A disgruntled cynic wakes up as the center of a prophecy in a world of cliches.
|I woke up in a fairly dark room, about the size of a dormitory, not knowing how I got there. Not good. If high-budget movies have taught me a damn thing, it is that waking up in an ambiguous room is not a positive.
It's an annoying situation to wake up into, and things would only start getting worse. As the post-sleep fog cleared from my eyes, I saw a very dimly-lit light bulb hanging from the ceiling. I felt around my pockets for my belongings, but they were empty. All that I had been left with was my clothes: a seven-year old gray Korn t-shirt, and a pair of old, faded-to-an-off-white pair of jeans. Looking around some more, I discovered that the room notably had no door. In fact, the only objects in the room were myself and the light bulb. Even more notably, none of it immediately struck me as odd. I was quite literally the centerpiece of a riddle.
Staying calm was my main priority. With no better ideas, I stood up and examined the walls with the hope that there was an exit my vision missed. It always bothered me how characters would act nonchalant when they woke up in a dark, unfamiliar room in a movie plot. It seemed too unrealistic. An uncontrollable panic would be more appropriate. As it turns out, the directors had been putting them on the right track. I was exhibiting the same behavior as a stock horror movie character.
Pacing around slowly, I began the process of laying out the situation in my head. I tried not to think of panicking. If I panicked, it would be all over. Control would be lost and never regained. I would end up smashing my skull into the room's walls before I found a way out.
I grabbed the light bulb and aimed it at the ceiling. Scanning back and forth for any hints of an exit revealed that there was jackshit. I did the same along the floor, but it goes without saying that jackshit existed there as well. At that point, the fact that there was no door struck me as odd.
“You gotta be kidding me.” I uttered under my breath, one of those unnecessary, subconscious statements of frustration.
I began differing from a stock horror movie character by using rational thinking. Through my thinking, four conclusions came to mind:
1. There was an exit that I could not see
2. I was dreaming
3. I was welded shut into this room by someone for some reason
4. I was in a situation that defied the basic laws of physics.
I walked around the room, feeling along the walls for any inconsistencies. The walls were cold, smooth steel with no hints of bumps or structural errors. As the possibility of an exit further faded, I also realized that I didn't know anyone who would have enough time, money, or reason for that matter to build a steel room, drug me without anyone knowing, place me in it, and then enclose it. Those keeping track at home can now cross off number 1 and number 3.
I never have dreamed much, and I always wake up whenever I realize I am in a dream. As I felt the last of the unexamined wall, it became clear that conclusion number 4 was the winner.
After determining that I was in a new reality with a different set of rules, the feelings of panic that I was suppressing became a non-factor. Falling into this situation strayed away from the monotonous trend of my life. Quite frankly, life had become boring to me. All the people I had ever met in my life were boneheaded. Even worse, they took themselves so seriously. In my new situation, I wouldn't have to deal with them. I could just be my smart-ass self with no one to tell me any better. I would also be able to experience a new, hopefully much different world. I did want to get outside however.
I took in a huge breath of air. It still felt clean and oxygenated, not stuffy like it would in an enclosed room with no ventilation. My separation from a stock horror movie character continued to grow. A select few characters would catch this little anomaly. Unlike those elite few, I didn't get up and check for ventilation that I may have missed. It would have been too normal for any to be there.
It is probably apparent than I am more intuitive than the typical horror movie protagonist. That's not saying much in real-world terms, but in my story it has a fair amount of significance. Because of my cunning logic, I went ahead and skipped the "denial" phase that a typical human being will experience when they encounter a new reality. I woke up in an impossible situation, and I fucking believed it.
After skipping all the bullshit, I didn't know what to do. My cleverness ironically led to my first obstacle. I sat in a corner and let my eyes and mind wander. There weren't many interesting places to look. But after a couple of seconds, an idea turned on in my head like a...light bulb.
I stood up and walked towards the dangling light bulb. I grabbed hold of the chain it hung from and followed it up to the ceiling with my eyes. It didn’t lead to any apparent power source. It was just hanging there. Figures.
