Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Age of Imago - June - Pt. 4

Dearest Winifred:

I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits, and in no way, shape, or form further inconvenienced by the machinations of the Imago. I, myself, have been having to keep my eyes closed quite a lot during the day. I am beginning to feel like poor Matt Murdock, navigating the world by echolocation. So I suppose it is a good thing that, being so big-boned, I tend to move slow!

Having said that, I have not been moving slow on the matter of the missing special ed students. Based on what you told me, I have come to some further conclusions regarding their transportation, and possible ultimate conclusions. None of them are particularly good. In fact, I would venture to say that I fear these people we are tracking are now either dead or enslaved.

How I know this is something I feel I cannot say in print, not even in this new code. But after looking into other things, especially as regards what's actually going on in the world's non-industrialized countries, I suspect they've been corralled and put to work, somehow. Either that or they're being held as ransom in case we ever throw off our shackles and see things again.

I do not know for certain, but I suspect the worst. And that's why I'm writing to you in a new code that, knowing you, will take you just enough time to decode to allow me to go do what I have to do without your offering to come with me.

* * *
"Who else knows what you know?" the blue and yellow Imago asks Emperor Thurl

"No one, now," the Emperor says, sadly, taking care to step over what is left of his most trusted adviser as he walks towards her and her companion. The adviser's rendered and bloody body floats about the floor of the Emperor's private chamber, still warm and twitching.

"Are you certain, O Thurl, Emperor of Atlantis?" blue and yellow demands, striding over to Thurl, and pointedly not avoiding stepping in the remnants of the adviser: "Are you absolutely, completely certain?"

"Truly I tell you that no others know of what you have done," Thurl insists: "Those who told us were slain. Those who tended to them were also slain. Those who slew them were themselves slain by my adviser, and now..."

He gestures with his claws to the mess on the floor.

"Now I have slain the adviser. The killers have all been killed, save one."

"And that one is you, O Thurl," the other Imago says: "With your death, no one will know."

* * *

Now, do not be angry! I do not take this step because I do not trust you to perform in the field! Nor because, as I have just learned, you have cast iron ovaries.

(Is it awful of me that I did not realize Winifred was a girl's name? I must have mentally thought you were Winfield. Please do excuse this criminal oversight)

No, my stalwart anti-communist comrade. I take this step because I fear that this is much too dangerous, even for me. But seeing as how I am the one who has already been compromised by my previous venture into the field, I feel I have little or no choice to go forward. 

There is nothing waiting for me here but death, or worse. 

* * *
"With my death, I tell you truly that the Kingdom will fall into anarchy and disrepair," Thurl says, taking a step back: "You would condemn our entire civilization to death for the sake of your secret?"

"If it was the right secret? Absolutely," Blue and Yellow says: "And this is the most important secret of all, O Thurl. Your silence must be assured through death, even if it means the death of your Kingdom as well."

"And what good would those deaths do you?" Thurl argues: "Whom would we tell this secret to? And how? I tell you truly that we have neither the ways nor the means to communicate with the Overlanders, any more."

"You destroyed the communicator, already?" the other Imago asks.

"I tell you truly that it was dropped into the nearest chasm no more than three darks after our initial meeting. It has doubtlessly been eaten by the Red, now. Even if it was not, the increased depth would have crushed it to pieces."

"But you may still find a way to speak to an Overlander," Blue and Yellow says, walking a little closer: "We cannot take that chance."
* * *

You see, they are following me, now. They think I have not noticed, yet, but I can see the patterns. 

I can see how their flybys over my house have become more frequent in recent days. I have become all too aware that they are listening in to my conversations with my family, given how their proximity causes the hair to stand up on the back of my neck. I know my motions on the internet are being tracked, given my strangely-poor speeds and weird, electronic echoes, and the way the cursor sometimes moves on its own after I leave the room for a time. 

And I can see how our school's Imago watches me during those execrable pep rallies. My Gods, that smile! That hideous, sociopathic smile that acts as a poor cover to the endless darkness that must lurk just below it! 

