The city of Prime was the greatest city of all the sprawls that covered most of the 21 Mounts. It was home to the greatest faiths in the world, and renowned for its architecture. Strange scripts along parapets and the grotesque gargoyles on every corner made it a Wonder of the World which millions visited yearly. But today, in the Old City, there were no tourists, no crowds; just an array of colours from black-robed, grey-bearded Mathemancers (the worlds "Mathemagicians", as Escudo put it) to black-robed, grey bearded monks. The Old City of Unium Prime was waiting nervously, piously, and expectantly, for the announcement.
The Sultan was not an old man. Although about 35, his face made him look much older. He was thin and worn, and stiff with arthritis. He needed his doctor with him at all hours of the day. So I sat there, ready to help him up. With a frail gesture, he asked my help to get up to the podium, from where he would make the speech.
A spray of fire knocked him down; the crowd moved as if in syrup, their screams prolonged by terror. The minarets and towers around began to sway and swim as I lurched and then fell to the ground.
A funeral, and it rained briefly in the sweet warmth of the holy city of the Gods and Their messengers. In a long cortege from the Eastern Gate to the Tomb at the Old City's heart, the Sultan's coffin was taken by his four sons through the widest boulevards and narrowest alleys. We all wept, of course, that the Tearful Way should be followed again, and so soon. At the head of the cortege led Escudo, the Highest Priest on all the faces of the world. Hidden by his deep blue robe, and the chains and ornaments of his station, it was difficult to see the wizened old man I knew - all the people saw was the majesty of their High Priest, leading them in mourning. Behind the coffin followed the rest of the City's clergy, in sombre ceremonial robes that hid their features as well as Escudo's own were hidden from sight. Behind them followed the high and mighty of the temporal world, from bureaucrats to businessmen. All but two were horribly surprised by the assassination. The Sultan had been expecting it. I think he knew who the assassin was, too.
"ALEA IACTA EST"
The Sultan was never a betting man. This was not, as many believe, because of the dictates of Unianism, but rather because he would always win. It is a secret known only to Sultans, their physicians, the High Priest, and you, my friend; Escudo was worried about my relating this to you.
"If the secret got out, how many people would want to know their future?" he asked. He might have been angry - but he showed no sign of it. I paused, looking everywhere but at those piercing eyes. "Millions, probably," he said, providing the answer for me. "And if that future were bad?"
"Suppose," he said with a condescending sigh, "a man found that he was going to be crushed by falling masonry on the corner of Burdan Street and the Eastern Market. He would try to avoid that."
"But fate would see to it that he still died there."
"No. Fate only works if you don't know about it." He paused to sip his tea. "If you move to avoid what you know to be your fate, the whole thing could begin to collapse - fate, causality, the will of the Gods - everything."
I sipped my tea in retaliation, but said nothing. Escudo, for his part, twiddled with his beard, pondering something.
"This friend of yours - is he trustworthy?"
I smiled. "Eminently so."
So of course he let me tell you about the Sultan's strange gift. His foresight and complete foreknowledge of everything in the future is common to all previous Sultans and will, Gods willing, be the blessing and curse of all Sultans to come.
All that remained, after the Suktan's funeral, was to find the new Sultan. Often in the past this had taken years - to find one man among billions is no easy task - and it is the responsibility of the Sultan's physician.
It was also my job to prepare his body fior burial, and then to sort through his possessions. I walked into his cool office, with a balcony that looked down over the Old City and a window on the far wall that looked out towards the New: the airport, the monorail terminal, and the Research Centre. In the sparsely-furnished office there was a small wooden desk, a small lamp, and a chair. The walls were lined with bookshelves, containing all the Law inherited and codified by the Sultans, and from before that by the Prophets. Nothing unusual here. Nothing had been changed from the everyday norm, even by this man who had known that he was going to be shot on the first day of the new month. Why did he reveal it to me? Surely this was a risk he should never have taken?
I paused, looked at the crowds milling around the Old City, returning to normal business after the shadow of mourning had passed, and turned to the small door behind the saffron curtain in the corner of the room. It yielded easily and I walked into the stuffy narrow passage which led down to Escudo's rooms adjoining the Temple. Totally lightless, the passages which linked the hearts of the main buildings were navigated by 'reading' a band of carvings on the floor with one's feet as one walked along. They described the destination of the passage, and its location in relation to other passages in the complex. I was guided safely through the twists and turns to the small oaken door I was most familiar with. I knocked, Escudo muttered something, and I walked into the ornate room.
