The Writers of the Universe
10. As it is Written
A gust of frigid air caught Jeremy directly in the chest. It was like being plunged under icy water, every muscle in his body froze for a moment before adjusting to the extreme change. They huddled together, bracing against each other as they realized that they had landed on top of one of the millions of towering pillars.
Bravely Jeremy looked down. He instantly pulled back as the entire world started to spin. He could barely make out what appeared to be ants scurrying all around the base of the tower they had landed on.
Another ragged blast of air tore at them, trying its best to clean everything from the smooth surface.
“Well, this is a place I never wished to be,” Noal shouted above the howling wind.
“What the hell’s that?” Cis shouted pointing to a column right next to them.
The entire column glowed electric blue, the same color it had glowed when they used it to transport, as the director appeared at the top. He turned to face them, seemingly unaffected by the harsh wind that continued to beat down upon Jeremy and his companions.
“That,” Jeremy started, “is the guy we’ve been running from this whole time.”
“We should run,” Noal warned. “Now!”
“Where?” Cis argued, looking around the edges. “Where can we run to?”
From across the divide, the Director shouted to them in a voice that easily carried over the rushing gust. “It’s time, Jeremy, to write the end of your story.”
With nowhere to go, they watched as Radfewx brandished his own quill, an emerald green feather that was almost 2 feet in length. It would have been beautiful had Jeremy the thought to spare to beauty.
“How do you wish to die, Jeremy?” Radfewx jaunted. “I’ll happily write you into whatever ending you wish. I can spare you that much.”
Having no other options available to him, Jeremy surrendered and responded. “I choose to die next to those beside me. It’s the only thing that you haven’t yet taken from me.”
A twisted smile spread over Radfewx’s face as he began scribbling on the pages of a book that had materialized in his arms.
Jeremy’s stomach lurched as he felt the column sway back and forth. Something large had just attached itself to the tower and was quickly climbing towards them. Rolling onto his stomach, Jeremy crawled to the edge to watch in horror as a giant squid-like spider climbed its way up the vertical tower.
Tentacles spilled forward, pulling the creature up as a set of strong back legs sped its momentum upwards.
“Jeremy, you have to combat Director Radfewx. Use the quill. It’s the only way,” Noal suggested.
With a nod of acknowledgment, Jeremy quickly sent lightning bolts to strike the squid-spider. The yellow arc of forced electricity zoomed by them and struck the monster, splitting it open into fizzing splatter. Parts of the explosion landed near Jeremy, he leaped away as the acidic blood began to melt the rock they were standing on.
“Look out!” Cis yelled as a tidal wave towered a hundred feet above them. It hung in the air, waiting for Radfewx’s last stroke of his quill to send it down upon them.
With a great jag of his quill, Jeremy sent a jagged mark across the ground causing a section of the tower Radfewx was standing on to split in half and begin tumbling down. The tower leaned far to the left and Radfewx was impressively able to make a quick jump to another before the remaining bit crumbled to the ground far below.
“This is fun. We should never do it again,” Radfewx challenged as he sent the tidal wave down upon them.
Jeremy had time to draw a dome over their heads as a mountain of water fell on them. Despite the thunderous noise, they escaped from being swept away. The water may not have directly hurt them, but they all yelped as the tower beneath their feet gave way and started to fall. It first swept to the left before circling in a wide sweeping arc that sent them all flying into the air.
Diving for his friends, Jeremy caught them in mid air as rock fell all around them. They were lucky only in that they had a long time to fall, giving Jeremy enough time to draw a little air balloon that they fell into safely.
Stoking the flame, Cis brought the air balloon out of the dangerous falling rock.
Jeremy turned the column Radfewx was standing on into a giant snake that opened its fanged mouth, hungry for anything that would fall into it. Reacting much faster than Jeremy could, Radfewx jumped on a cloud and flew off as a three separate squid-spiders descended upon them.
