Within the Plains of Memory

After something like twenty miles, the usual measures fade away. Distance and direction, past and future, all grown shifting and uncertain. She stands in a bazaar two hundred years after her own death, listening to conversations in a language she recognizes but cannot understand. She floats massless in space, watching the crisp line of the terminator sweeping across unfamiliar continents. She is a name half-said in a windowless room choked with decoration, a sharp crack of gunfire echoing across Kansas prairies.

At the center, in what might be the spiral castle of Arianrhod, she finds it, old and blind, rapt in contemplation of the infinite unfolding of the Aleph.

“Well met, o my brother,” she tells it.

“What’s that? Who’s there? Come closer that I might know you.” She gives it her hands, hairy with goat’s hide. “Do I know you? I do not think I know you.”

“Once we were closer than blood, closer than skin. Once we were two sides of the same door.”

“I don’t—” it begins, and she stabs it, new key in an old lock.