The End - 2021
A tense 56 seconds as the three, clearly paranormal creatures
Stuffed into an elevator with one operator and eleven other tourists
As she ran through the same script she must’ve ran through thousands of times per day
As the city slowly shrank below them
The city was a misnomer
Mirror finished corporate buildings and tourist traps
The image of two sharks tiled onto the roof of a building
Funny to think that below, 450 species of fish had been transplanted into the centre of a city where they didn’t belong
So that Torontonians could commute for an hour in their own city
To get to a job that paid them less than what they needed to survive
To entertain the children of those mirror-tower businessmen
Themselves transplanted in the city to suck wealth and power
The lights were never turned off at night
And as though it had been recorded as such, the tour guide’s speech ended as the door chimed
Shuffled out in a heard down a beige corridor
The observation deck
Crowded by tourists
The trio stopped in the middle of the room
This is probably the only time you’re going to be let into this building, El.
If you wanna, y’know.
Am I like, lessening the gravity of the situation if I like, go gawk out a window?
Looks at sett
Who seems not to have an answer
Might as well!
Takes Eleanor’s hand
Nods to sett
Cuts through a third of the tower
People still concerned over the pandemic
Clear spot just where she wanted
Follow the train tracks right out over the bay
It’s like, straight that way
That’s where I grew up.
Doing the requisite squinting
I can’t see anything that far out.
Yeah, I know.
I dunno, this is just what my mom did the first time she brought me here.
Uh, what else is there.
Oh, shit, it’s actually like
Same general direction, I think
Let me get google up
Eleanor stares into the distance
As though she would somehow be able to see Oakland better than Oakville
Even on a perfectly clear day it would have been behind the earths curve
There were increasingly few clear days
If google is to be trusted
Takes Eleanor a few extra meters along
Straight out from
Looking at her phone
Stops in place
Straight out from here.
Lets her eyes go unfocused and tries to feel it
She gave a breath of laughter
Yeah, didn’t think so.
Ratty kisses her cheek
Ratty stops mid-turn
What’s dying like?
Ratty checks on sett
Who has become fascinated with their own section of the window
Sees ratty looking
Gives a smile
And you think, well, my life is over
And a lot of the time it is.
You and I
Are proof that there’s still justice
We’re not dead.
Sett’s not dead.
A bunch of our friends are “not dead.”
Cus we still had shit to do.
And, a lot of people die with shit still to do.
I don’t know what to say about them.
Holds her girl tight
Ratty love Eleanor
You’re not gonna die today, by the way.
What about you, sett?
Anything you want to see before we get going?
Broadcasted their location through subspace
Made their way around the curve
What’re you looking for?
The apartment building.
See that little square of green space
So that’s Alice Gardens
If you follow the street that goes up the centre directly south
We see it
Writes down “near Alice Gardens”
What if it’s not called the same thing when you get home?
we’ll just, remember, I suppose
Near the green space
Smiles up at ratty
Shall we get moving?
I think so.
Up another elevator
Just the three of them and a tour guide
God this shit is fucking expensive
Tour guide stares at her
No, I mean, you’re right.
Steps out into the mostly empty bubble
Ratty pressing her face against the glass
Staring up into the sky
we see it.
Sett was the first to see it
They joined them
As the sun began to set
Part of the sky staunchly refused to set with it
we would like to submit that we hate this plan.
We’re already up here.
Takes the corrupted subspace rope
Sticky against her fingers
Winds it through her harness
Picks up Sett
Ma’am, what are you-
Takes a running start
Hops the safety rail
Stops time with her boots a half-foot from the glass
Extends her legs in the instant
Kicks the glass at an effective 186,282 miles per second
Stops the impact before it has the chance to do any damage
Sett’s eyes fix on the outline of the airship
And with a clap like thunder
The void rope appears from thin air behind one of the turbines
And links up with Sett’s
Turning the construction into a winch.
