"You've come to see me again!" the little girl giggled. "Oh! Thank you!"
Chay's face: smiling confusion.
"Have I seen you before, sweet child?" Chay asked gently, hugging the youngster.
The girl laughed uproariously as if they'd just shared the funniest joke ever, before Chay let her gently down and they sat together in the grass.
The kid's giggling was contagious, we couldn't help but smile. Eventually she controlled her laughter.
"Of course you've seen me before," she said at last. "You come to me often. Mostly when I'm sad. You make me happy. You're my lovely lady in white."
No one noticed the little girl until she was almost upon us. For a six year old, she could run! Her face shone and she panted and laughed in equal measure as she threw herself with abandon at Chay.
Somehow Chay stayed upright and spun the girl around in a tight hug.
I assume the kid must have run out of Leading Light to see us, and my guess was confirmed when Farmer called "Hi" to a woman who emerged from the main entrance. She smiled and waved as an astonished Chay and the child giggled and hugged each other.
The memories remained of course. Always would. Farmer grinned, but Chay's smile trembled and there were tears in her eyes.
"It's over now, Chay," I soothed, "All finished."
She looked beautiful. In the sunshine, she shone with summer light in her white jeans and white t-shirt. I needed her smile back to complete my dream.
"Yeah," she said, wiping her eyes. "I'm fine. These are happy tears. For those kids there. They deserve happiness."
I kissed her.
"You're beautiful," I told her, "Inside and out."
"Come on," she said. "Remember? You promised me a bookshop selling coffee."
Rob, Farmer and I arrived at The Leading Light Orphanage at noon. The sun lazed between cottonball clouds that bathed in the warm blue sky. The grass looked lush and verdant, even where it was blanketed by the shadows that dozed beneath occasional trees.
Children's toys - a playhouse, a plastic tea set, a magician's wand and a police car - siesta'd on the grass.
"Looks different, doesn't it?" Rob commented.
It did. The whole building looked new, fresh, welcoming. The sounds of children's happy singing came from inside.
"It looks fabulous," I replied as hot tears surprised me, stinging my eyes.
The more you see, the more you'll understand, Farmer said.
Sometimes he was overly mysterious.
"Evil isn't destroyed by superheroes or glorious armies with bullets and bombs: Evil cannot be destroyed by feeding it.
"Evil's destroyed by everyone's small victories. The urge to retaliate, subdued. The desire to hurt because we hurt, repressed. Focusing on people's similarities, not differences. Understanding before judging. These are the small victories that will ultimately banish evil."
I nodded, understanding, "Those victories no one sees Those battles that happen in our hearts everyday."
He high-fived me. "You got it, kid," he said.
Next morning, sunshine beamed through opened windows. The radio played some old rock, Deep Purple's Child In Time. And I sat with Farmer trying to understand... everything.
Last night, with the universe in stasis, we had destroyed a force of evil. But - but for something that impressive shouldn't there be glorious celebration? Presidents, the press - shouldn't there be something to tell the world what we'd done?
I bowed my head, and waited.
"Evil isn't destroyed by spectacular victories," he said.
But we'd destroyed the potent force evil! Hadn't we? I wish I understood. I wish Chay was awake.
Somewhere a manuscript lies in a stone jar.
The fettered fear shall lose its chains,
And darkness shall proclaim its coming.
Spirits of universal consciousness sit in silent guard over it.
A man enters this hallowed somewhere.
Respectfully he bows before the consciousness.
For this man, they open the jar, and he writes again upon the manuscript, another chapter in his story.
With these words, it ends:
The fettered fear cast down shall fail
And brightness shall proclaim its passing.
As he leaves they call him Lifegiver.
They call him He Of Fertile Soil.
They call him Farmer.
The three of us sat on the floor in the kitchen. Rob had poured us glasses of water and we sat in silence for over an hour, not even trying to get our heads around what had just happened.
Well, two of us were not even trying.
Farmer wasn't even trying to not even try. He'd dozed off.
I took his glass from his hands and he woke.
"Well, that was different, guys," he muttered.
"Don't even try to understand it," he advised, stifling a yawn. "Just accept it happened. It's easier that way. Now, I'm going to bed. 'Night."
Throughout every other plane of existence, the name of all evil was made known.
Like the unexpected passing of a soft breeze, like a memory surprisingly resurfaced, it floated into the hearts of everything that was sentient and into the fabric of everything that was not.
It fused with action, with thought, and potential. Throughout all universes and all times, the knowledge of its name became inextricably a part of everything that is, everything that had been, and everything that will be.
Thus did Daemonium cease to hold sway.
Thus were seeds of love sewn once more upon all worlds.
Chay fell silent then, as universes fell into starless oblivion. She waited. Silent. Omniscient.
Realisation pained the few remaining features of the demon as it tried in vain to summon forces hitherto at its control.
From the bubbling, frothing hole that was its mouth, words fell.
You. Cannot. Know....
Chay smiled; and in her mind, to all things everywhere, she whispered the hidden name of the Imperator Daemonium.
