Revisited: “‘Since I am just a piece of code, I would be on very thin ice to speculate,’ the Librarian says.” (Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson)
Ch 23 ~ The Seat of All Knowledge
She had the sense that night had fallen, although she couldn’t be certain and she couldn’t tell you what day it was. The dear woman (yes, and at this point, she thought of herself that way) had no sense of time whatsoever. But the purple-grey mist seemed to be gaining momentum, Mya noticed, as she, the Cyborg Collective, and the Legion of Warriors began to turn the bend in the Stream.
A bend in the Stream of Consciousness…how ironic in some ways, Mya thought. If only for a moment, she allowed herself to wonder about the non-linear shape of meaning…at this place, at this time within the Stream. There was something noteworthy about this curve in Knowledge…something of some significance, but she decided rather quickly, perhaps it was just life’s larger way, its gentle reminder to all to expect the unexpected. To realize there was a level of unknowable beyond reach.
Her mind fell back to the present and to the silence. The group had travelled far through the Stream, for what must have been a long time. They travelled quietly, with not even their footfalls belying their passage and not even their thoughts conveying their presence. In fact, they had agreed earlier to limit words and thoughts as much as possible as they approached the Canal. It was out of necessity. The Mountaintops — with Dryst held prisoner within — were drawing closer, and so too drawing closer, then, was the Clan of Ophania. A chill ran down Mya’s spine as her mind lingered on these witches yet unseen, zombies yet unleashed, and some other presence yet undiscovered.
But for now, still safely within the Stream and not quite yet upon the Canal, Mya allowed herself to ruminate on a previous conversation.
“The Clan of Ophania,” Mya had muttered to anyone who was listening; thankfully, she had thought, not many could listen to the totality within the Stream except for the two…who the little child had briefly mentioned but with not nearly enough explanation. But they were not terribly far away from the Canal and a greater urgency pulled at her.
“What type of spells do these witches cast,” Mya continued, “What are their powers?”
“They are shapeshifters…if they choose to be,” Locomotive answered with an edge in his low, almost sullen voice.
“Like you, then…”
“No,” he replied quickly. “Nothing like any of us.” He gestured with his head to either side of himself to indicate the Fierce One, the legion of Warriors, and, Mya was certain, the little child…possibly even the Cyborg Collective.
“Nothing like you, either,” Cy added, speaking to Mya, then continued because he knew she had too many questions for the little bit of time they had while they had secured themselves away within the safety of the arms of the Stream.
“The Clan of Ophania is a group of Eternals. They would say that their line had been born at the beginning of time, but they would be wrong to make this claim.”
The warriors grunted in quiet agreement.
“The Dawn of Time brought forth with it only the Eternal Lightness of Being,” Cy continued. “The Eternal Lightness of Being precedes the Clan of Ophania no matter how much the Clan of Ophania detests this…and detest it they do. They stew in hatred of the Eternal Lightness of Being. They have seethed with their venom for eons on end…since nearly the dawn of time. And since that time, all those eons ago, the Clan’s sole desire — you could go so far as to say its only reason for existing — is to destroy the Eternals — the true Eternals — and claim ownership, yield authority over all creation.”
Cy turned his metal head and cast a twirling glance upon Mya.
“In very personal terms,” he continued, “the Clan lusts for the power to control your very thoughts, your very will, leaving you nothing more than an empty shell — with no choice, no knowledge, no mind of your own, no belief in yourself or in anything at all — to serve their evil purposes. Their lust for power and total control knows no bounds. They are never satistifed. They will tell you what to think, what to believe, how to act, how to behave, what to feel. They will twist your mind and demolish your will to fill it only with their desires, however terrible and destructive they may be.” The robot paused, then added, “And they will be.”
He turned his head back to the path and returned his gaze to the trail in front of them. Alarmingly so for a robot, he then whispered, “The Clan of Ophania…the witches are nearly able to do this. They have tried through the ages. One by one stripping others of their will. But now. Now they will be able to mutilate all creation in the blink of an eye. Dryst has what they seek. He holds the last piece to the puzzle.”
“The portal…the key,” she mouthed nearly silently.
The robot nodded. “When they possess the portal, the witches will possess complete dominance over the entire body of the Eternals for all time.”
It was as if his words echoed in her mind, yet he had stopped speaking. But his words played on, even when the robot’s silence was filled with the gentle sound of the softly falling snow, followed on its heels with the sound of Locomotive Breath’s quietly seething voice.
“They will have their way with all of Consciousness for all eternity.”
Mya grimaced from a crushing repulsion that surged forth from her gut at the idea of an unending universal mind fuck. And while her stomach swayed and heaved against itself, she saw out of the corner of her eye the cyborg gesturing slowly around himself, the Collective, the Legion, and Mya. The cyborg nodded his head carefully from side to side, casting his senses on their surroundings and surveying the pathway and the translucent walls of the Stream.