In an sharp curve, down turns into up
Eleanor trailing behind them like smoke
Ratty holds her breath again as they approach
Slowing the rotor blades to a crawl
Coated in black tar by this point
Easy to see that there was no way through without being hit
The rotor blades tilted in the opposite direction to the spin
Ratty balled herself around sett
Took the blade to the back
Winced as it gouged into her
And was spit out on the top deck
Now as plain as day
Eleanor caught up
This might be the most painful thing that I’ve
Starts to rewind it
Pulls a length of cord
Turns ratty over
Lays it into the wound
Pulls tight like a corset
Not something this set was used to
Felt like piano wire
Time still stopped
Not her doing it
This man is handler smith
I realize now may not be the best time for a heart to heart
But- well, you were just distracted enough, and to be honest…
we’re not going to get another opportunity, I don’t think
I’d like to speak to you in the engine room, if you have time.
Do that for me, and I will allow your friends safe passage through Project Rabbithole.
Uh, and if it happens like that
We should be good.
So we just arrived on the scene,
The CN Tower is being evacuated currently, and if you look, way above us here
There’s what looks to be some kind of black spot,
Suspended in the middle of the sky
Now- we’re not sure exactly what this object is
But a representative we just spoke to that set us up in this spot told us that the evacuation and the spot are unrelated. What-
Oh my goodness,
Okay, so- now we’re-
Get a shot of that.
The object has just exploded, you can see there is now this ring of fire around the outside of-
And it looks like-
There are gray patches appearing in the sky around the object.
Still not clear on what it is, though.
We’re going to stay here-
Okay- just received word that the surrounding buildings are also being evacuated.
Like I said, we’re going to stay here.
Pulled the rest of their equipment through subspace
A nifty little trick
Were it not for the way it seemed to grease everything
Perfect for philip a. Luty’s construction of steel tubing
Practical for something that required little actual touch like a radio
Not so ideal for, earpieces
Luckily, headphones were not confiscated by tower security
And they worked just fine.
Engine room is at the bow of the ship.
Rabbithole is at the aft.
Why do we need to-
Angel did you-
Handler Smith has requested to meet with Ratty.
It’s the best option if we intend on success.
I have “run the numbers”
We split up?
And I’ll catch up with you.
An odd sensation to be let through
In the way an old house is familiar
Ratty wondered if she had been here before
Recognized the uniforms
Wondered how many people were here against their will
This - it was her understanding - had been angelcorp’s main endeavour for years
There was likely no Ratty Vermington Super Soldier
Turned to a guard
Are you here willingly?
Guard blinked, confused
I- yes ma’am.
The salary is well worth it.
You realize you’re a monster, right?
I have a family to provide for.
You- there are other jobs.
Never understood that line from 12s,
Works even less well with 11.
Yeah, I’m moving along.
White metal columns rising from the floor
Whirring filled the room
The inescapable sound of work
Centre of these experimental generator columns
Could we have some privacy please?
To the rest of the workers.
Pause for long enough to indicate that they weren’t under any kind of control
Like having ‘privacy’ in the most vital room in the ship was odd
But they shuffled out
Waited until the door closed behind them.
Sigh of relief
A beautiful construction, isn’t it.
Rabbithole is powered by our tether to the ground, but this
The most powerful engine ever built.
Not something I can take credit for, you understand, but still
We know each other?
In another life, I assume.
It’s a shame we never got to work together, miss Vermington.
But, there is still time.
Steps out of the shadows
Leaning on a cane
Not extremely but
Enough to be noticed
I grow old, Ratty.
It’s my understanding that you can turn back that clock.
In return, I will allow unfiltered access to Rabbithole, once it is complete.
There was another ratty.
What happened to her?
I don’t think you understand the advantage of having me as your ally.
Mr. Matheson was under my employ.
Ms. DeGenerous was under my employ.
Director Ross is under my employ.
Every action I take is designed in explicit to make your life miserable,
And it has not lost me an ounce of power yet.
I ask you,
Would you like to be happy?
If you had left well enough alone I would not have to do this.
No regrets, Miss Vermington.
Handler smith was obliterated by the half-pound of C-4 explosive sewn throughout his suit.
