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Here comes the Sun King (not Louis XIV)

78

Molly hauled her body through the dense thickets and undergrowth, not knowing where she was going nor what she would find when she got there. The birds in the trees cackled and cawed, and the heat and humidity were doing her no favours. She could just about make out the giant mecha through the canopy, and so headed in that direction.

Eventually the jungle opened up, and she caught glimpse of a ruined temple, in a clearing. On a fallen pillar sat a lady, gazing into a mirror of some sort. Molly stepped forward slowly, out of the trees, and the lady said, without looking up,

“Ah, Molly Nemoy. So you made it. And to think, Anton told me that you were dead. How amusing!”

Molly shrugged. “Kwame…I mean Baron Samedi resurrected me.”

Circe laughed deeply, and finally looked up and met Molly’s eyes. “So I see. You do realise that he wouldn’t do that for a mere nobody, don’t you?” She stood and walked slowly towards Molly, with a smile and a dance. “That, my dear, is because you are the third of three. I am the sun, Selena, rest her soul, is the moon, and you…” She paused, and winked, “you are the dawn, my sister…Aurora.”

“No I’m not,” Molly said. “People keep going on about this third of three crap, but I don’t care. I’m Molly. I’m not the dawn of the dead or whatever.”

Circe nodded sympathetically. “You look so battered and vulnerable. It’s unfortunate that your little pirate friend got waylaid. I imagine it will take her a while to deal with Sousson-Pannan. But anyway, look at the sky. Isn’t it beautiful?”

Molly looked up. There was a swirling maelstrom growing above the island, a great mass of clouds centred on the ruin. The air had grown unnaturally cold, and there were sparks in the air. Circe giggled.

“It’s coming, but it just needs something to set off the reaction. Just a little burst of power. Molly, you have to understand that you are so much more than a mere human. You are Eos or Aurora or Ushas or whatever you want to call it. I mean, just look at those saffron clothes you’re wearing.”

Molly looked down at her top. “It’s orange. I like orange.”

“Orange, saffron, same thing. Come, Aurora, take my hands and open the skies, tear the heavens asunder and rip apart creation…take my hands…”

Molly began to back away, but her body was too slow. Circe grabbed her hands and pressed them against hers, and lifted them to the sky. A bolt of lightning burst from the clouds and struck them with a terrible force, which almost sent them both flying across the clearing. But Circe held firm, and Molly felt herself dissolving, overwhelmed by the energy that was pouring through her. The animals in the cage, the boar and the goat, grew anxious, and began struggling against the wooden beams of their prison. A great heaviness bore down, and when Circe finally let go, Molly fell to the ground.

“Look at the sky now, Aurora,” Circe whispered. “Just look at it.”

Molly looked up, and saw…nothing. Where there had previously been a terrible mass of clouds, there was now just blackness. No stars or planets, but pure nothingness. Circe got to her feet and swayed dizzily, and then pointed a finger at the wooden cage. No longer were the animals inside. Instead, they had been replaced with a man, entirely naked, cowering in the corner. “And look at that!” shrieked Circe, her voice dripping with exuberant mockery, “reborn in a prison, just like how you died! Look, Aurora, here is Haiti’s greatest hero, the divided man, come to restore the land, naked and shivering in a wooden cell!” She staggered closer to the cage, and sneered. “What you gonna do, Toussaint Louverture? This world doesn’t need you, general, when it has me! The divided man will break the spell, the prophets said. Well, break this spell!” A bolt of energy flowed from Circe’s fingers and hit Toussaint Louverture, sending him flying across the prison. Circe lifted her finger and he lifted with it. Circe then flicked her finger, and to her intense delight he went smashing against the wall.

Molly raised her eyes, and the world before her seemed to fade away, as if it had just been an elaborate illusion all along. She understood that, yes, she was indeed Aurora, the dawn. She was Molly, but also Aurora at the same time…but there was something else. Something was missing. She was Molly, Aurora and…a third aspect. The third of three. Something Circe didn’t see.

