• • •
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.
“Christ, there’s such a thing as overkill, guy.”
“I know, sorry.” I’m not sorry. About that. The only thing I’m sorry about is the fact I’m not more sorry. Or sorry at all. In the slightest.
“Except for one thing,” I tell the floor, deliberately avoiding eye contact with the other Astral Gods. “I, uh… I’ve been feeling a little haunted lately, guys.”
I believe Chuck is having a hard time with my being here.
“How in the fuck are you feeling haunted? You’re, fuckin’… you’re fuckin’ you.”
“I am… but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be me.”
“Oh give me a fucking break…”
“What’s troubling you, Adam?” Arckaen asks. I like it when he speaks, the mane hairs around his mouth shudder with his breath almost like weeping willow boughs in the wind. “We’ll help if we can.”
“I don’t know that you guys can help me, to be honest,” I say, looking at the table rather than the floor. “I think it’s something only I can help myself with… but… maybe not. I don’t know, I guess I’ll just come out with it. It’s one of the universes. The uh, the one you’re working on now.”
“What about it?”
“I execrate it, that’s what. I absolutely abhor the established continuity of doubleyeW’Dash Twenty-Two’Twenty-Two. The seven Earths, The Advisorate, the lost stories, it’s just… it’s just deplorable, it’s despicable, it’s fuckin’… it’s fuckin’ dumb. I came up with the shit when I was high, like, far too high to be coming up with grand Existential plots and schemes, and I rolled with it like a moron. Now I’m sober and looking back at it and it’s so fucking stupid, for the love of Existence it’s goddamn retarded and I want it to end – no, I want it to have never existed in the first place! But I can’t have that because the books are already made. There’s no unmaking them. The continuity is poison and the only antidote is discontinuity, but I don’t know how to bring that about.”
“Huh. So how’s Psychedelia?”
I grit my teeth. “Haven’t seen her.”
“Huh. Well in that case,” Chuck starts like the smart aleck he is, like I haven’t thought of it already, like I’m some kind of asshole, “why don’t you just do it? Just end the universe; poof, gone.”
“Because that would be boring, Chuck. Watch.”
I raise my right hand and snap my fingers. Deep within The Void, a bubble pops. From the perspective of those living within Universe W-2222, calamity ensues. The planets quake as their skies fall and heavenly bodies blink out one by one. Darkness encroaches like a deranged militia as warlord death rides point on the back of a skeletal wyrm; one moment life is spiraling on as it oft’ does, the next it ends, then the next everything simply fades away. No pain goes felt, no sadness expressed; there is an instant of shock and awe as everything the arbitrary lifeforms know unravels, and then there are no arbitrary lifeforms, and then it all just drifts away.
“See what I’m sayin’?” I insist. “It’s so fucking basic it’s split across two pages, I can’t just do that. It’s fuckin’ lame.”
I raise my left hand for what amounts to little more than an obsessive compulsion to find balance in all things and snap my fingers. Universe W-2222 reforms exactly how it was before it got instantaneously eliminated from Existence for what must be the umpteenth time in my current stream of consciousness. I then wait for one of the Pillars Three to say something – hell, even Tom Foolery could offer his too sense – but The Writer’s Room stays silent for a time.
“Just putting it out there,” The Maned Man Arckaen Kyng, Pillar Mind of Existence puts out there, “you could absolutely just do that. You’re The Father of Existence, y–”
“DON’T SAY THAT! ”
But it’s too late. Virulent black stormclouds gather over the summit of The Mountain at the Center of Existence. Raindrops strike the roof of The Writer’s Room like obsidian hailstones as the stormy sky lets rip malevolent maelstroms of gusting wind. The pocket of nonExistence crimped ‘tween The Mountain and The Valley begins to expand, threatening to seep out into The Sandbox and corrupt the Astral Beings like it did Tom Foolery in books of yon. The rain pours and pours, the wind continues to blow, and piles of paper shudder on The Writer’s Room table.
The Father is displeased with His children.
