The last time he saw Magister Ludi he was standing at the Powell Street Bart station near the cable car turn-around handing out photo copies of a poem about the coming galactic cataclysm, the end of life as we have known it—an event triggered by an unforeseen, unstoppable extra-terrestrial anomaly.
The poem was one continuous stream of thoughts that spiraled out to the edges of the page and then on to the other side where it spiraled inward until the words disappeared into its center.
Ed Marker knew that he would never see his friend again; that the portal was closing, and that there was truly nothing that he could do to change things. His chess partner was unreachable and between worlds now.
Magister Ludi had been the only person, since the death of his friend James, who understood the curious mechanics of the Tenderloin as Ed Marker did. And now, he too felt frail and fearful. He feared that this knowledge would be lost. He feared the future. He tried to dismiss this feeling, block it out, trying to erase it by focusing on his unfinished project but the thought of the empty boxes that awaited him at home only made things worse. He felt more and more like a stranger walking the streets of a city that he had charted so intimately over the years. These very streets were now becoming unfamiliar.
Walking up Eddy Street he felt the dizziness of time as his own portal to this place was closing in on him. He tried to remind himself that he might be nearing a collapsing star or actually entering a wormhole and to not be afraid. This was all in the notebooks, all foreshadowed in the data, part of the forces of cosmic change that he had been recording for all of these years—part of the expansion of the universe. He continued to walk the busy streets back to his apartment, avoiding the chessboards and any other hazardous warps in space-time.
He would eventually put the poem in an envelope, with “Magister Ludi” written on its front, inside his old copy of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, next to a letter addressed to his friend James; and place the book in the box marked 1968.
He hoped that Magister Ludi would have a better incarnation the next time around.