Sunday, 9 April 2017

Thespian

Raymond stepped out onto the stage. Rehearsed words flowed and he embraced his role. One of the lesser Capulets came to life in his hands, and he weaved himself into a well-known story. This was where he thrived, performing in front of a sold-out crowd. His colleagues similarly danced, and the story soon ran its course. Afterwards, backstage the alcohol flowed and they celebrated another performance, heartily congratulating each other.

Raymond had worked with the troupe for years, yet was still considered the rookie. It not a term of denigration, but rather affection. He was the youngest of the sizable group, and felt that he had acquired a significant number of older brothers and sisters. He had proven himself repeatedly, though it still rankled him that he was the first they turned to when performing roles such as Oliver Twist or Pinocchio. Nonetheless, he was happy and lived only for the next curtain call.

They traveled from city to city, living in caravans and on the road. At first the thought of no fixed abode had terrified him, but now the thought of tying himself down brought equal dread. He loved each new venue, with all its quirks and crowds. This wasn't even addressing the wealth of literature that had been opened to him. He sought out obscure plays and brought them to the light. Presenting them proudly to the others, often there would be excuses of expense or ability, but occasionally he would find one that resonated in all of them. To give them all a story to tell that hadn't been heard by the audience before.

After their most recent performance in Manchester, they were travelling through the night. The motion of the trailer coming to a halt woke Raymond. He blearily sat up in bed. A quick investigation yielded an overcast night, with a storm coming in the distance. He spied the head of the acting troupe, Bill, get out of his car, and approach shadowed figure at the roadside. Their conversation was short, but they both nodded, and the two shook hands. Bill got back in his car and the convoy continued it's journey. Raymond paid it no mind, and went back to sleep. He wasn't certain how long he slept, but was woken by Bill telling him they had arrived.

He stepped out of the trailer, and was immediately thrown by the fact it was still night. He looked questioningly at Bill, he assured him he had slept throughout the day. He was quickly pressed into the hard labour of moving their equipment into the venue. It was a tall dark building surrounded by scrub-land and open soil, little flora or fauna to speak of. The horizon yielded no clues. The building itself was basic, unvarnished wood, crooked panels and seemingly rushed. Within it was a different story, with a fully functional stage, orchestral pit, a vast auditorium and boxes looking down on all.
The lead up to performance was a blur. The script for the evening was one of his discoveries. A story of a young woman, of temptation and disaster. He had read the script aloud to them, and Bill's eyes had lit up. If Raymond hadn't known better he would have sworn that he recognized it. He had immediately declared that he knew exactly where to perform such a masterpiece.

As he waited backstage, he snatched a glance between the curtains. What he saw demanded a follow-up inspection. The audience was wrong. Some were just ...darkness...as if light could not escape them. Others had exaggerated limbs or far too many heads. There was not a single normal individual among them. He turned away from the curtain his mouth open to shout warnings to his compatriots when he came face to face with Bill.

"Never you mind Boy, Everyone else already knows. We are here to tell a story and that’s exactly what we are going to do."

Conflicting emotions danced across his face, until he eventually bolted them down. The night accelerated again.

They plunged into the performance, and Raymond found his main objective in not focusing on the audience. The story soon drew to a climax in the third act, and Raymond was shaken by the realization that the audience were supporting the antagonist of the play, a role held by Bill. He watched fascinated as the morality was redesigned in front of him. Eventually Bill finished the scene with a speech that roused the audience into ovation
.
At this point, one entity broke away from the audience and approached the stage. As it neared, Bill stepped forward and crouched at the edge of the stage. Dark tendrils extruded from a darker mass, and started to encompass Bill. Bill relaxed in their grasp, and was pulled close to the creature. All the actors on the stage froze, an stared intently. The only exception, Raymond, looked around wildly. Why was no-one panicking?

From the entwined couple, there came a deep whispering. It cut through the air but was indecipherable. With a jolt, Bill was released and collapsed back onto the stage. Next came a low basing throb that increased to ear-splitting levels. Just before it became unbearable, there was a thunderclap and the audience vanished.