“This room sucks.” I said. I hoped someone heard that.
I began to yank at the chain. This was probably a stupid thing to do. If I carelessly broke the bulb, I wouldn't have any light. But I figured there weren't many other choices. And I had a good feeling it was going to lead me somewhere. I kept yanking, but nothing budged. I yanked and I yanked liked a crying toddler pulling at its mother's arm. The thing showed no effort of budging. I stopped, and then gave one last frustrated pull.
The bulb and the chain came loose from the ceiling. Oddly, the bulb still shined in my hand as the chain dangled from it. It wasn't connected to anything.
“I’m not following.” I said, clearly perplexed, yet excited due to this new development.
Shining the bulb up to the ceiling, I didn't see any mechanism that the light bulb could have been attached to. It just looked like plain wall. I walked around the room with the bulb and shined it in every corner, nook, and cranny out of hopeless hope that something may have slipped my radar. I found nothing. The uselessness of the light bulb was beginning to slightly annoy me. Whenever I get slightly annoyed, I toss whatever I am holding onto the ground.
The bulb exploded as it went crashing into the floor. Characteristic of an explosion, light bulb debris scattered outward and landed on the ground. However, all of the pieces remained illuminated as they sat there. Each piece was incredibly bright. From a distance, it looked like a unified body of light. I kneeled down and took a closer look. The unified body turned into hundreds of little pieces of light as I drew closer. Of all the unearthly things I had experienced since I had awoken, this was the first one that dropped my jaw. It's the first thing that actually looked unearthly.
I picked up one of the bigger pieces, which was about the size of a penny. It was so bright that I could not make out any glass edges, only light.
I'm sorry, but I don't have any comparisons I can make to a stock horror movie character at this point. I don't think many get into situations this...off the wall. But in order to ensure my survival, I would have to continue to stray from their track.
The piece’s glow was so magical looking. My eyes could not seem to stray from it, as it was appealing to my inner child. The little boy inside me further influenced my decisions as I lifted the piece to my mouth and took a slight lick. Mmmmm. That was all it took to get me to put it in my mouth and start chewing.
It didn't taste like chicken, asshole. It didn't taste like anything. But it felt delightful. It chewed like Jell-O, and the contact with my mouth tingled each individual nerve in my body. I swallowed it, and the slight hunger I was feeling was satiated. It was quite enjoyable. I figured I might as well eat some more.
I went ahead and ate all the pieces except for one. This process took a while, which is why I won't bore you with it. But let me assure you, it was a hell of a meal. Each piece got slightly better, which is the opposite of your typical decrescendous meal. By supper’s end, orgasmic sensations flowed from the top of my head to my little toe, and everywhere in between. I was tempted to eat the last piece, but then I wouldn't have light. The temptation was very strong, but my thought process outweighed my hunger for pleasure.
A great strength, an inhuman strength overflowed me after my meal. It was like the creator himself had blessed me with his great power, or some bullshit description like that.
I decided it was a good time to use my newfound attribute. I put the last piece of light bulb in my pocket, and let loose a punch on the wall. My fist went straight through it, knocking a neat square into the steel wall. At that point, I was not fazed a bit. I was reverting to a stock horror movie character by acting (or not acting) unconcerned by this unusual happening. Whatever.
A great ray of light came through, nearly blinding me. I squinted my eyes and kicked some more space into the wall. I figured it was a good time to see what was going on outside.
I walked out of the room through the newly formed doorway. My story started to get considerably weirder at that point.
I was standing on what appeared to be a never-ending bridge in the sky. The bridge didn't seem to be supported by anything; it was just floating. Also of note: the sky was bright orange. The orange color was so rich that it looked as if the sun had burst and left its residue plastered across the sky. I say this because there was no sun in sight.
Far away, but walking towards me was a man covered by a flowing, brown cloak. He walked with a sense of urgency, as if he needed to see me. It was a perfect shot for a movie. I began walking toward the man. How do I know he is a man if he is far away, you ask?
