Image: © Noupload Source
Author: Jonathan Collé
And he cast away his great pen, sat back on his chair, cross-armed and cross-thoughted, the cascade of ideas still pouring about his head in a myriad of lights.
And the creator saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
“Hey! Who am I?”
And the voice startled him. And he looked again at his work in shock.
A little man, a picture, a mere representation of a shard in his mind was stretching, walking throughout the paper and the lines that were meant to be his world, contemplating, scrutinizing… He had no idea of the author’s presence, could feel only wind, not a breath, and the two great eyes that stared at him from beyond infinity meant nothing to him.
The author’s first impulse was to touch this character that had suddenly come to life. He approached a huge, clumsy, trembling finger, and slowed as the distance between his reality and the impossible shortened, ever so slightly… a touch. Nothing. The paper did not rustle, and the lines did not stir. It was still this same frozen plane, this two-dimensional creation that meant nothing without his own consent. Yet there it was, this character who kept scrolling about, stumbling on a coma, falling face-first on a metaphor only to lash-out an angry fist at this unalive antagonist. But was this character not unalive? wondered the author, convincing himself that it was not. For when he caressed the paper and the letters, he could feel only this, paper and letters; not even. Bumpy paper. Is that enough to create existence?
“What am I?”
The protagonist of the story – if it were ever a story – had screamed. Of that the author was sure. The protagonist had cried like a new-born, wailing at… him? It was a defining question that the stumbling, angry thing had asked, and the little being had poured it out, not caring to be alone, or unheard, not waiting for an answer. Or was it?
The author trembled at the sudden thought, that his creation might see him. For the question was directed, if not to someone then to the world, and its creator. The protagonist had uttered its first sentences like a new-born answers his first welcome to life: anger, outrage and incomprehension.
Overcoming his fears, the author leaned-in on his creation like a scientist looking to peer through a microscope. And the conclusions came quick. The “thing” -the author could not yet call it a man, nor was he sure he ever would- had asked not where he was, but what he was. “Who are you?”, asked the caterpillar to Alice. And the author felt himself tumbling down in a spiral- a rabid whole- for this unanswerable question opened only mysterious doors.
“I don’t even know who you are”, wanted to answer the author, “leave me alone. Decide for yourself, see if I care.”
But care he did. He wondered the very same thing now, as he peered at the moving impossibility which seemed to stand and look at him straight in the eye! Although of course it could not see; or rather, comprehend. “What did it see?”, wondered the author, not caring to poke his character anymore, content to watch it in a well-deserved awe.
“I don’t know who or what you are”, whispered the author, still half afraid that his creation might hear him. But there was only fascination in his voice. The answer both entities sought was unreachable, it could only be chipped away – and then be frustratingly incomplete, wrong even. Who was it but a part of the author’s imagination?
“But I definitely didn’t want you to do that”, thought the author as his protagonist kicked and raged at what had caused him to fall once more. “Nope, not at all”. The character was dancing, flashing middle-fingers all around, head up and a defiant scowl marked on its face.
“Then, what was it? Was his imagination on rampage?” thought the author, concentrating, eyes-closed in an attempt to find out if the thing would simply disappear. He almost ripped the page, stopping himself just as soon as he had wished such folly. No, never. How could he kill what he had created? “Have I created it? Maybe then, I could kill it without a second thought, but this… situation…” The author kept staring at his creation, afraid even to blink now, that such magic may vanish as quickly as it had come. “But had it come quickly?”, the author wondered. He then went through his process of creation, only recognizing now the painstaking efforts that had wielded this result.
“You are Jack”, warned the author, chipping away at this mountain of nonsense. “You are a killer. A cold-blooded killer. But you have a heart. Somewhat twisted, but sill a heart. You… have been created as the result of a problem.”
Was that true? The words became lies as soon as they were uttered, for the thoughts they were meant to convey were too complex, too nuanced, they couldn’t just be flattened by arbitrary sounds. Utterances; utter nonsense. But the author focused once more: it was not non sense. It was simply different. New. Another kind of reality, unbeknownst to him until now, yet as real as his vision, as true and mind-bending as an optical illusion. And this reality was seriously undermining life’s illusion.
The author saw Jack sit down. But was it still the character imagined, the friendly antagonist, soon-to-be-helper of the main character, possibly a secondary character with a high spin-off potential? It seemed stupid, vain to question such obvious knowledge, but what also stroke the author as unbreachable was the simple fact that Jack, if truth be told, had only been nothingness. A rhythm created by different readings of ink-traced tree parts. He was the wind, or rather the sound that wind and a poorly closed window could make. He was, indeed, the monster conjured in the mind of the child investigating said noise. Was the monster real? Where had reality stopped?
Where does it begin?