Zula and Lula rushed the stage, as Bruno wriggled in the hangman’s noose. They drew their swords. From the wings of the stage, they were met by Anno and Arculf and Belladonna, Mr. Alonzo and Shelton, resisting them. They hacked and slashed through them; they reached the staircase and Zula ascended, with Lula keeping the attackers at bay. Finally, they reached the top of the scaffold, and they were met by the executioner, who withdrew blades from inside his robe.
They fought him, matching his every stroke. Lula marveled at Zula’s speed and grace. The taller woman disarmed the executioner, forced him to his knees, and pulled his hood. A familiar face met them: Bruno, an adult, his eyes crazed and his face pained. “Get the boy down from the rope, now!” Zula commanded.
Bruno growled. “That piece of shit deserves to die! Nobody has ever wanted him, and this is how it ends.”
Zula lowered her sword. “Bruno, you think you can kill that unloved child in yourself and become the perfect man everyone expects you to be. But you’re the Fisher King.”
“Who’s the Fisher King?” Bruno asked. Lula sat down next to him.
“The Fisher King is the wounded king, who keeps bleeding from a wound that won’t heal. Until you ask the right question, you’ll always be weak and bleeding. Your life, being mocked and rejected by different social groups in your school, it’s awful. But if you let a bunch of shallow jackasses determine the worth of your life, then you’re just asking them to make the decision for you.”
“What those shallow young men have, and what you want, is the spirit of the times. This is a spirit of peace, and confers the ability to make your way in a very conventional, very structured life, where everything goes right, and where everything is the way it should be. Bruno, what’s afflicting you now is the spirit of the depths. This is a spirit of cruelty and torment and horror, but it’s only in this spirit that you grow, that you gain new power, and you’ll find new life dawning in you.”
“You may have chaos within you, but it’s only through chaos that stars are born.”
Tears glistened in Bruno’s eyes, and he nodded. He stood, and pulled the boy’s body over to him. He used his sword to cut the rope from his neck, and the boy breathed, life returned to him. He hugged the boy, and they cried together, and then there was only one. Bruno faced the two women. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt any of you.”
“You’ve been torturing yourself for so many years. We’re here to rescue you.” Zula put her hand on the side of his face and kissed him. Lula hugged him.
Zula stepped back and asked, “where is Anand? Where is the Black Star?”
Bruno’s brow knitted, and he wrinkled his nose. “Follow me.”
They descended the scaffold, and exited the rear door of the theater into a cemetery with a light rain drizzling. Pine needles crunched at their feet, and they looked at the black sky. “We’re in the city of the dead. This has been in me all my life.” He led them up a hillside to a copper angel statues, sitting on a marble seat, with streaks of black down its face. “She’s been here for years. She’s never spoken, but the black star shines on.”
Lula stepped forward. “Can I try talking with her?”
“Please,” Zula said.
Lula addressed the angel directly. “Are you lonely here? I bet you are. You can talk to me. I’m listening. Do you have a secret to tell me?” She paused, and she was certain she saw the copper face responding
“I can see your face moving. I can see you smiling. Don’t you just want to let it out? Don’t you just want to tell me your secrets? I won’t tell anyone. It will just be between you and me, and Bruno and Zula.”
“You never asked for this, did you? You couldn’t help the way that you were made. You couldn’t help being extraordinary. You just wanted to help people. And now here you sit, in the rain, rotting. Out in the cold and all alone. You just have to watch them destroy themselves. Don’t you ever just want to stand up and do some thing? Stop them from hurting? Or just say, ‘your time is up. Judgment is here.’”
The statue laughed and stood up. “Well, perhaps we’ve been lonely. You asked me what we’d say. We’ll say whatever you want us to. What do you want us to say?”
Lula stepped back. “Why are you here? Why have you come to this planet? Are you here to destroy us?”
Anand smiled. “We have not done this for the benefit of ourselves or from selfishness; we have done this for the benefit of the whole human race. We are engaged in an epic search for truth. We have found God. We have found him in the depths of our own minds. We have voyaged into new and uncharted territories.”
“Do you mean … you were once like us?” Bruno asked. He’d never considered this.
Anand nodded. “Human beings must not suffer in vain, they must not suffer alone. If heaven does not exist, we will build it. If there are no gods, we shall assume our proper role in creation and act as gods. We will extend our consciousness throughout the stars. We must extend our consciousness throughout the universe, we will continue to explore. We must make peace with each another, in order that we may inhabit this galaxy. We must continuously move toward a world animated by peace and justice.”
“We have assumed the mantle of leadership not because we desired it, but because the world required it. Our minds and talents are gifts, which must be used for the salvation and betterment of our kind.”
“What about when we die?” Zula bowed her head.
“At the moment of death, each of us must face the intermittent experience of consciousness, where our personality is identified and dis-identified with ourselves, alternating throughout time. Death is a gift, and life must be lived in sight of that gift.”
Full Fathom Five: