Iphigenia’s Story (1 of 1)

Tina is hunting Liril; through dangerous byways and sharp straight courses she hunts her.

Iphigenia knows.

“I should be dead,” she says, to Martin, that morning. Iphigenia is looking out at the sky and Martin is applying a wrench to the pipes of the stage.

Martin makes a noncommital noise. He loosens a nut. He begins to untwist the screw. “That’s not unusual,” he says.

“There’s a need to pay the price for sin,” Iphigenia says. “Otherwise the world goes out of balance. And there she is—sinning—”

“And you weren’t sacrificed properly?”

“Yeah,” Iphigenia says.

The screw comes off. The pipe separates; a numinous mist of chaos fogs out into the room. Martin reaches a long skinny arm into the pipe and begins to feel around. Something bites him, and he pulls back a finger swollen, red, and black. He sucks on the tip and thinks.

“It is an old miracle,” says Martin. “To substitute an animal for a sinner at the moment of a sacrifice. It’s so old that even humans started doing it, but originally, it was a trick of the gods.”

“It wasn’t an animal,” Iphigenia says. “It was a Cadbury bunny.”

Martin rummages around until he finds a pair of forceps. He reaches into the pipe. He pulls out a spiny eel, its long white mouth-tendrils reminiscent of a beard. He holds it up, unhappy. Then he takes it to the window and tosses it back into the sea.

“Cadbury bunnies can die for people’s sins,” Martin asserts. “It’s allowed.”

“Even mine?”

“Even Stalin’s!”

“Communism, then,” Ink says. “Communism and capitalism. They split the world in half. One of them’s screwy and the other one never worked and whole generations grew up in fear until some drunk gorgosaurus puttering around in Party HQ knocked over the USSR. Was it some kind of weird gorgosaurus metaphor? ‘Look how deep our political theory is! This side can wear Russia like a condom whose time has come and the other can kill nuns in Nicaragua to keep America safe?'”

The bunny had burned as Iphigenia fled. The wind had carried her away, and she had left the bunny behind to burn.

And it was the nature of Iphigenia to know that chocolate is not deaf to pain; that a Cadbury creature pressed into service as a messenger is not insensate or without desire; that to leave it there was wrong. But to stay would have been more wrong. So she had left the bunny there to burn in her stead.

Tina ate some of the chocolate later. Iphigenia could never figure out why that disturbed her so.

“You’re projecting your own moral failings,” the gorgosaurus says.

Ink Catherly is running from a gorgosaurus. Its footsteps shake the firmament and the fundament. Its teeth are very sharp.

It dries Martin’s mouth out a little, watching.

It makes his stomach just a little bit sick.

So he crouches, in a high and dusty place, and looks out to sea.

“There’s something out in the sea,” he says.

The sun shines on the chaos and often its burning makes a golden road across the top. Today there is a turbulence in the chaos that breaks that road into a thousand jagged parts.

The thing that is swimming towards them is larger than the tower; larger than the sun; quite possibly larger than the sea. Its tail is lashing and there are storms for that reason everywhere in all the world.

Its name is Andhaka. It was once a dream of Mrs. Schiff’s.

“Is it my fault?” Iphigenia asks.

“Hm?”

“For being here. For . . .”

Martin is looking at her flatly.

“No,” Martin says.

“No,” says Mrs. Schiff. “No, Andhaka is mine.”

The horn of the beast has risen from the water now.

The madness in its blind red eyes is shining through the water now.

“He is coming for me,” says Mrs. Schiff. “Because I dreamt him long ago.”

They wait.

“Wait,” says Ink. “No. I’ll be good. What do you want?”

The gorgosaurus catches Ink’s leg in one hand and, without quite loosening the grip its teeth have on her arm, it jerks its head.

There is . . .

“She’s down! She’s down! Stop the show!”

That’s Sid’s voice. It’s loud and sharp and shaken.

Martin moves swiftly. He drops from his perch and catches the shutoff valve for the stage. He’s pulling it down with his weight and his feet descend onto the gears. He heaves it down the last few inches until it clicks.

It is Intermission, and a curtain falls across Ink’s fate.

