The Writers of the Universe – 15. Red Feathers

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The Writers of the Universe

Stew Stunes


The ending has been changed! Through their words written in stories and books, The Writers of the Universe control the lives of us all. A struggling human author and quite possibly the most unlucky person in existence, is about to leap from the page and journey to realms unknown in order to bring back chaos and freewill to the universe. For without uncertainty, without fear of the unknown, there is no point in going through life if its only purpose is to get to the end of the book.


15. Red Feathers

Jeremy handed Noal’s blue-steel quill over to Saesha. “Do you know what you have to do?”

“Yes. It is my duty to enter as many stories as I can from all around the universes and make logic holes. I will write in scenes that don’t make sense, unresolved plot lines, distracting cliffhangers, characters that are unimportant but a major focus and, above all else, I will introduce the element of chaos into every story that I get my hands on. I will do this until every world that I touch knows your name and comes to your aid tonight.”

Jeremy felt particularly proud of the statement she had just made. “Make it so, and I will as well.”

“What do we do?” Cis asked for himself, Mai and Tal-sen.

“I need you three to go out and find both my book and try to find Saesha’s, but it’s possible they never did write one for her as Noal said they abandoned that universe long ago. But I still need you to try. Without her and my story, we may not be able to get to Fate. Do you understand?”

“Aye, Captain!” Cis saluted with a smirk and quickly dropped his hand as they both laughed. Jeremy felt his stomach lurch with nervous excitement. Once they started writing, there would be no way to erase and go back. They could only move forward, tying more and more narrative knots until either Radfewx found them and killed them or they were able to find a way to defeat them.

The group looked out from their hiding space in one of the numerous libraries that comprised the complex city. Rolling black smoke filled the air and as far as the eye could see were rows and rows of marching six-armed giants. The hoard of giants were so far away that they looked more like ants than the giant creatures they were. Jeremy knew with a sickening sense of foreboding that they would not for long look that small.

“We need like 15 armies to fight all of that!” Cis yelled in disbelief.

“They may be lots, but my be more.” Tal-sen clicked and waved to Jeremy. “Germy, me need way to home. Bring all here to kick-punch.”

“All the king’s men and the aliens are doing a great job at distracting them, but they won’t be enough if we are ever to have a chance at crossing this battlefield and finding your books,” Mai commented.

“Okay, I’ll try my best to open a portal. I have no idea how long it will stay open.”

“We can hope it will be long enough to give us the advantage we surely lack. Now do it already,”  commanded Mai. “Also draw us some big fucking guns.”

Jeremy laughed despite his misgivings about the whole scenario and sat down to begin writing. One by one, large crates of artillery and rocket power filled the room. A full ceiling to floor rack of laser guns appeared on the far side of the room. Boxes labeled as being filled with grenades, rocket launchers, napalm, and other assorted explosives soon showed up amidst the countless rifles and shotguns that now littered the floor in ever-expanding piles. None of that compared to the glowing orb of green light that appeared in the middle of the room.

“What the hell is that, exactly?” Mai whispered to Cis.

“That is a nuclear explosion held in a bubble. Do not use that unless all else fails,” Jeremy explained. “There are tanks outside that should get you to where you need to go. I’m going to open the portal to the Fifth world now.”

The number 5 appeared on the canvas below Jeremy’s moving quill. A shrill scream like that of a pack of werewolves being tossed into the heart of a sheer and cutting wind escaped from the molten portal that formed in the door frame of the library they had taken refuge in. As opposite as the white scar that had been torn in the sky, the portal was a writhing pitch black of chaos due to the millions of assembled creatures trying to be the first out of the newly formed crevasse.  The hair-raising scream continued as the horde burst forth out onto the streets, like a flood of rancor and disease crashing up against the fleets of mighty six-armed giants.

And then it was quiet as there were no words left to say. Men who have fought call it the last deep breath before the plunge. No words of comfort, nor songs of strength to be sung, for war was upon them all.

The group said a silent goodbye before Cis, Mai and Tal-sen headed out into the war, arms full of weapons, to search for Jeremy and Saesha’s books.

Jeremy turned to face Saesha and found there was nothing much left to say. They would each be jumping into different stories, unable to communicate if anything went wrong. She looked absolutely beautiful to Jeremy, and he allowed himself to imagine a future where they survived everything. A future full of hope and love. It seemed dangerous to even dream of such a thing.

