Retrograde

Rayner stepped into Sentire with trepidation and came out into a frostbitten world, with power at her fingertips and the word Goddess on everyone else's lips.
Anthony stepped into Sentire with purpose and came out into a war-torn world, with horns on his head and the word God on his tongue.

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Author's note

My entry for Round Two of the Movellas Talent Show, and the sort of sequel to Coloured Errors (can be read as a stand-alone though).
AA

6. Where they become the lovers

 

Act 3, Scene 2

 

(Forgiveness with oneself is infinitely harder than forgiveness to thy enemy.)

They wake spontaneously, in a burst of wakefulness that snatches their dreams from them. The logic part of their brains tells them they shouldn’t have been able to dream in a fabricated world. The logic part of them tells them that they should have woken up by now, but they hadn’t.

Yes, they know who they were, Rayner’s old life bursting forth in front of her eyes after she had slain Cogito. She admits privately, to herself, that maybe not knowing is better but she can do nothing to rid her mind from the facts.

Anthony welcomes his past, knowing that it will add another crevice to his soul but not worthy enough to change him.

They push themselves up on trembling limbs and their eyes meet for barely a moment. Gasps wrench from their open lips and they collide with one another, a tangle of string like limbs and wonder. Rayner looks at the strip between his eyebrows, leading to his nose that is copper, his fingers painted the same shade. Anthony looks at the strip near her ear and her fingers which are coated in the same metallic colour. The flush lies upon her cheeks instead and his curiosity lies in the furrow between his eyebrows, the place where his hair just touched.

“You are copper,” Rayner whispers, her fingers caressing the furrow as though she could smooth it down like fabric. His eyes lose their focus as her pale hands blend in with the redness of his curls and affection tingles its way up his spine.

“As are you,” he manages to say, the world coming back to his attention when her hands are removed from him. Together they look at their new appearances, the both of them looking warmer than they ever had. “What do you think it means?”

“That killing Cogito changed us, that it means something,” she looks confused, blinking around at the patches where the castle should have been but now wasn’t, “I’m not entirely sure.”

“We’ll work it out,” Anthony smiles, and joins his copper hands with hers.

Around Somnia the Copper Soldiers disintegrate into nothingness, leaving only the memory of them as a souvenir. Around the fictional world, which the War Angel and Devil had made their own, the people rejoice and hardly any time passes before the heroes hear news of their victory.

The pair walks slowly through glen and glade, copper coated hands entwined as they swing between their bodies. There’s a weight that’s been lifted off of their smiles, a maliciousness that’s been beaten down into dormancy. They have not spoken of their battles, both emotional and physical, nor have they shared their old lives, not yet, and they are content just to walk and breathe in one another’s mercury air.

When they arrive at their destination, directed by Somnia’s call of joy, they see the history of the world they have imagined. They arrive in what may have once been a man-made gazebo, short stone columns leading to a balcony where fractured posts frame a patchy domed roof. There is no floor, and all windows, gaps and fractures are filled to the brim with nature. Nature reclaims what man once made to break it.

There would have been gatherings there once, men sitting on the balcony, the outskirts of the party, with beer cans and flat caps, basking in conversations of masculinity. Women would be twirling inside in full skirts, hand and hand as a man whistled a tune or someone brought a violin, fiddle, flute, or guitar, instruments of skill, dance and cacophonies. A man would butch up the courage to ask a girl to dance, and this courage would only grow as Time would shorten the skirts to the knees, replace the flat caps to windblown hair, and sweeten the alcohol with sexuality. Time would grow, as effortlessly as people.

Then the Copper Soldiers attacked, emerging out of half imploding ideas, wrought out of dreams of technology and advancement. They were forged in silence, appearing between one second and the next gasp. The Soldiers came with slaughter and writhed the stone roof from its anchors, woman and man alike fleeing, masculinity and femininity meaning nothing in threatening fear.

Eventually, Time would progress to adulthood and see the arrival of its heroes, the Angel and Devil being commemorated for breaking dreams upon dreams of destruction and anxiety.

Then they are at the sudden, present moment and they have seen it all, history clinging to the walls with lonely apprehension. The heroes are surrounded by the people they saved, Rayner picking out the lovers that began her story, Anthony seeing the messenger that started his.

The gazebo is a construction of modernity and retroactive moments, flickering candles trapped in jars strung from twine that wrap around vines and stones. The people blink at them and fold their hands inwards to the gazebo’s interior in a motion to dance.

Anthony can only oblige and he holds out a hand to Rayner when they reach the inside. A man uptakes a violin in the corner, dusty eyes hidden in song and darkness, and Rayner dances in Anthony’s arms. Vibrant souls meet and embrace, torn in two beautiful bodies, and they lose themselves in music and dance, lost in each other’s arms.

The man with the violin sings a lofty tune, the words carried on everyone’s lips in a stunted manner but they know this song well. It is a song for those who dream and it is perfect for their heroes, for their Gods. “The lunatic, the monster, the lover and the writer have such similar eyes, you know that they are wary to offend the shadows. Their imagination is frantic, yet their weapons are different; whether it be their mind or their claws, their hearts or their hands, they know their place in the world. Oh, to know your place in this world.”

The sun blinks between clouds, seeing her Gods for the first time in their true brilliance. They dance until they can no longer feign sore feet and raw lungs, happiness tints their blood and glows in the faint copper patches on their skin. Finally, they take leave from the dance floor, which is crowded to the brim with people as though lovers were liquids and they retreat to the outskirts. They breathe in nature, a crisp airy scent that revitalises their lungs and they catch sight of an overgrown water basin, housing a sink full of clover. Rayner laughs as she twists the taps and the water flows onto the greenery, she kneels and drinks, replacing the fatigue in her brain with overwhelming glee. Anthony follows suit and as he lifts his head up Rayner is there, two inches from his nose. They are close, startlingly close, that their edges become blurred together like a painting.

“My soul is with you, entangled in cloud and mist alike and I trust it there.” The words are whispered, faint like tattoo smoke and Rayner feels her heart punch against her clothes as she speaks them. It is true that within Somnia they have carved out a purpose for themselves and for one another, they have found what they were looking for. They no longer care for money and simulations, they only care for the feeling of the other being near them.

Clarity becomes them and Anthony’s soul gains wings, “You are the one thing Death cannot hope to grasp. Thus I live and thus I love.”

When the confessions bring rain to the long drought of personal distress they smile and laugh, dancing when the beat uplifts into drum slap and guitar strings.

They formed Somnia from the fragments of their fears; where they once feared to dream about Death and cheating lovers they now dream of life and insatiable love. Cogito was designed to represent everything the real world was and they could either accept their old lives or their new lives. It was not a hard choice to make and in making their decision they destroyed Cogito and regained the memories they tried to repress.

But enough of revelations, they forgive their old lives and now accept their new love, walking to the moon and greeting the shadows because there is nothing to fear. Fear can be destroyed just as much as any machine.

Their story may be strange and admirable, bizarre to every last breath, but love never is consistent and all that matters is this: they are Gods just as much as they are lovers.

(Love to another is infinitely easier than love to thyself.)

 

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