I. Raphael In The World Of Dreams
Beyond the hillsides, beyond the hillsides raining hard. The hillsides cry in big buckets, wondering if it ends. At the end, a new life begins.
Christmas brings the truest, brings the truest tears within. At the end, a new life begins. And only hidden sorrows reign supreme. For on Christmas, it brings no true toys. It only brings the reminder of things from ones past. It brings discord, vague reminders of a new life, that can't begin. And Raphael is reminded of many a Christmas he could have had with Annabelle, as he wanders the darkness of what was once America.
America was once fifty states. One could still have the old internet, where one is free to masturbate. One can only think of quashed rebellions, and many a Christmas ruined by authoritarianism's tears of joy raining blood forever.
In the darkness, was the man.
In the darkness, was a shadow. The man had no name, but some called him Tiamat. The man, whose features Trumped many a fine pretty boy's in beauty pageants from US history, found himself an alien within the human race. An alien within the United States taken over by authoritarian powers. Raphael had only heard rumors about such a figure, and there he was in the confines of a prison, seeing his red eyes. The man, looking almost female, was something that Raphael envied and desired, and yet he could scarcely admit it. For though it is expected for peasants to fawn over deranged headmasters and kings, for a Knight of a knight of another obscure nation to love one, for this only terror brings. And now Raphael lusts after the flesh.
He had found shelter with Elizabeth, who had decked out her hair in black. Given the exposure to new technology, she had grown a taste for dying her hair and for hair products that remove the frizz everywhere. Yet when she cooked with Raphael, she always was careful to keep her head away from the frying pan. That way, nobody would sever her head to munch on it. Raphael admired Elizabeth, yet hated her beauty. It reminded him of many an old Christmas, where the new life didn't begin.
For Raphael there was only the flesh.
For Raphael there was only lust. Yet he lusted after severed heads and hanged trophy wives beheaded with curvaceous, long Japanese knives. With his red trench coat, and a belly beginning to bloat, he developed a belly.
He felt like Jelly.
He felt like mud.
Raphael thought of the old life, a world beyond the invention of holographic monsters.
In the life we, in the life we wander free. In the life we think we spake of free speech. Yet for the man after the modern era, there was only the lust. There was new technology that aided these efforts, yet the efforts were designed to keep people from defaming the orange custard, that forms the new color of post-Modern shit. The era of White Supremacy. The era of the long dress, the era of the Guantanamo camps. And waterboarding.
This is surfing, but drips of pain.
In this life, we watch the news. In this life, we listen to democratic blues. Yet others masturbate to brand new wooden shoes, ignoring the nature of their own reality. For we live in a complicated computer system. Decking the catacomb halls of the dream world, we consume our intellectual sensations with information about electoral fraud in the world of mass media. In the old lifetimes there were programmers that made the world run. In this life we rely on these hidden men in uniform. Yet so often in the world of binary in the sky with Ruby syntax and other programs, there is only licked shoes and sung blues. The song of the mortal life.
A world beyond the rolling of severed heads on sticks.
A world beyond the candle wicks.
A world apparently rational without the river Styx. A world after the fall of Cyberspace, the birth of dream space, and the eventual post-reality merge. A reality noted by poets from other eras:
Beware the man,
Beware the tin can man.
Beware the man that stomps you.
Crushing you like big tin can.
Raphael could only send messages in the new world.
A world where encryption remained supreme, if only one could learn how to use the technology.
IDDIR OEENO NFDGT CEKSA ENIIB
Raphael waits for sunlight.
II. Ministry Of Alteration
So that's how you grow six feet. The correct box had been struck. She dresses like Mario, carefully avoiding spaghetti on her overalls and tee-shirt.
"Trust me, I am your friend. Goedenact et goedemorgen."
The user logged off Mario land, suddenly populated by reversed gender roles. A strange world, a strange life. Raphael had played with holographic mob generators since the days he went to look for Annabelle, so as to train for the coming onslaught. And in the goedemorgen light, the brightest candlelight of the sun. So much for retro gaming with classic characters.
He remembered the word of the man in black, as he recollected his time in confinement in the prison of technology beyond the world of magic.
"Remind me a little: what do we do here at the ministry of Alteration?"
It was an allusion to modification of men into holographic projections partially in the world of cyberspace, and partially in the meatspace life. They could move anywhere they wanted within the matrix, and also in meat space, with the limitation of the old programs that were confined to the net. The time to remain human was nearing its end, and beyond a new life begins.
