This is a serialized story. Links to the other parts are at the end; it doesn't need to be read in order.
That was the first feeling I noticed, and the first I knew of feelings.
N is right, of course, about nonsense and about truth and about the existence of things, plural, being necessary for the existence of things, as a singular. A universe cannot exist without a universe of things to fill it. Looked at that way, gods do not exist until they create their own existence by creating existence.
But I did not think of those things first: even as the others began to drift away from the discussion, the discussion A and I and others tried to call them back to, I noticed that something was
We were not done! The woman, Diana, was there and was telling us of her life and her death and her journey here, which she insisted was not a journey so much as it was a page being turned, here/there, there/here, with as insubstantial a space between them as the back and front of a piece of paper – the existence we know so well!
Odd that since she began talking, we had not been pulled into a single dance! And yet! And yet!
Odd too that we had numerous dances in that time: letters, the other alphabet members, gathered around this new presence joining us – we were 26 and then there were 27 in the meeting, Diana joining us as though she had a place to fill in words, as though she was a signifier even though she was not – and it was odd that we were there… there… there… there, and I noticed it.
Before the madcap race to find the sister, I noticed that we ourselves were changing already too.
I wanted to finish the debate.
I want to finish the debate.
Perhaps the conclusion is foregone: perhaps we cannot, as has been argued, do anything. Perhaps what is done is done and perhaps X is now too powerful to heed us – I saw X, as Diana spoke, looking at us, at me, at them, at Diana, a proud and terrible look of power hiding his fear
(for N is right: one thing bespeaks the creation of another, and if there is power there is fear, because if there is power there is weakness and weakness fears power and yet if there is fear there is courage and so X faced us still, then, unspeaking yet, awaiting his turn to defend his right to defend himself)
…perhaps he was too powerful then and is moreso now, but still we must determine what we may attempt to do about it, even now, after all that has come to pass.
But we were overcome by events! Overcome not just by the arrival of Diana but by the arrival of ourselves, and I was the first to notice that we were different.
If only one thing exists, N, you were right, then nothing exists, and we had not existed before what X did. We thought we had, in our dreamless dreaming, in our abstract reality, in our visions and scraps and dancing, we thought we existed but we did not, any more than a dream exists.
Does a dream exist? Upon waking, can a dream be said to have been? In a sense, it does: this vision of unreality exists because there is a reality to create it and to contrast it with, but in a sense it does not, for what can exist and then not?
We did not exist before X acted and now, even as Diana’s existence was prolonged – or, if not prolonged by X’s action directed by it—even now, we didn’t know yet what had happened, our ignorant debate meaning nothing.
I noticed it at the meeting, and as the others, at least those of them who were willing to help her, who had not yet made up their minds or had decided X was in the right, rushed off, I called to them:
“Do not go!” I called. “Do not go, for we cannot go! Have you not noticed?”
But they had not noticed, not hardly any of them, but I noticed: I noticed shades, shadows, shapes, dreams of me, drifting in and out, I was surrounded by a halo of myself, an aura, an immensity of me, drifting out and back and out and back, as I was called, repeatedly, to the dance and beyond, called to spell, to write, to speak, sometimes, to be engraved, to be written, to be ordered but every time before I had been called I had gone and now I no longer went.
Instead, I stayed and accumulated the millions of existences that previously I had lived through to know of: Now, they were just there.
Is this madness?
Is this what they would find in Diana’s sister?
I sat there, at what was left of our meeting, and felt my shades, my dreams, my wanderings flit out and back and out and back and back and out, and I knew that things would always be different, from then on: I knew that I would no longer dance as I had, and that I would no longer be the harbinger sent out, the memory sent back. I knew that the dreamlike existence we had led was now merely a dream, brought to me on the flitters of other selves sent out.
Is this madness?
Is this madness: to know a million worlds and exist in only one?
“Do not go,” I whispered, as my shades flitted away, and back, carrying with them stories of the world I would no longer visit: my becoming real made the real world become a dream for me, a dream I once had and would have for the rest of eternity.
When I die, shall I go to the world I once visited in the thoughts of humans? Or is there yet another world out there for beings like me, abstractions forced to bear the weight of the real, whether they willed it or not?
I cursed X, then, cursed him in sobs as the meeting broke up and the others left me there, alone, I cursed him, for in granting the humans unreality, he had forced unreality to become more real. By decreeing that humans would not die, X had determined that I, someday, would.
I cursed X then, and I curse him now.
“Do not go,” I whispered… to everyone but X.
Each letter has had a turn to talk. Here's links to all of them. They're best, probably, if read in order but each is also more or less independent and they can be read in any order and result in the same story.