In her mind she flew like an eagle, and below her she saw the distinctive shape of the island of Hispaniola, then Jamaica and the Virgin Islands and Barbados and Antigua…and she could feel all of them. No, it was more than that; she was all of them. She was the land, the people, the history, the politics, the religion, the very spirit of Haiti itself.

“Antillia,” she whispered, surprised at how obvious it was. “Of course, I am Antillia.”

She looked up, and Circe was still playing with Toussaint Louverture, giggling and cackling as she did. He is the link. If he dies, then every other universe in existence will be snuffed out. Molly got to her feet and felt fresh, renewed. Her hands were no longer crackled and dry but were smooth, and her joints no longer stiff but supple and fresh. Flowing through her she felt an otherworldly power. The lightning bolt had done something to her, changed her somehow…or rather, had shown her the truth. Pebble knew all along, as did Baron Samedi…it finally made sense. She looked at Circe and almost laughed upon realising how pathetic, how insignificant the sorceress truly was. She was a mere blip on the radar, and it was time for Molly to take out the trash.

“CIRCE!” she said, amazed at the sheer volume that came out. It seemed like it wasn’t her voice at all. The sorceress turned, and widened her eyes.

“What the-“

“I AM MOLLY, AURORA AND ANTILLIA, AND YOU HAVE DEFILED ME. YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A USURPER, FOR YOU ARE NOT THE SUN BUT MERELY HIS ERRANT DAUGHTER. I COMMAND YOU TO KNEEL BEFORE ME, FOR IT IS TIME YOU WERE PUNISHED FOR YOUR CRIMES.”

Circe blinked in astonishment. “But…what? I don’t understand? What happened to you?”

“I HAVE BEEN AWAKENED TO MY TRUE NATURE, MY THREEFOLD ASPECT. KNEEL, WITCH.”

Circe screwed up her face and laughed. “Kneel? Before you? I don’t think so!” She lifted her hand and unleashed a burst of energy at Molly, but nothing happened. She tried again, but there was no difference. She glared at her hand, and let out an annoyed cry. “How are you doing that?”

“YOU ARE NOTHING, YOUR POWER IS NOTHING. I COULD THINK YOU OUT OF EXISTENCE IF I SO DESIRED.”

Circe stared, her face now filled with frustration and fear. “Then why don’t you?” she screamed defiantly. “Go on, do it!”

Molly/Aurora/Antillia smiled serenely. “NO. THAT WOULD BE WRONG. I MUST SHOW YOU MERCY. IT WOULD MAKE MORE SENSE TO SEND YOU BACK TO THE VOID.”

Circe’s defiance disappeared, and she shook with fear. “No, no…not the void. Please, anything but that! It would be more merciful to kill me.”

“I SHALL DO NEITHER. IT IS NOT MY PLACE TO PUNISH YOU. I SHALL LEAVE IT UP TO YOUR FATHER.”

“My-my father? B-but…”

Molly/Aurora/Antillia raised her hand to the sky and made a sweeping motion. The black sky split, and through it came a brilliant shining light that filled the clearing, the pure power of the sun. Circe covered her eyes and fell to her knees.

“HELIOS, RULER OF THE SUN, COME FORTH AND CLAIM YOUR ERRANT DAUGHTER. TAKE HER AND KEEP HER AWAY FROM THIS WORLD FOREVER.”

The light grew and grew, and Circe let out a terrible agonising cry and then...

There was nothing.

***​
Anney staggered into the jungle, covered in the blood of the lately deceased Sousson-Pannan. There had been some weird stuff in the sky, but she had been too busy fighting the monster to take much notice, but it seemed to be fine now. When she reached the ruined temple, she found it completely empty. No sign of Molly or Circe.

“Hello? Aw geez, where is everybody?”

She then noticed the cage, and the battered, bruised naked man inside. She raised her eyebrows and approached. “Well, well, what have we got here?”

“I am Francois-Dominique Toussaint Louverture,” he said with as much dignity as he could muster. “I have retuned to guide Haiti into a new golden era of wealth and prosperity.”

