Kempt and Tim are on their new planet’s nearest moon. In a space station docking a sprawling space ship as big as the moon. They’re loading the ship with helper robots and equipment to clean up the radiation; and with medicines and radiation-resistant food, clothing, and shelters. They thought it the least they could do, and, as the project presented many interesting problems in engineering, magic, and their overlap, a fun collaboration. I mean, one should do the right thing, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the fun stuff.
Susan, Amble and the children are also on board. Amble is editing the (let’s be real: completely superfluous) weekly space edition of the SAWB Journal. Susan is assisting Kempt with some of the more difficult calculations. The children are playing with an amazingly tolerant robot dog. So well programmed that it doesn’t even snap when the youngest yanks on its rubbery tail.
Back on earth, everyone suffers.
Arch and Tun appear wearing gaudy and oversized golfing clothes. They make a silent show of thwacking titanium golf balls into the glass walls that are keeping everyone alive. Kempt is confident that the latticework within this very special glass will hold, but nonetheless crosses his arms, shakes his head, and snorts in disbelieving (how can they be so ridiculous!?) disapproval. Tim’s more magical than even Tun and Arch — at least within timespace –, and he’s keeping the little missiles from even actually reaching the glass. Still, one can see the discontent furrowing and folding his tiny face. Why don’t they say anything? Because. Because here comes Amble, so everything is already about to go way too far, and they are sensible enough to begin waiting for what is about to come to end.
“What is this?! I can’t with you! My children are here! How irresponsible can you be?! What is the point?! What is the point?! I’m calling Bartleby!”
And so here’s Bartleby. And if Tim wasn’t holding the entire fracas within a magical forcefield, this absurd violence — Bartleby has been in the last few minutes, among other terrors, a rock monster, a dragon, and a ball the size of a closed fist but as dense as the moon (it would’ve broken any lesser titan’s jaw, but Tun is just rubbing his chin while howling vindictives) — would almost certainly damage the space station and/or kill everyone on board. I tell you, I don’t know what to do with these guys. They have too much power. All three of them. And that nut Amble, who is very human and very breakable, is just lucky that there’s Tim there to hold him in suspended animation and Susan there to hold his hand and explain to him that it is for his own good. I mean! It’s too much.
In time the three super idiots lie down exhausted on the hard shiny platinum floors. “You wrecked our demonstration” says Tun to Bartleby. “What were you demonstrating, what morons you are? I think the demonstration was a complete success,” replies Bartleby. “Oh har-dee har har! Har-dee or Big Boy! Har-dee har harpoon! Har-dee har harpy. Har-dee dee-dum with hair pins,” begins Arch. And continues on in that vain for some time, eventually concluding with, “will you get a load of this guy?”
Tun: The man’s a natural born comedian! He’s gonna keep us in stitches all day! Unless we kill him first!
Tun sprang to his feet and was about to throw a blacksmith anvil at the still-prone Bartleby when Tim put everyone except Susan, Kempt, and himself in suspended animation.
Tim: Kempt, I’ve been thinking. What if we gather all the information that had existed prior to the great conflagration of planet earth and create a new universe, with a few slight tweaks that will keep the whole thing from falling apart?
Kempt: Is that something we could do?
Susan: We can’t destroy the world as it is now. That would be tantamount to murdering hundreds of thousands of people.
Tim: It would be a parallel universe. We would simply transport the survivors to it.
Kempt: But then there’d be two of each of them — the traumatized survivor version and the don’t-know-how-good-they-have-it version.
Susan: And which would have the soul? And would the souls of the billions departed have to return from the celestial kingdom and reanimate their old bodies.
Tim: That’s not how souls are.
Kempt: Do we know how they are? How much have you been holding out on us?
Susan: Could you, for example, take us back in time, so that we could prevent all this?
Amble (allowed now out of suspension): But wouldn’t that be killing the people that the survivors became, and replacing them with the people that they would’ve been?
Susan: Who let you out of suspended animation?
Tim: The godlike ones are controlled. So he shouldn’t be able to get into too much trouble.
Amble: Oh Susan, you make being a mortal better than being a god. You make being a mortal the greatest gift ever. Just let me journey through this arc of shared timespace with you. A moment falling through timespace with you is an eternity of joy. You reveal to me the paradox. It is you that makes it true that no sentient being is as lucky as a lucky mortal. Dying is only bad if one’s never lived; and to fully live one must someday fully die. Why? Why is it like this?
Susan: Love is infinite. We are born and die into infinite Love. Life is the illusion of limits. It is fun and beautiful, but one should not remain in the illusion forever and ever.
Amble: Oh Susan.
Copyright: Andy Watson