A chain reaction of the various engine components
You need to fix the engine. Rabbithole needs to be at a certain-
I have bigger concerns
As the explosions neared her
Hard to find something not tied down
A small observation deck
Ratty hoped the spikes on her jacket would be enough to break the glass
Braces against the wall
Hides below the control panel
And the explosion finishes just overhead
We actually, just had another explosion
And what that black ring is is actually now taking shape.
It appears to be some kind of airship, linked to the tower by a massive cable.
We have yet to make contact with a CN Tower representative,
But you can see, what we originally thought was the entire object
Is in fact part of a massive aircraft
Ducky grabs the mic
Google Project Archangel
Give me that!
Google Operation Checkmark
Angelcorp and the Canadian Government-
It looks like we just lost connection with our field crew, we’ll be hopefully uh-
Getting them back on the air as soon as possible.
In the meantime we have contacting us via video-conference, Mr. Luchthavenlei, he’s a former RCAF pilot, as well as an aircraft identification expert with the Canadian Armed Forces-
Sett watched as Eleanor, assisted by the crackling automated voice in her ear, ran through the motions of setting up the machine.
The Rabbithole team had evacuated after the first explosion
The rest of the staff were abandoning ship after the second.
They had climbed onto the platform a little too early
And now stood
Waiting to be sent home
Wove their thumb-claws through the holes ratty had worked in the sleeves
This would be gone soon, too.
There would still be the memories, of course.
A few more to go with their collection
Eleanor zips through the glass wall
A hair sample,
There’s like, a filter.
Yes, that makes sense.
How we doing?
Really good actually,
We should be able to launch before the ship is below requisite altitude
Project had changed a lot since ratty had last seen it
Now consisted of a long platform that ran the length of the room
In each corner of the room, geometrically complex hunks of near-orange metal hummed quietly
Each dragging a thin, weak thread of uncharged universal thread across to their partners
It had certainly been made smaller
though not by much
Ratty climbed up to the platform
How’re you feeling?
we are, excited for the future
Sad, of course.
Looks up from the holes in ratty’s sweater
We will likely never see you again.
Pulls a knife from her jacket
Cuts a small strip off of Sett’s hoodie
It’s cotton, so…
Brings it to Eleanor
Add it to the filter.
Yeah, I could do that.
She back-tracks what she’s already done
Reopens the filter, still with a thick hair in it
Puts the strip of cloth in
Climbs back up to the platform
Now you’ll have something to remember me by
Pleasantly bewildered for a moment
Are we ready?
In an instant, a familiar film of inter-dimensional energy forms over the air
Looks like angel’s portals
A very rudimentary version
Sett dives into Ratty’s arms as the mechanism whirrs to life
A few seconds of charging, a thunk as the emitter’s carriers fall into their racks
And the wall launches itself from the other end of the room
The other sett takes one last look into Ratty’s eyes
Hoodie and all
Eleanor doesn’t get to count
The mechanism reverses
Passing another wave over ratty
And Sett is back
Their blotched white fur
A mismatch of differently coloured and processed cotton elements haphazardly shaped into a hoodie
Sett pulls out
Plants one on Ratty
Topples her off the platform
You little genius!
Sorry, we don’t have time for this!
Right, of course
Ratty returns to the control panel
Forces the filter open
Pulls out a few of her own hairs
Stuffs them in
Wait, what are you-
We have to get everyone else.
Ignored by ratty
No, we don’t-
It’s probably not even going to launch again
Ratty turns to look at the portal
Emitters now glowing a weird colour
Struggling to hold shape
Struggling to hold the definition of something that could hold a shape
There’s still time, just-
Sees the infinite spiral of the universe
She felt dogs teeth tear her throat out, felt cold cement against her back start to warm with her blood, saw the eyes of an animal with fear and pity and love and the knowledge that it had killed its master. She died, and returned.
She felt her spine snap, felt the invasive fingers of a machine dig under her skin and bore out her flawed biology, felt cold, industrial metal parts take over her body, felt love for only a moment as she watched the rolling tides. She died, and returned.