They had no chance to avoid the collision. Three sets of squid tentacles wrapped around them and tied into knots, while the basket they stood in exploded sending splinters everywhere. Jeremy yelled as two furious spider faces squished him from either side. With 16 separate eyes looking at him, he felt more creeped out than in pain from the immense pressure of the gigantic monsters. The entire balloon craft deflated as the squid’s tentacles tied into each other more and more until they were all one big ball falling the mile or so to earth.
Jeremy could just make out Cis and Noal’s screams as they landed. Then, like someone turned off his brain, he could hear no more.
Arguing voices broke Jeremy’s thoughtless state forcing him to squint his eyes open Before he could locate the source of the sound, the world dissolved into spinning fragments of light. Trying to clear his head, he focused on the dim light above him doing his best to make it not move in his field of vision.
As he lay gasping in pain from his re-awakening nerves, he realized that the arguing was more of a one-sided interrogation. One voice was demanding incessantly while another cried out in pain, begging to be spared.
“Why have you acted in this way? You have broken every law and oath you once swore to uphold,” the voice of a furious Radfewx lashed out in the deep dungeon.
The shallow response of Noal frightened Jeremy worse than anything Radfewx could threaten him with. “The boy is outside of your control. He is the one that was written to bring about our final chapter.”
“As it is written…” Radfewx murmured.
“So shall it come to pass,” Noal finished with a slight whimper.
“Yes, yes. We all know that old children’s tale. And you think this common man is the one no script can touch?”
“Why else would you curse him to go through life such as he has had to?”
Jeremy held his breath as he heard the wet smack of fist against bone and skin. Radfewx must have hit him with the full force of three arms, as Noal did not respond after the sudden blunt force trauma.
With great ease and what Jeremy felt was stealth, he turned his head towards the source of the violence. His eyes meet Mai who had been silently watching him the entire time. He gave an involuntary jump as he realized his awakened presence had not gone unnoticed.
“He’s awake,” Mai spoke calmly, still not at all her original personality. Her eyes were cloudy and filled, instead of their once bright omniscient.
Feigning any sort of pretending-to-sleep actions, Jeremy lifted his head to survey these new surroundings. Immediately to his left on a similarly strapped to a table, with Radfewx standing menacingly above, was a visibly bruised Noal. Jeremy swung his head around to find Cis on his other side. As he was checking on his friends, he felt the presence of something enormous directly in front of him. No matter where he put his eyes, they kept drifting back to gaze into the deep darkness before him. He struggled, craning his neck so that his chin touched his chest, trying to force his eyes to identify the object that took up his entire forward horizon.
Radfewx waved casually to the awakened Jeremy. “Knock. knock.”
Jeremy squinted his ears towards Radfewx, trying his hardest to comprehend the words that he had heard, and yet as the seconds of stunned silence passed between them it made less and less sense.
Clearing his throat of a large mass of mucus and indignation, Radfewx repeated his statement. “Knock. Knock.”
Again, Jeremy struggled to make sense of the words and the strange situation he found himself in.
“Oh come on,” Director Radfewx finally snapped. “You know how this is supposed to go. I invented knock knock jokes and it was I who gave them to your culture. Now play along. Knock. Knock.”
“Uh…who’s there?” Jeremy whispered, barely moving his lips. He felt like he was being goaded into a trap, but unable to resist following along with Radfewx’s strange joke as he was curious as to what it would be.
Before Jeremy could stop his lips from moving and understanding his response. On autopilot, Jeremy replied. “InterrupTING!”
He never got to finish the response as Mai’s hand lashed out and raked over his face, twice, before returning to her zombified stillness.
Jeremy felt his bruised face split as blood trickled out of his nose. The echoing sting held on for much longer, as Jeremy’s hands were tied down and could not comfort his pain.
“You see, the joke is you never get to finish the response,” Radfewx explained as if Jeremy were a 3-year-old.
“Oh I damn well got it alright,” Jeremy reassured him with as much anger and hatred as he could muster.