"Good afternoon, Doctor," said an unfamiliar voice. Not Escudo. I turned sharply to the right, and something hit me. I blacked out.
"Sometimes the best games are games of chance. The turn of the card, the roll of a die, the spin of a wheel can decide your fortune. And theirs."
"Doctor? Doctor Feller?"
I bleared my wat into tentative consciousness and blinked into clarity the face of one of the priests.
"Where's Escudo?" I asked. My head ached.
"Gods be thanked, you're alright." He made a sign of thanks in the air with his pale finger.
"Where's Escudo?" I asked again, more insistently.
The priest smiled. "Don't worry, Doctor. He's in the Temple praying with the people."
I looked at him blankly. "Then what was the man who attacked me doing here?" Knowing the answer, I dashed down the long corridor to the Temple, pushing open the door at the end to see the glory of the Temple in turmoil. Fire ricocheted off the gleaming walls as, on the dais, figures in military dress grappled with Escudo, bundling him into a hovercraft. The attending priests rushed as I did to prevent them from taking him, but they were brushed away with the searing heat of laser blasts. Almost ponderously, despite our efforts to stop it, the craft turned, and then, firing thrusters, sped away through a gaping hole in the Temple's end wall.
The wreckage was quiet, apart from the sobs of mourners, held back by safety cordons as workman cleared away the wreckage. 36 worshippers had been killed, 77 more had been injured. 5 of the Temple's highest priests had been murdered, and the Temple had been severely damaged by the incident. And, of course, we had lost Escudo. To the north of the dais there was the most obvious evidence: a pentagon scrawled on the marble, containing the first words of the Book's Fifth Chapter: "Seek the Gods in your soul". Had it really come to this, in the City of the Prophets?
"...and that was the news, on the day on which Fifth Chapter Extremists kidnapped the High Priest Escudo Ezeraal, killing 41 people in the act. We will of course keep you informed of any developments, but for the moment, may the Gods keep you safe. Goodnight." The announcer's voice was subdued; everyone could sense the waves of shock going through the city that night.
"And there now folows an emergency ministerial broadcast by His Excellency Dr.Peter Feller, Minister for Public Information."
The national anthem blared as the film crew counted down to the star of my speech. "5, 4, 3, 2, 1"
I looked first to the security men on either side of me, and then at the camera and autocue.
"Last week we mourned the death of our Sultan, and we are only now recovering from the shock of those terrible events. Some of you, I know, still mourn as I do. So with the news of the desecration of our highest Temple we mourn again, at the deaths of forty-one innocent believers, and at the loss of our High Priest, kidnapped by terrorists."
I took a sip from a glass of water to wet my dry mouth, and pressed on.
"The fifth chapter of out Holiest Book is the most important to the life of every Unian, and in our prayers we ask the Gods to help us seek Them in our souls. But we cannot only look there. What of our minds, and of reason? What of science? For many centuries, Sultans fought against science because they believed it denied faith in the Gods. Daoni died at the stake for his theories which we take for granted today. Men of the greatest knowledge were beheaded merely for what they thought. But this was centuries ago. Now science can help us find the Gods, and it is that which the Sultan intended to do. He believed, as I do, that science is but one of the Gods' gifts to us, to use to discover Them, Their beauty, and Their wisdom."
Another sip of water. I hoped I didn't look too uncomfortable as I plunged into the hardest part.
"I know that there are many of you who believe differently - that we must seek the Gods only in our souls - and you must all know that we believe the so-called Fifth Chapter Extremists to be responsible for the abduction of our High Priest. I salute your beliefs, but not the actions of those who act in your name. They have desecrated the highest Temple, and shed the blood of innocents. Whatever your belief, whatever your creed, you have to hold to the First Law. As the Prophet Eremas said, 'Shed the blook of the beloved of the Gods, and you wound the Gods Themselves'
"We cannot allow this terrorism to be perpetrated against our Holiest places, and our most sincerely held beliefs. I appeal to all of you, whatever your beliefs, to be aware and observant of the Law, for without that, we are lost."
