Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Sunday, April 17, 2011
((This is it. The last 24 pages of my novella. The end. It is no more. Enjoy.))
“So, in a nutshell, you two aren’t real?”
“That’s it exactly.”
Drew sat down at the table with the two, looking at them. “So, what exactly is the plan here to help me? Is my own brain going to write a collaborative fiction here? I mean, that seems a little messed up giving the circumstances. You might as well say I have multiple personalities and each one is a writer!”
“We’re not going to write with you. We’re going to help inspire you.”
“And how is this inspiration going to come about? Are you going to go into your lavish sexual conquests?”
John shook his head. Joey cocked an eyebrow. “Well, there was that one time in my kitchen—“
John shot an angry look at Joey. “Damn it man, I’m the representative of the libido here! You used to be a good Church boy!”
“Hey, I’m still a Church boy. I just have a lot of good memories with an ex.”
“Guys, I think we’re getting way too personal here. Especially you Joey.” Drew was leaning forward on the table, looking bored. “I mean, having man-talk is fun and all, but I really want to get this story written and I want to get out of my head. All of this mental journeying is giving me a headache.”
“Well, helping you write this story is why we’re here. And the journey is all a part of it anyways.”
“Why do I need to write this story, anyway? I mean, no one has ever randomly appeared to help me before, right?”
“Well, before you had a little self-confidence backing you up as you wrote.” John leaned back in his chair. “Now, something has killed off all that self-confidence, and being overwhelmed with self-doubt really makes you a boring person.”
“So what is the master plan to help me write this story? Does it chalk up to me sitting at a computer until I fall asleep while John goes around telling everyone Dru so fala merda while I scream at you guys on how you’re assholes?”
“No, actually we’re not going on this journey. Being manifestations of your friends is hard enough; plus this journey can be dangerous. I mean, it’s going through your old works.”
“So who is going with me?”
“You’re going alone.”
“Great, that’s helpful.”
“We do have escorts to take you to your further works.”
“Can’t I just go back to my magical filing cabinet world?”
“Nope. That would make our part in this pretty useless, wouldn’t it?”
“So, who’s gonna show me the gate?”
“Our avatars in your writings, of course. Characters who have interacted with your characters, and who have helped shape you writing.” Joey motioned to the tree-line for several figures to emerge.
A figure stepped up to the table from the forest; it was a tall man with white hair, wearing a green duster coat and wearing a scowl on his face. Drew recognized the character instantly as Joey’s central character in many of his own works and collaborative works with Drew; Wolfos. Drew couldn’t remember if the character’s last name was Terrence or Blazeheart, namely because during the time that Drew and Joey wrote together their characters tended to change names, physical properties and personality as the plot dictated. “So,” Drew began, looking at Joey, “You’re sending me off with your own psycho hero.” He turned to John. “Who are you sending at me? I don’t really remember any of your characters.”
A second figure stepped from the wilderness. He wore a floppy purple hat with a feather in it, and his jacket was a purple colored fur. He had a can with a golden tip to it, and his face was quite recognizable to anyone who kept up with the world of popular rap music. Drew turned to John. “You’re sending Snoop Dogg with me?”
“He’s the only character of mine that you remember!”
“For Christ’s sake, he’s the last character you wrote as! And you didn’t write that much, besides the fact that Snoop Dogg was on a plane and later fought zombies with a gold plated pistol!”
“It was funny, and I didn’t really have much drive to write!”
“Zombie story! Snoop Dogg! Jungle island!”
“Well, you remembered him, didn’t you?”
“The fact that your point makes too much sense makes me want to crawl under this table and start crying.”
“Do I need to come back after this idiot argues for a few more hours or can I leave now?” The white haired man spoke up, meeting Joey’s eye. “Because I think I have better things to do than stand here while he yells about bullshit.”
“Better things? You die in the latest story Joey’s working on! What important thing to do have to do? Martini night in fictional heaven?” Wolfos reared his fist back to smash Drew’s face in, until the other man flinched, nearly falling out of his chair. The emasculating nature of Drew’s flinch was punishment enough for the time being.
