“You will have to stay away from 8:01,” he told me. “It is broken.”
“Why are you in my house?” I asked.
“Please,” he said. “When it is 8:00, you must go straight to 8:02, exactly. Or you will become a thing like me.”
— from The Sin (Emily/OC), by Galina Kirlienko
Long ago, in the deepest dark, there was an awful crime; and that crime was the creation of the world. It burned up into being in the nothingness, a hot fire of awareness where there shouldn’t have been awareness; a wretched spear of being where there should never have been any being; a horrid spiral suction of a pattern where none such thing had been before.
It impaled the void; burned the void; chewed it up and swallowed it.
It disturbed it, made it to roil with its presence, and left it helpless before it because, after all, the void was merely Not, while the world was Be.
After a while the world settled into itself. The spear flared into a lovely tree with pretty branches. The fire sealed itself into a wall. The world stopped claiming ground against the void; stopped taking quite so much from it, or quite so actively, and began to just exist there, a single candle in the endless forests of the night.
It normalized itself.
It forgot that it had ever been a crime; it began to think: it had a right to be there, a right to be that way—for look at its glory, look at its stability and its history, look at all the life that flourished there, dependent upon its existence. Beauty cascaded from the holy land upon its peak; planets grew upon the branches of the tree like fruit; when the winds of the world blew among its leaves, the whole tree bent and seemed to sing.
To exist: to exist, was right, was just—was an a priori good.
Glitch is a story of the Not: a story of the subtle fields and hills and forests beyond the world. It is a story of the silvered flowers and dusty roads that can be found beyond existence, beyond perception—dreams that dream themselves in the endless darkness, “things” instantiated neither in substance or in skandha but in the structure of them alone.
It is a story of an intangible, hidden beauty cast into shadow by the world:
But more than that, it is a story of survival.
In the void, there are those who are ruined by the world—corrupted by its presence and existence. For them, leaving the world behind and wandering in the endless vistas of the Not is no longer an option; Creation’s presence captures them. It seizes them, arrests them, acts as a cruel lodestone and a cynosure unto their lives.
The world’s weight upon their shoulders travels with them, haunting them and twisting them, and shadowing the Not wheresoever it is that they may go.
In the world there are those who are ruined, too—not by any specific factor, at least, not any that was supposed to exist within the world. They’re not ruined by a car accident, at least not one that was part of the inexorable unfolding of causality, miracle, or karma; they’re not ruined by a sickness, at least, not any proper sickness, or any that they were ever meant to have. Sometimes they’re not ruined by anything that makes sense at all:
The world just … glitches, and bits and pieces of their world are scissored out until none remain; or everyone and everything turns hostile unto them; or they become allergic to the pressures available upon Earth’s surface; or their skin, bones, and body start to blow away like sand.
They end up in the void, if they’re lucky. If they’re really, really, really lucky, I mean.
And then … if they make it that far, it ends up the same.
All that’s left to them, then, is to be a creature of the Not, but it is not given unto them to roam freely and far. They become broken creatures of the Not, with the world’s weight upon their shoulders, haunting them and twisting them, driving them always to confront the world, to hunger to confront the world, leaving them unable to forsake the world, and distorting and threatening the beauty of unbeing wheresoever it is that they should go.
The world—that candle in the endless dark—it has its enemies.
It calls them “the Excrucians.” Most of the time. Sometimes it’s a bit more sensitive, and it calls them “Riders.” Sometimes it’s a little more slanderous and it calls them “Damned.” They’re a lot like people, really, the Excrucians: pallid void-people, but people; except, they’re the kind of people who think that the world has to be gotten rid of. The kind of people who might just break into the world one day and slaughter Angels, reap down the branches of the Ash, and tear apart the foundation of our lives.
If the world has broken you, they will take you in. They will raise you up among them; they will say, here is a warleader among us. From the ranks of the broken come their Strategists, their Princes; the Commanders of their Host.
This gift is very sincere and well-intentioned. More than that it is, arguably, metaphysically necessary—
For to be an Excrucian, to become an Excrucian, is, more than likely, to have always been.
Many of them are decent and brilliant people; their reasons for attacking the world are, more or less, just reasons; and they will welcome ye, o all ye who have been broken.
But this game isn’t quite the story of the Excrucians and their welcome.
This game is a story of the few—the very, very few—who have come to realize that that welcome is a trap.