Deleted Scene – Endings are HARD

The final scene of Twinmaker took a lot of work.

Here’s the first draft.

(v1)

“Things will work again now, but probably not the way you’re used to.”

So many layers. So many meanings. Q had moved on from quotes, alliteration and [puns]. grown up.

Clair stayed right where she was.

Finally, the alarm died. Silence fell, and with it came a sense of stillness that crept across the room, across the building, across the world.

“Okay,” said the soldier. “It’s down. Now what?”

Everyone was looking at her.

“Now we fix it,” she said. “We fix everything.”

 –

If only someone had told me how to fix that last line . . .

(v4)

“I’m sorry,” she said. The words she should have told Libby days ago but never had the guts to. The words she would offer Q, if there was any chance she was listening. “This really is my fault.”

“But what happens next, Clair?”

That was the question, and the answer wasn’t obvious. But if she and the dupes could come back, that meant others might be able to, too. Wallace. Zep. Jesse’s father. Libby. Mallory. Maybe even Jesse’s mother, if her pattern was still saved somewhere.

A second chance, she thought. That was what they had been given.

“We’re going to fix the world,” she told Jesse and anyone else who would listen, “before it falls to pieces forever.”

Not much of an improvement, but better than what follows. Sometimes you have to break things completely in order to find a way on.

(v11)

“Where is Q?” the Peacekeeper asked. “We need to talk to her before anyone attempts anything drastic.”

“She should be talking to someone in VIA,” Jesse said. “She can tell them what to do.”

“VIA’s mandate is currently under review by the OneEarth administration,” said the peacekeeper.

“So who’s in charge of d-mat right now? Anyone?”

The peacekeepers had no good answer to that.

A bump appeared in her infield, but it wasn’t the return to Q’s former self that Clair had been hoping for.

“Do you not see?” was all it said.

“Q, I hear you but I can’t understand you.”

“A world of pains and troubles.”

“Are you all right? Is there anything I can do to help you?”

A peacekeeper spoke up unexpectedly.

“I’ve just had a flag come up under the name Dylan Linwood,” she said.

Jesse’s face lit up. “Where?”

“Paris.”

“Uh, I have him too,” said another peacekeeper. “My flag says Moscow.”

“And I see him Sydney,” added another. “I’m getting others, too. Arabelle Miens, Raymond Miller, Theo Velazquez–”

“They’re in Tokyo,” called another.

“Berlin.”

“Manhattan!”

Clair pictured what was going on with frightening clarity. Now Quiddity was gone, the dupes weren’t limited to just one of them at a time. There could be dozens, hundreds, thousands of them. How long until there was a multitude that could take on all their enemies at once? How long until they outnumbered every peacekeeper on the planet?

On Jesse’s face, hope had been replaced by shock, mirroring Clair’s own feelings.

“Reboot the system!” Clair cried. “Reboot it now!”

Orders flashed silently between the peacekeepers and elsewhere. Clair thought of all the commuters in transit, everyone trying to fab a meal or a change of clothes, every industry, every creator. She imagined crowds forming, tempers flaring, lives halting in their tracks.

When d-mat stopped, everything else would stop with it.

“Necessary to school an intelligence,” Q sent in the dying moments of d-mat.

A sense of stillness crept across her, across the plaza, across the city, as though someone had cut the power to the entire planet.

“It’s down,” a Peacekeeper said, sounding as though even he couldn’t believe what he was saying. “The global network has crashed.”

Clair looked around in awe. She had accomplished everything WHOLE had ever dreamed of. She had killed d-mat. She had turned the world upside-down.

“And make it,” Q said.

Clair waited for Q to send her the rest of the quote. It was Keats again, but even more fragmentary than before. Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it . . . . She couldn’t remember the last word or two. Was it “whole” or “a soul”?

But Q was as silent as the world around her. D-mat had crashed, and she had crashed with it.

“Will it reboot?” Jesse asked.

“It has to,” Clair said, “because if your dad’s and the other’s dupes patterns are still around, that means Libby’s is, too.”

But without d-mat, she knew, the patterns were useless. And if the AIs didn’t boot up again, neither would Q.

“Attempting reboot,” said one of the peacekeepers.

Clair held Jesse closer and tried not to think about the end of the world as she knew it.

“Attempting reboot . . . .”

This draft had not one but THREE different takes when it came to the ending, each worse than the one that came before . . .

(v11 – alternate)

“Because Quiddity didn’t reboot,” said Clair, her head spinning. “There can be as many dupes as they want, now.”

“Don’t worry,” said PK Drader. “We’re on top of it.”

She wasn’t reassured. She could picture what was going on with frightening clarity. With Quiddity gone, the dupes weren’t limited to just one of them at a time anymore. There could be dozens, hundreds, thousands of them at once. How long until there was a multitude of them that could take on all their enemies at once? How long until they outnumbered every peacekeeper on the planet?

But the Peacekeepers themselves were dupes. That was why they looked and sounded so much alike. And maybe that was why they hadn’t leapt to her aid when she had been attacked by one of Wallace’s cronies. They benefited from the status quo in ways she had never realized.

The system was even more broken than WHOLE had imagined.

“You have to shut it down again,” she said. “You can’t leave it like this!”

The eight booths behind her opened simultaneously.

Eight PK Draders stepped out.

A hand came down on her shoulder.

“I told you, Clair,” he said, “we’re on top of it.”

Argh! I could go on, but I won’t. You get the picture. It took a lot of work, but we got there in the end.

I’d be lying if I said this was unusual. Some books go through numerous different beginnings, middles, and ends. Not even titles are safe from revision! I hope these glimpses into inferior versions of Twinmaker have spoiled your appreciation of the final version. Me, I love it more for knowing the journey I went through to get there in the end. May you feel the same way too.

 

2 Comments

  1. Richard Matthews says:

    V11 – Alternate…. Gave me goose bumps. THAT… That ending…

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