The Writers of the Universe: Chapter 1 – The Quill

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The Writers of the Universe

Stew Stunes

 

1. The Quill

“You can’t kill everyone!” Kelly rolled her eyes at Jeremy, who had his head against her lap and was holding a yellow-tinged notepad up in the air so that they could both see the words on the page. “That’s a terrible idea.”

“But…but, that’s the whole point of the story, that their lives don’t matter,” Jeremy argued, sitting up suddenly. His forehead narrowly escaped from colliding with her chin.

An eternal silence fell between them as Jeremy steamed. He always got defensive about a new story idea. It was so perfect and virgin, why did she have to say anything. The story had been alive and fresh, now he felt as if all of the passion involved with writing the basic outline had vanished.

Sighing heavily, Kelly broke the silence. “Look, I liked the story, stop pouting. I just think you should have kept like one character alive. You know, to give the reader hope.”

A million arguments leapt through Jeremy’s mouth at once, “The book isn’t called, happy Farm. It’s called, Born Dead, for a reason! ‘Cause everyone in the story is destined to die, but the twist is they know the exact hour and place of their death from birth. They can live their lives either in total fear or total freedom. It’s up to them to decide.”

Kelly shook her head, no longer listening to Jeremy’s rant. “I get that. I just think it would make an even better twist, or whatever you call it, if one of your characters is mistaken about his date of death. What happens to him then? Does he go mad and kill himself in order to make it true, or does he use his second chance at life for good.”

Jeremy stopped trying to argue, a look of surprised amazement spread across his face, “Holy crap, that’s a good idea.”

Kelly sighed her agreement, refusing to comment more. Her head leaned to the left onto her fingers for support as if she were on the verge of a headache.

“No, I’m serious. That makes it so much better!” Jeremy repeated over and over as he fell deep into his imaginary world of kids with tattoos on their forehead with the date of their death and other such gloomy narrative devices.

His hands worked fast scribbling out lines on the yellow paper and rewriting sections of his outline. The sound of pen scribbling on paper moved over the room, cushioned only by the ten o’clock news which was dispassionately discussing the latest round of local murders and court cases. All the while, Jeremy’s eyes bulged refusing to blink lest he lose his concentration. Tapping the end of his pen against the paper, as if to sign off on his finished work, he sat back on the couch letting out a big breath.

“Got it all fixed up! This gonna be rad.”

Kelly did not respond.

Jeremy’s smile evaporated, “Please?”

“Think I’ll wait until it’s finished,” she answered, shaking her head side to side.

The young man opened his mouth to reply, but quickly closed it without a sound. He repeated this action twice before finding the words to speak. “You know, I think you’re right. I should just go work on this. I know exactly what the story will be. I have a great feeling about these characters and I know how it will all end. So there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to go and get started.”

Before she could respond, Jeremy leapt off the couch and shuffled over to the very unstable desk that was in the far corner of the room. The desk had been his since childhood and held the scars from the many troubled years. Chipped blue paint peeled away at the edges to reveal rough splinters that appeared to be waiting as if they were hungry to extract a slow revenge against the humans that had dared to construct it. The legs of the desk had never once stood flat on any surface, instead it rocked from side to side as Jeremy placed his elbow against it and began writing.

He scribbled a very messy title and chapter number before his thoughts deviated from the story. His rush of excitement vanished as more doubts ran through his mind. What if everyone hates the story? What if it doesn’t make any sense? What if I forget how to spell? I have the worst handwriting ever! I can’t even afford a typewriter from Goodwill. I don’t like the name of my main character, Simon.Screw this, lets start.

His pen pressed into the yellow notepad and half a letter formed. It had always been this way, every story of his had amounted to a stack of notes and an outline. The furthest he had gotten with any of his stories was at the age of 13 he had completed a single page describing the birth of Sir Edward McCoutherbard. A police detective who could remember every detail of his life in picture perfect quality. It had been the most rewarding experience of Jeremy’s early life. He had been so sure that he was going to finish the story, but the day after writing that piece of fiction had proven otherwise.

Jeremy’s eyes glossed over as he reminisced about a decade younger version of himself. The memory came back to Jeremy as fresh as if it had been yesterday. He had woken up ready and excited to continue on his story. A knock on the door had been the first clue that something was wrong. Usually his foster parents barged in any time as they had a no closed door policy. They said it was to promote a sense of trust, but Jeremy was pretty sure it was their way of keeping tabs on the kids they were fostering. Instead of his foster mother poking her skinny neck around the door and scolding him for having the door shut, a police man carefully stepped into the room and shut the door behind him.

Jeremy’s memory recognized the officer at once, the same person had brought him from a troubled youth camp to his current residence.

“What happened? I’ve been good, really good! You said I could stay here forever,” young Jeremy questioned, sadness growing with each word from the young voice.

Raising his hand the officer brought the young boy to a halt. “I’m sorry Jeremy. I’m so sorry that I have to be the one to bring you this news.”