The tower shines with a thousand lights; one by one, they dim. There is a potency in the air around Gibbelins’ Tower; slowly, it dissipates.

And still Andhaka comes.

Mrs. Schiff is walking out on the bridge now. She is looking at the creature now. It rises over her and there are blind and questing tendrils at its mouth. There is a wave that crashes and tears upon the tower walls and over the bridge, and only barely does Mrs. Schiff keep her grip upon the railing.

“She’ll die,” says Iphigenia.

Iphigenia’s knuckles are white.

“I liked her,” Iphigenia says. And she wills Andhaka to burn, but the beast is larger than her power.

Andhaka’s head comes down. Its mouth opens wide. It shrieks. Then it pours itself into Mrs. Schiff. It is an endless rippling tide flowing from the chaos into her soul.

Iphigenia’s eyes are closed. She does not watch.

And the broken dream that is Andhaka is now within Mrs. Schiff, twisting and turning in her mind and soul, and it is burning with madness. And Mrs. Schiff stands there, still and prim, but the edges of her soul are loose against the seething tide.

For that is what one does with broken dreams: one takes them back, and holds the madness in oneself until it turns to peace.

Such is the theory and practice of Mrs. Schiff.

Such are the things that happen, backstage at Gibbelins’ Tower.

Ink is Backstage: “Accidental Dispositions”

the continuing adventures of Ink Catherly (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Ink is in a phone booth. Outside there is a gorgosaurus.

It is a talking gorgosaurus.

It is one of the talking gorgosauruses that live in the backstage of Earth, where cardboard cutouts stand in for people and sets for places and time.

Its hands are thin and clumsy. Its teeth are very sharp. And it is given to it, as to all talking gorgosauruses, to appoint and dispense with the things of the mortal Earth.

In accordance to their great design do we have joy and liveliness. In accordance to their whims and errors did gold panning, disco, and communism fall.

From Ink’s Journal

Floor 93-A: I cried to the sky to open me a path to Hell, and a hole in the sky yawned wide; and said to me, “I will let you pass through into the realm beyond; but such pain as you know there is at my sufferance, and of my possession.”

I did not like the condition, but I went through; for it is my mission to explore. And since that time I have seen many of the strange worlds that are beyond Floor 93, but have not yet found Hell.

Ink opens the door of the phone booth. She is very hesitant. She walks out.

“You are less afraid?” the gorgosaurus asks.

The beast looks puzzled.

“Did the fall of communism or of disco somehow reassure you?”

Ink shakes her head.

“It occurred to me, is all,” says Ink, “that you are too cruel to eat me.”

She walks gingerly along the sidewalk. She is stiff with tension.

After a moment’s pause the gorgosaurus lumbers after her. It is trying and failing to catch up to her. It is stepping around the cutouts of people and cars that clog the street, which crowd in such numbers as to severely hamper its course.

“Too cruel?” it asks.

“The world is very hard,” Ink says. “People die in droves. There’s horror and cruelty and hunger and disease. Love dissolves. People fight. And being human means that you can destroy someone’s life without even hardly trying, and nothing you do can ever make up for it. It is very cruel. But it is much crueler if it’s all just some kind of freaky gorgosaurus art.”

The creature works very hard to step over a car without knocking it over, but it fails. That is how Mr. and Mrs. Stevens and their two children die: screaming, terrified, as their control of the car fails and it skews sideways into a telephone pole.

The gorgosaurus looks at its foot and the toppled car with some regret. Then it shrugs and continues its slow pursuit of Ink.

“I have explained,” it says. “It is clumsiness. We do not mean to break these things.”

Ink walks in the black velvet space between two sets, and then along a crowded street dotted with vendors and marked with Arabic-lettered signs.

“You make them,” Ink says.

“Yes,” says the gorgosaurus.

“It’s all some twisted game. What was gold panning really for?

“There is treasure everywhere in the world,” says the gorgosaurus. “We wanted you to know.”

“Disco?”

“It is healthy,” the creature says, “to dance.”

Ink hesitates. She discards several possible questions painfully relevant to her own life.

