God in a Box (Working Title) – Part 3

A longer bit – I was going to do this as two bits, but it didnt seem to flow as well that way, so here’s the lot! I guess I need to get a move on and write some more stuff. Slow updates, sorry, busy busy week this week.

————————————————————–

The caravan wound its way through the barren canyon. This was dangerous country. The smashed remains of gutted carts were strewn along the canyon floor, to lie with the dessicated remains of their guards and pack beasts. The lead cart rumbled over the rocky surface, grinding pebbles to dust under its great weight. Each time a wheel stuck on a rock, or fell into a pothole, the cart beast grunted, but the drum roll of its eight massive feet never faltered.

The guards clutched their long bladed spears tightly, every knuckle on all four hands white with strain. They scanned the jagged crests of the hills; any silhouette was studied carefully. The tribes would be watching. The guards were on edge; no-one wanted to get caught out here, when the city and it’s fortified sanctuary was so very close.

The captain clutched his spear two-handed, and used his other hand to shield his eyes. The double blue sun was bright today, it would give their attackers an advantage attacking from the top of the crag. His phantom hand twisted uncomfortably, bringing to his face what passed for a grimace among his people. That wound still bothered him. It was long past the time the limb should have regenerated, but he wasn’t as young as he used to be, and the long years had hardened his chitin, making the process more painful to boot.

*They come!*

The alarm slammed into him, each molecule of the alarm scent crashing into his receptors like a rock from a catapult. He spun in time to see the painted brown figures detach from crevices in the wooden walls of the canyon, each one a feature of the landscape until they moved. The sinuous movement of their eight limbs emerging from the background hypnotised him, but their rage filled screams as they charged brought him back to himself, and he readied his weapon.

A long spear whisked past his head, the fluidic air parting with a thin scream. He ducked, and jabbed, using his attackers momentum against him, and the spear tip plunged into the tribers thorax with the crack of splintering chitin. He jerked the spear free as the body spun past, parried a hastily thrust attack with his lower forearm before swinging the bladed edge around. Using the last of the dead creatures momentum, he smoothly separated the attackers head from his body. Both fell at his feet, twitching. He jumped, air molecules moving aside reluctantly as he did so, and landed on another triber a split second after it cut down the paralysed guard it had been attacking. The captain screamed, a screech of pain and fury as he felt the tribers head cave in under this feet.

A spear haft hit the captain in the head, and he went down, his vision blurring. He hit the ground, and rolled over. His spear has gone, flicked away by the force of the fall. A triber stood over him, and his mandibles clacked together in a smirk of pleasure. He was a tense, malevolent oasis in the chaotic melee whirling around them. The blue suns glinted off his dark brown armoured body as he brought the blade spear up in a four-handed back-swing, and began the final downward stroke.

The world blurred and rolling wave of deafening sound bounced and ricocheted down the canyon.

The ground fell away from beneath them, throwing the triber off his feet and into a heap beside the captain. They were still falling as the ground rose again, and the captain felt his chitin crack as the rock smashed into him from below. And the world went black.

—————-

Blinba looked up. He had been concentrating so hard on his new little world that the slamming of the door had taken him by surprise. He could still feel the violent concussions rolling around the winding canyons of the wooden plank floor. If he was human, he would be annoyed. He flared his eye-orbs in what he’d learned was a menacing fashion.

“What do you want, now? It is annoying when you surprise me like that.”

“I-I-I’m s-sorry. This door doesn’t ‘alf st-stick.”, said a thin male voice apologetically.

“I was busy.”

“Ooh, w-w-what w-with?”, said the voice, curiosity momentarily getting the jump on fear, before it caught up causing him to squeak, ”I-if you d-don’t mind me ask-k-king?!”

Despite himself, Blinba liked this mind. It was fractal; the simple pattern of swirls and knots was repeated at smaller and scales smaller. And the closer he looked the more complex the pattern became, at every level. Unfortunately it was also a vivid shade of yellow. He could feel the cloying sense of unforcussed dread of the world drifting around this mind like oily smoke.

“I was building worlds.”

