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Apogee by Scott Paul Thompson
published in Volume 1, Issue 5 on November 20th, 1994

Three great warriors met on the field of battle and proclaimed their allegiance. "To the end," they said, "And to the end, again."

One warrior was creative and wise and he was known as Dreams. One warrior was shrewd and industrious and he was called Numbers. And the smallest of the warriors was known as Perplex. And they were all courageous and adventurous and most of all they were young. And all three cried out in one voice for the world to hear, "To the end, and to the end, again."

So together they rode out into the future. And as they rode, Perplex screamed out thoughts for Dreams to ponder. And Dreams and Perplex would sit by the campfires and ponder the thoughts and play with them and create with them. Because of Perplex's thoughts, Dreams became a great philosopher. And Perplex would scream out figures with many decimal points and a magnitude of commas, and Numbers and Perplex would add them and tally them and solve problems to which nobody had as yet put forth the questions. Numbers became a great mathematician because of Perplex's unique figures. And together the three warriors were courageous and adventurous, and most of all they were young. And together they cried out valiantly, "To the end, and to the end again."

The three's adventures were many and their bond was drawn tight. Side by side they rode into battle and side by side they entertained many a fine young maiden, winning the hearts of each and every one. And just as every young warrior is known to do, they lost their own hearts a time or two. Wherever they went the laughter was great, for everyone joined in. Because who could tell what these three mighty warriors would do if in fact they were displeased? So they drank everyone else's ale and they gorged on others' kills. And as they rode Dreams pondered, Numbers tallied and Perplex grew confused.

It was in the twilight of their youth that they came upon a great desert which few men had ever crossed and fewer still had crossed without growing old and dying soon after. On that morn as they approached the great desert of which the other side could not be seen, they stopped. Dreams assessed the great wasteland and he said, "I know it can be crossed." Numbers wrote down columns of figures and said, "The other side is attainable." And Perplex looked at his two friends and said, "I am afraid my horse will tire during the long journey."

So together they toasted a toast, and together they cried out, "To the end, and to the end, again." And together they started off across the great desert. But before they had ridden one day and one night a terrible storm ensued and caused the sand to spring from the ground and into the air. The sand bit at the three warriors' faces and scratched at their eyes and choked the breathe from their lungs. Yet even as the winds screamed "Terror," and the sky was torn open with bolts of black lightening, still you could hear Dreams cry, "I know we can make it." Just as loudly Numbers rang out, "Figures don't lie." And Perplex's voice was muffled with sand as he pleaded, "It's too far."

On the third day it happened. The storm had forced sand into their faces for so long that they could no longer see each other.

"We must stay close by using the sounds of our voices," yelled Dreams.

"I calculate it is not much farther." boasted Numbers.

"I can't make it," wept Perplex.

"We can make it together, if together we stay," Dreams begged.

"I've come half way and I've only half way yet to go." Numbers computed.

"I'm going back! " Perplex's voice trembled.

"Remember our dreams! " pleaded Dreams. "Together to the end, and to the end, again!"

"I figure I'll make it, " Numbers stated, "to the end."

"Your dreams are confusing, and your figures don't add up," Perplex sobbed, "I'm going back."

"No!," screamed Dreams.

"Me!," cried Numbers.

Perplex's voice was absent.

Eight more days passed and wind blew its final gust and sand spit its last flakes. Dreams and Numbers pulled themselves up onto the other side of the great desert and brushed themselves off. "I made it," said Numbers, "And so did you." "Not without great loss," replied Dreams. Dreams gazed back into the great desert, then turned his head to the paths that lay ahead. "To the end, and to the end, again," he yelled with hoarse voice. "Sure," added Numbers.

So the two rode into the village that lay on the path, side by side but no longer together. And as they rode down the main street of the village the citizens gathered on the sides of the street and giggled with excitement, for it had been many years since two great warriors such as these had ridden down their streets. Together the townsfolk cheered and together they yelled out, "To the end, to the end."

