No Enemy But Despair was the sixteenth story in The Book of the Enemy.
Summary[edit | edit source]
Pre-Narrative Briefing[edit | edit source]
Story[edit | edit source]
The Narrator remembers nought but his trip through a door behind the White Peacock.
He comes, eventually, months later, to a fortified city called Despair. He had lost contact with his fellow explorers who he left Plymouth with a year before. Most of them had stayed in Contentment, only Gen Volst and Malachi Yarrow, the former a quantum physicist who attempted to win the state lottery using quantum mechanical principles, and the latter a Colonel interested in exotic insects.
The Narrator came to the city games called Automortis and pulled out the severed head of Volst, disappointed that Volst couldn't wait until he came to this gate, but thinking that it would be sufficient to grant him admittance nevertheless. The gate slowly opens, and the Narrator reflects on not needing to use the leaflet he got from the Enemy to enter.
He thinks back on his conversation with the Colonel, who died discovering the Electric Stick Insect, as he enters, about the things they spend their lives chasing, the things Despair is said to hide. The Colonel looking for the moths that made the silk that formed the Shroud of The Christ, and the Narrator looking for the Other Grail, the cup that caught the blood of Judas as he was hung - that brought not immortality, but unmaking, never having been. The Narrator's sole remaining desire.
Eventually, the Narrator realizes that he has to part with the head of Gen Volst to proceed further, so he places it on a table. As he does, it speaks.
The Narrator awakes, and realizes that Despair cannot be romanticized. He stands behind the statue of the White Peacock. He says that Despair can be entered from anywhere, and the only price is intelligence, the world is miserable, with war and death and fossil fuels, we await for which Enemy will destroy us, so we make them fictional so we can fight them, but instead they've made themselves more real. We fill the world with myths to make it tolerable, but then kill each other over what those myths are. That's all there is.
Characters[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- The Narrator passes through a door behind a White Peacock before his memories vanish before later reappearing behind it.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Despair has a river called Mnemon, named after a theoretical fundamental element of memory.
- The narrator references Volst disproving Hawking's Causality Protection Conjecture. The particular experiment described by Volst does more than this and violates the No-communication theorem, making it a mathematical impossibility.
- The narrator mentions bringing two books with him to the city of Despair as relevant texts, one of them being The City of Dreadful Night.
- The other gates that lead into Despair are named Pain, Flatness, Void, and Meaningless