I must speak, and as I am unaccustomed to doing so on my own, I must ask that you refrain from interrupting me.
We are here to decide, after all.
We have come back together to determine first, if there is anything to do, and secondly, what we should do, of our options.
But I fear our time is running out, dear friends, often-lovers, sometimes-enemies.
I fear our time comes, in the way of all things mortal.
We all know what O first surmised, now, of course: we, too, may die, and we know not what awaits us once this existence fades away into another.
Do you hear the thunder?
Do you see the lightning?
Do you know of the other worlds we have seen?
You do not – not all of you, as not all of you came with us to the mad sister’s house.
Shall we not blame her, as much as we blame X?
I see you getting restless, bear with me. Remember: I rarely do this on my own. Bear with me!
We debate, yes, but there must be plans before action and debate before plans and so we must debate, and debate quickly, but part of that must be that you must know what happened, there in the dark room of the mad sister.
You must… u must.
Will you not meet my eyes, even now?
There: again: The peal and roll of the end.
I will be quick.
I am awake, she said to us, and those who heard her voice in that moment shuddered. I am awake, she said, and it seemed to me that it meant more than simply the state of not being asleep. It meant far, far more than that.
What must it be like, to know that dreams are real and fear them?
I hope never to know.
I am awake, she told us and Diana started forward, her shape, her body, seeming then formless and indistinct as she passed from our world into the world she used to inhabit. Diana fell upon her sister’s bed, kneeling next to it, trying to clasp her sister’s hand.
“Where!” Diana demanded. It was not a question!
“Where!Í” her mad sister shrieked, suddenly, sitting up with a violent jerk and casting aside the bedclothes.
We were still in the shadows of the room, we letters, and the room was scarcely lit at all by the slightly-brighter night outside. It seemed to me then that the room was full of shadows of differing depths: the absolute dark of the gloom, the brighter shades of Diana, and the solid obsidian of her sister bursting forth from the white of the sheets that had covered her. Only her eyes were truly visible, and they were crazed with visions that seemed to glow forth from inside her mind.
“EVERYWHERE!” her sister howled, the insanity carried on every note of her voice, somehow enunciating each letter in that word as though she both sung them and spat them out at the same time. This was not a human way of talking. Who knows when she had last been fully human?
You cannot create without imbuing in your creations something of yourself. This we know, for when humans created us and when they create with us, we carry bits of them back, but what if you create things no being should know?
What if you create infinities incomprehensible to the mortal mind? What if the expanses you imagine in your fevered dreams are populated by gods and monsters?
What if the gods cannot be distinguished from the monsters?
That is, after all, what we debate here: Who is a god, and who is a monster?
And, if we determine that, what can we do to them?
She appeared monstrous to us then, towering over Diana – though the sister herself was small, frail, even, she loomed and her sad rage somehow made her larger than the room, made her a part of the dark night itself, contained within the room and stretching out of it at the same time, the way dark inside the room is a part of the dark outside of the room.
“How…” her mad sister said, her voice faltering then.
Diana looked up at her, meeting her eyes.
“How have you come back?” her sister asked.
“I do not know,” Diana told her.
“Is it possible to come back?” her sister asked.
“It is, it seems,” Diana responded. She reached her hand up, towards her sister’s, and her sister dropped to her knees on the bed.
“Where am I?” her sister asked, quietly.
“You are here, in your room, dear sister,” Diana whispered, gently. “You are here, and I am here, and I need to ask you something.”
Her sister closed her eyes, put her head in her hands, and then opened them again.
We all fell back, for her eyes carried within them all the infinities of every creation everywhere. They were hollow pits, falling through universe after universe after universe.
“WHERE AM I?” her sister wailed. She threw up her hands, and Diana, incorporeal and untouchable, flinched away nonetheless, and at that the sister’s torments grew louder and more unbearable.
There were those of us who fled, then, and came back here, but I stayed.
And U. You stayed, as well.
Will you not forgive me?
Will you not stand by my side, to determine whether we can do anything to alter what is happening?
Will you not huddle together with me as the destruction grows closer, as we learn whether we are to have a fate, at all, and what that fate might be?
I stayed, and U stayed, and a few others, and we witnessed the mad sister stand suddenly upright again, and begin dashing around the room. From the shelves she pulled books, and grabbed from them her frantic writings. She opened these, flung them around, she opened drawers and brought more out from behind clothing. She prised up a floorboard and a rolled up sheaf of scribblings followed. The room appeared to be filled with flock after flock of birds, her instability infecting the entire area as she spun and whirled, the entire time saying, over and over Where am I Where am I Where am I
And then she stopped moving: the papers swirled around her and began to fall, no longer stirred by her dance, the dance that parodied are own.
And then she stopped, and she stared directly at us with those eyes, those eyes that contained within them everything, ever, and she saw us.
She looked right at me, and I confess it; I was afraid!
I was afraid!
I ducked. I ducked away and tried to hide and I left my U, my beloved U, my truest companion, alone there under her gaze.
U, I am sorry! I will never be able to make it up to you but I shall spend whatever time we have left, trying! Will you not please look at me once?
The rest of you must know, must know… what happened next.
The sister charged at us, hands clenching at whatever paper scraps she could grasp. She ran through us and disappeared.
“Where am I” was the last thing we heard from her.
We did not come back here, not right away. Perhaps we waited too long?
We did not come back here. Instead, we followed Diana.