letter at a time, ‘parasol’.

After a few moments, much to Molly’s surprise, the Grid address loaded, and somehow her guess had been a success. The screen turned deathly blue, and in small letters words flicked across the screen.

“WELCOME TO THE INTERNET, third of three, PARASOL HAS BEEN WAITING FOR YOU.”

Molly read it over several times, waiting to see if anything else would appear. When it didn’t, she hovered her hands over her keyboard, and then typed,

“What is Parasol? What is the ‘internet’? Why am I called ‘the third of three’?”

There was a pause, and after a few moments a new message popped up.

“PARASOL IS FREEDOM. PARASOL IS JOY. PARASOL IS LOVE. PARASOL IS HATE. PARASOL IS PAIN. PARASOL IS SADNESS. PARASOL IS YOU AND PARASOL IS ME. PARASOL IS EVERYTHING AND NOTHING. PARASOL IS.”

Molly gazed at this response, and began to feel slightly unnerved by the whole thing, wondering what exactly she was getting into here.

“Fine, but you didn’t answer my other two questions. So is the internet some kind of special Grid network or something?”

“THE INTERNET HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GRID. ONLY COMPUTERS SPECIALLY ADAPTED BY PARASOL CAN ACCESS THE INTERNET.”

Molly read it a couple of times, and as it dawned on her she felt a tingle down her spine. This was starting to get a bit creepy.

“You came into my home and tampered with my computer, without my permission?”

“YES, third of three. YOU MUST REALISE THAT NOTHING IS TRUE AND THAT EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED. THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH IS FUTILE AS THERE ARE AN INFINITE AMOUNT OF TRUTHS, ALL OF WHICH ARE FALSE.”

“O…kay. I don’t like riddles. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t turn this computer off right now and walk away?”

What came in reply was beyond anything Molly could ever have expected, and almost made her jump out of her seat in shock. Her eyes widened and she shook her head. On the screen, the reply said, simply,

“SHE DIDN’T BURN, MOLLY. SHE DIDN'T BURN.”
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
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Who didn't burn?
Circe and Odysseus had kids?
What happened to them?
 

Stuyvesant

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<Stuyvesant sits gently bubbling in his chair>

The plot thickens, my incomprehension deepens...

Well, the last update seems almost understandable, but the one prior to that just turned my brain into melted goo. :)

Molly's mother didn't burn? Just a wild guess, since Molly, her sister and her mother are sometimes referenced (while attending the independence day parade). I had to come up with something, didn't I?
 

Fiftypence

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Who didn't burn?
Circe and Odysseus had kids?
What happened to them?

They mostly went on to found various cities. Telegonus even had an epic written about him, but it's now lost.

<Stuyvesant sits gently bubbling in his chair>

The plot thickens, my incomprehension deepens...

Well, the last update seems almost understandable, but the one prior to that just turned my brain into melted goo. :)

Molly's mother didn't burn? Just a wild guess, since Molly, her sister and her mother are sometimes referenced (while attending the independence day parade). I had to come up with something, didn't I?

No, none of them.
 

Fiftypence

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Conversation in the Blue Cherry

52

Molly looked at the words on the screen, and typed slowly, carefully, “What do you mean?”

“I THINK YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. YOU CAN SPEND YOUR LIFE SEARCHING FOR THAT FIRE, BUT ITS EMBERS ARE LONG GONE, BLOWN AWAY IN THE SWIRLING MAELSTROM OF AN EXPLODING AIRSHIP. SHE WOKE AND SHE RAN WHEN THE SKY TURNED BLUE.”

Molly let out an exasperated sigh. More riddles, no straight answers. She decided to drop that particular line of enquiry for the time being, and typed, “There’s something I’ve been wanting to know for some time, now.”

“ASK AWAY.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

The screen flickered, and Molly was bathed in its eerie glow. No response came. “You obviously know who I am, you called me Molly rather than third of three. Was that a slip, or was it intentional?”