It was the best I could do, and I sat back relieved as the camera was switched off. My mind slipped back to the past, to a year previously, when I had made my first broadcast. I had sat back sweating, and had been relieved when Eleanor had come to calm me down, to comfort me, and to make me happier than I have ever been in my life. I missed her, but I still walked home, as we had times when we had been together. It helped me think of better times, and lessened my thoughts of death and murder.
I walked through the empty market, unlike itself now the remnants of daylight had fled. Testimony to the increased tension, soldiers waited in dark streets sharing a cigarette and each other's company, while children played, gloriously unaware, not five metres away. Right at a crossroads of dark, forlorn market streets, then left towards the New City, with the bright lights and excitement of night-life bustle, and the dim light and comfort of home. On the city's proudest avenue, young people sat idly at cafes and bars as I and the rest of the world passed by. A soldier, recognising me, turned away quickly, huddling over his hamburger, almost protectively. By the subway, youths were throwing empty bottles at the wall, City life went on. Two hundred metres more walk took me to my home street, and five minutes later I was at my own front door.
Reading the Book of Books gave me great comfort. After Eleanor left, it was all the consolation I had. That night I again sought the Gods in my soul. I miss her more than you can know. "Come back Escudo, I need you". Eleanor, Escudo, the Sultan, the Temple. All gone.
"Orelai asked whether the Gods were Chance, and was burned for his heresy. Temeron postulated that They played dice with men's fates. He was beheaded. The Mathemagicians have calculated that it is 28.76% probable that one of these theories is correct. None of them have yet been killed. Such is progress"
The weather got worse, and the next day it was cloudy. The day after rain washed down the grimy streets of the Old City. It fitted my mood as I began the search for the next Sultan, and our current High Priest, getting into a comfortable hovercar but feeling uncomfortable with the disguise I was forced to adopt to travel into Fifth Chapter lands. No clild had been born 18 years ago, on the exact date and time of the Sultan's death, so I had to look in the lands of the Chapterists, where they refused to record such things. I went about it methodically, at first, but later my mind wandered. Withoug Escudo's comforting faith and the needs of a frail Sultan, I was lost, and I began to wallow in uncharacteristic self pity.
The Book lost its wonder to my eyes, and at times I even doubted its truth. The killings, attacks, and slanders continued, spreading over Unium like a horrible leprosy, dividing the country. On one side the Orthodox believers, fighting thhe plague, on the other the Chapterists. The Government pleaded for calm until the Sultan was found, but the pleas were ignored. Orthodox believers moved to expel Chapterists from the richer parts of Unium, and Chapterists stoned believers who entered their lands. It was as if, as I drove along the hoverway, I was driving into another country.
Two years later that notion became reality. The Fifth Chapter Temple proclaimed the new land of Greater Unium, covering almost half of Unium proper. I saw them laying barbed wire and fences along the "border", and setting up "Border Crossings", little huts by the channel of traffic, where papers could be checked. Meanwhile my search had come to nothing and was becoming harder by the day. As a Unian citizen, I was suspect, whatever my disguise. The word passed fast: "He's from the other side! Don't trust the foreigner. Foreigner!" Suspicious faces stared at me from every side. I was feared as a spy and often arrested, and released again an hour, maybe two, later. I stopped praying to the Gods as I had. How could They have let this happen?
Six months later, after the Government's dithhering, Unian troops rolled into Greater Unium, and the land was "once again the homeland for all Unians". The backlash was immediate, and the Chapterist territories became the most dangerous place on all the faces of the world. I am sorry to bore you with these details - it's history which you doubtless already know - it was so immediate to me that I cannot help but retell it now. Why would the Gods (I thought) not stop this violence? Why did a new Sultan not appear?
Once I was driving through a small town and got caught up in a demonstration. The slogans were along the lines of "Recognise the True Temple", and the crowd waved placards with fervour, but not anger. Then, for no reason, someone threw the first stone. Others followed, people screamed, the troops moved in, and I hit the accelerator. In the rear view mirror the scene disappeared from sight. There was not a word about it in the news; it was no longer anything special, How could we have become used to this?
Yet people do. Another time I was walking through one of the larger cities when the stones and laser fire began to fly. In panic I dashed into a shop for safety; the locals just walked on, going about their life as usual. When the troops threw in a gas canister, the locals covered their mouths and walked on, I cannot help thinking how much easier it would have been for them had they not resisted our inevitable return. Unium could not stay divided, and they could not throw away millenia of history.
