Still in the deserted farmhouse, three students continue their tête-à-tête with the spirit Nil. But it's been a long night, the first flushes of dawn are beginning to show in the eastern sky and they are beginning to get a little tetchy.
Okay, okay. We’ve put up with just about enough of your ramblings. You’ve claimed you’ve been reincarnated hundreds of times and gained insight into all kinds of historical eras as a result...
I never claimed insight, just that I was there. You probably were too – you just don’t realize it while you’re in your earthly body.
There you go again. Just because you can spin a good yarn and can push a pointer around a Ouija board...
Oh come on, we stopped relying on that primitive technology hours ago. If I were a fake how would I have been able to communicate telepathically with all three of you at the same time?
How does any magician pull off their tricks? How did Harry Houdini manage all his impossible stunts?
Houdini was good, it’s true, but he died simply because he didn’t tense his muscles when a Canadian student punched him in the stomach to test his strength. Wizard he may have been, but if ever there was an example of human frailty made manifest, that was it.
Whereas you are invulnerable and eternal, we suppose.
Eternal, yes; invulnerable, no: you wound me with your lack of faith.
Faith in what? Let’s face it, this night on Ether Street has been all style and no substance. You play around with us and make weak attempts at humour. We are serious people, you know. We care about world hunger. We subscribe to the New Internationalist.
And I’m sure you will get your reward in heaven. In the meantime, if you have no other questions I do have some rather pressing business to attend to.
Hang on! You can’t leave without delivering what you promised.
And what was that?
You said you would reveal the meaning of life, the universe and everything if only we were patient. Goodness knows, we’ve been patient.
So you have. And I think you have deserved your reward. But I’m afraid I’ve just received an official court order which stops me revealing it. Apparently the Department of Universal Security has been bugging this session and feels I’ve been telling you too much already.
Oh, very convenient. What would they do to you if you went ahead anyway? They can’t exactly put you on the rack when you have no body...
You still don’t seem to realize that bodies are the least important part of us. Besides, if I contravene the order it could put my next incarnation in doubt – and given that I’m due to be conceived as a Brazilian girl in the shanty-towns of Recife, who will eventually rise to become President of the World Federation on an environmental ticket around 2060, this is not one I want to miss.
Can’t you even give us a hint, a last word of wisdom before you fade out?
A hint? All right. After a thousand incarnations I think I can safely say this: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ Over and out.