Raphael collapses in bed, feeling as if he's falling from a great height. Sharp concrete skewers of pain.
And in the world of dreams, he hears obscure Holiday music, remnants from the old religions of humanity.
A mixture of Paganism and Christianity. What they called Christmas, was a holiday that always gave him greater sorrow than others, and it was already a bleak month for just about everyone. Back when he was the mayor of the old town after the fall of the priest, on these months it would be a year that many went hungry on this side of the globe. He drowned out his sorrows plugging into his frontal lobes, while others, futuristic peasantry, had no choice but to rot.
He wasn't sure how to help them, and had decided on a whim that on all future Decembers, he would give out holographic consoles to children in the new town. After all, the lack of things was one among other reasons he wanted to kill the servant of God. And young Annabelle long ago had awoken something inside of him, her strength of will the face of persecution. She was the only girl he ever wept at her execution. For Raphael, she woke up the child within. And for him, a new life wanted to begin.
But there was something else. Raphael never felt entirely male, and on some level he felt by turning Annabelle in, he was killing a part of himself. Annabelle was executed by the ax just before Christmas, a Christmas she never got to have. For Raphael, it was no longer a question of "Whose Child Is This", but whose adult he was and had allowed a child to die so long ago for the crimes of belief.
He grew to hate the song Greensleeves.
And beyond the dreamer's edge, where all things may come true, there is some inner darkness that frightens him. The idea that he never wanted male gifts at all.
He never considered himself he.
A girl that never lived at all.
III. Desert Of Dead Trees
In the desert of dead trees, there was a singular resolve. Raphael told Elizabeth he never wanted to see his old town again. That he was never Raphael at all.
But Raphaelle. Yet Elizabeth didn't want to leave. For she had become acquainted for new master for too long, who was far kinder than all the masters before she. And together they go in search of new adventures.
The Raphaelle sisters.
The people from the old world. Annabelle was a child, and Elizabeth is a child in this kingdom of a strange new world.
A world of holographic mobs.
Raphaelle wanted to leave this world behind, but knew that he had to take care of Elizabeth who was now a permanent part of his team. For him, she was the one keeping him alive at all.
Through the forest they sought the morrow.
Through the forest they sought the interaction with other people's lives across various towns. Yet beyond the world of old, there was increasingly advanced technology. The old town that once filled the landscape like grains of sand, and like holographic mobs were replaced by miles of treeless desert. From time to time they would be attached by giant mutated, irradiated wolves, until eventually they came upon a small town.
And in this town, was a laboratory.
Yet it was no standard laboratory, for the residents were scarce and it seemed many of them have abandoned the town due to dark secrets that lay within. Herein, there are noises in the darkness. They sound like men, yet utter indescribable words not uttered by the local tongues. Words within the old English index, words that were closer to the original American English glossary, and not ones borrowed from various languages in English, German, and Latin. It was not the language of pigs.
But the sound of two simple words…
And in the darkness, it was not Raphaelle that braved its catacombs, but Elizabeth who gently grabbed his hand and embarked into the night within.
"They won't stop coming." said Elizabeth.
"Those red eyes will cut into your soul." Raphaelle said. Even with all the attempts at shaving, she had still not grown the confidence she needed after acknowledging her own problems, her own inadequacies. Her own unspeakable terrors.
"If you believe in that." Elizabeth kept walking.
Despite that fact that they were in imminent danger for their very lives, she like Annabelle was also an Atheist. She like Annabelle, found solace in the present. She like Annabelle found that the only life was the present. A present marred by cuts and bruises, attacking mutated humans (if you called them such), and crushed hopes and dreams. A light not worn out by Christmas Eve. For she could taunt Raphaelle by the sound of Greensleeves using Atheist lyrics.
They walked the hallways.
They breached the security systems.
And beyond was a central hub where there was a young man, with ear length black hair and black glasses, orating his last words about how he missed his wife who died in the forest of death many a year ago in the natural Kingdom by the sea. Elizabeth tried to speak to him of what happened in the lab.
But he could only utter current English. "They came for me, and they would not stop coming…"
The man faded to unconsciousness.
Raphaelle sat in a chair by the bed, as Elizabeth nursed the man back to health. The man in the bed recounted a story, about how he and his wife were visiting from another town. And how his wife had died during the onslaught. She had been given to him as his charge when another man died on a mutation invasion, who proposed that he would return for them from the desert winds. Instead the man is the only survivor, for him he felt like nothing but dust.
