Relative Absolution

By Princess Artemis

---
The Absolute

As they approached the room wherein stood the pillars, Egon began struggling frantically to get away, and it wasn't exactly difficult. The dread fear overshadowing him had made his friends weaker than they should have been. It was a testament to their tenacity and friendship for Egon that they could endure it at all.

Yet there came a time that even the strongest of friendships could not keep a friend's hand from shaking too hard to hold on.

Egon backed up several steps, but went no further. He felt as though he had been speared through the gut, impaled, stuck in place by conflicting forces too powerful to ignore.

A similar sensation came over Peter as he slowly turned to face Egon. Pinned in place...but for him, it was by the sudden, lightning realization of just exactly what the messenger had meant in his dreams. He had caught a hint of it before when he said that Egon didn't want to let go...now it was crystal clear.

The foothold is grasped in bleeding fingers, tightly held so as to break bone and strangle spirit. Fingers will slip, the hands will break, and the spirit will die. Help him let go.

There must be a fight...help him to fight.

There is one Inevitable, but be not deceived; what you have seen is not it.

Peter's role was to help Egon fight his own deep-seated defenses.

Staggered slightly, Peter demanded, "I was right! You don't want to let go of Reason! You want him there! The whole problem is right there," he punctuated his statement by pointing his index finger into his own palm, "right there. You don't want Reason to leave."

Egon flinched and put a hand over his mouth, as if the idea sickened him, but he didn't deny it.

Janine looked toward Peter, at Egon, then back. "What are you talking about, Dr. V?" she asked hotly. "I know he wouldn't have tried killing himself twice just so he could stay buddy-buddy with Reason."

Peter wagged his finger slowly in Janine's direction, without turning away from Egon. He stared hard at his friend, green on blue, and said to Janine, "You're right, too, Janine. He hates it...you dreamed his dreams, so did I, and Ray, holy hell, Ray got the full dose of everything Reason had hid away for Egon. He hates Reason...but he doesn't hate it enough, not enough to really let go. Even after all that...Egon, what is Reason giving you that is worth all of this? What did that monster promise you that you won't fight him?"

"I want to be free!" Egon shouted, shivering.

"But you don't want to fight! You want to run! You're going to end up killing yourself over this, and that's no way to fight!"

"I want to be free," Egon reiterated.

Peter wiped his face and glanced at their red headed secretary. "Janine, sorry, I'll take all the Peter-pounding you have to dish out later, but I can't keep my word." He looked back at Egon, and out of the corner of his eye he saw Ray nodding slowly and Winston observing. "I gotta be blunt with ya, Spengs. There's no time left for beating around the bush. Is the 'freedom' you really want...I know what Reason promised you, because the bastard accidentally told me...is it worth losing out on how much you love her? Trust me, I know exactly where you stand on that point. Is it worth missing how much you love us? You really value your own intelligence that much?"

Egon ran his hands through his blond hair, dislodging his glasses in the process. He shook his head, mouthing words that wouldn't form. Peter slowly inched forward, fighting against the darkness, and asked quietly, "Are you willing to fight? When you lost...or rather, when Reason took, your ability to think, I caught a glimpse of a man that would be a force to be reckoned with if he were whole." Peter choked back an unwilling tear, and added, "You know you mean more to me than a brother just the way you are...but that vision I saw...he'd be able to love us all back without thinking it was dangerous or feeling like he was losing something from it. I don't think you can hide that man anymore. I'm seein' a rock and a hard place here, and it'd be a hell of a hard place for us if you ran away and died."

Suddenly Winston took Egon by the arm and bodily dragged him into the room with the pillars. The move startled Peter, who nearly fell. "What are you doing?" he shouted after his powder blue-clad colleague.

"I'm gettin' help!" Winston called back. The rest followed quickly, and Winston was right about the messenger; he was nowhere to be seen.

