Magic, programming, control. He understood the technology that built this world, and he understood the technology that built him. He could read it in action, since the machinery moving behind the scenery was the machinery moving in him, he often believed that he just had to attune himself to its peculiar rhythms, and what was hidden would become explicit.
You are a story. You are a being. You are beginning and you are an ending, and you are an indeterminate middle. You know, to a degree what the end means, and you most often know what the beginning was. But the middle is traversing the observable universe, and it appears to be ever expanding, until the tendency towards entropy brings you to heat death.
He had done many things from his early days to dull these senses, to obfuscate the awareness that he was cursed with. He wanted to break the machinery within him and bring the end about sooner – he felt no sadness at this, just frustration that it was hard to achieve. His inner workings were slaved to the narrative framework, which had larger beats than he could see from his perspective, but they concluded with the words The First Dragon. And he didn’t want to be that – being a Dragon; being that mythical form, packed down into this frail human form.
And then there were guys like this individual – who thought he knew more; who thought he understood the game better. Why? Because a flame had been lit in him that he always knew was there, and he had seen the light. This child had seen all of the bright dragons burning in the cold endless acreage of space, and he knew that there was some greater purpose. And maybe there was – but it didn’t involve this tiny flicker or heat that would likely be snuffed out before the tale inside it cracked open the human ribcage, and allowed the lizard to crawl forth.
‘I know about you.’
‘Yes, I read The Dragons’s Tongue.’
‘Ah, awful fucking book. I hate it, and that damned author, Percy Durant.’
‘But it lead me to The Yellow River Carpark; it’s genuine. I always thought I was a Carp, and the clues led me to the Dragon Gate.’
‘This is supposed to mean something to me … what was your name again?’
‘OK, Simon – it is short for Simon, right? Don’t assume that you know too much, because I’ve read that book, and it doesn’t tell you everything. Knowing how to do something, and how to become something really tells you nothing of what that transformation means; what the ramifications of the change are. You may know the what, but you have little concept of the why.’
‘Why do I need to know that to be what I am? People live their whole lives knowing what they are, without knowing why they are. Isn’t that one of the big questions that marks human existence? But I am something. I am something I wanted to be. The why for me is that I wanted this, so I took it.’
‘You don’t want this.’
‘You don’t want this. My name is Ignem now – that is my real name, and the snake coiled in my gut.’
‘Why did you seek me out?’
‘Percy name you, and he said that you were the first, and that any Dragon that wanted to understand themselves needed to meet you as a rite of initiation.’
‘And there you go. That idiot has sent a lot of you scurrying after me, like I have some insight into what this whole thing means, and what it should mean for you. I don’t. I have been working resolutely, since the day I became aware of what they intend for me to do, to forget everything. And you know what? That works. Because they wove something into me that is designed to make me forget important details about myself already. I know that there are things coming – there are things in me that I don’t know about; things which are going to break this world apart, and people like you – things like you, they’re going to be the first things that burn to a crisp.’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘I don’t care what you think. I have seen this world burned – those kind of things I have no trouble thinking about. Glimpses of fires set in the past, and glimpses of fires burning in the future. They allow me to see this in case it sparks that final flame that consumes everything – that’s my purpose, so, of course, I can free-fall through the restraints that lead towards that, but any degree of self possession I try to grasp for myself is denied, because that doesn’t serve the narrative framework’
‘Boo hoo for you. I get this now – I saw some of the other lesser Dragons in the Burn Outs Bar, and I thought they were pathetic, and it was like they’d fallen back over the gate and become the thing they were trying to escape. You – you’re like them, but you didn’t have to struggle to become what you are – you were made like this. So you’re more pathetic. Percy wanted us to see that – wanted us to see how not to waste the gift. He’s helping set fires in this world, and it’s needed. We need to burn the institutions down’
‘Ah ha, and so, we have it – you’re an idealist, trying to wield a weapon of mass destruction, and expecting a good outcome. That’s the thing with fire – it burns; it can’t be contained; and it demands fuel.’
‘I think we’re done. The flame may still be lit, but you’re as burnt out as anyone else I’ve met. That’s all you have to teach me. Thank you.’
He could have stopped him. He could have let him go. But what good would that have done? None. He had an idea what might do some good though. It was probably a bad idea, but it was something to do. He needed to do something.