A Creation’s Trial
“You’re awake then.” Upon hearing that statement, Mark jolted awake and winced. His back ached from having slept on such a hard surface, which was odd, since the last memory he had was of falling asleep next to his future wife on the sofa after a particularly taxing day at work…
Mark had not changed out of his regular attire, and his blue frock coat looked all the worse for wear. It was caked in dry mud, and ripped in some areas. His golden-yellow sweater had not taken much damage, but it was wrinkled, and in the glaring white of his current environment, it seemed to be faded. His blue jeans were torn, and his sneakers were rather filthy. His black hair was smoothed out and not as spiked or coifed, as it normally was when he gelled it into his normal hairstyle. As he sat up, he didn’t really think about the voice or any of its possible sources. After years of waking up to his mother screaming at him to get out of bed, he was rather adept at ignoring people.
Come to think of it, he had not felt any mud on the ground, although he could see the damage his coat had taken. In fact, the ground had seemed a bit like a white tile floor, and in fact, the world had been rather blank and vague. As Mark looked up and began taking in his surroundings, he noticed that he had indeed been correct. The world was completely white, blank and (excluding Mark) uninhabited. Mist covered the ground and obscured it from view, but Mark could tell the ground was made of tile. But strangely enough, there was a mud puddle next to him. Mark had a feeling that it hadn’t been there previously. With that, his reveries, initial visions and thoughts were interrupted as the voice spoke again.
“Hello? Are you awake? Perhaps the transfer has damaged or disoriented him…” Mark jumped up at the statement and began paying attention to the voice again. As he looked around, there was literally nothing and no one in the world besides himself. How was anyone speaking without being detected? There wasn’t exactly any physical obstruction to hide anyone with a microphone or a megaphone, and there weren’t any walls or PAs to indicate that he was in a room. The voice continued, “I’m sorry to startle you. I’m the Author of your story. I built this world.”
Mark was incredulous. How could he have an author writing his story? Was this voice referring to his life when he said “story”? Was it implying that he was a character in a story?
“Yes, you’re one of my characters. No, you are not real, not in my plane of existence, at least.” Once he had heard this, Mark was rather disturbed. How had the Author known what he was thinking? Could this ridiculous story he was telling actually be real?
“Yes, it can. Why do you doubt me, Redwood?”
No, this couldn’t be right. This person or voice was reading his mind now… was this a prank? Or was it…
“You’re not God, by any chance, are you?”
At this, the voice started laughing… in a rather spiteful manner, as if Mark had said something incredibly stupid. “No,” the Author replied, “I do believe the big man is a few realities away. I’m definitely not God.”
“So then…” Mark contemplated for a bit, while sitting cross-legged on the ground before asking, “Okay, who drugged me? What drug is creating this state? I need to find out what it is so that I never take it again.”
“You’re not being drugged. I’m not even going to argue with you anymore. I’m just going to SIT here until you realize that there’s no other solution to what’s going on.”
“Well, then, this must be some sort of virtual reality then.” Mark began to relax, glad to have found a reasonable (and actually possible) explanation this time. His computerized friend KURT must have been messing with him again, creating a virtual world and using some sort of algorithm to second guess what he was thinking. He glanced up at the “sky” and shouted, in a good-natured manner, “Very funny, KURT! Let me out now! This isn’t so cool anymore.”
“I’m not your artificially intelligent friend. Last time I checked, I was too organic to be a computer. Skin and bones- computers don’t have those where I’m from, and I don’t think they do in your world, either. I am the Author, and you are in disbelief. Why?”
“Because it’s absolutely ridiculous!” Mark blurted out. “You expect me to believe that I was created by some person in another dimension or something? What am I even doing here? This can’t be my life, or story, or whatever! I have a life to get back to!”
“Well, that’s too bad. You’re here because I want you to be present for your world’s destruction.”
“Say what now?”
“I’m scrapping your story. I’ve given up on it. I’ve decided, however, that you’re too good to be disposed of, so I’m going to place you into this new story. This new world is not fully developed yet, but it will grow.”
“I can’t believe this. I’m stuck in a room with a megalomaniac who thinks he’s creator of reality. How did everything come to this?” Mark groaned to himself. After pacing about, trying to restrain himself, his pride finally got the better of him as he blurted out, “What was wrong with my world, anyway? It wasn’t so bad!”
“Your world is as ridiculous to me as my explanation is to you. Some of your friends were flat and unrealistic.”
“My new friends, family and life would not be as real to me as the people I knew originally. This is not my home.”
“You’d sacrifice yourself in order to be with your family again?”
“I honestly don’t know, Mark, but I’m giving you an opportunity for a better life. You are my creation. I have the right to use you as I please. I’d advise that you accept my offer before I force you to accept.”
Mark considered the possibility for a moment, but he had felt a tugging need to find his fiancé and his friends ever since he had woken up. He could not- would not- allow his creator to force him away from them. “I must decline.”
“I will gladly include some other characters from your story for you. But they must undergo some… improvement first.”
“They don’t need improvement, Author. We might have seemed flat in your writing, but you don’t know anything about us and our lives beyond the story you wrote.” Mark was resolute now, his face stony and certain of what was going on and what he had to do. “Send me back, now.”
“But Mark, do tell me, what’s stopping me from just forcibly keeping you here?”
“I could just become as flat and monotonous as this world is now. Would you be willing to risk destroying a perfectly good character?”
