Carter sat opposite Quint Essential talking about Spay and talking about the fractured entity that was Coran Andress, his timeline fragmenting and realigning like the twist of colour in a kaleidoscope.
Carter was here and there, but in a different way to Quint – Quint was pretty much a straight line, whereas Carter was both the collapsed wave and the uncollapsed wave at the same time. A line bouncing around from spot to spot. Wasn’t his life a series of slot experiments
When one trained as a Reality Engineer one had to be used to the notion that when they fixed something it was both always fixed and never fixed. Time was elastic, logic was elastic, and reality was likewise … elastic.
Carter Brecht unboiled eggs. Unboiled them and in a sense reinserted them into hens – Bloop Hens. An endless series of iterations and echoes What did it all mean? Some days he truly believed that it meant nothing – that all their whole war represented was a symbolic enlargement of a process that was reflected throughout every layering of fractal echoes from the macrocosmic to the microcosmic. Reality Engineers were an extrapolation of the technology that people daily employed to live their lives. Immaculate Authors were architectural structures rising up out of the collective consciousness of every person as an author in their own lives.
He did not often smoke but something about it attracted him today. Something demanded smoke rings. Something demanded the smell of burning tobacco.
Quint looked at him – he realised that something interesting was happening with this man who he felt more and more comfortable calling a friend. Some days Quint was very aware that things were being broken down and built up within the very quite space that these Reality Engineers constructed around themseleves, and that if there were one Engineer who was better at constructing this cocoon about themselves, it was Carter.
Carter may have never actually sat down in front of a chessboard, and he may have never sacrificed a pawn, he may never have castled a rook, and he may never have taken a king, but Quint knew that he was a Grandmaster more than anyone else he had ever met. To say that the universe was an exploded diagram to Carter did not capture the complexity of what he was able to see and what he was able to perceive.
Quint had visited those who worshipped The Uncollapsed Wave and it surprised him that he had never really stopped to truly consider what it was that the wave represented – the Uncollapsed Wave was a map of the decisional flows that made up a person’s life – it was a codified expression of movement through the physical universe representing the intentional push of an individual as they lived their life. Why had he always thought that it was always something that edged into science, when it was so clearly something that spoke of the spirit. In a moment, seeing his friend sat their wrapped in ribbons of smoke, he understood both the beauty of everything, and the integral divinity of the universe and his friend, and by extension, himself.
They were each sparks that set this burning world alight. Their burning world was their position as the heart of stars burning brightly in constellations set in place in their past to light the passages they would take in their future.
The integrity collapse of Coran Andress, the failure of the story of David Arnover, the intrusion of those from The Unscripted Realms, and the ever-present interference of Spay — all that represented was the negative space between the brightness The darknesses were islands in a sea of illumination, and in comparison to the truth of the incandescent whole, the shadows were such small broken fragments that he finally wondered what exactly it was that they were all scared of.
Tendrel Plaint watched the blooming of the lotus flower of his consciousness and he slammed it hard with a redial edit that pushed it back into the bud; reversing the explosion into the heart of the grenade, and then he rammed home the pin. Why? Because it wasn’t time for them to wake up quite like this right now. It would happen in time, but at this moment they needed to solve these problems and put the other genie back in the bottle of his role as Immaculate Author, and push back aggressively at Spay.
Carter Brecht inhaled and the smoke cleared. He stubbed out the cigarette. He looked at Quint and saw an understanding he did not often see. He looked across the room at Plaint, and he wondered what he had done.
A man popped up in front him and said I have to close the loop, and shot him through the chest. What was the point? If bullets really did have people’s names on them then it was a fact that not a single one of them ever had a Reality Engineer’s name on it. It dissolved inside him like a bad idea – a rejected edit. He both did not recognise, and did recognise his assailant – at some point backwards or forwards he would hunt the man down.
Quint threw down the tequila he had been staring at for a while and silently toasted the Reality Engineer.