Daegaer wrote, @ 2003 -05 -18
After the World was Over
Having stepped away from the most boring fic in the world (which
seems to be a lifetime’s project), this was written for the
contrelamontre Sliding Doors alternate ending challenge.  Written in
40 minutes, including editing.

After the World was Over

Two men stand by the pond.  They are both tall, both well dressed, both look depressed.  They are remembering how the world almost ended, and they averted the Apocalypse.  And how the world almost ended immediately afterwards anyway, and a little child pulled everyone’s arse out of the fire.  They argue about whether anything has ever made sense, in the whole history of creation.  One argues that it must, surely, the other is quite sure that it doesn’t.  On the balance of things, he has the better argument.  They thought they were taking a stand, that it meant something, but it was senseless.  They watch the tall man on the other side of the pond throw his last piece of bread to the ducks and walk away.  The immense importance and futility of what they did weighs down on them.

“Let me tempt you to some lunch,” the man in the black suit says.

It is the last time they eat together.

Their superiors never contact them again.  They are at first too alarmed, then too embarrassed to admit this, and so simply stop calling each other.  If they see each other in the street, one turns and walks quickly away, while the other feigns interest in the nearest shop window.  One day, many years later, one of them sees a vintage Bentley being offered for sale in the small ads.  He throws the whole paper in the bin, quickly.  Some time after that, the other is forced to take a short cut through Soho, walking quickly; eyes fixed on the ground.  The “For Sale” sign plastered across an old shop front briefly catches his attention, but he doesn’t slow down.

London seems duller after that, as if the spirit has gone out of it.  Both of them have.

* * *

Two men stand by the pond.  They are both tall, both well dressed, both look depressed.  They are remembering how the world almost ended, and they averted the Apocalypse.  And how the world almost ended immediately afterwards anyway, and a little child pulled everyone’s arse out of the fire.  They argue about whether anything has ever made sense, in the whole history of creation.  One argues that it must, surely, the other is quite sure that it doesn’t.  On the balance of things, he has the better argument.  They thought they were taking a stand, that it meant something, but it was senseless.  As they argue, the tall man on the other side of the pond smiles at them, and reminds them no one understands the mind of God.  He has no expression other than a smile, but does seem genuinely amused.  The two men shake their heads, as if they hear a far off ringing, and look at each other, confused and unsure of what they were arguing about.

“Let me tempt you to some lunch,” the man in the black suit says.

It is a perfectly nice lunch, in a very fine hotel restaurant.  By the end of it, somewhere around the time most people are thinking they might fancy a late night snack, both of them are feeling cheerful and at ease.  They stagger off to the large car that has somehow escaped detection from the clampers, and drive erratically away.  They drunkenly promise to keep in touch.

Their superiors do not contact them for several months, but that is perfectly normal.  They are old hands, and know what they should be doing.  They can carry on their routine of chess on the cosmic scale without micromanagement.  Sometimes they meet to play chess on actual boards as well.

Each of them plays white about fifty-percent of the time.  They prefer it that way.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *