And so we reach the conclusion. I hope you have enjoyed this. If you need to go back, then follow the links from here. Episodes 1 to 6 (you will find links to episodes 1 to 5 here before going on to episode 6) episodes 7 and 8 episodes 9 and 10 and episodes 11 and 12
Patrick couldn’t be sure if he freed himself or if he was set loose but one moment he was in a fug of despair and the next he could sit up. In moments he was out of the car and running in the direction his daughter had gone. It took him just a short while to realise he was back in the woods where he had lost sight of Wanda. Urging himself on against the pain in his chest he crashed through the undergrowth until emerging into the clearing.
It took a while for him to appreciate where he was. It seemed bigger, the firs had gone and in the middle a large green mound has appeared from nowhere. On the far side he saw Agnes and the woman. He began to run towards them but was stopped by a crowd of women, each with expressions similar to the woman now minding Agnes. They didn’t speak, they barely seemed to be aware of him but he heard a voice as if inside his head. ‘Wait Patrick, wait and watch.’
Patrick spun round trying to identify the speaker; it could have been any of them. As he completed the circle he realised the mound looked different. A fissure had appeared in the side widening towards the top. As he watched, transfixed, young children, probably about three or four years old, all naked, began to emerge, muddy but otherwise healthy. As each one walked down the side of the mound one of the women stepped forward, took the child by the hand and walked away. The process seemed, to Patrick to be endless and he was surprised when he sensed Agnes and the woman next to him.
‘Renewal. The replacements are ready.’
‘For you. For the humans. It is time.’
‘I don’t understand.’
The woman moved in front of Patrick. ‘Twice before we have intervened when destruction appeared likely, when your species seemed intent on destroying what the Wise nurtured. We have adopted a new modelling which will integrate with the old.’ She indicated where each woman who had collected a child stood in a line. To Patrick is seemed that the distinction between child and adult had blurred, they were becoming one. ‘Over a short time the extant versions will cease to function and the replacements will step in.’
Patrick squinted at the process which his brain was having difficulty comprehending. ‘There are no males,’ he said as if this had just occurred to him.
‘They will not be needed. Hermaphroditism will be the way forward. You are the chosen Prophet for this group. You will be the conduit between the old and the new. You will provide the works that will explain the Great Before and the Beautiful After.’
She moved to one side. ‘Agnes will guide you. Go and learn, go and understand. You have an important role to fulfill as the earlier prophets fulfilled theirs to your ancestors.’
He nodded. There was something peaceful, blissful almost about what she was saying.
‘You will join her when your role has been fulfilled.’
‘So what happens now?’ Prentis stood and made himself coffee.
Pensivity followed him to the machine. ‘No one agrees. But…’
‘I don’t like your buts.’
‘It seems entirely possible that another species has been involved with us, we humans, throughout our time.’
He stared at her, a sneer of incredulity on his lips. ‘What? Evolution is bunkum?’
‘No, far from it. It is just possible however that some other force has been involved in giving it, us, a hand.’
‘Ok, I don’t buy that but go on. So what?’
‘So they may be back here to review the progress of their baby.’
‘They’re going to love what we’ve done with the parental home while they’ve been away, aren’t they?’
She looked at Gregor, fear beading her brows. ‘Quite.’