“No, but I am also unwilling to waste a character on an irrational world with flat characters and science fiction clichés.” In his current state, Mark felt like he could smash through the dimensions back to his world with a sledgehammer. He realized, as the Author realized, that they had reached a stalemate.
“I would like to believe that you’re a fair and reasonable Author,” Mark stated. He had an idea, but it really depended on whether the Author was willing to go through with his idea.
“I am reasonable. You, by declining the opportunity at a better life, are not.”
“Then, be reasonable, and give your characters a chance to prove themselves. You shouldn’t be able to sentence someone to his or her doom without a trial.”
“…You expect me to corrupt this new world with those nonexistent beings?”
“If they don’t exist, then why do I exist? I come from the same place as them. I’m not so radically different from them all.” Out of ideas, at a point where he normally would throw his hands up and quit trying, Mark had no idea what to say or do. If the Author refused to witness the evolution that had taken place by returning him, then there really was nothing else to say, and perhaps there was nothing Mark could do but remain stranded in this world. Unless… “As a fellow writer, I ask that you bring one thing here that might help me make an argument for my world.”
“…Very well. An object would probably minimize the vandalism that would have been created with the presence of your companions. What would you like?”
Mark gritted his teeth and stopped himself from spitting out an objection about how his friends were not incompetent or useless, and steeled himself as he requested, “I want you to bring my journal here. And then I want you to read it. See all the descriptions I placed in there of the world around me, and then let’s see if you can still say my old home is worthless.
When the Author finally spoke again, after a long moment of silence, he seemed slightly confused. “You had a journal?”
Mark was equally confused as he responded, “Yes, how could you not know?”
“I do not ever recall writing that detail about you.”
“I started writing it after Alex died when I was a kid. You remember him, don’t you?”
The Author’s voice acknowledged, “Yes, I remember that about your development. You were supposed to be the hero who rose from tragedy.”
“There was a reason that I became a journalist for some time, Author. I wrote that journal for Alex, and I wrote very well, for his sake. I became a journalist to utilize my talent and help the world. Bring it in, and read it, and see if you can bring yourself to destroy the world after you finish.”
The Author summoned the journal up. It was a thick green tome with a scarlet binding and onionskin pages full of writing. He skimmed briefly through Mark’s account of his childhood and early life before and after Alex’s death. He noted the great amount of devastation, determination and happiness with those entries, and found pride in the fact that he had created such a multifaceted character. He read all the descriptions of Mark’s world, which still seemed too fantastical, but the Author could see why Mark loved the place as he described it, and realization set in for the first time. This was his character’s home.
Perhaps the world was worth keeping, the Author contemplated to himself, but I am not so sure the residents are worthy of preservation. He began to focus on descriptions of people, and events involving those people. He saw Mark meet each of his creations- the artificial intelligence, the future fiancé, and his best friends. Although they initially seemed a bit shallow and empty, they began to grow and change as Mark learned more about them, and as he even began affecting them. His fiancé had proven to become an absolutely fantastic person, and a voracious learner when she was released upon the world. In the more recent entries, even the artificial intelligence took on human qualities at times, displaying true emotions and sarcasm that he previously had not known before. All the emotions real people felt, the other characters seemed to feel as well. Shyness, fear, happiness, devastation, they were all there within one book, laid out for the Author to read. But the journal showed that everyone dealt with the obstacles of everyday life with creative methods that brought a true contentment to life, which was unbelievable in itself.
I suppose, the Author thought with resignation, that I have lost. Mark’s journal provided a solid argument with its description and displayed that his world had, indeed, expanded and elaborated. He was about to concede defeat and send Mark home reluctantly with a strong breeze that would throw the journal into his face as the transport took place. But then he remembered something and flipped back to a few pages, resting on one certain passage and reading it voraciously. Here, here was an absolute inaccuracy, which could not have been created by the world’s evolution. He could now keep Mark to complete his will…
“I’ve decided that I can’t trust your journal, Mark. You are biased in favor of your world, and it, by extension, is biased and has the potential of being inaccurate. Your world will die, and a new one will take its place.” The journal, which had been floating in the air for sometime as the Author had read the book, was tossed down at Mark’s feet, precariously close to the mud puddle. Speaking in a tone overflowing with victory and joy, the Author proclaimed, “You argued well, and you entertained me for some time, Mark. But now, it’s time for you to leave your old life behind and embrace the new one I have readied for you.” Mark fell to his knees in pain as his connections to all the people he had met and places he had seen was gradually cut away…
But to Mark’s horror, his memories began to fade away as well. All the descriptions of the world he had seen- the glittering (almost utopian) cities, the beautiful forest that he and Alex had explored… were disappearing, melting like snow. Tears flowed as he silently begged his creator to stop. And then the people he had met slowly appeared and dissolved before him until there were only three people that he could still remember.
There was Kurt, the artificial intelligence. Since Kurt’s only physical form was that of a gleaming, smooth scarlet rectangular prism that could be easily held in the hand, Mark chose to focus on Kurt’s mellifluous voice, which sounded like that of a radio announcer- a very sarcastic and witty radio announcer. He saw his own brother, Alex, who had inspired him to see the world as a beautiful place, through a child’s eyes… and his fiancé, perhaps one of his closest confidantes, with her flowing dirty-blonde hair. Mark saw them… surrounding him- almost supporting him with their presence through the unmerciful pain. Mark’s eyes began to close as a windstorm began to pick up and transform the landscape. As the world around him began to change, Mark’s eyelids closed as he surrendered to the pain. He lost consciousness and began to dream…
The story continues here.