DISCLAIMER: oh, if only I owned the Abarat, Candy Quackenbush and all those other members of the Abarat's colourful cast. Unfortunately this isn't the case, oh woe is me, for I am Abarat-less and Clive Barker is significantly better off than me, being the de facto owner, creator and master of it. Poo, eh?

Prologue

"Loving each other is half of wisdom."

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

"If a thing loves, it is infinite"


Of all the things in all the worlds, all possible creations from all possible hands of all possible creators, time is one of the strangest things to ever be conceived. Far from universal, far from kind, those moments we love slip away too easily, yet the deepest, darkest agony in the wake of the loss of these precious seconds can seem to last an eternity. Time is a heart breaker, not a healer. Time is linear, it's a one way street, but that doesn't mean that we wear blinkers like horses, that we can't stare over our shoulders and cast one last baneful, lingering glance at the retreating form of happiness. Thus it was that Christopher Carrion had very little left to linger on as the frigid tide swept him to his watery grave, thus it was that he had, in all honesty, very little left to dwell on save time loss to pining love and bittersweet pain, followed by obsession, wrath, in short, very little that he would miss or recall if he could. Thus it was that his bitter dark form, with the skeletal frame and swirling nightmares circling, ever circling, all a-circling, gave very little resistance as it drifted away to death's still darker embrace, and thus it was that the limp hands of limp arms folded over a limp frame, whole-heartedly devoted to the last sacrifice he thought he'd ever make, did not clutch at the air in a vain attempt to recall those lost, brief snatches of time when he had been what he might have considered happy, and what he in retrospect considered weak, sometimes foolishly hopeful.

Yes, time is cruel, and time is strange. Time is callous and macabre. We never miss it til it's gone and whilst it slips through our fingers, even in death we stare obsessively backwards, so fixated in what might have been and what was that we could almost have our faces fixed to the back of our heads and be no more worse for it. As the unmerciful waters of the invading sea buoyed Carrion's fragile form to the surface of the water, then grasped with with vengeful fingers and pulled him under the dread power of yet another wave, as glazed eyes stared at a sky more tremulous than any sky he had ever seen before - the sky at midnight was foggy and brooding and pitch black, not this strange, stormy purple hue, touched with amber light, that it had recently adopted, filled with smoke and panic - he had so many years and yet so little he wanted to reminisce on as his form cooled to a corpse and life drained from the suddenly lead-heavy extremities of his body. He'd say, or at least think, that it was so cold, but he had always been so cold, in one way or another; devoid of all human comfort and compassion, a tragic hero destined to remembered as a tyrant, and in the cold, hard clarity of fading life, he could not tell for the life how ironic of him which was worse. He was, in a word, confused, half thanking the powers that be that life would not long torment him, he would no more be alone in this most unforgiving of lives, half wishing that time would turn back on himself, that all could be undone and he could walk a different path, win hearts and friends, not be feared but loved. It was the ultimate 'too late', the gate slammed on cautious fingers. Even if he could bear to break a so-called heart again, there was no choice but to close eyes one last time, to surrender and dip behind the water level one last time, to an inky crypt.

Yes, Time is a strange thing. Maybe it's not quite linear, maybe we're fated to retrace those footsteps, oil the cogs of time with our blood and sweat as we trundle towards the same end time after time, never remembering, never heading that we have walked this same path before. Maybe time is nothing but the same semi-comic, semi-tragic lives repeated endlessly. Maybe we walk these same paths, hoping that this time we might be able to change something, maybe this time we might take the path less trodden and be all the better for it, but life is too full of buts and maybes, and they are so rarely fulfilled.
At the same time, maybe that life we live is not meant to be, maybe each chance is lived and lived again until the universe finds a happy medium that suits the Grand Scheme of Things, and maybe some people are so pivotal that the world exists in shock, half-exists, after their death. Following the death of Christopher Carrion, Candy Quackenbush may not have mourned, but the shock vibrated through the Abarat, through the core of all things that are and were, and time silently unraveled, back, back, back again, in the hope of averting inevitable destruction, in the hope of a happy ending. Back to the beginning, back to where there was hope, back to when Carrion was alive and unwittingly, the savior of the Abarat, back to where things were still uncertain and could be rewritten. Everything, all the sadness and death that would certainly follow the death of the prince of midnight, ceased to be; some people are necessary like that.

And as time winds back, we can reflect on the strangeness of such turn of events. How strange it should be, that it is not Candy Quackenbush who was the pin holding together the salvation of the Abarat but another. It is not so unbelievable that there should be two saviors, but that the second should be the least likely person imaginable, the person who nobody would believe if they heard; Christopher Carrion. As we walk these paths again, let us rewrite the Abarat, let us save the Abarat. The hero should never die without the story really kicking off.