Wednesday October 8th, 2014

The exercise:

Quick, before the month moves on without it, a return to our yearlong monthly prompt of Vancouver Irrealis.

If you haven't joined in on this one already, feel free to snag any old prompt from the archives that you haven't written on yet. Don't worry, I'll see it.

And one day, perhaps, reply to it.

I'm going to have another go at catching up on the comments eventually. Hopefully soon.

The NHL returned to action this evening and the Vancouver Canucks opened their season with a 4-2 victory over Calgary. This team looks quite different from last year's, so hopefully that equals different results.


The tea this time was comfortingly familiar to Tristam - peppermint with just the right amount of honey stirred into his cup. Anne-Marie and Rewand, however, set their drinks down after one sip and proceeded to forget that they existed.

"Am I... back home?" Tristam asked, keeping his eyes on the tea rather than run the risk of seeing pity or sympathy in the woman's eyes before an answer could be verbalized.

"In a manner of speaking," she replied.

"What the hell does that mean?" Tristam was tired of half answers. He was tired of the never ending barrage of weirdness. He was, most clearly of all, simply tired. Exhausted, really.

"An explanation - a proper one, one that might actually satisfy you - would take hours," she said, her words floating through the steam rising from her cup. "We don't have time for that."

"Well, we do," Ertrob said with a laugh like bells chiming. "But you don't."

"What is happening?" Anne-Marie cut in before Tristam could start yelling. "You said that you could tell us."

"These worlds are overlapping at an increasing rate," the woman told them after the briefest of pauses. "Crossovers are happening on a daily basis. And not just humans, as you obviously know, but entire buildings as well."

"How is that possible?" Anne-Marie asked.

"How could that go unnoticed?" Tristam added a heartbeat later.

"That is beyond our current knowledge," the woman told Anne-Marie before turning to Tristam. "Only abandoned buildings have gone over and remained so far. It is difficult to say why. Perhaps there is less resistance when only wood and stone and brick are involved, no flesh and bone. Or perhaps..."

"Someone or something is controlling what overcrosses," Rewand said.

"That is a possibility that must be considered," the woman admitted. "But there is one thing that we can say with some certainty, as grim as these tidings may be for you to hear."

"Get it over with already," Tristam said, the end of his patience having been left far behind.

"The two worlds are becoming one," the woman told him, then returned her attention to Rewand and Anne-Marie. "And when that final overlap occurs and becomes permanent, your government is dead set on being the ones who are in control."


Greg said...

I figured you were letting the comments build up because they were making pretty piles and you didn't want to disturb them :)
Oh wow, this is getting exciting now! And it's bigger than I imagined too, which is pretty fantastic. I like that the buildings are now passing across as well, and staying places. But two worlds becoming one... that sounds like it could be quite difficult. Life-changing, definitely!

Rewand and Anne-Marie looked at each other for a long moment, while Tristam stared at the floor. "What... what happens to the people when the two world coincide?" asked Anne-Marie at last, not taking her eyes off Rewand's face.
"There's twice as many as there was before," said Tristam. "Though maybe a bit less since some people might have died in one world and not the other."
"Oh, no," said the woman, her voice gentle. "I'm afraid that's not right."
"What?" Tristam looked up.
"We don't know why it works the way it does, but when the worlds merge the buildings and the people merge as well. One person or building always dominates the other, so it might look a bit odd for a while, but soon they're back to who they are... were... think they should be. If the counterpart is dead or missing then the living one just takes their place without any trouble. So you'll be fin--" She stopped, and her eyes flicked to Rewand and Anne-Marie. "Your government intends that your world is the dominant one. They don't want to have to change."
"I don't see how they can do that," said Anne-Marie. She looked around the room at the people sh was looking at. "There's a way of choosing, and they're doing that now?"
"What did you mean when you stopped?" asked Tristam. His voice was slow and thoughtful.
"It may be the devices that we know they've been testing," said Rewand, but there was a note of unhappiness in his voice. "We know they've been trying to make things thinner in a way; maybe they want to make the other world so thin it can't dominate."
"No, what did you mean?" said Tristam, his voice a little more forceful now. "You said I'd be fine, didn't you? Why?"
The woman sighed, looking at them all. "Oh, I really didn't want to have to tell you this right now," she said. "But maybe it'll work out. Tristam, dear... Tamtris is dead. He was hit by a bus shortly after he overcrossed. You're the only surviving one. Rewand, Anne-Marie... the simplest way to ensure that you survive when the worlds merge is if... if the other world is dead. Those devices you've been trying to figure out; they're bombs."
"How can you know this?!" shouted Anne-Marie. Rewand clutched her, stopping her from striking out at the people around her. "You're making this up, I know you are! Why are you hurting us?"
"Let us show you how we gather information," said Ertrob suddenly, surprising everyone with his words. "Maybe you should know more."