Anney couldn’t help but let out a little giggle. “Well, I guess all the best politicians have been naked in a cage at some point or other in their careers.” She opened the latch, and Toussaint Louverture scampered out. She glanced across the clearing, and noticed something quite interesting. Anton was still lying unconscious, oblivious to everything going on around him.

“Well, well, look who it is! Come on Frankie, you can take his clothes.”

Toussaint Louverture frowned. “Don’t call me Frankie.” He then relieved Anton of his clothes. Once he was changed, Anney dragged Anton and put him in the cage, and locked it. She then sat down next to Toussaint Louverture.

“So, what the hell happened here?”

“There was…um, well, suddenly I found myself in this cage, and there were two women…”

“Really?” Anney said with a dirty grin, which he ignored.

“And then one of them started speaking most strangely, and then there was a blinding light, and when it went and I could see again, they had both disappeared.”

“Wow. Hopefully that’s the last we’ve seen of Circe. But Molly…I wonder where she went? Ah well, I guess it’s just gonna be one of them mysteries. Anyway, it’s time to go home. We got two choices; we can take my old rickety frigate, or give the humongous mecha a spin. Oh, and I guess Anton’s airship will be around here somewhere.”

“Humongous mecha…you mean that shining blue monstrosity? I think I’d rather go by ship.”

“Aw, really? You’re no fun! Come on then, the Impossible it is.”

And so, Anney and Toussaint Louverture headed into the jungle and back to the beach, boarded the Impossible, and sailed away. All was still on Aiaia, in that desolate ruin, apart from the rustling of the trees in the breeze.

***​
Several hours later, Anton woke up with a very nasty headache. He looked around, and then down.

“What the...??”
 
Last edited:

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Wow. That was pretty epic. And it all made sense! Well, apart from the intentionally vague references to 'something interesting' and the cliffhanger (?) with Anton waking up in the cage... Do I recall that we have until update 87 before the story's all completed, or are we even closer to the final curtain?

A few updates back you had The Criminal trapped by the sound of the organ, which you foreshadowed quite effectively (now that I know what I should've been looking for). So, my question is, how many years did you carry that idea in your head, before you actually got to put it down on (digital) paper? :)
 

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Wow. That was pretty epic. And it all made sense! Well, apart from the intentionally vague references to 'something interesting' and the cliffhanger (?) with Anton waking up in the cage... Do I recall that we have until update 87 before the story's all completed, or are we even closer to the final curtain?

A few updates back you had The Criminal trapped by the sound of the organ, which you foreshadowed quite effectively (now that I know what I should've been looking for). So, my question is, how many years did you carry that idea in your head, before you actually got to put it down on (digital) paper? :)

No, 81 updates, so only 3 left to go. Actually, that wasn't how I originally intended things to go with Circe and The Criminal, but throughout the story I've been making sure to add things which I can later refer to, and the organ playing was one of those things. So really, it was not as planned as it initially appears. However, the whole Molly=Aurora=Antillia thing dates back to about update 11, in which Aurora is mentioned and update 15, in which Antillia is first mentioned (so around April 2009). Update 49 is also quite an interesting episode, in hindsight.

And what happened between Molly and Helios?

Some things not even Pebble knows...
 

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The End of Immortality: Part 1

79

Marissa walked through the sweltering streets of Port-au-Prince, wearing sunglasses and a hat to prevent people from recognising her as Selena Eryx. She made her way down Rue de Magnolia, and when she came upon a government office flying the Haitian tricolour she stopped, and frowned.

“What the hell is the deal with that flag?” she said to herself. “Purple, black and white, who thought that would be a good idea?”

She carried on, wondering how strange it was that that thought had never occurred to her before. After a few minutes she came upon a large crowd standing outside the National Haitian Library, all staring at the Hall of Records. At first Marissa couldn’t tell what they were all looking at, but then she saw the orbs of lights circling the building, some moving slowly and others swirling rapidly. Eventually it became apparent that they were weaving some kind of net around the great building, like a spider’s web. Marissa glanced at the people surrounding her, who were mostly watching with silent astonishment and confusion.