“We should start?” he whispered breathlessly, but before he could make any moves, she stepped closer. So close that her orange and blue eyes filled up his entire vision.

“If this should be the end of us, I want you to know that I’m glad you’ll be my last,” and with that, she was kissing him, but it wasn’t like before. Instead of hot passion, there was only a sharing of strength and understanding. They were now totally alone in this battle and every universe was counting on them.

Breaking contact, they both reached for a book on the pile they had collected. “Remember; skim, scribble, and shit…I don’t know, make stuff up when all else fails.” Jeremy repeated more to himself than to Saesha.

Licking the tip of his finger, Jeremy flipped a few pages into the story and dove into the story of a one Glornurf of the Alglone race. As his quill met and traced the outlines of the already engraved letters, he began to fall into the story. He could soon tell that Glornurf was strange.

The Alglone’s looked like wisps of dark blue paper thin devils. Almost so thin they could be called a two-dimensional creature, the outer edge of the floaters were spiked and angled for maximum lethality. These wisps moved like smoke curling in the wind. They would roll forward, tumble, and catch the wind as they drifted towards their destination.

Glornurf looked much the same as the others to Jeremy’s unaccustomed eyes. The only remarkable thing about this particular Alglone was that it appeared to be injured. Its right spike, that normally would catch the wind and help with turns and stability, was bent inward and crumpled by what must have been a terrible crash for the young Alglonian.

As Jeremy watched, Glornurf kept trying to leap off of the ground, but as soon as he would begin to catch the wind as so many of his fellow Alglone’s could, the crooked spike would seize the wind too strongly and send him in a tailspin back towards the ground. It was very hard to watch. Jeremy wanted to help the pitiful wisp and set out to do just that.

Glornurf kept leaping, but the harsh wind kept him bent towards the ground. His twisted spike unbalanced his otherwise flat body. Cursing the wind and his bad luck, Glornurf took one final leap. Using all of the strength he could muster with such a small body, he rose a bit further than any other previous attempt. The wind brushed against his center bouncing him upwards, and for the briefest of moments, Glornurf smiled. The moment of happiness was quickly erased by a sudden gust that sent the wisp into a harsh tailspin. A blur of blue spun in tight circles like a miniature vortex, its journey ending in a horrific crash. The landing was so harsh that it further crumbled the bent right side of the wisp until it was nearly folded in half.

The story cut off.

Jeremy felt that this needed a better ending. Using the same technique he had read in his mother’s book, he crossed out the last paragraph and began starting his own version of events.

Glornurf kept leaping, he began, but quickly stopped writing as his usual worries came to the forefront of his story.  The doubts came swelling up as his ex-girlfriend’s voice echoed through his memory. “That’s a terrible idea!” His memory shouted louder and louder, forcing out any ability to complete a sentence. As if transported from the spot, he was back in his old apartment showing everyone who would listen to all the great ideas he had for stories. Every time he spoke, all of his friend’s smiles became dimmer and more forced. Eventually, no one was smiling at all. There was only Jeremy standing alone with his ragged yellow notebook.

“Well guys, what do you think?” Jeremy asked in his vision.

All of his friends stepped forward and together they all spoke in uncanny unison. “Those are all terrible ideas to put into writing.”

“But I made these for all of you. You inspired these stories. Things have been so hard for everyone I wanted to give our lives some escape and fantasy,” Jeremy stammered near to tears.

“All of these are worthless and a waste of time. You’ve never finished a single story and you never will. You could spend a thousand years writing all of these stories, and at the end, it would have been a better use of your life to ingest the ink and slowly die of toxicity instead of wasting it on this paper.”

Jeremy shut his eyes and forced the vision from him, but it would not go. “You never will…That’s a terrible idea…Don’t write that down.” It went on and on in circular repetition, gaining in volume as more and more voices joined the gathering argument against Jeremy writing a story.

“Just fucking finish it!” Jeremy shouted at himself, clearing the overbearing voices in his head. He repeated the phrase again and again, only with a much-lowered voice like a secret chant of strength. Each time he said those words, the voices in his head fell further and further away. “Just finish it…just finish a word…finish it all.”

