The 2020 Event |The Main Event|

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Chapter 0
Prologue

Ambitious Monkey Lads

First, there was nothing. Then, there was everything. Now, there is anything. We all continuously choose between the three on an everlasting basis, the culmination of these choices bringing us to what we know as right here and right now, the present moment. Here we are… but where the hell are we?

Earth: a huge, yet still relatively small planet compared to what else is out there, is really nothing special. It’s got some dirt, a large body of water, a lengthy but unimpressive history, and some more dirt. For the past couple thousand years or so, some very ambitious monkey lads who assume they’ve evolved to their pinnacle have obliviously ruled over this planet with a cancerous fist, pulling resources and slinging the waste wherever they go all in the name of a specific variety of shiny rock that someone, somewhen, decided to label as not only gold, but also as valuable. And important. You see, these monkeys humbly started as a backdrop species of nomadic hunters and gatherers, quietly roaming the plains in tribes as they followed herds of undomesticated livestock wherever they went. It was a simple time; one would eat, sleep, shit, fuck, and occasionally smoke some herbs, and that was life. It was wonderful… until a child of the leader of one of these tribes cried out, “Nah, don’t wanna keep moving. Gonna build a cave out of wood instead.”

The child was outcasted immediately, exiled to wander alone amongst the forests for the rest of its days without so much as a spear to gank a deer with. Despite this, its cry was heard; others supported this monkey, the ex-child of some other monkey, and eventually this group of wannabe settlers got kicked out of their tribe, too. But once they found the original rebel child, who had hidden itself down in the one part of the valley where the sun rarely shines, they all teamed up and founded what they believed was first town ever, a clearing in a forest amounting to little more than a collection of a few wooden huts surrounding a stone well.

How’d they get the well? One of the monkeys saw it in a dream after they ate a weird, almost penis-looking thing that was growing from one of the many pies that fell from the asses of their livestock, and then they built it from memory. Duh.

After some time, the creation of this town led to the adoption of an agricultural lifestyle by the entire species, more or less; some chose not to evolve but, well, natural selection works in mysterious ways.

With homesteading firmly under their belts, these slightly less uncivilized bipedal creatures then went through a few rounds of industrialization, a process in which work becomes a way of life. Thanks to luck and not much else, two or three of our monkeys also invented tools that did a lot of work in a little bit of time, so long as said tools were constantly operated by another human. Then, one of them invented something called mass production and the results of that luck were suddenly available to everybody – that is, for a certain arbitrary amount of gold, or more concisely, for a price.

Here’s the thing though: the industrial tools need to be operated, and operating said tools makes one dirty. The monkeys who started the whole gold thing? They didn’t want the other poorer monkeys to muddle up their precious prettyprettyshinyshinies, so they expanded the financial family a little bit and created a thing called a dollar. A dollar is a physical metaphor for gold, but instead of being shiny and a rock, it’s dull and made of green paper.

So basically, it’s a leaf.

As our monkey marauders went about expanding their little town, they took the idea of a dollar and fuckin’ ran with it, allowing their minds to become warped around an idea called Dollarism. The rules of this -ism are simple: broken down to the barest of bones, the goal of your life is to actively transmute your time on Earth into either gold or gold’s less shiny, papery cousin; whoever dies with the coolest toys and most metaphorical rocks wins!

What do they win? Death in a big hut of course, surrounded by the remaining other humans who still have something to gain in caring about them, accompanied by the notion that they probably could have done more for others while they were still alive.

Anywho, Dollarism isn’t total chickenshit! Its influence lead to the development of what we know as modern-day Earth: a polluted, wheezing rock that’s vastly overpopulated by the technologically overstimulated descendants of the original crazy monkey creatures. They’re not even doing that bad for themselves – they took the idea of a town and evolved it into something called a country, which is basically a specific piece of land that one might be born on. Those born on certain specific pieces of land are automatically better, faster, stronger, and in possession of more dollars than those born on other specific pieces of land, but that’s okay; on the whole, things could be worse. In fact, the monkeys are currently on their longest streak without a major worldwide deathmatch between the arbitrary countries they use to divide themselves up with in the past… well, it depends on what will go down in the next few years. The history books they print up for their consumer bases will tell of either World War III or the Colder War, depending on which planet you live on. If there are planets left to live on, or a “you” to inhabit them, that is.