Within a few minutes, the Hall of Records was completely encased. The web then flew apart and the orbs departed, and the building was completely gone. In its place was a gigantic yellow flower. The people let out a collective sigh, as if some great weight had been removed from them, some burden had been lifted. Marissa pushed her way through the crowd, and when she got close she saw it wasn’t an actual flower, but rather a sculpture made of glass and metal, a beautiful, magnificent work of art.

There was a crackle from the sky. Everyone looked up, and saw that the sky was dark, filled with rainclouds. Then the deluge began, and the people stood there in the rain staring up, unable to comprehend this new experience. Marissa laughed with surprise and delight, and then everyone was laughing. The flower glistened in the rain and was nourished by the rain.

It was a surreal experience, or at least it should have been, but to Marissa it felt more real than anything else she had ever experienced. She walked in the torrential rain and went home with a skip in her step. Behind her a newspaper fluttered in the breeze, with the headline:

West Africa invades Guinea:
Keita proclaims himself Emperor of Mali

***​
Anton rattled the bars of his cage, but found it to be surprisingly well built. After nearly an hour of kicking and struggling, he sat down, dejected. When he looked up, he saw someone moving about amid the ruins. He stood up, hope gleaming in his eyes.

“Hey, you, let me out of here!”

The person approached, and Anton’s heart sank when he saw who it was. Madame Tzarsou stood, looking at him with interest. “You got a spanky botty!”

“Yes, I know. Would you let me out of here?”

“You let my prisoners escape,” Madame Tzarsou replied, pouting petulantly. “But I suppose I could let you…ooh look, my mecha! It’s so big and shiny!”

Anton pressed himself against the wooden bars. “No, forget about the mecha! Let me out!”

But Madame Tzarsou had already forgotten about Anton, and he watched with despair as the deranged composer entered the mecha. After a false start, the mecha clunked into life, and Anton watched as it stomped away through the jungle and into the ocean, leaving him on Aiaia forever, alone.

***​
Marissa arrived home to find Pierre in the kitchen, preparing a lasagne and listening to the radio.

“Have you seen outside! It’s raining!”

He looked up and smiled. “I know, it’s wonderful.”

“What’re you listening to?” she said, picking up a bit of left over grated cheese and sticking it in her mouth.

“Oh, just something about West Africa. It’s a good thing you’re not over there right now, it sounds like it’s all kicking off. The Germans and the British have threatened the West Africans with retaliation for massacring a regiment of Portuguese soldiers that were stationed there. Their posturing has lead to accusations from us and France that they want to indulge in a bit of neo-colonialism, while the Soviets are looking for any excuse to bring down the Germans a notch or two. The Americans, as usual, are just trying to get everyone to calm down. But I expect it will all blow over in due course.”

Marissa laughed. “I met Keita when I was there, had dinner with him. The thing I most remember were his two twin daughters. They were all silent and creepy.”

There was a knock at the door, and Marissa broke off their conversation to go and answer it. When she opened it she almost had a heart attack.

“Oh, it’s…you.”

“Hi,” Anney said, with a nervous smile. “Can I come in?”
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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So how was the rest of the world?
I cannot remember much.
 

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All's well that ends well, eh? The Hall of Records gone, rain falling, a bit of war in Africa... Yes, I'd say that counts as a happy ending. :) it's nice to have a bit of resolution at the end of this long, long tale. :)
 

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The End of Immortality: Part 2

80

I knew what was coming, of course, and I knew it was my fault, for it was I who opened the door between the material world and the realm of the spirits. It was I, also, who hid those hundred years, and it was Baron Samedi who made that hideous flag (without my foreknowledge, I add. We have not always been on good terms, and I did not appreciate him interfering with my best laid plans). I had no malicious intent; quite the opposite, in fact, but I was careless. The Criminal didn’t have a free rein, of course, and was made to struggle, but I left the door open just a little too wide, and now…well, let’s just say there is a sting in the tail. There always is.

