Part 1: kind of emergency drill
kind of character study: Frank Edwards, Mark Smith worldbuilding thingy
“Suit yourself.” I smiled at Frank and his innocent curiosity. Meme barked and almost gave away his secret. That bark suspiciously sounded like ‘pity’. He didn’t like Frank much, although I had found him in the very same state of despair. Of course, Meme had chosen his animal appearance to match his not-so-human instincts. Maybe they were too similar. Where Frank was hurting himself, Meme was trying to hurt others. Still, they were consumed by the same brand of anger and hate.
Frank looked funny at Meme. He must’ve noticed. Meme smiled sheepishly at me in the hopes of salvation. “Can you imagine, how I found you?” I started down the rabbit hole. After a pause, I decided not to wait for any answers. “I followed the spreading bow wave of death that accompanied you.” Frank spat the sip of beer he just took into the fire. It hissed.
“That’s a mouthful!”
I smiled at him. He had made his way to the top of the cliff unaware that everything around him had reached out to preserve his life. He had brought more than death to this place. I knew he was coming, the ravens had told me about the storm taking a life.
“Followed the misery.”
He laughed nervously, but I made a point in staring holes into the squirming thing inside of him.
“Look.” I leaned back and threw another juniper twig into the fire. “The world isn’t so narrow and dark as it seems to you now. If you turn away from the environment that caused you such pain, nature can restore the flow of who you are. The heartbeat of this piece of land, the forest, the water, the air will heal yours.” Frank laughed his bitter accusation to the world. His tense body wanted to throw some punches at me, and maybe his chair into the campfire. The face he made, reminded me of something vile he had to swallow back down. It whispered to him, pushed him to burst out in destruction. Like a trapped animal, it was trying to break free the only way it knew how.
“Break the chains.”
It would get out, one way or another. It resembled the anger I had seen in him the first minutes I kept him from jumping off of the rock face. “It wasn’t the fall that was going to kill you, it was the collision with reality that would have taken away your freedom of choice!” I sighed. “In that state, you weren’t able to decide for yourself.” His eyes burned, but he was hollowed out by loneliness. He must have been so tired.
“I watch over everybody who enters my land.” Meme listened to me, his big head on my lap, eyes closed as if listening to a lullaby. “But that wasn’t always the case.” I looked up into the night sky. “In the beginning, tension and strain primed creation. The Empty and the Dark gave birth to the Bright and Deadly. Snapping. Breaking had been the preferred method of calling into existence. Opposites came together and danced around each other, grinding and pulverized themselves. Gradually, the Empty filled, frontiers melted into each other, the Bright darkened to warmth and motion. I watched it wrinkle and bloat to a fresh world with its own set of new life and laws.” Frank was still listening, but I had the feeling his interest was slipping. He couldn’t grasp what I meant with what I said so far. It was time to be precise.
“Relative linearity formed as time and space, cause and effect rolled into each other. This world is a bubble of bliss, in the oceans of raw unobserved possibilities.” I spread my arms. “This land here, this moment now is what I live for. A world made of arbitrariness, senseless power, and compound effects. I liked it from the start, as most of my kind did.”
“Your kind? What do you mean?” Frank perked up. His mind had found a place to latch on. Humans noticed the strangest things. The fabric of reality was meaningless and ominous to them, but its guests filled them with dread right away.
“I can’t answer that just now, but you will understand. I promise. This world fitted us like a glove. We liked to think it had been made for us, it fitted us so well. The truth was far from it. So many of us noticed too late and perished because of those false beliefs.”
“Wait! What? Who? What?” Frank lowered his voice. “Who do you think you are?” He asked very carefully. I looked at him and caught the idea forming. He suspected I was insane. There was no easy answer to his question, so I didn’t.
“It’s the hen and egg problem. Time and space behave similarly to cause and effect. They cannot be viewed separately by beings originating from a world with these functional key parameters. They had been woven into physical matter, sentient tissue, conscience, patterns, and waves of coincidences.”
“Mark! Stop it!” Frank raised his hands. “What the hell are you?” The annoying human shortsightedness reared its head. I underestimated it again. Meme’s yellow eyes searched for mine. “Tell me right now!” Persistent little tick. Meme sensed my irritation and growled softly.
“Fine! You won’t believe me though. Nobody ever does. Right… My kind had a hand in the making of mankind. I was before humans.” I knew what was coming and braced for it. “Are you satisfied now?” I asked exasperated, but Frank shook his head in disbelief.
“You must be kidding.” He mumbled. “Screw me and my life. Okay, I deserve that, but you, sir. You are a real nut job. I’m thankful for this -whatever this is, but you are crazy! This is a big ass joke, and I’m the effing punchline.” He laughed. ” If that’s not a joke, I don’t know what is. You were right. I don’t believe you.”
Meme sat up and I commanded him to speak.
So he did.
“Listen here, you delusional little shit!” Frank choked on air, color draining from his face, index pointing. “You actually asked for this. And now you feel betrayed because this isn’t what you expected? Well, buuhuuu, wittwe flower! Did that hurt youw wittle fweewings?” Relief washed over Meme. He turned to me and wagged his tail. “Phew! If I had kept that in longer, I might have exploded. Like literally.”
“It speaks!” Frank croaked. He looked like he was going to pass out. Meme stood on his hind legs and stretched. He loved to scare everyone I had this talk with. After all, it was impressive to watch a black malamute walk on hind legs, front paws propped on his hips, telling someone off.
“Yeah. And kicks your sorry ass too!” Meme walked closer and slapped the beer bottle from Frank’s hand. I snickered and tossed another juniper twig into the fire.
“You’re a – jerk!” That insight dawned on Frank. “Did either of you spike my beer with something illegal? Cause I might be trippin’ balls… Yanno. Talking dog. Old man before-humans. Telling me about the fabric of reality. Might be my brain trying to hint me something. Maybe I’m here alone and imagined you, or maybe I’ve gone bonkers… That sounds right.” He said more to himself than us. “Uhm. So you tell me, that Mark and you are something else than human? What? Like gods?” He asked, trying not to look too wary.
“No. And no.” Meme shook his head. “I’m no god. I was like you, before this.” Meme waved vaguely a front paw at his snout and tail. He sat down. “Well, maybe not like you. I was better. Anybody another beer?”
“Are you a god, then?” Frank looked curiously at me as if he saw my face the first time. “I mean, I’m sorry. I was rude.”
I nodded. “Don’t get your hopes up high. I’m almost useless to humans.” I told him.
“Alright, let’s ignore the talking dog. At least, open up a beer for me and pour it into my bowl.” Frank did what Meme asked for and remained standing, staring down at the big black dog drinking beer.