“Really? W-would you tell me about them?” The stutter was suddenly almost absent, forgotten. Blinba heard a rustle of paper.

“I would like to, but I would like to be left to build my worlds more.”

“Oh.” The mind flattened slightly, almost a slump of disappointment.

“But, since the world has apparently all but ended now, I will talk to you,” Blinba continued, feeling curiously reluctant to disappoint this earnest little creature.

“W-wow, thankyou!”, the shape sat on a previously unnoticed stool, pencil poised over a sheaf of paper.

“I built a city and some small creatures to make stories for me watch. They lived on the floor, in the floor. They fought, they loved. They were unique, for they were just an inspiration, and I let the nature of this universe shape them. Their shape gave them what they thought of as free will. In this they were the same as you. Their will caused them to act and from these acts emerged stories.”

“Y-you built a world, in the floor? What are they doing now?”

Nothing, they died, as all stories do. Each hour was a century to them; they had plenty of time, but their world was transient and the opening of the door was too much for it.” The scratch of pencil on paper halted suddenly.

“W-what?! Really? And I killed them by opening a door!?”, the voice exclaimed, horrified.

“Yes. Does that upset you? You did not know. You were but a natural disaster, you could not communicate with them, or they with you, you were the equivalent of a magma eddy that triggers an earthquake. You did not murder, your action merely had a consequence that you did not predict or observe, as all your actions do. That is how the world is, and that is what makes it interesting.”

“B-b-but still, I killed them. Did they suffer?”

Blinba shrugged. “Many of them did, but not for long. And at the end of things, what is the difference?”

The mind shrank slightly, and its hue became more orange.

“You are g-getting b-better at acting like w-w-one of us, you know. You can b-be mean.”

Blinba looked at him, genuinely surprised. “Do you think so? I admit I feel that I have changed. I cannot observe the world, I am broadly as limited as you in my perception. Do you think that has altered me? But I do not think I am being mean. I did not mean them to suffer, any more than you did.”

“B-b-but you made them. That makes their suffering y-your f-fault.”

“So I should have let them remain unrealised potential? Suffering and happiness are consequences of existence.”

“Can y-you not make them just happy?”

Blinba looked at him, eye orbs flaring once again, “That would be boring.”

“You seem to have an answer for everything. More so every day.”, he muttered reproachfully.

“I have little to do but to think about things from your point of view, so I suppose that I seem to have more relevant answers. It is most distracting, my mind wanders. I prefer our conversations, it allows me to focus on one subject. Does the old man know you are still visiting me?”

“No, he told me not to. He said I had not done a good job of understanding you. I think he was just angry that I hadn’t agreed with what he’d taught us.”

There was a long silence as Blinba thought about this, then he said, “So, am I to be sent out into the world again? It has been some time, has it not? I find it difficult to tell.”

The young main looked sad.

“The Reverand Scholar said that w-we w-w-were not t-to let you out again for a w-w-while. He said you are g-g-getting uncooperative. I’m sure he b-blames our talks, the ones w-we had b-b-before he b-banned me from seeing you.”

“And stopping me from doing the work he wants me to do is a punishment? If I was uncooperative, I was at least being uncooperative while working.”

“He’s just trying to hurt you isn’t he?”

Blinba’s shoulders became mistier, and rose a couple of inches; his version of a shrug, and nodded. Exaggerated affectations which took far more effort for him than speaking, but it seemed appropriate. The young man looked about to cry.

“But w-why? W-w-what have you done to him?”

“I have done nothing, I think that is why he is angry. Until he trapped me here I did not know him, or you, or anyone. You were just talking chemicals. Despite his assurances to the contrary, he is a pious man, and I have disappointed him. He believed in a god of power and influence and manipulation, something he could use. I am just a god of stories. All I really do is watch.”

“But surely that is better? We are our own, not something’s play-things.”

“I am glad you see it that way.” Blinba looked into the eyes of his only friend and his voice took on an edge of pleading. “So, can I go out again? Please?”

Even Blinba couldn’t decide if the emotion was voluntary.

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