She whispered it gently so that humanity would not hear it and fail, would not know it, would not understand it.
But in all other places it's name was heard.
Chay spoke then. Everything having life feared, lest she spoke to them. "I know your name!"
Throughout the room, throughout worlds, throughout all universes, the words resonated.
"I know your name!"
Within that moment, within all history, within all futures, throughout all universes, her power resonated.
"I know your name!"
The naming of a demon gives dominion over it. But to know the name of the Greater Demon, and not to use it, to keep it trapped inside you, to fetter it in dungeons of silence within you -that is to have dominion over all Daemonium.
And all Daemonium quaked.
Chay floated high in the room, her pure halo shedding light into the darkest shadow. From both her eyes even brighter beams struck out into the room like searchlights. "Imperator Daemonium, I would you show you the meaning of Love. But you have not the wit to comprehend."
The demon raised claw and limb to protect itself, but the beams focused at its chest.
Flames appeared there, tiny, brilliant, blinding blue and white, and as they spread to cover the demon's surface, the cawing became a gurgling and the gurgling dried to nothing more than the castigation of burning flesh.
As Chay rose higher the demon became frantic in its uncertainty, ripping clawfuls of flesh from itself, throwing them at its own feet. It screamed, a high-pitched throttling that slowly changed into the cawing of a crow. Its eyes bulged in a head that took on the form of a bird's head, before the eyes exploded and the beak dropped from the head and dangled dripping in front of its throat on strings of sinew and dead capillaries. Holes burst open in its body, lumps of flesh or bloodied organs slapping onto the floor in an uncongealed, fluid ferment.
Still the fire blazed in Chay's eyes. In their rasping death-throes, the birds of Hate clawed her eyes to blind her, but she stood immovable. A white halo pulsated around her body, alternately dimmer then brighter, dimmer, brighter...
Distended tree roots exploded through the floor, entwining her legs. Then emerged slimed creatures: from below the good layers of the earth they blistered, from the blackest roots of everything vile they leeched up her legs, biting, ripping, stinging, chewing.
But still she stood.
And her arms spread out wide each side of her and slowly she rose into the air.
The demon stood, the better to face Chay. The word "Hate" fluttered from its gaping maw. Then more: hundreds of black, dry-feathered, headless, words thronged the air, aspasm with movement, jerking with twisted joy in their own dying. Some were large, like ravens screaming, cawing; some tiny, like moths. The tiny ones flew into Chay's face, into her mouth and nose, suffocating her, thumping at the back of her throat, hardly moved by her cough or the projectile vomit caused by her gagging. Some hung onto her flesh with their claws, ripping, falling, returning, ripping...
But still she stood.
"Why do you think people, in their abject selfishness and self-indulgence, their fear and their hate, have survived in this world for so long? Despite the wars, the confederacy of those who lust for power, and those who would kill for killing's sake, despite all that, people remained alive, free of you for thousands of years.
"There is nothing you can do that is viler than that which we have done to each other.
"And yet we still breathe and we laugh and we love. Because love will outlive us all. Because love is undefeatable. Because love is all."
Doubt furrowed the demon's face, as it ripped clawfulls of desiccated flesh from its own neck.
Chay now stood firm and her eyes burned intense and implacable. Her words, at first frail and hushed, swiftly grew in the speaking:
"You who have no knowledge of Love have no dominion in this world. You, with no experience of love, have no place in this world.
"I cast you out! Despatch you from what begat you! Despatch you from place, cast you from Time itself. You know nothing but Dominance and that alone cannot help you for you are but shadow!"
Farmer rose to his feet, slid on his puke, regained his balance and spread wide his arms. His eyes were closed as he invoked thoughts clothed in words which trembled in their effort to be heard.
"I awaken all power, all force. I awaken all dream, all reality and all thought. I awaken all energy."
I rub my hands over my eyes, made hot, gritty by fire. I am here. I am now. And I am a portal.
"I awaken the Primum Mobile: all force, without context and without consequence I conjure. And I channel it. Against Evil!"
Chay looked up, her whole body trembling, her eyes barely focused. Rob's words rang in her ears and a voice that came from far away echoed in her head
"Arise, Chay. Show us the meaning of Love."
Slowly Chay lurched to her feet. A flicker sparked behind her eyes, a fuse that had smouldered in her heart, unseen, eternal, for far beyond the measure of time. Her eyes grew bright, shone with pure energy, blazed with a fervent repudiation of the defeat of Love. Standing upright, the searing purity of her emotion cascaded like clean bright water into the room.
A monstrous grin ripped across its face as it saw its adversaries struggle. It stared closely at Farmer, finally recognising him as Enemy, doubled-up on the floor and writhing in pain in his own vomit; it looked at Chay, a grin of insensible insanity leering her face; and it looked at me, paralysed with fear, gripped with the horrific knowledge of the oneness of evil and my own incapability, my own inability, my own unwillingness through fear, through pain, to act against the vast evil that motivated Imperator Daemonium.
All I could do was repeat once more: Arise Chay.