Eventually, “THE MODIFICATIONS WE MADE TO YOUR COMPUTER ALSO INCLUDED THE ABILITY TO ACCESS THE BLUE CHERRY. ARE YOU THIRSTY?”

Molly muttered to herself, “What the hell is the blue cherry?” Her question was soon answered. The walls of her living room, her furniture, the lights, the computer, the screen began to fade, dissolve, all around her, unstoppably. Molly looked around in horror, but found she was firmly rooted to her seat, and she could not move or scream no matter how hard she tried. She closed her eyes and opened them again, and found herself…

…sat beside a bar, on a barstool. In neon lights flashed the words “Blue Cherry Bar.” The bar was quite busy, and the sound of background chatter filled the air. Beside her sat a blond-haired man with a thin beard and blue eyes, holding in his hand a tall thin glass filled with a clear, blue tinged drink. An identical drink was on the bar, in front of where Molly sat. The man smiled, and said,

“Welcome to the Blue Cherry. It’s a nice place, don’tcha think?”

“Um…how did…who are you??”

The man laughed apologetically, and offered his hand. “I'm sorry for all the riddles, but it's part of Parasol's modus operandi. I'm Johan Roerich. Professor Johan Roerich.”

Molly rolled her eyes and shook his outstretched hand. “I’ve had more than enough professors to last me a life time.”

Roerich smirked. “Have you indeed?”

Molly ignored him, and gingerly picked up the drink and sniffed it. It smelt real enough, and when she took a sip she was almost knocked out of her seat. “Gah!” She put the drink down, eyeing it suspiciously. She looked back quizzically at Roerich. “That drink, it tasted…more than anything I’ve ever tasted before. I don’t know how to explain it, it just tasted so…”

“Real? More real than reality itself?” Roerich laughed, and grinned. “I am sorry for all this, but let’s see, where do I start? This is the Blue Cherry, created exclusively for members of Parasol. The most important thing you have to remember is that it’s not real. There is no liquid in that glass, and indeed no glass at all. I am not really here, and neither are you.”

“So, what? It’s some kind of simulation?”

“No,” said Roerich plainly. “At least not according to your definition of simulation and reality.”

“I…have no idea what you mean.”

Roerich took a sip of his unreal drink out of his unreal glass, and looked thoughtful. “It’s not easy to describe in a way that you will understand. The everyday reality that you experience is no more and no less real than this place. It’s all just a convincing illusion.”

Molly took an experimental sip of the drink, and nodded. “Ah right, so we’re all brains in vats? Or all we all just hooked up to the Matrix? Can you move in bullet time? I’ve always wanted to do that.” She glanced at the drink. "You're not going to offer me the choice between this blue drink and a red drink, are you?"

Roerich cleared his throat. “Uh, no. It’s nothing like the Matrix, though I did enjoy the first film. No, it’s a bit different. I think you are one of the few who has seen through the cracks, who has noticed the fracture. Analogue reality is falling apart, and all different strands are bleeding into one another. But there's also something else, that you probably aren't aware of, concerning the way thing are. I’ll show you. Just stare at the neon sign, and let it take you in, all the way-

-twenty seven blackbirds baked in a pie-​

This claim is false.

I don't think it's me. It might be me. “But what about the Saints? Where do they fit into all this?” I can’t remember. I might have done it and not noticed.

Molly walked through the shimmering metropolis of Port-au-Prince, and thought about the pig. She was troubled. She twisted her mouth into a smile, and looked at her teeth in the mirror. The one for coloured hair had been Natalie’s, but that was all she knew. Molly couldn't help but hope that the author would go back to the stuff with witches and pirates with the next update, as they tended to be at least semi-legible. She did not even know where to begin with salacious ergot. A half-eaten apple lay discarded on the floor.

“But you couldn’t have been alive a hundred years ago, unless you’re really, really, really old.”

I smiled. You win, Molly, this time.


-twenty seven blackbirds baked in a pie-​

-and let go.”

