“Imagine the world, the universe, is a tiny little air-bubble rising up through a body of water – a lake. When it reaches the surface, it pops and the world ends.
“But the lake is slo-time, surrounding the universe. You can’t think of it in a linear sense, or a physical sense. The bubble didn’t rise up from the bottom of the lake in the past, to arrive at the surface in the future. The surface appears and the bubble pops when certain requirements are met.
“Nobbo and Wanker have discovered those conditions. Armageddon, Christmas, they all happen simultaneously. They’re happening right now, in sort of superposition, and it’s only when the preconditions are fulfilled that they really happen, from this world’s point of view.”
I looked around, suddenly wishing I had another White Russian. Carl had gone to the bar for drinks but had yet to return. “So they ran away from Father Christmas’s Workshop, and they’re going to get dragged back there by magic and punished for not making enough toys,” I summarised. “Only they’ve done something, over the course of this year, to trigger the end of the world when they arrive back at the Workshop. And they’ve made Death’s horse sick so Death will have to use Rudolph, thus implicating Father Christmas in Armageddon.”
“That’s about it,” said Ian.
“That’s easily one of the top five craziest things I’ve ever heard anyone except this guy say,” I jerked a thumb at Creepy, who looked proud. “So what is it, a prophecy of some sort that they’ve fulfilled?”
“Not really,” Ian said. “Prophecies only work in linear time, since they predict future events. That sort of concept has no real meaning in slo-time.”
“I have follow-up questions.”
“I thought you would.”
“Is it actually Nobbo’s birthday?” Creepy demanded.
“And why w-” I stopped, and stared at Creepy. “That’s what you want to know?”
“It’s the only thing that doesn’t make sense.”
“Really?” I said. I glanced at Yool, the frighteningly buff Christmas tree who has been here the whole time. “The only thing?”
“Actually, it is his birthday,” Ian said. “Almost all the Elves have birthdays either in November or February, for … various reasons. Not that they were born, as such, but it marks the anniversary of their conceptualisation.”
“And presumably Wanker’s birthday is in February,” Creepy said. “Let’s make sure he gets one.”
“Why do they have workloads and quotas,” I asked, ignoring Creepy and his purposeful chin-jutting, “deadlines they can fail to meet, if slo-time is all simultaneous and concurrent?”
“It’s even more complicated than that,” Ian said. “You were born linear so don’t even ask. Let’s just say, the bubble isn’t perfect. Once you interface with this world, certain characteristics bleed through in both directions.”
“So why do you care?” I asked. “From what I’ve been told, you’re definitively world-weary. You don’t strike me as the save-the-universe type. Isn’t that all a bit bright-eyed and heroic? Helping us save Christmas, all that? I got the impression that sort of thing was very much outside your comfort zone.”
“It’s a fallacy, indeed a failure of logic, to equate the jaded and the cynical with the destructive,” Ian said virtuously. “We’re not dissatisfied with the world – on the contrary, if the world changed, we’d have to admit we were wrong and adjust our attitudes, or come up with something else to be jaded and cynical about.”
“And the instant you do that, you become a poseur,” Creepy nodded.
“Wow,” I looked from Creepy to Ian and back again. “You people actually have a credo.”
“It’s the idealists who want to burn the world,” Ian said. “Burn it down to ash and rebuild it into the world that only exists inside their heads.”
“Is that what Nobbo and Wanker are?” I asked. “Idealists?”
“No,” Carl returned from the bar with tray bearing a coke, a banana daiquiri, a White Russian and a basket of corn chips, which she set out in front of Creepy, herself, me and Ian respectively. “They’re worse.”
You’re setting up a lot of story world rules and mythology here, so you better not retcon it later!
The apocalypse only affects Hatboy and Creepy’s world (universe)? Everyone else — in slo-time or in other bubbles (which I assume exist) — are safe? Ian needs to explain this more!
Oh, nevermind, I just read 15.
Yeah, this occurred to me, slo-time is a sort of a big deal, but I think I’ve left it vague enough that it can impact on the universe as much or as little as I need it to. It’s sort of like the Dungeon Dimensions of Pratchett’s mythology. I always liked the idea of our universe being a single candle in a dark gulf, and if it shines too brightly you can see the monsters all around it.
Slo-time’s “safety” is irrelevant, the whole concept has no meaning because it’s not a “place”, doesn’t “exist” or “not exist”. The Apocalypse is something that only applies to a place with physical law.
And yeah, that’s not only Creepy and Hatboy’s entire spatial universe, I tend to think it is everything – if Creepy and Hatboy’s universe isn’t our own, then it is an alternate layer of reality, if you like, same as every other story out there. All of them, though, are reality in some sense. The Apocalypse would destroy them all.
And yeah, they all (co-)exist in the one “bubble”, which was still just an inadequate metaphor after all, as delivered to a pair of couch potatoes and a zoology student by a talking reindeer. Not a specific story-world rule.
I know this was needless explanation in a sense but I felt like working it out in my head a bit. Reconciling slo-time with the Wasteland would take a bit more work than I’ve put in for now – the Wasteland is really more of a conceptual degeneration that applies only to a story-universe, like The Nothing in The Neverending Story.
Or does it?
You had me at “The Neverending Story” (although, arguably, that came pretty late).
Btw., do you need to sync any of this stuff with Lucas?
Oh, no you don’t!
The actual main story, which we’re both telling from separate sides, we occasionally need to sync just so we can both refer to the same stuff in general terms. But sidelines are fair game.
Slo-time counts as a sideline? 🙂
Heh, okay. A big sideline.