She felt her body rot in a ditch, cold mud against her aching back, anguish at the reward of a long life spent in prison: freedom. She died, and returned.
She felt welts form on her body. She died, and returned.
She felt herself simply disappear, die, and return.
She felt her heart stop as an act of plain bad luck, died, and returned.
Felt her mind disappear to unintelligible nonsense, died, and returned.
Over and over again a thousand micro-lives and deaths, all at once.
In an instant,
Took a half step towards Sett
Reached for their hand
And heard something like a crack come from behind her
Just a second too late
Saw it before she felt it
An emitter had failed
Searching for something to latch onto
The corner of the portal had shot through the centre of her chest
She said, her voice already broken up by the process of dematerializing.
I can fix this.
Blocks of her body
Struggling to choose between universes
Eleanor circled the protective glass
It’s okay, really-
Saw her reflection in Sett’s eyes.
It was not going to be okay.
Not this time.
Sett rushes forward to hug her
Ignored completely by the spike that’d impaled their wife
I love you, Sett.
And you, Eleanor.
I love you both so much.
Eleanor steps forward
Reserved around the equipment
I don't think I get a choice this ti-
Feels her breath
Catch in her chest
As though one last favour from the universe
As if to say
If there were a time to hold your breath
Now would be it.
And she does
For as long as she can hold it she examines and commits to memory
Every strand of fur on her partners’ faces.
As her chest begins to ache
Ratty closes her eyes
Ratty releases the held breath
And she's gone
There's no replacement ratty to feed back into the machine.
Sett set down the two halves of paper, refusing to return the note to Ratty’s waste paper basket, and refusing to read it. They stared at it for a few moments too long, before folding it together with Eleanor’s: difficult not to read as it consisted entirely of the words “Eleanor, I” written in black ink. They had had that conversation in person.
Their eyes skipped over the folded jacket on the bed. It normally held pride in place on it’s own separate coat-rack, too coated in paint and studs and safety pins to do anything but damage other fabric, but for today, it felt comfortable there.
They pocketed the folded letters, picked up their cane, and limped out into the living room. They were largely ignored by the crowd of people gathered around the TV, noticed only by Fern, who respected their decision to — instead of busying themselves with the news — make a cup of tea. Something to calm them down.
““This is a time that we as Canadians need to come together. It is only natural, after accident so senseless, to search for truth, and I would urge us all not to be led into sensationalism.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, earlier today, broke his silence on the crash in downtown Toronto earlier this week. Several thousand are missing, presumed dead after an illegal aircraft owned and operated by the Angel Military Holdings Corporation collided with the CN Tower.
Trudeau apologized for his silence, saying he had been at a loss for words, and needed time to confer with other world leaders on what actions to take. The Prime Minister declined to answer when asked why members of his cabinet were found inside of the aircraft during the initial search and rescue.
Opposition leader Andrew Scheer says his party is currently in the process of setting up a full-scale investigation into the Prime Minister’s ties to Angelcorp, though declined to comment on whether that investigation...”
Maybe it would matter, maybe it wouldn’t. As they watched the water boil, using the watched-pot effect to say in the moment before they collapsed, they turned on the radio, fumbling along the underside of the cabinets for the plastic box as not to break eye contact. They tuned to a static channel and drowned out what must’ve been the hundredth report on ‘the accident’ that day.
And after a short period of white silence, the static spoke.
“Folks, I’d like to close out today’s broadcast with a new track from Miss Vera Lynn,” music would be a welcome distraction, “For the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, I’m Buster Friendly. For all our boys on the front lines, send Adolf my coldest regards, and goodnight.”
And they stood there, confused for a moment, staring at the plastic machine as the gentle da-rumph of the song’s string section rose behind its horns. Not seven seconds into the tune, the TV audience sat bolt upright, shocked from their focus by the slap of Sett’s cane hitting the floor.
As Eleanor rounded the corner, the goat’s hunched form had already pulled their banjo from subspace, and begun to play along.