(Editor’s note : Holy crap, only three days left! WARNING : The odds are good on me not being able to bring this massive, weird, self-contradicting to a close. For one thing, I haven’t a single idea how to end it. The Apocalypse? The Primaries waking up to a horrfying reality they went into the System to escape? A massive orgy? No idea. So bear with me, please, as I try to figure this shit out. Not promising that I will, either. )
Mother Mayhem had given up.
There was only so much she could to do help people and it was clear that it was nowhere near enough.
She had done what she could, and done it with her usual vigor and drive. For her, helping others was not a decision. People needed help and she helped them. That was her fundamental mode of existence. Being able to help and not helping was as unthinkable to her as walking would be to a hummingbird.
So for her to have stopped trying to help others deal with the Reality Crisis in the System meant something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Something that had crushed her indefagitable spirit and left her a broken woman.
Something that had pushed her beyond all possibility of regaining hope.
Something that was very, very bad.
Something that, as it turned out, would be followed by something even worse.
It started with the refugess. HER refugess.
Early in the crisis, she had started rescuing people. She had always had a way with the Now and could travel its byways almost effortlessly, and she put this gift to good use traveling to all the fictions she knew of and pulling her fellow Fictionals out of the ones on the verge of collapse.
Those rescued were, of course, immediately recruited into the rescue team, and it did not take long before she had a throng of almost two hundred Fictionals traveling with her, and it was time to take them to safety in her home ficiton of the Astral Plane, and put them somewhere safe (and orgy-free, which would be a challenge) so she could go out and start the whole process again.
She had told all her new charges that she knew of a place where they would be safe. Where they would be warmly welcomed, sheltered from the storm, and given something to eat and drink and a nice comfy bed to sleep on.
So imagine her shock when she arrived in the Astral Plane and found out it was in worse shape than any of the others she had visited.
It was barely recognizable. Entire blocks of her district had melted together into a disturbing substance that resembled rainbow sherbert, or maybe the water in which an artist washed their brushes.
More disturbing still were the clouds of prismatic mist that roamed the rudimentary outlines of what used to be streets. They had learned the hard way that these were predatory. Three fictionals were subsumed into it right in front of Mother Mayhem.
It happened so fast they never even had time to shout.
But one of them, a beatific cherub, had time to look into Mother Mayhem’s eyes with a look of confusion, terror, and expectation that seared its way into the very substance of Mother Mayhem’s heart and tore her soul in half.
She had told them they would be safe.
She had led them to her Promised Land.
Instead, they got chaos and horror worse than that from which they had been rescued.
They believed in her and she had let them down.
How could this have happened? she wondered.
She was better off not knowing.
These brutal events were what set her heart on life’s anvil.
The death blow came in two parts.
The first blow was when she suddenly remembered that she was not a Fictional. She was a Primary. This was her fiction. Her own personal paradise.
Ergo the state it was now in was all her fault. Everyone knew what happened when a Primary left their fiction. It destabilized. Left alone long enough, it would completely dissolve and the System would reclaim all its resources.
And she had not been back to hers in a very long time.
Her mind could not process this. All her friends, dead and gone because of her. All the secondary citizens too, the background players she had always taken for granted.
All the lovely building, the restful parks, all the animals in her crazy X-rated zoo, the Hub Plaza and all its statuary, the Holy Library full of erotic books, the bejeweled Lingham Tower, the mysterious Yani Grotto, all those beautiful birds of every possible hue that flocked everywhere… all gone. Gone forever.
She wondered if any of the clouds had been friends of hers.
That’s when the second shattering blow struck :
She remembered who she really was.
“Hurry up, you fatuous idiot, or have you already forotten how to your goddamned job?”
The facility attendant smiled the smile of someone who was helpless to prevent their own abuse, and knew it. He said “As I have explained to you, Miss Madasoza, the calibration process cannot be rushed. If you could just be patient for a few more- ”
He never got to finish that thought because the client, Marilyn Madasoze, had grabbed him by the tie and pulled his face down to her level.
“Listen, you worthless fucking waste of space…. how DARE you tell me to be patient. Patience is for the weak. Patience is for people who aren’t strong enough to take what they want when they want it. Patience is a slave virtue, and in case you haven’t noticed, I AM NO SLAVE. So fuck your patience and fuck you too. Got it? ” she said.
The attendant nodded as well as he could in that position, and gulped for air. His tie was wound so tightly around her petite fist that it was making it hard to breathe, and his back was beginning to hurt from the strangle angle.
Marilyn glared into the attendant’s eyes till she was convinced she had gotten all the entertainment she could from crushing his spirit, then got bored and let him go.
The attendant scrambled back to his console, wheezing hard and slightly stopped, and checked his readouts. Oh thank God.
“The chamber is now ready to receive you, Miss Madasoze. You can enter and initiate treatment any time you like. ” said the attendant.
