Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shutting the Door: Part Three

The days rush past, a dizzy flurry of hours and minutes, and here I have allowed almost a week's worth of them to come and go since last I sat down to record my part in the events of last Saturday. Too easily and agreeably am I distracted from recalling this terrible affair, and I have welcomed the work the Museum has required of me. But I know that I must keep my promise, and so I will now make an end to this account, though I doubt it will satisfy you, Bella. What you desire is quite beyond my ability to recall, much less document.

I will also here note the arrival this past week in New Babbage of a physician by the unusual name of Akiteckt Undercity, a rather peculiar young woman whom I have taken into my confidence. I will admit that I find myself somewhat at a loss to explain this sudden trust, and I am wary of making another mistake of the kind and magnitude I once made with Molly Underwood. Dr. Undercity claims to have begun her own experiments in time travel, though I have come to suspect that she is not half so knowledgeable as she would have me believe her to be. I have done my best to discourage her from the path of her investigations, and I fear I have told her many things I would have been better off keeping to myself. Time will tell, of course. She did not witness the events at the Imperial Theatre, though it seems news of those events may have led her here.

Bella, I really must make my conclusion to this account as brief as possible, for my nerves cannot endure any lengthy or detailed recollection of that day.

As I have said, when the portal opened by Eliot's device parted the veil of space and time, allowing those beings some have called the "Great Old Ones" entry into this world, I opened a second vortex, one leading back to the universe of my birth and to the machine I have here called the Whole. Believing that I had decided to allow myself to be reclaimed, she welcomed me, and as those dreadful elder things began to fill the skies above New Babbage, I transmitted the extraction protocol. But I had managed to situate my vortex so that rather than pulling me to her, the Whole dragged towards her the creatures summoned by Jason Moriarty. Inside the theatre, I used myself as a sort of conduit, redirecting the energy flowing out of the Porta Terrarum mechanism in such a way that is was fed directly back into the device, almost immediately causing it to overheat. A terrific explosion followed, filling the auditorium with smoke and great billows of flame, and the delicate innards of Professor Eliot's contraption were fused and rendered useless. Moriarty's portal was slammed shut.

Immediately, the blue-white plume rising from the Imperial vanished, leaving only the three monstrous "Old Ones," which only moments later were claimed, one by one, by the vortex I had created. And then I sealed that doorway after them. It is at this point, in a final, vicious surge of power from the Whole, guessing my deception too late to forestall the consequences, that I fell, plunging back to earth, landing unconscious upon the bridge which spans the canal between Ginsburg's and the theatre. I am told I spoke a few words to Miss Paine and Gloriana Maertens, though I myself have no such recollection.

And here it is that I come to that portion of the tale, Bella, that I suspect you are most keen to hear, but also that portion which I am the least eager to relate. Though I have only just said that I was "unconscious," the truth is that while my body lay upon that bridge, my mind was occupied elsewhere. In a darkness so perfect and profound I found myself unable to even remember the very fact of light, I listened as someone or something spoke to me. And eventually I realised that the speaker was, in fact, the same voice that had called upon me to stand as a shield against the "Old Ones." I would name it the voice of this world, though in so doing I know I only raise more questions. But that is what is was, truly. And from it I learned that my automaton shell had been battered beyond all hope of repair in the encounter and could not now hope to survive. And the voice then offered me two paths, from which I might freely choose: I could "die," which I believe would have meant the merciful release of senseless oblivion, or I could return in a new body provided me by this world. I chose the latter, and from memories stored within my failing self was that new form constructed. Not a body of liquid metal as I had previously inhabited, but one of living flesh and blood, sinew and bone, fashioned after the race known as the Nebari, whom I encountered at the age of "seventeen" during that first accident in my father's time cabinet.

On the bridge, before the startled eyes of any number of New Babbage's populace, I vanished, reappearing shortly thereafter in the garret above the Museum. Briefly possessed of some vestige of my former telepathic abilities, I called out to Miss Paine, and she heard me. She came, bringing with her Loki Eliot and the orphans, and the sight of them gladdened my soul (if I ever may be said to possess such a thing). Though alarmed at my somewhat altered appearance, they were relieved to see me, as well, and I lay on the chaise lounge while they milled about and asked questions I could not ever hope to answer. Glory was there, too, and more briefly, Captain Susenko. But, as you may well imagine, I was confused and exhausted, and too soon found it necessary to end our joyful reunion. I fell into the deepest sleep of my life, then, and if I dreamt, I did not dream of the Whole and her burning seas and endless halls of blinding light.

Make of these words what you will. For now, they are the best I can do, but I will not be insulted if you dismiss them as a lie or as the raving of an unhinged mind. I must go now, for work calls, but once again, and hopefully not for the last time, I thank you, dear Bellatrix, and hope that these pages find you well.

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