Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Last Bastion

He floated out among the Transient Spaces, too exhausted to even rebuild his vessel. He reached out his hand, sparing energy he didn't have to rejuvenate a dying galaxy. Here at the very fringes of the Edge Zones, where the battle was waged, the physical realm was sparse and even more sparsely populated. A distant arm of the galaxy in God's hand contained the home of an ancient sentient species. They'd moved their galaxy here to observe the battle, knowing the slim chance of survival, but desperately needing to record the event. Their scanning instruments focused on the deity that had saved them and they offered up a hymn of thanks, engaging all sentient life in that galaxy to add their prayers, knowing what focused worship could do for a supreme being. That worship brought strength back to God's weary presence. He used that energy to send the galaxy far away, then fortify the barriers for the next attack.

Far off into infinity, across the great emptiness, darkness roiled and swelled. He had cast it out, so many eons ago, and so had been able to tame the universe and populate it with beings of his own creation. Now the dark had returned, threatening his universe with the devastation of pure chaos. Fortunately, God had seen the darkness coming when it was still thousands of millennia out and engineered a species designed to combat and nullify the dark. He'd stayed with them as long as he could, then, forced to confront the darkness directly, left his people to develop on their own, sending messengers with knowledge and technology just before he left.

It had been a couple thousand years since he'd activated the Savior protocol. Through a half-mortal proxy, new technology and abilities should have been granted to his little super-hominids beyond the simple tools and philosophies his first messengers had given. Over a few centuries, his proxy should have expanded their minds to hold the knowledge they'd need to make war on the dark, teaching them the illuminated language of God. Further instructions passed on during the Prophet cycle should have allowed them even greater understanding of the vast powers granted by the Savior protocol. He'd been broadcasting specific instructions relating to the coming war against the dark via sensitives over the centuries, and if his people had followed them, they would be prepared for the worst.

Then the last of God's barriers broke and the darkness invaded the universe in a great rushing wave. God raced ahead, outpacing the darkness by mere decades, arriving on Earth with less than a century until the darkness overwhelmed them. He stood mighty in the sky, his countenance spanning the horizon. In his own language, spoken first by the stars when they were young, God rallied his people to him.

After a pause just long enough to be unsettling, humanity looked up at God and said, "Huh?"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Old Ones

Hers was the light, the radiant beam from heaven that shone down upon us.  She was the herald, the voice, the emissary.  She would lead the First Ones home, so our Makers could walk among us again.  She told us all of this, in our own languages, using imagery and myth from our own religions.  She sang scripture from the skies above sprawling cities, healed the sick with a kiss, sanctified the desert, making it fertile.  All flocked to her, seeing a savior.  There were none who disbelieved.  The most fundamentalist zealot knelt beside the most cynical of atheists in worship of her.  She loved us, she said, filling us with joy.  But hers was nothing to the love of the First Ones.  The First Ones are love, she would tell us, they are love incarnate.  Her miracles had been wrought, she explained, to make the world holy enough for its creators to return to.

The First Ones came among us as solid light.  Walking prism-men that dwarfed the tallest skyline strode across the surface of the world and called it small.  They convened in a crystalline structure that folded space in 10 dimensions and a man approached their merged hard-light forms, proposing to meditate upon them.  At the 10th second of the 10th minute of the 10th hour of the 10th day, he finally saw past the humble 3 dimensions of human perception, first seeing time become solid around him, then the latter 6 opened with increasing impossibility.  When he unlocked the 10th dimension, his mind went, drawn from him, peeled off from his soul as it uploaded to the vast hypercomputers of the Third Ones.

And so did all the great thinkers and holy people come to the First Ones, gazing deep into their 10-dimensional geometry.  As with the first, they all become operating software for the machines that map the multiverse, as one with the precision devices of the Third Ones.  Their still-living bodies were guarded by those left behind, those who remained to prepare for the coming of the Second Ones: living nightmares, a failed god experiment.