“Welcome to the planetarium of Acirema. The site of our greatest blunder. The world you see before you is all that remains of a once prized society that we had so perfectly put together.” With a wave of his hand, a dim light underneath the large object that had captured Jeremy’s attention sprung up illuminating the area in front of Jeremy.
A globe much like the one he had seen in the hive for earth and the hive for the Fifth world wobbled on a tilted axis. Unlike the globes that represented the Earth and the /fifth world, this one was cracked and looked as if a fire had been started underneath it. Large chunks of the globe were flat out missing and spidery cracks ran up the sides in sporadic fractal patterns.
“I thought the Fifth world was your greatest defeat?” Jeremy questioned.
“We prefer to call that one a controlled experiment that did not yield the expected results. Nothing wrong with trial and error. But this place and this world in front of you were our first fully realized universe. It was a marvel of innovation and science at the time. Our civilization was full of idealists who wanted to make a utopia. A place better than what the universe could offer to us. We gave them everything they needed to succeed. We sanctioned this hive to have a 1 to 1 writer to person ratio. Each writer was given full control and allowed to do their best to reach maximum potential for their person.”
“For many years, things went great, but our natural resources could not keep up with the power demands of a fully written universe with 100 worlds. We were running out of energy to power it and also writers to control it. Things were slipping away from our control. To fix the power consumption issue, we built the tower grid. The simple science is that energy cannot be destroyed. That is universally true but that does not mean it cannot be shifted from universe to universe in an endless cycle so that each universe created actually powers the next one and so forth. We created black holes in the center of each universe, but it still was not enough, so we had to scale out and put at least one black hole for every star system out there to power the universes. You see, each tower on this planet represents the manifestation of the other side of a black hole in this universe. When energy is pulled out of one universe, these towers transfer the energy to the next in line, endlessly renewable energy. We could now build an unlimited number of universes and have them all sustainable.”
“Soon, many writers abandoned this world to start new worlds and new universes. It was a time of great expansion and prosperity for us. It all changed when one writer got too close to one of their subjects, just like Noal here did with you. The writer knew that a gruesome death was approaching for his subject. Back in those days, we had little laws and governance on the dealing of inter-species relationships. The writer appeared to his subject and warned her that death would soon happen for her. Instead of simply avoiding the thing that would kill her, she warned her people that they were being controlled. This started an intergalactic war the likes of which has never been seen since, and I do hope never again will. We were left with no alternative other than to destroy our first universe and it’s main world called Acirema. The results of this are forever memorialized before you. We erased 18 billion lives that day, in order to restore balance within the universes. And then, to prevent it from ever happening again, we created strict laws, oaths of conviction, and orderly procedures of how to write and control different universes based on their level of need.”
“What this very long story has to do with you is that I believe, and so do others, that you are the reincarnation of the one that started the rebellion against us. We believe you will attempt to dismantle everything we have worked so hard to make right.”
“What are you talking about?” Jeremy spat a sludge of blood on the ground, he was tired of listening to Radfewx’s monologue. “You’re the one that needs to be stopped. What you people are doing, controlling lives like we’re robots, it’s sick.”
“My dear, boy. What do you think would happen should you defeat me; when the writings of ever cease, and the scribblings of our control are put to rest. Do you envision yourself Lord of all? A king they will follow? Or do you see yourself as some lost cause, willing to destroy everything for your own self-preservation. You stop us and you risk stopping your world and possibly the entire multiverse from continuing, or at the very least, having to witness us burning your Earth just like this one.”
Radfewx left a moment of silence pass around the room before he continued with an ever growing sneer. “Won’t you think of the children?”
“Right now all I give a damn about is stopping you,” Jeremy yelled with as much veracity as he could muster.
The Director practically leaped over Noal on his way to smack Jeremy with two of his left arms and stared down at him like a lion ready to eat its prey. “But you don’t even have a plan. You’re lost and out of your element. I’m telling you now, it would be a much wiser strategy for you to just stop whatever it is you think you can do. For I can tell you first hand that you won’t succeed. It’s simply not written that way and, as I know and you surely should learn before your time is done, that things written in stone cannot be undone.”