Joey’s avatar led the way, with the fictional Snoop Dogg taking the rear of the group. Drew found it odd that Snoop Dogg was completely silent, but then again he was like Hershel in many respects; just a raw unfinished character. The only thing giving him shape or the semblance of life in this world was his ties to the actual Snoop Dogg. Wolfos on the other hand was fleshed out enough to be silent and unfriendly to his two charges, even when pestered by Hershel.
“I was wondering, will the gate be an actual gate or something very odd? Mr. Mears’ head has been full of odd enough things already.”
He was answered with a grunt from Wolfos. Drew turned to Hershel. “Don’t mind him, characters that fall in the genre of dark fantasy aren’t good conversationalists after a while. Hell, fantasy is really my favorite genre to write in, but I always feel that my characters become too distant to the audience. Take our friend Drew back where we came in. When I first started writing the Order with my friends, he was an idealistic character and he fell right into the slot for the hero of the story; which is funny, because in early drafts, Wolfos here was the hero.”
“Don’t remind me about that.”
“So, you stole the spot for the protagonist for your own character, Mr. Mears?”
“I didn’t steal anything. Everyone but me decided the story should focus on Drew at the beginning. He had the least amount of back-story, so everything needed to be explained to him. That made the explication of the lore of the world a less obvious thing than just placing it in a random chapter where the only thing going on is a long amount of text telling you who the good guys and bad guys are.”
“Why would you need to explain all of the lore of the world?”
“It’s to establish the setting of the world and to make a believable world. Think of this Hershel, if I had you casting spells and fighting demons on that train going to West Germany, none of that scene would make sense.”
“I think it would be quite fun though. Some of the officers on that train were quite rude.”
“If you used magic for no understandable reason, then that becomes a huge gaping plot-hole. Let’s also not forget that the piece was originally aimed at being literary fiction.”
“What is literary fiction?”
“The hell if I know. Everyone just respects that word more.”
“Can you get back to how great everyone thought your damn character was?” Wolfos seemed annoyed at Drew’s tangent on writing.”
“Hey, don’t be embittered by it. He’s your best friend in the story. Plus, you get all the best fight scenes.”
“He also kills me.”
“It’s not like you stay dead. It’s a fantasy story! Nobody stays dead in those things too long!”
“Why did he die?”
“It’s one of the original plot ideas we had circling the story. Wolfos turns evil from a demon or a curse or something, joins the villains in the story and just starts messing up the place for everyone.”
“A curse? What happened?”
“In the original story, it was because his love interest or something has an affair with one of the new characters.”
“He becomes evil because of an affair? My wife left me because I was poor and Jewish.”
“The way you talk about it, you make it sound so trivial.”
“Look, the story is still in need of a lot of revision. It’s really freaking long anyways. There are always weak parts here and there.”
“What turns me evil is a pretty damn important part to the story! Fix it right now!” Wolfos grabbed Drew by his collar, lifting him up nearly a foot off the ground.
“Hey! Hey! I’m not the one who wrote that! If you have a problem, bring it up with Joey! Or better yet, just put me down and keep walking!”
“I want you to rewrite where I turn evil!”
“What the hell is wrong with you? I’m trying to fix my writing, and I’m pretty sure violence isn’t going to help me any more than a shitty five minute re-write explaining why you become a huge asshole in the story will suddenly add miles of depth to your character!”
“It might make me the protagonist again.”
“Look, the only reason why my character was the protagonist of the story was because he was the biggest wimp for the first half. Two of every three fights the group gets into, he gets stabbed, beaten, knocked out or thrown out of a window while you unceremoniously kill everything in the room in a few paragraphs.”
“See, that’s heroic!”
“No, that’s boring! If the audience knows you’re always going to win, there’s no tension or worry about your character! You’re the one sure thing in the story!”
“So what does that give me?”
“You have like three damn spinoffs!”
“Oh yeah, I do.”
“And they either have you as a protagonist or center around you!”
“And in the sequel, your son is the protagonist, and my characters are side-characters or secondary characters at best!”
“And that’s how it should be.”