And then she rose again, her light once more a beacon, no longer dimmed by the radiance of the First Ones.  Her light split the Second Ones asunder as they came, casting daylight into the shadowy murk that sustained them.  Their shades were captured among their creators' prism bodies, to be returned to the edge of the universe that spawned them.

We are the Tenth Ones, the Last Ones, called the Empty Ones by the uncharitable among the shimmering choirs.  

None will come after us.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Wizard's Lament

The wizard sat in his tower, gazing out the window toward the horizon.  The sun had set a few moments ago, but it's light still lingered just enough, a guttering candle at the edge of the world.  At last even that final remnant of day faded and night settled in.  The wizard sighed and stood, crossing the small bedroom to the stairs that led to his library and observatory.  As he climbed, he smiled wryly.  At least the job afforded him the luxury of books and instruments.  He'd lived in enough hermit's caves during his career to appreciate a warm bed and a place for a telescope. 

The sky wasn't clear enough for stargazing, so he took down one of his older spellbooks and set to memorizing a chapter.  A wizard was always studying, or so his old masters taught him.  And it was true.  Any wizard who wanted to be worth a damn was always studying.  With another sigh, he put the book down and closed his eyes, leaning his head back in the big comfortable armchair in one corner of the library.

He remembered when he'd been worth a damn, back when the world needed wizards, when creatures from the Outer Dark threatened all humankind and only the wizards stood to bar their way.  He remembered that last battle, his victory leading him to this job, that of the Court Magician for the Ch'Ten Empire.  The wizard shook his head.  He who had once wrestled a demigod back down into the netherworld now spent his days making jeweled light for courtiers and children.  He had saved them all from everlasting darkness and they made him their pet, demanding pretties and amusements because they couldn't comprehend what he'd saved them from.  If they'd known what he'd sacrificed, at what price he'd bought their salvation...  He shook his head.  No, they'd have done nothing different.

He rose from his chair, crossing to the balcony outside the observatory.  He looked out over this world he'd saved, the one he'd given up his dearest love for, and he wondered why he bothered.  Most of the world really wasn't worth saving, and the parts that were became fewer and smaller each year due to the efforts of those that weren't.  Just six months prior, the Merchant Princes leveled a sacred wood, the sentient trees of its Hidden Grove falling to axe and saw.  When the wizard went before the Princes, and then before the monarchs of the Seven Kingdoms, to protest the slaughter, his listeners just smiled politely. They made many deep and grave pronouncements, lauding his honor and his bravery, his skill as a wizard, all while mourning the loss of such venerable trees.

"But the land there is fertile," he mimicked the corpulent Chief Executive of the Merchant Princes, "perfect for farming.  And with the way the peasantry breeds these days..."

"And of course," King Borach of Ch'Ten -his own monarch- had said, as though it justified everything, "the Merchant Princes do own the land."

And so the wizard went away, back to conjuring pretty lights for pretty fools, all while living through the casual suffering they caused.  Then, as night fell upon the kingdom, a creature of the Outer Dark flew in through the wizard's window.  It was a small black winged creature, a minor demon of little consequence or threat, but alarming in that the Outer Dark was supposed to have been sealed.

"Pay me no mind, pay me no mind," the demon said, doffing a miniature hat and offering a rough bow.  "Me and mine is all can come through to this plane, the biguns all still stuck behind your wall."

The wizard raised an eyebrow.  "So the wall still holds some of you back," he said.  "How is it you made it past?"

The demon chuckled self-depricatingly.  "Aye, you set your wall so's 'none from the Outer Dark could ever threaten the world'," he quoted the spell that built the wall, "but me and mine ain't a threat to this world.  Hell, a thousand of me and mine wouldn't threaten this world."  He shrugged.  "We can pretty much come and go as we please.  Good many of us decided to just escape to this world, but was some of us decided to make ourselves handy to the biguns as messengers."

"And you have a message for me, I take it."

"Aye," the demon nodded.  "From one Skargk the Pestilent.  You know him?"