His fingers regained their ability to move, and, letter by letter, curve by curve, and word by word, the words started flowing again as he fell back into the alien world of the Alglonians.

The scene was frozen where Jeremy had left it, Glornurf drifting back towards the ground as his fellow Alglonians were suspended much higher in the air. As he began writing the scene, the world around him changed. Instead of the hazy dream-like state it had been in when he was reading what had previously been written, the world around him moved like a roller coaster, jumping and swerving erratically as it matched the words he was forming and created the scene he was describing in real time.

Bright sunlight spilled over the top of the rise in the hills Glornurf was traveling over. The weakened blue wafer steadied itself and caught its breath. Huffing and puffing from all of its exertion attempting to catch the wind and ride like his normal brothers and sisters. A strong internal debate between “can’t go on” and “I have to try again” was running in Glornurf’s mind. The will to succeed was strong in Glornurf, but he felt that his strength was quickly evaporating and the wind was not quite strong enough to pick him up in his crumpled state. A thought struck the sliver creature, if he could make it to the top of the rise, he might be able to catch more wind on the way downward and create some better updraft than he was getting on this side of the hill. Renewed with a goal and strength, Glornurf set off carefully tumbling up towards the summit of the hill. After rolling over many times like a tumbleweed, at last, he had made it to the top of the rise. Taking a slice of breath, Glornurf steadied himself for a strong kickoff that would surely send him soaring into the air. Exhaling, he waited and listened as the wind crested the rise around him. Much like a swelling wave rising in the ocean, Glornurf felt the breeze pull at his pointy arms encouraging him to jump. The injured Alglonian crouched one last time and with a gigantic roar from his tiny voice, Glornurf leaped into the air.

At the exact moment that Glornurf left the ground, the wind picked up and pushed him high into the air. Glornurf tumbled and spun out of control. He was screaming with excitement and fear that he would crash and it would be the end of him. But today would not be the end for him, a cross wind hit him at the perfect angle allowing him to flatten out and glide. He dipped and rose in the sky heading higher and higher. It would be a long time before he touched down again.

Jeremy scratched his head, he wanted to add something meaningful so that the little guy would know someone had helped him. Finding no immediate idea, Jeremy resigned himself to signing out of Glornurf’s story as his focus turned back to the reality at present.

The first thing he noticed was the overwhelming presence of night. The second thing his senses picked up on was the noise, or rather the lack thereof. It felt like all the sound in the world was being held in one big deep breath waiting out be exhaled again, but the noise remained held from Jeremy’s ears.

As his eyes adjusted to the deep shadows around him, small bits of noise crept into his ears. He couldn’t be sure but it sounded like someone had left a toilet running. At the edge of what his ears could pick up, there was definitely a swirling and sloshing noise that should not have been present in the still night.

He wondered what had happened in the battle, and wished, for not the last time, that writing for another character didn’t take so long.

His eyes finally found Saesha, where was anxiously staring out of the doorway into the street. Her head whipped back to check on Jeremy and when she saw his alert and bright eyes, she smiled with relief at seeing him returned from the book.

“What’s wrong?” Jeremy asked, already on his feet and crossing the distance between them. “Everything,” she answered just above a whisper. “I came out of my book about an hour ago, but the sun was still up. Jeremy, it is horrible outside. You have no idea.”

Jeremy stalled as Saesha broke down in front of him.

“It’s all my fault,” she continued, avoiding Jeremy’s questioning eyes. “Don’t ever make me write in another book. I can’t be trusted with that much power.”

Jeremy opened his mouth to ask a question, but Saesha answered it for him. “That story I went in. It had these little wispy creatures and somehow I opened the story of the queen wisp. I did the only thing I could think of. I wrote us into her story. I made us travelers from a far away land that came seeking aid. And I made the fake us convince her to say yes to helping us. I gave her one of the red feathers from my wings and told her. “Wait, someday another with a red feather will call on you and your wisps for help. You must help them.”

Jeremy paused for a moment making sure she was at the end of her story before jumping to ask one of the million of questions he had. “That’s it? I don’t understand what happened when you gave them the red feather.”

“Do you hear that noise?” she whispered even lower, as she turned to look back out into the deep darkness.

“The rushing water noise?”