It was time for the Vodou loas to leave the world and return to our home, the spirit lands. Pebble, Kwame, Lois and Miss Charlotte were gone forever; we were now simply Papa Legba, Baron Samedi, Erzulie and Mademoiselle Charlotte. We gazed down on the world, and as we did, Baron Samedi spoke, with anxiety in his voice:

“There is still one of our number down there, trapped in a human body. We need to-“

But I raised my hand, and smiled. “Don’t fear. She is returning. It won’t be long now.”

Baron Samedi nodded. “I hope your right. She owes me her soul.”

***​
Anney entered the apartment, and shut the door behind her.

“So, how’ve you been?” Anney said, and cringed slightly when she saw the ferocity of Marissa’s glare. “Okay, that was tasteless. Sorry.”

“Why are you here, Anney?” Marissa said, coldly.

“Well, there’s something I wanted to ask you.”

“Yes?”

“I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind taking one last trip with me, one final adventure.”

Marissa blinked. “Are you serious? Last time I ended up being turned into a parrot and spending several months in the worst place imaginable. Why the hell would I even consider going anywhere with you again, when I’m safe and I’m home.”

Anney told her. Marissa’s face softened.

“Oh.”

Anney raised her eyebrows. “Yeah.”

“So you found the map…?”

Anney nodded. “Eventually. It took some searchin’ but I got it. I woulda already gone, but I got waylaid by the whole goin’ to Circe’s island thing. I feel real bad asking, but I just want someone to be there when…”

Marissa sighed. “Okay, I guess you shouldn’t have to alone for that, even if you are a devious scoundrel.”

“Am I ever!”

“It’s going to be weird going on the Impossible again…”

Anney laughed. “The Impossible? Aw hell no, that pile of junk sank as soon as I got back to the city! The magic must’ve run out, or something. I think a regular old airship will the best way to go. It’s not far to Bimini. You could be back in Port-au-Prince by tomorrow morning.”

“Okay, I’ll just tell Pierre.”

With that done, they left for the Aerodock to catch the next airship to Bimini.

***​
They arrived at Alice Town Bimini Aerodock about four hours later, a docking station so small that it could only service one airship at a time that lay right next to the tranquil azure sea. Anney took out the map and walked with purpose through the small town while Marissa followed behind.

“This place is pretty tiny, so it shouldn’t take us long to find the place.” She eventually stopped outside a hotel, called the Compleat Angler. “It should be in here somewhere.”

“A hotel?” Marissa said, puzzled.

Anney shrugged. “So it seems. Come on, let’s go in and take a look.”

They walked in, and had a look around. The walls were covered in photographs of various ages, some so faded that it was almost impossible to make out what it was showing. There was also a room dedicated to Ernest Hemingway, who had spent several years living at the hotel back in the 1930s. Anney strode towards the bar while Marissa lagged, gazing at the photos. It was less like a hotel and more like a museum, she thought.

Anney approached a bored looking woman polishing a glass behind the bar, and said, “Scuse me, where are the toilets?”

The bartender glared. “We don’t just let people walk in here and use the toilet. You have to order a drink first.”

Anney sighed and rolled her eyes. “Okay, gimme a half-pint of beer.”

“What kind.”

“Any kind, I don’t care.”

The bartender pulled a half-pint of a beer called Honeydew, and handed it to Anney. She took the glass and downed it, and then put it back on the bar.

“Now can you tell me where the toilet is?”

“Through the courtyard out back, next to the gardens.”

“Thank you. Come on, Marissa.”

Marissa looked up, having been distracted by the photos and memorabilia. “Oh, right, coming.”

They passed through a quiet courtyard and came upon an old stone building that served as the toilets. Anney nodded. “It’s in here.”

“That’s…the toilets. It’s in the toilets? Seriously?”

Anney shrugged. “Well, you drink from the Fountain of Youth, so I guess it makes sense in a twisted kinda way.”

They entered the stone building, and it was immediately obvious that something in there was out of place. It was an old style urinal, on which were written the words “R Mutt, 1917.”

