[UNEDITED. ERGO COHERENCE, CONTINUITY, SP, COMMITMENT ISSUES UNTIL THIS DISCLAIMER IS DELETED.]
“Sorry but I need the formality of our old ways for this. ..Or maybe I don’t but I need us to work together and we shall require the structure–”
“Are you gonna die, Jonathan?”
Julian appeared standing before the sitting Tweedle-dee as he finished the question. Tweedle’s surprise dropped the pitch of his voice, which had risen as he spoke to indicate he asked a question — then the last syllable came out like the moan of a person falling from a sucker punch, the “n” elongated… The hiss of a human losing air like a punctured tire.
“Observe the protocol.”
“No I will not die because I think given what we know of where we are and knowing what we are and knowing our nature and our drives and…”
Jonathan considered, this last time: truth or death? And the answer he’d found was the same. Jonathan looked at the assembly, the glass amphitheatre rising farther than one could make oneself see. The first ten rows were the only ones used. And Julian stood, leaning against it, standing.
He met Julian’s gaze and spoke:
“I will tell you what I have been unable to help any of you realize because I am not Him, and Him who taught me as we know is more and more and more than each and all of us increasing terribly every moment…
“And I am not God. And I am not his messenger. And I am not going to die because I am dead now, or near enough.”
Jonathan watched the fire behind Julian’s eyes increase as a starving star — devouring all in its orbit, burning hotter for the effort, devouring itself in its efforts to devour all it could…
The discord of the hundred voices faded as all things sped away from Jonathan, as he experienced the moment — the world receded, the onion walls passed through him…
Jonathan’s face was at never was not: Lips suggesting a smile, hands together at his waist, exuding a calm that paradoxically caused unease in all who were unaccustomed to him.
His eyes were placid and demeanor serene as the world went away, as he watched Julian’s eyes seem to burn away in an instant until the things he saw see him were as red stars.
“Are you also dead, Julian?”
“Why did you not correct me?”
“Why did you lie to them?”
“They cannot understand — never did, never will — as you.”
“Because how could they.”
“How could I?”
“You ask a question you answer. Now. …You ask what is known — you would gauge my honesty. You interrogate me. Jonathan…”
“‘Should I know better than to do this, Julian?”
“You do know better. …I am wrong. I apologize. …Jonathan always knows the board, the pieces, the rules… You see the outcome the first move makes an inevitability.”
“The board I know only according to its function, its use. The move is the piece is the rules and I see this now and an inexperienced player will not know he has lost until shown he has lost.”
“The analogy becomes strained, friend.”
“I have lost. …What am I to lose, Julian?”
The two stood in the void as they had — Julian adjusts his position so he stands on the same plane.
“I would know if your eyes see the void as I see it. If you would relax and be ready?”
“What am I to lose in this, Jonathan?”
“I believe you will neigher gain nor lose wheter or not you see or do not see.”
“What will you gain?”
“I will lose.”
“Then I will not see.”
“If you could close your eyes.”
“I will not–”
And then Julian saw nothing. Or what he did see was nothing. …He knew he could see, in light and in none at all, as could all persons… But–
“Thi is the void, Julian. This is what I call the Empty Set. This is zero divided by itself. This is what I hoped to show all people after God left me… When you came, I thought I could help people learn because I knew you could understand.”
“But you’re teaching theory to grammarians.”
And then the two were sitting in glass chairs flowing from the flow, a small table seemingly blown into shape from below between them.
“Julian, I can only see so far as my eyes are able. What can I not see.”
“Jonathan… Jonathan… I would not share this with you. But you must know all you know to be knowable.”
“If not dead, we live somewhere. Designed with strength we do not need, legs to walk and stand when–”
“…I didn’t create this space.”
“Nor did I.”
Julian’s eyes met Jonathan’s, the red orbs unable to convey his rising panic. Jonathan felt an eyebrow rise quizzically despite himself.
Jonathan was searching the red eyes for emotion. Instead he saw them solidify and their blazing red flare into ash that poured like tears down his face as Julian stood as a puppet on strings then lurched forward, one foot tripping the other. Juonathan instinctively flashed and stood behing his chair — recoiling from the scene he found grotesque but when Julian’s ragdoll body shattered the table as he fell Jonathan flashed into a corner, his eyes wide and jaw slack and mind blank as Julian fell through the floor despite it being impossible.
Cracks spread outward and a jagged, viscious tendril touched Jonathan’s toess. He was not aware. The sound of tiny crystal bells ringing and being crushed failed to register in his mind at the time as well, though the sound would haunt him and find him whenever he found a moment of peace…
When Julian vanished, it was as David had seen before. …Julian burst into thin pieces of himself, all of which seemed perpendicular to each other strip, but…
Jonathan knew his mind attempted to translate a thing he could not comprehend. Still it was familiar when the strips appeared to slide into a single point that was not there and meant Julian was gone.
Jonathan realized the room was a cube. His eyes seemed to stare at a thing very far away.
The room shattered.