Here it is, dear readers. The final chapter in the Infinite Limits series (not counting the short epilogue, which will also be posted today). Read on to find out what happens to Lord Douglas and Mr. Walker after the shooting at the Christmas Feast, and if you’ve enjoyed the ride, please do pick up a copy of the novel to show your support. We do nothing alone.
LXXXIV. The Scientist
The speech went well. So, the Scientist had that going for them, which was nice. But then there was after the speech, and that definitely wasn’t.
Anna wasn’t supposed to go that far, killing a protector on stage. Was she? At least the Scientist didn’t think so. Then again, they had been distracted doing their useless 0.N repeating work so there was no telling. Maybe Rosalind had agreed to the whole thing, assassination and all, and the Scientist just didn’t know about it. That was another reason for the Scientist to curse themself about wasting so much time trying to make that stupid system work for the owners. Well, it wouldn’t ever. For as long as profits existed, there’d never be enough money in wages to pay for everything on the market, so the equations would never add up. And Anna would have always done whatever it was she wanted to do, whether Rosalind had agreed to it or not. She already had.
The Scientist had stayed behind after their speech, waiting for the inevitable to happen and holding the door back to Four open for Haley, but after the explosion and before they could escape, out came Anna with that Chief Mondragon tied to a chair. The gunshots went off and the Scientist ducked out of sight before they could see who the shots were fired at, but they had a guess, and soon they didn’t have to, because Haley and another secretary came running up, carrying Mr. Walker and Huey, respectively, both owners bleeding from dangerous looking bullet wounds in their chests.
“They’re shot,” Haley said, not even breathing heavily despite the gigantic dead weight of Mr. Walker’s body flung over her shoulder. “They need our help.”
“Pffft. Not him,” the Scientist said, nodding at Mr. Walker.
“If you want me to carry Lord Douglas any further, you’ll let us both go,” the other secretary said, struggling against Huey’s relatively lighter frame.
“She’s with me,” Haley said to the Scientist, then to the other secretary, “C’mon.” And they carried their burdens past the Scientist, through the hole in the Walker-Haley fields, and back into the lab where they laid each owner, still bleeding and groaning, on two tables that Popeye had cleared by dumping all the glass off of them to break on the floor.
“And clean that up,” the Scientist demanded of Popeye as they crossed the room to stand at Huey’s side, not really sure how to help him. “What do we do?”
“I don’t know,” Haley said. “I’m not a doctor.”
“Me neither,” the Scientist said. “I’m barely a scientist.”
“We need a shot,” the other secretary said, blotting Mr. Walker’s head with a towel. “One of those gray goop injections, or whatever.” Mr. Walker was looking pretty bad himself, doing a lot more coughing and gurgling than Lord Douglas was, but at least he was fighting against his death. The way Huey was lying still, not moving a single muscle, it didn’t seem to matter to him whether he was alive or dead.
“A what?” Haley asked, not sounding as concerned as the other secretary was.
“An injection. A shot,” the secretary said. “I don’t know. Can’t you just call a doctor?”
“Not really,” the Scientist said. “I mean, we could probably call one, but for all intents and purposes, there’s no elevator service to get them here, so there’s really no point.”
“What about a printer?” the secretary asked. “They can make anything, right?”
“Printers run on the same system as the elevators,” the Scientist said. “So, no.”
“This one’s trying to say something,” Haley said, nodding at Popeye who had stopped sweeping to wave his arm at them, making all kinds of weird hand motions.
“I can never understand Popeye,” the Scientist said. “I’m not sure how he understands us, either.”
“There’s something in that drawer,” the secretary said, rushing over to dig through it. “Maybe the shot we’re looking for.”
The Scientist went to help search through the drawers, but Haley just stood there, staring down at Huey and shaking her head like she didn’t care any more than he did whether he died or not. The Scientist and the other secretary both dug through strange tools and variously colored chemicals until, at almost the exact same time, they both held up seemingly identical vials of cloudy gray liquid to say, “I got it!”
“Too late,” Haley said, shaking her head. “For our Lord Douglas, at least.”
But Mr. Walker wasn’t dead yet. He coughed up a particularly disgusting clot of blood, and it sent his secretary into even more of a panic than she had already been in. She snatched the vial from the Scientist’s hand and started comparing the labels to figure out which one could save her lord.