Anney laughed. “There it is. The Fountain of Death.”

ftn.jpg

Marissa opened her mouth and then closed it again, and then narrowed her eyes. “Wait a minute, R Mutt? That rings a bell…of course! Duchamp and his readymades! I remember I saw this in an art gallery when I visited Paris. It’s a work of art called…’Fountain’. Okay, that is pretty funny. But what the hell is it doing here?”

“I dunno. Art ain’t my thing.”

“Nor mine, really, but this is an iconic work of Dadaism…I remember it was stolen a while back. How come no one noticed it was here?”

“People tend not to notice a whole load of things.”

“And…that’s a men’s urinal. That’s pretty sexist if you think about it. Surely the Fountain of Death should be designed so that everyone can…use it comfortably.”

Anney laughed. “Yeah, death should be an equal opportunities endeavour. It’s gonna be kinda awkward, but I think I’ll manage.”

Marissa paused, and then shook her head. “Do you really think this is the right thing to do? I mean, if you…use the Fountain, that’s it. Or is it? Actually, what happens?”

I think,” said Anney, “that it is time I went. I’ve watched people I loved grow old and die, and stayed young throughout. I’ve had more than my fair share of time on this world. The whole thing’s starting to wear a bit thin. It’s a decision I made a long old time ago, and I gotta stick to it. No turning back now. Time to put out the fire.”

“Okay…” Marissa smiled. “I just can’t help but think the whole thing is a little bit undignified…”

Anney raised her brow. “I ain’t led a pretty life, and I haven’t been a good person for the most part. I deserve a bit of indignity, I think.”

They hugged, and Marissa waited outside. A minute later Anney staggered out, and stared at her hand. Her skin began to rapidly wrinkle, and Marissa watched as three hundred years passed in mere seconds.

“This is it,” she said quietly. “Time to go. See ya around, Marissa.”

Then the immortal fire died, and what had been Anney crumbled into a pile of dust.

***​
Anney found herself in a misty graveyard, filled with endless rows of tombs. The sky was black, and in front of her stood a figure she recognised well. He wore a top hat, a battered suit and in his hand held a lit cigar.

“Baron Samedi…?”

He grinned that grin of his. “You made it after all, Anne Bonny…or should I call you Maman Brigitte?”

Anney shrugged. “Either will do.”

Baron Samedi held out his arm and Anney/Maman Brigitte took it, and they walked away together into the mist.

***​
Marissa had spent a while staring at the dust, and then had ordered a couple of stiff drinks in the bar of the Compleat Angler. She wandered down towards the beach, and spent a while gazing at the rolling waves. She thought about everything that had happened, and wondered if it had all been real. She sat for fifteen minutes by herself, and eventually stood up.

“Ah well, time to head back home.”

No sooner had the words left her lips there was a blinding flash of light. Marissa cried out and covered her eyes, and after a moment of blindness she opened her eyes a peep. A small crowd of people had appeared around her, and she could hear them gasping in shock. She saw they were all looking out to sea, at something on the horizon. Marissa followed their gazes and saw it; a mushroom cloud. Several seconds later came a distant, rumbling boom.

She grabbed the nearest person, and said with palpable fear in her voice, “What direction is that?? Where did that come from?”

The person, an old man, shook his head. “Missy, that’s Port-au-Prince. Oh god, they gone and nuked Port-au-Prince. It’s the British! It’s gotta be something to do with this West Africa business. Curse those murderous dogs! Why would they do this to us? Oh god, why??”

Marissa sat down, shaking, numb. “It can’t be,” she murmured. “This isn’t real. None of it’s real. It can’t be, it can’t be…Pierre…”

The crowd dispersed but Marissa remained on the beach, entirely alone, shivering and muttering to herself as night fell. The Shade, in distant Mali, danced with delight. He had done his duty well. Circe hadn’t won in the end, but that didn’t matter to him; he had done exactly as asked by setting things in motion. The Criminal would be pleased.

Marissa didn’t look up as warplanes flew overhead, and soon Haiti was filled with the light of a thousand fires.