Jeremy spit blood and shook his head, clearing it of the nagging doubts that were easily flared from the Director’s speech. He couldn’t help but feel defeated as he lay strapped to a metal table in the most vulnerable way. Looking around him, he noticed Cis had regained consciousness. Cis’ neck was craning as he distrustfully watched Radfewx. Jeremy’s eyes scanned the rest of the dark room but found little in the way of hope. There was simply nothing to see except the gigantic burnt husk of the once prominent planet, and worst of all Jeremy could not think of a single way to get him and his friends out of this mess.
“Where’s the princess?” Jeremy asked, trying to extend his time and allow his brain to think of a way out of Radfewx’s dungeon.
“I shall bring her here as she too should witness the end of your life. Her people could learn a thing or two from the lesson I am showing you. But to do that I will have to depart and leave you with dear Mai. She is here to administer the first part of your penance for disobeying the laws of the universe. I’ll allow her to explain things as I feel it is only fair to kill you once you have been properly informed.” Radfewx turned to leave from Jeremy’s restricted field of vision, but before his body had fully swung around he had one more statement for Jeremy. “If you try to escape she has my full permission to end your life instantly and remember she knows your thoughts and I know hers.”
Without responding, or indicating in any way that he was worried about the Director’s words, Jeremy’s eyes followed Radfewx until he was lost in the deep shadow of the empty hive.
Turning his attention back to Mai, who had now gone still as a cardboard cut-out. Jeremy had trouble finding any signs of life and felt equally worried that it was his fault she was being controlled. Guilt rose through Jeremy’s bloodstream as he took stock of the rest of the people around him. It was entirely his fault that everyone was now laying on operating tables about to be punished or executed. And for what reason? Because they thought he might do something in the future to damage their idea of how the universe should be controlled. Jeremy burrowed deep into his thoughts, trying to understand all that had happened in such a short amount of time.
All he was aware of was that he had had a lousy life up until Noal had shoved the quill into his hand. And as soon as he had been given the quill, his entire life had turned around. Yes, he had been nearly killed many times but Jeremy felt that all that had helped him understand why he needed to be the one to stop the writers. It was Jeremy that had been targeted since before birth, and he recalled Noal saying that Jeremy had been the only one able to resist their influence. A twisted smile spread over his bruised face as he realized that they were forcing him to do the things they thought he might do. All the bad things that had happened in his life had occurred because they were trying to stop him. If they had just left him alone, Noal would never have taken pity on him and tried to save him. Radfewx and the writers hadn’t made the connection yet, but in all their trying to control everything all they had managed to do was control themselves. They might think that they are writing the fate of other people, but between those lines lay their secret. They had lost control of Jeremy, and thus would soon force themselves, through their own writing, to lose control of everything else.
A scream from far beyond the dark recesses brought Jeremy out of his whirling thoughts. As sudden and jarringly as the noise had torn Jeremy from his worry, it ceased and left his ears ringing as he tried to hear more. A hanging echo remained as Jeremy strained, hoping in unjustified silence that the scream had not originated from Saesha. He knew the truth though he continued listening on, hoping that it was not from her.
“Mai?” He whispered cautiously, testing the waters of his imprisonment. It was time for him and his friends to escape.
Her eyes swung around wide and, searching like lanterns desperately reaching to land on something recognizable, quickly lost focus as they were enveloped in dim fog that distorted her usually milky eyes and changed her entire demeanor into something totally unrecognizable from what Jeremy had first met in the desert.
Another gut wrenching scream poured into Jeremy’s ears, this time it was weaker and more distressing. It caused him to reflexively pull against his restraints, his heart pounding with anxiety at not being able to help Saesha. “Mai,” he called out again, this time with more distinction. “Do you still feel the pain?”
Next Chapter – The Writers of the Universe – 11. Permanent Ink and Tattoos
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