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Episode Three: Chapter One

The Family Business

A father and a son walk together, in a park, along a stream, holding hands.


They are walking as though there is a crack in the very earth between them, starving and treacherous, apart as they can be while still nominally being together.  It might not be entirely appropriate to say that they are holding hands.  It may be more correct to say that the father is holding his son’s fist.  The weight of it is tremendous.

“Father,” says the boy, pausing to assemble the thought entire.

“Yes, son?”

“At the Dusk of Man…”

Ah, this.  The father recalls how the answers once evaded him also, glinting like minnows, his mind seeking but empty.  In the end, his brother Erasmus - his son’s namesake - made him understand the right of it.  But this son has no brother.  At least, no brother worth the name of Brahe.

“At the Dusk of Man,” he says, the notion picking up speed, “What will happen to my friends at school?”  An idea explodes.  “What will happen to my school?”

“Nothing,” came the father’s reply.  “Nothing will happen, because there will be nothing.”  He pats the shoulder reassuringly, notes that it appears to be having the intended effect, and decides to embellish.  “There will be only peace.”

“Peace isn’t nothing,” replies the son.  “Peace is a thing.”

Not a great idea, all things told.

“Sometimes I let the poetry of it get the better of me,” sighs the father.  “It will be nothing, and nothing.  Be patient; you’ll know for yourself, soon enough,” and this last bit comes with a smile attached.  “It won’t be long now.”

His son’s hand drops out.

“Then why can’t we make the most of it?” he screams.  “Why do we have to ruin everything?”

“Why can’t we keep it?” says he, as though the child were speaking of some ragged stray.  Ragged stray wasn’t a bad way of considering it, actually - it being the universe, of course, filthy, exhausted thing that it was.  “We could keep it,” he repeated, rephrasing it, trying without hope to spin the tumbler on his father’s heart; to find it.  “We could…  We could make it better.”

The father kneels, enfolding the child.  The boy’s tear-slicked cheek is hot as a brand.

“No,” he says, “That is not good enough.”

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