“Yes. They are here. They are all here. The entire colony of Alglonian’s are here and they have blocked out the sky around the city. I brought them here when I gave them a red feather. That noise is billions of them fluttering around in the sky. And that’s not the worst thing. I saw them descend on one of the custodians like Moretz, they shredded the skin off of him like a cheese grater. It happened so fast. The little creature was dust before he could even react.”

Without a word, Jeremy reached out and pulled Saesha into a protective embrace. “You did the right thing. We needed more help from anyone and everyone in the universe.”

“That’s not all. We must have grabbed books pretty early in the Alglonian timeline, and as soon as I gave them the red feather and came out, all of the books around me started to explode. I think we have permanently altered not just one lifetime but sent an entire race of creatures to die in our battle. I am no better than Radfewx.”

“Hey now. That’s not true.”

“It is, I lied and manipulated until I got the results I needed. What makes me any different from Radfewx?”

“You gave them a choice. If Radfewx had his way everything would just happen at some predetermined rate and point. It wouldn’t be life. It would be nothing more than a machine. They chose on their own accord to come and aid us. Now, all we can do to honor their decision is to not fail our end of the bargain. Once this is all over, the writing must stop. The book must end and our story has to be one that we all write ourselves. Not some giant with six arms. My life is my own, and I vow to you Saesha that I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have no masters.”

“Thank you. I’m sorry I lost my head there for a little bit. I was going a bit mad when you were still writing and it was just me, this darkness, and that terrible noise. It gets into your head and makes you feel all weird.” Saesha smiled with slight embarrassment.

Quickly changing the subject, Jeremy asked. “Any word on the others. They’ve been out there for a long time.”

“They’ve been gone too long,” Saesha agreed.

“Do you think that if we step outside those wisps will attack us?” Jeremy wondered out loud.

“I’ll admit, I don’t want to be the first to find out.”

“Let’s try a test,” Jeremy said while pulling a random book from the shelf.

“What are you going to do?” Saesha questioned. “I don’t think chucking a book out there and seeing if it gets attacked is a good test of the situation. I mean a book compared to us is…”

She trailed off as she studied Jeremy skimming through the pages of the book not listening to her.

“Aha!” Jeremy exclaimed. “I need a feather from you.”

“What could you possibly?”

“I need a red feather so I can give it to this lady Alglonian to pass to the queen. We can tell them exactly where we are and to not attack us.”

“That’s a great idea but no one has written in that book for a long time so won’t the events in it be old?”

“That’s what I checked for. If there’s no one currently writing in them, then it appears that the book’s keep track of the present, so it’s much easier for someone to go back and retroactively change events as they occur.”

“Also you really don’t need to pluck me,” she smiled at him in the dim light.

“Right, I can just make one in the story. Sorry still getting the hang of this writing thing.”

“Be quick,” was all Saesha said before Jeremy dove quill-first into the story.

An agonizing ten minutes of the awful running water noise passed before Jeremy’s consciousness returned to the same universe his body was occupying. “It is done. I’d say let’s give a solid five before we venture out into the darkness.”

“What’s our plan from here on out?” she asked gravely.

“If it’s at all possible, I think we should try and find our friends first. We’ll try and see how far they’ve gotten in their quest for finding our books. Then, we need to finish this war before any more damage can be done.”

They remained in a sort of reverent silence waiting for the appropriate moment to make a run for it.

“Ready?” Jeremy asked.

Saesha grabbed his hand and without a word or another moment of hesitation, they were out in the streets and hallways of the single structure city. For a while they ran aimlessly, afraid to look up and acknowledge the black cloud of billions of wisps above them that at any moment could decide they were fit for carving. Their running slowed to a light jog as the shadows grew deeper and the tighter the corridors became. They had wound themselves into the heart of the library structure and the buildings felt much too narrow and much too tall like everything was going to smoosh them into a giant six-armed size sandwich.

At the center of the city stood a single perfectly cubed structure. All of the twisting alleyways and streets met at the epicenter that was this remarkable normal-sized building. At its tallest, it compared to a standard two level house and was almost comically smaller than the towers that loomed over it. Between the distance from the towers to the squat building lay a circular courtyard of perfectly groomed red sand. Tiny stepping stones formed a curving footpath leading to the entrance.

Saesha and Jeremy stopped suddenly as soon as they ran past the last line of towers, nearly falling over from stopping so abruptly.

“We’re going to have to go in there, aren’t we,” Jeremy complained.

“This is hallowed ground for the writers. I have the deepest of suspicions we will come face to face with the director should we venture inside of that compound.”

“Well, we’re out of avenues, so this is it. This could be the end for us. I’m out of plans,” Jeremy admitted.

Saesha squeezed his hand to non-verbally give him some encouragement. “The old plan is still our new plan. I bet you Radfewx was holding your book the whole time. I know I would hold my enemy’s greatest weapon closest to me so that there would be no way except by death that they could get their hands on it.”

“You’re right, but that just makes this even more impossible. We can’t get close to him without getting obliterated,” Jeremy complained.

“This is not the time for doubt. Make us some weapons. One melee weapon and one for long range. A gun and a sword. Make them, then we’ll run in there and we’ll keep running. No matter what happens, keep pushing towards Radfewx. I believe that if we can get close we can defeat him.”

Jeremy pulled out his quill and scribbled on the edge of the red sand the objects Saesha requested. By the time she was finished describing their plan, they both held a laser gun and burning swords of fire.

“If it gets dark, we’ll be able to see what we’re slicing at,” Jeremy explained with a nasty grin. He was ready to face Radfewx. Before he had been confused and unprepared to face The Director, but now he understood the mechanics behind the writer’s power. He could break their ties to the other universes, he could change the tide of this war and free everyone. A surge of adrenaline pumped through his veins as he took the first step towards the square building.

His foot pressed down onto one of the numerous stepping stones leading to the building. The rock below his foot suddenly gave way and Jeremy found himself knee deep in the red sand. It was only Saesha’s quick reaction that saved Jeremy from being swallowed by the sand pit. She pulled him back up and motioned for him to follow her.

“Don’t you see the pattern?” She asked.

Jeremy shook his head to answer. He peered down at the stepping stones but could find no pattern to speak of.

“You humans only see in pairs and tens. What do you think the writer’s see in?” Saesha questioned Jeremy allowing him time to think.

“I’d guess in sixes?” Jeremy attempted not making any connections to the rocks and the question Saesha asked.

“They naturally see in a much wider variety of numbers. Threes, sixes, eights, and multiples of forty. This is a walkway that only a giant could cross as they would have the required number of limbs and fingers to evenly displace their weight on the rocks so as to not weigh a single one down enough to make it sink.”

“I see it now. Three, six, eights, six, three, eight, six, eight, three, six, six, eight, eight, three three. And I know how we can get across.”

“How so?”

“Climb on my back that will give us the right number of appendages. You’ll have to use your feet as another set of arms but I think we can do it.”

Despite the tension and gravity of what they faced beyond the entrance to the building, Saesha burst out laughing. “I can imagine that would be a fun exercise should our time not warrant more haste. No, I don’t think riding on your back across this pit would be a good thing. I’ll just fly us over.”

Jeremy face palmed at having not realized the much simpler solution.

“If we live through this and you still want to come back and try that, I promise you I won’t say no,” Saesha teased.

Jeremy stuck his tongue out at her as she picked him up and flew towards the entrance. A gentle touchdown and they were a footstep away from entering the building.

They both re-engaged their fire swords as Jeremy led the way inside. A hallway no wider than Jeremy’s shoulders led them further. The darkness from the wisps outside did nothing to aid the fact that even if it had been high noon and no clouds were above, it still would have been near impossible to see inside the building. Their fire swords worked well to cast shadows beyond and behind them.

“Ugh,” Jeremy complained as his foot collided with a solid stone wall.

“What’s wrong?” Saesha asked as she could not see past Jeremy in the cramped space.

“That’s it. That’s all there is.”

“What? But that can’t be true. We haven’t seen any doors or anything. No one would build just a single hallway that leads to nowhere.”

“I would,” A snake-like voice echoed from the end of the corridor they had just come from.

“Radfewx!” they both shouted in angry voices while whipping around and sending twin laser bullets towards the entrance.

At that exact moment, the walls around them flashed into life an icy blue that was so bright it hurt the eyes. Where Saesha and Jeremy had stood, certain that they would be obliterated, there was nothing left except two smoking contrails hinting of the place they had occupied a second earlier.


Next Chapter – The Writers of the Universe – 16. The Search

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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