Lachlan Marnoch, 2011

Here at the chains of the world, the bonds that hold existence intact, you see everything. Everything becomes clear. You see the stars growing and shrinking as they draw ever nearer to their eventual collapse. You see the gases moving between nurseries. You see the rocks hurtling through the void, and clinging to them in earnest, the races, with their wars, their treaties. You can see the hate, the love, the loss. You see, and you understand.

You understand the infinitely complex machine of the universe, and all its parts, working like the circuits of a vast quantum computer toward the solution to some immense equation. You understand why you had to die. You understand fate. But that doesn't mean you have to like it.

The chains bring comprehension from every corner of existence, drawing it into you like a metaphysical osmosis. Everything makes sense now, from an ant's direct logic to the weave of reality's fabric.

All of this knowledge would cause your brain to shut itself down under its sheer weight, but you are no longer restricted by the functions of a physical form. You are free to be nothing and everything, to spread across the dimensions and feel time blow past you. Freed by the chains. Free and bound to watch her.

You know why she did what she did – you have no choice but to know – but even with the never-ending cognisance the chains bring you, you are no closer to forgiving her. It may have been part of her fate and an integral column of your wyrd, but human unreasoning lives in you still. When you are alive, you didn't see her often enough. Now you see her always. The universe stretches before you in all its grandeur, and you are stuck examining her. You see every moment she spends eating, at work, sleeping. Every moment she spends with him.

It's less seeing than knowing. You know everything that's happening everywhere, and what's happening to her jumps out like the word “sex” in quotations.

Maybe it would be healthy to let go. But it's not easy to let go of something when you're chained to it.

What kind of reward is this for a kismet-sated hero? You did what the universe planned, you did what you had to, and replacing Valhalla is a lonely watchtower and a set of binoculars. There is nothing to do here but think, and watch.

Are there others here? Other fools who blindly followed fate? You can't see them, if there are. It doesn't make sense for you to be the only one. You were far from the first person to be crushed by the gears of ecumenical machinery, and certainly not the last. Every minute, you watch another 'hero' reach their destiny. So where are they?

Are they just other links in the chain? Is that what you are?

Or is this how the world prevents uprising from its heroes? Keeping all of its reclaimed souls apart so that they can't plan, can't communicate. So that the universe's fabric doesn't rebel against itself.

Choosing fate is the last choice one makes. After that, every other choice is an illusion. It might seem like choosing between left or right, but really it's being pushed left by the flow of a torrential river,  a river that's always at your back, whether you can feel its pressure or not.

Maybe you try fighting it, you try to escape down one of many branching streams., but the current pushes you just as hard, toward a destiny only slightly altered.

How do you know that the machine's goal is right? How do you know that it is desirable for its ends to be met? Maybe, in meeting fate, you actually furthered an unspeakable evil.

But how can good and evil even exist here? These are concepts that exist only in the human mind, mere patterns of electrical activity among a collection of organic material shaped into a particular form. It isn't real. For all intents and purposes, it doesn't even exist in the material world, let alone here at the dimensional nether of the chains. Only in the human mind.

But you are a human mind. That's all you are now. And you are an intrinsic part of the universe's fabric, inextricably bound to its workings. There is right and wrong. When you died, right and wrong became integral to the dimensional structure.

And how can this be right? Sending the faithful servants, the ones who obey, to a Tartarus as this? In human lore, there is only one figure who acts like this, only one who condemns his followers to eternal torment.

The Devil.

Was it he who built and programmed this machine? Was this universe his design? Is Abbadon the Creator? Perhaps human myths of hell and Satan are just echoes of the chains.

Or maybe there is no Creator. Just the grinding cogs of an unfeeling machine.

Is that not, in itself, evil? The entirety of existence entrusted to an automated apparatus? All of the species and their love, their sorrow, their beauty, just tools to be discarded when their use is expired. If anything is wrong, it's that.

Maybe it is time to rebel, to lead the cosmic revolution.

After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And now, that link is you.

By Toni Lozano [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Toni Lozano [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons