Last Words

Despite the pain, the woman worked late at her computer, as she always did. There were notes everywhere: maps pinned to walls with ribbons, icons with names and arrows, troop movements, times, dates. Fragments of epic poetry adorned the wall in haphazard order, with things like “This?” and “Ask Jenny” and “Adapt. Tins to do chorus” scrawled on them in biro. To her computer was blue-tacked her weekly email from White_hare: “You’re an asshole.”

From time to time she wheeled her chair to the kitchen to get a cup of tea, or a sandwich. From time to time she watched the sun as it hovered above the horizon, never quite setting. That’s us, she thought. Nearly there.

In the mornings she went through the tortuous progress of taking a shower, just so she felt human. Her upper body strength had developed well, and a series of bars and levers and pulleys got her into the water once it had run. She sat, willing her body to remember how to wiggle her toes or flex her knees. She failed.

Back at the computer, new data came flowing in. A fax came in from Cowboy—it had taken her months to persuade him that fax was no different, really, from her having to go to godforsaken Idaho to pick up a handwritten transcript. She read it all and made copious notes, and finally started writing.

The buzz of a plane engine interrupted the quiet. The bush doctor, she thought. He’s early. A man got out of the plane, helping an older gentleman out. The older gentleman had a certain bearing to him, and a certain calm.

She wheeled to the door to open it for the man who had kept her alive. “Hey, your Eminence. Wasn’t expecting you for a bit. I’ve been thinking about the ritual to magically link up the budding poets into a sort of Ur-text, and maybe setting excerpts into an efuda. Couldn’t hurt, and…”

She noticed Revelations was still silent. An odd expression crossed her face. “It’s time, isn’t it?” she asked quietly.

He nodded slowly. “Yes. It’s time.”

The woman who had been many women but most latterly The Hopeful Scribe took a deep breath, and nodded. “Let me just send the ur-text idea to Harker and TSR.” She typed for a while, then loaded up the master-file, and pressed SEND. “And there it goes,” she whispered. “My story. As far as it goes.”

Then, turning in a wheelie, and with a complete change of mood, she demanded, “Did you bring the whisky?”

It was Revelations’ turn to sigh. “In times like this, it is wiser to turn to higher authorities, than to worry about base…” he started

“Giardi, did you or did you not bring the fucking whisky?”

He nodded. “I brought the whisky.”

They sat companionably for a while, sipping whisky, and not talking of anything much. Then despite his offers of help, she levered herself into her bed. “Guess I find out who’s waiting then, the Lord or the Lady,” she said. “I’ll send a postcard.”

“Don’t gloat,” said Revelations. It had taken him a long time to get to the point where he could joke with her; he did it awkwardly, and he only showed that side to her as far as she knew, but despite everything he had been a friend to her.

They sat in silence, then she met his eyes, nodded, and slowly lay down. “L’chaim,” she said, and grinned.

Then the woman who had been many women, but most latterly The Hopeful Scribe, simply went to sleep.

fic/last_words.txt · Last modified: 2010/03/09 16:26 by gareth
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