Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Chapter Two - Lord Nightmare Escapes
Reve watches the rulers of the pre-collapse broadcast from their derrick kingdoms, in the mighty oil slicked seas, surrounded by tanker flotillas. Crazed, vicious, and triumphant crusaders of the apocalypse foretold, Ulger, the last of the energy barons, along with old Sero and Reup, the Pharma Kings, control the ravaged wastelands.
Scenes of famine flicker across Verity’s screen. Humans huddle together in vine covered skyscrapers. Cities, no longer powered by the fossils that fueled, are mounded with refuse, downed hovers, broken lastics, and non-compostable zastics, piled into towers that rival the buildings in height.
It’s a postindustrial world, on the verge of a major catastrophe. A civilization no longer able to power the energy suck it created, and too far removed from the land to understand what is food.
It’s Ulger who exploded the pocket of gas, in his plan for a planet wide suicide. He blew out the side of the spinning orb from inside a hilltop of shale, jutting up out of the North Sea.
Reve wonders why he does it? To leave a mark, his personal signature on the planet? Whatever the reason, Reve watches one side of the blue orb explode. There’s a sudden gaping crater, the molten rock inside it, like larvae exposed in an unformed state. Then the hole begins to suck at the rest of the planet to fill itself. Mountains crumble, and great cantilevered rocks tumble into the mouths of the dragons, the walls of water have become, as the earth redistributes herself to survive. Whole cities are sucked inward, from fault lines that widen as they appear. Land is swallowed, chased by oceans, rushing to bandage the gaping void. Now the world is naught but a rage of waves, and all that was of man and beast, is submerged now, or, barnacle like, clinging to tomorrow’s archeology.
“There is no more, my Lord Reve, but that which is classified.” Verity says, the waves rampaging across her screen.
Reve knows that the world begins again. For when the waters ebb it is the continent of Blinkin that remains. The approved history of their world begins later, with the defeat of Alma, and not before.
“Show me Alma?” Reve commands, wondering, not for the first time, about this other.
“Alma was a hag, a harridan, a demon even more frightening then me.” Anka said, when he’d asked her.
His mother spat three times on the floor at the mention of this other’s name.
“I alone rescued the world, from the fate of Alma’s sun-filled days.” Anka instructed her son, in a voice the sound and smell of old sewers. She spat three times again.
“It was ordained that I should rule alone.”
Young Reve then lived captive in a cage next to the Night Mare’s vanity. It swung among the cobwebs, occupying a place of pride.
“But why, mother?” He’d asked the demon.
“Why not?” She replied, admiring her skeletal reflection in her vanity’s mirror.
“What if it had been ordained for Alma to rule alone? What then?” Young Reve had asked.
Anka looked at Reve, her caged and beautiful copper toned son, and she frowned.
“Then maybe you would have become her stupid son, and not mine.” Anka flicks the back of young Reve’s head, between the slats of the cage, with a talon.
“That’s not what happened.” She spat three times again.
“But if it had?” The boy demon had bravely supposed.
“If it had I would have rewritten that destiny, and the results would have been the same. You would still be calling me mummy!” Anka cawed, smacking her bony thigh with a taloned claw.
“Stop imagining, Reve, my son. You’re beginning to sound like a weaver. Not a good idea to get hooked on the junk you steal, my son. Stick to nightmares. They are so much easier to manifest. Nightmares never let you down, they always end with regret, and if you’re lucky, a puddle of body fluids.” The demon said, with a twinge of lament.
Reve wonders, for the first time, what his mother’s dreams might have been when she was young, and what she might make of them now. Now that she is so thoroughly enthrall to the dreams of others.
Lord Nightmare’s reveries are interrupted by Verity, whose screen now displays a multi-headed hydra, horrible, destructive, and devoid of personality.
“Alma, the terrible, the awful, the horrible, a monster defeated by the Night Mare early in the era post-collapse. All data in this sector is restricted. Password please?”
The screen now flashes the word “Restricted”.
Reve’s eyes narrow.
“Restricted.” Verity replies. “Password please.”
First classified and now restricted with passwords? Nothing has ever been unavailable to Reve. Except maybe Mina, and Rose. But when he stops to think about it, he’s never really wanted to know anything about the stories attached to the archeology he collects. He wonders at himself.
“Who has access to this restricted information?” He demands, as if he might find someone to blame for his own blindness.
“The Night Mare,” Verity replies, “and President Bob.”
“Bob?” Reve says, surprised by a mild jolt of jealousy.
Bob’s face flashes across the screen in an authorized tribute.
“President Bob began his career in the girl registry office. He transferred to the Dream Police as an entry level cadet, where he rose quickly through the ranks to senior officer of the Probe Department. From there he was promoted to Under Commissioner of Rogue-dreamers, and quickly assumed the job of private secretary to the Night Mare herself. His meteoric career rise has continued with his election to the office of President for life.” Verity concludes.