“Communism, then,” she says. “Communism and capitalism. They split the world in half. One of them’s screwy and the other one never worked and whole generations grew up in fear until some drunk gorgosaurus puttering around in Party HQ knocked over the USSR. Was it some kind of weird gorgosaurus metaphor? ‘Look how deep our political theory is! This side can wear Russia like a condom whose time has come and the other can kill nuns in Nicaragua to keep America safe?'”

The gorgosaurus’ great foot accidentally staves in a vendor’s stall and tips the vendor over. That is how Jalal Hameed dies: in an explosion, ill-placed and ill-timed, that crunches him crown to toe like the falling hammer of God.

“You misestimate us,” the gorgosaurus says. “First, you cannot evade me by traveling between sets; second, if you continue in this manner, I will hunt you down less civilly and eat you to prevent further chaos; and third—“

“What?”

“It’s not the secret conspiracy of backstage gorgosauruses who are the problem,” the dinosaur says. “It’s the humans themselves.”

“You set us up!” Ink protests.

“You’re projecting your own moral failings,” the gorgosaurus says. The dangerous rumble under its voice has reached full volume now. It is moving faster, heedless of the risk that some of the cutouts may fall. “It is the defining human characteristic that you will ignore the lessons we send you and twist their meaning to suit yourselves.”

“What was communism for, then?”

“So that people would remember that the workers were important,” says the gorgosaurus.

“Oh,” says Ink.

There is a rising fury in the dinosaur’s voice, and its pace is far too swift. Cutouts tumble in its wake. Another man dies; a fire hydrant topples; a dog has a stroke; a cloud of insects, hanging in the air, ceases ever to have existed.

Ink staggers into the blackness between sets.

“That’s what both communism and capitalism were for,” the gorgosaurus rumbles. “That’s what everything is about. Everything we make. Every creed and every institution and more than half the events, simply and clearly to teach you how meaningful you and your fellow people are And. No. One. Ever. Wants. To. Get. It.”

Ink falls.

The creature’s teeth come down.

Ink screams.

“Egg-eating mammals,” the gorgosaurus says in disgust. It has her arm in its jaws. There is blood running down her forearm and onto her chest.

“Wait,” says Ink. “No. I’ll be good. What do you want?”

The gorgosaurus catches Ink’s leg in one hand and, without quite loosening the grip its teeth have on her arm, it jerks its head.

Floor 93-HG: On this floor bureaucracy made things more efficient, and not less. It was astonishing to see people pulling up at stop signs and filling out paperwork on their travel; to see the painfully precise accounting of time that each worker pursued; to watch the evolving bureaucracy of the birds as they winged overhead in a whirl of self-organizing committees. They laughed at entropy, on floor 93-HG, but I think it haunted them. They died not by slow withering but by obsolescence, when efficiency concerns rendered their physical existence redundant.

The spiderwebs on 93-HG were fractal. You could see each color in the sunrise. And when I stood looking back on everything in that world I realized that I could see the superstructure of its evolution, that I could make out the shapes of its ultimate destiny, that the struts of order already in place would grow stronger and not weaker as time went by. It had a future glorious beyond the dreams of man, and flawed.

I wonder if that is something intrinsic to us?

That even in our completion there are flaws?

The sound is like the tearing of dry cloth.

Intermission 2

Ink is Backstage: “Unexplorable Places”

the continuing adventures of Ink Catherly (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

The sun is bright yellow paint on hard wood paneling. There are birds. They dangle from the sky on wires.

The people are happy. They are cardboard cutouts.

The girl wanders among them with a smile on her face. She touches a cardboard woman feeding pigeons in the park. She touches a cardboard man suffering in a cell for political prisoners. She scribbles down details about a cardboard gunman standing on a grassy knoll. Then she spins around and around and runs on the soft felt grass before finally stopping next to a realistic plastic phone booth.

“What a wonderful place!” she says.

There is a footfall. It is like thunder.

The girl looks over her shoulder.

“Except for the gorgosaurus,” she says. She takes out her journal. She takes down a note.

Looking at the gorgosaurus, she adds, “I hope you are not hungry.”

It issues a terrible roar.

Floor 62: I saw a creature made of mouths and sorrow.

