Chapter Nineteen – Bleeding Out

28 Jul

Rosie was already sitting at her table when I creaked open the door of The Caffe Noire. There was a short stack of papers next to the two empty tea cups near the edge of the table. I ordered a coffee and sat opposite her, she smiled at me and pushed the papers in my direction. For a while, I just couldn’t make sense of them. They were nothing but more random words. It was only when Rosie reached underneath them and pulled out a sheet of cardboard with several rectangular holes cut into it that it all started to make sense.

Laying the papers out on the table, I placed the cardboard over the first one. Through the gaps, the words “The world is ending. None will live” stood out. I rolled my eyes and moved on to the next page – “A wide hole in the universe, it bleeds”. The page after that read “slowly to death. Find the missing”. I turned to the next page “part and you can plug the hole”.

I read the rest in silence, feeling a mounting sense of dread as it described, in all the gory details about how the universe had been mysteriously eviscerated and was spilling it’s guts throughout the fabric of space and time. Since no-one has ever seen a dead universe, whoever wrote the document couldn’t say how long it would take. But, I was guessing that it would be centuries. Universes do everything, even dying, on a much bigger time scale. Oh, great. -it looked like I’d have to save the universe.

Finally, I turned to Rosie and said: ‘Where the hell did you find all of this?’

She ordered yet another cup of tea and smiled at me: ‘Next to the cathedral, someone dropped it in the gutter. I mean, it could mean nothing.’

‘Like the pyramid?’

‘That what?’ She raised an eyebrow and sipped her tea.

‘It appeared on the TV and there was a strange website about it.’ I showed her all the printouts and the footage on my phone. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought that she was more fascinated by my phone itself than what was on the screen.

‘Oh, that’ Rosie laughed and carried on drinking her tea ‘My theory is that it’s some kind of virus, since it can appear everywhere if you focus on it too much. It’s a synchronistic virus. I’ve known a couple of people who have got overwhelmed by it. Don’t worry, it isn’t fatal or anything like that. It’s just annoying.’

As she raised her tea cup again, I saw the pyramid in a reflection on the table. Ignoring it, I started drinking my tepid coffee and asked Rosie if there was a cure for it. She just shook her head, dislodging a strand of hair which hung next to her head in a vaguely pyramid-like shape.

Finally, I said: ‘Ok, where do we go now? My guess is that we find the place where the universe is bleeding out and see if we can work out what to stop it with.

‘I don’t know – it’s either near the cathedral or maybe this whole world is part of the dying universe? I mean, at least that’s what I first thought when I arrived here.’

‘ Do you think that the ink has anything to do with it?’

‘I don’t know, I mean – in the right light, it certainly looks like blood. But, I don’t know, why would the universe be bleeding ink of all things unless… Wow! That’s deep!’ Rosie’s eyes widened for a second ‘Think about it. The universe is nothing more than a story, it’s made out of stories – everything has a story behind it. The whole thing about bleeding ink could be a metaphor? Wow! That is deep!’

‘Or it could just be ink?’ I sighed. The dying universe and synchronistic virus were bad enough, but the last thing I needed right now was philosophy. Rosie seemed to be fascinated by it though.

She finished her tea and started waving her hands energetically: ‘Maybe we’re supposed to let the universe die? I mean, I once read that the universe is constantly expanding due to the big bang. Eventually, it’ll slow down and start contracting. The whole thing will happen over and over again. It has happened over and over again. If the universe dies, then it’ll come back again and again. It’s like reincarnation…’

When she’d finished delivering a lecture about the metaphysical parallels between life and the universe as well as a few musings about the eternal nature of the cosmos, I just rolled my eyes and said: ‘Ok, let’s check out some of the shops near the cathedral. If the universe is bleeding out, then we might find something there.’

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