You can read all the previous episodes HERE, or from the ‘IDENTICAL’ page above, or select ‘Identical’ from the ‘Categories’ widget over there to the right. (they’re in chronological order so you’ll have to start at the bottom of the page)
What Has Gone Before:
Travelling through the Nicola Valley in British Columbia, Ciska takes shelter from a nasty storm with Meg, whose stolen car is found with her exact duplicate dead at the wheel. Following her mother Jane Lightsmith’s orders Tamsin Lightsmith, of the RCMP, deletes all references to ‘dead Meg’ from the records, as ‘live’ Meg realizes she doesn’t belong in this dimension, or pentiment’ as Ciska has labeled them.
Ciska tests an invention that will enable her to avoid the storm’s mysterious effects based on theories she envisioned two hundred years previously. She tells Meg and Tamsin her true age.
Jane Lightsmith arrives in town.
All the players are in town, but the rules don’t make sense. Just exactly what is going on
Ciska’s legs gave way and she slid down the cold white tiles, ending up on the dark floor.
Terracotta. What is it with this town and terracotta floor tiles?
Meg huddled against a tiled column nearby, scrubbing at the blood on her hands with a futility born of horror.
Poor Meg. From the moment Jane knew her true nature she was always going to be the sacrificial lamb.
Meg raised her head as though she’d read Ciska’s thoughts and looked, not hopeful, there’d never been much hope since they started this quixotic mission, but determined.
Good for her. Time to finish the job.
Ciska rolled onto her hands and knees, ignoring the smears of blood that stained the tiles a darker red and launched to her feet. Meg batted away her helping hand, for which she was grateful. She probably didn’t have strength left to help anyone else.
“Where’d she go?” Meg asked after she’d splashed some cold water on her face and washed most of the blood off her hands.
“Deeper into the complex,” Ciska said. “Away from her equipment. There’s nowhere for her to go.”
Are you sure?”
“No. But then I never was, at least about her.”
Ciska and Meg left the destroyed bathroom, dodged around a pile of fallen concrete and exposed bedrock and resumed their search. They’d find their target sooner or later.
Ciska’s thoughts slipped back to a time only a few days ago. From the moment she’d told Tamsin and Meg the truth, she knew a confrontation between her and Jane Lightsmith was inevitable …
… Ciska left Meg and Tamsin to their own devices and sat on Meg’s back stoop. She leaned her elbows on the step behind her, stretched out her legs and crossed them at the ankles. She watched the few clouds in the sky turn orange then deepen to indigo as another sultry autumn day drew to a close. Tamsin and Meg continued to argue, about what, precisely, she had no idea. Eventually they fell silent and she supposed they’d come to some sort of agreement.
Well, I kept my end of the bargain. What they do with it is up to them.
She’d give them time to come to terms with it, however time was limited. Far too many questions had been raised in this pentiment and she needed their help finding answers and more importantly, what to do with the answers they uncovered.
She sensed someone behind her and tossed a mental coin. A large mug of tea appeared over her shoulder and Meg slumped down onto the wooden step.
Meg leaned on Ciska’s shoulder and gazed in the same general direction as Ciska. “I think I could get to like you,” Meg said. “You always seem to be looking at far away horizons.”
“Some things are worth remembering. Looking at them for a long time helps me remember them after time has passed.”
“Personally, I don’t think you look a day over three thousand.”
“I told you that you wouldn’t believe me,” Ciska said.
“Oh, I believe you alright. I’m living proof of that.”
“That you are.”
“Are you sure you’re that old?”
Ciska’s laughed, almost bouncing Meg’s head off her shoulder. “You’re more concerned with me being significantly older than you assumed, rather than an endless number of parallel worlds existing all around you.”
Meg punched her lightly in the thigh as Tamsin joined them.
“Give her one for me while you’re at it,” Tamsin said. After Meg happily obliged, she continued. “I can’t begin to imagine the things you’ve seen.”
“The entire march of civilization.” Meg said with wonder as the weight of the concept descended on her.
“Where’s Jimmy Hoffa’s body?” Tamsin countered.
“What happened to the Marie Celeste?”
“Did Queen Victoria really think lesbians didn’t exist?”
“Who said to Genghis Kahn, ‘go west young man’?”
“What happened to Atlantis?”
“Did you meet Boudicca, Nefertiti? What were the Sumerians really like?”
Who drew the Nazca Lines?”
Ciska gave up trying to interject and waited until Meg and Tamsin finally ran out of questions, silly or not. She tried again.
“Now, it’s my turn. How do you know about these things? In general.”
“The news. Books,” Meg said.
“The internet. History books,” Tamsin said at the same time.
Ciska nodded. “The internet’s only been around for a very short time. So, most everything you’ve mentioned comes from ‘History’ books. And history can only be viewed retrospectively. If I didn’t know that Alexander was going to change the world, how could I witness it if, a, I didn’t know about it at the time, and b, I was on the other side of the world, at the time.”
“Were you?” Tamsin asked, not quite teasing her.
Ciska rolled her eyes, but before she could reply a vehicle engine died in front of the house.
“That’s Silv’s truck,” Meg said. “I’d know that sound anywhere. I don’t suppose this is just a coincidence?”
Ciska shrugged her innocence, and followed Meg and Tamisn into the house.
Meg seldom left her door unlocked let alone wide open but given recent events it didn’t surprise her that she’d done both. Two women stood in the middle of her kitchen.
“Hello Silv. What brings you all the way out …” Silv appeared to stagger slightly as she was nudged aside. “Jane!” Meg said. What an unpleasant surprise.”
Tamsin interrupted them before the civilities could proceed any further. “Mum! I didn’t think you’d be here ‘til next week.”
Meg watched as Jane Lightsmith ignored her daughter, just as she always had, until she needed her for something, which apparently, given that Tamsin was expecting her, she now did.
“Hello Meg,” Jane said. “Where is your guest of honor. I’ve come a very long and uncomfortable way to meet her.”
A gentle hand on her shoulder moved Meg aside. Ciska then moved Tamsin the other way. Meg’s blood ran cold. She’s getting us out of the firing line.
“I’m right here,” Ciska said. As she walked further into the room Meg saw her reach behind her back and slowly pull a knife from a sheath hidden in the waistband of her pants.
“I thought you’d turn up sooner or later,” Ciska said. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
“Hello Franciska. You keep trying, but you keep missing. However, I really don’t think this is the time or the place to try again, do you?” She looked pointedly at Meg and Tamsin. “Isn’t anyone going to invite me to sit down?”
Meg ignored her and sat down herself. She watched Ciska slide the knife back into its sheath, and realized they’d all momentarily survived some sort of crisis point. Just when I didn’t think my life could get any weirder.
Jane sat opposite her and reached for the teapot, turned over a cup for herself from the tray and filled it. “Well, isn’t this civilized? Do sit down, all of you.”
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Silv said and rushed to the bathroom.
Jane sniffed. “Can’t take the heat,” she said dismissively, and watched Ciska as she and Tamsin sat across the table from her, on either side of Meg.
How predictable. Both of them. “Well,” she said. “Shall we begin our civilized conversation? I’m sure Franciska has told you all about these nasty ‘pentiments’, as she calls them, and how they could destroy all of existence as we know it.”
“Her name is Ciska,” Meg said.
“We hadn’t got to that part yet,” Tamsin said.
“Don’t look so surprised,” Jane said as Ciska tried to hide behind the scowl she’d worn since the moment she saw Jane. “I’ve had you followed for quite a while now. Yes, even as you travelled from one pentiment to the next. There’s so much you don’t know.”
She sipped from her tea and gathered her thoughts. What to tell and what to withhold? Enough bait to hook, but too much and Ciska would put all the pieces together before she was ready for them to be revealed. “As with all theories, there are always other theories.”
“Wait a minute,” Tamsin said, uncharacteristically interrupting her. “We haven’t even heard the first theory first. Perhaps Ciska could enlighten us.”
As Ciska answered, Jane tuned out her words, she knew the story be heart, and watched Ciska as she spoke, absorbing every detail, the way she moved her hands, the little quirk at the corner of her mouth, everything. She showed nothing of her emotions to the women in front of her. She was used to it, her feelings had been firmly under control since the time she betrayed the one person she’d ever truly loved. Seeing Ciska again was not going to change that.
Stay tuned for Season 2, Episode 3 of …
GLOSSARY AND LINKS
The ghost ship Marie Celeste
The Nazca Lines