Regardless of the possibilities, as the human population began to sprout legs and lose its tail, the Dollarism idea chose a specific one of these “countries” to be its embodiment, the one true carrier of all its pure and righteous ideals. This country became known as the United States of America, and it was, at one point, the top global superpower of Earth. Yes, the USA: the one country above all that could singlehandedly cause the most irreversible devastation if shit were to hit the fan on a global stage. How super.

So, as this modern US of ‘Murica came into form, a certain just unhinged enough human grew and festered inside of it, over time losing all patience towards his government’s rules, regulations and large, swinging… obelisk. This growth led to the development of New Manhattan, a beaudious chunk of used plastic and space junk that was repurposed into an island cityscape off the coast of northern New Jersey. In this metropolis there are no rules, no regulations, no publicly agreed upon morals or ethics, and a whole lot of freedom. It’s essentially a large, open world sandbox video game, except that you need billions of real-world dollars to enter – so pretty much it’s a pay to win type deal. Once you’re in though, you either fly yourself out, or you don’t come out; this is because of the towering, doorless titanium wall surrounding the city. The United States’ government wasn’t too keen on a bunch of its wealthiest subjects doing whatever they wanted without paying up a share in levies, you see, and it made a single attempt to take a piece of the lawless Dollarific action of New Manhattan before the great wall was constructed, and multiple attempts after, but these attacks didn’t amount to much. Especially because two years after New Manhattan was founded, the United States government collapsed in on itself and the arbitrarily defined states went from united to untied real quick.

But anyway, as rich and luscious as the history behind New Manhattan is, that’s not what you want to read about; you don’t want exposition and data! You want action, you want characters, you want a story. So, allow me to take you about one trillion miles in the opposite direction of New Manhattan into the harsh coldness of deep space where there’s a Colorado-sized meteor hurling its way directly towards Earth this very second.

Bob The Meteor

So this meteor, let’s call it, uh… Bob, has been traversing the infinite nothingness for quite some time now. It has been tracked by multiple species over the course of its life–

Actually, scratch that. I guess you wouldn’t call it a life. Well, I certainly wouldn’t; Bob is an inanimate object, after all. Okay, let me try again:

It’s been tracked by countless intelligent races over the course of its existence, all these higher beings worried that the rock would smash into their planet and cause, yanno, one apocalyptic calamity or another. Bob will never hit a planet though, Bob is a supersmart meteor; it likes to scare lifeforms, to get their blood pumping for the sole purpose of reminding them that there is, and always will be, something out there that’s bigger than them. Many lifeforms have tried to stop Bob, launching everything from rocks, missiles, energy beams, even blocking it with an entire moon once, but it just keeps hurling along, undisturbed by all the pebbles tinking off its surface.

Yes, from the plainlands of planet Tlactrol to the hive-minded colonies of Marix drifting throughout the cosmos, Bob has spread feelings of cataclysmic horror, panic, and dread through the entire Universe; in fact, Bob knocked a Boolevarian weather monitoring satellite off its course just an hour ago! Poor bastards, their supplies of viscous sap lumps will surely freeze now that their televisions can’t tell them how cold their troposphere will be tonight. Oh well; there are lifeforms with lives that Bob needs to jumble, it can’t be focusing on the lives it’s already tickled.

Or anything really, because, you know. Inanimate meteor.

Going back to Earth now, there’s one human whose life is about to get particularly jumbled. His name is Chuck, and he’s the CEO of Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated, one economical body among the trillions operating within the impenetrable wall of New Manhattan. Today, instead of cruising around the city in a self-driving carpool whilst hopped up on Magic Mushrooms, Chuck is flying around the upperest atmosphere of the planet in a little diddy (read: death trap with guns) that he likes to call the Id Mk II.

The original Id Mk I, a helicopter body equipped with seventeen jet engines instead of a propeller, died tragically in a house(s) fire on Christmas Eve a few years back, so Chuck built a new one with his bare leather wallet. The Id Mk II has nineteen engines, plus a tail propeller for the hell of it, but it’s still virtually impossible to fly… through the air. Where there is no air resistance, however, there is only propulsion, and the Id Mk II excels where propulsion is the only factor. Chuck is not on a jaunt though, this cosmic exploration is not meant for gazing upon the trillions of glowing stars that light up this mysterious and infinite blackish-blueish thing we found ourselves marinating in; our suited man has a mission, one bestowed upon him by a very close friend named Sigmund. You see, there’s a little-acknowledged fact about the space around Earth – it’s not just empty space. Much like the gigantic island of plastic junk floating in the Specific Ocean, there is a layer of spacey junk orbiting the planet – broken satellites, spent fuel pods, ancient functional devices left behind by advanced lifeforms eons ago, rocks, functioning satellites – it’s all there, and it’s all extremely dangerous to any potential space traveler going to or from Earth. And this, to quote rocket scientist Sigmund Durham himself, “…is, like, a really, really big problem,” (Durham, 2019).