“Jesus Christ.” Drew pulled himself away from Wolfos’ death grasp, and walked forward. “So, where is this gate thing anyway?”
“It’s right ahead.” Wolfos pointed at a large stone gate several yards away from them. The gate was made of dark grey stone, and was built inside of a hillside. It seemed that it only led downward, and there seemed to be no light source emanating from inside of it. Upon closer inspection of the gate, it read, “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Believe Writing Is A Substantial Career Idea”.
Drew blinked at the wording. “They did a good job to pack all of that in the gate there. Where does this gate lead to?”
“It leads to the source of your self-doubt, through your other works.”
“The source of my self-doubt?”
“Yes. It’s in the center of your works that you must do battle with those who wish you to never finish your stories. They only want you to fester in despair.”
“They sound like assholes.”
“Yeah, they are assholes.”
“So, how do I beat them?”
“I guess you just fight them and kill them or something.”
“Yeah, of course. Let me get my magic sword and an Uzi and I’ll just hack them all up into nice little hunks of meat or something.”
“I like that idea. Make it nice and violent.”
“I was being sarcastic.”
“Well Mr. Mears, shall we go?” Hershel was peering into the gate.
“I guess this is goodbye, Wolfos.” Drew shook the hand of the fictional character, and saw Snoop Dogg just looking around. “And uh, take care of yourself, Snoop. Watch out for zombies or something. I don’t know.”
Snoop Dogg smiled and waved to Drew and Hershel, and they began their descent down a flight of stairs. “I believe they were quite nice,” Hershel said, grabbing a torch from a wall.
“You didn’t get choked by the king of attitude problems.”
Light seemed to be sucked away around them as they moved deeper and deeper into the darkness. Finally, even the torchlight seemed inadequate to light anything; and it was there that the two fell.
“Oh crap oh crap oh crap!” Drew shouted, suddenly hitting thin, scratchy carpet. He looked up to find himself in a small hotel room. Stood up, noticing a man sitting on the edge of the hotel bed. Then he realized—Hershel was nowhere to be found.
“Oh damnit. Excuse me,” he tapped on the man’s shoulders. “Have you seen my friend? He’s a small man wearing a suit and a hat and—“
The man on the bed turned around to face Drew. He had a strong handsome face, with an American flag button on his lapel. He looked like the stereotypical Senator, except for the fact that there was a gaping hole in his forehead. Drew yelped at the sight. “Y-you’re Senator Robert Stone! I wrote my short story in high school about you!”
“So, you wrote about me being the anti-christ and how I decided to kill myself to escape the fate of being a monster?”
“You son of a bitch!” The man punched Drew square in the jaw, knocking the writer to the floor.
“Augh! You asshole!” Drew clenched his face. “What was that for?”
“I’m dead now! My wife, my children, they’re going to have to deal with me being dead! And I had just won the election to the House! I was going to do so much!”
“Yeah, but the whole point was that everything you did well was actually orchestrated by heaven and hell to place you in the perfect spot to take over the world and begin the whole ‘end of days” stuff.’”
“So you killed me instead?”
“I already got over the quandary of killing my characters in The Stairwell. You should be happy that your sacrifice saved the world from the apocalypse.”
“So why am I still here?”
“Because you’re a fictional character. You can’t really ever truly die. You’re in my head.”
“That’s actually very scary.”
“Yeah, it keeps me up at night sometimes. You should be proud of yourself; you pulled a true Byronic hero ending with this.”
“What do you mean?”
“You took a third option and rebuked heaven and hell. That’s like the base of some of Lord Byron’s best works. Which is what inspired me to write a modern day Byronic tale.”
“I’m not following you.”
“Wait; that’s it!” He grabbed Robert by his shoulders. “I hated this story for years because all my classmates who read it thought it made no sense, or got angry because I made Jesus an antagonist next to Satan! But I really made a modern day Byronic tale! At sixteen! That’s a pretty damn good accomplishment!”
“Hey, you’re right! I’m moping here, but I did a lot too!” With the two men’s sudden realization, the hotel door opened up, revealing a new passage further down into Drew’s works. He waved to Robert goodbye, and started down the stairwell. The door closed behind him.