As seasons passed, Dreams took his sword and instead of waging battle with it he used it to carve out magnificent pictures in the dirt of the great adventures the warriors experienced when they were three. And time passed too for Numbers, who found he no longer needed his sword to fight battles, so he melted it down into gold ingots and he added them together and he multiplied them. All the townspeople gathered around Dreams and they gathered around Numbers and they were awed. And they whispered as they watched, "Where will it end, where will it end?" Seasons passed, time went by and everyone grew older. Dreams' thoughts grew deeper and Numbers' ingots walled him in and neither one of them could remember what it was that they had done so much yelling about in days past.

The day came when Dreams went to Numbers' huge golden wall and he called over to him. "I have dreamt the most profound thoughts one could possibly dream and I have shared them."

"Who dares to bother the Great Enterprise?" the reply came back.

"Tis I, Dreams, come to fetch my friend and fellow warrior, Numbers," clamored Dreams.

"Numbers?" came back a bewildered voice. "Oh, yes, now I recall, the name by which I was known in the reckless years of my youth," the voice laughed. "I am now called the Great Enterprise. Now begone from my great wall, or I may decide to divide you into two."

"What was it?" Dreams persisted. "What was it we used to yell at the top of our young voices for the whole world to hear?"

"'Invest' or 'Buy Bonds' or 'A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned'," Enterprise called from behind the wall. "I'm sure it was one of those. Take your pick."

"No, it was something that shook the earth. Something that when other warriors heard it shouted they fell to their knees and saluted us." Dreams thought long and hard.

"Wisdom creates as many doors as it opens, but with enough wealth you can afford to buy other peoples' keys. Now that is one everybody can live by." The Great Enterprise replied confidently.

"It's coming back to me," Dreams said softly. "I.....Yes........I remember." And with a voice not nearly as strong as years ago and with one that had grown a little strained with age, Dreams bellowed, "To the end, and to the end, again." The golden walls shook with the ancient vibrations that had been summoned.

"Hey, my mind and my tongue are delicate instruments and you nearly rattled them out of my skull with that racket. I'll ask you not to do that again," Enterprise seemed abnormally shaken.

"We have erred, Numbers. In all my great thinking and in all your great calculations we have erred."

"Erred?" The sound of papers shuffling. " Impossible."

"We must go back for Perplex," said Dreams. "We must go back and then together go on to the end."

"Oh, I couldn't. You've come at a really bad time, you know. I've got year-to-dates to do, yearly reports to get out, tax forms to figure and just a million things that are just too important to be left."

"I will go alone if I must, Numbers." Dreams said.

"I won't be here when you get back, you know," said Numbers.

"You're not now." replied Dreams.

And so with freshly polished sword and aged armor, Dreams set out across the great desert to find his friend, Perplex. Dreams crossed the great desert and rode into the mist of a time which he had once known. But the trails were all grown over and most everything that he had once remembered as being green with life was now brown and wilted. But on he rode and on. Chance brought him to a clearing where there were still a few vines reaching out their emerald hue across barren earth. Climbing down from his horse, Dreams heard ever so faintly someone speaking.

"Let it end. Let it all end."

Dreams unsheathed his sword and walked to the brush from where the voice had uttered. There in a pile, with his hands over his head, lay Perplex. Dreams tapped him on the shoulder with the broadside of his sword. "Time to go, old buddy." Dreams reached out his hand to help Perplex to his feet.

"Dreams! Oh, Dreams, I've forgotten the words. How do they go?" Tears ran down Perplex's cheeks.

"To the end," Dreams softly said each word. "And to the end, again."

"Yeah, that's it." Perplex smiled. "That's how it goes. I'd forgotten."

"No. You hadn't forgotten. You just needed reminding."

Dreams helped Perplex onto his horse and together they rode, dreaming dreams and sharing adventures, again. And as they grew old, it is said that they had to remind each other of the words many times, but when they did, wherever they were the ground would shake with the words, "To the end, and to the end, again."

Now, this should be the end of the tales of Dreams, Numbers and Perplex, but after all, the end is so very far away yet.

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