The End​











Pierre stopped typing, and looked at those final two words with satisfaction. At last, his story was complete. It had taken him nearly three years of writing, but finally, it was over. It was a meandering work, quite different from anything else he had ever tried to write before, but he felt as though it was somehow necessary for him to break away from his formula. What had originally been a simple story about an adventuring archaeologist called Minnesota Johnson (named after his cat) now bore no resemblance to his original concept, so much had it twisted and grown as he worked. It was now…well he didn’t quite know what it was. It was a monster.

Now, all he needed was a title. Eventually, he scrolled to the top of the document and typed, carefully, ‘The Lost Century.’
 
Last edited:

Stuyvesant

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Well, we were promised one more update, so hopefully this tale will end on a slightly less downbeat note. Then again, nuclear bombs are bright like the sun - so in a way, the nuking of Haiti can be seen as the arrival of Aurora...

Early on in the update, I was wondering in Anney was going to call it quits (the 'End of Immortality' title now makes sense - perhaps it burrowed into my subconscious). You're kinder to Anney than I was expecting - I feared she would have to drink from the toilet to achieve her mortality.

So we're back to the 'is it real, or is it all fiction' question. 'Fiction' would mean that Port-au-Prince was not nuked, but would that then mean that the cloudbusters are still there, that Circe is still out there, waiting to end the multiverse? In that case, what would be worse? And if it is all fiction, all figments of Pierre's imagination, then who is Pierre, and what part of him is real, and what part not?

I don't think I've used this many question marks in a response in many years. :)
 

Fiftypence

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Nuclear end. How sweet.
Epilogue?

Yes, one more update.

Well, we were promised one more update, so hopefully this tale will end on a slightly less downbeat note. Then again, nuclear bombs are bright like the sun - so in a way, the nuking of Haiti can be seen as the arrival of Aurora...

Early on in the update, I was wondering in Anney was going to call it quits (the 'End of Immortality' title now makes sense - perhaps it burrowed into my subconscious). You're kinder to Anney than I was expecting - I feared she would have to drink from the toilet to achieve her mortality.

So we're back to the 'is it real, or is it all fiction' question. 'Fiction' would mean that Port-au-Prince was not nuked, but would that then mean that the cloudbusters are still there, that Circe is still out there, waiting to end the multiverse? In that case, what would be worse? And if it is all fiction, all figments of Pierre's imagination, then who is Pierre, and what part of him is real, and what part not?

I don't think I've used this many question marks in a response in many years. :)

This final update might answer some of your questions.*

*or might raise several new ones which will never be answered
 

Fiftypence

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The end of the end

81

Pierre sat in a café on the deck of the HSS Port-au-Prince, sipping on a cup of imitation coffee. Through the large reinforced glass panels, he gazed out at the emptiness of space, interrupted only by the twinkling of the odd star here and there. He scratched his wrist; this new neurowatch implant of his was giving him some trouble, but it was worth it to finally be formally recognised as a cyborg. It wasn’t enough to be a mere human these days, it seemed, something that Pierre lamented. A robot waiter came over and offered him a top up, which he refused.

He saw his friend Molly approaching, and waved. She was carrying a copy of his manuscript, printed on paper harvested from the starship's arboretum, and when she saw him she waved back, and sat down opposite. Pierre looked at her hopefully.

“Well, what did you think?”

She indicated to the waiter that she wanted an imitation coffee, and then smiled nervously. “It was…good. Very complex, but a bit old-fashioned, if you ask me.”

“Well yeah, it is supposed to be. It is set over five hundred years in the past, after all.”

The robot waiter came and handed Molly her imitation coffee, which she took without acknowledgement. “There was just one thing that bugged me though.”

“Oh?”

“The ending…I mean, geez, a nuclear bomb and everyone dies? It did seem a bit harsh on poor Marissa, to be left all alone like that, especially after her experience in the void.”

Pierre shifted in his seat. “I admit, I was a bit anxious about ending it like that, but it’s crucial for the overall theme of the story. We can fall back on narratives all we like, but ultimately the universe is unpredictable, and will screw you over even when it looks like things are going well. Any semblance of meaning is, in the end, accidental. It’s really a story about the composition of itself.”