"So what's the big idea messing with my speech?" Peter snapped as soon as Winston stopped inside the room. Egon wandered farther in, then stooped, and seemed to be trying to disappear.

"I told you, we can't do this without help," Winston said, nearly out of breath for some reason. It hadn't exactly been a long dash, but it was likely the proximity of Reason had made it more difficult than it needed to be. "You were doin' fine, but Pete, if you coulda talked him into it alone, you coulda done that anywhere."

Wiping his eyes, Peter nodded, conceding the point. Janine jabbed the dark-haired man in the ribs and said, "I'll forgive you fer breakin' yer word if it gets him back."

"That's nice to hear," Peter grimaced.

A voice reverberated in the room, and Peter recognized it as belonging to Reason. He felt chills as the creature addressed him with a single word. "Vanity," he said.

Then Reason's attention turned to Ray. "The Hidden."

To Janine. "Esteem."

To Winston. "Respect."

Lastly to Egon. "Reason." Then he laughed, and the sound was like knives in their flesh. All eyes turned to the dark pillar, and the darkness doubled, trebled in intensity. "I could have you all."

The messenger appeared next to Ray. He is correct; you must be wary. Not today, but tomorrow... The intensity of Reason's blackness didn't last long; in fact, it seemed less, less than they had felt in what seemed like ages. It was no longer something they had to fight against to move; in fact, it had reduced to mere anxiety and chills. Peter, go speak your last words. Your part is nearly run its course.

Peter nodded, then went and stood next to Egon. "So? What'll it be?"

Egon looked up at Peter from his stooped position. With the lessening of Reason's shadows, his mind became clearer, and it seemed to the physicist that a question he had not been able to answer came back to him, one that had Janine's words earlier that day had suggested. A choice in the matter. He winced as he realized, finally, that he had, all along. He had a choice in the matter. Reason could do whatever it wanted, but it could never take away the choice...he could have let the thing do its worst and lost nothing more than he had by giving into it. He closed his eyes for a moment. Still uncertain there was another way out of the dark angel's grasp, he at least had the choice to give up. Not give up his life, not to escape, not to the tricky 'freedom' Reason promised, but to give up his strangle-hold grip on everything Reason had helped him hide away. Give up pretending he didn't enjoy Murray the Mantis...or pretending in regards to more weighty matters. Give up defending himself from his feelings, from other's feelings...give up his long instilled pride in his thrice-damned reason. Eyes still closed, very faintly, he nodded.

And then the room filled with fire, driving all but Egon Spengler away from the pillar of white.

---

The two were swallowed up in a blinding flash of light so white and fiery it scorched the cavern floor. The bright light persisted, the rays of it so powerful they kicked up dust and it filled the noses of the remaining Ghostbusters and Janine with the smell of burnt ground and old rock. They all wiped their faces and covered their eyes and mouths as best they could, to block out the painfully bright light and the dust.

If they could have, all four would have covered their ears as well; the dark pillar of mind-blinding colors was howling in unholy anger. Its wings were flapping furiously, kicking up more dirt...but soon that slowed for it was losing its feathers. Reason's flailing wings cast its dark quills in all directions and soon the whole room was full of them. Winston glanced out at the display, reached out and caught a feather, an extensor, nearly as long as his arm. The colors with which Reason infused its feathers had stilled, leaving beautiful green-gold streaks on the ebony pinion. Nothing of the foul sense of Reason's presence was left in it...in fact, it felt strangely clean, so Winston held on to it.

The light filling the room was an holy fire, empyrea come down on earth...

---

Egon looked around, trying to clear the momentary confusion the light had caused. He saw still white walls, glowing softly with an ethereal light. There was no presence here, other than his own...for a moment, he was alone.

And that in itself was a relief so vast it shook him to the core. He hadn't realized until then how powerful Reason's presence had been in his own mind.

Before that brief sense of aloneness could become a deep loneliness, another appeared before his sight. It was something of the white pillar, the part which he had so much wanted the first time but had ignored.

He could not ignore it this time.