The Scientist let her. They couldn’t make out a thing on their vial’s label anyway. It was like it was written in a different language, the language of chemistry, a language that the Scientist had all the interest in the world in learning, but which they had foregone studying in order to instead waste their time trying to make the stupid owners’ system work for them. So, while the secretary did that, the Scientist searched through the drawer to find a syringe and have it ready when the secretary decided on which vial to use.
“What the fuck does any of this mean?” the secretary demanded, looking between one vial and the other, putting each close to her face to read, as if that would help her understand the symbols any better. “Is this even English?”
“Not really,” the Scientist said. “It’s IUPAC nomenclature. I don’t know how to decipher it any more than you do, though.”
“Why do you care so much?” Haley asked, finally leaving Huey’s side. “Mr. Walker treated you like shit, didn’t he? I mean, that’s how he treated me when I worked for him. But I guess I could be wrong. Maybe he likes you more than he liked me.”
“Oh, he treats me like shit,” Haley said, still fretting over which vial was which. “You’re not wrong about that.”
“Then why?” Haley repeated. “Why not just let him die?”
“Well, he’s my lord,” the secretary said, disregarding the vials for a moment, despite another bout of coughing from Mr. Walker and what sounded like a plea for help. “He pays my wages,” she went on over him. “What am I supposed to do if he dies? I’ll starve.”
“He’s not the owner of anything anymore,” the Scientist said. “That explosion you heard at the Feast, the worlds are changed. There’s only one of them, now, and Mr. Walker has no power in it.”
“So why not let him die?” Haley asked again.
“No,” the secretary said, trying to distinguish between the vials again but having difficulty concentrating. “I don’t believe that.”
“It doesn’t require your belief,” Haley said. “You’ll see.”
“Yeah, well, what am I supposed to do then?” the secretary asked, fumbling more desperately with the vials the more she spoke. “How will my family eat? Where am I supposed to find work now?”
“There’ll be plenty of work to do yet,” the Scientist said. “I assure you of that.”
But Haley just shrugged. “Mr. Walker never helped feed your family in the first place,” she said. “He and his friends forced billions to starve, in fact. You’ll be better off without him. Don’t you think so, too?” she asked, turning to the Scientist.
Haley was right about that, and the Scientist knew it. Hell, all the worlds would be better without Mr. Walker or any of the other owners in them. But the Scientist knew that they could never actively kill anyone with their own two hands—even an owner—and so they figured that they shouldn’t stand by and let him die either. “I don’t know,” they said. “I’d probably help him if I could.”
“I’m saving his life no matter what y’all say,” the secretary snapped, finally deciding on a vial—at random for all the Scientist knew—and taking the syringe to fill it with the gray liquid inside. “You don’t know what he’d do to me if I didn’t try.”
“I used to work for him,” Haley said. “I think I do.”
“Are you sure you got the right one?” the Scientist asked. “What if it’s dangerous?”
“Better to kill him with action than inaction,” the secretary said, tapping the air bubbles out of the syringe. “Here goes nothing.” She held her breath and slowly inched the pointy end of the syringe closer and closer to Mr. Walker’s trembling, sweaty forearm, beads of sweat pouring down her own forehead in time. She was close to puncturing his skin, maybe a millimeter away, when she sighed and drew the needle away, picking up the vials to compare their labels again. “Ugh. I can’t do it.” She sighed. “What if I kill him?”
“The world would be a better place,” Haley said.
“I probably couldn’t do it, either,” the Scientist said. “I can’t do it.”
And at the same time, Rosalind, Momma BB—in a new recycled body—and Mr. Kitty all came bursting into the room—with a meow from the cat.
“Rosalind!” Haley said, crossing to hug her. “You’re here. How’s the mission?”
“Mr. Kitty,” the Scientist said, bending down to pet the cat who purred, rubbing his head against their ankles.
“Help me,” the secretary begged, holding out the vials to the newcomers in the hopes that they could translate the labels for her. “Save him.” She nodded at Mr. Walker, still somehow alive and coughing on the table.