The Id Mk II, equipped with a cloaking feature to avoid the ensuing gossip from being spotted by the foreign astronauts aboard any of the various intranational space stations, is also equipped with guns. Big, whomphus blastabangbang guns which shoot lead, pure plasmic kinetic energy, and/or whatever the pilot can stuff down the barrels. One time, back in ‘012 but before the government collapsed, Chuck filled the Id Mk I’s barrel with plain tobacco leaves wrapped around some ground up wacky tobbaccy flower, screaming the word BLUNTDERBUS at the top of his lungs as he fired upon a group of protesting US Dollarists and politicians who weren’t allowed access into New Manhattan because they couldn’t afford a way inside by themselves. It helped a lot to make the protest peaceful, if nothing else.

Anyway, so Chuck is flying around the last whiff of atmosphere between space and Planet Mediocrity, bobbing and weaving through traveling patches of debris as he sets his phasers to decimate and makes short work of the bits and pieces of cosmic litter which are devoid enough of motion to even entertain the idea of shooting. He’s more than merely aware that this is the interstellar equivalent of picking plastic bottles out of a landfill and throwing them into an incinerator, but he keeps on picking anyway. He needs to do this for Sigmund, literally; dude has as much say in the matter as Swimmy The Fish did regarding living in the vinegar inside the experimental exosuit that Chuck had Sigmund build to test how quickly vinegar could be transmuted into life-sustaining water.

Rest in pickles, Swimmy The Fish.

Sigmund is a pusher of the opinion that extraterrestrials (because the word alien is offensive) not only exist, but that they run rampant in the little star system we call home. He thinks the aliens never visit Earth because doing so is too dangerous, the risk it would take to break through the junkosphere would be far greater than the reward, whatever that reward may be.

So yeah, here we are. Chuck is zipping around in shallow space destroying some garbage while Sigmund is monitoring him from underneath the ground that’s underneath the plasti’spa’junk that’s underneath the intersection of Rylitath and Golskap, a street corner where a man is about to get mugged by two overcoat-clad teenagers armed with flintlock pistols that shoot chipped microchip fragments and burnt roaches. Now what?

Chuck’s comms clicks on, that’s what.

“Hey uhh, hey Chuck.”

“Yessir? How can I be of service, oh humble The Escortair Of Aliens?” said as seriously as he can manage.

“Very funny, but it’s extraterrestrials. Show some respect, they might be listening to this!”

Chuck’s eyes look up at the ceiling of his craft while the rest of his head takes on a somewhat sullen scowl. “Sorry, extrater-fucking-restrials. So what’s up?”

“I see something on your radar.”

Chuck looks into the space around him, the emptiness of it all littered with fat chunks of metal, stone and plastic. In other words, there’s a whole lot of somethings out here.

“Do you mean the massive amount of shit you have me cleaning up? Because I don’t need no radar to see all that.”

“No, you don–”

“It’s alllllllll right here buddy,” Chuck says into the microphone, speaking with his hands like a deaf Italian.

“…No, you don’t even have a radar in there.”

“I wha–”

“I see something big. Like really, really big. That’s two reallies, Chuck.”

“Shit, well why didn’t you say so? How far away is it?”

“About… nine hundredish or so thousand miles out, as of right now.”

A pause occurs, the static from the comms device filling the void of communicationless silence between the suited man and his happy scientist cohort. “Are… you serious? You interrupted my work to tell me there’s some… literally some thing nine hundred million miles away from me?”

“Yes, indeed I did, if by million you mean thousand. It’s uh… about… sevenhunnidfittythousan’ out right now,” said in a mumble, Sigmund’s brain too distracted with math to properly enunciate his words. Then, perked up, “Hey, how much garbage did you destroy so far?”