We walked towards each other, reminiscent of a shootout in an old western movie. If someone was filming us, they sure as hell had something to be happy about. The whole thing felt right. I wasn't quite sure why I was there to meet that man, but it seemed so...scheduled. I tried to take in the beautiful, fantastical setting. It was a little difficult though. I had just woken up into a new world about twenty minutes prior. It was all a little new to me.
"Hi." The man said as we reached talking distance. His voice was deep as hell.
He was also quite tall, at least a full head taller than I was. He had a neatly trimmed black goatee. But most notably, he had one of the deepest, coldest stares I had ever encountered. His dark brown eyes looked straight into my eyes, and maybe further than that. With the cloak, this had to be one of the most physically intimidating people I had ever seen.
"I, uh," I stuttered. "I have a few questions."
"We'll get to those." The man replied. He turned around and started walking back towards where he came from. What else was there to do but follow?
"I'm Mura." He said. "I'm going to be as brief as I can about this situation. You are here to fulfill a prophecy. A war has been waging here for over four-hundred years. Your presence here will end it. I am here to retrieve you and deliver you to the Great Council."
I'm not kidding. That is exactly what this asshole said to me. I can't think of a line witty enough to sufficiently make fun of its unoriginality.
"Um" I said.
"You have been summoned from a parallel universe." Mura said. "Our realm is chaotic, disordered. The realm you come from is more stable in comparison to ours. The Great Council has been watching you. They believe you are the being to fix this war."
"I...think you've got the wrong guy." I replied. It's hard writing down hackneyed dialogue from nearly every average-joe-saves-the-day film knowing that I said it.
"I'm an asshole." I continued. "I work a mundane, dead-end job. I live by myself. I have a lot of body hair. I don't know how to throw a football. I haven't had sex in six years. I'm not capable of ending wars."
Just like everyone before me.
"We kn—" Mura started.
This is where I started showing signs of my humanity. I hate showing my humanity. I may not have been a typical horror movie character, but I was growing closer to a typical fantasy movie character.
"This is bullshit!" I exclaimed as I stopped walking. I felt myself starting to get dizzy. "You can't just spill that shit to me just like that and expect me to buy it, particularly with that casual attitude. It's like you just expect me to sit there and take it all in. Just like that. You fucking douchebag. You probably jack off to this shit. Tryin' to be a cool guy, eh? Go fuck yourself, guy. I can't stand assholes like you. 'Oh hey, you just woke up into a completely different universe five minutes ago. I'm here to let you know that you're here to save it in a monotone voice, not accounting for the shock you must be going through.' What a crock. Give me a fucking break.”
The shock seemed to be catching up with me. I walked up to Mura and started feeling his face. I'm not sure why. He looked at me with the same look he had throughout the duration of our short acquaintance.
“Are you real Mura?” I asked in an aggressive shouting tone. Thoughts and questions started flying through my head. “This situation is a little too predictable to be real. This would never happen to me."
I paused and took a few deep breaths. A subtle feeling of nausea was starting to come over me.
"I mean seriously, a damn orange sky?" I was yelling at this point. "I'm supposed to buy that? Bullshit. Fuck off. You don't just go to sleep one night and wake up as the center of some shitty movie plot the next day. Life doesn't work that way."
I stopped walking and kneeled to the ground. I pinched myself repeatedly, trying to wake up. I knew that it was not a dream, so I wasn't fooling myself. I started breathing quickly and heavily. My gut felt like it was tied up in a knot. It was a sensation I hadn't felt in years: an anxiety attack. The shock of the situation was messing up my physiology. It felt like shit, but I let the attack run its course as I curled up on the bridge's hard surface. Mura just watched.
I guess you can't skip the "denial" phase after all.
The knot in my gut started rising up into my chest. It went up further into my throat, and before I knew it my light bulb snack was on the bridge. All of the pieces were still as blindingly bright as before. But I felt better.
I can't explain how, but I conquered the "denial" phase pretty quickly. The shock of the whole situation hit me like I had just hit that wall. But within moments it was gone. It was the closest I had come to what I would consider a divine intervention. Thanks, God.
