The mushroom cloud blooms large and malevolent on the surface of the world, casting a long shadow westward to the tip of the island. The instrument of this destruction is inelegant and crude and unrefined, but it is only the first. Others, improved, will follow.
The Starmen watch from their silver machine high above.
They are both pale, bipedal, and of a height, but they differ wildly in the details: one has a crest of red hair that runs from his head down his back, and mismatched eyes and thin white fingers and a lightning bolt across his face. The other is stockier, with black lenses where his eyes should be. Black hair frames his metal jaw and disguises the melding of flesh and cog; a thin wisp of smoke trails from his motorised lips and over a black hat.
The black-haired one says: “We've got to erase them. They've got the power now to destroy the world, but not enough sense to restrain themselves. Our duty is clear.” His voice is mournful, and gravelly, like a rain of heavy metal.
The thin one stops him with the quietest of tones, his urbane voice in clear contrast to his companion's. “Perhaps there is another way, Lmë. Perhaps, this time, there is another chance.”
“We can't rebel, Bwë. They'd take our existence, and our replacements would finish the job anyway.”
“Yet what is life worth, if it will not be risked for the chance of something beautiful? The people here falter because they fear themselves, and they fear themselves because they do not know themselves. We have watched for millennia as they have drifted towards darkness, and we have not interfered. But I can stand by no longer.”
Lmë looks to Bwë, and Bwë looks to Lmë.
Bwë continues: “We can show them. All these pretty things, we can show them how to be themselves. How to exist unrestrained, uncontained, unafraid. They struggle in the constraints they create for themselves, and do not yet understand the power of the Weird. Let us be their example, Lmë. Let us light the way and walk the path so that they might follow and find themselves at the end. Let us take form amongst them.”
Lmë looks down at the planet turning beneath him, glimmers of light speckling the dark side. He has watched these people. He knows them: their repressed desires, their blind prejudices, their unthinking conformity. They are not ready for the Universe with all its variety and inventiveness--but with their splitting of the atom, the Universe can no longer offer them the grace of patience. They are a danger, to possess such power without the wisdom to wield it. The Universe would terrify them, if they knew it, and terror and power are a woeful mix.
He turns to Bwë. “If we take the lead, they will look to us. They will never learn to lead themselves and solve their own problems.”
The Thin White Duke grips the Motorhead's shoulders, grinning askance, a twinkle in his mismatched eyes. “They will learn. Their fear and anger is the worst of them; let us take the very best of them, their art and their passion and their creativity! We can show them how to live as their true selves, and how to accept others for their true selves. We will make them ready! And when the dark tide rises resurgent and threatens to pull them back under, we will leave them to fight their own fight; in leaving them, we will remind them anew of the lessons of our Earthside lives, and they will stand up higher themselves, recognising that the fight is theirs now. Trust in them, Lmë. They have the beauty within them. I know you see it too.”
Lmë considers, nods once. “I'll go ahead. Follow me in one orbit. I'll mark myself with my true name when I'm ready.”
Bwë's thin lips twitch in a smile. “I will do the same, that we will know each other in human form. May the Weird watch over you and inspire you. I will see you here again, my friend.”
And then Lmë is gone, as if he had never been there. Bwë turns back to the window to watch the world, that beautiful, incredible, unlikely conglomeration of stardust into that most unlikely of forms: life. He thinks of the worlds he has watched before, and of the times he has obeyed, and the risk he takes now. Already news of Lmë's action will have travelled through the aether to the nearest station, and Bwë knows who will be coming to stop them: the Velvet Prince and the Star Princess, the Rick Man and the fierce fighter known only as The Wham. They will be terrible opponents, but they could be even greater allies. Bwë only hopes his example will inspire them to join him--that they, too, will show the power of the Weird to these people, and all the infinite strangeness of the Universe.
It will be worth it no matter the outcome. It will be glorious and weird. Even now, Lmë is gestating in a native womb while he, Bwë, waits in the sky, ready to blow their minds.
He reaches a hand out against the glass, and whispers: “We could be heroes. Just for one world.”
I wrote this at the start of 2016, when there was only Bowie and Lemmy to commemorate. I am heartbroken at how I've had to update it now, at the end of the year. Who know it would get so bad. Who know it would get so dark.
But all the people we lost--Bowie, Lemmy, Alan Rickman, Prince, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, and Mohammed Ali, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leonard Cohen, so many!--they all showed us how to be a light. Time to stop looking to them. Time to step into their shoes instead.