Epistemic Status: Fiction
Aegri Somnia Vana
“To fill a thimble with your logic. Adding it up. Almost worthless. I walk right over it.”
Location: somewhere cinematic with dramatic cliffs overlooking a sunset on the ocean.
I heard the click of the gun pressed to my temple. How could he sneak up on me like that? I needed to know that trick.
A moment passed.
“Why not shoot?” I said.
A thoughtful grunt. A “Is that really what you want to be asking, in your position?”
I grunted non-committally and reconsidered.
He said nothing for while. I supposed it fell to me to break this super-awkward silence.
“I’ll admit,” I said, “I really didn’t expect to have this confrontation this early in the arc. I suppose you’re going to take me back to the Kingdom, now?” He would probably parade me down the main road in the capital as a demonstration of power. Good, I had contingencies for that case.
He ignored my question, and just addressed my comment: “You should recall the bounty still on your head. You aren’t as secretive as you thought and the locals aren’t as trustworthy as you wished.”
To be fair, he probably only knew my location because I didn’t care enough to hide it. I definitely wouldn’t tell him that, though. Let him think me naive and him clever.
“I notice you avoided my question,” was my response.
“I took it as an insult. I am fully aware my government is compromised in your favor, I would never expect you to get back in custody.” A pause. Then:
“I expected better, I honestly did.” he tut-tutted. He literally tut-tutted. I’ve never heard someone actually do it.
“Hmm. I did plan for a break just a bit longer, but that’s how the saying goes, isn’t it?”
He remained silent. Seriously, had this guy not heard of small talk?
“Isn’t this a part where you monologue?”
“You seem to be expecting this to flow like a story. It won’t. I have this gun press to your temple, and I fully intend to use it,” I wanted to laugh, but I wouldn’t insult the poor soul.
I settled for: “No fun at all.”
“Correct,” I knew he had to be at least smirking, at this point.
More silence worked its way in the ensuing lull.
“Not much of a conversationalist, are you?” No response. “I guess I’ll have to pay that monologue deficit, eh?” No laughs, tough crowd.
I cleared my throat, had to make this good.
“You say this won’t flow like a story. But you’re wrong. It will. It already has, and I know it will continue to do so. You might have told yourself the world isn’t narrative, that Heros don’t always win, good guys don’t always get noble deaths, et cetera. You’d have to since you are a Villain. But I digress.
“The world makes sense. Hell, it’s legible. Narrative trumps causality, narrative trumps reality. Heros always win, even if it’s a Pyrrhic victory. You s-” interrupted by a laugh.
“Not even I expected this level of delusion, even from a self-proclaimed Hero. So your parents raised you on fairy tales as a child. The least you could do is outgrow them. Herohood will do you no favors; the last people who could be called Hero were killed. By me. You are the last, luckiest one. That is all. This alone will not save you.”
Despite my earlier misgivings, I knew it was my turn to laugh. I did.
“Again, wrong. It kept me going in the pits of despair. When everything I’ve known was taken from me. When I reached for victory in the jaws of defeat and came back missing a hand. Herohood keeps me going”
“When you should just cut your losses,” he continued for me.
“Heros win! I keep telling you as much! It’s . . . I can’t really explain, but I’ve, I’ve seen things. Impossible odds, brushes with Death itself. I never should have survived this long, but I have.”
“Yes, we call that ‘luck’.”
“It’s more than mere luck! None of this came out of nowhere! When I’m saved from the brink, it’s not by random strangers or one-off coincidences. When I find a puzzle, the pieces are all there. When I reach a locked door, the key was picked up by a friend just a few hours past.
“It’s not luck. It’s like. . . it’s providence.”
He seemed to take that in. Maybe I convinced him? Maybe he was finally seeing thi-
“I tire of this.”
“No! Don’t,” I was shouting at this point, “I don’t know how, but I promise you, if you pull that trigger you will fail. I will win. I’ve seen it before. Innocent men, good men. All dead before they crossed me or were on the wrong side of my conflicts. When I say providence, I don’t mean a gift from the gods. Whatever hand guides my fate is not benevolent, it doesn’t have our interests at heart. It’s very human and very vicious. It does this for enjoyment, for entertainment.
“I don’t know why this thing latches onto the Heros, but when it does no force on heaven or more can stand against them. Please, before you pull the trigger, just consider what I’m saying. Reform, don’t stay a Villain because this force will target you if you continue.
“A Hero,” he said, some weird emotion in his voice.
More laughter. What. This is hecking serious! Why isn’t he taking this seriously?
“And yet you try to save me.” That emotion was amusement, “Don’t heros save Innocents or whatever it was?”
“You are innocent! Everyone is! Please, you have to believe it. You aren’t evil, you were just forced into a mold. You didn’t choose this!
“But I did.”
He pulled the trigger.
I didn’t survive.