By Leonard Pigg
As Bilgamesh sits on his throne, he ponders his plan of an end to his world and begins to think of where else he could travel in the universe, maybe even a return to Earth. A moment later, his enhanced sense of hearing picked up a high-pitched noise, a strange frequency that then focuses into a voice.
“Hello, King Bilgamesh. I’m sorry to interrupt your day, but I would appreciate a moment of your time. My name is Koschei and I’m here to discuss your future.”
Bilgamesh perks up with a smile and says, “Come to me, Koschei. You will be heard.”
Suddenly, a blinding flash of light fills the throne room scaring all the attendants, who scurry away and when it fades, Koschei stands before him.
He wore a dark green Nehru jacket with matching slacks and black boots. His white hair was slicked back like a mad scientist and he had on a set of red sunglasses. He confidently strides around every room like a wolf on the prowl. Seeing Bilgamesh rise from his throne, Koschei takes a knee and says, “I am grateful for your time, your Majesty.”
Bilgamesh replies, “Get up. You’re too eager to please. We both know you don’t really mean it. Hell, you don’t even seem nervous… which unnerves me. I must admit, you don’t look very menacing to me. Appearance can be deceiving.”
He walks around Koschei, looking him over and finally gesturing for him to sit at a table near a fireplace. “I appreciate you taking the time, Bill. ” Koschei says as he unbuttons his jacket and sits across from the muscular king.
“Bill? I haven’t heard that name in centuries. Regardless Koschei, I know you by reputation to be an intergalactic menace. A conqueror of worlds, a genocidal madman and an unparalleled scientific genius. What would bring you to my world? If you’ve come to take it from me, I imagine I will be entertained briefly before I rip you in half.”
Koschei laughs and says, “You’re such a cheeky old cuss. Not much changes in the future. Except you would advise someone to pray to their gods before you dismember them.”
Bilgamesh pauses, realizing that he was just about to say it aloud. “Time travel or telepathy?” the king asks.
Koschei shrugs and says, “Spoilers, my friend.” Koschei takes a flask out of his pocket and slides it over to Bilgamesh. The king hesitates until Koschei takes a sip himself and then hands it over. Bilgamesh takes a sip and gives a nod of approval as the strong, flavorful drink hits his palate.
“The Flask of Zagreus, I want you to take it. Consider it a gift from me to you. When I was a young time traveler, Doctor Omega and I had the same mentor. His name was Professor Helvetius and he had this stashed in his trunk of items he acquired over the centuries. The enchantment is that it never runs out of liquor. Enjoy. You are right about what you said, I am many of those things and then some. However, men like us are always wanting. I know that lean and hungry look, even on the face of a man who has everything. I’m a time traveler and the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that things can change. If you have time travel at your disposal, you can change them for the better or for worse. I traveled with Doctor Omega for a time and learned to walk a different path. Albeit a drastically different one from what I’ve done, but now I can say that I enjoy the challenge of creating a better world and shocking the masses when I do. Saving a world is ownership enough for me.”
Bilgamesh looks on, deep into Koschei’s eyes, taking a long sip from the flask and remains silent as he talks. When he finishes, Bilgamesh says, “You’ve come to stop me from destroying the planet, which implies that I do succeed in the future. However, it begs the questions… Why would you care about this place?”
Koschei smiles and says, “Actually I don’t. However, you do. I mean, the future version of you cares. Long lived beings like us often have a penchant for nostalgia and destroying this planet negates any legacy you had. Instead of the divine king of planet Bilgamesh, you are one of the most hated beings in the galaxy. A laundry list of enemies come for your head and leave you permanently disfigured, because they thought the release of death would be too kind. Eternal suffering, was another story altogether. The Saturn Accords backed your permanent disfigurement and subsequent immortality, thus leaving you a living monument to be displayed on a prison planet. The Great Pogrom doesn’t have to happen. There is a better history just in your grasp, Bill.”