The young curly haired boy turned away from the man, scrunching his face and balling his fists, as if to prepare for a fight. “They’re dead aren’t they.”

“Well no, not exactly,” the balding redheaded man responded slowly, giving the child time to absorb the news.

“Then why are you here? You only ever bring bad news. They must be dead or you wouldn’t be here.”

The officer sighed, wishing that the boy’s accusation had not been true. “They’re not dead. You see they were in a terrible automobile collision last night. They are at the hospital now.”

“Figures, bad stuff always happens to people I…that I know,” young Jeremy said darkly, squeezing his hands into even tighter fists.

Back in the present, Jeremy’s head collided with the desk as it tipped towards the opposite direction due to the additional weight. The 23 year old man remained sleeping. A glob of drool streamed out of his mouth, smearing the few words he had managed to write.

The door to Jeremy’s single room apartment shut quietly as Kelly left herself out.

As soon as the door’s lock slid shut, a bright light formed a solid beam in the center of the room. The beam ran from ceiling to floor and glowed icy blue. It hung in the air without making a noise and suddenly began moving in a grid pattern. First left to right then forward and backwards, always in straight lines. As the ray of light moved around the room, it began glowing red at the end nearest the floor. Curling smoke rose from burning carpet as symbols ancient and never before seen by humans were engraved upon the surface.

The smell of burning carpet brought Jeremy out of his deep sleep. Confused and angry at the disturbance, he opened one eye to the bright light which invaded his comfortable darkness. A shiver ran through his body, though he was not cold. He leapt to his feet, yelling out at the bright light.

“Stop!” He shouted at the inanimate light. Of course, the beam did not react to Jeremy’s protests as it continued its mission of carving out runes in his once-beige-now-coffee colored carpet.

In his sleepy stupor, Jeremy ran after the beam of light, but it suddenly moved backwards and collided with him. Jeremy saw it happening before he could stop his forward momentum and he braced himself for what he was sure would feel like lightning. Instead, the light rushed through him and sudden darkness swept around him. His stomach fell, as the feeling that the ground was suddenly missing rushed through his body. As soon as it had begun, the feeling ended, leaving Jeremy dizzy but unscathed.

The laser beam that had entered Jeremy’s room uninvited silently continued gliding across the room. Suddenly it halted, flickered twice, returned to center and condensed upon itself like a television set being switched off, leaving behind the strangest of all writing. Burned into the carpet were the words. Get Out of There!

Jeremy stumbled around dazed and confused wondering where he was. He found himself in a dark hallway with looming pillars guiding his eyes down to a flickering light at the far end. The pillars seemed to stretch miles into the air, going further into the dark sky than Jeremy’s eyes could follow. All around him the pillars went in each direction, but he could only see so far as the only light source was far away. He felt minuscule, like an ant in a hall of giants.

Wondering if he was still dreaming, Jeremy carefully crept down the long hallway towards the flickering light. The pillars around him felt real and solid. He could faintly make out a far off scratching sound. The raspy whisper reached his ears in echos like waves upon a beach, each one slightly louder and more defined than the last.

Jeremy walked for what felt like hours, eventually reaching the flickering light. He stopped as he faced an enormous arched frame. The center of the arch met 30 feet above his head. Whereas from far away the frame had not seemed more than a flickering candle, now it appeared as bright as the sun. The extreme difference from the deep darkness of the hall to the bright sun like entrance forced Jeremy to shield his eyes.

As Jeremy examined the arch, a shadow dimmed the light, but only for a moment before it left and light returned to its fullness. The scratching noise was definitely coming from within the entrance and had become a constant, instead of the distant echoes that he had first heard. Another shadow swept across and disappeared.

Cautiously, Jeremy entered into the light, keeping his body pressed to the left side of the arch. Trying his best to be silent, while his heart hammered away nervously, he turned into the room and stared open mouthed as his eyes met the most impossible thing he had ever witnessed.

If he had felt small and undersized in the previous hallway, the enormity of the space he had just entered blew that out of proportion; he now could only be described as feeling microscopic.

The room, it was hard to believe that there was something big enough for this place to be inside of, was shaped in a perfect globe. From Jeremy’s position looking forward he realized that he was at the room’s equator. There were thousands of descending levels below him and above like a giant sphere shaped stadium. Each level rotated at it’s own pace, like a clock, with the one nearest to him rotating with the most speed and each one closest to the globe going at a slower pace.

Each level had a number of creatures sitting in their own unique pods. The top level contained thousands  of these creatures sitting in their strange pods. He could tell that the creatures were enormously tall, with equally long beards, two eyes that seemed to fill their gigantic faces, and what he counted to be 3 sets of arms and hands, which were all busy scribbling  in a separate book.

His eyes were drawn to the center and bottom of the room, where upon an enormous globe that looked far too similar to earth spun in a quiet axis.

Jeremy realized that the noise he had been following was the result of millions of hands writing with quills that etched words into books thicker than a ten volume encyclopedia. The sum of it all resulted in a loud buzzing that Jeremy doubted he would ever be able to get out of his head.