The wizard's jaw tightened.  "I know him."

"Good.  Says he has an offer."

"What is he offering?"

The demon smiled.  "Your one true love, of course.  Returned to you, body and soul, whole and healthy and unspoiled."

The wizard tried to hide the stabbing pain in his heart at those words.  Alive?  She was alive?  All these years playing the fool to these spoiled dandies and she suffered among the Dark!  He forced his voice to be calm.  He'd show no weakness to this thing.  "And I suppose in return he wants me to hand this world over to him," he said.

The demon smirked, looking around.  "From what I've seen of it, you're better off trading it in for the girl."  He shook his head.  "But no.  No, you don't have to just hand the world over, you just have to give the biguns a shot at it.  Just open the wall.  You can fight them all tooth and nail after that if you want, they just want the wall down."

The wizard considered the offer, stroking his chin and pacing slightly.  "So," he mused, making his tone much lighter than he felt, "all I have to do to get the one great true love of my life back is open the door and let things go back to the way they were?"

"That's about it."

The wizard smiled.  "Are you familiar, demon, with the mortal adage that cautions one not to shoot the messenger?"

The demon nodded.

The wizard raised his hand, uttered a few syllables of an ancient and dying language, and a bolt of crimson lightning charred the little demon to its bones.  A quick banishing spell sent them back behind the wall to the Outer Dark.  The wizard made his way to the Wastes, where he would open the only gate in the wall.

Once there, he spoke the words and made the necessary gestures to open the gate.  Darkness swirled beyond it, a seething pulsing darkness that screamed for its release in tortured whispers.

"You come," it said.

"I'm here."

"You come for your woman," a dark chorus rasped, "and to free us."

The wizard held up his hand, a glowing orb causing the darkness to cringe back from the gate.  "A couple of things I thought I'd mention: One, I don't honestly believe you'd give her up to me just to return to the status quo.  You'd figure you owned me, and I'd rather be their lapdog than yours.  Two," he held up two fingers, "no matter how vain, selfish and empty a lot of those people are," he stepped through the gate, locking it behind him, "they don't deserve you."  He set his feet in a fighting stance, energy crackling around his fingertips.

"So yes," the wizard said, grinning his challenge in the face of that roiling hate, "I am indeed here for my woman, but you aren't going anywhere."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What is Spontaneous Fiction?

The old Storyteller chuckled, indicating his curious visitor should sit.

"Well," he said, settling down for the telling, "Some say Spontaneous Fiction is a bizarre occult ritual, practiced only by the mysterious Fantasy Monks of the Unreal Territories. Some," he gestured with his hand, in a way that suggested he was somehow directing the visitor's attention to the nebulous "some people" currently under discussion, "Some say it is a naturally occurring phenomenon that afflicts storytellers who have too many tales cluttering up their heads."

The old Storyteller pointed to an earthenware jug sitting next to a clay cup, "The drink dispenser is in the wall just above the jug. Bring me a bottle of the Europa water," he leaned in conspiratorially, "and I'll tell you what Spontaneous Fiction really is."

The visitor rushed to do as he'd been asked, sliding the wall panel open, and telling the dispenser what he wanted. It gave him a small plastic bottle of water from one of Jupiter's moons, which he brought back to the old Storyteller, who continued his tale.

"What it really is," he said, taking a long pull on the water bottle, "is the result of an experiment. An attempt to start a blog and post only fiction for a year (more or less)." The Storyteller gestured to the visitor's right with the bottle. "Look there to the right. The fruits of this experiment have been collected in a single volume, called The Spontaneous Manifesto. Of course," he smiled, "you can also read through the archives whenever you're here."

The visitor thanked the Storyteller and rose to leave. At the door, the visitor turned and asked one more question.

"More stories?" the Storyteller chuckled. "I suppose there might be the odd new tale of Spontaneous Fiction, from time to time. In fact, should you continue past here, you'll find a few new tales waiting to be read."