[Note: this is the second part of an ongoing series, the first of which can be found at http://www.lit.org/view.php?viewid=48643 ]
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Cassie pushed open the door to her home, narrowly avoiding pitching herself headfirst into the darkness. She cursed, fumbled, managed to hit a light switch and pulled herself upright. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. They always make you feel better.
Except, of course, when they don't. Ho hum.
She entered the kitchen, turned on the tap, left the kitchen, obtained a glass, turned off the hot tap, turned on the cold tap, filled the glass, dropped it. Yelled "fuck" a bit. Obtained another glass. And finally left the kitchen, water in one hand, the other now adorned with a clumsily-applied plaster.
It's amazing how the simple transfer and combination of certain items can make the world seem so very different. The act of combining a range of plant matter with large quantities of water and leaving the result in a bucket for a while, as one example. Transferring that result into a human being, for another. It's rather astounding, to be honest.
It is when you're absolutely shitfaced, anyway. And Cassie, for her part, was.
She sipped the water, set it to one side, went to pick up the mail left out on her kitchen table. Knocked over the glass. Sighed deeply. Fuck it.
Cassie put aside all thoughts of rehydration for the time being and made her way to the front room, doing that peculiar too-sober-to-be-sober walk we all do when we've had a drop too many. Well, some of us do, anyway. The rest of us just fall over.
Cassie entered her bedroom and half-sat, half-fell into a chair, snapped on her computer, the whirring of the fan oddly comforting in the silence of the night. She logged into her instant messenger, loaded up a browser, checked e-mail. The usual gaggle of supersized penises and insurance scams mingled with messages from friends, newsletters on the artifacts, theories based on speculation based on guesswork. Life's simple pleasures.
She rooted around under the desk, hoping in vain to find a forgotten bottle of wine somewhere among the mess. She finally settled for vodka, clumsily poured it out into a teacup which had long seen better days, took a sip, shuddered. Vile stuff but nice enough as a nightcap, at least when you're too far gone to taste it.
She turned her attention back to the computer, the messenger alerting her to a new message. She smiled. "girlanachronism," a friend in Boston, one of those looking into the artifacts and sharing everything she could with the world. Cassie brought up the window and began to type.
[cass-and-rah!] hi!!! how is the you?
[girlanachronism] could be better, theyve got me working late again
[girlanachronism] sick of doign this shit
[girlanachronism] bah you know what i mean lol.
[girlanachronims] how are you?
[cass-and-rah!] just got in, im a little tipsy. what's your excuse? :-p
[girlanachronism] im a ditz
Cassie smiled. She might be an ocean away but people like girlanachronism - her real name was...Jenny? Jessie? Gemma? Frank? - made the artifacts "scene" a lot more interesting and a lot more fun. Good-interesting. Not car-boot-full-of-squirrels interesting. Which was more than could be said for some.
[girlanachronism] anyway i thought you might find this interesting
[cass-and-rah!] go on...
[girlanachronism] well ive been looking through some texts from the time
[girlanachronism] i think i found something
[girlanachronism] check it out
A dialogue box popped up, asking Cassie to accept a file. She did, drumming her fingers on the desktop as she waited for the file to download. Suddenly the screen filled with a document. She peered at it. A note at the top identified it as an excerpt from some work from the ancient Mediterranean, the author unclear, a few candidates listed. She read aloud.
"And in those days there was a strange and miraculous happening among the people. We were at war with our enemies, seeking only victory. They prayed to their gods and the gods walked among them, the god Mars sent amongst them disguised as a blessed female. With her came weapons unlike any seen before, glorious instruments of darkest black, holy fire within them, a fire which sent forth metal which tore the flesh of men. Yet our warriors overpowered even the gods themselves, and on that day our enemies were laid low, slain by the thousand, laid to dust by very gifts their gods had brought. And there was much rejoicing."
Cassie paused. It couldn't be. Really. And yet...
[girlanachronism] what do you think?
[cass-and-rah!] i dont know what to think
[girlanachronism] what do you feel?
[cass-and-rah!] I feel like this is either a massive coincidence or...
[cass-and-rah!] or fucking incredible
[girlanachronism] w00ts! :p
[cass-and-rah!] where did you find this anyway!?
[girlanachronism] thats the weird thing
[girlanachronism] its a fragment that was turned up a few weeks ago, nobody gave it much thought really. we dont know the author and only have a rough idea of the date, its just appeared out of nowher.
[cass-and-rah!] just like the artifacts...
[girlanachronism] i know!!!
[girlanachronism] you know what this means?
[girlanachronism] it means we were right
[girlanachronism] they're all connected, this proves it. not just coincidences being bigged up by the media. this gives us two different artifacts with one talking about the other. so its not just hysteria. its...something.
[girlanachronism] fucked if i know what tho
[cass-and-rah!] me too :-p
[cass-and-rah!] all depends if you're right tho
[cass-and-rah!] you can read anything into these texts
[girlanachronism] i know, i know
[girlanachronism] food for thought tho isn't it?
It certainly was that.
Cassie felt suddenly tired, alcohol and excitement doing their job as expected. She put the vodka aside and tumbled onto her bed, sprawled across it lazily, asleep before her head hit the pillow. Across the ocean, Geri smiled as she watched Cassie fade into unconsciousness, her computer's webcam perpetually broadcasting to the world as she slumbered blissfully unaware.
As she went to close the window, Geri examined the image a little more closely. Shrugged, laughed at herself. It was nothing. But for a moment it had seemed for all the world that the picture on Cassie's wall had changed. Once a fairly plain watercolour, a stately home in rural England or somesuch, it now showed a battlefield, a scene from ancient myth. Maybe it had always been there. Or she'd just bought a new painting or something. No matter.
No matter at all.