The easiest way to catch up on past installments of this serial is here on Messages from Mâvarin. Synopses to Parts One through Six can be found at the top of Part Seven. Synopses to Parts Eight through Thirteen can be found at the top of Part Fourteen. Synopses to Parts Fourteen through Eighteen are at the top of Part Nineteen. Synopses to Parts Nineteen through Twenty-Five can be found at the top of Part Twenty-Six. The installments themselves can be read in order on Blogspot using the sidebar.
Part Twenty-Six: Cathma and Cathy wonder why they haven't lost consciousness with everyone else.
Part Twenty-Seven: Cathy and Cathma belatedly collapse and faint, much as the others did. They find themselves in a place without physical bodies, surrounded by a thousand versions of themselves. The only person present who doesn't have their face is Joshua Wander.
Part Twenty-Eight: Two of Us
“What are you doing here?” Cathy asked.
Joshua Wander shrugged. “I’m not so sure I am here,” he said. “I don’t even know where ‘here’ is.”
“The subjective plane,” Cathma said.
Josh looked at her blankly. “The what?”
“The subjective plane,” Cathma repeated. “It’s sort of a way station of the Infinite, where spirits commune without regard for physical distance. Fayubi’s friend Harisi sends people here all the time.” Cathma looked around. “I’m not sure how we all got here, though.”
“It must have something to do with that messed up portal between worlds,” Cathy suggested. “Something Li and Lee did resulted in our being sent here. Or was this was your fault?” she asked Josh.
“I don’t know,” Josh said. “Possibly.”
“But that doesn’t explain why the others aren’t here,” Cathma objected. “Where are Carli and Carl and the rest?”
“And how did are all these other Cathys and Cathmas get here?” Cathy added.
“They’re leaving,” Josh said.
It was true. The thousand or more people with Cathy’s face faded away, leaving just Cathy, Cathma and Josh in the darkened void.
“That’s better,” said Josh. “You both seem like decent, reasonable people, but two of you is plenty for any one place, time and universe.”
It was almost an insult, but Cathy privately agreed. At least now she didn’t feel quite so overwhelmed. She’d been carrying on for quite some time now as if she weren’t tired and scared and confused, but she was really all of those things. Being able to deal with just two other people in this bizarre situation, instead of a hundred or so (at the mall) or a thousand or so (in this strange non-place) helped a lot.
“Fine,” said Cathma. “I had nothing to say to all those other Cathmas and Cathys and Crels anyway. But the question remains: why are the three of us here? And why are we still here?”
“I have a theory about that,” Josh said, “but I don’t think you’re going to like it.”
“It’s hard to know whether that’s true, until you tell us what it is,” Cathma said.
“I think I’m here as sort of your spirit guide,” Josh said. “Like Coyote in the Native American legends.” He shrugged again. “Or maybe like Marley’s ghost.”
“Why do you think that?” Cathy asked. “Why would we need a guide? You don’t seem to know much more than we do about all this.”
Joshua Wander grimaced. “I know about some things,” he said. “In fact I have a bunch of ideas that weren’t there until just a few moments ago. Now my head is filled with things to say.” He hummed for a moment, something Cathy vaguely recognized as a Beatles song. “Sorry,” he said. “I really wanted those Beatles records.”
“You didn’t answer Cathy’s other question,” Cathma said. “What do we need a guide for? Can you get us out of here? Can you get us both home where we belong?”
Josh shook his head. “Not both of you,” he said.
Cathy was suddenly more frightened than she’d been all day. “What do you mean?”
“You two have a decision to make,” Josh said apologetically. “Only one of you gets to go home. You have to choose which one.”
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