The actors rushed forward to help Bill, and were relieved to find him breathing. They had packed up and went on the way. Raymond found that none of the group would address to him what had just happened. They did not seem concerned or confused, but merely went about the same routine of stowing the equipment. Eventually Raymond approached Bill, who was recovering with a glass of wine backstage.

"Thanks for the performance kid. "

"Bill, what happened on the stage there?"

"That was just a little.....feedback from the audience. Helps you to hone your skills."

"They are the audience. That is all that matters."

At this point Bill was called away, and Raymond was left with his thoughts. His anxiety did not subside over the coming weeks as he noticed a marked improvement in Bill's ability and range.  There seemed to be a trade-off, however. The more lively and animated he was on the stage, the more withdrawn and emotionless he became off it. The head of the troop soon lived just to be called from his dressing-room as his compatriots found his company too uncomfortable.

Raymond had watched closely and considered the deal. It was all conjecture as they were unlikely to find another script like that. That was until he stumbled across one a month later. It turned out that the first play had merely been the start of a series, and this continuation chronicled the antagonist raising a protégé. The happenstance of the story was not lost on Raymond, and he had hid the script deep within his belongings. That was 2 days ago. He has been sat considering the deal for hours, thinking of what impact he could make.

He wants to be baptized in flashlights.

Raymond smiles. At his next performance he is going to get to meet his audience.

Teleportation

The invention of teleportation heralded a new age of civilization. Within an unassuming British government think-tank, a young intern placed the metaphorical 2 and 2 together and revealed what was felt to be rather obvious afterwards. A process that allowed for the transportation of matter. At least that was how it was billed initially. It revolutionised the world. Commerce and Transportation were rendered obsolete when it was possible to travel anywhere on the planet in seconds.

For several years the world enjoyed the freedom of exploring places that were previously inaccessible. A restaurant was built at the peak of Everest. Space travel exploded once gravity was no longer an enemy. Multiculturalism reached an all-time high, and the concepts of borders had to be redefined. The world entered a Golden Age, and rejoiced that for once it had created a technology that could not be turned on it's fellow man.

Eventually, researchers made a shocking discovery. Attempts were made by the government to suppress the information, but once it was released, the bell could not be unrung. The device was not transporting people. It was using manipulation of quantum probability to create a duplicate. Pat of the process was that the same analysis of the subject resulted in it's destruction, and the duplicate continued on, oblivious to the fact that it had only just been created. It retained all memories, and for all intents and purposes was the same person. At least this is what the advertising screamed as the P.R. departments went into crisis control.

The world did not take this well.

The realisation swept across the globe that more or less everyone was a duplicate, which led to a period of cynicism and depression. There were reports of society breaking down in remote parts and vandalising their teleportation pads. Some secluded themselves, others had full-on existential psychotic breaks in public. It was through the efforts of teams across the world that a solution was formed. Anew form of energy conduction was discovered. Drawing on the previously thought lost documents of Nikolai Tesla. Fresh advances were made in the wireless energy transfer. Eventually the Mark 2.0 was announced. The process was similar with one key difference. The neural energy of the brain was conducted and broadcast to the duplicate, overriding the duplicated personality.

The general consensus was that this was as good as the same person, and the world resumed the Golden Age. It may be noted that there was an air of desperation in how quickly the populace seized this development. Expansion continued, and soon pads were being remotely landed on any surface scientists could find in the solar system. A wealth of knowledge was revealed across the spheres and science responded in kind with leaps and bounds.

Soon a new form of scanner was developed that could analyse the subject down to a molecular level, but did not need to destroy it. This gave rise to a new form of cloning that provided instantaneous results. The energy was distributed evenly between the two individual, and allowed both to retain full memories. A new culture arose as the numbers of duplicates increased.

At first it was a rocky affair with several years spent redefining society once again as the concept of identity was shaken. Numerous cases of identity fraud were reported, of crimes that were impossible to solve to reasonable doubt, of suspicion and doubt. Eventually society learned that if it was to continue its expansion, it needed to accept this new aspect of the population. Once embraced, they thrived.

