God this is all there is
rating: +6+x

This place is a message and part of a system of messages.

Casey does not run their fingers across the words, though it’s clear from the way their metal hand is locked in place that they want to. You drag your nails inside the indents instead, leaving a color that cannot be erased by time or by artificial effort.

Pay attention to it.

They didn’t ward you against the cold this time, and so you feel it in its entirety. Your hair stirs, and as you exhale, you see your breath. Sounds of life surround you, but they don’t touch you. They don't reach your core. You are equidistant between earthly and alien.

Sending this message is important to us. We consider ourselves to be a powerful culture.

It is not your gentle embrace that leaves these marks. It is your claws, your teeth, your tears. Soft touches are not wanted in this burial ground. The dirt beneath you is firm, and the walls are unyielding. All the edges are sharp, and the colors are desaturated. Casey’s long coat consumes them, the folds of their scarf hanging heavy beneath their bowed head. Your own face feels too vibrant, layers of tear stains and scratches from now ancient desperation standing out against the landscape.

This is not a place of honor.

You read about this place as a fifteen year old. Poking from link to link on Wikipedia, little fragments of information sticking with you. Your world felt so fragile, and you were reassured by the concept of the perfect tomb, for that material too dangerous to be unchained. Now you know there are no walls that cannot be torn down, and you are grateful for it.

No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here.

But you are still here, carving words, most in languages you shouldn’t understand, again and again. There are safeguards in these walls even the architects don’t know about. A sense of foreboding, weaves into every fallen leaf, captured inside hushed whispers of Onkalo. You taste her magic brushing against your own, and you feel how little the metal gives.

Nothing valued is here.

What is held here is not some natural energy, some arcane existence manifested by the wills of a universe that has no mind for what humans think is possible. It is a creation of science, of numbers, and of data. It is a regret. It is I am become death, with the destruction parceled out bit by bit, across eons of decomposition.

What here is dangerous and repulsive to us.

This place is not a hidden sin, a futile attempt to conceal a fuck up from a vengeful God. Knowledge of this place is not forbidden— it is its intention. It is the thousands who journeyed here to leave warnings and offerings for the future, their pilgrimage drowned beneath waves of dirt and time but not forgotten. It is your own scratched lines, leaving words for what might as well be eternity. It is a sense of unbecoming, of liminal space, cast in a moment of concern for the future.

This message is a warning about danger.

After you leave your forever scars and Casey carves their calculated runes, the two of you make lunch. They brought the sandwiches left in traditional picnic baskets at the end of their bed by the unseen Librarians. Everything you do will remain unseen until a certain hour is met, they assured you, but you can’t keep the concern out of your hands.

They rest their metal fingers atop your left hand, the one you’re using your stabilize your sitting position, and the cold is reassuring, somehow. It cuts through even the gentle chill of early fall Finland breeze, distinct in its familiar texture. The gears click out a melody you found unsettling, once upon a time, but now fades into the background, as mundanely reassuring as the chirp of birds in the forest or the sound of cars in the city. Casey’s rhythm is a fixture of the supernatural world you now belong to.

“You think any of this matters?” you ask, between bites. Casey is careful not to speak while chewing, preferring to wait until they swallow.

“This today? Or everything we’ve ever done?” For a question you see as profound, their response is light. Their eyes don’t harden like when you ask about Anya Valdirez or the other madmen they once called home.

“Both, I guess. There are so many different worlds. Quetz says that they’re infinite.”

Quetz gets their information on the multiverse from Allison. They’re about as objective on its nature as you are on Jailors.”

“I’m not sure if you’re implying I had a messy break up with the Jailors or if the multiverse kidnapped Quetz.”

They laugh a little.

They deflected, and you let them deflect. You take another bite before drawing the conversation back on track.

“But really. Does it matter?”

“Maybe not,” they say, and that wasn’t really the answer you wanted. They see the look on your face. “Maybe in a million years, everything but your colors will have withered away, and those people will translate the writing that’s left and just not care. Maybe they’ll get radiation poisoning and die. Or maybe they’ll stop because of your warnings and my magic.”

“And the other spells.”

“So you noticed them as well.”

You nod.

They sit on that one for a couple of seconds.

“I don’t have all the answers. You know that story about the kid throwing starfish back into the sea?”

“The nihilistic older guy who’s like, it doesn’t matter that you’re saving them because you’re not making a bigger difference, and the kid who’s like, fuck you, I’mma save this one?”

They nod, and you’re intrigued.

“Am I the starfish? Is the future researchers we’re helping avoid radiation poisoning the starfish?”

They shrug.

“Maybe. Yes for both of them. No for both of them. That story overlooks why there are starfish on that beach in the first place. If people knew about some of the advanced magic out there, they could probably figure out how to destroy the nuclear waste. Or turn it into something less toxic. But as is…”

You look at the hostile architecture. Even knowing that it’s partially magical, the ominous atmosphere makes your skin crawl. Casey’s presence is only so much of a shield.

This is not a place of honor.

The poem, and you can’t help but think of it as a poem, is right, even if it’s for reasons and on levels that the writers probably didn’t know.

This is a place of easily avoidable mistakes.

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