art by ShotHot Design
S is for Solipsism
by Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, Greg van Eekhout
Encephalon watched from the center of his brain-shaped techno-lair as the outer blast doors were breached. The reinforced steel crumpled like paper, and the notoriously violent antihero vigilante Deathdrive kicked the remnants aside as he strode in. His costume was a black so intense it drank light, and the mask that covered his eyes and nose couldn't completely conceal the zigzag scar that ran diagonally across his face. "Brainwave!" he shouted. "I've come to kill you!"
"I haven't called myself Brainwave in years," Encephalon emanated, his voice of pure thought filling the silver dome.
"I don't care what you call yourself, mind-tyrant." Deathdrive took a cylinder the size of a roll of quarters from his belt and twisted his wrist. The cylinder telescoped out into a black staff crackling with disruptive electrical energies, and Deathdrive began to casually destroy choice bits of Encephalon's equipment. The "mind-tyrant" didn't care. He wasn't sure what half the exotic machines were supposed to do anyway.
Deathdrive mounted the steps leading up to the dais at the center of the room. "Have you made peace with your gods, whatever they might be?"
"There are no gods," Encephalon emanated wearily. "You know I am a solipsist--I do not acknowledge the reality of anything outside myself and my own thoughts. How can I? I know that I exist, from firsthand experience, but everything else is a mere representation of my own thoughts. If there is a god, that god is I, and I am the sole inhabitant of my creation. The rest of you are just... philosophical zombies."
"Where I'm from, people who don't believe anyone else is real are called sociopaths." Deathdrive smashed aside one of Encephalon's particle cannons, which the mind-tyrant hadn't even bothered to power up.
"Even you, Deathdrive. Your very name reveals your relationship to my consciousness: you are my own wish for death, which is why you have challenged me and fought me so aggressively over the years."
Deathdrive paused, leaning on his electro-staff, which was the one device capable of disrupting the electrical impulses of Encephalon's brain and rendering the mind-tyrant forever inert. "I know."
The warm fluid in Encephalon's jar bubbled. "You know?"