Reve watches President Bob give his morning report on the screen. The rat-man is greeting his public on a walkway. He’s surrounded by a guard of hard shelled monsters. There’s a small electrode in the palm of his gloved hand. He’s shaking the appendages of monster constituents along the walkway, but only the ones in tan uniforms. His handshake administers a lethal shock. The monsters drop down in foaming seizures.
“Government cutbacks in action.” Bob says from a ratty smile, directly into the pap camera eyes.
“Tan uniformed monsters are today’s fast food. Watch your government’s credit saving in action. Isn’t this an efficient, cheaper, way to feed the monster patrols that keep our walkways safe, for you?” Bob points a finger at the pap.
“Enough, Verity.” Reve says, repulsed by Bob. He’ll deal with the rat-man another time. First things first, escape the city, rescue Rose, and find Mina. Then they’ll topple his mother, and Bob will just come tumbling down as a consequence. Yes, why not, maybe it will be that easy.
A niggling thought forces Reve back to his recent reverie, back to those early memories of his boyhood in the cage. There was something in what his mother said in her talk of Alma, something that has always troubled him. Something filed away to be examined on a day just like today. What was it? He riffles through the details of this memory, and then it comes to him, it pings his brain with clarity.
“You’re beginning to sound like a weaver.” That’s what his mother had said.
It was a curious phrase, pregnant with undiscovered meaning. He thought then that a weaver must refer to his absent father, the North wind. A being his mother normally referred to only in blustering torrents of outrage. A weaver must be a bad thing, he’d supposed. But now, he wonders, if she’d meant it about Alma.
“What’s a weaver?” He asks Verity.
“Weaver. A person who makes fabric from threads, or baskets from dried plant leaves. Also a finch-like songbird of tropical origin, related to sparrows. The builders of elaborately woven nests. Family Ploceidae: several genera.” Images of woven cloth, baskets, and nest building birds, appear on Verity’s screen.
Reve furrows his brow. None of this is the meaning he’s looking for. Then a thought pops into his head. Just a random what if.
“What is the relationship between the Night Mare and the Weaver?”
“That information is classified.” Verity says, and the word “Warning”, flashes on her blue screen in red.
“Alert! Access to the Building Climber, set on local, has been granted to President Bob. Estimated time of arrival - two thousand seven hundred and thirty-four turns of the sweep hand. He’s climbing his way up.” Verity says.
The screen shows white uniformed Bob, in the building climber, wearing a big white hat and fiddling with his bibbles. He’s surrounded by a hard-shell monster guard. A phalanx of dream probes rises with him, on the outside of the climber.
“Excellent!” Reve says with a diabolic gleam in his copper eyes. He crosses back to his desk and he swipes his hand once over the screens. The hovering files dissolve into motes of dust. The blue light fades, leaving only the faint silhouette of the huddled Drifters. The alarm is weak sounding, the column of light is now grey.
Reve closes the flap over his pack. It seals itself, and shrinks to the size of a small cube, which he shoves into a utility compartment on the calf of his boot.
He surveys his home, the dark mounds of history lurking all around him. Then he turns toward the screen, determined to make a mark of his own.
“Manus Market please, Verity.” He says. “But not too close.”
A red rock expanse appears on Verity’s screen, the bustling tent stall world of the Manus Market visible in the distant background. A waft of wind blows the scent of exotic spices, and slow roasting meats, through the open portal. Reve can hear the far off cries of the hawkers.
“Glognu! Fresh glognu!”
He glances back behind him, to where his blackboard stands. Though he cannot see it in the gloom of his rooms, it’s image is burned upon the retina of his mind. The phrase, written by Rose in Binamic slang, is the thing that informs his present resolve.
To Off-grid, is what it says.
“To Off-grid, Rose.” Reve offers the room. “Perhaps I’ll find you there. I will find you.” He brings a fist to his heart.
“It’s time to make my own mark on this planet. Goodbye, Mother.” He says.
He wonders if he’ll ever see this place again, and who he might be when and if that happens.
“You’re in charge now, Verity.” Reve says to the dark of the room.
“Affirmative.” The screen replies.
He climbs into the image on the screen, and out onto the red rock landscape of the Off-grid to the Left. He reaches back through the portal opening, and he drops his prayerscreen to the floor.
When last seen, Reve is walking towards the colorful tents of the Manus Market, fluttering on the near horizon. Then the portal blips to a point of light, and it’s gone. The framed image of a castle on a stormy night, is all that remains.
Red uniformed policemen find the last traces of Lord Nightmare many moons hence, on a small asteroid mining colony, established in the yesterday, and run by yubas and dreads. President Bob’s patrols interrogate the machines, whose memory banks contain grainy recordings of a lean and muscular man, wearing a black-hide uniform, and an Off-gridder hat pulled down low. From there Lord Nightmare is seen to bounce out into unknown space. No one will follow him there.