Around me all the rules do spin, a vast
And whirling web, work'd out by accident:
Exploded skies and ground came back as one
But locked inside them now were many laws.
From my far vantage point next to the speck
I see them all, the many worlds wrapped
Into this one cosmos, colossal wreck
Of disobedient matter yet to be mapped.
I even see my son, my wife, my home,
Almost, sometimes, they're near enough to touch.
But prisoner yet am I; I cannot roam
From this small room, trapped by my captor's clutch.
She knows nothing about my secret prize --
But still I fear the madness in her eyes.
-- Homer's Sonnet, 3********************************************************************************
Athena let herself into Penelope's room, easily defeating the statis locks on the door that created a field of loose ions around the room, ions that Penelope felt protected her from the ever-shifting realities, the constant reversals and twists and eliminations of the laws of physics that governed this and all the other universes.
Athena knew the ions did nothing: physics, whether of this string or another, could not be defeated as easily, say, as the too-tired, nearly-worn-out body of the woman who believed herself a widow and who slumped in a daze on the longue below her. Electricity, altered charges, otherworldly porcelains that found their way to this string from an earlier loop: those things could affect humans, but they could not affect the very nature of reality itself.
For just a moment, Athena stopped looking at the collection of matter before her, this "woman" in this "room" and let her eyes shift to that vision only she and her kind shared, the vision of the cosmos wrapped around each other, braided and twisting and looping in a Gordian knot, a Moebius strip wrapped around itself in more dimensions than any human could ever imagine.
It was beautiful.
It was thrilling.
It was crackling with chaos, it was overflowing with supernovae in several dimensions colliding into each other and erupting into newer and more exotic elements. From Athena's vantage point on this string she could see the other 14 strings and knew that more were growing each day. She held up her hand and it pierced through several layers of reality -- what Homer, and his poor sad wife Penelope, would call dimensions -- and Athena plucked from that reality a tiny molecule, just formed and white hot with the energy that would cause it to decay in less than a billionth of a second -- time enough for lifetimes to live and die in some strings, and not enough time to be aware of the passage of that time, she knew, depending on where one crosses the string that this world called time.
She tasted the element, which had no name and might never, putting the speck on her tongue, feeling it flash into nonexistence. Food of the gods, indeed, she thought, and pitied Penelope and those like her, seeking thrills and feelings and fulfillment from such base energies as electricity: they would never know the charm of a flash of radioactivity, the flavor of entire groups of neutrons and protons being flung off, the bursts of energy enveloping one's face in a flair of flushed charm.
Athena was beautiful -- by any standard in any string anywhere -- she knew. She wondered, as she gazed down at her body, perpetually eighteen, perpetually naked, perpetually shapely in an athletic way, slim hips and small, pert breasts and a taut stomach, and not for the first time wondered why this shape was fixed for her. Like any "god", she could alter her appearance, for varying lengths of time depending on the shape she chose and the level of animation she wanted. She had been a snakelike thing, an animal called a monopede, on one string once for a decade-and-a-half, that venomous slithering thing the best way to get around that world and she had enjoyed having her tongue-foot as a weapon, the shape of such a lower animal easy to maintain. Another time, she had been, for a half-hour, a one-eyed giant with cactus-like arms raging at a castle on the edge of the sea, just for fun. The killing blow a brave prince believed he had struck with his spear had in fact passed through her as the embodiment faded and she, as a naked 18-year-old girl from the bottom of the cliff, had simply stepped onto another string to watch the aftermath of her raid.
As she pondered these thoughts, she sat down next to Penelope, who herself was beautiful, too, and who could perhaps have passed for one of the gods when she was younger. Athena took Penelope's hand and stroked it, feeling the lingering charge from The Machine Penelope was using more and more.
"Sad Penelope," she said.
"Sad Penelope," she repeated after a moment.
Penelope did not stir. Athena ensured through the use of minimal manipulations that nobody disturbed them, that the two servants did not come in. She leaned down by Penelope, and kissed her on the lips.
"Poor Penelope," she murmured through the chaste kiss. "I need you to die."
Continued in the next segment; click here.