“We walk,” he finally said with an awe-filled respect, “through a living, breathing entity, Mya. This Stream –” he held his arms open “– is very much alive. It is very much a living being. It is the inner core of the entity known as the Eternal Lightness of Being. From which the Stream of Consciousness was created. From which was born all of life, all of creation…even a heaping mound of metal such as myself,” he said evenly and looked at her again.
Her mind folded over onto itself from what the robot had just said. She tried desparately to process the fact that she was stepping lightly across and through the inside of a living entity. But she couldn’t conceive of such a thing. Should she say hello, she thought in near hysteria…should she introduce herself, but then she realized she was already completely known. There was nothing the Stream, the Eternal Being did not know of her. In any direction. In any dimension. In any time.
So she ran to the more immediate, more tangible information that should could hold onto and that happened to be her sudden realization that the cyborg, in describing himself as a mounding heap of metal, had read her thoughts. Mya steadied her mind by obsessing over this triviality, which, in the not too distant past might have troubled her, but in the here and now as she stepped across the insides of a living being that was born with the Dawn of Time, the fact of Cy’s mental eavesdropping was nothing more than trivial. Still it comforted Mya to grab ahold of it, trivial or not. And hold on she did, realizing that the cyborg had accessed probably more of her imagings than she even knew while they dwelled inside this…Being. The robot waved her concern away and said, “Not everything, no. But even without knowing all of your thoughts, I am honest about who and what I am. I am all metal and circuitry, engines and cables, indeed.”
“But the Lightness of Being…” her voice trailed off. Incomprehensible.
“The Lightness of Being,” the robot gently picked up her thought and completed it, “It is all. It is all meaning. It is all free will. You are connected into it at all times. We all are, but we do not know the fullness of it. Perhaps the better statement is, the Eternal Being is fully connected into each of us at all times.”
Mya frowned and nearly laughed both at the same time. How can this be…what on earth, she thought but then remembered that was another planet somewhere else in some other universe. What in the heavens, she thought but then as she looked around the foresaken Origin whose only bright spot was the breathing entity through which they all walked and from which Dryst had been abducted and through which would lead her back to Dryst again but first lead them all into a Battle of the Ages between Eternals, Mya could hardly think of this land as heaven. What the hell, she thought abruptly and then just as abruptly, she snapped her head to focus on the robot and asked, “Are we walking through God?”
“If that is what you choose to believe.”
“While you still have the choice to believe anything by your own accord,” the Fierce One grumbled unpleasantly and Mya snapped her focus back to his direction — because something about his presence, something about his voice, something about him called to her, pulled at her, commanded her — before rounding her vision back to the path in front of them. Too much to think of. Too much to understand all at once.
“If God is all thought, all will flowing through the Stream, good and bad, then, yes, you could call this entity God. But if God as you believe the Being to be is only good, you will have to find another contextual relationship or adopt the one I gave you: The Eternal Lightness of Being, through which all thought, all will, all creations flow. …the Clan of Ophania flows through the Stream with us. Even now.”
The warriors growled; Mya bristled; the Cyborg continued.
“But the Clan has no power over the Eternal Lightness any more than you or I. They flow with all creation here. They are of no more significance here. They are of no less signficance here.”
“They cannot control all thought here,” Locomotive Breath added. “They cannot hear all musings. Not here.”
“True, true,” Cy nodded in agreement. “Not here. But they are searching within the Stream. And they know we are here in pursuit. They heard our thoughts in the hills.”
“But,” Mya interrupted, “you just said they can’t know all thoughts.”
“No,” Cy confirmed, “they can’t…at least not in the Stream.”
“But outside of the Stream, it is different,” the Fierce One said through a clenched jaw. “Some in the Clan have the power to speak the Unspoken Language.”
“To hear thoughts,” the cyborg clarified. “This is true primarily among themselves.”
“But the Clan Queen is fluent in that ability,” the Fierce One added. “She created the Unspoken Language. Her powers to see thoughts reach beyond the Clan.
“For that reason, we must be silent in mind when we approach,” Locomotive said.
“When we enter the Canal,” the Cyborg said, “We must close off our minds and our thoughts.”
The Fierce One studied the group, watching Mya most closely. Her eyes were open but not pulled back in terror. Yet, he could see her breath shortening. She must not let fear overtake her, he thought with a grimness in his mind. If she does, all be lost.
“We should now…close off our minds now,” he said. “The Canal approaches.”
Mya looked up then, in the memory of these earlier words, just as she looked up now. She saw the opening of the Canal, to the right, jogging along the bend in the Stream. And as they approached even closer, and she turned her thoughts off but only watched what was happening without registering any meaning to what she saw, she cast her eyes upon the edge of the Canal. It rode the full height of the wall in the Stream. It curved in delicate lines of an oval shape that flowered and coiled in itself. It pulled the pink snow increasingly into the purple-grey mist that began to dominate at the Canal’s center-most point. And as Mya moved closer to the Canal, nearly fully within its lip, she realized why it was called a Canal.
They were entering into the mountain through a giant ear.
National Novel Writing Month: Chapter 23 total wordcount: 2130 (not including this notation). Total total count: 44,370. (gah…won’t make 50K by the 30th but I’m finishing this nonetheless.)