And the Gardener spoke thus:
There is a power in stories, so long as they are written by the right kind of soul. Having a soul is easy, and requires exactly no kind of work. It’s like being born attractive or smart. There’s no real achievement there; although many of the lazy would call me a liar for saying so.
“Wait. What?” Mamma Universe did not like that sound of this. Especially since she’d had to die to become seriously attractive.
“Sorry? You want me to wait?” The Gardener was genuinely puzzled. “I thought you wanted me to explain how this is going to work?”
“Well, yes I do. Especially the part that has to do with bees. Only, I’d also like to know how being attractive is no achievement? Seems to me that it should be.”
“Don’t worry about that, it’s not important.”
“Look, just call it a narrative flourish; it really has no bearing on what I’m going to tell you. Anyway, I’m about to give you secrets that even these two here,” The Gardener pointed to Ajax and Persephone, “aren’t aware of.”
“There are secrets?” Persephone was all attention now. Previously, she’d been too busy creating a mental list of the ways that Ajax was incorrectly transporting the cake and lemonade.
Ajax said nothing. He had more immediate problems. The serving trolley seemed to have a mind of its own, and it was taking all of his concentration to steer the cumbersome device towards its intended destination. It would have been fine if the intended destination was ‘over the edge of the veranda and into the flower garden’; but it wasn’t. “I don’t suppose,” he said at last, “someone could give me a hand here? This thing is not as easy to use as you might think.” The others just stared at him. There was, he thought, rather too much annoyance being projected through those stares. “That would be a ‘no’, then?”
“As I was saying,” The Gardener began again:
There is a power in stories, so long as they are writt–
“You said that already,” Mamma Universe interrupted.
“I know. I started again on purpose.”
“Sorry, my mistake. Carry on.”
“Are you sure? Because you don’t really need to know all of this for the process to work.”
“Quite sure. Sorry. I really am interested. Please continue.”
The Gardener remained silent. This was all very difficult to explain, and she wasn’t sure that she really felt like making any explanations if she was just going to be interrupted on a regular basis. She took a contemplative sip of lemonade. She supposed there was no real harm in making one more attempt, but this would have to be the last one – she was running short on time. “Alright, then.” The Gardener took another sip of her drink, cleared her throat, and restarted her explanation:
There is a power in stories, so long as they are written by the right kind of soul. Having a soul easy, since all things are ‘created’ with one. Especially the things that most people don’t expect; like Planets, for example. Of course, technically speaking, planets have a greater range of ‘soulishness’, and those that have evolved life develop what I like to call: An Ecology Of The Soul. Which is to say th–
“I feel like you might be digressing a bit.” It was Persephone that interrupted this time. Ajax would have said something, but he was still feeling quite pleased with himself for getting the serving trolley to the correct destination. Or, as close to the correct destination as made no difference.
“Quite right,” The Gardener said. To which she added, with only a hint of irony, “well spotted.”
Souls, while an essential part of everything, change over time. Or rather, they grow more unique and complex as a function of time, and are, in fact, largely a product of it. As the saying goes: ‘You can never step in the same soul twice’.
“But what about the babies? Or the children? You know, the things that die before they get enough time to be the product of anything? I mean, if ‘complication of the soul’ is a function of time, some ‘things’ must get a bit short changed.” Ajax had finished being pleased with the transportation of refreshments, and now felt quite smug about being insightful. He stroked his beard in a very self-satisfied way.
The Gardener pressed on, completely ignoring Ajax. This offended Ajax – since his point was a good one – but he decided to take it as a ‘silent win’.
Time, as you may be aware, is intimately connected with space. A soul, therefore, is also connected with space. More specifically, it is connected to a multitude of spaces. That is, those particular spaces through which it has moved, or has otherwise inhabited, over time.
“Incidentally, Ajax,” said the gardener, “all afterlives also constitute a type of space. This means that the babies and children you were concerned about, don’t get as short changed as you might think. Actually, they might even have a slight advantage. But that’s a discussion for another spacetime.” The Gardener laughed at her own joke. Not because it was good, but because it was so deliciously obvious, and obviously stupid.
Ajax remained quiet. He was trying to think of a way that his insight – now shown to be misguided – could still count as a small intellectual victory. There had to be some sort of ‘technical win’ available to him. There probably wasn’t, but he bent his mind to the task of trying to find one, nonetheless. At the very least, it would keep him entertained.
Space, by its very nature, is also at the same time what I like to call ‘a place’. Not just me, actually, many people like to call space that; but that’s not really important. This means that all souls inevitably end up forging connections with places; connections, moreover, that can never really be dissolved. For the most part, what happens is that such connections go dormant…
“And the power in stories? What’s the deal with that?” Mamma Universe was beginning to get bored, and really hoped The Gardener would finish her lecture quite soon.
“I was just getting to that.”
The power in stories, since all stories tend to happen in places, reactivates a soul’s dormant connections to them. There is a kind of travel that occurs in those moments. Part of the soul reaches back to that place and, if the story is being told well enough, it permits others to travel there, too. Which is to say, a bridge is created. Under the right circumstances, it is possible to physically send a being – even a dead one – along that bridge to the place in question. It is not easy, and not every soul can create a bridge sturdy enough, but it can be done. For the best results, one requires access to the soul of a writer. And this is how we will send Mamma Universe back to the living universe: by creating a bridge through Azeal Braithwaite and his story.
Ajax sensed another chance at an intellectual victory. A real one this time, which is always much better than a technical win. “But what if the writer is an author of fantastical stories? You know, stories that take place in imaginary worlds, and therefore have no connection to real places?” I’m on fire, thought Ajax, as he began another round of smug beard stroking. “Clearly no such bridge, and by extension, no such travel, is at all possible then.”
The Gardener smiled, she’d been expecting this. To be fair, it was more the sort of astute observation she’d expected Persephone to make, rather than have it come from the less gifted Ajax. Still, she had an answer. “All imaginary worlds are patched together from a soul’s experience of real ones, so there’s still a connection. Although, you are right. You wouldn’t be able to travel to a specific real world through such a connection. Yet, a world created in the imagination has a reality, so one could travel there if one wanted. But this won’t be a problem for us.”
“Why not?” Ajax began to feel that he wasn’t even going to be the possibility of a technical victory this time.
“Because I’ve had Azeal write a story that takes place on Earth, and also had him write in Mamma Universe as the lead character, so the right bridge will be formed. In fact, those are the two most important parts of his story.” The Gardener paused. “I’d prefer you didn’t tell him that, though. He’s a bit sensitive, and might be inclined to develop a sulky disagreement. It’ll ruin his focus.”
“You still haven’t said anything about the bees,” Mamma Universe objected. “You said you were going to explain how they work.”
“So I did,” agreed The Gardener. “Maybe it would be easier if I just show you. Perhaps you better come with me to the orchard. Persephone, could you go and get Azeal? He must be finished redrafting by now, and we might need him.”
END OF PART EIGHTEEN