“Could have gone better,” Rosalind said, hugging Haley for a moment then releasing her to cross to the secretary and take both vials and the syringe from her. “But we’re all alive now.” Rosalind emptied the syringe, checked the two vials, tossed one away, and refilled the syringe with the other’s contents. “Here, allow me,” she said, and she jammed the needle into Mr. Walker’s thigh, letting the air out of his pneumatic pants with a long hisssssss as she pressed down the plunger, releasing the grey liquid into Mr. Walker’s greedy veins.
Mr. Walker sat up straight all of a sudden, eyes as wide as dinner plates. He coughed and gurgled and said, “I— I’m— I’m alive. I…” and then he fell flat on his back again, stone cold dead.
“No! What’d you do?” the secretary cried, crossing to Mr. Walker’s side to comfort him in death.
Haley just kind of laughed, shaking her head, as if to say, “I told you so.” without actually saying it.
“At least it wasn’t your fault,” the Scientist said, because they thought that’s what they’d want to hear if they were in the same situation.
And Big Momma BB, with her limping gait and mismatched limbs, skin of every color that skin can be, crossed to the secretary to comfort her. “It’s okay, darling,” Momma BB said. “What’s your name?”
“Elen,” the secretary said, crying and sniffling and hugging Momma BB instead of Mr. Walker now.
“Well, Elen, you’ll be better off without him,” Momma BB said. “The whole world will be. I promise.”
“The whole world will be,” Rosalind repeated. “All of the worlds together again as one. And they’re all ours. With no room for owners.”
“What about Lord Douglas?” Haley asked, and the Scientist wasn’t sure what they wanted the answer to be.
“I locked him out of resurrection,” Rosalind said. “He’s been Lord for too long now. It’s gone to his head. He needs time to think about what he’s become, and we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll discuss his resurrection again when the timing’s better.”
“So, you knew this was going to happen, then,” the Scientist said. “The assassinations and everything.”
“Of course, I did.” Rosalind scoffed. “We’ve had this planned for decades, almost a century. Long before you were ever born. And we’re not gonna let anyone stand in the way of what comes next. Even if they started out this journey on the right side of the struggle.”
“You think Lord Douglas has changed sides?” the Scientist asked. “I don’t know. I—”
“You’ve been spending your time on other tasks,” Rosalind reminded the Scientist of their wastefulness. “When’s the last time you even spoke to Huey? No. Trust me. I know him better than anyone. I know how he thinks. He’s been an owner for too long, and now he’s obsessed with possessions and control. He’s had his eyes on Haley for a long time, too, and there’s no telling what he could do to her. We just don’t have labor power enough to rehabilitate him at this point, so we can’t and we won’t. Does anyone have a problem with that?”
The Scientist didn’t want to know what would happen to them if they answered yes to that question, but thankfully they didn’t really have a problem. Rosalind was right that the Scientist hadn’t seen Lord Douglas in a long time, except on the news, and he could have changed a lot in the time that he was Lord of all the worlds.
Haley didn’t seem to have a problem, either. In fact, she looked downright pleased with the decision, grinning for a moment, just long enough for the Scientist to notice. Momma BB showed no reaction. She just went on comforting Elen who broke away from Momma BB’s embrace to run up and push Rosalind, getting in her face to say, “I have a problem with it. You killed him. You killed my boss!”
“I know you liked him,” Rosalind said, hands up to defend herself but apparently not angry. “And I’m sorry for that. I truly am. But I’m not your enemy. He was. He was a Lord, and he had to die for the same reasons that Huey did. We can’t build our new better world with them still here trying to wreck it.”
“But it’s not the same,” Elen said, beating on Rosalind’s chest. Rosalind let the poor woman land a few blows before grabbing her by the wrists to stop her. “He’s not like you,” Elen went on. “He’s human. We can’t just resurrect whenever we die.”
“Now, now, dear,” Momma BB said, peeling Elen off of Rosalind to pull her into another bear hug. “You’d be surprised. At his age, with his lifestyle, he’s more nanobot than human—if there even is any human left in there at all.”
“Mum mumum mum mum?” Elen asked, her voice muffled by Momma BB’s big body, but BB seemed to understand.
“I know so,” she said. “He’ll be resurrected the same as Huey. But not until we’re ready and strong enough to put them both on trial for their sins.”
“The worlds really have changed,” Elen said, poking her head out of Momma BB’s big bear hug to catch a breath of fresh air before diving right back in.
“More than you’ll ever know,” Momma BB said, hugging Elen tighter.