Sexuality required new labels, and individuals referring to themselves as Narcisexuals arose. Beings who only held a sexual attraction to copies of themselves. The morality of this was held in question for a long time and eventually abandoned as trying to apply the morals of old was becoming increasingly difficult. The last fragments of several religions around the world still sparked and railed against the device, citing it an instrument of destruction, and seductress of the innocent. They boycotted the device, claiming superiority of being 'original' humans.

With the rapid expansion that came with duplication, the government quickly saw the issues that could arise, whilst resources could be duplicated using the same process, energy was trickier. The realms that were being dabbled in still were not fully understood. Energies obtained from this process were unpredictable and difficult to contain. And the process required significant energy in the first place. To this end, the government slipped a small patch into the teleportation subroutines that would slowly render the population sterile. This was revealed some years later, and surprisingly did not cause the controversy expected. In actual fact, the majority of population whilst annoyed at the way that it was implemented understood the reasoning behind it.

Eventually memory storage increase to the point where templates could be saved and utilised. This allowed individuals to scan themselves, and retain the body for later use should anything non-fatal happen to them. A 'save point', if you will. Manipulation of the data allowed the age of the created duplicate to be controlled. Soon the population was raising clones of themselves.

It was at this point that new revelation was announced. Experimentation with subjects had led to the discovery that the duplication process could work both ways. Two subjects could be merged to become one. The amalgamated being was a balance between the two subjects, retaining both sets of memories and significantly improved health and lifespan. In this, the government found the answer to the resource crisis. At first new social cultures were implemented. It became normal that once a couple had lived for a set time together, they would be expected to merge and become a single entity, taking their relationship to the next level. This caused trepidation at first, but was eventually explored out of curiosity. At this point, the individuals of the human race were for all intents and purposes immortal due to the device. It allowed the body to be reset to the beginning of the day, and had removed the need for concepts such as sleeping or eating. Food was still enjoyed for pleasure, but any time someone felt hungry, they would transmit themselves to an earlier version when they weren't.

At first the unions of people were referred to as Amalgams, but as the numbers of people combining themselves grew, a new term was coined. Gestalts. These were beings that were naturally long-lived. Wise far beyond their years, drawing upon the collective insights of dozens, if not hundreds of people. Their natural ability allowed for them to rise to the top of society and governments were replaced with a ruling class that had no concept of self, merely all. Corruption and Bureaucracy was eliminated overnight as society was streamlined. The population started to decrease rapidly as the allure of being one of the gestalt grew stronger.

That was when the catastrophe occurred. A huge solar flare exploded out from the surface of the Sun, and a tsunami of radiation washed across the heliosphere. There was time to prepare, but the only workable solution that could be posited was to merge as much of the remaining population together as possible. This was due to the difficulty in shielding against the radiation. The bunkers were comprised of unstable particles that would not allow any form of matter or energy to pass through, but could not be duplicated. This left limited space in the bunker that was built, and the population rapidly dwindled and unified so that all would fit in.

Surprisingly few stayed behind, as the thought of death was far more terrifying in a world of technologically-supported immortality. Deep within the bunker use of the machines was limited and rations started to dwindle. Eventually the decision was made to continue merging the remaining gestalts so as to extend the resources, and after much soul-searching, only one single being was left. The complete amalgamation of the human race. It knew more or less everything, was infiitely patient and had a lifespan that could be measured in ice-ages. It unfortunately could not do anything as it still remained trapped within the bunker. All possible locations within the solar system were equally deadly, and all that could be done was to sit and think.

It was close to despair, with many decades spent considering all possible options when one was handed to it. Haley's Comet came screaming into the solar system as a part of it's orbital cycle. The being ran the calculations, and discovered a responding signal coming from an archaic base that had been set up of the comet. A still active teleportation pad with a basic survival habitat. After confirming the timing needed, the being managed to teleport to the comet just as it left the toxic grip of the radiation cloud.