“I don’t know dude, a bunch? A whole lotta? An assload?”

“Okay, a metric assload or just a normal one?” Sigmund says as a droplet of sweat rides a sled down the mountainous Alp-like surface of his forehead. “There is a difference, you know.”

The Id Mk II’s cannons make a loud PSHEW noise as a detached solar panel is utterly disintegrated from this reality.

“How’s that for your metric assload? Hah.”

Chuck hears a faint scribbling noise coming through the audial snow. “Look Chuck, I’m trying to keep track here, for the show and all, and I–”

“Hey uh…” Chuck suddenly cuts in, his voice dropping octaves worse than a pubescent preteen girl who’s sprouting her first chin hairs, “how far away is that bogey again?”

“Oh, well I’d saaay… about…” Sigmund trails off.

“Um… you’d say about nothing? Like, it passed me?”

Silence creeps its way through the wireless comms line.

“Well?”

“Sorry, I was waiting for an even number. About two hundred miles. Why?”

“Bec–” is all that comes through Sigmund’s comms.

Chuck would have finished his sentence but, as you may have guessed, Bob reared its boulderish self and utterly bodied the Id Mk II, taking both it and its pilot for a little joyride both through and into deeper and deeper space. The Earth, having zero slingshot effect on Bob’s massive mass of mass, shrinks into a tiny little pale blue dot until it disappears from what would be Chuck’s sight if he had his eyes open and was facing the right direction.

Eventually Chuck does open his eyes to find his body – and ship – miraculously still intact. He pinches his arm a few times to make sure what’s happening isn’t a dream, and then he gives his own face a slap for extra confirmation, the hairs of his goatee not appreciating the rough contact. Artificial Earth air is drawn into his lungs and exhaled, that’s nice; breathing is still possible. The craft seems to be undamaged too, other than the camouflage.

How ‘bout that, the closest thing we have to a main character survived getting struck by a meteor. In the Prolo–

Slight feelings of dread grip the psychedelic astronaut as he tries once, twice, and then a seventh time to activate comms and talk to Sigmund, all to no avail. Stars, asteroids, and dark nothingness pass by the ship as Bob continues beaming along, completely unaware of the passenger it has picked up. This is not because the Id Mk II is so insignificant compared to Bob, nor is it because Bob is stupid; Bob is simply a space rock and lacks the awareness, just like Chuck lacks the knowledge of how the fuck he’s going to get himself out of this one.

Chuck removes a joint from an inner coat pocket and places it in the left corner of his mouth, unsure of how he’s securely clenching it there but clenching it, nonetheless. He begins feeling around for a lighter, but there doesn’t seem to be one in either of his inner pockets, or his outer pockets, or his pants pockets… ruh-roh. It’s one thing to be hurling through space via gigantic rock, but to be doing so while unable to smoke? No. Chuck decided a long time ago that he would be high for his death, and he’s incapable of getting high right now. Therefore, he figures, this is not his time to die.

A lightbulb lights up in Chuck’s head similarly to how the tail propeller button lights up on the dashboard of his craft. He checks his mirrors to see that Bob, in his girth, bent the craft’s tail in a way so the propeller is pressed flat against the rock. The joint floats out of Chuck’s mouth as he subconsciously opens it into a wide gape, awestruck at the sheer luck and perfection of this obvious and blatant coincidence.

The Id Mk II’s propeller is no ordinary helicopter propeller, you see. Chuck’s other partially helicopteric crafts, for the most part, have blades made of an expansive assortment of materials, such as steel, aluminum, titanium, and the potassium from the tears of those who see them but can’t afford to own them. The Id Mk II, however, is special; these blades, and the craft in general, are made from a previously undiscovered metal that crashed into Earth in the form of a different meteor, this one named… Rob. Yeah, let’s go with Rob. The priceless materials inside of Rob, while not as quantitatively abundant, are significantly more dense, flexible, and useful than the priceless materials inside of Bob. Rob’s metal, called robinite by the humans, can be melded and crafted into whatever the craftsman can imagine, using the right equipment. It can be used for damn near anything in damn near any situation, and it will hold up indefinitely against the forces of time and erosion… probably.

Sigmund doesn’t know this for sure, but when he first looked at the molecular structure of the material, he was absolutely astounded to find a completely unfamiliar and impossible looking formation of protons, neutrons and electrons, plus a fourth -on which he wasn’t previously aware of. Thus, he figured he’d be rather liberal in his description of the material within his own private notes. Sue him.

