A Setting for a Suicide Note

Galescar House sat low, battered and alone on the uneven horizon, the fading sky threatening to colour the whole scene a uniform grey. Yvonne scanned the hazy silhouette of the house, her eyes running along the rough rooftop of the squat servants quarters that made up Galescar's west wing, rising slightly as it gave way to the main house with its heavy oak doors, imposing windows and clawing eaves, then up once more to Galescar's single, lonely eastern tower and its octagonal roof, monocled by a circular window and constantly surveying the suburban sprawl far below. Yvonne suddenly had the notion, with Galescar's grander parts somehow unfavourably distributed to the one side, that perhaps the abusive western wind had beaten and shaped the house into some great, cresting wave littered with flotsam and slate, rising above and to someday crash down upon that dry, heather-strewn shore.

To the rear of the house were Galescar's neglected and overgrown grounds. The gnarled, skeletal hedges and low, tumbled-down walls sketching the outlines of its once-grand gardens, now violently cut short a few yards to the north by the cracked earth and chipped fissures of the Splintered Cliffs' increasing trespasses. Meanwhile, at the front of the house, the geometric tracery of Galescar's oppressively tall gothic windows considered the precipitous, rock-strewn slope that fell away behind Yvonne: the juddering, rocky decline of Wolfhound Ridge.

Yvonne turned away from Galescar, away from that husk that had once been a home, and looked down over the crystal spires and shimmering rooftops that sat below, connected to one another with a complex cats-cradle of silver threaded walkways and the electric blades of humming mag-highways. The gleaming, prysmatic architecture built up steadily to the south, growing to join the vast city-state of The United North. It had all once been part of the larger, old kingdom, and in that kingdom, the glittering metropolis below had been a small town. Long before that, at the boundaries of Yvonne's memory, that town had been a village and in that village she had once been a child. She had lived in that town and finally, in Galescar House on Wolfhound Ridge, above those impossible spires, Yvonne had grown old. She looked back at the gritty, blue/grey silhouette of the house one last time before opening the slim leather-bound ledger on her lap. She took up the pen in her right hand while stroking the length of the crisp page with her left, the paper and her hand a pale, raw-clay yellow in the thin light that spilled from the windows behind. Then Yvonne put pen to paper and began to write.

Advertisements

Notes From an Early Reconnaissance Prior to The First Celestial Conflict

The workings of the machine, if you could call it that, were intricate to the point of being maddening. It was made up, not of physical parts, but of what seemed to be translucent, ghostly shards, each one, a single three -dimensional edge or fractal facet of some ethereal, vaporous matter. They shimmered and flickered as they moved, collapsing, shattering and coalescing as they each worked to dismantle the recent dead, striping away their guilt, their shame and indeed their very selves, in order to fuel and people this horrific contraption. It was a terrible mockery of an afterlife promised from pulpits, an amalgam of heaven and hell, of peace and annihilation, this industrialised, postmortem punishment/purifier. Taking in the whole of it, I had the realisation that, on my previous visits, I had been deposited somewhere inside the swarming iterations of the thing itself. This time, however, the amygdalial inhibitor had thankfully worked as planed and had caused me to unfold at some external vantage point, able to survey, as best I could, the immense heaven/hell machine.

I was somehow able to view the continental, perhaps even planetary, engine as a complete whole. The sight of it, along with the crushing strain that its size and complexity placed on my transient from, was almost debilitating. I was awestruck, not only with the intricacy and delicacy of it, but also its compete lack of scale. I struggled to take in the extra-dimensional vastness of it, the colossal thing somehow twisting and compressing perspective, causing my gaze to splinter and multiply and blend. I saw in kaleidoscopic visions that shifted and folded throughout and around and inside that sprawling soul-machine, giving me a total yet incomprehensible sensory experience of its structure, its instrumentation, and its processes. 

All at once, I could witness any and every facet of its jagged, soul-spalling mechanisms, I could see into its deepest components and ingredients and products. It was as if my awareness of it was not one of a passive viewer, but that I was, myself, a part of of it, while also set apart from it. Spread around, and diluted throughout, the whole of that immense, etherial and diabolical engine. I was somehow intrinsically vital to the impossible contraption's ability to function, as if, for it to operate while I viewed it, the machine had to amalgamate my senses into itself. I realised then that the fleeting glimpses gleaned on previous expeditions had not been cut short due to improper dosages or imperfect regression as we had first thought, but that my presence there had been dismantled, eviscerated even, by the engine's undulating, gyrating and unfolding mechanisms. As they had stripped away the sins and selves of the unlucky dead, they also unraveled my own, transient ghost and sent me out and off and down, back to our own lower order of being. 

But now, having finally arrived outside of it, this time I could stay, I could see, and I could study.