Prior to teleportation, the being had passed as much of the remaining resources onto the comet. It now found itself plunging in to the black of deep space. Apply solar sails to the comet, he started to steer it away from its well-beaten path to a new destination. Studies had revealed a planet that could support life, and allow them to flourish. It was working on a new subroutine for the device that would allow for a vast splitting of its personality, for many of the individuals within its mind to be reasserted.

It would start afresh, and repopulate the human race on a new world. It drifted into the darkness with hope in its heart.

Escalation

The being was a scientist. That was the role allocated to him when he coalesced, as his need for understanding was felt by the collective. Theirs was an abstract plane, where thought was reality and nothing was constant. The Being had no name, as their perception of the universe allowed knowledge of all and formalities were pointless. Any communication was asserted through pure thought. Through manipulation of higher dimensional planes, they could move through the lower dimensions and study the wonders stored there.

New studies from the the Being had revealed the existence of Duration. This intrigued the collective, as they had always been. In their plane all things happened at the same time, instantly and yet eternal. This caused some paradoxical moments as the collective considered that it had always known this fact, yet had only just learned it. The collective judgement was that Time was an annoying aspect of the lower dimensions that refused to behave or stand still.

The Being sought further and eventually uncovered spatial dimensions beneath that, inexplicably tied to duration yet different in their nature. It descended into the lower levels and started to explore. The Being initially compressed itself to the initial 3 dimensions, and manifested within Space-time. Within moments, the being realised that it had made a mistake. His corporeal body was billions of miles in radius and enveloped a star that instantly destabilised and collapsed. The Being leapt back up to the 5th dimension, realising that its studies of the ratios of microcosm and macrocosm were incorrect, and this had been magnified the further down it  went. It adjusted his standing in the fifth, before descending again.

It reasserted in deep space as a metre wide sphere, translucent and shining. A brief inspection beheld a forming galaxy several thousand light years away. A brief hop to a higher dimension allowed them to traverse the distant without antagonising Einstein. It  drifted taking in the sights and experiencing concepts of length, width and breadth. The being found the reality constrictive and empty at the same time.

Eventually they witnessed dust clouds condensing and forming into celestial bodies. It had found that he could accelerate the passage of time, and watched the birth of a solar system. After some objectively significant time had passed, it noted that some of the planets were becoming active, and descended to one. He floated across the landscape, studying the strange mechanics of reality, discovering the laws of physics, and the composition of chemistry within seconds. Eventually he came across a puddle of assorted elements, bubbling with heat. Here the Being lingered. Reality hummed here, a point of potential with radically different possibilities. It swept back the reality veil momentarily and regarded the waveform potentials that deviated from this point.

Most showed the formation of a concept that he was not familiar. Beings that came into existence for an exceptionally brief time, procreated and passed on genetic material. The being considered whether it's own state of existing could be comparable, but found an unfamiliar fear set in when he considered the concept of its own non-existence. The being plucked a harmonic string that extended off to literal infinity, and then gave the tableau space.

A bolt of lightning hammered into the pool, and the being witnessed Terra's first tenants. After several minutes, the being came to the conclusion that things may be a little more interesting further along this species timeline. It jack-rabbited forwards through time, taking glimpses of events mediocre, epic and profound. It especially appreciated concepts of art and culture, and looked forward to introducing these ideals to the collective. Eventually the creatures started to evolve further, and a rapid onset of technology witnessed them abandoning a dying planet in search of newer pastures. The being watched the tenacious creatures as they sought out, and for a moment felt a brief sense of loss.

Perturbed and annoyed, the creature decided to descend further. It found a two dimensional plane lodged at the based of space-time. A reality of pure information, it realised that the third dimension projected out of this plane. The third dimension was a side effect of the second dimension. It experimented, manipulating the flow of information in the second to create physics defying events in the third.  This did not keep its attention for long. It sought further and found the first dimension. A plane of only length that edged along the second dimension. The reality was minimal with little information gleaned. Nothing existed there, and the being found itself bored again. It looked further down the scale and glimpsed something, right at the edge. A reality of no dimensions. A point. A singularity.