"Are you ready?" Mura asked with a casual tone not consistent with the situation.
"Yeah." I said. I got up and we continued our brisk walk to wherever the hell we were going. I felt like a new man. A tingling warmth had infused my entire body. The urgent concern for my questions had been minimized to mere curiosity. I felt ready to take on the whole ridiculous situation. I was prepared to end the war, or whatever he said. Besides, it beat going to work.
"I guess I'm a little curious," I said as we continued walking, "as to how you guys found me, and what qualifies me as a peacemaker."
"We'll get to that later." Mura replied. I should have known.
There was a brief pause.
"Well then, why is the sky orange?" I asked.
"The Theocracy turned it orange," Mura replied, "because it looks more beautiful." I can't quite say that I expected that one. Based on Mura's intimidating stature, I expected this world's society to be filled with hard-asses. Mura made them sound like a bunch of pussies.
"No more questions." Mura said. "The less you know, the easier this will be."
Damn. I wanted to know what the deal with that light bulb was.
Mura and I continued walking in silence. We walked across that same floating bridge for miles, never seeing any new landmarks or sights. It was just the same orange sky that was so beautiful to these sissies. It was a breathtaking walk at first, but the novelty of anything wears off after just a few minutes.
Eventually the bridge ended with a black, marble staircase that winded up above our heads. I looked up and could not see an end to it. We walked up the staircase for several more miles, but it didn't look like we were getting any higher as we walked. MC Escher seemed to be popular here.
Questions flowed through my head throughout the duration of our journey. The biggest thing that bothered me was how their parallel universe was different enough to have floating bridges and an orange sky, but they still spoke English. However, Mura clearly said not to ask any more questions. Normally, my curiosity would easily outweigh my willingness to be polite. But I liked this Mura guy. He was pretty quiet with a cool voice and an awesome looking cloak. He was decent to me. So I tried not to annoy him.
I may not have been like your typical horror movie character, but I was turning out to be a great fantasy/adventure movie character. I was obeying the rules, going through all the appropriate psychological stages, and spitting out shitty dialogue. That was not normal of me.
We finally got to the top of the staircase. A castle hovered before us. Yes, a hovering castle in the sky. I'm actually starting to get embarrassed in telling this story. It's just one corny cliché after another. I promise I didn't make it up. No one in their right mind would try to sell this shit in this day and age.
Mura and I continued walking across the bridge to the castle, through the front gate, through a bunch of pointless halls, until we finally arrived into a circular shaped room. The room had two doors: the one we came through, and one I assumed we were going into.
"Through that door is the Great Council." Mura said. "They are going to explain the situation and ask questions. Just answer the best you can. If the prophecy is right, the answers should come effortlessly from your soul." It should be clear at this point that Mura spits out some really bad lines. If his voice didn't sound so cool, I probably would have hit him for that one.
"Let's do this." I said while opening the door. I began to realize the amount of power that I would have in the upcoming situation. It would be power that only a few people in history have ever held. That concept excited me.
Through the doors, the members of The Great Council stared at me. Mura stood beside me. The room was a monstrous throne room, perfect for the climax of any story. The floor and walls were bright white with several distinct layers of wax, because any important throne room needs squeaky clean floors.
The council consisted of ten cloaked men all sitting in pretentious red chairs in the back of the room. Two of the guys were obese. Three more could be considered overweight. None of them were hot women, and none of them looked quite as cool as Mura. Before a word was spoken, I didn't have much respect for them. It looked like they wouldn't receive the special treatment that Mura had.
"We are the Great Council." The grey-bearded man in the center of the council said. "You, Michael Jensen, have been summoned here for the purpose of saving our world."
My name is Michael by the way. Nice to meet you.
"Yeah, I'd like to hear a little more detail about that." I said.
"Please do not interrupt me." The grey-bearded man said.
Ah, I'm sorry. This isn't working. Writing the "grey-bearded man" is getting annoying and feels too vague. He never ends up saying his name in this story, so for the purpose of convenience, I'm going to refer to him as Sparky McDipshit from now on.
