Part 22F: Harper's back, and some backstory on Limbo!

I spin back around, and see Harper staring at me from behind some kind of mechanical apparatus that she is also aiming at me.

"Um... no," I say, and Harper looks around quickly, taking in me, Target A, Simon the Horse, and the impending collision of Hell and Earth before looking back at me.

"So you're one of the clones," she says, and I nod.

"I'm... " but she moves a hand a little bit, hits some sort of button or trigger and the machine blasts a burst of energy at me, all greenish-yellow, and I black out...

...and wake up, what seems like immediately but I'm not sure it it.  Who can tell how much time has passed when you've been unconscious? Not me, not when I wake up in Limbo.

I know about Limbo.  Lots of people know about Limbo.  Limbo is what keeps the dimensions separate, and it's kind of a dimension on its own and kind of not.  It's the space between all the dimensions and some people, like the Valkyries, think that Limbo is to be avoided at all costs, that once you go into Limbo you cannot ever truly leave it, that part of your soul will always be anchored to Limbo and you will be stuck there forever, not again being able to fully participate in life on any other dimension.

The Valkyries even have a legend, about a Valkyrie who wanted to explore Limbo, who as a little girl listened to the stories of the haunted souls who went to Limbo and came back with vacant eyes and dessicated minds, women who had lost their legendary love of battle and sex and honor and instead took to sitting in the forests of Valhalla, keening in sorrow over what they had lost -- a piece of themselves, people said -- a vital one.  People talk about that Valkyrie and how she set out to determine what Limbo was, really, and why it did that to Valkyries, whether Limbo could be conquered and if so how.

That Valkyrie, they said, wasn't like the others.  She was different from the rest of them, a Valkyrie more in name than in spirit.  She'd never had a horse, never really had a lover, and when the Valkyrie would ride to battle, that one would hang back, avoiding the bloodlust of the battlefield, the carnage that made other Valkyrie feel alive.

At home, on Valhalla, the woman who'd wanted to explore Limbo hadn't spent her time furthering scientific research, the chosen hobby for most of the residents of that dimension.  She hadn't been interested in the forests, with their peaceful quiet solitude under the mile-high trees.  She had spent her time alone, in her rooms, staring up at the sky, as if she could look into Limbo from her bedroom window itself.

And then, they say, one day, she did -- she had announced excitedly at dinner that she had found a way to see into Limbo and her parents, leery of this development in their strange little girl had said to her that she should show them.

So they went to the window.  Valkyrie can travel the dimensions, but the young are not allowed to do it, and the parents suspected that this girl had simply, precociously, opened a portal between the dimensions without knowing it.  When the Valkyrie do that, they know how to tunnel through Limbo so they never touch its ether, but the girl may not have done that.

So they thought.

They got to her room and saw no portals, saw no dimensional rifts.

"Show us," they told their daughter -- the two women holding hands as they watched their little girl go to the window and stare, intently, up at the sky.

"Look," the girl had whispered.

Her mothers walked to the window and looked into the sky, and saw Limbo -- a great gash in their own beautiful, blue sky over Valhalla where Limbo was clearly visible, its eerie blackness dangerously close to them even up in the sky, and they shuddered.

"How did you do that?" the mothers had asked.

The girl had shrugged.

"I just looked," she said.

The mothers were afraid, though, because this wasn't looking at Limbo: this was an opening into Limbo, and a large one, into the dimension the Valkyrie feared most of all.

No comments: