AN: This was written for a challenge "Characters in a play or film find out they are twins". I know that Rosencrantz and Guilderstern were never twins, both in reality and in Shakespeare's mind, but I chose them because I love the play and they are attached-at-the-hip in it. Just my idea of a fun riffing on a theme. Oh, and the dissolving idea is shamelessly plucked from Bleach.
WARNING: Character death, but that's implicit in the title, isn't it?
It was a non-descript place: no features, no landmarks, nothing that could catch the eye; a sort of in-between place with no discernible source of light and a vague deadness in the air. Well, no, the air was actually deader than usual and nothing felt quite right.
"What happened?" Rosencrantz sounded petulant, like a sleepy baby.
"I can't seem to remember, which is odd, but not overly so," Guilderstern said, his mind elsewhere. "What's quite odd is this place. It doesn't seem to be actively menacing, but its weirdness is bothering me and filling me with a vague sense of dread."
"Well, where are we, then?"
"I haven't the slightest idea."
Both fell silent, trying to sort themselves out. They were sitting on… something. Not quite soil, not quite floor, not quite anything, really. It was very disconcerting. Guilderstern was curled in on himself, elbows gripping knees, and Rosencrantz was sprawled all anyhow, looking up at the colourless sky. Or ceiling, or whatever it was.
"Pirates!" Rosencrantz suddenly yelled.
"What? Where?" Guilderstern, startled out of his reverie, looked frantically around.
"There were pirates! Pirates everywhere! We jumped out of our cot and there were cutlasses and yells and blood and running around and they took Whatshisname away!"
"Oh, right," Guilderstern said, relieved. "We were on a ship. It was peaceful being on a ship. We didn't have to decide anything, we weren't responsible for anything, we could stop trying to make sense of things… A ship is a lovely place to be. I remember it fondly; it was a good ship. At least," he added, a bit resentfully, "until the pirates came."
Rosencranyz had not listened to a word, his mind turning over and over a question that had been irritating him for quite some time. It was a conundrum, really, the sort of thing that could be very unsettling, if one thought about it; it would've been better not to think about it at all, actually, but he couldn't help wondering.
"Are we lovers?" he asked.
"We were in one cot on the ship," Rosencrantz explained. "We were in one bed when the voices shouting out of the window took us to Elsinore. We seem to be always sleeping together. Lovers sleep together, don't they? Stands to reason. But I don't remember us kissing or doing anything else that lovers do, though I can't think of anything else but kissing right now. Do you want to kiss me?"
"Oh, for…!" Guilderstern interrupted, exasperated. "We aren't lovers! What kind of demented distortion inhabits your pitiful brain? It's normal for travellers to share a bed in an inn or a cot on a ship. Normal, practical and absolutely devoid of any sexual innuendo whatsoever! Besides," he added scathingly, "we're twins."
"We are?" Rosencrantz was intrigued. "I don't remember being your twin. It's a thing one would remember, isn't it? Being born together and all the rest, I mean. Yet I don't. Remember, I mean. And look," he said, struck by an idea, "our names are completely different. Shouldn't we have the same name, if we're twins? I mean, I'm Guilderstern, you're Rosencrantz… or the other way around, but that's not important. What's important is that the names are different!"
"We're twins! Twins! Do you understand? Twins!" Guilderstern shouted, jumping up and pointing wildly at his twin. "We were together for nine months in the womb and then, because Fate, Destiny and the Norns hate me so very much, you were born first and I had to go and take our mother's surname so you could get all of father's money. Because that's the law regarding twins. Because that's what we are. Twins. TWINS!"
"What?" Guilderstern stopped stomping and gesticulating, arrested by a sudden fear. "Dead? No…"
"Yes," Rosencrantz said firmly. "Don't' you remember? They actually cut our heads off. Our actual heads. So we died. Well, it would have been very odd had we not, wouldn't it? Can't you see it? Us, without our heads, running around like headless chickens…" He stopped to think, ignoring Guilderstern's horrified look. "Why do you think chickens run around when they lose their heads?" he said. "To look for the heads they've lost? But the eyes are in the heads they've lost, aren't they? They're not very intelligent. Chickens, I mean. No, we'd have crawled on hands and knees patting the ground looking for our heads, spewing blood everywhere! It would have been glorious! Except we didn't. We just up and died."
"So this is death," Guilderstern whispered.
"It's rather boring, isn't it?" Rosencrantz said.
"Yes," Guilderstern said, his voice gaining strength as he talked. "But boring isn't bad. Boring is safe. It's peaceful, like being on a ship. I like it when nothing happens."
"Something's happening," Rosencrantz said. "Look, my hand is dissolving. Funny, I don't feel it. I can see it, but I don't feel anything."
Guilderstern looked, throat constricted in terror, and saw his fingers unravelling into a fine mist. Impelled by a surge of sadness that made his eyes sting, he fell on his knees and hugged Rosencrantz as best as he could.
"I'm glad we're together, at least," he said.
"I'm glad we're twins," Rosencrantz said. "This is a good hug. I was tired of running around, anyway."
"Me too," Guilderstern said, and smiled. "It will be peaceful, not existing."
There was no wind to pick up the echo of their last sigh of relief.