Robert smiled and leaned back on the hotel bed, feeling a surge of accomplishment after meeting his creator. The bathroom door opened and Satan walked out, brushing his teeth. “Who was that just now?”
“Oh, the guy that wrote this story.”
“Wait, I just missed Drew? Damnit! Where did he go! I had some new ideas for his story!”
“He went down a magical stairway.”
“I hate you so much.”
Drew went further down, finding himself in a decrepit old mansion. An old man was laying on top of a dining room table, impaled by a chandelier. Another man had his head severed off, which was on the ground next to his body. Drew touched his chin, trying to pinpoint where he was. Several people came running through the doorway, gasping for breath. One young man looked over at the old man on the table, and shook his head. “They got Mr. Monroe.”
“That’s horrible. But where are the monsters now? We’ve been running around here for hours.”
“Yeah, and where’s the landlady? She could be in trouble!”
Drew’s eyes opened wide for a moment. “Of course! This is my haunted house story! Which…ends up derivative of other haunted house stories!”
“Who are you?” A young man, who appeared to be the de facto leader of the group stepped forward. “If you’re here about buying this place, I’d think again. There’s something really wrong with this hellhole.”
“Oh yeah, I know. I wrote this story after I finally beat Clocktower. I love haunted house stories.”
“It’s a videogame from the nineties. Really scary.”
“I think this guys gone insane from all the gore here. Let’s just leave him.”
Drew looked around. “But where are the brothers? Or the mom?”
“You mean the three killers? I don’t think we’ve seen their mom.”
“Well, the mom is the landlady. She lured you all here to kill you all as sort of a demented little game.”
“What? How do you know that?”
“Nevermind that.” Drew looked around. “I guess I never finished this story anyways. I got bored with it after I realized that there was nothing original to it.”
“A man is filleted on the dining room table, with the chandelier stuck in him. I think that’s pretty original.”
“You know what? You’re right! That was a pretty ingenious way of killing an old guy.”
The door outside opened up, showing the way down again. “There’s my way out! Good luck everyone!”
“What do you mean good luck?” Gunfire erupted from the upper level of the house, and a wicked scream echoed around. “Uh, can we go with you?” Drew had already left the premises.
Drew continued down, until he felt his entire world shaking. “Great, maybe i’m finally falling apart.” He chuckled to himself, as his eyes adjusted to him being on an old train. He looked outside to see the German countryside passing him by, or at least what he envisioned the German countryside to be like in the nineteen eighties. “Well, now I know where Hershel is.” He began walking up the aisle, inconspicuously looking at whoever was sitting in the seats. He finally sat himself across from a mousey man, carrying a small box tucked under his arm.
“Hello, Mr. Muller.”
“Hello again Mr. Mears. I suppose you’re not here to enjoy the countryside?”
“Nope. I’m still searching for that center of my works. I guess the very nature of my self-doubt or something.” He looked around. “I think I know why I’m here.”
“Why is that, Mr. Mears?”
“I had to put you back where you belong. And I had to flesh you out as a character.”
“I do think I’m a little funnier after meeting you.”
“That’s good. Your wife could do with a little sarcasm. She’s too stuck up as a character. Plus, I bet your daughter will love your jokes.”
“Do you have any children, Mr. Mears?”
“Me? Oh God no. I’m terrible with kids! They smell, they cry all the time, they’re all really damn loud...”
Hershel glared at Drew. “My daughter is the core of my existence.”
“I mean, kids are alright. I’m just not at the point in my life where I could handle them, that’s all.” He chuckled half-heartedly. “Wait—Hershel! You got angry!”
“Yes! You can make jokes, you can be a dick, you can get angry; you’re practically just like any other regular person!”
“So that means…”
“It means you’re fleshed out! You’re ready to take on your story! I think I could actually finish it now!” Drew jumped up, feeling empowered.
“So you’ll finish my story?”
“Maybe later!” Drew stood up. “But first, I have to write the greatest story ever.”
“What if my story is the greatest story ever?”
