Friday, 20 November 2015

The Garden

The Garden

Alice came here every day, to sit on the wooden bench in her garden and watch the pigeons fly down from the trees and strut across the grass in expectation of breadcrumbs. Why they did this, she did not know, as no-one else was ever around and her pockets were empty; but every day, here they came. She had lost count of the number of days she had sat here on the long park bench, but that didn’t bother her. She was content. She was always content. At some point she would have to walk away from all this, there were other matters to attend to. At least she had a feeling there were. But there was plenty of time - she had only just arrived anyway. At least she had a feeling she had. It didn’t matter. There was peace, the trees, the birds, the wind and the Sun.

But today was different, there was something unexpected. Alice realised that she was not alone. Beside her sat a girl, dressed in grey, with a wild mess of white hair. The girl turned towards her, smiling. Alice felt a shock as she noticed the girl’s eyes: featureless, black, and yet she felt no fear, only the slight thrill of strangeness.

“Hello Alice” said the girl. “Beautiful day”

“It always is” replied Alice.
The girl stood up and held out her hand. “Please come with me. We need to talk”. Her words were polite, but left no possibility of refusal. Alice took the girl’s hand and they started to walk. “I have a story to tell you.” Sun, grass, birds, all faded.

Once upon a time there were seven beings, seven avatars of reality, the Endless: Delight, Despair, Desire, Destruction, Destiny, Dream and Death. Older than gods yet younger than time, they shape reality through their thoughts and actions. Though powerful, the Endless could suffer the fates of mortals, including change, and even death, of a kind. As eons passed, Delight had become Delirium, and both Despair and Dream had taken on new aspects.

Each of the Endless has a realm, a home shaped by their natures. The realm of Destiny is garden of paths without end, paths which are walked by every sentient creature since the beginning of life. Destiny stands in his garden, tall and robed. With one hand he holds his book, chained to his wrist. In that book is everything, every spin of an electron, every planet’s orbit, every life, every death. Destiny is blind, but he knows the book and the book is everything. He turns a page, the first he has turned in an age, and reads:

“At a time so distant from the origin of all things that stars had been mere sparks in the afterglow of the Big Bang, a crystalline ship slowly circled a vast black hole that was the corpse of a galaxy. Within the crystals flowed thoughts so slow that species had risen and fallen in the blink of an eye. The thoughts were those of the last human mind, preserved in a way intended to challenge eternity, frozen in a timeless world of imagination. In that imagination a young girl, Alice, re-creates a single day from the time of worlds and stars. In his garden, Destiny had become aware of a presence.”

Destiny lifts his head: “Well met, sister”.

“So formal as ever. Today, of all days, say my name.

Destiny pauses and frowns. Del..? Dis..?” He asks. “You aren’t in my book”.

“I’m sorry Destiny. You always forget this time. I’m in your book now. I’m on every page. Look closely. Destiny needed no eyes to read.

“As the first stars were born, you were the delight of beginnings. As minds dreamed, desired and despaired and decayed, you became the mistress of their increasing delirium. As even suns and worlds at last fell into ruin and the last minds pass into Death’s domain, you have become the Lady of chaos. You have become Disorder. All reality has become your domain.”

“As our sister Death once said, we have always known this, but never remember. You must remember now.” said Disorder. “It's time for my final duty in this cosmos. When I am everything, then there is nothing. Even time loses its power. There must be a new beginning and so
I need your book.”

“The book at I are one”, said Destiny.
“I know that brother”, said Disorder, “But even so you must give it to me.”
Destiny took his book with his free arm and held out the chain.
Disorder gently touched the chain and it collapsed into dust. She lifted the open book from Destiny’s hand. She turned a page, and saw nothingness. Now alone, she whispered to herself “Goodbye brother. Until the next time”. She closed the book and carried it away into the mist.

“No mortal before you has been free of Destiny. You are truly free to make your own future, and so this is the choice I give you”, said Disorder, “try to wait out eternity in a simulation, never dreaming yet not truly awake, never dying but neither truly alive, having no desires and sealed beyond destruction and yet your end will come, or you can take this book and help shape a new beginning.”

Alice reached out for the book. As her fingers touched the cover she knew all that had ever been. An image entered her mind of a tall robed figure, with a book chained to his arm, the book she now held. She knew who this was, who he was, and that he was blind and yet saw all that was, all that had been, and all that will be.

“Destiny…” she whispered.

“Yes, that was him. Now that will be you.” said Disorder.

“Will I be blind, chained, and so very grey?” asked Alice.
“That’s up to you” said the girl. “My brother liked to follow tradition.”

Alice came here every day, to sit in the sun and watch the pigeons fly down from the trees and strut across the grass in expectation of breadcrumbs. This was her garden, Destiny’s realm.

She sat down on an old wooden bench, took some bread from a pocket of her long white robe, broke it and threw the pieces towards the birds. Then she turned and saw beside her her book. She picked it up, opened it to the first page, and read the first few words with a smile. There, in the language of reality, were words that created a cosmos:

“In the beginning…”

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