A brief little foray back into writing fiction, since real life has decided that now's a good time to have several problematic events all happen at once...plus the fact that my degree is highly sensitive to events with, shall we say, geopolitical ramifications.
It's great. I've been told to burn my textbook three times in three different classes during my studies because the damn world keeps doing weird things. It's phenomenal and not at all a waste of $75-150.
Anyways, here's a short dialogue between my two favorite comic book characters of all time. If I get the time, I might write something longer involving these two. Or maybe DC will hire me and I can write it professionally.
'Cept a hell of a lot of people would have to leave the company for me to want to do that...
The Seventh Seal
Wonder Woman's white bishop tilted, then swayed, then collapsed onto the chessboard with a light, porcelain crack. Propelled forward by it's own inertia, it rolled on it's side into the waiting, pale fingers of Diana's opponent, who plucked it from the board with a gleeful smile and a warm sense of enjoyment. Despite the ever-friendly face of the girl sitting across from her, Wonder Woman couldn't help but grumble as her bishop was stored amongst the other felled pieces from their game.
"Drat," she said. "And to think I'm a master tactician..."
"I wouldn't fret too much," said the pale girl. "I've had far more time to practice than even immortals like you."
Diana rested her chin on her enclosed fist, and scanned the board like an eagle searching for it's next meal. "We're a prideful bunch," she said. "I might have to flog myself afterwards if I lose." With a single finger, she slid one of her rear pawns forward a space, setting it in between her beset Queen and the enclosing black pieces of her opponent. Satisfied with her move, Diana looked up from the board. "What's your record with us?"
Smiling and stretching back from the desk with an exaggerated grunt, Death of the Endless stared out over the shores of Themyscira, the waves of the Mediterranean crashing against its sandy shores. Orange light from the setting sun bathed both her and Wonder Woman, and Diana found herself yet again staring at the pale, almost bone white skin of the ancient and powerful being sitting across from her.
It certainly said something about Diana's life that the strangest thing about her situation was the unnatural hue of Death's skin...
"Well I hate to break it to you," Death said, still smiling. "But in terms of chess skill, well...you guys are pretty good warriors."
Diana chuckled as she straightened her posture, waiting for Death's next move. "I blame my mother for that."
"I wouldn't," Death said, rolling one of Diana's captured pieces in her fingers. "She's the only one that's beaten me."
But of course, Diana thought, fondly remembering how her mother always seemed three steps ahead of her when she was young. No doubt she had learned the game quickly, especially considering how the Amazon's used to be far less...active in world affairs before Steve washed up on their shores.
"Keep practicing," Death said, as if reading her thoughts, "and you'll probably beat me some day too." She dropped Diana's captured Rook in the growing pile of other white pieces, and moved her own Rook two squares forward. It loomed over the nearest pawn like a siege machine.
"Am I to take that as confirmation that I still have a few years left?" Diana said, her eyes scanning the board again. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Death's grin widen.
"I'm pretty sure you'd jump head-first into a battle with a demon if I said yes, wouldn't you?"
Diana only grinned.
"Admit it," said Death. "You Amazon's are little adrenaline junkies."
Wonder Woman feigned offense as she placed a second pawn in the path of Death's rook. Her defensive wall established, she leaned back in her chair, and decided to satiate a growing spark of curiosity that had been fanned into a flame ever since the ancient member of the Endless arrived. "Do you see a lot of us, then?" she asked. "Do immortals get the same treatment as everyone else?"
"I see everyone in the end," Death said, calmly. "Gods, Amazon's, humans, even AI's and robots if they're advanced enough. Everyone who exits the plane gets to see me holding up a sign with their name on it at the end." She pushed another piece forward from the rear of the board, then started humming to herself and tapping at her chin. "Except..."
Death trailed off until the words dissolved into a lingering silence. Diana leaned forward, waiting to see if Death was trying to form the words on her lips. Seeing nothing, she pressed. "Except...?"
"Except for heroes," Death said casually. "Occasionally the villains too. People in tights mostly."
"Really?" Wonder Woman leaned back in her chair, the importance of the game giving way to a wave of questions arching over her subconscious.
"Really," said Death. "I didn't see Batman or Superman when they died. I didn't see your mother. Or you. Really, the only hero I've ever laid to rest was Element Girl, but that was under very, very special circumstances."
"She really wanted to die."
