• • •
Jonathan Knox is hard to kill.
“I don’t understand.”
The point of his pencil crumbles to dust beneath the sudden increase in pressure from above. He looks over the rims of his sunshades to gaze forlornly at The Maned Man.
“You don’t understand what? ”
“That first line. Jonathan Knox is hard to kill.”
“What don’t you understand about it?”
“Why he is hard to kill.”
He sucks air through his nose with the force of a demented vacuum, holds it, and lets it blow out between his lips, all whilst maintaining eye contact. “I was getting there.”
“Were you?” monotones The Brained Man in that monotone goddamn voice of his. “Or were you getting here?”
He looks down at the page and sees two things: A, his pencil has miraculously fixed itself, and 2, all these words are written beneath the first line, all in his handwriting.
“I-I…I…ff…uhck… nnnn…” he stammers, trembling with rage, trying with all his might to shatter the pencil forever gripped ‘tween his fingers. Trying and failing.
The failure only enrages him more.
“What is it?” The Maned Man offers. “Use your words, big guy.”
The trembling stops. He sits up bolt straight and drops the pencil – happy day, the fucking pencil dropped! – and looks up at The Maned Man, at The Brained Man, at Tom Foolery sitting off in the corner. Then back to The Maned Man and those gold-rim purple-lens glasses on his hairy-ass face. The Maned Man seems to shrink at his gaze, it’s almost as though his lifeforce compresses itself, grows dense like a pair of testicles shriveling up to pay homage to the spirit of the walnut.
“Well, Arckaen,” he says, “I’ll keep it real with you – there’s something that I don’t understand, and it’s bothering me.”
The Maned Man and The Brained Man share uneasy eyes. Tom Foolery tries to get in on it, but he’s ignored.
“What, uh… what don’t you understand, Chuck?”
“It’s simple, really,” Chuck simplifies. He stands up, brushes his gloved hands on his black blazer, cups those gloved hands around his goatee’d mouth, and at the top of his infinite lungs, shouts, “WHAT THE FUCK WE’RE FUCKING DOING HERE!!1!”
“Did he just say one, like he accidentally let go of the shi–”
“Shut the fuck up, Tom Foolery!” snarls The Suited Man as a finger and the black leather it’s wrapped in are jabbed at Tom Foolery. “You’re in the corner for a fucking reason! ”
“Why is Tom in the corner?” The Maned Man asks himself, even though everyone else hears it.
“Yeah, why am I in the corner?” Tom Foolery asks everyone besides himself. “Why can’t I sit at the table anymore?”
Chuck’s bottom eyelid twitches but I’m not sure which one, because of his black sunshades and all. “Because The fucking Prophecy said so, you stupid motherfucker. Speak when you’re spoken to.”
“But you just spo–”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP, FOOLERY!”
Tom Foolery shrinks physically, falls deep into his corner.
“Why are you so angry, Chuck?” wonders The Brained Man with the hood of his infinity cloak pulled securely over his head for everybody’s safety.
“Why am I so angry?” Chuck asks as though Brained stuck a knife into his eye socket and asked why he was crying blood. “Why am I so angry?! Because I’m fucking here, you braindead jackass! Because I am The Suited Man Chuck Leary, Pillar Soul of Existence! I’m the most powerful fucking creature in all of fucking everything and I’m stuck in The fucking Writer’s Room scriving endless tomes for the goddamn Astral God of Asshole! Why the fuck aren’t you two as ribbed as I am?!”
They eye each other, then Chuck. The Maned Man Arckaen Kyng, Pillar Mind of Existence shrugs uncaringly. “Because it is what it is, dawg. We’re here because Ad–”
“DON’T,” Chuck cuts in with hot plumes of fire pouring out of his ears for emphasis, “invoke his fuckin’ name, Maned! Don’t you fucking dare invoke his name!”
“Why not?” said with a smug little shit-eating little go fuck yourself little smirk.
“Because he’ll appear and we’ll have to fucking deal with it, y’fuckin’ dipwad,” Chuck explains. He then sighs, defeated, and retakes his seat. He curls his fingers and pushes his sunshades up his face with his hands, uses them as eye patches (mostly because they’re already black). “It’s horrific enough he keeps us locked in this tiny cabin, man. I don’t want to have to deal with him in the… reality.”
“He’s not all that bad,” says Tom Foolery. The Pillars Three ignore the living shit out of him. The corner only grows deeper, only grows darker, bottomless like the seven towns of Wuester, New Jersey.
Uncounted moments pass. Maned and Brained sit patiently with their pencils gripped, points to paper, waiting for Chuck to unfold his arms and stop pouting and just get on doing what he needs to do, but Chuck keeps his arms folded, Chuck keeps on pouting, Chuck refuses to do what he needs to do. Typical.