Before implementing the Robinite into the tail propeller though, Sigmund tested the junk out by building a Formula 2 racecar with an aerodynamic battering ram mounted on the front and sending it full-speed into the New Manhattan wall – the car came out spotless. The wall, on the other hand, was left with a gnarly half-inch deep square-shaped dent the likes of which Sigmund, nor the hundreds of innocent bystanders, had ever seen. The dent’s now decorated with a large wreath of flowers and a nice memorial plaque telling the tall tale of how the truly impenetrable wall was damaged, not destroyed or penetrated but damaged, not by any of the multiple wannabe invading forces across the planet but by a single human man, a man who lives inside the city. A NewMann, with two ns because he’s so nnew.

The driver of the car, on the other other hand, quite literally died to pieces. Upon impact, the limbs and fragments of the test robot shattered at an atomic level, leaving zero trace of its existence in the first place. So, one thing led to another and the car was melted back down into a raw, more usable form. A small chunk of the robinite was melded into the Id Mk II, but the remainder was stored in one of the many vaults buried deep beneath the surface of the plastic bedrock substitute underneath the Cape Enterprises, Unc. building, but not as deep as where Sigmund currently sits. Speaking of which, Sigmund is actually having a panic attack down in his cave right now because of how long ago Chuck disappeared from both radar and the communication line. There’s no helping Sigmund when he’s hyperventilating, he just needs to find a brown paper bag. But uh, in the meantime, let’s check on Chuck, shall we?

Ah good, he’s tunneled about halfway through Bob the Meteor. Where Rob the Meteor was made from robinite, Bob the Meteor is made from a material called bobinite, which is remarkably different from robinite in composition, application, strength, color, odor; the only similarity the two share is the fact they both came from outer space, robinite being a chunk of an obliterated moon once called Cyklomoor and bobinite being the obliterating factor. Robinite is a very sturdy material, damn near impossible to be penetrated by any materials other than itself; the metal’s a bluish silver in hue with a shiny gloss and, strangely enough, it faintly emanates the scent of Earth’s cedar trees. Bobinite, on the other hand, is a crumbly brown material that looks like a bunch of vermiculite was packed together at high pressures and left to ferment for a few years before being set loose into the great wide open. It also regenerates into its original shape after a certain amount of time, regardless of the amount of material it’s lost; no scientist has ever had the opportunity to study Bob the Meteor, nor the bobinite it’s composed of, but if they had, they wouldn’t be able to figure out how it actually works. Not by a long shot.

As for odor, bobinite smells like a combination of good cheese and bad milk, and its scent is stronger on the inside than the out. In fact, on the inside, Bob’s scent is just odiously potent enough to leak through the hull of the Id Mk II, the smell-induced shock nearly causing Chuck to lose the joint from his mouth again. Nearly is the operative term there – there isn’t much in Existence that could come between this man and his plant, and a smell sure as hell isn’t gonna do it.

All right, so at this point I’ve shot the shit to pieces just long enough for Chuck to bore his ass, and the ship it’s sat in, out of Bob. Chuck watches as the gigantic rock flies away from him like the school bus did when he was seven and he got tripped into a puddle by a bigger kid and all his classmates and the seventy-year-old bus driver with two teeth pointed and laughed at him so hard that he had to switch schools… I mean… like a… bird… flying away. Yes, into the void it goes, each little fragment of stone left behind from the boring akin to a down feather drifting on the wind, traveling without a destination from no place special to nowhere at all.

After Bob’s disappeared from his perception and therefore the rest of reality as he knows it, Chuck does a quick spinny thing in his emancipated yet slightly decimated craft to find that he can see absolutely nothing behind him, aside from the light being beamed in his direction by balls of gigantic exploding element factories quite a distance away.

Stars. All he can see is stars.

Chuck refaces Bob, or at least where Bob once was, to see more of the same – a vast, empty nothingness populated by nothing more than stars and more stars.

There’s only one thing left now, as far as Chuck is concerned.

