LNH20: Writer's Block Person #44: "Number Ten Thousand"
pwerdna at gmail.com
Tue May 21 08:56:33 PDT 2019
Some numbers are so large that the human mind cannot comfortably reckon with
them. They can be held in your head only so long as you are willing to feel the
deep, existential chill of the aeons, the sheer empty Size of the space between
our galaxy and the next, the incredible granularity of the lives of the
generations that lived and died before you were born.
But humans deserve stories, even those who aren't ready to fit the universe in
their head. And some stories deserve to be told, despite being so full of Size
that they would be far easier to grapple with if they were infinite.
Ten thousand years ago, there was a tyrant who ruled over ten thousand planets,
each with ten thousand times ten thousand people. And the tyrant had welded
these planets together into a great cosmic clockwork, that fed the power of the
ten thousand times ten thousand times ten thousand into the tyrant; so that the
people of the planets could barely hold their heads up, had to move around on
hands and knees, yet toiled constantly for the tyrant, feeding more and more and
more power into them, becoming weaker and more miserable every year, every day.
And there came a day when the cosmic clockwork shattered. Maybe the clockwork
could no longer withstand the ever-increasing demands on it. Maybe, despite
their weakness, the people managed to chip away in quiet rebellion long enough
to bring the clockwork to the breaking point. Or maybe the universe had finally
had enough of the tyrant.
And the people died, in their thousands, and their thousands of thousands; and
although the tyrant tried to use the power they had accumulated to hold together
the clockwork, it came apart in their hands, and the tyrant shattered as well,
And their soul was cast adrift. And finally, in the endless void, they had
nothing left to do except think, and feel; and without a body, and without a
world, there is far too much thinking and feeling that can be done.
And for the first thousand years they cursed the clockwork, and cursed the
people, for being too weak, for not understanding that they deserved the power,
that having the power showed that they deserved it, for being ungrateful, for
being not enough.
And for the second thousand years they cursed their own plans, and how foolish
they hand been, and promised themselves that next time, somehow, someday, they
would return, and wreak vengeance on the galaxies, and be stronger, and not let
And for the third thousand years they brooded, and considered, and let all the
garish and painful emotions that the clockwork had held back fill their
And in the fourth thousand years, they shattered again. They let themself
realize they had been bad. They let themself understand how much misery they had
created. They let themself realize how little they deserved the power, and how
the one good thing they had done was being foolish enough to let the clockwork
For the fifth thousand years they drifted.
Sometime in the sixth thousand years, they approached a planet, and orbited it
quietly, and let it be. And sometime in the sixth thousand years, they decided
that they should become one of those suffering, miserable beings, and maybe,
maybe, maybe maybe maybe, shatter someone else's clockwork, and make up for what
they had been.
And for the seventh thousand years they lived small, miserable lives, full of
suffering, under the thumb of one tyrant or another. But three times, they met a
hero, and they were lifted out of suffering; and for the first time since before
they had been a tyrant, they felt joy. And something small grew in them, over
And in the eighth thousand years they lived small lives, often miserable, but
always seeking out heroes, always looking to bask in their light. But so many
times, they failed; they made mistakes; they were flawed. And so many times they
took themself away from the heroes; or threw themself in front of blades, or
fists, or armies coming at them; or hurt themself so they could not tempt the
heroes away from heroism; or blamed themselves when the heroes failed, made
mistakes, were flawed.
And in the ninth thousand years, they tried to be a hero. And they were flawed,
and they made mistakes, and they failed. And they gave up. And they tried again
to be a hero. And they were flawed, and they made mistakes, and they failed. And
they gave up. And they tried again to be a hero. And another hero found them,
and she brought them into their circle. And they were flawed, and they made
mistakes, and they failed.
And they tried to give up. And another hero looked into them. And she looked all
the way back, and saw the tyrant. And they turned their head, waiting to be
rejected, waiting to be let go so they could give up again.
And the other hero said, "Can the tyrant's crimes be forgiven?"
And they said, "Only by the ten thousand times ten thousand times ten thousand."
And the other hero said, "Is there anyone left who remembers the tyrant's
crimes, to forgive them?"
And they said, "No."
And the other hero said, "Can the tyrant's crimes be made up for?"
And they said, "Only if ten thousand times ten thousand times ten thousand are
And the other hero said, "And if you give up, can ten thousand times ten
thousand times ten thousand be saved?"
And they said, "...well, no."
And the other hero said, "Was the tyrant a person who would save ten thousand
times ten thousand times ten thousand?"
And they said, "Definitely not."
And the other hero said, "Was the tyrant a person who would save even one?"
And they said, "...they weren't."
And the other hero took their hand, and she lifted them up, and she said, "The
tyrant is dead. The hero lives. They do not need forgiveness. But there is
someone they should forgive. For being weak. For being foolish. For building the
clockwork, and for shattering it."
And the hero closed their eyes. And they... could not fully forgive the tyrant.
Not for ten thousand times ten thousand times ten thousand. But they could
forgive the tyrant a little. For the first few, and for the last few.
And for the rest of the ninth thousand years, they were a hero. And they were
flawed, and they made mistakes, and they failed. And they kept being a hero. And
they saved ten thousand, and they saved ten thousand more, and ten thousand
years after the tyrant had fallen...
Writer's Block Person popped their head around the door frame, wiping their
hands on a paper towel. "Hey, Whisperion?"
"Yeah?" She looked up from the book she was reading.
"Just to make sure, you'd totally take me down if I turned into a cosmic tyrant,
Whisperion sighed. "Drew, last time you went uncontrollable super mode, you
mildly injured someone who was trying to kill you, destroyed a metal sign, and
were defeated by the slightest pushback to you expressing your anger."
"I mean, yeah, but like... what if I got linked to the Super Ultra Death Phoenix
Whisperion smiled, humoring them. "Then yes. I'd get together the LNH, and the
cosmic heroes, and the giant robots of @lantis, and the Network, and all your
friends, and all the other alternate LNHes they know, and we'd stop you before
you could hurt anybody."
"Okay. I love you!" They went back to the dishes.
She chuckled. "Love you too, you goofball." She went back to her book.
Drew "ten thousand feelings!!" Perron
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