“I’m not The Father of Existence!” I squeal. “Kyng misspoke, that’s all! It was a mistake! It was only words, and words just get in the way! That’s word to ¡MAYDAY!”
The Grain of Sand housing The Mountain settles back into a blissful state of tranquility. I strike The Maned Man with a wicked backhand, but his facial hair absorbs the majority of the blow.
“Look,” I say unapologetically, “I know I can do it, but it’s not about whether or not I can. It’s about whether or not I should, and I know for a fact that I shouldn’t.”
“Why shouldn’t you?” asks The Brained Man, drawing my attention. I peer deeply into his eyes, deeper than I mean to, so deeply it feels as though he’s dragging me in and all I can see is death, destruction, fire, brimstone, worlds set ablaze by putrid black fire. I have to literally slap myself in the head to escape.
“Because that’s not the right way to do it, Adom.”
“But it would feel right.”
“Fuck your feelings, it wouldn’t be right.”
Having finished all his popcorn, Chuck consumes the tub in a single bite and stands up, makes a show of stretching his arms above his head, then looks at me squarely.
“So what’s the right way, chief? All pettiness aside it’s good to see you, but in your own words, There are books to be made. So why don’t you tell us what we have to do and then we’ll do it and then you can go back to your self-imposed imprisonment like a good little tortured creator deity, m’kay?”
“Well that’s just the bitch of it, Chuck: I don’t know what the right way is. I know there’s a right way, but I don’t know what it is. But, I do know there is a right way. I need to think on it… I just need to go think on it.”
“Okay… so go think on it.”
“I am. Right now. But that’s not why I’m here.”
“THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU HERE?! ” the four of them shout simultaneously, solely because I willed it so.
“Because I’m insane, but that’s not to say there’s no method to my madness. See, Chuck, your anger carries no aspirations, but in my madness lies a method. There is a human on Cosmic Earth, Jonathan Knox. He’s hard to kill.”
“We noticed,” grumbles Chuck Leary.
“I’m glad,” I smile in the fashion of The Maned Man. I then put my hand to my chin and lick the inside of my bottom lip. “You know what else is hard? Properly closing out a half-baked continuity. There’s a parallel here, boys, a story to tell, a book to be made. Jonathan Knox is hard to kill, yes, but he can be killed, and you three are going to do it. At the end of the first Jonathan Knox book the ‘man was imprisoned, so therefore he must now be emancipated. See, in telling the story of the emancipation of Jonathan Knox, you three will bring him to his death; in killing the ‘man described as hard to kill, the established continuity of Universe doubleyeW’Dash Twenty-Two’Twenty-Two will poof away and the rest of the universe will go right along with it. It’s logical, its sensible, it’s completely straightforward; most of all, it’s all on you guys. We on the same page here?”
Nobody says anything for a moment. Then, from the corner, Tom Foolery lets me know that what I laid out makes hardly a single lick of sense, and it is in this moment that I finally and truly understand why Tom Foolery has been sat in the corner.
“It will all work out in the end. Things always do.” I take a single step backwards towards the door. “Look, just write the book as it comes to you like you normally do. I’ll go back to Eden and send it to you, like I normally do. It’ll all be fine in the end, like it normally is. Okay?”
“Adam,” Chuck says, fixing me with that square gaze again.
“You need help, buddy. Talking to the voices in your head is getting you somewhere, but that somewhere is nowhere you want to be.”
I backpedal the rest of the way out. The solid wood door of the purple glass knob swings shut and dematerializes, leaving only an impenetrable wall in its place.
Chuck sighs, assumes the position at the table. Picks up his pencil. Places the tip to the page. Sighs again.
“All right,” he says, clearly frustrated at his creator’s lack of competence and sense of reality in general. “Sooo… uh… where were we?”
“I got ya, man,” covers The Maned Man. He turns to the next page and begins to write out the same sentence Chuck wrote as the first line of this book. Chuck looks down at his own stack of paper and watches his pencil scrawl along in tandem before adding quotation marks to either side.
This has been the end 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~