He dons his spacesuit, skintight with a glass dome headpiece and completely impervious to the harshness that is deep space, and goes for a little float. He carries with him a small gadget with a button and the joint as he precariously tumbles and spazzes through the empty space around his Id Mk II, taking his sweet time to locate and position himself in front of his absolute favorite jet engine, the one with a woolly mammoth etched into it. A press of a button on his left sleeve generates a plasmic forcefield around Chuck, and the Earth-air generator in his suit works overtime to bloat said forcefield full of breathable air. Chuck removes his dome and watches it float before him, realizing just how hard it is to see translucent objects in space. Seriously, there could be some kind of glass spaceship clad in false two-way windows floating alongside him right now and he would be none the wiser. No matter though, not even aliens can save Chuck now… not that he wants them to, anyway.

Chuck distances himself from the engine and places the joint in his mouth, leaning forward to stick just the twisted-off tip outside his forcefield. He raises up the device in his other hand and studies it out of the corner of his eye for a moment, as if he’s unsure of the potential consequences of his actions. Then he thinks, ‘Fuck it,’ and presses the button, igniting the engine and lighting the tip of his joint in one swift motion. As Chuck leans back and hits the happystick, he watches his spacecraft tumble and roll away, guided by the single engine and literally nothing else – that’s the swift part, the Id Mk II disappears from dude’s sight before he can even think about taking a third hit.

Floating alone in deep space inside a bubble of thick fog and thin air, Chuck takes a moment to reflect on his life. He thinks back to his childhood, motherless with a father who actively cared less after every interaction; to his outcasted days in the many schools he attended because he was never in one place long enough to make friends; to his college experience, where he spent no more than a couple weeks experimenting with all the drugs he could possibly get inside his system after meeting Sigmund, and then dropping out like a proper main character; to the many years he’s devoted to Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated, scheming and adventuring all over the globe in the name of a supercompany that operates via eating little companies; to the vast acres of Cannabis and Magic Mushrooms that were brought into this world just to be smoked, eaten or made into tea by him and him alone. All Chuck can muster is a hearty chuckle as his oxygen supply is traded for an increasingly dense miasma of delicious pot smoke.

Well, the warmth is leaving the bubble now and Chuck’s space suit is nearing its power limits. There’s so much smoke in Chuck’s forcefield that he isn’t even breathing air anymore; he gets higher and higher with each breath, so high that the pure energy that is his consciousness is the only thing keeping him alive on this plane. Eyes red as a tomato and body trembling from the cold and the ridiculous amounts of TetraHydroCannabinol (among the other cannabinoids) coursing through his bloodstream, Chuck decides it’s about time to let go, to relinquish his past and all of his potential futures and wade into that great transition. He takes one last breath, drawing in all the smoke he can, and then…

The Hole In The Wall

Ding.

 Two gilded metal doors slide open to reveal an empty elevator, the red velvet carpet matching all too perfectly with the jazzy yet mellow music wafting gently out of the speakers. On the back wall, something of a portal suddenly opens up, a swirling cauldron’s broth of all the colors of the rainbow and then some spinning in a perfect six-and-a-half-foot-tall oval. A plume of smoke escapes the portal and is immediately followed by a mid-inhale Chuck, walking with a slight limp and sporting a tattered version of his business suit that’s positively riddled with tears and what appear to be bite holes. He funnystumbles into his office, pushing the glass doors so hard they almost fly off their hinges and shatter into stardust, to see none other than Karen The Secretary sat at her guard post at the front of the office, scribbling on a piece of paper, as always.

When Karen notices her boss walking in, she hurriedly hides her scribbles and sits up straight with her hands folded on the desk, as if Chuck gives even the slightest little dust fragment off a thirty-year-old pellet of an attic rat’s shit about what she does at work. She could get high and relax all day e’er’ day and he would have no problem with it whatsoever; hell, he would buy her the Cannabis! But she doesn’t – the girl just sits there working hard when he’s looking and doing some random nonsense when he’s not, and this cannot be left to fly.

Chuck calls Karen a weeaboo – Karen’s eyes grow wide, as if triggered by a bad memory – and hears a voice laughing in his head before he forgets about his limp and dances over to his big, cushy wheeley chair at his desk around the corner. As he plops down, the back of his seat crunches into the sheetrock wall behind him, adding bits of debris and a sprinkling of dust to the pile of rubble that has long since formed on the floor.

With the hole in the wall made just a tiny bit bigger, Chuck is ready to watch Sigmund announce the last-minute contest – which was totally Chuck’s idea by the way – to his millions of viewers on VidTube. But alas! Chuck’s cell phone goes ringy-ring-ring just as Terry’s glistening head fills his screen. Who could possibly be… oh! What a surprise, it’s Alvey Fratto! Chuck hasn’t heard from him in… anyway, he must be calling to catch up.