Three years after the Sultan's assassination, still nothing had been heard from Escudo or his kidnappers. He was assumed to be alive, as we all hoped he would be, but amidsg the upheaval of the Uprising, even I forgot him at times. But my heart leapt when one of our agents reported a sighting of Escudo in a Chapterist Temple. I returned to Prime to plan for his return to freedom, and once again I felt busy and useful. I began to pray and attend Temple again, and everything built up to the freeing of the High Priest. My friends noticed the change in me, even though I could not tell them why I felt better; my job had accustomed me to keeping secrets.
Three teams went into the Temple compound and at precisely 22:00 the power and alarm systems were cut off, and the main guard posts were eliminated.
At 22:02 the soldiers were in the building itself, and that was secured by 22:04
At 22:06 one of the searcg teams found Escudo in the basement of the highly ornate Temple, and he was beside me in the hovercar by 22:11. As the Chapterists woke up to w happened, fire lit the scene that receded behind us. The car dashed forwards at near maximum speed past the city and into the relative safety of the countryside. But still we did not sow down. Passing fields, gates, and monorail stops, we rushed on...
"Stop!" I screamed at the driver. "That's him!"
"The new Sultan." Escudo had been looking at me curiously. We had barely exchanged words. "How very perceptive of you, Doctor."
"I can't, Sir," said the driver. "Orders."
"Good to see orders being obeyye," said Escudo with a smile. He had not changed one bit with captivity. I fumed for a little while and then burst out laughing.
"Laugh not at the Gods, but with Them, and they wil share Their joy."
"Chapter 29, Part 5"
We laughed and talked for most of the way back to Unium Prime. For the first time in three years, I was almost happy.
In the heights of the New City, dawn peered into the glass halls of the monorail terminal as we waited for the first car out of town into the Chapterist territories. The safest way to travel there, actually; so many people relied on it that the terrorists did not dare attack it. It glided into view and stopped neatly at the station. Shortly after we were in the vandalised, slogan daubed station we had seen the previous night. It was deserted. Escudo turned his nose up, and walked towards the elevator which smelled worse than the station itself. As we approached, the doors slid open.
"My Sultan," Escudo greeted the young man standing there, waiting for us.
"My most faithful servant Escudo," replied the Sultan with utter sincerity. Turning to me he smiled a smile I shall never forget. "Doctor, let us go back to the City and seek the Gods in our souls." He raised the index finger of his right hand. Escudo looked perplexed. He moved his finger down slightly and to the right, and then a little to the left and downwards. I saw what he was doing, and as the finger moved along, up and to the left, slightly up and right, the pentagon he had inscribed in the air in less that a couple of seconds hung there like some spectre.
"And only there," he added. "Let us go." And he stepped briskly towards the monorail. Escudo and I exchanged a terrified glance, and followed.
We began our treachery even as we were preparing the elaborate ceremonies and parades that would confirm him as Sultan.
"I am sure that the Programme must go ahead. Regardless of the consequences. It is what Their Spirits guide me to do."
I was alarmed at Escudo's suggestion, to say the least. I lowered my voice. "Treason against the Sultan is a capital offence."
"Regardless of the consequences. You can't run away from it now. You know what the last three years have been about - our freedom to follow the words of the Gods as they were written. I spent three years in a Temple with these lunatics. Do you think now they'll see sense and allow the Programme? Of course not. They've got the reins of power now."
I had never seen Escudo so worked up. He was convinced he was right. I nodded dumbly.
"Do you understand what it's like?" he asked after we had sat in silence for minutes.
"To receive a message from the Gods."
"Blasphemy as well, Escudo? What have three years done to you? What have they done to you?"
"Listen, Peter. While I was in the Chapterist Temple they didn't harm me. They did nothing to me but keep me there. I was fed well and treated as an honoured guest. They do, after all, recognise my status as closest on all the Faces to the Gods. They tried to convince me of their beliefs, with the kindest words, you understand. I saw that their religion had strayed from the Gods' will so much, and I began to despair. It was then that I began hearing voices. At first I thought I was going mad, but when they kept me awake at night, I was forced to listen. The voices sang the praises of the Gods, and I was filled with joy. I heard many messages and learned that I was to be Their agent. One part burns like fire in my mind:
"'What, then, do you do for the misguided ones, who have strayed and have only stones in their heart? Where can they look, if not out?'"
