TheNeverPages Serialisation
Series 5, Episode 14

TheNeverPages - Series 5, Episode 14

Master G_ entry – in pursuit:

I am in an oilfield. The giant seesaws are oil pumps made of bone – like giant legs plunging into the earth – I have walked towards the campfire and I am getting close to them, I can tell. They are not moving and I am certain now that they are waiting for me. In the morning Paisley and I walked from the dune and into the red dust cloud that masked the giant leg-drills. The wind was severe and I had to wrap my coat around me, holding it close and leaning into the sand-blizzard. Paisley this time struggled to keep up as the loose sand collected around his paws, the grains battering his face, filling his eye socket and weighing down the side of his skull. The wind became so intense that the grains of sand were pulling my skin off also – grains flaking away – I was in full control, and yet I could feel myself turning to sand against my will. Strange paradox. The sand-skin fell away but only so far as to reveal bone! For a while I was literally a walking skeleton! Real bone – cancellous and cortical composition – why did that not turn to sand? Why only partial dematerialization? I am becoming human once more – rebuilding again. I regret losing my ability to turn to sand as it has proven useful. Saved my ‘life’.

Writing this now as the wind has died down. We are in the centre of the ghastly oilfield. Read over old notes, seems Old Angeline from the train has walked through here before. Before I met her at the train station, before she turned into a cyclone. I wrote before that I would fear coming across the place she described. That now, I know, is not true – I do not fear this place. I seem indifferent to its biomechanics. Perhaps I have seen too much. Numb to TheNeverRealm. Perhaps I am too focused on my meeting with Brekker and New Angeline that all else is secondary?

The Bone Drills have large, calcified rock bases, like coral, supporting the giant femurs – they are large enough to provide habitable cracks and holes. Good crawl spaces in which to find shelter. I have crawled, feet first into a crevice a metre above the ground on the south facing drill. The wind is calm and I have a view of the pinprick campfire on the horizon. Less than a day’s pursuit. Paisley remains outside, sitting and watching the campfire. He is breathing steadily. I have little room to move and can barely write. It is like being loaded into a cannon, the campfire being my bullseye. At least I am safe from the elements.

Storming of the LHC Compound – (c’ont):

My body was pinned to the sword’s crossguard due to the inverted gravity that the Final Stage Firing had incurred but I could see through MGV2’s eyes. However, his vision had not entirely replaced mine but was more of an overlay with reduced opacity.

He (I will write it as ‘he’ and not ‘I’) was on the walkway and the gravity was ‘normal’ – the gantry seemed to be impervious to disorder around. Ahead he could see Tesla still at his station, operating his levers with that same metronomic sadness. He screamed at the automaton – screamed his name, screamed for him to move – it was only when he said, “It’s Master G_,” that anything registered. Tesla began to slow his levers down. His head twitched a little. MGV2 began to advance along the gantry.

It was then that gravity pinning me to the sword began to slip – I felt as if being gently lowered on a rope – a rope whose tensile strength was weakening. I held Paisley tightly to my chest as we began to lower towards the floor and all around me, a whirlwind of debris and electrical charges cackled.

MGV2 was almost on him when Tesla stopped his terminal operation completely. As soon as he brought the two levers to rest, the gantry was rocked by a crippling sideways force! It buckled awfully in the middle, as if it had suddenly materialized into this chaos. The buckle forced the gantry to rip its holding from the reactor wall at MGV2’s end. The centre of this now ‘V’ shaped walkway smashed into the side of one of the reactor columns causing the globules within to charge like boiling water. Tesla’s side of the walkway was barely holding on to its stanchion as MGV2, on his freed end, swung wildly and repeatedly crashed into the reactor tube. He was shouting for Tesla to get safe, to get away, but the scientist just stood there.

I was screaming too – screaming at MGV2 to get clear, screaming to Tesla to wake-up. Paisley was barking also and we could both feel the ‘chord’ of gravity connecting us to the underside of the sword slipping, soon to send us plummeting down the hundreds of feet to the ground.

MGV2 looked up at me and I looked down at him. In my mixed vision I saw myself, and then he said to me, “Go now, go save yourself,” and he pointed up to the hole in the roof.

It was then that MGV2’s vision faded away and my true eyesight returned. I managed to rotate myself in that faltering gravitational field so that I was now facing the hole in the roof and the ocean-like Borealis in the sky. The crossguard of the sword was only a few feet above me. Paisley barked at me and nodded towards it. We understood each other. I pressed him off of my chest, held him up and with a monumental heave I threw him up. He scrabbled in the air, his legs kicking and scraping through the resistance and he made it! He managed to grab onto the edge of the quillon, his hind legs, digging in and he scrambled onto it and looked down at me. I unclipped my belt and swung it up to him. It took just one attempt for the animal to catch it in his mouth.

Paisley braced for the strain and I began to climb. I was almost there when the ‘chord’ of gravity finally gave way and it shifted to its natural state. My legs swung down violently and Paisley scrabbled forward, falling half over the edge of the crossguard. He dug his back legs in, gripping harder so hard that three of his teeth shattered and still he kept his grip! He began to backup, and I climbed faster. I was in reach when the poor dog’s jaw dislocated and snapped open, sending the belt flying out of his mouth! I swung my arm up and just managed to grip the concrete quillon in time. I scrambled up and crawled towards poor Paisley. He was lying on his side in great pain, his legs kicking and scraping against the hilt. I bent down and looked at the damage. It was a clean dislocation. I held his head firm and fixed him with a stern gaze. I nodded three times and on the third, I snapped his jaw back into his socket. A look of relief washed over the dogs face and he got to his feet.

We were now standing on the hilt of Mother Motherland’s sword, the tip of which was impaled into the reactor floor almost out of sight below us. As we looked over the edge, we saw the folding realties continue and the complex begin to twist and distress under the great weight. I looked up and saw that the pommel of the great sword was resting against the edge of the roof. It was our escape route. With Paisley slung over my shoulder, I climbed the handle with relative ease and within minutes we were standing on the outside of the reactor at the highest point possible and the very tip of reality. The Borealis was all around, the colours penetrating us, flowing through our veins, through our bones. We were glowing!

The downward curve of what remained of the dome roof was easily traversed with many foot and handholds available to us on our descent. Paisley went down head first and I followed feet first. Though we had escaped the chaos inside the reactor, we were not done - we were not out of the fire or the fight! We had to reforge our strategy. The new plan was to find a way back inside the complex.  We had saved ourselves from the sword, but we still had not seen to Brekker! We had not even seen any sign of him or the treacherous Angeline. It was at this point that I was still sure that we had a chance. I still held spirit. It was then in that flash of warm hope that MGV2’s vision overcame mine once again.

It was then that all hope fell away.

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