[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] estdeus_innobis
I took Mrs Betton to the Abbey first, of course. They will care for her, for the time that's left. She complained the whole way, as the young man I'd hired carried her. But she should not be here.

I started the fire in the basement. Destroy everything, he said. Make it into nothing. Fall down into nothing, the wheel turning down to the bottom: entropy. What will the phoenix world be like, rising from the ashes?

I am in the Middle Room. I can smell the smoke quite strongly now. I think of the books burning downstairs, and it hurts, a gentle necessary sort of pain. I think of what he said about Westin Sagert, who was a friend and perhaps might have been more: there were books he never saw, that he would have liked very much to see. That is part of the power of this, of course, I think: the destruction of possibilities, as well as what is.

The floors will collapse, I think. Not too soon, I hope. The skulls that have been silent are chattering on the shelves, jaws moving senselessly. Yes, I say to them, father and mother and grandfather and all of them all the way back. Yes, it is Time. Finally, Time.

There is smoke coming under the door. So I pour the lamp oil out in the center of the circle and light it from one of the tallow-fat candles, greasy and yellow. All in this together, a family affair. The flames lick up and the smoke too is greasy, foul-smelling. The floorboards are burning. Bone is charring. I feel my coat catch fire, a low smouldering. I can see them in the smoke, familiar shapes. Oh, I've missed you. The room is a thick haze. I'm burning inwards, and it's a relief, though it is starting to hurt. I won't care about pain.

I feel my skin crackling as it always does under my clothes, this dry dead skin that I was born with, mummified skin, dead thing's skin stretched thin over strange bones: the last of us, born beyond dead, and only my father and mother's death to give face and hands at least a semblance of life. When it is burned, it will look no different from any other man's who died of fire, and I smile.

Her arm is round my shoulders, in the smoke. It damps some of the flames. Don't be foolish, boy, the familiar querulous voice. I'd thought she'd gone too far, but she's here too, my Grandmama. I wonder if the little cat ghost is here somewhere too, twining round her ankles. She's steering me, and I'm in too much pain to know where. "The end, now," I say hoarsely, and she says, Silly boy. The others swirl round, making space in the smoke.

Go, I tell them, go, begone, go and turn the Wheel to the end, lend yourself to Him. They won't. Not our End says an ancient voice, far older than grandmama, and I'm stumbling through a door. How did I get here? Where am I? Is it just a door, or the final Door? Why are they rebelling? I should be on properly on fire by now, I should be dead, and all the weight of all the years leaning behind His Work. But there are more of them than me.

Not our Work, says another voice, more fiercely. My skin is crackling differently now, with heat. No, no, it's not meant to end like this. It's not. I'm sorry, I say voicelessly, I'm sorry. Am I wrong, or are they? I was so sure. I fumble my spectacles off, feel them crunch accidentally underfoot. I still can't see, though. I can't see anything. One way or another, this has to be the end.

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