|"Ask whom you want - you are a puppet. Your name is Bachelor. You are a scary clown. |
When we play with you, you are always bad."
Yes, the pestilence has happened in the sand box . . . Anyway, but the hero--the hero is severely deceived: It seems all this time he thought himself a living person saving living people. This feeling, no doubt, added eagerness to him, helped him to reach the ending, even with some triumph.
Vain. This is all in vain. He is a puppet saving silly dolls in a painted small town. It is strange that the almighty Authorities were silent till now. Probably they are bothered, or simply want to go home for supper.
I wander the town, talking to my adherents one last time. They all speak of the destruction of the town, specifically the construction on the other side of the river. It is strange how, till now, both as the Bachelor and player, I have cauterized any emotional connection to the town. It isn't that I'm not properly "role playing" as the Bachelor. In fact, I believe I experience the emotional disconnect precisely because I'm playing the part of the Bachelor. Yet here, on the final day, my head is spinning. Up till now I've known precisely the answer. The town must be destroyed. Not as an act of apathy or aggression: the root of the pestilence is here, has been here all along, and will endure long after I leave.
The Devotress tells me I have to sacrifice something. That a stand must be taken. "One queen by all means wants to destroy a wonderful tower; the other one wants to exterminate as many people as possible for her own calm."
Each of the Haruspicus' adherents have the same thing to say. "One always has to fight for li[f]e, otherwise it's not real. You cannot tear off the umbilical cord that has been feeding us all since the world's creation. It has already found death almost everywhere."
The Kains are obsessed with the idea of the Utopia on the other side of the river. The children are obsessed with their lives ahead here, in the town stained with blood. I can't help the feeling of despair in thinking of each possible future. The instruments of death are both here: the Polyhedron and the Sand Plague. The roles they played in the horror I've witnessed are irrelevant. The true evil is in our own humanity. As long as humans live, they will desecrate. They will cheat, lie, steal, murder--they will waste and build and lay waste again and again. It is here, in this manufactured game of pawns and queens, that I have been shown--not told--the true nature of the human spirit.
As Kevin walks toward the Cathedral, the sky above blue with broken clouds, I have nothing more than the same yellow haze to which I've grown accustomed. Perhaps I played the game wrong. Perhaps I have been too pessimistic.
I have no idea what to say when I come to the Cathedral at 7pm. The Executor says that "All works in the interest of inevitability. You cannot hide anywhere from it. Evil conquers all." With I sigh, I open the doors and enter the sanctuary. There are Aglaja the Inquisitor, Artemiy Burakh the Haruspicus, Maria Kain and General Blok; all of them have something different to say--some piece of the puzzle. The Haruspicus is under the impression that I would destroy the town as a way of spiting Aglaja. Aglaja says "Here and now I suggest buying the happiness of several thousand for a small sacrifice, because Utopia demands sacrificing more and more. Even this Utopia."
On the Polyhedron, she remarks, “On a whim of the Authorities, the Miracle, casually embodied in the Polyhedron, has been violently rejected by the flesh of the town which has grown it up and fed it with the resources: people and hot blood. This flesh became for it simultaneously a bowels and a prison . . . And how is that you came to the town at this time? A hero by all attributes. Almost a miracle maker. The Authorities tried to manipulate you to defend the miracle—not the Kains; they are unfortunate and possessed. This is their role. They are puppets. But you—You want to become a slave again? The Authorities subordinate you to the plan.”
Is she lying? Am I being manipulated? Everyone in this town has an angle: The Inquisitor has her death sentence hanging over her head, the Kains envision their own paradise. The Haruspicus has his crop of children, all waiting to be corrupted like their forebears. The General only wants to see this place burn. As for me, all I want is to win. Not as a player, but as the Bachelor, at the edge of the board, finally empowered, no longer pawn.
Maria Kain takes me aside at the rear of the Cathedral. “I have already begun, my Daniel,” she says. “When night falls and the wind scatters smoke from the charred ground, and the dust and rubble are swept clean, you will see new constellations in the sky. They will shine down, and when they reach the merlons of the Polyhedron, a miracle will happen.”
“What will they be like? And how will you name them?” I ask.
“We shall see. But I expect the red shall prevail in them. Ruby, scarlet, crimson, violet, pink, claret, garnet—the colour of fire, stained blood. Perhaps you will even see something familiar in their structure.”
I imagine, in this scene, the Bachelor's expression as he listens to Maria. The brief hope her words give, even as she talks about her "Authority"--her place as mother in this town, giving birth to whatever Utopia she envisions. My pulse racing, I turn, walk down the steps, and speak to the General.
"So, Bachelor. Your decision was not made by calculation or self-interest; it was not urged by the circumstances, but only by your conscience. I have received the order to raze everything to the ground. But there is no such necessity. I am ready to believe you, having risked my life and honour, wherefore I am merciful. Where do I target my guns?" he asks.
|The Final Set of Decisions|
The general is wrong. In the end, I have only my own interests at heart. My modus operandi as the Bachelor has been calculation and manipulation from the beginning--a power play. Things have finally become clear. The Authorities are irrelevant. All I want--and have wanted--is my own victory. And that is, in the end, what all of this was for.
I am reminded of something Mark Twain once said. "Faith is believin' what you know ain't so." I look to Maria, smug and assured behind the general, then down at my choices. Utopia was always a myth. Moreover, I can't stand the thought of letting the Kain family have their own private paradise.
For a moment, I imagine the Bachelor spitting at Maria's feet, then looking to General Blok.
"It is enough to destroy the Polyhedron to stop the spreading of infection. There is no sense to destroy the whole town," I tell him.
Check and mate. Smug, I leave the Cathedral. The trains will leave soon. I can imagine the scenarios beyond. With the Architect's help, and proper planning, the Bachelor could very well return to the capitol and build several more Polyhedrons. Perhaps in healthier soil, with fewer variables, he could perfect the work that was started here and begin anew.
I sleep until midnight and see the ending. The general orders the guns to fire, and the Polyhedron is blown to bits as the Authorities watch in horror. The town blossoms. The Haruspicus sits with the children, the streets are green, and the Sand Plague has retreated into the warm earth. This is, of course, not my victory: it belongs to Artemiy Burakh. The town has no need of me anymore. I imagine the Bachelor back at the Capitol right now, hard at work, and closer than ever to creating a Utopia.