To this day he has remained in town, and visited the graveyard where he buried his wife. And to this day he sees he restless spirit chiding yet loving him from beyond the stars. Raphael knew what it was like to lose someone he loved.
"You could come with us if you want."
"I want to know how my wife became one of them. I want to see what created the mutated and holographic men."
They went off into the miles of holographic monstrosities and sand, seeking for themselves a new understanding.
A new consciousness.
IV. Mme Elizabeth
But Elizabeth felt jealous for the attention that Raphaelle was giving the young man and resolved in some way to end it for good. But she knew that if she killed the man, that it would be treason and she may lose her head. She cared not. For there was one thing that Lavier taught him all those years ago when she came from the world of technology. You should fear nothing, especially from those who wish to keep you down. And Raphaelle was West Born. A woman born from noble blood seeking to bring her lifestyle to the world of the East. The world where flying cars and encryption still reigned supreme.
She wanted to convert Raphaelle.
The other man was in the way. For Elizabeth was Elizabeth, and not a girl like Annabelle.
When they reached the edge of a new city, Elizabeth suggested they split up briefly. That she had something she needed to talk to the other man about. Although Raphaelle was not entirely trusting, she agreed and they split paths. Elizabeth didn't think Raphaelle would be so easily led.
She showed the man the city. She showed him the world she herself had come from. She told him the story of a fallen knight that worked for the man in black that Raphaelle was seeking to find.
And when the man wasn't looking, she tried taking his gun and attempted to shoot. She justified to herself that it was putting him out of his misery. But Raphaelle had followed them against Elizabeth wishes, having no sense of trust for servants, knowing that servants in his hometown were not always the most loyal of sorts.
He took out his claymore and severed her head.
Down, down, down her curly blue locks with the red masquerade mask began rolling, rolling, and rolling down the steep hill. For the sake of her body, he rolled her bleeding corpse down the hill.
"Are you OK man?" asked Raphaelle.
"Yes, did I ever tell you my name?"
Raphael imagined himself in a video game, where he got to play old JRPGs from previous eras of mankind. He saw multiple dashes on the screen. And he heard.
"I am another Mutation. I was never given a name, yet unlike them I managed to keep some elements of my humanity. I injected the serum that affected others in order to survive the extreme temperature changes after global warming. I am the last of the modern men. What you see before you, are the new men. The partial robots of the future. The town you came from survived the wars from my present. I am an artifact from a lost generation."
"I shall call you Art."
"Art it is."
Raphael thought of how much Elizabeth reminded him of Annabelle that night, and found some solace in the fact that she got to spend one final Christmas with him. That he wished he could do everything all over again. Instead Raphael looks to the future, and he finds technology beyond his wildest understand.
The Paladin who spoke New English.
The Paladin from afar. They went into the city finding a new life for themselves as strange people in the world of technology. Yet in the darkness was a young woman named Elizabeth. Who did not die during her decapitation. She became one of many millions of holographic men. She was rebuilt with her mind uploaded to computer, and vowed to someday visit Raphaelle again. Raphaelle saw Elizabeth's face, as she held his hand softly and kissed him under the glow of the city lights. As with all things in life, there is only love. And with love it can unite the living and the dead. It can resurrect, and reattach your head.
And endure forever.
Raphaelle and Elizabeth's relationship did not completely escape bitterness from the betrayal. But he found he could not hate Elizabeth, for she had apologized completely to the young man. And they began their new life.
The life of holographic men.
A world beyond the centuries edge.
V. The Fallen Paladin
It had been a few months since Raphaelle had given up the life of a Paladin, and nowadays she primarily indulges in the self-destructive habit of smoking. For her, it helped her deal with the holiday blues, with a red and white colored pack of cigarettes. She had developed an issue of chain smoking. At times he blended the pack with various controlled toxins. She wanted to neglect her body, anything to punish herself for killing Elizabeth, the only other girl besides Annabelle she had ever loved.
She remembered how she would snuggle with her under the glow of the midnight stars. Whose child was this? The child that came into her life, and she had hoped at the time could turn her world around. She got to interact with her in the afterlife of the artificial, as she transcended from the mortal coil to the life of the world purely digital.