Desperate for something new, it plunged in. When it became aware in the new reality, it instantly realised that it encompassed everything. The was no concept of size or shape, simply that It Was. Initially thrown off balance, the being started to collate what little date it could find, and when satisfied prepared to leap back up to more familiar realities. It found itself restrained. It could not move as it was everything, and eventually it stopped struggling.

After some consideration and no small amount of panic, the being eventually resigned itself to the fact that it was trapped. It considered all it options and found that it's current state of being was ill-equipped to address the problems in front of it. It considered the creatures of Terra, and the possibilities of the multiple over the singular.

The being separated itself into two beings, attributing specific aspects of it's being to each so as to created two different beings. The experiment was a success and the beings set to work on their problem. They once again ran into a metaphorical wall. Eventually, after may separations a new collective existed. All looked up seeking a way back to a home they no longer had a concept of, but just a feeling or instinct. One day a being coalesced whose curiosity and thirst for knowledge resonated in the collective. It was allocated to be a scientist. It started to look further down.......

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Theology


            Nuclear fire swept across the landscape, searing flora and fauna alike.  A Tidal wave of flame and death that purged and sterilised. Regarded from afar, the firestorm was joined by many more, blooming into existence like lotuses. They merged together until they full encompassed the Earth. For one terrible moment, all that was still alive on the planet knew nothing but pain. The mantle cracked and the celestial body fractured. The Earth entered its final death throes, as cruel gravities tore it apart.


               “Did any of you guys see that?”


                Buddha regarded the shattered sphere. He watched the last fires sputter out as the atmosphere boiled, and turned questioningly to the group.

               “Of course I did, I’m All-Seeing………But why don’t you explain for the benefit of the others?”

                Buddha rolled his eyes. He was a relatively non-threatening small fat man. In one hand he grasped a wine gourd, and a smile continuously played across his lips He glanced over at…. well here was the problem. They guy insisted on being called God. Problem was that they were all gods and this made conversation a little confusing. He was the Judeo-Christian God, and if Buddha was honest he was a little sold on his own hype. A tall well-built man, with long dark hair and a beard clad in white robes.

               “The Earth, it seems to have given up the ghost!”

                God joined Buddha, surveying the devastation.

                “This certainly wasn’t my work. Anyone else have a hand in this? Shiva, this has your M.O. written all over it”

                Shiva glared at God. A beautiful blue-skinned being, with multiple arms extending from her torso, her hands constantly danced in hypnotic patterns and in their own language described the history of the Everything.

                 “Pack it in. You know I promised to run it past everyone before I did anything like that again.”

                 “All I’m saying is that last time we turned our backs we got the Asteroid Belt. I wouldn’t put it past you to ‘let off a little steam’ again.”

                Shiva shrug, a gesture magnified by the overabundance of appendages.

“It wasn’t me”

                She turned to two other beings. They were identical, perfect individuals, with skin that flowed with swirls of black and white, however whatever was projected on one, was inverted on the other. They spoke simultaneously, with voices distinctly different that resonated perfectly together.

                “It seems a balance was disturbed. A small strike escalated into global war and they wiped themselves out. They seem to have a real predilection for that.”

                God shifted uncomfortably.

                “That’s all well and good, Tao, but we need to ascertain who was responsible. Did you happen to be paying attention?”

                At this point a second confident booming voice rang out to crowd from a distance.

               “Are you going to be much longer? We’ve been waiting literally ages”

   The motley pantheon turned to inspect several factions of people, mostly dressed in white robes, all decidedly human looking. They appeared to be engaged in a social gathering, but were currently acting as an audience to Terra’s demise.

“Zeus, I assure you that as soon as we are ready to start again, we’ll let you know. Until then just polish your lightning bolts or something. You had your chance and you failed.”

“No need to be like that, and don’t think I haven’t forgiven your for stealing my look.”

“Well, you know what they say. To err is human…”

“Oh, fuck off.”