morganna said...

Ertrob came up to Anne-Marie and offered her his hand. She took it, and he led her off to another doorway Tristam hadn't noticed before. Tristam and Rewand followed. Beyond the doorway was a wall of blinking lights, buttons, and screens. As the visitors watched, several people seated in front of the wall pushed buttons, making different screens light up. They took notes on what they saw, quickly moving from screen to screen.

"See," said Ertrob, "here we know all that is happening in both worlds. We monitor most the governments, and what they are doing, even in their most secret places. But knowing does not mean stopping."

The woman came up behind them. "We see it all, but we cannot stop it. We are as complicit as the government, for all our knowledge cannot lead to action."

Anne-Marie whirled on her, whipping her hand out of Ertrob's. "There must be something you can do," she yelled, tears streaming down her face. Rewand hugged her tightly, and she turned her face into his shoulder. Tristam felt a brief pang of jealousy before turning back to the woman.

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name," he said apologetically.

She laughed slightly. "I'm Etjan, Ertrob's mother."

"Well, Etjan," continued Tristam, "why can't you position someone strategically in a building about to overlap with the government bomb lab, and at the moment of overlap, they will find themselves where the bombs are, and able to disable them before they are used?"

Etjan stared at him. "Well, we could, but it would be a suicide mission. There would be no way out. No one will volunteer for such a thing."

Tristam smiled sadly. "Yes, I will."

Marc said...

Greg - okay, so I really like what you did with the joining thing, how one person would dominate the other, should both be alive when it happens.

But... the thing with Tristam doesn't work. Nkare took his place and is the one trying to assassinate the president. So we can't really say she got hit by a bus and be done with her, can we?

Morganna - well this is another intriguing development! Not sure how I'll incorporate it at the moment, but I'll figure something out in the next couple of weeks.

Greg said...

Ah damn, I'd forgotten than Nkare took his place! I knew that we hadn't really mentioned Tamtris at all, so I thought I was on safe ground there.
So... this isn't well worked out yet, but perhaps in order for Nkare to get across the people she's working for had to grab Tamtris in the first place, and though the people here think Tamtris was hit by a bus, he's actually dead _in order that_ Nkare could take his place? After all, the people here can't monitor all the swaps, and they wouldn't know who was important until later on?

morganna said...

I like Greg's suggestion -- 'cause Tamtris really does need to be dead for my bit above to work -- because I thought Tristam might volunteer for the suicide mission if his double were dead.

Marc said...

Greg - just so I've got this clear, you're saying that Tristam switched with Tamtris, and then Nkare switched with Tamtris? So Nkare is running around in Tristam's world and the Tamtris that she switched with has been killed off in Anne-Marie and Rewand's world?

Welp, this got confusing in a hurry.

Greg said...

Right, I'd missed that this had carried on here, but yes, I think the best way for this to work is that Tristam swapped with Tamtris, and Nkare went over at the same time and killed Tamtris in order to take his place. We probably haven't got time (in the remaining two months!) to dig into it, but I expect Anne-Marie, if pressed, would remember that Tamtris had originally come into the restaurant with another woman (Nkare) and all the weirdness since meant she'd never wondered what happened to her.