“As fair warning,” the creature said, “Ink Catherly has certain misconceptions regarding her nature and destiny, and these are going to lead her astray. She cannot be trusted in such matters. If you wish to understand her truths, you must watch the world around her. Those fates that govern her life have taken the unusual course of arrogating to her exactly what Ink Catherly deserves.

“As for you, that is not so.”

Addendum, in a different hand:
It’s weird to think that creatures made of mouths and sorrow were talking about me long before I came to the tower. It’s weird to think that I’m so thoroughly wrong about myself that random damned souls are getting a briefing on the subject. But what really bugs me is that here I am on floor 62 and the only tangible weird thing I could find was a can of Spaghetti-Os.

It was past its “use by” date. Its packaging gave me no cryptic oracles. When I opened its handy pull-tab top a thing fell out, wrapped in layers of crispy, paper-like skin. It struggled, mewled, and tore the layers away. Its skin and eyes and wings beneath shone like jewels. It rose into the air and I gasped and the light hurt my eyes. I conclude that it was canned mistakenly, and that in perhaps one in a million Chef Boyardee products unplanned seraphim are packed.* Also there was pasta, and spaghetti sauce, and meatballs, which were all skinny so I did not eat them.

* Seraphim and/or other valuable prizes.

The girl’s name is Ink Catherly. She might tell you that it’s short for Inquisitive. She is, but her name is not. She might tell you that it’s short for Inconclusive. Her journey has been, so far, but her name is not. She might tell you that it’s short for Incompatible, but if she does, she’s unlikely to tell you why.

She is hiding in a phone booth.

“I don’t see why there should be gorgosauruses here,” Ink says, plaintively.

She dials 911. The phone rings in a police station far away. The cardboard cutouts of police officers fail to answer.

“Come out,” rumbles the beast. “We will discuss the matter.”

“You are a huge meat-eating dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period,” Ink says. “I am a twelve-year-old girl. How can we negotiate on an equal footing?”

The gorgosaurus crouches down. It tilts its massive head on one side and stares in at her. “I am willing to vouchsafe assurances of peaceful behavior.”

“That is not my interpretation of your earlier roar,” Ink notes.

“A passing rage,” the gorgosaurus says dismissively. “I had assumed you were a small egg-eating mammal loose among the cutouts.”

“I do eat eggs,” Ink admits unwisely.

The nostrils of the beast contract. It rumbles the broken-motor purr typical of dinosaurs in the grip of a strong emotion. “Then perhaps it is best that we negotiate through the glass. How have you come here, child?”

“I am exploring.”

“This is not a valid location for exploration,” the beast says flatly.

Ink opens her mouth to explain that she doesn’t intend to stay. But the injustice of the gorgosaurus’ remark is too much for her. “There isn’t any such place!”

She takes a deep breath.

Then Ink says, all in one long stream, “It is fundamental to the character of every fixed location that it should be a valid location to explore. For if it is not then its traits remain unknown. Its impact on the broader world remains unknown. Any quality that it might have that could render that exploration illegitimate ceases as a direct consequence of its unexplorability to matter. Because it could never be unearthed. Because it would never have a comprehensible, coherent impact on anything in the surrounding world. Unexplored lands are nonexistent. They are meaningless. They are chaotic, empty voids pleading against the wind for travelers to chart them. To declare a place unexplorable is to make it a home for chaos without boundaries and monsters without number. And if there are boundaries that we cannot cross then those boundaries must be charted and the things that pass in and out weighed and measured. And every place that we—”

Here she runs out of breath and sways dizzily for a moment. She puts her hand to her forehead, then shakes her head and hand alike.

There is a pause.

“And every place that we cannot explore,” Ink summarizes, “becomes the same place: the endless hungry void.”

The gorgosaurus shrugs heavily.

“This is not a location,” it says. “This is a context. This is the backstage of Earth, where various gorgosauruses create and dispose with the things of your world.”

There is a crash in the distance.

The gorgosaurus winces.

“What was that?” Ink asks.

“An accidental disposition,” the gorgosaurus says.

“What?”

“We are clumsy creatures,” says the gorgosaurus, in heavy tones, “to be the makers and disposers of your world.”

