‘THE LEVIATHAN MAY HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE WITHIN THIS SPHERE BEYOND GROWTH AND FEBRILE AMBITION’
Olivia stood there, looking up at the luminescent cloud that moved against the prevailing gravity with the liquid insistence of a jellyfish. Each time it spoke, it produced flashes of brilliant light that stripped her of comprehension, such was the awe with which she beheld it. Since she had crossed the bridge, she had seen enough wonders to last her a lifetime, although she had arrived unaccompanied.
Drea backed up against a wall, her hands pressed against it and found that it flexed like a muscle against her. She turned around, ready to throw a punch. She kept telling herself that this was all simply a dream. She told herself that again and again, until the words were robbed of meaning.
Olivia felt quite proud of herself. She had not immediately lost her mind or control of her bladder. It might have been the presence of the rifle, even though everything around her was on a scale that made her wonder if a bullet would do anything other than embarrass her, rather than wound or kill anything. She had not seem Heimdall since she agreed to cross the bridge.
‘Sorry about the ceremonial stuff. There’s a lot of protocol around this sort of thing, so we have our work cut out figuring what the best way to get someone over is.’
The three women turned their heads to follow the source of the explanation. She stood, with her hands up in front of her, dressed in a black suit, tailored to accommodate her lean hips and long legs with a white shirt and a black bow tie. She had short, black hair that was combed away from a high, regal forehead. On her fingers were an assortment of rings, that each gave off a soft glow, in a myriad of colours that caught the light and did wonderful, interesting things with it.
‘Who are you?’
Gloria was the first to say it. A headful of stories gave her something of an advantage in adjusting to whatever and wherever this was. She had seen a man make a bird of fire with a single phrase.
It sounded like a shaman clearing his throat, and she found herself saying it in her hand like a mantra, hoping that this would all start to make sense. Part of her wondered if she hadn’t simply broken something in her head, laid there at the side of the road, flesh dimpling with the cold and the rain in her eyes.
‘I’m responsible for the three of you being here.’
Drea narrowed her eyes and examined the woman’s face, cast in a perfect mask of polite embarrassment. She was waiting for her to stop making sense and go inscrutable like the white haired woman had. ‘Sob carefully, the headwinds will cost you tears’ She wondered if there was meaning in that.
‘No, I had some girl with white hair that she smacked me around with and I was in the, I don’t know, future or something.’
Olivia guffawed and shook her hair out.
‘I was taking the scenic route home, came across a bridge, turned out to be magic, who knew?’
Gloria smiled and realised that if this was all a product of her broken brain, then it was at least worthwhile and quite well realised. She hoped that she would live to write about it. There was at least a book out of it, which was an unkind but honest phrase that she used with every rejection and tragedy.
Until the last one.
‘So, I met someone who was named after the god of stories, you -‘ she pointed to Drea.
‘I’m dreaming.’ Drea said and shot a harsh look around the room to challenge anyone who said different.
‘OK, so you are in a dream where you fought some trope from wu shu cinema and I pretty much had the same experience as-‘ She looked at Olivia and smiled at her. Olivia blushed and gave her name, in a voice gone smooth and soft, like whipped cream from the earnest look and the smile that Gloria gave her.
‘I’m Drea, pleased to meet you two.’ She shook hands with the pair of them, tight, dry handshakes that spoke to a desire to wake up now please, even if it was all couched in a polite, awkward play of manners.
The fourth woman clapped her hands together.
‘Ok, so I am Cara and this is a good news, bad news situation. You all know that something big and horrible is supposed to happen and you’ve been asked to come and lend a hand.’
Drea folded her arms and smirked.
‘Is that the good or the bad news?’
Olivia chuckled and winked at her. She had spirit, which Olivia always liked in anyone.
‘No, it’s a preamble. The cloud up there is a diplomat from the Klee, who are a species of gas based lifeforms. Very intelligent but they communicate in chemical signals and the translation software we use makes them sound like that. However, what it’s referring to, is what’s coming.’
Gloria remembered the word. Leviathan. An old testament word, even writing it down made it look it was carved into stone or word. Big fish, she remembered, in that way that made writing fun but the rest of her life awkward and uncomfortable.
‘So, the bad news is that the leviathan is really bad?’ Gloria said.
Cara grimaced and pressed her palms together.
‘Well, it’s a lifeform that someone created just before the heat death of a universe, and it then starts travelling backwards through time and space. Eating everything in it’s path.’
Drea put her hand up, realised that she was beginning to experience the onset of a tension headache.
‘When you say everything, what does that mean?’
Cara’s face grew serious, which made the three women very nervous.
‘Time, space, everything. Mostly though it eats stories.’
Gloria fought a burst of nausea at the thought.
‘So, I get that this is a problem but we won’t be around to see it happen, I mean, time and space, are pretty big. Infinite kind of big.’
Cara frowned and gestured towards the klee cloud.
‘So’s the leviathan. We’ve been feeding it to see if there was a way to poison it or anything but it’s relentless.’
Olivia looked at the rifle in her arms, the care and attention in hours of polishing and oiling it, making sure that each part worked with clarity. She experienced the sadness of how impotent it was, here on this scale. She looked up.
‘It won’t stop, will it?’
Cara shook her head.
‘No, it won’t. But I have an idea.’
Gloria looked up at the klee cloud again.
‘And I take it, seeing as there are alien diplomats, that there’s a bit of a problem getting between your idea and actually doing it?’
Cara pointed at her and grinned.
‘Six points for Gryffindor. Yes, so I thought I would just go ahead and do it.’
Drea sighed and raised her eyebrows.
The woman’s smile widened in a way that made the three women nervous and excited at the same time. A smile that promised trouble, the spontaneous, hilarious kind. For the three women, that meant individual experiences and regrets, but this was a woman who spoke intimately about the scale of universes and stories with an exactness that convinced each of them that insanity, a brain haemorrhage or a simple dream might have been preferable.
‘We’re going to fucking kill it.’
TO BE CONTINUED.