Questions | Invulnerable - Epilogue 1

They always ask the same questions.



1 - Questions

"OmiGAW!" yelled a new young girl.

"But what happened to Paul?" asked another.

"Hang on," laughed one of the regulars, chuckling. They always ask the same questions. "What happened with the gangsters?" "What about Bluewings?"

"What about the space war?"

When the chatter subsided, the Telling continued.

At first, I thought I would run after him, but which way would he have gone?

Why did he go?

I thought to go tell Andy or Lucy or someone, but what could I say?

I sat down on a stump of wall.

And there, in the ash and brick, covered with soot, I saw another screen. And next to it, two long claw-fingers, black and burned.

A boy cried out, "What? No! C'monnnn!"

A girl interrupted, "Tell us about the community first! I like it better when you tell it that way!"

The boy grumbled.

Well, the community, you all know, or ought to know, were all safe. Of course.

When Paul disappeared, we all just stood around a while, talking, and we decided everybody should just leave the premises, leave the area in fact. Which is what we did.

Zach later found out from one of the gang that, when we all started flooding out and moving away, they got confused. The Boss did give the signal to attack, but all that was destroyed was a very dear but very decrepit building. And a lot of personal property.

Took a while to recover, but everybody was safe.

And the property was well insured.

Wasn't long after that the Boss was indicted for the attack, with the help of a couple of new-old friends of Zach and Ike. His gang was no more. He jumped bail and vanished.

Our community rebuilt, stronger than ever, even though we all felt — we all knew — that the Gift was fading. Our success rates were falling off. Some people began to Forget. More or less.

We — most of us — never forgot what it was like to be protected, safe, harmless, and… invulnerable.

"Two burned claws and another magic screen?" interrupted the boy.

Burned and blackened as they were, I knew immediately that I was looking at the teleported ruined fingers of Doctor Bluewings.

As I reached for the other screen, I saw the fingers crumble to dust, indistinguishable from the ruins of the building.

Most of this screen was broken away, the edges charred and the face laced with spider-web cracks. Along the damaged edges, the usual pastels were dark, sharp, jagged colors and shapes, and the parts that were still good were dim and fading.

As I knelt there, with each hand holding a screen, I felt the broken screen pulse with an energy, sending its message to the other, unbroken screen, through me, through my mind. Then the broken screen also crumbled to pieces, all the pieces turning that impossible invisibleness that had been the backside.

Doctor Bluewings sung in my head. Not the twisted bitter version that a depressed Paul had last shown me, but the woman herself, from her own mind.

"Thank you so much," she said. "You have saved everyone! All the worlds are safe, thanks to you. You will be declared the savior of civilization!

"What they tried to take from you and use as a shield could never work. Our scientists were wrong. It is not a thing. It is not a force. It is a song. We were looking at the writing but we didn't know how to sing it.

"Then, you touched me. That last moment before they tried to extract it from you, you taught me what pure…" Her words, her thoughts… pure love, pure safety — pure family — pure faith… I can't translate it yet.

"Not long after your two guards, our pilot Bountiful Updraft, and his compatriot, Fulfilled Embrace, removed me from the extraction chamber, I encountered them, and managed to explain to them, convey to them, the unbelievable belief.

"We were forgotten in the preparations for the conflict. We quickly started finding old friends and family on-board, and they reached others on other ships.

"Those who had worked on the extraction were no longer on board. They were nearby, however, and when we included them in our conspiracy, something amazing occurred.

"Our scientists had hoped to use the telepathic net to create the quantum defensive shield, but the system did nothing.

"Now they took their own new-found invincibility, and rebuilt screens to also transmit… the Song of Peace."

(Like the screen itself, the memories thereafter were fragmented.)

"We received word after we awoke. It worked!"

Something about the solar flare. Weapons and teleportation beams being turned upon it. A transmission across the telepathic hyperspace web of a feeling, a knowledge….

"Safe. We're safe."

There was more. Scattered feelings. Static of the mind. Damaged fingers….

"You mean they won?" asked the boy. "The bird people?"

"Nobody won," explained an older girl. "They joined forces! They found peace together!"

"Well, but, how did the mammal-people find out? They didn't have the telepathic-screen thingy did they?

"And what kind of mammals were they? Like, dogs? Elephant? Hah!"

A girl sitting next to him punched his shoulder and he clammed up.

The Telling was done and the group was starting to break up into small clumps of chatter. People stood and stretched, gathering their things.

A few sat, watching raptly, until I said,

"And that's all there was."

Then they turned to get ready to go, as well.