“Your story is literary fiction.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means that—“ Drew found himself at a loss for words. “I mean, it’s when a writer decides that—“He shook his head. “I think it’s just a lot of big words and metaphors about something important.
“My story takes place in the eighties.”
“Communism is a metaphor?”
“You have no idea what literary fiction is, do you?”
“So what purpose does my story have? Is there even a genre for it?”
“I think your story is a drama Hershel. A story of a father wanting to meet his daughter. Who needs it to be literary fiction when we can pull at the heartstrings of the people?”
“I think you’re right!”
The train door suddenly opened. “I have to jump out of a train now?”
Hershel shrugged. “I suppose this is goodbye for now, Mr. Mears.”
“It’s not goodbye. I’ll see you again when I finish the story.”
“Good luck Mr. Mears.”
“Thanks Hershel. I’ll need it.” Drew got himself a running start, and leapt out of the train. He hit the ground hard, rolling for several feet, repeating to himself, “Ow, ow ow ow.” When he finally stopped, and he decided that he was neither dead nor missing any important limbs, he took in his new location.
He found himself outside of a large house, which was slightly leaning to the left. The color was off on the wood; it almost seemed as if the wood stains were scribbled onto the siding by a child. And then Drew saw the inhabitants of this new world.
They were cartoon characters, but instead of having defined lines and features, they all looked poorly rendered and colored, as if a child had made them. Drew’s hands went to his face, and he groaned loudly. “Why did I come here of all places!”
The cartoon characters spoke in gibberish and poor pronunciation, and they crowded around Drew like wild animals surround wounded prey. Drew glared at them all. “Look, I know what this place is, but I’m not coming to terms with any of this, ok? I wrote this piece of shit story when I was eight years old, and it was on one piece of notebook paper. I wrote it on both sides. And I am not going to sit here and be harassed by the poorly rendered imagination of eight year old me. Yes, I was a kid. Yes it wasn’t well done. But nobody cares! That piece of paper is in a cardboard box in an attic somewhere in a house that I don’t live anymore!” He pushed himself out of the crowd of cartoons, and began walking off. “I’m not dealing with this crap!”
Drew walked for several hours, the distance he made from his childhood shame made him feel at ease with himself. And then he finally found the center of it all. It was an old warehouse in what seemed to be the farthest reaches of his being. He walked towards it, and opened the door, letting the natural outside light eke into the dark building. “Hello?” He shouted into the room. “Anybody around?”
Drew walked further into the warehouse, noting that the building housed countless stacks of boxes around him. The boxes were unmarked, but were made of plywood. It was too dark for him to peer inside; so he decided to continue further in. “That’s far enough, Andrew.” A voice echoed around him.
“Nobody calls me Andrew except for my grandmother. And even I don’t really like her calling me that.”
“But that is your name, Andrew.” The lights in the warehouse began to kick on, and figures emerged from behind boxes on the far side of the room. The figures all wore the same black suit, and the same matching black hats. They had no memorable features about them, since they appeared to have no faces. Drew recognized them immediately.
“You’re the guys who tried to run me off the road! Why the hell are you all trying to kill me?”
“We’re not trying to kill you, Andrew. We’re trying to protect you from embarrassing yourself in front of the world.” The leader of the group stepped forward. He wore a pair of aviator sunglasses over his eyeless face.
“You’ve gone through all your works, and you haven’t seen the elephant staring right at you, kid. All of your work is derivative of better works. It’s all poorly written, filled to the brim with spelling errors, plot-holes and a severe lacking of characterization across the board.”
“Well, I won’t argue with you on the spelling, but that’s what revision is for, right?”
“Revision? When have you ever cared about revision? Hell, it’s a miracle for you to even get to that stage! Most of the time you just quit. Every time you’ve quit, you’ve made us stronger. Because quitting is the only option you have in writing.”
“That’s a pretty fatalistic outlook.”
“We are your outlook!”
“Well. I guess I’ll just change my outlook then, and I’ll write something new, something better than what I’ve written before?”
“Like a story of a young man who learns friendship and how to believe in himself thanks to a humorous alien pal?”