The gorgosaurus does not look penitent. It looks like it been rehearsing this speech in its head for some time, in case it should ever have to justify itself to a human.

Ink looks confused. “What?”

“Not in vision,” the gorgosaurus says. “Not in vision we are clumsy, but in our hands. Our hands are stubby, twisted, and small. So that is why sometimes things must fall.”

Visions of dead bodies and burning cities flare up in Ink’s mind. Suddenly she thinks she knows what the gorgosaurus means by ‘fall’, and she half-says, half-shrieks, “Like?

The gorgosaurus is rumbling again. Its lips have come back from its terrible sharp teeth. This frightens Ink, and she holds up her hands in a conciliatory gesture.

“I just want to understand,” Ink says, moderating her tone. “For the record of my exploration. What kinds of things ‘must fall?'”

“The practice of gold panning,” says the gorgosaurus. “The popularity of disco. Passion plays. Communism. Things like that.”

“Oh,” Ink says.

“The things we make for you,” says the gorgosaurus, “but cannot quite manage to balance.”

There is another distant crash.

Somewhere, somewhen, backstage, the ungainly hands of a gorgosaurus have just sealed the mullet’s fate.

Intermission 1

Transformation (1 of 1)

There is a room in Gibbelins’ Tower that overlooks the chaos. Its window has no glass, and there is always a wind. There are strands of pink and green and silver in that wind, torn upwards from the surging sea.

Straight across the window, more miles distant than a bird could fly, there is a lighthouse. To the left of the window, there is a bridge. There is something that might be a tugboat, off to the right. If so, it is foundering, and will most likely drown with all its crew beneath the terrible sea.

Martin stands there, looking out. Jane enters.

“The door says ‘keep out’ and ‘no girls allowed’,” Martin notes.

“Also, ‘toxic’ and ‘radiation warning.'”

“Does this, for you, occasion no concern?”

“Nope.”

Jane stands next to Martin and looks out the window.

“What’cha doin’?”

“Taking measurements. And you?”

“I made an armored umbrella,” Jane says. She holds it out to him in two hands. “See?”

Martin takes the umbrella. He studies it. Then he steps back and opens it with a flourish. It clicks open with a clang and a click. It’s a pretty ominous umbrella.

“Martin!” Jane accuses.

“What?”

“You’re inside.

“Not topologically!” Martin protests.

“Does luck really care?” Jane wonders.

“It’s very nice,” says Martin. He rotates it. He puts it over his shoulder. It clangs against the stone wall. “What’s it for?”

“I thought that it would be raining screws and bolts,” Jane says. “Since it’s a season of metal.”

Martin considers. He looks outside. “It’s pretty chaotic,” he says. “So maybe. But that’s not what the season means.”

“And maybe appliances,” Jane says. “We could finally get a dishwasher.”

Martin re-estimates the umbrella’s tensile strength.

“Or a tank!”

“I don’t want a tank,” Martin says, reflexively. He does, of course, but he’s a responsible boy who knows that tanks kill more family members every year than intruders or enemies of the state.

“What’s it actually mean?” Jane says.

“It’s the season of gathering,” Martin says. He goes over to a cot in the corner of the room, reaches under it, and pulls out a handful of dust bunnies and lint. Martin does not vacuum this room very often, and the last time he exposed the Roomba to the vapors of chaos, it developed sentience, extra LEDs, and an End of Everything Button. “In the spring, you see, it’s all right to be choosy. To say, ‘I’ll keep this dust bunny, but not that one. I like fruit, but I don’t like squash.’ But when the months pass and the year grows older, it’s important to collect everything you can. To look for the good and the salvageable in everything. To have hope for things, even if it costs you.”

Martin sifts through the dust bunnies and finds the one that’s made of chocolate. He sifts some more and finds the great dust bunny leader that organized the others and kept them peacefully under the bed rather than messing up the whole room. He hands these, and the best of the remaining bunnies, to Jane. Then he goes to the window and lets the others fall down into the chaos below. He dusts off his hands.

“It’s crying,” Jane says.

“The world is not kind to dust bunnies,” says Martin. He takes the bunnies from Jane’s hands, all but the chocolate one, and puts them back under the bed.

