The Story

Really, this story has a life of its own. Many times I am puzzled by some particular detail that has no logical reason to be there, and not before much later I suddenly understand its deep connotation in a larger perspective, and realize that it had the unique correct shape even from the beginning. I am as much an explorer in this universe as any other, trying to see the big picture from behind the jungle of symbols and references.

The first story is a 23th century legend about a cybermonk who invented the Turing equation of the second kind and got a glimpse of the future of the humankind. Consult Asimov's Foundation series for a parallel storyline. One chapter of that story is about the archangels which were created to protect the secret, and especially about Abaddon, the angel of the Depths who was given the role of punisher against his will. See Apocalypse (not "now!"... well, ok, why not that as well).

The second story is about a 41st century nihilistic artificial person (let's call him EC here), who plays with old legends when not occupied by his official duties as a psychiatrist. He acts as a narrator for the other stories, and litters them with his philosophy.

The third story is about a woman, Daphne, who has left her reference mate and seeks for psychiatric treatment. When consulting Dr. EC she "sees a dream", or to be more precise, has to walk through a virtual world as a part of the treatment. After the dream she is even more desperate than before, and lets her memories to be completely erased and a new personality implanted. She is then readapted to the society as a completely different person with no connections to the past.

The fourth story is about Daphne's mate, Thalia, who was seriously injured when sky-surfing from low Earth orbit. The destroyed part of her mind had to be recreated from records. Was it Thalia who was resurrected or was it somebody that only looked like her? Was there an actual difference afterwards or did Daphne just imagine things? Anyway, after Daphne has leaved Thalia, she goes to find out what has happened to Daphne and why. Thalia finally gets to see Daphne's recorded "dream" and having seen that, does not want to know anything about it either.

All the other stories revolve around the fifth one, which is the "dream" itself. In the beginning Daphne is in the same situation as she is in her true life. But in the dream world she signs on the spaceship Antares and takes a one-way ticket to the off-world colony of Zavijava system at the constellation Virgo. An unexpected flyby of a small black hole destroys the ship in the deep space and it disappears from the annals of humankind.

The story forks here to three different streams, which then intertwine to form a pastiche.

First path: About 100 million years later (yep, right!) she wakes up on a strange planet. I think that the solar system in question lies somewhere in the large E1 galaxy M87 of the Virgo Cluster. Her U2 does not contain her normal programs any more but the essential routines of the artificial captain of the spaceship Antares. She is in the middle of an arctic desert, without means to survive. On the horizon she sees a ray of light which could be of artificial origin. She starts to travel towards that light, learning on the way how to live without the technology. Her body slowly decomposes because of some unknown disease. On her journey she commits unintentionally? the seven mortal sins and dies accordingly, shifting to the second storyline. When she at last arrives at her goal, there is a massive pyramid made out of the bones of all the humans ever lived. She climbs on the top of the pyramid and puts in a small box the seven physical remnants that are related to her sins. The pyramid disappears and she realizes that it never even existed otherwise than in her imagination.

Second path: Daphne lives through the entire history of the humankind ageing in an analogous way, starting from the stone age (newborn), then jumping to the Egypt of the pharaohs (child), then the industrial age England (prepubescent), her own age - the 41st century Earth (adolescent), then the time after revelation (another story again)(young adult), the age of empire (and another and another...)(adult), the age of civilizations (middle-aged) and finally the age of reunition (old age). At every time she meets Thalia and is told a different story. Through a rite of passage she then moves to the third storyline. At the end Daphne learns the final stage of the human existence: the planet of the first storyline, completely without any signs of the humankind far in the future.

Third path: the hell. All the nightmares and apocalyptic visions come true when the realities of the living and the dead mix with each other.

The order is the following:

  • (planet) drunkenness, poisoning
  • (history) stone age, the creation story
  • (history) Egypt, the story of a man who so loved life that he made a hell of it so that it would appear longer
  • (hell) white rider, Nilfheim
  • (planet) pride, is eaten by birds
  • (hell) red rider, the endless marching formation
  • (planet) greed, suffocation
  • (history) England, the story of a man who was sentenced to a hell of an infinite building
  • (hell) black rider, the stairless tower
  • (history) 41st century, story of the lost shadow
  • (history) Revelation, the story of the lone wanderer
  • (planet) voluptuousness, is drowned
  • (hell) ash grey rider, the floating cemetery
  • (history) Imperium, the past anxiety
  • (planet) envy
  • (hell) the martyrs, the talking dead
  • (history) Civilizations, the story without words
  • (planet) hatred
  • (hell and history) the day of wrath, resurrection
  • (planet) spiritual indolence, the pyramid
  • (hell) Kha'an

Kha'an. The mythical place of reunition, where the fate of humankind was decided for forever. All the paths only go towards this place. Daphne meets Thalia for the last time, and Thalia gives her the kiss of death. Everything fades out.

Daphne is in nothingness. Abaddon appears and tells her the reason why all this happened, and asks if Daphne can forgive him. She can't. The dream ends.

After Thalia has left the phychiatrist, he (or it) raves a while until the story comes to where it began on the first page. The psychiatrist announces that it is the end and cuts out.

After that, Daphne comes in. She insists that the story is not yet finished. She does not know where she is, nor what happened to her after the dream. She is overall confused about what has happened. Daphne discusses with her creator for a while about life, afterlife, eternity, gods and universes and is told the rest of what and why. Then the story ends for real.

After that comes an epilogue. It will be a surprise but I somehow feel that I owe it to Daphne, Thalia, and the readers alike.

Teemu Mäkinen (