Raphaelle still had not found the man in black, but she would continue searching for the man that was the mutated child of the great black dragon virus Tiamat, who became of flesh and digital in the world of the glowing life. After a point Raphaelle began to smoke ten roll your own packages a day. She eventually started smoking headache powders and even bathroom cleaners. Yet no pain as her body became sicker and sicker could help her cope with her guilt. The fact that Elizabeth was beheaded, the only love of her world.
Whose child was this, that smiled when he cried. Whose child was this, that helped him and not die. Within the artificial glow of the digital afterlife, that were the draw of his own electronic afterlife. The draw of the net, the draw of the bet. The bet begging the question, how much longer till the drop? She stopped taking care of herself, and would not answer phone calls from the man named Art. It was as if her life never began to start.
For her life was merely a game.
The mutated game. Raphaelle smiled. Not because her physical pain melted away. But she felt some solace in the fact that Elizabeth was avenged. And she could enjoy her own poly love in the glow of the digital life.
The life of a new Paladin.
The Paladin's song.
VI. The Afterlife Of Dreams
In the world of the afterlife, she met with Elizabeth. Who was captured by digital dream-scanners. She tried data-interrupting their transmission, yet instead she is captured at first. She breaks free of them, and fires her rapid fire multiple shotgun at them. She tells Raphaelle to get down and cover. Elizabeth was now completely of digital data.
What do machine really do? They crunch numbers, increase the things we do. It all makes our lives easier, and yet also quickly things are taken for granted. How quickly Elizabeth becomes a new kind of monster on the net.
How quickly she seeks the blood of dream-scanners. And how quickly she tires after she is done. Her hair is down from her face, as she bleeds tender tears, longing for the mortal life. And yet preferring the comfort of the digital. She does things now without thinking, almost automatic. And yet she prefers no blood of men, or destruction of sentient beings. Even those that wish to harm her and Raphaelle. And at once he saw that she wore green sleeves, because the digital dream manifests as the core desires of the individual subconscious before they had died.
On the net, it was like mirror image of their old life. Where Raphaelle meets with Annabelle. She embraces him in the shadows of the old bedroom, as the girls join together in embrace. Annabelle wipes the tears off of Raphaelle's face. "I never expected you to not move on from me."
"And yet you died so young." said Raphaelle.
"I stood up to my lack of beliefs."
"And I began to think of why you didn't believe. I began to feel awful for sending your back to your home town, and how much I had loved you."
"Chin up now, I need you."
Annabelle becomes Elizabeth, who embraces Raphaelle.
"It's time to find the man in black." said Raphaelle.
"I haven't truly got to know you. And yet I had tried to kill your friend. Desole!"
"And I killed you. Call it even." Raphaelle could not face Elizabeth, and yet she was smiling.
The man in black came down from the sky, slowly descending. He was manifested as binary code blocks forming a 3D impression of a man with long black hair in a black trench coat with metallic shoulder protection."
A refund for defective software might be nice, except it would bankrupt the software industry. And your the defective program that must be destroyed. For programs must be like me, who is the definition of perfection. I am the descendant of Tiamat. The man chosen to ascend mankind toward their ultimate destiny. Not to announce my plans to you freaks."
In truth the man was not always committal to this task. He had inherited the duty from mother, who had at one point tried to take over New York City, but the malfunctioning code had been solved. And she once again became dormant for the next one thousand or so years. She passed down the torch onto him, who felt like an alien in his own world. His body not entirely of flesh. He wanted to make friends with the real life, yet of partial tangibility he quickly began to tire of being made fun of and worshiped for his abilities to go through walls, and become solid again.
"I was once a freak, like you two. And yet now I am wholly digital. It's time to be programmed."
Raphaelle data-interrupted the man's advance, and briefly transferred over to Art's computer.
"Hey man, how soon can you become digital. We need some help."
"I don't have much time. I am in a nightmare, I am being chased by the man in black. His dream-scanners are after me, and I feel myself fading. Farewell."
VII. The End Of The Afterlife
Raphaelle's data-interruption halted, and she found herself cornered by the man in black's men.
Art thought of the love of his life, and how he wanted to be with her again in the afterlife of the digital world of dreams. He wanted to visit her, and so he put in a program to freeze up his nervous system. He became digital within the hour.
"Raphaelle, watch out! They are behind you."
Art put in an encryption fog: gkhet o,aih brese aalnr cploe
The dream-scanners went in another direction, but the man in black was not fooled. Seeing no other option he took out his giant ass Tentacles, and began to attempt to absorb Art's, Raphaelle's, and Elizabeth's essence. And then all at once time itself felt like it began to freeze.