“Oh, I don’t know. ” said Marilyn diffidently. “I don’t even know if I want to do it any more. And what’s all this about treatment? I thought this was the latest kind of inductor. ”
“Oh, it is!” said the attendant. Get in get in GET IN, he thought. “But what makes it so unique is that it can read your emotional state and custom tailor the sensory inductions to meet your every emotional need. ”
“Sounds boring. ” snapped Marilyn. “And you say it’s supposed to be some kind of therapy? What for?”
In your case, your entire personality, thought the attendant. But that wouldn’t do. He needed to put it in a way that would convince her to get the fuck in.
“It’s therapy for… whatever you don’t like in your life. ” he said, praying to the Two for forgiveness for this lie. “In its world, everything you ever wanted will be provided. You can turn this world into whatefer you want it to be, and be anyone you want to be. ”
This sparked her interest. “What, so I could be like… an Amazon queen, or a wicked sorceress, or a goddess? Things like that? ”
“Oh yes! It’s all up to you. ” Inspiration struck the attendant. “In face, you could be queen of the entire universe if you liked. The system will guide you throught the process of making your dreams a reality, and you will finally get all that you deserve. ”
“It’s about bloody time. ” Marilyn snarled. “OK, if it’s that important to you that I do this thing, I guess I will do it. ”
“Thank you. ” said the attendant. Get to the next part! he screamed internally.
“So what do I do? ” she asked petulantly.
“All you need to do is enter the chamber, lay down on the inductor table, put the headgear on, and try to relax. ” said the attendant as soothingly as possible.
“Hmph. ” said Marilyn. “Not that different than a regular deep inductor then. I am disappointed, to be honest. ”
Just how rich and powerful are the Madasozes? thought the attendant. As far as he knew, nobody except for the researchers who had invented it had experienced deep induction. And she treats it as a commonplace.
“Yes, just like that. ” said the attendant.
Marilyn sighed. “I guess I’ll give it a try, then.
A few minutes later, all the attendant’s telltales were green, and with enormous pleasure, he pressed the button that powered up the inductor.
His pleasure was cut short by a loud bang followed by a terrifying metal on metal grinding soud that seemed to go on forever, then a final bone-jarring crunch.
His thoughts immediately went to the political situation. The Empire was losing planets to the rebels every day, and the newsies agreed that the days of the Empire’s hegemony were numbered.
But surely they wouldn’t attack a neutral medical facility like this one, thought the attendant. That would violate the Geneva Concordant and invite retaliation in kind for the Empire forces.
So this must be something else, he told himself.
Then a rebel burst in, and shot him in the head.
And that’s what it took to make Mother Mayhem, nee’ Marilyn Madasoze, give up. The memory of that last terrified look from the cherub combined with the knowledge that it was all her fault and that she was actually a Primary all along and that’s why she was so good at helping people, and then the memories of what kind of person she really was, broke her spirit into a million pieces.
And for what seemed like a very long time, she stopped thinking entirely. She was nobody, without will or thought or even a location. Her mind had completely frozen in place in order to protect itself from the incoming damage. Nothing moved, nothing breathed, nothing lived in this pure white void inside Mother Mayhem’s mind, which was barely above absolute zero inside and in which there could never be a single spot or stain or anything inpure because the white light was too bright for such things to even enter the void, let alone exist within it.
Time itself seemed to stop. But it hadn’t stopped, it had merely slowed down a great deal. Eventually, the ice began to crack, and then to melt, and Mother Mayhem had to start feeling things again.
That’s when the screaming started.
Eegee knew the bliss that only the true fanatic can experience.
It was all going perfectly. The people had voted for the Primaries to be disconnected. More or less. They voted yes, that’s what counted. Not whether they actually knew what they were voting for.
And even with his masterful manipulations, it had been close. The Yes vote won by a scant 0.38 percent. But Eegee didn’t care about that, either.
All that mattered to him was that the fools who ran the System entrusted him with the trillion digit key codes he needed to disconnect whatever Primary he liked, whenever he liked, however he liked.
And oh, how he had enjoyed that. Disconnecting the Primary, watching their fiction melt away, seeing the good little sheeple of that fiction run around like panicky ants because their precious Primary wasn’t there to tell them what to do any more, and laughing as, one by one, they were consumed by the growing chaos.
Bye bye, he said to them. Guess you just couldn’t make it on your own. That’s what you get for being a fake person in a fake world. Bye bye! Bye bye!
Then he’d laugh so hard it hurt.
He was saving the best one for last. Before he died, Commander Eric would see everything he had ever known and loved fall apart without any power to stop it.
At that point, killing him would be a mercy, one he hoped to delay for as long as possible so he could really drink in Commander Eric’s pain and misery.
Only when he had his fill of that would be finally kill Commander Eric.
And then everything will fall apart.
And then everything can go back to normal.
Except that without the Primaries, everything would be PERFECT. FOREVER.
And everyone would thank him for doing the right thing.
And then everybody would be happy.