One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
Sixty worlds a minute
4 September 2000
Hm. My feet are unnaturally cold as the light finally fails and I spread my wings for what is (74% probability) the last time.
Coins as dense as these bounce almost a metre when dropped from this height. Millions are caught, even before the rebound, the natives risking injury (years later, hundreds of thousands have their own personal stigmata). Millions fall to the floor and disappear; yet millions more vanish on contact when they're, on the first bounce, caught not with only one hand.
Even now, hours from the end of the world, humanity-B forgets all for cash.
On another world spotted with cities as deep as they are wide, I walk along pavements like rubber from the geothermal heat. The Possession begins as I cross the road so I must join in, smashing windows, raping, cartwheeling.
2.6% of the population are subject to the Possession. For two hours, daily, we lose our minds. As our eyes and minds blank we lose control to Our Lord the Olive King (unseen, for a thousand years) -- and as the only point of contact to the Olive King, we rule the world.
Don't tell anyone, but I'm just pretending. "I can't stop now," I think, as I dance with dollar coins stolen from a passer-by pressed into my eyes, "They've all seen me join in."
The passer-by looks on with joy at only being two degrees of interaction from Our Lord.
At each moment, I live all possible futures dragging humanity along after me. For me, reality is a train inches from my nose, a different universe in each window. To my sister every world is a lifetime. I watched her in the domain of the Olive King look down at her hands and wonder at the scars she found there.
I try to make best use of all that I see. I pass my greater knowledge into my local brain to try and force some of it into the current universe. To what end, I don't know.
I've asked them to break my journey, other times to speed me up the faster to reach the terminus.
But humanity never understands. And why should they? I talk to them as I have learnt to talk in previous worlds, but talking requires common frames of reference and my frame is spinning wildly, aligned instantaneously with another then on, never to match again.
Words are defined by one another, by to what they're similar, and by what they're not. There are networks and hierarchies. A word is a relation, an arrow, from one concept to another. Where do the arrows begin? What is our common origin?
Now I wake to a freezing world and in the moment before my new body assumes and assimilates its past, I shiver. "Don't tremble!" they shout, but it's too late and I'm accelerating towards the horizon. "If only we lived at the bottom of a potential well," I hear them say as I fly ever faster through a frozen paradise, then out into deepest space to join those other humans who couldn't keep their balance.
There we talk, and I learn to speak in the tongues of energy and potentiality. But then I move on, and the next world is crystalline and between ducking the charging crystal grain boundaries I discover that alignment, balance and bulk probabilities determine our minds and perceptions here.
There are no words to describe a unique experience. How could there be? I attempt, anyway, to say. I use the arrows words make to point towards the ideas I have, to what is happening -- but the arrows are spinning like Catherine Wheels; a vector field in a hurricane wind -- and as I speak I dart on a course between concepts almost as fast as I shuttle through worlds.
Still, I circumscribe this island of ideas with a mesh of words. I begin to see each world in terms of words. In each world, I salmon-jump upstream, against the reference flow, towards the ideological centre of the Earth. From there I build towers of ideas outwards in order to explain my condition.
With language derived from the probabilities of opening one of a million doors, I squat in my honeycomb cell (this world is a foam of cells with humans or poison. They have art and sex and all the rest) with dictionaries and encyclopaedias driving towards the root of their thought.
When I've written my treatise I leave my cell and enter the next one, and, finding a human (I'm lucky. The chance of poison is 62%) commence to read out loud.
But I find that sometime during my studies the world has ended, and while the physicality remains the same the topology of words has morphed and changed. Later, while swinging from vines with my mate symbiotic on my belly, I explain my predicament before time passes and mutual understanding also ends.
There too, I find a gulf. Whatever I say, however I use these words, the world in which they make sense dies in the journey between my tongue and your ear.
Shift on: My feet are cold again and as I once more drop coins I look down at humanity-B. My growing excitement collapses as I realise that it's not the same but it's five minutes later. My own body's arrows of perception have turned and I can no longer comprehend even my own condition. I fly on, and as darkness falls the horizon fades out of view.