Zeus turned back to his compatriots and continued their toga party. Buddha chuckled to himself.

“Considering all your similarities, I would have thought Zeus and you would get along better.”

“If I wanted to hang out with someone similar, I would give Allah a call more often. Zeus is just a dick. Remember the century long sex marathon through Europe. His damned offspring were cropping up everywhere after that”

Shiva smiled at God

“And of course he’s the only one who ever…indulged, right?”

God glared at Shiva. The subject of his child had been a sore point for him for a while now. He was truly a jealous God, and they had even had the gall to name the religion after his son. He was not happy about having to share the limelight, even with family.

“Don’t start. Just because it’s been a couple of centuries since the crusades doesn’t mean I don’t know how to bring down the thunder. Can we get back on track here? What happened to the Earth.”

Tao reversed time to a few moments before the tragedy, and they all scrutinised carefully. Eventually Tao’s voices rang out in triumph.

“We’ve found them. It’s a member of the Russian Army. An electrical fault in his warning system led him to believe he was witnessing the start of an all-out assault against his country and he responded in kind.”

God waved his hands at the two.

“Yes, yes. But get to the important stuff. What religion was he?”

“It seems he didn’t have one. Atheist.”

As one the rest of the group sagged in disappointment. Despite his displeasure, Buddha still grinned at the others.

“House wins”

God stared dejectedly at the earth as the devastation started to play at once again.

“I had the leader of the free world following my bloody book. It was practically a certainty. I really thought I was going to win this time.”

He swept a hand across the fragmented tableau and it started to reassert itself into a sphere.

“Give a Zeus a shout that we are restarting. This time I thinking we push the crocodiles rather than the apes. Might up the hostility and speed things up.

Who else fancies another game?”

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Ignorance


The prisoner awoke in the cell with a jolt. He scrabbled, both mentally and physically, as he sought an answer. Any answer. He realised that none were forthcoming. Several moments of careful self-reflection informed him that he had no knowledge of his identity. He had no recent memories at all. There were some ragged, distant childhood memories, but nothing of substance. He rose from the stiff, starched bed, and inspected his surroundings. There was little to see. His confinement was featureless.

                Apart from the bed stood a desk and chair. On it, a large number of books were stacked. He staggered to the surface and started to take in their titles. Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche. The Republic by Plato, Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama. He glanced across the books in confusion. He saw copies of the Bible and the Quran, as well as other religious texts.

                He walked away and sat on the bed in confusion. He was still reeling from the void in his mind, and the books just raised further questions. He stared in silence. An hour later, a meal tray slid into the room from a previously hidden slot a floor level. It was basic and functional food, bland but filling. He reflected on the position of not knowing the last time he had eaten.

                He sat, masticating and cogitating, staring at the towers of knowledge.

                It was an hour before he opened the first book.

                The director watched the events of the cell play out with interest. This was the start of physical trials, and he hoped that it would bear fruit. The director was no-one special, just another government official who had be tasked with addressing the numbers of the reoffenders entering back into prison populations. He had looked at the conundrum for months before the revelation struck him. The problem wasn’t with the punishment. It lay in the perpetrators. They didn’t understand the ramifications and repercussions. The prisoner was currently being repeatedly drugged with a chemical that prevented the recall of any short-term memory. It meant he had no recollection of holding up a liquor store and beating a female worker into submission. The intent was to restructure his code of ethics and morals until he could appreciate how truly wrong his actions were. This is where the books came in, tomes collected from throughout history to allow the subject to redevelop their sense of right and wrong to higher level. Once they had a better understanding, then the drugs could be withdrawn and they would be allowed to experience their guilt and remorse properly. It would take some time, but he knew it would be an education for both of them.

                The prisoner was feeling anxious. The feeling had been growing for a couple of days, ever since he noticed a change in the taste of the food. The books had been a welcome distraction, and he had hungrily devoured the contents. The information had often been conflicting with no clear message, and he was forced to draw his own conclusions. In time he started to realise that was the point.