He stood for a long time taking in the strangeness of the space he had entered. The buzzing noise created an easy trance that caught Jeremy’s attention and was making it difficult for him to think of anything besides writing.

A shout from far away brought Jeremy’s thoughts back to the forefront of his mind. He looked around and saw one of the creatures dressed in a pure white robe running towards another creature that had just stood up from it’s pod.

“You can not stop!” Shouted the priestly-dressed one.

“No! I won’t do it,” the other one refused, shaking his head along with all six hands. “I won’t finish this story.”

Jeremy winced as the commanding creature smashed into the defensive one. The white robed creature punched with a speed that blurred Jeremy’s vision as he knocked the other one down back into his pod. “You will finish the story. Have you forgotten your oath.”

The other creature took the beating in stride only blocking attacks to his face, but otherwise absorbing each blow that was sent into him. “There’s too much pain in this one. It’s unfair. I can’t and I won’t bring him any more pain.”

Jeremy noticed that all the other creatures had started writing faster, pretending like the argument was not happening. The subtle ambiance of the room had turned uneven; the buzzing trance that had held everyone in a mindless drone disappeared.

“You’ve grown soft, like a baby. If you don’t get back to the story and finish it, you will be executed, but not before you get to watch as the director finishes the story for you. For he was the one that arranged this most important story, and commissioned you this most special task.” The priestly-dressed one was now ringing the neck of the other.

Jeremy had a bad feeling in the bottom of his gut, and watched, detached as if he were a distant third person, as the submissive creature’s eyes glanced over and met Jeremy’s gaze. A disturbed smile spread over the now bleeding face. Instead of responding to the brutal attack and insults, the creature spoke to Jeremy. “It’s so good to finally meet you. Let us run now, for you are truly free.”

Jeremy felt his heart stop, as every one of the millions of giant human-like creatures stopped writing. The last echo of a scribble fell into the chasm of the hallway behind Jeremy. All eyes landed on Jeremy and a great roar of screaming erupted. A prison riot would have looked like a picnic compared to the chaos that overtook the room.

Suddenly, and before Jeremy could react the creature, that had spoken to him flung the white robed one into the air and ran for Jeremy, grabbing onto his arms and charging into the dark hallway.

“You must run now,” the creature commanded, ignoring Jeremy’s sudden ejaculation of screaming. He felt like a baby being carried by a parent. The creatures hands were soft and gentle, protecting him like he was a dozen eggs. They charged into the darkness, zigzagging through the maze of pillars.

Jeremy’s ride lurched to a stop as the creature hid behind a darkened entrance way. There was no bright light coming from this one. “You must go home now,” the creature creaked to Jeremy, as if it only rarely used it’s voice.

Jeremy was in too much shock to respond, instead he shook his head and tried to look beyond the creature into the dark. There did not seem to be anyone pursuing them.

A billion questions fell out of Jeremy’s mouth as he ran them all together. The creature simply smiled as if unsure how to respond and waited for Jeremy to end his inquisition. “Here is what you need to know. The rest will have to wait until later to be explained. I’ve been writing your story, but it’s been different than any other story that I have ever written. The ending has been changed, you have to remember that. The ending has been changed!”

Pounding footsteps echoed around them as their pursuer’s drew closer.

“Take this, but only use it in the most dire of situations,” the six armed creature said as he shoved a quill into Jeremy’s hands.

Too frightened to respond audibly, Jeremy nodded in agreement. He felt more and more confused as the creature spoke. Nothing that was happening made any sense to Jeremy’s reeling mind.

Taking out another quill, the creature began drawing on the ground around Jeremy’s feet. “This will get you home. I’m sorry but the rest will be up to you. I hope to meet you again. But that seems unlikely as I’m sure to be obliterated.”

Out of the millions of important and life saving questions that could have came from Jeremy’s lips, he happened to choose the least important one to ask. “Don’t you need ink?”

The humorous sparkle in the watery eyes of the creature vanished as a look of utmost seriousness overcame his complexion. “No. This is not a time for ink, unless you want a thousand scribblers crashing through this entryway into earth. I can’t imagine the shock all you humans would have,” as suddenly as it had vanished, the smile returned to the creature’s demeanor and he finished his scrawling.

“Now stand here,” he commanded.

Jeremy moved onto the spot. “Wait!”

“Yes, what is it? We don’t have much time. Hurry.”

“Who are you?” Jeremy asked.

The biggest smile spread over the creatures face. “My dear boy, I am Noal. I am a writer of the universe and I have set us free.”

The same blue light that had brought Jeremy to the strange hive of giant six-armed creatures that write stories surrounded him and he disappeared as a wave of the creatures swept over Noal, knocking him out of the way as the light turned off of Jeremy’s view of the mayhem.


Next Chapter – The Writers of the Universe: Chapter 2 – The Long Weekend

If you like this book and would like to support the author please consider purchasing a physical copy of the story you are reading, see more here

2014 © Stew Stunes

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