Jane licks the salt of dust bunny tears off of her hands.

Martin looks at her.

“I like salt,” Jane says.

Martin looks back out the window. “Anyway,” he says. “If there’s a tank up in heaven, or a dishwasher, that they don’t need, then I guess this is the right season for them to drop it on me so I can make it good. So I’ll be keeping the umbrella.”

Jane smiles. She hugs Martin.

He scruffles her hair.

“If it’s a season of metal,” Jane says, “then I want them back.”

Martin hesitates. “Which ones?” he says, warily.

“I don’t know,” Jane says. “Just . . . you know. Them. The gods they took.”

Martin nods.

“Iphigenia,” Jane says, because things happen in a certain order and chaos succumbs to the dictates of pattern when it must.

“How do you take her back?” says Martin.

Jane is suddenly shy.

“She made her from me,” Jane says. “She cut her out of me like with a torch. And I could never figure out if a sculpture belongs to the sculptor or the stone.”

Martin sits on the cot. “Jane,” he says.

Her eyes go round. “Are you all right?”

“I think that there is nothing I need less to imagine in all the world than the idea that sculpting people is taking from them,” he says.

“Oh,” Jane says.

“Everything everyone does,” Martin says, “is about changing the world. Making it different. And sometimes there is pain. But it is a gift and it must be a gift because you cannot gain rights to someone else simply by acting upon them.”

Jane peers at him.

“That’s backwards,” she says.

Martin grins.

“What?”

“It is the dharma of a god,” Martin says, “to view certain moral and causal relationships from the other side.”

“Oh.”

Martin adopts an expression of intense intellectual concentration. He looks like a boy trying to read his own thoughts in a mirror. He offers, “If she had no right to carve from you, then why should she have claimed the result?”

Jane shrinks in on herself for a moment, but she is Jane. She straightens out again and grins.

“She deserves some compensation for her pains,” says Jane.

“That’s true,” Martin says. “It was good work!”

“She’s very fiery and stuff. And she kept the sun going.”

Martin looks dubious. “I bet the sun would still be going anyway.”

“It might have fallen into the sea!”

“Copernicus would argue.”

“Maybe,” says Jane. “We could unearth him and find out.”

“He’s not in his grave,” Martin says, sulkily.

“He’s not?”

“. . . so I hear.”

“If I welcome her,” asks Jane, “do you think that she’ll come?”

“Yes.”

“It’s that easy? Just . . . tell her that she can be mine?”

“Is that easy?”

“I guess not,” says Jane.

“I was always glad,” Martin says, “that you accepted what I’d done to you. Because you could have stopped it.”

“It’s ’cause you keep not pushing the End of Everything Button,” Jane says. “I think that’s very noble of you, considering that it’s red and has that ‘don’t push’ label and all.”

“It is very difficult,” concedes Martin. “I’m a scientist.”

“So I’ll do it,” says Jane. She takes the chocolate dust bunny to the window. She kisses it. It does not respond. It is as nihilistic and detached as only a Cadbury bunny can be. “Go,” she says, and tosses it out into the chaos. “Tell Iphigenia she’s welcome here. Tell her she can come home.”

“A chocolate dust bunny?” Martin says.

“It can keep the sun running for Tina,” says Jane. “Since, you know, she won’t have Iphigenia any more. And if she eats it, she’ll get sick!”

The wind picks up the bunny in the air and tumbles it off towards land.

“Bunnies are a double-edged sword,” Martin agrees.

A Magic Square

                                            
Margaret love Steve  
hopes denies he’ll leave  
always knowing / grieving going  
      Margaret love Steve . . .

**
Regardless of whether you read this square across, down, or diagonally, each line adds up to the same story. Granted,

admitted Mrs. Schiff,

even with this knowledge, you may be asking yourself in what fashion this pertains to the urgent and pressing matters facing the Gibbelins’ Tower Theatre Company. You may be inclined to wonder whether matters are entirely well backstage, or if a chimera made primarily of taffy has tangled the works. Perhaps you might even imagine that this presentation serves no other purpose than to distract you for the several moments that it will take Martin to recover from one of his legendary pixy stix binges and reassert his normal, cynical self. Yet if these things are on your mind,

asserted Mrs. Schiff,

then I say, for shame! A truly well-bred individual would instead be wondering, “Is it truly right, Mrs. Schiff? Is it truly right, to make magic squares of human lives?”