                Now he felt something new. Up until recently his memories had been a vacuum, but now he was starting to distinguish their shape. Elements danced infuriatingly in his mind. He tried to bury himself in another volume, but his mind would not allow him to focus. Tears started to stream down his face, and for the life of him he could not understand why.

                The director watched the prisoner with mixed emotion. The man was guilty of his crimes, there was no question of that, but the changes he had rendered into the man’s personality had produced a new individual. It was upsetting to watch him slowly hit by the revelation of his actions. The man had been sobbing for two hours. He had previously been so confident, now he found his motivations questionable. He had actually talked to the tech guys about making the memory removal permanent, but they insisted it would require constant upkeep to maintain. He had realised that he needed to allow the man to face his demons, whatever the scars they inflict.

                The administrator studied the monitors overseeing the experiment. The director had not realised in volunteering his project he would become a part of it, and he was being scrutinised as much as the prisoner. It was a good idea. Teach the prison populace to feel remorse. But why stop there? Given enough time and resources you could do this to anybody, hell everybody. It would be easier to keep a society in order. He watched the administrator start to cry. His involvement was important. What kind of individual could be tasked with the restructuring of someone’s morals? These questions were important, and heralded further research. This would pave the way to a crime-free society.  He felt righteous.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Rites

The Mage clasped his hands together in anticipation. He had had a name once, long ago, but now was only referred to in hushed tones as the Mage. He had been like this ever since he mastered his first spell. A simple flame technique that allowed someone to start a fire. At the age of 12 he burned his school bully alive in his home, along with 6  other members of the family. He had watched from a hiding place until the former blaze was embers, and was shocked to find he felt no remorse whatsoever.

With the realization that magic could resolve alot of the obstacles he would come across in life, he plunged into the ancient tomes, greedily devouring what he found, and utilising it to craft new arcane knowledge to bend reality in ways not previously conceived. The way had not always been straight, and often he had been required to shake hands with entities that would drive a normal man insane, but his ascent had lead to first cohorts, then mercenaries, then armies, and finally conquest. His name had poured across the land as he perpetrated atrocities cosmic on his fellow man.  He had defeated all that had stood before him, and was free to ransack knowledge wherever he could find it.

As he had become older, the age-old fear of age had set in. He became bitter and reproachful that all he had built within himself would be claimed by the sands, and there was not way of holding it back. Until new knowledge arose. A monastery had been discovered, hidden away in a forest. The marauders, a collection of his more dangerous biological experiments from his younger years, had made short work of the holy men, and one had retained enough cohesive thought to bring one alive to him.

He had spiritually flayed the man, one layer at a time. He had torn his essence to shreds, and in his final pain filled delirium he had started to babble of immortality. The Mage had searched for this before and found no-one had been able to defy the Reaper. He could be temporarily averted, but never discouraged. The monk provided the details of a stockpile of spells deemed too dangerous for mortal perception, and they had been sealed away. He had been uncharacteristically merciful, and put the monk out of his misery. The journey was long and arduous, taking him through mountains and deserts. He proved his determination many times over, and finally claimed that which he sought.

He had retreated to his sanctum, a safe room hidden within the spaces that focused his energies, a turned his attention the scroll. The text revealed a ritual, one where all primary, secondary and tertiary elements were represented. The rite allowed mastery of all reality, specifically over the casters self, and prevented  time from ravaging. A surprising simple spell, it had been easy to replicate. He incited the tones, and stood within the circle. After a couple of moments, he started to feel that he may have been cheated. With nothing happening, he strode to the circle edge. He found invisible resistance at the circumference, and started to hammer against it. He desperately conjured up sourceries, and found they splashed uselessly against the walls of his prison.

After a couple more moments, the air outside the circle started to bubble and foam. A figure materialised, and with a start the Mage realised it was the holy man. The man smiled, and waggled a finger at the Mage. There was a sound of glass shattering and reality fragmented around the man. When it reasserted itself, it revealed a much taller man, with skin of white marble. His eyes were glass, and his hair was thick oil that constantly poured down his back. The Mage felt the resonating malevolence through the shield and realised that he found himself in front of the the first evil, The Devil. The Fallen smiled and spoke with a voice of gravel and shards.

