The Changeling – Episode 04

Interlude: Experience

Experience, as useful as it is, is only powerful in the sense that it will one day end. Wisdom, as nice as it is to have, only has value because it is earned in the context of a lifetime. All the gold in the world is worthless if there’s always more than you care to have.

The Great Tree of the universe hums with life, but it is not infinite. Within its branches are all the stories across the multiverse: the infinite sea of twists, turns, truths, and lies. But one day everything that ever can happen will have happened, and it will end.

Until that day, there remain infinite possibilities, but in every moment they crystalize into outcomes. Things happen. Curiosity transforms into experience. Actions become outcomes. Momentum makes their direction more difficult to change.

A life is one being’s attempt to take control of the never-ending waves of possibility crashing into reality. The irony is that it’s the struggle of all those beings that makes more waves. We are all reacting to each other’s actions.

Like all living things, deep down, Betsey Weisz knows this to be true. It’s just she couldn’t care less about all that airy-fairy crap right now.

Betsey doesn’t care because for the first time in her 23 years of existence (as she remembers it), Betsey has skipped out of the smooth groove of cause and effect that provides some sense of continuity for the majority of living things, and like someone discovering a terrible plot hole in a favorite film, she has found that experience to be unsettling (to say the least).

Betsey is no longer what she used to be. She isn’t human anymore. She’s now a changeling: a being with the ability to transform into a “savage” animal form. The particular type of changeling that she has become is called a “wolfling,” and when Betsey is in her most savage form, she has the fur, sharp claws, and teeth of a wolf.

Although her initial “skip” from one reality to another was her own doing, her arrival in this reality was only possible with the help of a strange angel named Matt Zero, and although he is currently human, there is no way to know if he started out that way. Matt has no memory of his past, and it is just as likely that he began his existence as a hyperintelligent bioluminescent squid as it is that he looked anything like the slim, shaggy, blond-haired, green-eyed body that he currently inhabits.

Betsey definitely finds his current shape pleasing, although perhaps a bit less so now that she herself is currently not human anymore.

The changeling inhabitants of this world suspect that he is more than just a human. They believe that he is a druid: a human with the power to “shape” the world around him by transforming elements in strange and dangerous ways.

Up until a few minutes ago, Betsey was unsure that Matt actually had any super-human abilities at all. But after bursting into flame, he has now walked back into the same burning building that he just walked out of.

Matt is heading back into the building to try to save a changeling named Bravo. The brave creature had rescued Betsey from the fire, and he is currently being roasted alive.

Since Betsey cannot read Matt Zero’s mind, she has no idea why he would be willing to sacrifice his life for a creature that applied the business end of a mace to Matt’s head earlier that day.

Betsey believes that anyone who would run away after killing her brother would never take that kind of risk. She did none of that on purpose, but it is what she did. That event has defined Betsey’s story and given her an insight into herself that she considers to be permanent, fixed, and unchangeable.

She has a great deal more to learn about the universe.

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