“And there’s still so much work to do to ensure that this world is better than the old worlds,” Rosalind said.
“But at least the owners won’t be in our way,” Haley said. “Pieces of shit,” she added under her breath.
“So, I guess we’re really gonna do this, then,” the Scientist said, not sure if they were starting to believe because they really could do it, or if they were starting to believe because they had no choice left but to make it true. “Let’s get to work.”
“First,” Rosalind said. “There’s a little matter of the children.”
“The children?” the Scientist said.
“My children,” Momma BB said, hugging Elen tight one last time then letting her go. “We’ll round them up first then get to work on everything else—including setting you and your family up with a means of subsistence,” she added for Elen who perked up at the thought.
Everyone followed along, Momma BB and Elen leading the way, then Rosalind and Haley next, followed by Mr. Kitty and the Scientist—leaving Popeye behind still cleaning the glass—out into the hall then back again through the same door they had exited which now led them into the big office that overlooked Sisyphus’s Mountain where two little kids, the other Haley, and Pidgeon were all having a conversation in the puffy chairs—well, the three of them were in the puffy chairs while Pidgeon sat on the floor, staring out the window like he always did.
“And it’s been coming up tails every time,” one of the children said, taking out a coin and flipping it.
“Please, Thim. Not now,” the other child said.
But, “Heads!” the first kid, Thim, screamed just as Momma BB announced their presence.
“Ma!” both the children yelled at the same time when they realized who it was, running over to hug Momma BB who was still hugging Elen so they all just had a big group hug.
“We thought you had two more days,” one of them said.
“It has only been one, right?” the other said.
“And they’ve managed in even less already,” Momma BB said. “But no need to worry about that now. I’m back, and I’ll never leave you again.”
“You better not,” the children said together.
“Hey, Pidg,” the Scientist said to Pidgeon who was petting Mr. Kitty. “Haley.” The Scientist knew about Haley and Pidgeon’s relationship, but they still found it kind of weird. Then again, the Scientist found all relationships, no matter who was in them, pretty weird, so that wasn’t saying much. “So y’all are in on this, too?”
“Weeeeell, sort of,” Pidgeon said, looking to Haley for help but getting none. “Only by accident. We didn’t really help much with the setup or execution or anything.”
“But we’re here now,” Haley added. “And we’re willing to do everything we can to help from here on out.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been wasting my time, too,” the Scientist said, thinking that their time spent trying to make the owners’ worlds work for them was about as productive as Pidgeon and Haley’s time spent kissing—or whatever it was that people in relationships did with each other when they were alone. “But we’re all here to help now, right?”
“And there’s no one left to stand in our way,” Haley said, nodding at Haley. “Not even Lord Walker who’s left this Earth entirely.”
Haley jumped for joy, kissing Pidgeon who blushed. “You mean it?”
“Would I lie about that?” Haley said, hugging her.
“No more owners at all to stand in our way,” Rosalind added. “No more walls to divide us. We, the oppressed masses, now own the technology that was used to create those walls. Let us use it to create a better world instead. Are y’all finally ready?”
“Of course, we are,” Momma BB said. smiling down at her children who whispered among themselves before coming to an agreement. “We’re in!”
“Me, too,” Elen said, still hugging Momma BB with one arm.
“I’m definitely in,” Haley said.
“Us, too,” Haley said, nodding and nudging Pidgeon. “Whatever we can do. Right, babe?”
“Uh, right…” Pidgeon said. “Sure. Of course. Whatever I’m good at.”
And even Mr. Kitty meowed in what the Scientist assumed was approval.
“So, what about you, Scientist?” Rosalind asked.
And the Scientist thought about it for a minute that felt like an eternity before answering. “Call me Ansel,” they said. “And, yes. I’m in. Anything I can do to help.”
“That’s my girl,” Rosalind said.
“I’m still not a girl,” Ansel complained.
“Just the same,” Rosalind said with a grin. “We’re happy to have you on board. Isn’t that right, team?”
“Right!” they all said together—even Pidgeon—and Mr. Kitty—all sounding like they meant it.
“Fantastic,” Rosalind said. “Then let’s go get Popeye and get this show on the road. We do nothing alone.”
There it is, dear readers. The last full chapter in the Infinite Limits series. Read on right now for the short epilogue, and please do enjoy. We do nothing alone.