"Oh, my little one, what have you done?" It was soft, echoing audibly in his ears the voice he knew was the pillar's true one, one very still and quiet speaking from very deep in him.

He didn't have an answer for that. He didn't clearly know what he had done...what had been done to him, but he had a good sense of it...he was too lost in the utter confusion Reason left to have much more. If nothing else he saw that clearly...Reason promised clarity and left confusion—he had never been so lied to in all his life.

"My little one...." A silent sadness ran through the white one, extending into the ethereal walls, dimming the brightness in long streaks. "Come here."

"Why?" he asked, not wanting one of those things to hurt him again...yet he took a slight step toward the white one. There was still the supernatural hold on the raging blackness in him, the one he had bought with his blood, even if, for the moment, Reason was gone. The schism it produced was very deep, leaving him to want after his dark, rotting emotions as for water in a desert and to flee from them for the hurt he knew they held. Still he was trapped; he felt as though he were on the knife-edge of sanity, and he was very afraid.

"I have made it safe for you. Not that it was ever a danger...but I have made it safe for you."

Egon felt on his face the light touch of a few long feathers, and he knew that the owner of them wanted something much more than what Reason had wanted... The right words to express this thing he knew had fled his thoughts. He wasn't sure there were words for it. But the quality of it was such that he somehow wanted it too...as the shade had wanted, so he wanted...

The white wings gathered him up and surrounded him. The feel of them was both deliciously warm as a down comforter and cool as clear water on a hot day. The pale feathers held him gently, softly as he knew his mother had when he was very new; yet even then the air was cold and he was afraid...here he wasn't. There was nothing else in this world except him and the white one whose wings defined its existence.

And suddenly Reason's supernatural schism vanished without a trace, leaving no separation between and no protection from the hurt that had been imprisoned. Egon grabbed two handfuls of white down and clenched them and tore them from the white one's wings and cried for all the blackness he could not handle. He was far overwhelmed and he had no way of his own of sorting through it all. The shade Ray had helped disperse had held only a fraction of the depth of feeling and rottenness Egon felt he would drown in now.

But for every one of the white one's quills Egon tore in his pain there grew up another, softer than the last and the wings held firm, firmer than the mountain's roots. And it was safe for him; none but the white would ever know of his madness then.

In time uncounted, his raging abated and to the white one he whispered, "It hurt me..."

"I know. It twisted the gifts I gave you. I cannot say it will never hurt you again, but I trust you will be aware of it?"

Egon rested his head against the white feathered pillar, sighing. "I hope so."

"Let me tell you something. Should you leave here unchanged, you will continue as you are. The Relative, Reason so-called, will not compel you as he has. But do not think you will be free; no, you will ever be chained by your own violence. Reason did not do this unaided; he caused to be in you no new thing—merely an exaggeration of your own long habit.

"You will continue as you are. As time takes you forward, you will learn many things, your mind will grasp great things. Then you will die. You know, better than many can, that death is not the end.

"Yes, you will continue. You will come to know the deep secrets of the universe...you will by your own power understand things that hold such complexity and depth that their brightness will dim all things you now comprehend to the flicker of a dying candle's flame. In this you will become a god...indeed, a god of reason.

"And as Reason has done to you, so you will continue to do. You will demand your own blood. And you will give it. You will demand your own soul. And you will give it. You will demand of yourself more than you can give and will never be satisfied. No violence will ever be enough.

"As you attempted to live and die on your own terms, so you will continue to do after. You will long for that escape you tried to take only days ago, but it will be far too late then. You will know that there is no such escape, not now, and not in the future. And as that is denied you, so will you revenge yourself upon yourself, for there will be no one else to take it out on. Reason so-called will be trapped by his own chains, as you will be.

