Cloudfall almost killed him. He’d never ventured in the Verdant, hardly been there a thirdcycle, when the burst of water and biomass knocked him off his feet and sent him sluicing down into the Well.
Only the Mistery had saved him. One of the chanters saw his tell-tale thinsuit boots among the flotsam of the Cloudfall and threw a net his way. He’d tangled to a halt a few feet above the lip of the Well, and a chorus of chanters hauled him back from the brink along with a day’s catch of junkwood.
None of his saviors seemed to think it remarkable. When he’d tried to express his thanks to the chanters and apologize for interrupting the Mistery, they had simply spread their hands palm up and raised them in the gesture of the Inevitable. An offering and excuse. He was to die anyway. To the chanters, all would perish in the Collapse. A desirable and necessary end for the people of the Verdant.
It made Henri Tattersol question why he’d transversed three universes to save a race so intent on (even blissful of) its own destruction. They welcomed the Collapse. Every Cloudfall brought it closer, and, with their elongated throats, the chanters trumpeted their impending doom in a harmonious chorus of celebration.
As Henri checked his thinsuit for damage, a high chanter approached with a maiden of the Mistery. In spite of the impossible humidity of the Verdant, her hair bounced in thousands of luxuriant curls which Henri knew created tribolectric vortices the maiden could use, with a casual stroke of hand through her ringlets, to fling a bolt of energy that even his thinsuit would be unable to ground. He bowed low to her.
“Name us, Henri Tattersol of Terra,” she commanded in the very difficult greeting ritual of the Verdant. The most direct consequence of the Inevitable was that the peoples of the Verdant knew every outcome in the metaverse. Henri’s mission was no surprise to them. The maiden was bating him with the arrogant superiority of their unified theory of consciousness: the Inevitable. In essence, she was saying, “Tell us what we don’t already know.”
Henri slowly raised himself, his hair matted and peppered with twistles and dorty from his near-fatal floodslide to the verge of the Well. Inwardly, he cursed the maiden’s smugness, her sureness of the Inevitable and her damn Cloudfall that torrentially swept the air and rainforests pristine clean every fifthcycle.
However, the growing evidence of wavefunction collapse in the Verdant and, with it, the likely cross-canceling of all life in the metaverse compelled Henri to smile obsequiously when he answered. Luckily, he’d been able to recalibrate his thinsuit’s recog programs during his exaggerated bow to the maiden he now had a positive ID on.
“Al-el of the Verdant Mistery and Sza-fhi, High Chanter, I name you,” Henri mustered with maiden-court civility.
In response, Al-el, maiden of the Mistery, raised and cupped her palms. “Henri Tattersol, you come on an errand of no consequence. Nevertheless, we welcome your irrelevance.”
She swept her hands down either side of her tightly curled locks causing the air around her head to shimmer. An aura-field spread out from her. The oppressive moisture in the air around them vaporized in a steamy whirlwind that lifted in leaden sky—fodder for the next Cloudfall.
Ah, emkay, that’s for whimperdogs. Make Henri kick her haughty ass. Show that All-Hell girl who's boss. Zap her kinky curls until she shows your man some respect.
Go away, Leonard. This is my story. My universe. Go play somewhere else.
Naw, you need my help. This story been told a zillion times with all its capital C Cloudfalls and pretentious proper nouns, not to mention your vaguely defined techno thinsuits and exo-planet exotica. All been done before. Like the wise one said, turtles all the way down, man.
Well, why don’t you skip on down to another turtle and let me work on this.
Seriously, emkay, you need my help. Or this is just gonna end up in some digital slush pile. No one gonna care about no Henri Tattersol who lets some Mistery bitch taunt him. I know. Henri Tat-TER-sol kicking ass is what 99% of universes want to see.
We’ve been through this before, Leonard. We go through this every time you visit. I think I know my own universe. Let me write about other universes as I see fit.
Damn, that is sad. And hurtful, emkay. I got all this experience. A ver-IT-able googleplex of dimensions ready-made and you spurn my help. I got street savvy that’d make Dr. Who look like a bright-eyed pup. What’s your hang up?
Call it pride. Whatever. I like to come up with these things myself.
Call it hubris. In da old metaverse, no one come up with things themselves. You still hung up on this imagination thing. Creativity. I done told you before, that stuff percolating in your heads, that ain’t original. That’s just a wave.
A wave has to start somewhere, Leonard.
Man, that would bust my gut if wasn’t so wrong. You still so temporal, so li-NE-ar. Wave’s got no beginning or end like you think. Wave propagates, but it don’t move. It spreads, but it don’t grow. Can’t. Wave be everywhere, all at once. It’s you that got to sync. Your Henri Tattersol and all them maidens of Mistery on your old Verdant, just dipping into a wave that been there the whole damn eternity.
Great. Let me swim in my provincial little wave. Besides that’s what my story is about. Henri’s going to prevent a wavefunction collapse.
Say what? This a comedy then? How’s he supposed to do that? You ever seen a wafuco? That’s some serious funk. I seen it. Not somethin’ you want to get your little button nose near. When the g-particles get to fighting amongst themselves, tain’t any winners. That cross-cancelling will done mess you up good. Mess us all up. Folks don’t want to be thinking about that. Give ‘em cat fights, dog fights, pynchon fights, Henri Tattersol fights. Just don’t make ‘em think about wafuco.
What’s wrong with thinking about a wavefunction collapse?
‘Cause that’s how one starts. Even a backwater like you musta heard:
Think about the sync, you to the brink.
Link to the sync, you down the drink.
Quaint, but not helpful.
Emkay, you so lo-def you tain’t ever gonna see. Think like a meta-man. Metaverse like the ocean, endless waves—until you stare real hard, you focus in. You, da observer, see just one wave. All the other waves gone, all the other possibilities vanish. Wafuco, son.
Isn’t that just like perspective?
Dang no. This tain’t no feely art bunk. This be meta-science. When you go focusing that damn narrow, you start going all strange attractor. The finite get big. Way too pro-VIN-ci-AL. Then you done latched on too long and POW! you make the infinite disappear. Nothing but a single wave exist to you. All the big beautiful universes collapse and you don’t get to see no more of the Leonard.
So, by focusing on my own world too closely, I could cancel yours out.
Don’t fall out your tree or nothing. That’s what I’m saying, HU-man. We clear?
Righteous. Not sure why I dig you, emkay, but I do. I’m jetting a few turtles down, but I’ll pop back soon to see some Henri Tattersol kicking ass on Verdant.
You’ve convinced me. Henri’s gonna kick some ass.
That my boy, emkay.
Wave goodbye, Leonard
The sudden waterfall almost killed him. Henri Tattersol had never ventured in the Amazon basin, had hardly been there a few hours when the violent cloudburst knocked him off his feet and sent him sluicing down a gushing gulley towards the great river. Only Leonard had saved him from the indiscriminate wave...