Would that I could, with the firing of one bullet, wipe it from the face of this world!
* * *

"And what if I did?" Thurl asks, turning and walking over to a corner of the chamber, as though he were debating a point instead of begging for his life: "Even if they did believe me, could they fight against you? And even if they fought against you, would it truly matter with what's coming?"

"What do you know of that?" the other Imago asks.

"I tell you truly, and gladly, that we know everything about that," Thurl says, turning and smiling: "Our kind was born before the last time your approaching foe came to the Overland. The stonebones we harvest from the Wet are the remnants of those days, and the things that walked above, and swam below, when it arrived.

"So when I learned that you had activated the City of Darkness, and made it your home... well, I tell you truly, O Imago, that your deception is over. I know exactly what you are, now.

"And I tell you truly, O Imago, that I know what you are planning to do."

* * *

So I am leaving. 

I have packed in secret. I have taken precautions. I have made arrangements known to none but I and whatever God looks out for big-boned lovers of good porters, science fiction, and economic and personal freedom. 

I will either find out what is going on in Kelley's Island or I will not come back.

You are the one I can trust to take what I've found and carry on should I fall. You are also the one I trust to tell as many of our fellow SPYGOD SCOUTS as you can should the inevitable happen.

Word must be spread. People must know.

* * *

There is silence in the private chamber then. For a terrifying moment, Thurl thinks that the Blue and Yellow woman is going to ensure that the last thing he ever sees is a terror from beyond the great blackocean the Mother swims through.

But then she smiles -- in eerie unison with her fellow -- and clasps her hands before her: "Then, as you say, there is no way that we can let you live. Your knowledge is too dangerous for us to allow to be in the world. Surely you must realize this."

"Surely you overestimate my chances of using that knowledge, or having a reason to," Thurl says: "As I told you truly before, we were here the last time this happened. It was a nightmare, but we survived. We adapted. We became stronger for it. And if there is one thing the Kingdom is willing to do, it is to become stronger."

"Can they not become stronger without you?" the other Imago asks.

"They could, yes," Thurl admits: "But to truly prosper through what it about to come, I tell you truly that they need a strong leader. Without one, they may falter. And if they falter, I truly tell you that I hesitate to think of what will happen."

"Then pick a replacement, and we will ensure that he is installed in your place," Blue and Yellow says, smiling: "But be quick about it, O Thurl. The more you delay this necessary thing, the less likely we are to be generous."

"And you do not want us to feel less than generous at this moment, O Thurl," her companion says, smiling.

* * *

I have surreptitiously acquired your phone number. I intend to call on or before the 30th of the month. 

After the initial pleasantries, I will say "now about the chess club," and from thereafter consider the placement of every third word. I will pause every so often to let you say something, but please keep it to such banalities as "yeah" or "I know" or "Really?" and ignore such returns as "right" or "yes" from me.

If you do not hear anything from me by the 30th of this month, assume the worst, and spread the word. Do not come looking for me.
Do not come here seeking to avenge my death.

As much as I detest aping the words of a Communist: do not mourn -- organize. 

* * *

"Then let me make an alternative suggestion," Thurl says, holding his claws out in submission: "One that, I say truly, will benefit us both."

"What might that be?" Blue and Yellow asks. 

"My spawn is close reaching the age of intelligence," he explains: "Soon, there will be a struggle amongst them to see which one is worthy of survival. They will whirl and dance and devour one another, and in the end the strongest will stand, and be worthy of membership in our society."

"We know of this," the other Imago says: "But it will be months before this happens. That is too long-"

"Allow me to continue," Thurl says: "I tell you truly that there is a custom amongst our people to lay down their lives when their spawn comes to this point, especially amongst the most long-lived species. And I have lived a very long time by your calendar. So if I were to lay down my life upon this spawn's acceptance into our society, and have him crowned as Emperor, it would be natural and fitting, and none would question it."

"But that is still too long a time. How do we ensure that you do not speak of this until then?" the other Imago asks.

