I heard from a trusted source that you were close to finishing your novel. A full history of The Fall, I always thought someone should take the time to write one. Call it self-interest if you will but I told myself that if anyone ever did take it on themselves to set down those events on paper then I would tell the writer my part in it with the utmost honesty before someone else did it for me. I have told you my story already. But what I did not think or want to tell you was what happened much later, one steaming summer day in the city.
The electric lamp flickered, as if it too was suffering from the burning heat that made the air swim before my eyes. My thirst nagged unrelentingly at the back of my throat while I tapped my fingers increasingly impatiently on the bartop. I was not alone. This backwater bar in a corner of the fateful city they called Rien was inhabited by a dispersed legion of thirsty townsfolk; mainly subdued soldiers and farmers stopping by for a drink. Once such a large waste of time would have been considered impossible. Not simply for the sake of refreshment on a sweltering summer day. But for reasons I have already exaplained in my earlier letters, a year was longer than it had been. For that reason I found myself in an age of capitalism as I had never imagined possible with such short lives as our own.
But this is not about that, or the heat. It is about who happened to be sitting on the other side of the bar to me. An old man tapping his fingers on the counter almost in time to mine.
Of course, you can guess who this was if you’ve read my letters closely.
The soul who called himself Weq Kentanan was yet to catch my eye.
I had known the old warrior across a dozen lifetimes, lifetimes in which he had been a she… But of course you know all of this, dear writer. This was many hundreds of lifetimes after the Fall. We had no way of recognising each other.
The idea of someone to talk to on that punishing day while we waited for the bar keeper was suddenly very attractive to me. I spoke up in my young, then female voice.
“How long have you been waiting?”
“A year. You?”
The man had replied immediately without looking up.
He chuckled briefly and artificially, “You would think we were all immortal.”
I tried to laugh as he had, not quite capturing the same magnificent weight of his voice, “We might be someday.”
The man frowned just as the barkeeper arrived. She deftly handed over our drinks with practised skill. Others rushed to the bar, eyeing each other in case their drinks were somehow stolen before they reached the counter. My new companion nodded in thanks and I held my glass unsurely, my thirst suddenly losing its teeth.
“What do you mean?” The man asked me eventually once the crowd had died away, “How could you know that?”
The first question was to be expected. I chose to ignore the second, an odd cold feeling beginning to spread out from my stomach.
“It’s simply a result of rotational slowing. Makes the years longer, scientists think we’ll be immortal or close to it in a few hundred thousand millennia.”
The strange man nodded, I could swear he began sipping from his glass with subtely trembling fingers, “I don’t want to be alive when that happens.”
I was confused by this statement, “You can’t die. Well, you can, but you’ll be reborn just the same.”
“Where were you in the Fall?” The old man asked suddenly as if to hide his temporary show of weakness. I stiffened. You will know better than almost anyone why it was a story I did not enjoy telling.
“I fought at Telepi. With the eternalists.”
The tired looking man nodded slowly at this.
“How about you?”
He took a long time staring into space before replying, as if rival elements of his personality were fighting it out on some mental field before the simple fact of his weariness decided his carelessness. When he did speak up again it was with a gulp of his emboldening drink.
“I was the one who finished it.”
There was a moment’s silence in which my mind recoiled in terrible realisation. “Weq?” I asked his name and his eyes sunk into a horror almost worse than my own. He looked at me with pleading eyes and pleading voice.
“Lucy? Don’t, please - “
But I was already getting up, grabbing my assorted belongings and making my way out of the bar. Weq did not follow. Do you see how he used my name from The Fall? I had used a dozen others unlike his old world title he carried between lives like a totem. Perhaps that was why I did not turn back to see his surely desperate face. That was surely it. I pushed open the wooden door and emerged into the harsh sunlight under that foreign sky.
Behind me my drink remained on the counter untouched, collecting the sunlight.
I have changed my mind. If you were ever thinking of doing so, do not publish this letter. It is for your eyes only, I beg of you. The previous story I sent you… please do not make this it’s ending. Consider this letter a small, private, gift for all your work. I am very grateful, but, please, let it be.
May your life be long and full.
- Lucy Gaint.