“This is not fucking typical,” Chuck mumbles into his lap. “Usually I’m the shit. You’re using me to make a point, asshole.”
Arckaen and Adom gaze uneasily at one another again. An ocular huddle is held, subtle twitches of the eyeball exchanged back and forth like whispered words. Arckaen finally blinks, and Adom Hilter expresses zero emotion.
“You, eh… you say something, Chuck?”
Chuck just shakes his head.
“I mean… we all just heard you.” To Tom Foolery, “You heard that, right Tom?”
“I did,” Tom Foolery says from the forefront of the corner.
“See? Even Tom Foolery heard you, Chuck.”
Chuck laughs the strain of laugh which only sprouts from soil fertilized by uninterrupted epochs of Existential misery. “I didn’t say a fuckin’ thing, Maned. Adam did.”
“You just said Adam, Chuck,” The Brained Man points out with deadpan delivery.
Chuck shakes his fedora’d head, titters his miserable titter. “I didn’t say a fuckin’ thing…”
“No,” Brained agrees, “you did not say a fuckin’ thing…. You said Adam, Chuck.”
No, he didn’t. It was me. I was just using his mouth.
Three of the four heads (it would be all four if one of them wasn’t weighed down by the woeful puss brewing within his goatee) turn to one of the four walls of The Writer’s Room where a door, a true to life solid wooden door with a functioning glass doorknob – purple, too, straight off Horseshoe Trail – appears, swings open, and presents none other than
“Hold up,” Chuck says, bubbling with free will. He leans the chair back on two legs so he can kick his feet up on the table. A bucket of buttered salted popcorn appears between his hands. He doesn’t even take his gloves off before he starts going in on it. The chewing is monstrous and feels intentionally so.
“Lovely,” he spews. “Okay, go ahead.”
“What are you doing?”
“Waiting for the inevitable.”
He takes four handfuls of popped corn in a single hand and stuffs it into his mouth. The haul hits his stomach – his infinite stomach(s) – without him needing to chew. And/or swallow. “I knew it would happen eventually, and now here it is. Go ahead, bigshit. Go on and introduce yourself, for the sake of allllll those hypothetical readers. Because we know who you are, and you know who you are, and nobody else is fucking here.”
Chuck looks into empty space, almost like he was staring directly into a camera – or shooting a gaze at a reader through a page of a book – and belches, “Get ready, this is going to take a while. Dude needs at least seven nametag stickers.”
…anyway, three of the four heads stare at the wooden door with the purple glass doorknob as it swings open to reveal… “You know, you kind’a ruined it.”
“Did I?” Chuck says with a very The Maned Man grin about his face. “Oh no. I guess you’ll just have to go the fuck back from whence you fucking came. Awww, so sad!”
“Speaking of which,” Tom Foolery says from his co–… wait, he’s supposed to be sitting at the table with the others, why is he in the corner? “how’s Planet Eden treating you, Adam?”
“How is Planet Eden treating him?” Chuck asks, his hands as grubby as his tone of voice. “C’mon Tom, don’t you remember the bigfoot book? Poor little Adam all alone on Planet Eden with no Eve to keep him company. It’s treating him how it should be – like an asshole.”
Chuck isn’t looking at Tom Foolery anymore.
“Because you’re an asshole, bud. Real grade-Ay sphincter. Top of the class hole in the ass right he–”
A dam of skin closes over Chuck Leary’s mouth to restrain the torrent of shit he keeps talking. He grunts in disapproval, but I have a feeling it’s mostly because he can’t eat more of his popcorn.
“Eden is fine, Tom. Thank you for asking.”
“So what are you doing here?” The Maned Man asks. Chuck raises his tub of popcorn, as if to second it, but he goes ignored. “I mean, not try’n’a be rude or anything, but you’re imprisoned on Planet Eden for a reason. Why’d you escape?”
I shrug. “I didn’t really escape, per se. I’m the one who keeps myself exiled there. I can leave whenever I want to, y’know?”
“Yes, we know,” The Brained Man Adom Hilter, Pillar Body of Existence confirms from beneath his infinity cloak. Christ I love that infinity cloak, shit looks great on him. “It’s just like us being locked in here. We can leave whenever you want us to, but you never want us to leave.” There is zero expression on his face, zero inflection in his voice. “You never let us leave, Adam. You never let us leave The Writer’s Room.”
“I know,” I concede, willing pockets into my pants so I can do something with my hands, “and there’s a reason for that, too. Listen, at least I keep you guys in The Writer’s Room. You could be stuck in The Writing Room with Mu and the Incarnates.”
With his hand willed into the form of a dagger, Chuck stabs himself a new mouth, screams in pain (hah, I win), and says, “What the fuck do you want, Adam?” with blood dripping down his chin like he just caught a facial.
[to be cont’d]
This has been the beginning of the prologue of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~