Universe W-2020

Confused? Imagine how I feel, I delivered that shit. I’ll explain it to you this time since I’m here, but otherwise you’re on your own – all that stuff about Bob the Meteor? Yeah, that was all bullshit, it didn’t really happen… kind of. Black holes are weird like that. Anyway, let’s just say that Chuck was actually up there, see, but he simply got bored of clearing space junk so he shut off his comms in order to make a stealthy return to Earth and light up a happystick in peace. That doesn’t really fit with what I told you earlier but it’s fine, this prologue doesn’t have much to do with the story anyway.

Unless it does, in which case fuck what I said, it makes perfect sense.

This prologue is more of a little sampler, a window for you to peek through before you open the door and walk into the lunacy of what’s to come. I’m certainly not going to be there with you; I’m only adding in this extra explanation bit here because I know they won’t look the draft over before they send it wherever they send it.

Also, you probably need the warning.

The other guy they got to write and narrate, well… he doesn’t do a bad job, I suppose, but he’s kind of weird. Like, the when you talk to him he repeats your words under his breath kind of weird. Don’t let that put you off though, they might get someone else by the time this all sees the light of day. Or they might not. Then again, they could have gotten somebody new already for all I know, I don’t really keep up with the gossip around here. I don’t even know if there’s a they, to be honest; I could be in my happy place burning a fat one right now but no, I’m here. If I want to vent or speculate or outright bullshit a little, I’m going to.

You see, this… book, I suppose one could call it, is the telling of entirely true events that took, take, and are currently taking place in an alternate Universe, right now. Be aware: the Universe in the book may be similar to your own; in fact, it might be completely identical, save for the specific hue of the bird shit that divebombed all over your brother’s hat on that one family vacation y’all took to the Jersey shore. Or it may be very different, bearing literally no resemblance to your universe at all other than the fact that it, too, exists. Regardless, here’s what I’m trying to say: if you’re not on board with all this, if you can’t grapple with the idea of alternate universes existing that have absolutely nothing to do with your own, you don’t have to read this story. Chuck might talk some shit about you, but other than that, there won’t be any real consequences. The creatures this story is about won’t jump through a portal and tickle your feet at night. You won’t be singled out by the Universe and struck with a meteor. Your life will go on as it has been.

BUT! If you do want to read this book, well, pretty much all of what I just said still holds true. You’ll finish the book, maybe, and your life will go on. Maybe you’ll be inspired by it, maybe you won’t. Maybe the characters will visit you in your dreams, but I doubt it. They’re busy humans too, for the most part, and the al–… extraterrestrials usually find a way to keep themselves occupied. Anyway, if you’re not vibing at this point then you’ve probably stopped reading, so we might as well dive in.

The day is Monday, the twentieth of April, the twentieth year after the year 2000, and certain events are about to unfold in Shui Dong, China that might drastically, and potentially catastrophically, alter the geopolitical landscape of planet Earth for years to come. A butterfly is going to flap its wings in Africa until it lands on a flower to drink some nectar, and then it’ll die moments later because the lifespan of a butterfly is laughable at best. A group of aged humans are going to attempt to deliver an annual anti-drug assembly in a North American high school to a body of uninterested and jaded adolescent humans. A kangaroo is about to give birth in the dusty outback of Australia to a joey that, strangely enough, resembles a thylacine cub. A cult of human-sized rodent creatures is about to attempt the fracturing of the fault line bordering California and the rest of ‘Murica in order to secure a fat patch of Outer Earth all for themselves. A single giant hornet is about to massacre an entire colony of honeybees because it has nothing better to do with its time. Two rabbits are making babies in a burrow mere inches from your great-grandmother’s grave, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

An innumerable amount of other events and situations like the ones listed above, and not unlike the ones not listed above, are about to occur not only across the surface of planet Earth, but across all the various surfaces floating in the infinite Universe, and all of it is as meaningful as the struggle that a very lightly abused suburban dog goes through every time it tries to poop a solid log and ends up leaking instead.

Do you feel it? Do you smell what I’m stepping in here? Is it leaking through the page yet?

Welcome to Universe W-2020. Peace out, motherfucker.