Bella Crow is a ribcage where The Nest is grown – the disntegration of her Mappa Mundi exploded into the diagram of an existential cancer that has taken to the wing, and has flown between the turning pages of a Reality Engineering Guide.
Carter Brecht stands looking into a broken mirror across the gulf of a white water rapid. The older damaged version of himself smiles back. Carter has been played.
Coran Andress is an idea in free-fall. An umbilicus of once pulls the other climber scaling the rockface of reality down into the gutterspace, David Arnover and Coran tumbling, tumbling, falling forever.
Oversight, blind, scrabbling around in Overspace trying to deploy a Typing Pull of Headitors. They have lost control.
Viragos push out through reality, confusing the narrative even more, atomising the Reality Engineers, and changing them forever.
The Nest is aswarm, wings, pages, a story in flight. Cuckoos in the heart of every kingdom.
Andy is lying on a floor. Andy is dreaming a testbed. Andy is a reality bomb made of human parts. He sees the face of Cheryl. Cheryl, share all – a cipher for every masker, and all the masks, pinned to the walls like rare butterflies. The symbol of a transformation completed. A reality can be a caterpillar, a narrative can be a cocoon, and a Reality Engineer can be an assistant at the birth.
Seymour knows the mind or the thought, or the universe, is a crooked womb. The midwife he has made friends with is looking at him, and he knows that only because they stand here, will they be protected and not drowned in the collapsing of wave of possibility they have all been riding upon the white horses of. A beach – he sees a beach – a beach full of ampersand. Each grain of And cuffs him to the engine of what they have triggered.
Dobie Fangle breathes in the caesura, in the ellipses, in the empty brackets of an unsolved equation. The Pinnacle falls. The Nest arises. One story washes forward through time as another pushes under like a riptide going in the opposite direction.
Carter Brecht is the deus ex machina in his own story. What is the machine? What is the machinery? What was it that passed through The Smooth Exit? What died that they needed to ease the passing of? A reality? A narrative? The end of the Reality Engineers as they had been known up until that point? It is hard to say but he knows that something is ending. That something is beginning. He knows nothing. There is nothing to be known. When a story ends, does the world stop? Or do we just move into a different room, and start circulating through a party with different guests?
Andy. And. And he. Hand E. End, Ha. Head. You peer through the text, and you see the subtext – you are a Reality Engineer, so you have learned to read anything that needs to be read, and Andy is an interesting metaphorm if there ever were one. He is sand – time. Andy is a Hand Of Glory, opening a doorway into something new. Andy is an Ampersand – a continuation of something. He is a Head Null – a Scratch Head; a nobody, an idea that leads nowhere.
And the end of the story is not a tune ended. The drummer has ceased the normal rhythm, and they have unscrewed the high hat and they have flung it out towards the centre of the stage. The edge hits and there is a moment before more of it lowers, and it spins through the celebration of it’s noise. An ending, like a black hole, where time and light are sucked into the crushing vortex of the dilated eye of this sector of the universe. But it is not en ending – it is encoded on the event horizon, waiting for the super-translation protocol that can shoot it as a lossless verse to start something new through the singing throat of a wormhole, that is spinning up to set something brand new into rotation.
Carter hears a noise and for the first time in his entire career he wonders if it is the music of the spheres that he has heard so much about. He will survive this, and whatever it is that has been done to reality by his older self, he will right it. He will write it – he clutches his hack-rig tight as the world falls apart around them. He has been through something like this before – they usually are outside the triggered site when they do a reboot, and he mentally kicks himself for violating protocol. He throws a bubble around himself, and starts to unspool isolate protocols to protect everyone he can.
What can have happened to the older version of himself to bring to a place where he would think that it was OK to do something like this? He is finding it hard to comprehend. He is finding it hard to fathom what was going on in himself that he would do something so uncharacteristic as trusting an iteration of himself without knowing a little bit more about the thing he was planning to do.
Quint Essential standing next to him.
And then there was a hang-door.
‘This way, my friend. This is Ferrals, a Quantum Element. We were monitorng the whole thing, but we weren’t able to get here in time. There was some kind of multiversal temporal interference. I’ll tell you more after you step through.’
He did as he was bidden.
‘They’ll be safe?’
‘Yeah, your edits should hold.’
A room built on the edge of everything, or one everything.
‘You have to wonder, don’t you, whether all these damned isolates have a bad effect on the integrity of the main structure.’
‘Sorry, Quint, the thing I am actually preocuppied with at the moment, is we were all so worried about Spay throwing a spanner in the works, that we didn’t bank on a future version of myself coming in and queering the pitch. What does it mean?’
‘That things don’t always follow the script. Not even the script of a Reality Engineer.’
‘Unless that’s exactly what it did.’
‘Another Reality Engineer somewhere behind the scenes?’
‘What else? A Rogue Elephant.’