Molly was back in the room, and glared at Roerich. “You just jumbled everything…rearranged...memories, but in words…!”

“I didn’t do it. You did.”

Molly shook her head, and gazed around the bar. The surfaces were all shiny and clean, and the décor had been designed to give the place a highly clinical feel. The tables were more like twisting metal sculptures that just happened to have a flat section to place drinks, as were the chairs. In the corner were three people speaking in a language that Molly couldn’t understand, dressed in old fashioned clothing. Roerich saw her strange look, and shrugged.

“To them it’s just their local, in a back alley in Copenhagen. They are from the mid 19th century. But anyway,” he said, turning back to Molly, “this is all quite new to me also. I never intended to come here. A few short months ago, I was working on an archaeological dig with my colleague Marissa Yaroslavich in West Africa. We discovered this mysterious hole in the ground, which didn’t seem to show up on any of the survey we did, and which didn’t match anything we were expecting to find.”

“Marissa Yaroslavich? That name rings a bell…”

“Anyway, that evening in the hotel I set up my laptop, and before I knew it I was here. I guess Parasol modded my computer just as they did yours. I soon learnt that Marissa had been kidnapped, and that the mysterious hole and had been quietly covered up by the locals.” He took a sip of the drink, and looked up at the neon sign. “I also found out a few other things. Marissa’s kidnappers, it turned out, weren’t bandits hoping to extract a ransom for a rich westerner, but rather had more…esoteric motives. They knew that something big was going to happen on November 2nd this year, and that Marissa was somehow instrumental in this-“

“The Immortals??” Molly said, before smiling with embarrassment. “Sorry, it’s just, well it sounds mad…actually it probably doesn’t to you, but I met these…beings, who talked about some Mayan prophecy regarding November 2nd. They did some kind of crazy mind blank thing on me, so…”

“I know of whom you speak, but no, it wasn’t them. It was orchestrated by the being we refer to as Atibon, though he has many other names and may other guises. I believe you have met him before. He is responsible for this entire mess.”

Molly frowned. “Atibon?”

“Indeed, these are all his wor-

-twenty seven blackbirds baked in a pie-​

This claim is false.

Molly blinked.

“Oh it’s unconscionable, the very idea, but there must be three…the third will complete the triangle…the parasol is immortal.“

Molly nodded and smiled, entirely disingenuously. Her heart skipped a beat, and her mouth felt dry. She looked around wildly and thought she heard someone snigger. She twitched her nose.

“Sorry, I think I’ve been watching too many Australian soaps. There’s a girl called Aurora that always says that, and it always makes me giggle.”

“Don’t worry, I often have that effect on women.”

Molly took a gulp of Orinoco-


-twenty seven blackbirds baked in a pie-​

-ds”
 
Last edited:

Stuyvesant

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Molly took an experimental sip of the drink, and nodded. “Ah right, so we’re all brains in vats? Or all we all just hooked up to the Matrix? Can you move in bullet time? I’ve always wanted to do that.”
So they had the Matrix in your world as well? I didn't know that the improbability that is Keanu Reeves made it across multiple timelines. Truly, anything is possible then...

Who created Parasol? And how does that person/entity/cabal relate to Pebble, who seems to be able to communicate with Molly whenever she concentrates/slips out of the unreal reality...

All this is leaving my head spinning. :)
 

Enewald

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My head spins more than yours. :p
Twenty seven blackbirds baked in a pie? :wacko:
 

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My head spins more than yours. :p
Twenty seven blackbirds baked in a pie? :wacko:

It's that infamous number 27 again... On a practical note, that must be one big pie.

Found this link on a cooking page about Mother Goose songs about food (long live Google):

http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/egg/egg0598/didyouknow.html said:
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye:
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing:
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting-house
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes,
Along came a blackbird
And nipped off her nose.

Which establishes that A) the 27 blackbirds in a pie refers to this existing song and B) the British are bloody weird. ;)