Diana mulled the information over in her head, fully neglecting the board in front of her. Death picked up on this rather quickly (as an all-powerful being would), and set aside her pieces. Crossing her legs and placing her hands on her knees, she continued.
"My brother - or one of my brothers, the younger one - he said it was because you heroes and villains held a special place in the fabric of reality, like you were the main driving characters of a great cosmic story." Despite herself, Death chuckled. "I think it's because the death business is too crowded, what with Necron and the Black Rider and everyone trying to muscle in on my job. Ends up bunging up the process, preventing me from getting to you." She paused, stroking her pale chin. "I suppose the two ideas aren't mutually exclusive..."
"A cosmic story," Diana said, repeating Death's words with a someone incredulous tone. "I'm not sure I like the idea of my past and future being written out for me."
"You a free-will kind of gal?" Death asked.
"At the very least I think it's an important idea to have, right or wrong." Diana stroked her own chin. "But..."
It was Death's turn to wait, though possessing the patience of an anthropomorphic concept, the wait was quiet, letting Diana continue when she pleased. Eventually, Diana broke the silence.
"For an immortal, I'm not that old," Diana said. "But I've still been alive long enough to notice certain...patterns emerge. History repeats itself, Those who don't learn, that sort of thing. Greed and economic decline lead to the rise of tyrants in the 30's, marginalized groups had their calls for equality met with violence, mankind's war machines thundered across continents with terrifying frequency, and now..."
"You wonder what it means for free will?" Death asked. Diana shook her head.
"No, not really. But I run into the same problem." She brushed a strand of hair off her forehead, and stared out into the setting sun. "I used to think that the Amazon's were granted immortality to set forward an agenda of peace, and then live long enough to see it through. Maybe even enjoy the fruits of our labour. Now...well, if there's some grand storyteller in the sky, and he or she or they seem to need us to always be on call to protect the story itself, and the story always seems to repeat itself on end, again and again and again..." Again Diana paused, struggling to find the right words, or the right series of words, to use in the presence of something that few would be able to comprehend. "It seems like either the storyteller doesn't expect us to win, or doesn't want us to."
Death merely smiled, and stayed still in her position - her hands still folded her over knees, her face cheery and bright. Diana continued to stare, then broke into quiet laughter, her head shaking as her eyes returned to the long forgotten chess board. "I'm sorry. This much introspection must sound silly to someone who knows everything."
Again, Death merely smiled. "It's not silly. And I don't know everything, so really, you're just asking the same questions that myself and my brothers and sisters ask ourselves. We have our own theories, but we always seem to come to one, singular agreement."
"What would that be?" Diana asked.
"That everything changes," Death said. "And that not all changes mean moving forward - very often a change can leave you right back where you started. But change is inevitable, and often times it can be good, and even if it wasn't, we're not always in control, and there's little we can do about it beyond rolling with the tide and making the most out of the times where we're handed the rudder."
Both Death and Diana were silent, exchanging glances between one another and (in Diana's case anyways) the chessboard. Silence (punctured occasionally by the squawk of a passing bird) hung between the two until Wonder Woman, still looking at the board, said with the slightest chuckle in her voice, "That certainly explains why I sometimes feel like I'm spinning mud."
"Remind me to switch places with you one day," Death said, smirking. "Then we'll see who's really in a stubborn situation."
They chuckled, and soon their fingers unconsciously reached for their chess pieces, and their forgotten game of chess began again. Another of Diana's pawns fell to Death's encroaching pieces, though she managed to snag that pesky rook in the process. Engrossed in the game, Diana lifted her gaze from the board, and asked, "Why do you keep coming back for chess matches?"
Death placed one of her pieces back on the board, and quirked her brow. Diana continued. "My mother used to say it was a bargain to keep us immortal, but I don't think that's the case." She smirked. "Are we just that good of company?"
To her surprise, Death answered simply. "Yes," she said. "That's exactly it."
"Really," said Death. "It's like I said earlier, Diana. The best we can do is to take advantage of the times where we're given control." Taking her bishop in between her fingers, calling "checkmate", and slowly tipping over Diana's queen, Death said, with a smile as bright as it had ever been, "And I always choose to do the only logical thing in life: surround myself with good people."
I personally don't think it's fair that Neil Gaiman is hogging all the talent, but whatever. At least he's nice about being better than everyone.