Bilgamesh gets up from the table and walks away, taking another long sip from the flask. He paces back and forth around the throne room, then suddenly strikes a wall. The force of the blow leaves a cannonball sized hole and the room rumbled, as if rocked by an explosion. He then turns and rushes Koschei, grabbing him up by the collar and holding him in the air. Bilgamesh punches Koschei, knocking him across the room. He then rushes to the fallen Koschei, kicking and stomping at him. Koschei begins to fall apart literally, revealing robotic parts underneath his humanoid appearance. The pieces fall apart quickly. “A robot?” Bilgamesh says with a puzzled look.
A moment later, a flash of light appears and Koschei steps through a portal. “That was actually an android. Far more sophisticated than a damned robot. Now that you’ve got that out of your system, can we talk now?”
“If you hate your brother Gilgamesh so much, then why are you doing the same things he did? This is your Uruk and if so, then I am your Enkidu!” Koschei says with a smirk.
Bilgamesh growls, taking another long sip from the flask and squeezes Koschei’s throat. “Now I’ve got the real one! You couldn’t best me in combat!” the enraged king screams, “I am your better!” He throws Koschei across the room, sending him sliding across the floor.
Hacking and coughing, he gets up. “You can destroy me physically, but I can outwit you. In fact, I already have. Look outside at your kingdom,” Koschei says pointing at the window.
Bilgamesh rushes over to the window, looking out at the crowds in the streets and then back at Koschei. “Everything is fine! What the hell are you talking about?!” Bilgamesh bellows.
“Look again. Is anyone moving?” Koschei asks.
Bilgamesh takes a second glance, looking much longer and asks, “What did you do?”
Koschei adjusts his jacket and walks over to the window. “Your beloved planet is suspended in time. Frozen in place for eternity, if I desire. They are just out of phase enough with this dimension that you wouldn’t be able to enact your pogrom. The only place where time still passes is the castle. There’s also this…” Koschei says as he presses a key fob and the silver ship atop the castle explodes. “Kill me and you’re stuck here in a time bubble, unable to leave the castle. Ironic that this place would become your prison for eternity and you will be forgotten by the masses over time. No grandiose ‘Epic of Bilgamesh’ shall come to pass for you, my friend. In all honesty, you being forgotten would be such a shame. Those muscles alone are quite epic, I must admit!”
Bilgamesh growls and steps back from the window, pacing around the throne room. “You would sooner condemn these people to an eternity stuck in time than an actual death? Perhaps you are far crueler than I could possibly imagine.” Bilgamesh says, taking another sip from the flask and laughs.
“Like I said… I’m your Enkidu. In the future, I couldn’t stand visiting you all crippled and hated. It was like watching a noble lion rotting in a circus cage, when he is mean to wander the wild. Come with me and we can travel the galaxy together. We can do great works on our own terms and not in the shadow of our family. The greatest revenge one can ever achieve is success and I know we can accomplish a great many things.” Koschei says to Bilgamesh, extending his hand to him.
“I could outdo my brother and you would outshine Doctor Omega?” Bilgamesh says as he clasps wrists with Koschei.
“I’ve already done that by preventing a genocide and bringing a new hero to the intergalactic forefront.” Koschei responds with a smile. Pulling back the sleeve on his jacket, revealing a hi-tech wristband. He presses the button and a purple obelisk the size of a phone booth appears in the room. An opening appears and Koschei gestures for him to step through. Bilgamesh walks through a moment later and once inside, he looks around at the massive interior. Koschei then smiles and steps through. Once the opening closes, the obelisk disappears from sight.
“Where do we go from here?” Bilgamesh asks as he wanders around the gothic interior of the ship. Koschei smiles and says, “Ever flown into a black hole? Quite a rush. There’s one toward the edge of the quadrant. We could go through it and see where it takes us? I imagine between the two of us, we can handle just about anything.” Koschei says and the two laugh. Koschei goes to the center of the black and purple room, where there is a column with a crystal ball atop it. He puts his hands on it and the ball changes colors. The room starts to reconfigure with seats around the column, so the two sit down. Guiding the ship toward the black hole, the two men both give a yell as they are pulled into the unknown.
To be continued…