Sunday, 18 January 2009

Terry Pratchett on Realised Eschatology

The few warriors who hadn’t already jumped into the water fell to their knees, terrified. [Mau] looked into their eyes.

They can see me. They worship me, Locaha said. Belief is a hard thing to believe, is it not? For now, at this time, here in this moment under these stars – you have the gift. You can kill them with a touch, a word, by the passing of your shadow. You have earned this. How would you like them to die?

‘Take your captives to the shore and leave them here,’ Mau said to the nearest men. ‘Pass this command along and then go. If you stay here, I will close my wings over you.’

That is all? said Locaha.

Thoughts pieced themselves together in the chill on Mau’s mind as he turned and headed across the cocral.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘it is.’

I would have acted differently, said the voice of death.

And I would not, Locaha. I’m not you. I have choices.’

This day turned out well for you, said the voice of Locaha.

May still said nothing. Behind them the Raiders’ fleet was boiling with terrified activity. There will be so many new mouths to fee, he thought. So much to do. Always, so much to do.

I am not often surprised, said Locaha, and you are wrong. There is one choice I can make, in the circumstances. . .

The sand under Mau’s feet turned black, and there was darkness on every side. But in front was a pathway of glittering stars.

Mau stopped, and said, ‘No. Not another trap.’

But this is the way to the Perfect World! said Locaha. Only a very few have seen this path!

Mau turned around. ‘I think that if Imo wants a perfect world, he wants it down here,’ he said. He could still see the beach around him, but it was indistinct, as if it was behind a wall of dark water.

This one? It’s far from perfect! said Locaha.

‘It’s a little more perfect today. And there will be more days.’

You really want to go back? said Locaha. There are no second chances – there are no chances at all. There is only. . . what happens.

‘And what does not happen?’ said Mau.

That? That happens, too, somewhere else. . . Goodbye, Mau. I look forward with interest to our next meeting. You turn worlds upside down . . . Oh, and one other thing. Those others I mentioned, who have been shown the glittering path? They all said the same thing as you did. They saw that the perfect world is a journey, not a place.

Terry Pratchett, Nation, London: Doubleday, 2008. pp. 352-4

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