Take a fiction and build a house of cards. Quantum entangle a billion disparate shards and call it a thinking machine. A man who is layered masks around a vacuum tries to act like he is telling a story with a point, but he has forgotten the punchline. Ever forget the password into your own life? Can’t remember the answer to those secret questions about your life?
He squirted gasoline from the little can onto what he had been calling the manuscript, and then he flicked a match after that. A tower burning.
Who knows if this act set light to The Pinnacle? They weren’t chaos butterflies they were closing and unclosing tesseracts letting the edits leak through. He’d spoken to a Headitor, and he’d seen his text after the Bloop Hen was done with it, and if he were to ever be a writer this would not be the spine that he would climb into heaven. It was a babble from Babel, and it had been struck by lightning, designed to cast him down.
Read between the lines. Caught in a fever dream between sheets. A crushed mechsquito on the window sill, at that portal where he had looked out on the storm front, and determined the movements within The Whether System.
‘I sat down once, with David Arnover – we were part of a writing pool working on a TV Show. They had Jenny Fred in there, and we worked it over and we worked it over until it was dead. There was not a single laugh to be wrenched from the whole thing. That meeting – word of it got out, and Pelt Faron made a satire out of it.’
‘That didn’t happen, pal, you weren’t here for that. None of that happened.’
‘Of course it did, AIM. Don’t you know that we’re hip deep in the second draft write now?’
‘You think you changed history already?’
‘Oh, my friend, the change was written in between the lines from day one. A lot of writers are like cops – they won’t walk into a room unless they know how to get out of it.’
‘So am I still what I was? Is Coran Andress? Is Skein? Are the things I have been doing rendered obsolete?’
‘What does any of it really mean? I mean, really. After all I just burned down a towering magnificence of a masterpiece – my life distilled into a manuscript. You see the black wisps of it lifting into the air, like a microcosm of the Whether System we can see. I think may have been mistaken in the efficacy of myself as a failsafe. I called myself a palimpsest, but who ever read the palimpsest as the definitive text? Who thinks of that echo of an original tale as being anything other than an aborted attempt? Something not carried to full term?’
‘What did you call it?’
‘And it’s burning, isn’t it?’
‘This Burning World seems to be the only story we are able to tell.’
‘Maybe we need a new writer. I thought that was me, but I am a copyist. We need a new fiction; a fiction to designate the future.’
‘I heard whispers of someone talking about just that very thing. Not sure how promising something being pushed by a guy called Clench is going to be though.’