"Because I will lay down my life to symbolize the new friendship we have struck with the new masters of the Overland," Thurl says: "And this new relationship will be symbolized by the adoption of a new adviser within my court. One who will be with me at all times, in order to advise me on the best way to prepare for our eventual increase in contact with the surface world.

"One of you."

* * *

Would that I had the time to write you a more complete, possibly final letter. Would also that these paltry words of mine could adequately convey what a great friend you have been, and how grateful I am to you for writing me.

You see, dear Winifred, after SPYGOD SCOUTS was done away with, in the wake of what happened, I was well and truly lost. My peer group was denied me, my outlet for my feelings and skills forbidden to me. I wandered through life like a ghost, and even after 3/15, and my initial suspicions, and what I discovered, I was still unable to make myself do what I needed to do.

And then, here is a coded letter from someone, up and rousing me from my pathetic lethargy. When I decoded it, and read it, I felt the shackles I have worn since SPYGOD SCOUTS was disbanded and demobbed fall away. And I felt as though I could move again. Breathe. Laugh. Dance. 

(Well, perhaps not dance. I broke a bone in my foot, once, attempting to tango. Never again.)

But I think you know what I mean. To echo Charles Dickens, you recalled me to life, and there is no greater gift to give a complete stranger, Winifred. 

I hope you do know that.

* * *
The Imago say no, at first, as Thurl knew they would. And they say no and make ready to kill him three more times, no matter what he says.

But when he gets on his belly and crawls to Blue and Yellow, and begs her for the life of his Kingdom, and to not leave their blood on his claws, and cries and moans so hard his eyestalks almost pop out of his skull, they finally relent to his plan.

It will take some time, of course, and until then he must stay in this chamber and contact no one. But they will do it. They will spare his life until his spawn have gone through the ritual, and the strongest survives. And once he is dead, and the spawn sees to his interment, and the crown jewels accept him (hopefully) the Imago adviser will leave, and that will be an end to it.

They can go to the Overland and do what they need to do, and the Kingdom can prepare itself for what happens next. 

After they are gone, Thurl begins the process of devouring his adviser. It should be done while the blood and brain are still warm and fresh, but it could not be helped. And as he messily eats the being's mind, he can hear him speaking.

Did it work, my Emperor? the phantom voice asks.

It did, my servant, he quietly replies: It did. 

Then I tell you truly that I am glad, the voice replies, sighing in relief: So long as no one informs them of the true significance of your spawn's part in your funeralfeast, this should continue to work.

I will see to it that none speak to him regarding this, Thurl says, shlurking brain matter from the hollowing bowl of the adviser's skull: He will have no idea that, when he leaves, I shall remain and advise my spawn in this fashion. He shall have no idea that my spawn will know the truth of what has happened, here, and what lies ahead.

And what of the Overlanders, then? the adviser asks: Do you still intend to tell them?

Thurl pauses in mid-slurp, thinking on that for a time.

That, I think, we shall have to see, he finally answers. He's shamed to have to give such a non-committal one, but he's made enough large, long-reaching decisions this dark. 

Whether he lets the Overlanders live or die when the next Overapocalypse happens can wait for a time.

* * *

I have no regrets should this turn out to be fatal, save never meeting you in person. I so want to see your face and speak with you, about many things and nothing at all. I want to share comic books and good literature and bad music. I want to cook you a proper meal and see if I can avoid burning the chocolate souffle this time. 

And yes, I would berate you for the lack of a certain Doctor in your life. But it would be done from the sense of comradeship and friendly antagonism. Because you are a friend, Winifred. And I will miss not knowing you for real.

All I ask is that, once a year, when this is all done, and freedom and liberty are ours once again, hoist a porter high in my memory.  (I recommend Yuengling)

You are a true American hero. Never forget that. And hopefully I will one day soon tell you this in person.

Yours always


ps: New BSG made me feel queasy and nostalgic for the good-natured fun of the old series, but I thought the old series was, in spite of its interesting imagery, scary enemy, and Mormon mythology, trite and hackneyed. So let's call that a draw. 

 (SPYGOD is listening to Infinite in All Directions (John Foxx) and having a Yuengling Porter in honor of the fallen)

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