“That’s E.T. The Extraterrestrial.”
“Maybe the story of a group of heroes who wander the world to destroy an evil artifact?”
“Lord of the Rings.”
“A bunch of people stranded on a confusing island while they try to get home?”
“I’m not even going to answer that one!” The leader of the manifestations of Drew’s self doubt drew a pistol from his side, and the rest of his group sallied their weapons alongside him. “We’re going to stop you from writing, even if we have to kill you!”
“But then won’t you guys cease to exist? Isn’t the whole, killing your creator plan a terrible idea which will lead to the destruction of this very existence?”
“We’ve read Nietzsche. We don’t need you anymore.” Drew dashed behind a line of crates as the group of self-doubts opened fire. Splintering wood erupted around Drew’s head as he crawled along the floor.
“Shit shit shit shit shit…” he muttered, surprised that he hadn’t soiled his pants just yet. “I’m so screwed, how can I fight these guys?”
“You can’t fight us, Andrew! It’s all over! You’ve lost!”
“He can fight you guys! With the help of a few friends!” The entrance of the building flew open, with countless characters from Drew’s works storming in. Several different iterations of Drew stormed forward, with the fantasy Drew that he and Hershel had met earlier sliding behind the line of crates that Drew had hid behind. “You might want this,” he said, handing Drew a shotgun.
“Wait, I’m just going to shoot these guys?”
“Well, we need to kill them in the most violent way possible!” He patted Drew on his shoulder, and roared, jumping into the fray. Robert, the senator from earlier, was busy being shot several times before getting back up, and firing back with the same gun he had shot himself with. Even Satan was standing on top of a railing, holding a grenade launcher in his hands, laughing maniacally.
Drew felt completely overwhelmed by the experience. All of his works were here, helping him conquer his own problems. He felt a surge of confidence rise up in his chest, and pushed himself up, his hands tightening around the shotgun. “Alright, let’s kick some as—“
He noticed the crudely drawn cartoons rushing towards the self-doubt, and before he could call out to them to stop, he watched them get gunned down in the middle of the floor. The creatures hit the ground hard, unable to get up. Drew stood there, watching his very first creations suffer an unceremonious death, and for a moment, his heart swelled with satisfaction. Then, his stomach began to churn with a different thought. “Wait, they may have been poorly written characters by an eight year old, but they were my poorly written characters!” Drew jumped out from behind his hiding place, screaming as he fired shot after shot at the self-doubt creatures. Several flew backwards, mimicking several popular action films; until Drew realized a serious fact: this wasn’t an action film.
He found himself in front of hundreds of guns, all pointing at him. “Oh shit.” He muttered, as gunfire roared in his ears. However, he was still standing there, quite alive. From across the room, a familiar figure leapt forward, holding two pistols in each of his hands. He fired, screaming loudly at the self-doubt.
Hershel Muller nodded to Drew, as Satan fired a grenade into the crowd of self-doubt, dispersing their numbers. Drew and his fictional creations began mopping up the rest of the self-doubt, as they began fleeing from the scene.
“Well Mr. Mears, I believe you’ve finally dealt with your issues about writing.”
“And no one important died!” He looked over to the cartoons laying on the floor. Suddenly, they got up, cheering in their poorly worded gibberish. Drew sighed, and looked down. “Nobody died.”
“Do you feel that you could write your story now Mr. Mears?”
“I suppose I could. I just have to get back home.”
Drew Mears found himself staring in front of his computer, contemplating the greatest story ever written. He had no recollection on how he returned to his writing room, or if he had ever really left the room at all. His mind drifted to the thought of pizza rolls, and the idea that he could go buy a pack and eat some for a quick lunch. He shook his head, his stomach feeling queasy about ingesting any more pizza rolls. Instead, he looked at his screen, and allowed his hands to hover over his keyboard.
He ran his fingers over the grey plastic keys, and he clicked his curser into the word document. The line began blinking, as if asking for something to be written so the digital pages could soon be filled up with adventures and excitement. He smiled, cracking his knuckles before placing his fingers on the keys. “This will be interesting,” he told himself.He began to write.