The Fountain Of The Fork

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Conquistador Tomás Verde in New Spain fights a band of Mayans to gain entry into a pyramid, where he is attacked by a Mayan priest. The story intercuts to a similar looking man, tending a tall tree in a glass dome biosphere travelling through space, annoyed by a woman called Izzi. Finally, a third iteration, present-day doctor Tom Creo, is losing his wife Izzi to a brain tumor. Tom is working on a cure using samples from a tree found through exploration in Guatemala, which are being tested for medicinal use for degenerative brain diseases in his lab. Izzi has come to terms with her mortality, but Tom refuses to accept it, focused on his quest to find a cure for her. She writes a story called "The Fountain" about Queen Isabella losing her kingdom to the Inquisition and a commission given by her to Tomás Verde to search for the Tree of Life in the Central American forest in Mayan territory. As she does not expect to finish her book, Izzi asks Tom to finish it for her. As they look up at the golden nebula of Xibalba, she imagines, as the Mayans did, that their souls will meet there after death and when the star goes supernova. She dies shortly thereafter and Tom dedicates himself to curing not only her disease but death itself after seeing experimental success in reversing aging. His colleagues fear that this drive has made him reckless, but they support him in his scientific work and emotionally at Izzi's funeral. Tom plants a sweetgum seed at Izzi's grave in the manner of a story she told him relating how a Mayan guide's dead father lived on in a tree nourished by the organic nutrients of the buried body.