And so I was convinced. Who would have thought that Escudo, faithful believer that he was, would become a Prophet? Who would have believed that Peter Feller, Minister for Public Information and the Sultan's own physician, would turn traitor against the Sultan he proclaimed from the highest point in the city?
And yet I did. It was a long and uphill struggle.
The crowd was hushed as I finished:
"...to protect, serve, and guide Unium for as long as he may live. May the Gods bless him." The applause was deafening, but not every Unian cheered.
The Research Centre was ordered to direct its attentions elsewhere. It was no longer to pursue the EEP, or External Exploration Programme, and it complied meekly to this order in public. Only 6 people knew that the Programme was continuing in secret, boring steadily outwards, towards... : myself, Escudo, two scientists, and two of my University friends in the Ministry of INformation and the Ministry of Security. Nobody else was to suspect a thing. We worked on details.
Electricity usage records were falsified, and the two scientists working on the Programme were officially on holiday on another side of the world. Hardest of all, though, was lying every day to the Sultan, always unsure - did he know? Did he have the foresight of the last Sultan? I hoped not. My deceit was as perfect as possible. My every movement was accountable for, and the Sultan's orders were seen to be obeyed.
Escudo was never as uneasy as I was. His days were filled with setting down in writing what he had heard, and with spreading secretly the words of the Gods. He encouraged me when I was doubtful, and we prayed together in secret in the middle of the night, to avoid suspicion.
"Lords, help us to understand the world as You have set it out, and Your laws and guidance, and especially Your words as given to Your servant Escudo. We pray that You help us to put into practice what You have said in these times of great difficulty. May your Glory be praised."
Little did I know, as I prayed that night with Escudo and the two scientists that bulldozers were to move in, over the Temple. As Escudo and I heard the crashing sound we sat in confused silence and as one rushed to the door that led to the Temple. Reading the walls with haste, we reached the door to the Temple, pushed it open as quickly as possible, and saw a scene of terrible chaos. Priests were running around gathering holy objects from the Temple as the huge bulldozers advanced, destroying everything in their path. The greatest tapestry we had had been irrevocably lost already. Escudo was pale with shock, and I barged past him in a rush to stop the bulldozers. What was this? Some atheist terror act? Escudo, alive after a moment of stunned immobility, vaulted down the stairs and stood, commanding as never before, in front of the advancing demolition.
"Stop! What are you doing?"
The Sultan's silky voice came from behind. "Helping the search for the Gods in our sould, my dear Escudo. Surely, you approve?"
Escudo turned around.
"What, then do you do for the misguided ones, who have strayed and have only stones in their heart? Where can they look, if not out?"
The Sultan looked puzzled, then his face turned red as an adviser whispered in his ear. On an order, Escudo was seized by two soldiers and taken away. I kept silent, awed and powerless before the senseless destruction. I walked slowly back to Escudo's quarters, took his writings, and left with the scientists for the Centre. There I penned the epilogue to Escudo's book, and the epitaph to his life.
"As he proclaimed the word in the face of the infidels, the most pious Escudp was seized by the Sultan's men and taken to the most secure prison in all Unium. The next day they condemned him to death. He was shot by military firing squad two days later. May the Gods have mercy on them and bless Their servant and messenger Escudo Ezeraal."
On that same day, two years later, as students were demonstrating against the Sultan's tyranny, a warrant was issued for my arrest on charges of aiding Escudo and I was forced to stay confined in the Centre, shut off from the outside world, except by television. I saw pictures of troops firing at students, of bodies crushed by the onslaught of tanks. Placards were abandoned in the rush for safety, but the other end of the street was blocked by troops too. Finding themselves trapped, the students panicked. Some hit the grund (and were shot by soldiers from the rooftops). Others ran to side alleys, but found themselves circled by police. There were screams as more died and then white noise as the Binium TV transmission was jammed.
A week later the programme was ready, and I stepped into the small capsule that would take me to the real Outside.
Feller turned away from the keyboard, tired after composing his final transmission before the results of the mission. He wiped his brow of sweat and pressed the button that sent the message back to the Centre. The capsule he was in ploughed downwards relentlessly, in the dark of the underground, through rock and iron. In the silence of the capsule he read through the Book of Books, with its latest addition by Escudo. He could not read beyond the first page without a tear, but he knew that Escudo was with the Gods. That, he said silently to himself, was all that mattered. If the Gods were there at all. If not, what was there? Memories? Yes. Memories, of Eleanor, and of happiness.
