22 July 2007

Rashomon



My head hurt.

The room was completely white, like that scene in THX1138, the prison.

"This is just like the Matrix!" someone else exclaimed.

"Where?" I asked, then I saw him.

Fat and smug and looking like he'd just been plucked out of his living room. Smiling like he'd never betrayed us to New America.

I moved.

Too fast for anyone to react.

The knife felt good going into his fat belly. I twisted it.

He fell back, too soon to feel the real pain that was coming as the punctured intestines started to do their thing.

"I told you what I'd do if I ever saw you again," I whispered into his ear, "Did you think I was kidding?"

"Angus?" he gasped, then the real pain started.

Only now did I look around. I saw some faces I recognized, some who had died in '97.

It hit me, this was just like the start of so many games where we'd made ourselves as characters.

Didn't matter, I unslung the rifle and leveled it at the assembled group, "Touch him, you die..."
That was no normal teleport; I summon Wraithscourge and seek. No prey in range.
Okay, WTF? I'm in a very white room, along with several other people I almost recognize.
"This is just like the Matrix!" I know that voice. From where? Though I was thinking more 'If this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador?'
"Where?" I know that voice, too. And the face. It's on the tip of my tongue; I know it is.
The decision to kill needs no introduction. How did a human find prey I missed? I still can't see it, can't seek it. What is wrong with me? No time for that; let him show me.
He strikes! Wait, his target looks human, too. I seek again, still nothing. That can't be, not this close! Besides, what do you kill with a knife to the gut? Even people can survive that, if a healer gets there in time.
He speaks. Well, whispers, "... did you think I was kidding?"
Gut Wound chokes out "Angus", and he's right! That is Angus' face, Angus'voice. No, wrong tense. That was Angus, back when we were human. Ha! I disbelieve!It doesn't work. 20th century Angus is still there, now pointing a rifle in my general direction. "Touch him, you die."Yet another seek fails to reveal anything. Could that really be Angus? If it is, what did that guy do to deserve such a horrible death? If it isn't, why aren't we all dead? And the bonus round: if that's literally 20th century Angus, is seeing his first bipedal talking cat enough of a shock to make him pull the trigger?
If this gets me shot, it was a bad plan, but the only other choice is killing somebody who could very well be my friend. I dismiss my weapon, hold out my hands and ask "Why?"

"Why?"

OK, if I am seeing a character from Gallacci's stuff, the entirely too white room is probably from me eating moldy rye bread.

On the off chance that what I am seeing is just masking a person, I answered;

"When you betray your brother and your friends to fuckers that make the nazis seem tame you had better expect a knife to the gut when your friends find you. Do you have any idea how long it takes to die from a gut wound if you treat for shock? He's gonna know!"
"Okay, that tracks. Well, almost. Sure, the Angus I know would do that. The problem is, he never mentioned such an enemy. You look just like he did ... no, you're older. Got it! Paratime! What year is it, your timeline? When did magic come back, or did it? Do you even recognize me?"
Recognize WHO?

Fighting the urge to shoulder the M14, I reply.

"ParaWHAT? It's 2007. The Russians nuked us for Thanksgiving in 1997 because the Germans reunited while they Sov's were fightin' the Chinks. Ain't no magic. And no, I. Do. Not. Recognize you."

OK, I've lost it. I am now talking to the acid trip. I sure hope I wake up.
Finally, things are starting to make sense. On the down side, he's getting ready to crack, and .308 will probably go through my armor twice.
"Paratime: from the book of that name, by H. Beam Piper. The idea that history can happen in different ways in different universes. Maybe you remember the Mirror Mirror episode of Star Trek? Anyway, I think that's what happened here. In my history, the war you describe didn't happen. Sounds like our Chinese were smarter than yours. Magic started working on March 15, 2001, and all sorts of things changed then. Some were good; I really like this new body. Some were bad; I can now critique Dawn of the Dead as a documentary. That kind of undead needs its bones and muscles, so shattering the pelvis really slows them down ... but that can wait, sorry."
"This is going to be a shock. I don't know how to prepare you for it, so I'll just spit it out. You do know me -- I'm Geff. Yes, I really look like this now."
"To answer the obvious question, no, I don't expect you to believe me. Let me show you some evidence. It's right here on my belt."
Not shot yet, good. Now for the really dangerous part. Slowly, I move my left hand toward my trophy ring. Watch the rifle, make sure to freeze if anything happens.


No comments:

Post a Comment

You are a guest here when you comment. Inappropriate comments will be deleted without mention. Amnesty period is expired.

If you can't comprehend this, don't comment.