It Will Help if the Presentation Feels Somewhat Familiar to Them

So Carl wants us to go through some of the lingo again, this vocabulary here, just so that we’ll be as comfortable with it as possible. It’s got to be slick on the day so let’s use English the whole time, ok?

-No problem.

Great. So, first things first, there have been a few changes.

-Changes?

Yes. Not too many though and mostly cosmetic. The meat of the destabilisation is essentially the same, they’re just changing up some specific words. See here? We’ve got to call the humans earthlings now, plus they’ve changed the names for most of our gear, our ship, our home and a bunch of other little things.

-What things?

Well, like this. We’ve got to call our phones communicators now.

-Why?

Carl just said that it’s what they’ll think we’ll call them. We’re all high-tech and futuristic to them, remember. Phone will sound too mundane apparently, sends the wrong message.

-But our phones aren’t futuristic, they’re just like theirs. Theirs were even better until we saw them and decided to put that immersive display on ours. We didn’t even think to have a screen until we started checking theirs out. It’s stuff like their phone ideas that we want the humans for, right?

Earthlings, remember, and yes but Carl said communicators is just better. It turns out they dreamt up their phones years before they made them, in stories and stuff, and in those stories they called them communicators, so that’s what they’ll think we would call ours.

-That’s bollocks. They’ve actually got these communicators now, don’t they? They all do, they’re on them all the time. They’re probably even better than whatever each of them imagined way-back-when and they’ve all decided to call them phones, haven’t they? They don’t go around all day on communicators saying hello fellow earthling, do they?

I know it sounds stupid but, I’m telling you, it’s what Carl said they’ll be expecting.

-What do you mean expecting? The humans? No one else has tried a full disclosure manipulation before, right? They’ve not been approached by anyone else?

Earthlings, remember, and no.

-Well there you go, no expectations then, surely.

You’d think so but the weird thing is Carl says they’ve been sort of fantasising about meeting people from other planets for ages.

-So? Everyone does. Happens all the time. There’s all these crazy ideas they have and then we pull the reveal and they’re all Oh! Er, you’re just like us then, I guess, and we have a good laugh while they tell each other the odd things they’ve been dreaming up. Then we get to business.

Well that’s the thing, you see, they all kind of dream things up together. Carl tried to explain it to me and it’s like, well, remember when we were first learning English and we thought it was a bit odd, being so full of all the esoteric poetic imagery, those historical and literary references and what have you?

-Yes, bloody nightmare!

Well, Carl says it’s like that because they all sort of decide to have their imaginations agree on certain things.

-How do you mean they all agree? There’s a fair few of them, aren’t there? They can’t all agree. We’re counting on a bit of confusion, aren’t we?

Of course and there’ll be plenty of confusion, Carl’s sure of it. It’s just that they have this general consensus, apparently. On certain concepts. Without them even realising it sometimes. There’s ideas that just become standard for them. Archetypes, Carl calls them. They share all these ideas, you see, and then the good ones just kinda become the way whatever it is, well, is.

-What? And they all just go along with it?

Mostly. Look, it’s like this: Someone thinks something up, like a story, you know? And everyone thinks it’s a good story so it sticks with them and they all sort of keep thinking about it. Then, if they think up any stories of their own, like a new story but along similar lines as that first one, that story they all liked, well, they copy the bits they liked from that first one and mix them about with a bunch of stuff they’ve added themselves. Even if they change something big, it just ends up getting defined by the way it’s different from what was decided on before, by this whole collective imagination thing. Then it all sort of compounds and crystallises as things go along, so that you end up with a sort-of general agreement on, say, what a thief looks and sounds like, or a hero, or what the afterlife is, or what little bearded guys living underground might be like, even people from other planets. It’s got something to do with why they’re so inventive, like an organic growth of ideas, you know? The big stuff naturally builds up over time. Carl and the folks upstairs think that if we go along with these expectations, at the start at least, then we’ll get a strong foothold nice and early that we can exploit later. Get it?

-Not really.

Look, it doesn’t really matter why. This is just something that Carl says he and the boffins upstairs have decided on. He says that the huma- sorry, earthlings. The earthlings will take this all a lot better if it fits in with the stuff they’ve got in their heads already, the stuff in their stories, that’s all.

-It just seems a bit inefficient to me, us spending so much time getting good at English and then having to relearn a bunch of stuff just because they all go around copying one another’s dreams, just because they’ve got these plagiarist imaginations.

I know, I know but like I said, it’s the way Carl and the higher-ups want it, so we’re just going to have to go along with it. Ok?

-Ok, fine. Whatever. So humanity is a bunch of earthlings now, great, and we phone each other on our communicators. Totally normal. What else?