And to this,

conceded Mrs. Schiff

I would have no answer.

Pelopia Visits Martin (1 of 1)

THE POSTMAN 1
1. Neither snow nor sleet
2. Nor heat of day
3. Nor gloom of night
4. Stays the postman
5. From his appointed round.

THE POSTMAN 2
1. Martin sends a letter.
2. The postman walks up to Pelopia.
3. “Delivery,” he says.
4. Pelopia is too far away.

THE POSTMAN 3
1. “Ma’am,” says the postman.
2. The postman is running.
3. He doesn’t get closer! She’s still too far away!
4. She is too far away. It is now very hot.

THE POSTMAN 4
1. “Ma’am!” cries the postman.
2. The postman runs faster.
3. He doesn’t get closer. She’s still too far away!
4. He doesn’t get closer. It is now very dark.

THE POSTMAN 5
1. “MA’AM!” yells the postman.
2. The postman runs faster.
3. The postman he stumbles off the edge of the world.
4. The postman he tumbles.
5. The postman he tumbles.
6. And as for Pelopia
7. She’s still too far away.

THE POSTMAN 6
4. “Great,” says the postman.
5. “This was not in my creed.”

PELOPIA VISITS MARTIN

It’s not because of the letter.

“I sent you a letter,” Martin tells her one day, and Pelopia just gives him this guilty hiccup of a look.

It’s not because of the letter that Evasive A is there.

And it’s not because of effort.

Martin’s tried a lot of things to change his fate and break the cycle of the world. He’s worked hard at it.

But he never tried to catch this angel; so that isn’t why she’s there.

It’s not because of effort, or because he’s of her blood—

Though he is, in a way, many times removed.

It’s just that sometimes when we’re working hard to make our own meanings in a Godless universe, grace walks through the door.

One day she’s just there.

The other angels have their invitations, but not Pelopia. She’s not there to watch the show.

She’s on the stage talking about long walks to Hell.

She’s back behind it pumping the levers of the chaos.

She’s in the lights, balancing the colors, tumbling end-over-end with the ladder and lights falling down and Sid and Jane yelling, “Catch her;”

And crying, of course:

“No one can catch me! I’m Evasive Angel!” as she lands hard on her side.

Being uncatchable hurts sometimes, like when you’re falling from a rafter or jumping into your own dear love’s arms.

And one day she asks Martin if he’s OK with things, with the fact that there she is and in theory the answer to all his problems—all anybody’s problems—only he’s not trying to catch her.

And he looks at a dial on the sound stage—

Next to a mirrored sheen, and set, in a moment of unexpected vulnerability, to 11—

and he says, very clearly, “I can see your boogers.”

If you forgot what to call them, you’d have to say ‘consolidated snot capsules.’ That’s just how awkward it would be!

The Stage (IV/IV)

The lady sits in her room. She weaves a tapestry. She looks out towards the sea.

“Ms. Brown, ” she says.

Ms. Brown attends her. “Yes, milady?”

“The sea, ” she says. “Does it seem altogether well?”

Ms. Brown looks out the window. “It’s a bit ragged at the edges. The horizon’s coming undone. I suppose the world’s ending.”

“There are angels who promised that this place would live forever,” the lady says.

“Angels forget.”

“And gods,” the lady says.

“Gods forget, too.”

“And all the others. Dragons and women and beasts and men and the spirits of the sea; they said they’d give this place their shelter.”

“It’s been a very long time, milady.”

“Ah,” she says.

“It’s not painful,” Ms. Brown says. “It’s very gentle. The world just comes apart, and then there’s nothingness. You and the sea and the land—you all fade away together.”

The lady looks up. “It’s happened before?”

Ms. Brown shrugs.

The lady smiles, lightly. “It shan’t again,” she says. She takes the tapestry and folds it under her arm; and she walks from her tower, and down to the land, and out across the sea. All around her, chaos eats at the edge of the world. She steps beyond it.