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Blue Screen of Death

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The sea and the sky are stormy. Spume froths above the dark waves. Lightning tears apart the sky.

I watch the small yellow submarine as it is tossed around on the waves. The storm does not seem to bother it, but I know it is being watched. I can see the figure watching it. A hungry, predatory gaze. It skims across the tumultuous surface of the water as if nothing was there. Its claws click and flex.

I open my mouth to cry out but I cannot make a sound. I am not used to this face or its jaws. I am not in control of this body.

"See, I'm not the only person who can't make the slightest bit of diffence, whatever they do," whispered a voice.

I whirled around, drawing my knives. It is not my true body but I have the same reflexes. It is his voice again. No, not him exactly, but one of them. Like the other, he has no scar, there is some of the same possessed madness in his eyes, but there is something else as well. He casually leans on a wall that doesn't exist, suspended in the blackness. There is a smile on his face.

"It didn't work out in the end after all," he whispered, "There was a miscount. One more of us existed than he remembered."

In the haze, I see him run along the deck towards the Captain's Cabin. He fumbles with the keys but unlocks the door. Drawing his sword, he forces his way in, but he never comes out... I hear Bilan's victory scream and see the emerald flash of power as one capture field is drawn inside another.

"You never even reached the Island," I whispered, "No wonder he didn't find you."

"It doesn't matter anyway. That was never the way to get things done. You can kill and devour as many others as you like, destroy anything you can get your hands on, but you'll still be back on the boat the next day," whispered the fifth Garian, "All I've been doing is trying to win a battle to see who exists for the last ninety seconds before the end of the world."

"Answer a question for me," I demanded, "Do you truly love my sister?"

"More than anything. I dream about her every night."

"Do you understand that, in every single one of the dreams, she dies because of you?"

He shrugged, "She dies because of this island. We all do. It isn't my failt you've become too focussed on watching your sister and I to see that. Our bond of love will last forever, but, do you know what? This thing that is happening to us on this island, it will last longer than forever. Soon, there'll be nothing left over of any of us," he said, "I can't stop your sister from dying over and over again. I'm sorry for that. I can't even try any more. I only really care about finding the way out of this place. Don't you ever considering just trying to find a way out? You can see the future - didn't you know how messed up this place was, before you even set foot on this Island?"

"I knew something was wrong with the way time worked, here," I admitted, "That is why I was sent specifically. They didn't care about that. They only cared about the Diary of Wouda, and getting it back before someone tried to use it to create another Bilano. But I... I only ever cared about the fact that my sister is on this Island..."

"You know, nobody ever sees it from Bilan's point of view. He doesn't even have a family, and he's only trying to grow, and make more of himself. He came here of his own free will right from the start. I wonder if he's the only person who has any idea what he's doing here," said Garian, tilting his head in a curious gesture, "Some versions of me like you better than Kay, you know."

"May I ask you another question," I whisper, looking at the space directly above and to the right of him, "Where did the bird go?"

"What, Jack? You know, I have no idea," he shrugged, then turned on his heel and wandered off across the surface of the dark water. He draws his sword. I see the world flicker, and then I see the world through his eyes. It is an arena, a pit of blood and sand. Everyone we have ever met, one after the other, stands before them, and he cuts them down with his sword in endless battle.

This is something he has to get through on his own, I realise, not part of my own world. His story was never my own. I close my eyes and try to remember something...

My sister, about to fall down into the vat of bilanium. Hanging onto the edge of the balcony for dear life. Garian offers a hand, begins to talk to her in a soft voice, and recognition blooms on her face...

Then the bird says something. Garian looks over to him. Kay's face hardens and she looks at him too. Garian and the bird argue. By the time Garian looks over again, Kay's grasp gives way and she falls...

... Then my sister again, on the peak of a mountain above the Silver Castle. Garian is about to die in battle with Kurtliegen. Kay comes to his rescue. He begins to argue with Kay for a moment, the scroll in his hands, then suddenly the bird says something. Kay looks over to the bird, then nods, recognition on her face. She begins chanting, then the flames rise...

... And I am running through the ruins below the Island again, trying to escape from Kurtliegen. I can feel that something has happened to Kay. Garian appears through the gate. He trades something to Kurtliegen to make the Warden leave. I ask him what has happened to my sister. He is about to answer, then the bird orders him back again and whispers something into his ear. Garian walks up to me, begins to explain what is happening, and...

As the bird flaps his wings, fate explodes into chaos again, before unravelling and flowing backwards...

I wait for them there, at the ruins, this time. It is fitting that this nightmare will end in the same place that it started. Garian and Jack begin to discuss what excuse they will give to me this time. After a while, Garian steps forward but I continue walking forwards, ignoring him. I throw the knife...

I'm going to get it right this time...