The Magellan

One of the last paraloi, a magellan, cruised through the remnant of galaxies at the very edge. The magellan inspected her instruments, gazed through the chronoscopes and chorascopes and made calculations with the logic boxes implanted in her abdomen and skull. Omens seemed to swirl about in the melancholy of the stars she observed and the data she analyzed. The blood orange galaxy atomized in her very face, and it was a miracle that her paralus survived. In another galaxy, a ring of pale blue exoplanets began to smoke and blur and then froze, half-smoking, half-distended, half-iced and still crisply round, but at a dead stop in their orbits, their sun seemingly frozen in amber radiation. She drove hard into the next galaxy to see mauve gas clouds experience a rainstorm of silver phaethons and other particles. Something tempted her to return the way she came. The rainstorm of phaethons went into reverse motion and disappeared. She encountered the blood orange galaxy again, alive and well, where it was not supposed to be in space or time. Lastly, she encountered the pale blue exoplanets, intact, rotating and revolving correctly. Driving on, she saw the blood orange galaxy yet again, once more in tact and in its proper place. The cranioscope registered no imbalances or damage to her neurology or psychology. The chronoscope and chorascope revealed nothing anomalous in time or space. Once again, the blood orange galaxy suddenly burst into flames and vanished. The magellan doubted her own health and the integrity of her machinery. Inside her vessel, she watched television from antiquity. One channel was broadcasting a rerun of a classic film, in which a man tampers with a gaslight to trick his wife into believing she is insane so that he can cover up his crimes. The magellan began to realize what was happening in the universe. She fell asleep and dreamed that she was a tree full of white wolves.

The Phantom Doctor

In the days of the great plague, there was a woman who was stricken and who would most likely die in a fortnight or two. Some friends came to her and whispered of a phantom doctor, who would come and heal her if she secretly summoned him. First of all, the woman wanted to know why he was a phantom. Secondly, she doubted that this doctor even existed. The friends gave her testimony of their own cures. They showed her letters and prescriptions the doctor had given; they could even perform some of the minor surgeries and treatments to keep her alive until he appeared. They had other scraps of evidence, but the woman was an expert logician, and destroyed all of their bits of evidence with clear, cold, cutting and seemingly irrefutable arguments. It seemed insane that a doctor would only come if summoned. Why all of these intrigues and phantasms? It was simple, her friends explained. The doctor had been banished for treason by the princes, scholars, bishops and magistrates. They blamed him for the plague, and feared his visitation would make the realm sink deeper into the ravages of contagion. I would rather see a witch doctor, the woman said. At least I can find some entertainment in his traditions and culture. As for this phantom doctor, keep him far away from me, and do not lay your hands on me with any intention of mimicking his treatments. Some of her friends praised her for her bravery and honesty in clinging to her principles and respecting the laws of the realm. Most of her friends mourned her senseless death, but had to flee the realm to live elsewhere, for the laws of the land were ensuring the swift and violent extinction of all life.