Later he reached for the music player and chose at random from the tracks on offer, relaxing once more as the strains of a familiar melody filled the capsule. He tensed, and relaxed again.
"...for the look of you / every waking hour, I will."
The song finished, and Feller smiled a little, pleased to discover that this, the song that both he and Eleanor had loved, no longer reduced him to tears. It was over. This was certainly the end, and possibly a beginning. Whatever the outcome, the Gods were more important. Eleanor was in the past.
He found it difficult to sleep in the silence, but with music humming softly in the background, he dropped into dreams.
He was reading at his desk when he heard a strange noise. Calmly, he found the bookmark and marked his place in the stack of paper he was reading and walked to the window, which had snow on the sill. There was a man shouting something in a language he couldn't understand, and a priest making the sign of the pentagon, as a bulldozer ploughed into his house. "In your soul shall you live, Doctor," said the priest, manically, in the same voice Escudo had once used when teaching him. He jumped from the window and landed in summer-parched grass, and ran from the bulldozer and the soldiers, aware of the crack of gunfire from behind. He pushed his body as far as it could go, but always the bulldozer and the crowd that were hounding him were too fast. He was desperate. In his panic, he offered the most sincere prayer possible to the Gods, and to his amazement, the bulldozer and crowd turned away. He lay in the springtime field and relaxed, thanking Them for saving him, enjoying the company of Eleanor beside him, and their child playing nearby, among the wild flowers. He fell asleep.
...And woke up. Subdued nightlight came through the front of the capsule. Feller blinked, and gradually eased his limbs out of the cramped space. He stepped out into the remainder of the tunnel that had been bored; the laser cut edges were smooth and glassy to the touch, and there was a strange chill coming from a dimly visible light at the end. Walking forward, slowly at first, then more quickly, Feller moved towards the light and the end of his journey. The sound of his boots on the floor echoed hollowly along the tunnel until he stopped just short of the end, and knelt down. The stone was cold against his knees, but he forgot everything in prayer.
Green was the colour of the sea in this new world, and floating in it was the world, or an exact copy. Perfectly cuboid, with one, two, and three hills visible. Like the dice that are its models, maybe. They did play dice with fate. But where were they? Were there no Gods?
"Where are they then?"
Feller turned from the beautiful view to face the intruder. Recognition, even after all these years, was instant.
"Peter. Good evening," she said, and laughed, throwing back her hair with a toss of the head.
"What are you doing here?" asked Feller, his face pale with shock and confusion.
"Helping the people of Unium."
"To do what?"
"Seek the Gods in their souls, Peter. What else?" She smiled again. Feller felt physically sick, but choking it back he looked to Eleanor, noticing her Chapterist combat gear, with the rifle at her side.
"One of them, Eleanor? Have you really turned to the other side? How many have you killed for it? How many have died for your stupid ideas? How many? How many?" He broke down and wept, embracing her in spite of himself. He sobbed almost hysterically against her shoulder. Unexpectedly, she held him, comforting him. Gradually, the sobbing decreased.
"Not one of them. One of us, Peter."
"How many?" He asked softly.
She pushed him away, almost regretfully. "Only four. The old Sultan was the first."
So he had found the murderer, for all the good it would do now.
"Escudo was the second - it was a special privelege from the Sultan."
Feller slumped against the wall of the tunnel, looking blankly out to the world outside, devoid of Gods and hope.
"And the third? The fourth?"
"You and me, darling. In seeking the Gods, we have sinned, and now we must pay the price."
"But there are no Gods - not here!" he spluttered.
"Exactly so. Nobody can know that there are no Gods, so we must die."
"The Gods _do_ exist, though. What about Escudo's revelation?"
"What do you expect from a madman poisoned with mind-altering drugs?"
And, as he looked away at the sea of green, and the other world floating idly in that sea, laser fire cut into his skull. He fell against the side of the tunnel in death. "Three," whispered Eleanor to herself. She too looked out at the new world. "A game of chance," she murmured, and as tears formed in her eyes, she held the gun to her head, and pulled the trigger.