"Right Now? Not much of a threat. But someday in the future? Who knows. The reason I have never been usurped is because I make sure I don't have competition. You wanted immortality, thats fine. I don't want you in Hell anyways. Who knows what an enterprising little stain like you could achieve. "

The mage scrabbled for words as confusion reigned.

"I wouldn't try and overthrow you. I mean it's you?! I wouldn't dare hold myself to your level"

"I've watched and noted that your are not satisfied with what you have, constantly pursuing constantly devouring. Give it time and you'll be eyeing my throne. I've seen it before, and this is not the first time I've sent someone like you on a chase for this little ritual.You will now never die. You will never leave that circle. And no-one else will ever enter this sanctum again."

He raised a hand, and was in mid-gesture when the mage screamed.

"Please, have mercy. Was I not merciful to your avatar when I gained what I sought?"

The Devil leered at him.

"You're right. I tell you what. I may even visit occasionally."

He disappeared in a shower of ash.  The Mage stared at the dissipating cloud. He sat down cross legged and started to brood. He could wait.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Recursion

We've all done it. That moment when we are staring into the middle distance and we think "I'm gonna remember the date and time, and if they ever invent time travel, I'm coming back to this moment." This is often followed by a pause to await potential chronal arrivals. As far as I know, this has never borne fruit. I certainly would have laughed at any who claimed it. At least up until about half an hour ago.

I was watching a movie in my lounge when I just zoned out and started playing with my phone. A glance at the date and time triggered the familiar thought process. I chuckled and continued watching the movie. Suddenly, my phones tones rang out. With everything I had been thinking a couple of seconds earlier, this succeeded in momentarily scaring the shit out of me.

It was a number I didn't recognize, more digits than I expected, and one of them was...off. I don't know,  I think it was an 8 but it made my brain itch.  Curiosity at this point would have killed me if I hadn't answered the phone. I heard breath on the line, but nothing was coming for a couple of seconds.

Me: Hello?

?: Matt, is that you? 

Me: This is Matt, who is this?

?: Fuck me, it worked. Look I'm not gonna get much time. I'm you.

Me: ...what?

?: Look, in the very near future some really bright sparks are gonna work out how to send signals back. Look, we need to speed this up. You ask me to prove it, I recite the name of every stuffed toy you've ever kept, you say that's not enough, I then list every girlfriend you've ever had, including Anita Wright, the one you didn't tell anyone about. You freak out for a couple of seconds, but we need to get to the part where you start listening to me.

I went cold. I hadn't told anyone about Anita. There was not other explanation. He sounded like me. Talking to him was confusing and comfortable at the same time. In the background I started to hear shouting and a what sounded like something heavy hitting wood.

?:I didn't want to make this call, because of everything it triggers, but I realise that I don't have a choice. You have to get out. Get out of the city, away from civilization, away from other people. It's all about to go to shit, and -

The hammering in the background rose to a crescendo and the voices became clear rapidly approaching our conversation.

?:Get the fuck away from me, you psychos. You killed millions. We can fix it with this, just give me a chance-

He was cut-off mid-sentence. I could hear choking, gurgling noises and I realised he was being strangled. It can take a long time for some to die from strangulation. At least it felt long. He (I?) finally succumbed and there was silence. I heard the receiver get picked up. A clipped British accent resonated down the line.

?:Are you still there?

Me:...yeah, what the fuck is going on?

?: Pay no mind to this. Forget this call. Move on. 

Me:You expect me to just forget this?

?: Well, if you can't I guess I'll be seeing you soon. Good Luck.

The line went dead. I sat in a state of shock for a couple of minutes, trying to process what I had just experienced. On a whim, I tried to dial back the number. All I got was the front-desk of some university. It was answered by a bubbly receptionist. She seemed nice.

This brings us to the alleged present. Where do I go from here?
What do I do?