Come to Dust

actorIt’s hard to say what the Player and his Men would have thought of the Great Theater on Ephis.

The circular stage rose from inky blackness, as if it were poised within the stony vacuum of space. The vast amphitheater, its stage and vast rings of seating were wrapped within a lucent dome of spinel, perfectly transparent, perfectly invisible.

Passing time and orbital precession would bring the sun back over the horizon at the perfect moment, but for now a orbital mirror cast a tiny, brilliant spot of light on a single actor.

He breathed deeply, spread his arms wide, and then sang, “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, nor the furious winter’s rages.”

There was a sussuration from the audience, rapidly hushed by the sound suppressors. The actor wore street clothes. Only a brief moment prior, he had been dressed in the garments of a poor shepherd from the dawn of history.

“Golden lads and girls all must,” he sang. “As chimney-sweepers, come to…” His voice, and the light from the mirror both ceased simultaneously.

It took the stage hands several seconds to turn on the secondary stage lighting, by which time the actor had gone. The cast member playing Arviragus stood alone, confused on the stage.

In the days that followed, a short clip from an interview he had given prior to the opening performance was played often.

“Guy,” said the interviewer. She pronounced his name correctly, ghee. “In the past fifty years, you’ve played every major role in theater…”

“Not every,” he said, with what appeared to be unfeigned modesty.

“Right,” she replied. “This seems like such an odd choice for a grand finale though. A supporting role, in a relatively minor…”

“We could debate that part,” he said.

“Perhaps, but even the great critics have suggested that the author was spoofing his own work here.”

“These were words of a great writer, one in the prime of his power as a playwright,” said Guy. “Listen. ‘All lovers young, all lovers must’,” he intoned. “‘Consign to thee, and come to dust’. These words echo through time.”

“Even today, when we barely comprehend mortality?” she asked him.

“Even today,” he said. “Even today.”