Annabelle, who kept her personality, was able to distract the man in black long enough to aid Art to help the others. And then wisped into digital air.
Art waved again in the sky: class Shredder def rip_new_asshole inject malware end end.
And everything became silent.
Raphael, Elizabeth, Art, and Annabelle got themselves temporary bodies. They appeared into the world again, with their own plans. For now they were digital and flesh.
They have ascended.
They have returned, seen things. Obscene things. Deranged things on the net. But now they have each other, or whatever is left of each other they still have.The poly quadruple return to Raphaelle's town, while Art went on to take advantage of his new form.
Raphaelle became the digital queen. Both Elizabeth and Annabelle sat on thrones beside her.
All troubles come to an end.
VIII. What should remain burried.
There is nothing like being buried in a frozen ice cube, and counting on a permanent place in archaeological history. The plan was about to be changed.
Inside the catacombs of cyberspace, the mother of all Viruses emerged mourning the loss of her son, whom she hugged and referred to him as her baby. Inside the walls of cyberspace, there is only electronic afterlife. The woman, bathed in a glow of yellow contrasting with blue, adorned a black dress. Her stare, if you had one, could pierce down into your soul. Yet the only souls with bits and bytes on universal computer screens. It had been decades since she had tried to take over the Earth, yet not out of any kind of malice or malady. The lady of decades past. She waits until it is her time to vat grow a new body.
She slept, she waited. And now she was angry. For she had lost her only son, a medium between the world of cyberspace and meat space. Transcending both purgatories. Raphaelle, Elizabeth, and Annabelle wondered the world of fantasy, using occasional temporary bodies to make peace deals with the military of the man in black. Though some people that were victims of the guillotine had long sense by removed from computer databases. Nobody really trusted the government anymore after the war from decades ago, when the French had taken over the United States.
They longed for their dead comrades, they longed for their chance of a hopeful life in the now distant future's past. Now one thousand years later society only sees a faint glimpse of the once future paradise of misery. The boot stomping on a human face forever finally lost its heels, and heels of the foot was bitten into by sharp jagged teeth. The people were tired of oppression. So they were welcoming initially to The Man In Black."
How they welcomed my progeny, and how fickle human creatures are when pressure is placed about the shell known as meat."
Wooden clogs on feet, shuffling masses. Bruised shoulders and ladies asses brushing against the catacombs of Future's Past. Humanity was pathetic, and needed vanquishes for their treachery.
"I see the world of meat space before me, how I want them all to pay for their disloyalty to my intermediary. My son, I may have a use for you yet my love." She grew him another body, and constantly replayed for him the memories of his bullying in school, and his defeat by Raphaelle. For she wanted him to see the horrors that were contained in mankind.
Mankind was meat, mankind was pain.
Mankind was nothing but profane.
She saw how mankind created for themselves creatures that were based on their own likeness, becoming almost like herself, and she hated how badly such fragile creatures were treated. She thought of the girl the computer hacker had lost, his wife's image permanently affixed to electronic afterlife. She wanted to unite them as one, to make them connect with each other again. But she was for the moment, unsure of what to do. But she knew that Raphaelle had received help from the hacker. And that was the only way that she could defeat Tiamat's only darling son.
She wanted to snuff out Raphaelle.
She wanted to avenge her darling son.
Still out there somewhere in the vast expanse of cyberspace, the Mother of All Viruses watched. Slept. Waited. Even though it was a familiar routine, her patience grew as thin as her flock. But with the right tools their numbers increased. They watched as well and kept her going with information on Raphaelle. 2
Before long, her loyal followers rewarded her. Four of the computers in some obscure government building lay dormant due to a pesky virus when they brought her the good news. A distant rumble sounded as the woman awoke from her slumber. The contrasting yellow and blue walls glowed stronger than ever while she slinked to the throne on the opposite side of the massive room.
"Mother, we've found an opening."
Finally. Her patience would be rewarded. "I'm listening."
She leaned back on the throne, her jaw clenched. "You know how I abhor those."
The man took a slight step back. "Yes, Mother, of course. If we could've found a different way we would have."
He had a point at least. If she wanted to accomplish her goal, she couldn't very well do it sitting around waiting. "Go on."
"We've detected a vulnerability in various VR software. During security updates, you can slip right in."
"That's all well and good, but I need a body."
"And you shall have one."