Stars were twikling in every direction. Again.
Oops, that was a bit far… It’s surprisingly tricky to get a hold of time now. Earth’s history is quite young, let alone humanity’s.
Mary plunged into her more recent memories. She learned again to review them on a day-to-day scale — and not millennium-to-millennium — then she found the moment Jake and Oliver discovered the symbol. As she expected, she couldn’t see the symbol clearly, since they were obstructing her view. She noticed, though, that Oliver took a few seconds to pinpoint the exact location he would strike with his stone. She didn’t see any other worthwhile piece of information so she gave up on that memory. There was still a glimmer of hope.
As Mary delved further back into her memories, she reached her childhood. She saw her sixth birthday at the attraction park; the first time she read a word at four years old, in front of her surprised parents; her three-year-old self lying in her old little bed with her plush… It grew fuzzier and fuzzier, and then, suddenly, she was back in the ruins. With no transition whatsoever, her own oldest memories connected with foreign ones.
Are those also from the being that witnessed the creation of the universe? Wait, it doesn’t even make sense. How could anything be alive, let alone sentient, before matter even existed? Then again, those memories might be fake too… This power genuinely defies everything I know. Anyway, at least I can see the original symbol clearly here.
On closer inspection, it seemed that Mary had overdone it. She had appended some extensions which respected the language’s rules but weren’t in the base pattern. Her repaired symbol was therefore a bit more complex than the original one.
I see… So the motif I added probably contains that future-reading property. I was just following my intuition, and it so happens that I unknowingly discovered yet another rule. I’m really clever aren’t I? Whatever, now I have to try something.
Mary reopened her editing software, with her repaired symbol in the foreground.
If I replicate that motif in a recursive fashion, according to the third and fifth principles we’ve already found, it should work…
Mary finished her task and stared at the result. Then, she tried projecting herself in the future. She felt a little thread hanging from the current point in time. And this time, contrary to earlier, she could see much farther than a few seconds. As her present flew at full throttle along the axis of time, she saw her future unfold right before her eyes. Driven by a sense of urgency, Mary sped up as much as she could, and she — heard a voice.
Mary reflected on her life.
She was ninety-five years old now.
Her lung cancer was finally getting the better of her. As she was lying on her hospital bed, she thought about the time when, as a young woman, she had tried to see the future. She had seen herself die from cancer, and the sight had made her sick. She lost focus, and was forcefully thrown back to the present. Forever. She lost her prescience afterwards. Had she known, she would have tried to see farther. What a pity…
Mary felt it coming.
It was exactly like she had seen herself. Same room, same bed, same people around her. As her muscles were steadily losing strength, she thought it was a good life. Her only regret was to let go of that vision. Could she go back in time and warn herself? That would be nice…
Then, a certain idea popped up in her sleepy mind.
This is ridiculous, she thought.
But the possibility of it wasn’t zero. And that alone warranted a last attempt.
Mary mustered up to her last drops of determination.
The flickering spark of her slumbering spirit was burning again.
Her next words would be her last.
I’ll leave the rest to you.
She feebly opened her mouth, and commanded, as clearly as she could:
Mary heard it clearly. She was going to stop, as it looked like she had reached the end of her life, but the voice carried so much weight that she stayed on track. The afterimage of an old woman who looked like herself and was smiling with closed eyes stayed on her mental retina for a few seconds, and then faded out.
She pressed forward with all her might. She didn’t see anything anymore, but she could feel time flowing. She travelled as far as her consciousness allowed her. At last, she reached a white space with no boundaries.
She couldn’t feel her physical body anymore. Only her mind had remained.
Where… am I?
She was greeted with pure silence.
Then, she heard it.
“Will you join us?”
Mary couldn’t see anyone around her. Since she didn’t have a body anyway, that probably was telepathy.
— Who are you? she asked.
— What do you want from me?
Mary waited for an answer.
After some time, she heard the voice again.
“Will you join us?”
Mary paused for a few moments.
She thought about her family.
John, Camille, Jake, Oliver.
She didn’t want to leave them.
She couldn’t even fathom to whom that voice belonged.
You know me, guys.
I just have to know.