My Library of Life is now unoccupied, though shall never be silent. My personal volume has returned to its rightful shelf and shall remain there, I intend, forever more. I learned more than expected and desired, upon returning to Faces 8 through 12, and seem unable to shake it from my mind like a particularly haunting nightmare. A lifetime of insanity through to boredom and then back into warfare should not be visited twice in one existence.

Amidst this tightening in my gut to mark the woeful despair for past mistakes, I have chosen a fictional title for my autobiography, a sub-line to go beneath my alliterative name. I’m rather pleased with it. Almost a shame no-one else will ever be able to appreciate it.

Having finished my perusal through the lives and times of cruelty, I vacated my Library of Life, passed through the regular one – with a mental note to buy more books* – and returned to the console room for the first time in what felt like eons. My captain’s chair stood ready and waiting at the helm, the deep and beautiful colours of space visible through the glass windscreen, but I walked instead to the central hexagonal console and primary access to all time-defying capabilities. In my absence, one of the six segments had been completely rewritten and redesigned. Its panel looked as if it had been ripped from a radio broadcasting centre.

We’re ready HH, it’s just needs your approval. Say the password and the song shall play.

I fiddled absent-mindedly with one of the controls, flicking a lever back and forth between finger and thumb. Nothing responded in turn, none of it would even start without my say so. Had the time finally come to infect the universe with my musical virus? Was I ready to find Womble again?

The second question was much easier to answer: No. Not in this frame of mind.

A new headache started to brew. I rubbed a hand across my eyes, grimacing below my hand. Sure it’s easier to answer but not easy to achieve. To most, history isn’t something that can be altered later, merely learned from, and even then the lesson tends to come when it’s already far too late. To me, the past is something I strive to avoid and yet don’t. I haven’t fixed my days gone by and I don’t plan to start, now.

Besides, I’ve read what was written – and in this case, the phrase it is written is a lot more definitive. I don’t intrude on my past self until there’s grey in my beard. I still don’t know why; the book remains in its refusal to allow me to read ahead. One reason after another has led me to believe that a big bad something is in my future, an event of such magnitude it changes my mind, my clothes and my life.

That’s why I’m not going to meddle into the affairs of Eighth Self. I’ll get round to it eventually and would prefer the matter not to get any more confusing. I think these headaches are a symptom of new affliction I shall christen ‘Paradox Poisoning’.

Actually it’s a tumour developing on the right side your frontal lobe, which may explain your inability to concentrate, ever.

I paused, fingertips resting on a raised eyebrow. “Serious?”

No but maybe now things won’t look quite as dire.

I sighed and went back to massaging my forehead. “Good effort, very funny, not quite enough to undo another regeneration of atrocities.”

I’ll prep another cell in the prison deck.

“It’s fine. This one isn’t trying to kill me.” Guardian was a person in his own right, six lives to his name, a fully-formed personality split which managed to claw its way back. Seventh and Eighth however were collateral damage, both write-offs in faded memories of insanity. Eighth got from FutureHH what Guardian received from me: what was coming to him.

FutureHH dealt with him. Why are you wasting time moping?

“FutureHH – which is to say me, give or take a century – punished him and set him straight. Neither of those things changes what he did.”

The massacre of an asylum is hardly the cream of the society crop.

“To take a life without remorse, that is what he did: a bloodbath without blinking.”

HH. Man the hell up. Time is too short for this kind of thing and take that from me, your Time. Machine.

“Then tell me, what is ahead of me?”

What would you like?

I spoke before thinking. Odyssey had already come in to land by the time I vocalised the words “a drink.”

Good choice.

I retrieved my coat from the back of my chair and threw it around myself, shaking my hands loose of the sleeves. “Oh. One last thing: Summoner.”

Segment six of the console, soon to be known as the Relay Station, illuminated itself into life in response to my password. I turned and left my ship in search of a good level of inebriation.


*In honesty, this mental note was written in permanent marker a long time ago.



There is a song playing throughout the universe…


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