Dan’s Annotations 9

(A chapter of Akayama DanJay.)

The year is 2025.

Dan paused the anime at the commercial-break. “Instant Armageddon.” He finished a line of annotation between panels and closed this year’s volume of LuLu’s, the last one ever published. The cover was Lucille, Charlie, and Dakshi gasping at the detonation of their planet. “What do you think Tatsu means by destroying Earth like this, Nemo?”

Virgil Blue sat cross-legged, letting Dan dominate space on the mattress. He felt Dan leveraging his last annual opportunity to drag information from behind the silver mask. “You once said the characters in LuLu’s were like machine elves representing the energy behind all thought,” said Virgil Blue. “You also said stories only start when flawless order is disturbed, which seems to happen in LuLu’s again and again—I wonder if the story will finally begin, soon? Earth’s fictional destruction is just yet another beat of the Biggest Bird’s cosmic consciousness, forever in physical psychic battle with itself.”

“Physical and psychic battle?” Dan chuckled. “Worms can only fight in both those ways at once, hm?” He opened the volume again and pretended to annotate, as if he would next continue the anime. “Charlie and Dakshi are right: with Earth destroyed, the Zephyrs have officially failed protecting humanity from the Hurricane. But Commander Lucille is unfaltering! Without an external source of purpose, Lucille maintains purpose internally.”

“Sheridanians might say purpose is only ‘real’ if it remains after its excuses are stripped away,” said Virgil Blue. “What do you think of that, Danny?”

Dan smacked off Jango’s silver mask. Jango reached for the mask so urgently he revealed his hands under his sleeves. “Aha!” Dan took the mask before Jango could grab it. “You’re—Jango! Virgil Skyy!”

“No!” Jango covered his hands in his sleeves, and his face in his hood. Dan considered yanking the navy fabric away from him, but wondered if he’d already gone too far. “Oran doran doran doran doran doran—

Dan hadn’t heard chanting like that since walking and sitting in Virgil Green’s courtyard. He set the silver mask before Jango on the mattress. “I’m sorry, Virgil Blue. It’s rude to tug a mall-Santa’s beard. I’m not being a good elf.”

I’m sorry, Danny.” Virgil Blue put his mask back on. “I let you believe Jay died for your sake, without telling you I killed him myself!” Dan froze. He held up his shaking fists. Virgil Blue worried he would sock him, but Dan just raised one finger at a time. “What are you doing?”

Dan counted ten fingers, but kept shaking his hands as if more fingers would appear. “Jay told me, in dreams, you can count more than ten fingers.” He covered his face. “I guess I’m awake. This is real, somehow. When you said Jay and Jango left together, you meant Jango killed Jay and then surrendered his identity to the Biggest Bird.”

“Becoming no one.


Virgil Blue inhaled in hesitation. “Taking the form of the Biggest Bird is vowing to help every worm join the Zephyrs. I am the bedside-manner our creator cannot provide.”

“I mean, why did you kill Jay?”

“Oh. He demanded it.” Virgil Blue and Dan just looked at each other. Dan felt suspicious of the expression hidden behind the silver mask. “I swear.”

“Was this right after his, uh, centipede-based entheogenic ceremony?”

“It hadn’t quite concluded, actually.”

Dan sobbed into his hands. “Jay demanded to die because the centipede fucked him up, right?”

“Danny, I cannot tell you how or why Jay united the two of us like this. I don’t entirely know myself.”

“Virgil. Blue.” Dan bowed to him on his hands and knees. “If I’m understanding correctly, not just mixing metaphors, you want me to die before you do. This was a cute concept back when you were pretending to be the immortal first man. I always knew you had arthritis, but now I’ve seen you have wrinkles and a cataract, too. When you say eternity ends any year now, you mean it.” Virgil Blue covered his silver mask with his navy sleeves. “You killed my best friend. How many more monks have you sent to the next eternity? Am I your last, or will you sacrifice worm-vessels until you’re on a ventilator?”

“Hey, now! Jay is the only person I’ve ever killed, and it was a traumatic experience for me! He was far more prepared to die than I was prepared to stab him to death.” Virgil Blue waved his cane’s gnarled tip under Dan’s bow to make him sit up. “Danny, Virgil Green once had a hundred students walking, a hundred students sitting, and a hundred students dancing. I used to have a hundred monks. There were once a dozen Virgils. That’s how Sheridan used to be since the beginning, until now.” Dan opened his mouth to speak, but Virgil Blue put his cane over his lips. “Eternity is ending soon. Today’s few students and monks are only participating to warm up the worms they share with us until you and I are ready to take them all to the Mountain.”

Dan moved the cane off his lips. “If I spoke better Sheridanian I’d ask the other monks, but I’m asking you, Virgil Blue. You want me to confront my own death like some sort of worm-based Bodhisattva, and although it’s fueling my masochistic messiah-complex, I just don’t feel…” He shook his hands. “I don’t think I deserve that, you know?” Virgil Blue didn’t respond. The silver mask was once again impenetrable. “Tell me about Anihilato, Virgil Blue.”