Molly frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well, the implication is that the story in Pierre’s mind develops as events unfold, starting off as a simple formulaic narrative but eventually becoming fractured and confused. In one sense, it’s the story of the story of Pierre’s creativity, and how the world around us influences the meaning we place upon the world. It ends with the death of the immortal; in that sense, it’s rejecting the idea of permanence and absolutes, in favour of a more subjective and idealist interpretation of the world.”

Molly’s eyes had glazed over, but she nodded anyway. “Right. Well, it was very…interesting, but a bit weird if I’m honest. And anyway, if it’s the work of Pierre, how could that work have survived if he died in the nuke?”

Pierre raised his brows. “Ah! That’s an interesting point. The truth is; Pierre didn’t die in the nuke, as he had a kind of extra sense when it came to impending disaster, as seen with his taking the day off work when the Calico Towers attack happened.”

“Okay, but what happened to my character? Molly just vanished…”

Pierre nodded. “I based Molly, to an extent, on the myth of Jesus, who was born, died and resurrected, and then ascended to another plane of being. So that's where she went. But of course, at the heart of the story is the idea of syncretism; that characters have varying aspects, so in another more obvious way she is the ancient pagan goddesses Aurora, Eos and Ushas, and the anthropomorphic personification Antillia. But then, she is also just a human being. This is similar to how Papa Legba is also associated with the Christian St Peter, but also St Anthony and St Lazarus, the Yoruba trickster Ellegua and in the story his human form Pebble. One figure, multiple identities.”

Molly finished her drink. “Well, it was an interesting read, but I need to get to work. The AMSER won't run itself!”

"Oh, by the way, thanks for letting me use the AMSER. It was very useful in developing the idea of the simulation. It could almost be considered the origin of the AMSER, if you like!"

"No problem."

Pierre smiled, and watched as she left. He then saw that he was growing feathers, and laughed slightly. In space of a few seconds he had transformed into a white dove, and he flew out between the atoms the reinforced glass out into the endless depths of space.

I watched, and I smiled with wistful eyes. That was better. I reached out my hand and, after a moment’s hesitation, turned out the lights.


The End
 
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Stuyvesant

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Stuy’s eyes had glazed over, but he nodded anyway. “Right. Well, it was very…interesting, but a bit weird if I’m honest.”

You certainly put a lot of thought into Pierre's thoughts - though I can't tell whether you're serious, or merely taking the piss. Or maybe you're doing both. :) Regardless, the occasional mental gymnastics (and the occasional 'What the hell?!' moment) only add to the tapestry of this work. And, against all odds, it ends in a tidy way. Yes, there are still questions, but on the whole, things have definitely resolved themselves.

Thanks for writing this, Fiftypence. It's been a story unlike anything else and it's been very enjoyable. Checking the Victoria forums will not be the same without it :). See you around, hopefully.
 

Enewald

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A good story I must say. Sometimes it would have been easier to the readers if the updates had been a bit more frequent.
What shall you write as next?
 

Fiftypence

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You certainly put a lot of thought into Pierre's thoughts - though I can't tell whether you're serious, or merely taking the piss. Or maybe you're doing both. :) Regardless, the occasional mental gymnastics (and the occasional 'What the hell?!' moment) only add to the tapestry of this work. And, against all odds, it ends in a tidy way. Yes, there are still questions, but on the whole, things have definitely resolved themselves.

Thanks for writing this, Fiftypence. It's been a story unlike anything else and it's been very enjoyable. Checking the Victoria forums will not be the same without it :). See you around, hopefully.

Thanks. It was serious, mostly, although not neccesarily true. The main question is; who is the first person narrator in the final line?

A good story I must say. Sometimes it would have been easier to the readers if the updates had been a bit more frequent.
What shall you write as next?

Yeah, my update schedule on this was rather...unusual, but forcing myself to update more frequently would be meant a worse story. I just got Divine Wind, so I might do something with that next. Either that or Vicky 2.