"Then, and only then, will you come to know the final bit of knowledge that had thus escaped your power. Then you will fully grasp what you cannot begin to see now. What you have done to yourself in the past is but a shadow of the deeply buried truth. Do you not still deny many things and demand much to satisfy what you think is your reason? Reason so-called flayed away much of what concealed that truth, and you have tasted it, but it is such a little taste, hardly to be compared to the reality of it. For then, after all is accomplished, you will realize wholly what you have lost and can never have...outside, looking in on they that are whole."

Egon pushed away from the white pillar, horrified, but it held him firmly. "That isn't right! Aren't you supposed to be good? You would do such a thing?"

"I would not, no. But I have given you the choice. I tell you this to warn you. All of this, everything that has happened...Egon, you are a stubborn man and it takes a great deal to get your attention."

"You have it now," Egon deadpanned.

The whiteness laughed. "I should hope so. Let me keep your attention, when you leave. You have time yet, but not all the time in the world. I have given you both intellect and passion; do not in pride favor one over the other. It is your true nature to exercise them both. There are things in this world that intellect cannot fathom, but passion can...yet they are not what I am. You do have a choice, and it is life or death. I am the Absolute."

With those words, the wings of the Absolute unfolded, and the light faded. Soon, Egon stood in the dusty, scorched room, and the pillars were gone. He looked around, gathering in the sight of his thoroughly filthy friends and the ebony feathers plastered all over them as well as the floor and walls, clinging to every uneven surface.

---

The four, finally realizing the strange assault was over, lowered their arms and spat out dust and feathers. "Where does that fall on the 'Wow-o-meter', Tex?" Peter quipped, pulling black down out of his hair.

"Ah, that's pretty high up there," Ray grinned.

Janine dusted herself off, which was a useless task. Then she looked over at Egon, and barely resisted the urge to run up and hug him. With the vanishing of the two pillars and the messenger as well, she felt as light as the feathers that littered the room. Instead, she satisfied herself simply to ask, "Are you OK?"

Egon looked over at Janine, then down at his hands. He opened them, revealing two handfuls of white feathers. They drifted to the floor to join the black. "I...think I will be. Reason is gone." He glanced at the other men in the room. "I need some time. Honestly, no lie. The Absolute gave me quite a bit to digest, as did you all, and it will take me some time to figure it all out. But...I will be OK, I hope...."

"Good to hear it, Egon. But you are letting us help this time!" Peter declared with a finality that could not be ignored. Every dirty face in the cavern echoed the sentiment.

"Yes, yes!" Egon replied, not quite cowering.

"OK, homes, as long as we're clear on that point," Winston said as he walked over to Egon's side and picked up one of the white feathers. He handed the two feathers to Egon, one white, and one multicolored black. "Thought you might want to keep them as remembrance. Not everyone gets a personal visit from God."

The taller man didn't take them, but he stared at the feathers for a long time. He flicked the tip of the black extensor. "I suppose not. Are you the only one that Reason didn't tell my secrets to?"

"'Fraid so."

"Then I guess I'll have to tell you myself...," Egon answered quietly. "It won't be easy...."

Winston nodded, putting the feathers in one hand and patting Egon's shoulder with the other. "You don't have to, y'know. But sometimes the harder road is the better one in the end. If you need to unload, you have my ear."

Egon just dipped his head in acknowledgement. Then he made a supremely annoyed face. "Now I have to go back to that hospital, don't I?"

"Yeah, unfortunately," Peter said, his face mirroring Egon's. "I think they expect me back, too."

"We'll spring you two as soon as we can," Ray said, and the five began to walk out of the room.

Egon sighed as he walked. He saw ahead of him a long road; it would not be easy to come to terms with what had happened to him. But he made a vow then, a silent vow, that he would walk that road.

His mind in a manageable, if ghastly disordered state, knowing that his friends were there, and more than that, the whisper of white feathers in his heart restored hope. He quickly, softly set his hand on Ray's shoulder and grasped Janine's hand.

---
The End

Author's notes:

This is hardly a treatise on theology, so please don't take it as one. It's fiction...set in a fictional world.