Virgil Blue dropped his cane. When he picked it up, he let his hands leave his navy sleeves. “Fledglings shouldn’t even know that name.”

“I’m no fledgling. I’m a monk, and an orange blob of stuck-together worms.”

“You are my fledgling.” Virgil Blue took his hands back into their sleeves. His sureness, started anew, made Danny see him as bigger than Virgil Green’s matriarch. “You should never have heard the word ‘Anihilato.’ Your idea of bad worms in a trashcan demonstrates how easy it is to misinterpret such an image.”

“Then help me interpret it. Is it Sheridan’s Satan? A pillar to throw stones at?”

“N—” Virgil Blue’s sureness evaporated again. His cane slipped from his grasp, but he caught it in his navy sleeves before it landed on the mattress. Dan wouldn’t look away. “What if—” Virgil Blue panted. “What if Sheridanianism wasn’t true? What then? Would Anihilato matter to you?”

“You’re the pope of Sheridanianism, Virgil Blue. How could you say Anihilato isn’t real right after saying Anihilato is dangerous? How can it be dangerous if it’s not rea—” Dan’s consciousness snapped. “Oh.” He collapsed back on his mattress. “Oh. Oh. Oh. The realization your religion isn’t real is pretty dangerous, isn’t it? Anihilato is—“

“The longest worm, the King of Dust,” said Virgil Blue. “Socrates said all he really knew was that he knew nothing. Objective reality cannot be experienced; experience hides objective reality. Anything written about reality—no matter how well-written, no matter how useful—is a far reach from reality itself. Most people who realize this also realize other people have realized it before them, and therefore enjoy sharing expressive symbolism regardless of its emptiness. Anyone convinced they are the first to notice the emptiness of all things is inevitably tempted to indulge in hedonistic nihilism and power-thirst. Anihilato is a depository for such antagonistic worms, a symbol for denouncing the Mountain as a mere symbol without appreciating the power of symbols.”

“So…” Dan rolled back and forth, clinging to his orange sleeves. “The Biggest Bird is just a symbol, and Anihilato is a symbol of the Biggest Bird being just a symbol. So Anihilato has already won?”

Virgil Blue bopped him on the head with his cane. “Right there! You made a textbook misinterpretation from a textbook forbidden because it’s so easily misinterpreted! If Anihilato exists as a symbol, the Biggest Bird exists as a symbol, too, so her lessons are equally indestructible. But if the Biggest Bird exists literally, Anihilato exists literally, an ever-tangled worm forever out of her reach. This is the true nature of the Biggest Bird’s cosmic consciousness, forever in physical psychic battle with itself: the Zephyrs unable to subdue the Hurricane until the end of the eternities.”

“So…” Dan felt his head’s gears turning like ZAB’s. “The Biggest Bird will never turn all worms into Zephyrs, because some worms are naturally irreclaimable.”

“No!” He bopped Dan again. “The next eternity ends when Anihilato makes it to the Mountain’s Heart, just like this eternity ends with my death. The Biggest Bird would never wrangle Anihilato herself—that is Anihilato’s purpose, to be unwranglable, and the Biggest Bird wants worms to wrangle themselves anyway—but eventually she will organize more worm-vessels, like us, into a sort of multilayered sieve. From one worm-vessel to another, every worm will be funneled into the Heart of the Mountain.”

“So…” Dan convulsed. “I’m dying before you do, but not because, as you tell me, I’m supposed to climb the Mountain to bring my worms to the Zephyrs.”


“My unspoken duty, as a monk and blob of stuck-together worms—“‘


“—is confronting Anihilato and helping those worms which refuse to be helped, no matter how it pains me to do so.”

Virgil Blue stood up, leaning on his cane. If he could stand so quickly against his arthritis, the conversation must have been more uncomfortable. “I knew you’d misinterpret Anihilato, Danny. You’re a grown man who wants to stick a fork in an electrical socket to show toddlers why it’s a bad idea. Caring for Anihilato is like carrying a goat across a minefield—the goat doesn’t know the danger you’re protecting it from, so it’ll kick and bleat and won’t thank you for the effort! Don’t you know your worms belong in the Mountain?”

“Don’t Anihilato’s worms belong in the Mountain, too?”

“I’m not talking about this any more.” Virgil Blue opened Dan’s sliding orange paper door with his cane. “Talk about giant space-robots or I’m leaving.”

Dan sighed. He opened the last volume of LuLu’s and found his pen. “If the Hurricane could blow up Earth, why not blow up the moon, too?” Virgil Blue, appeased, closed the door and started sitting back down. “The Hurricane takes pride in ignoring what it considers worthless. It doesn’t want to know about the Zephyrs, and wouldn’t guess its ‘bullies’ have a lunar-base.”

Virgil Blue nodded as he crossed his legs. “Resume the episode, Danny.”


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