"Well," I replied condescendingly. "You just told me a second ago that I am here to save your world. That indicates to me that I have some degree of control. So, I am going to deny your request of not interrupting you. I really would like to know, well, what the hell is going on."
Sparky McDipshit stared at me like a dad stares at his son who just snuck into his porn collection.
"I was hoping you wouldn't be difficult." Sparky McDipshit said. "But I guess we aren't so lucky. Anyway, Michael, I was in the middle of explaining everything that you want to know. So, if you will allow, I'd like to continue." I already knew all that. I just had to show this asshole who was in charge.
"I guess I'll allow it." I said. I really liked the smart-ass tone I was setting with these guys.
"First of all, I have to confirm that you are Michael Jensen." Sparky McDipshit said. "Are you indeed Michael Jensen?"
"Hm...yes." I said.
"O.K., now that that is done with, I can explain to you what is going on." Sparky said. "The planet Earth used to consist of millions of species. Hundreds of years ago, an unknown species came from outer space. They bombarded our planet with poison, plague, and famine. It was never the same after that. Earth became a nearly unlivable wasteland of death and suffering. Only the strongest, smartest species were able to survive. Now, there are only two species left: The Humans and the Gentaks."
"Let me guess." I interrupted. "You and the Gentaks, despite suffering together for hundreds of years in the pursuit of survival, are now at war over an issue that is petty at best?" That probably would have taken him another paragraph.
"Well," Sparky McDipshit said in a surprised tone. "I wouldn't call it 'petty', they d—”
"Fuck it," I interrupted again. "I don't care anymore. I just want to know where I come in."
"Um," Sparky McDipshit seemed distraught. "Hang on."
I was a little too quick for this dimwit. He took a second to regain the composure that was lost from me shoving his dignity right up his ass.
"Twenty years ago, a great prophet wrote of a fellow human from another dimension." Sparky McDipshit said. "He wrote that on the Day of Doom, that God would summon that very human from his dimension into the inescapable Cube of Desolation. If he had the capability of ending our war, he would break out of the Cube of Desolation. The prophet himself would then escort the human to the Great Council to end the war."
It sounds like the concluding example in "Adventure Story Plot Devices for Dummies."
"That great prophet is Mura," Sparky McDipshit exclaimed. "And that human is you."
He spoke like it was the story’s twist that no one saw coming, like it was the greatest moment of his life.
"The Gentaks have agreed that if this prophecy comes true," Sparky McDipshit continued "that they will call a truce with us. They believe that their god will be sending them a sign that this war must end. Six of their leaders are here now, watching us from the observatory in the next room. They are ready to end this."
Get ready for this.
"There is one step in the prophecy remaining." Sparky McDipshit said. "That step is for you to come up to me and shake my hand. If you do that, the prophecy is complete, and the war will end."
Oh. My. God. There, in front of me, was the opportunity to complete a two-races-fight-for-many-years-but-one-man-unites-them-just-before-impending-doom story. More importantly, it was the biggest load of bullshit I had ever heard in my life. At that point, I had determined that I was in the midst of a lucid dream. The story, the situation, and the people were far too unreal to be real. Sparky McDipshit’s speech had changed the suspicion in the back of my mind to a stone-cold fact. None of it was real. Not to mention, I had been far too much of a conformist during my stay thus far. So I decided to do what any normal, functioning human being in my place would do—fuck it all up.
"I would be honored to shake your hand." I said. Sparky McDipshit smiled, and so did the rest of his cronies. They all stood up as I started walking towards them. They were buying my relatively weak act. When I arrived into hand-shaking distance, Sparky McDipshit held out his hand and smiled at me. I started to reach out my open hand.
Here comes the straw that broke the planet Earth.
I closed my hand into a tightly-clenched fist and put it into Sparky McDipshit's face with all I had. It turned out that my superhuman strength from the light bulb never dissipated. My fist went cleanly through his face, knocking blood, brains, and everything else onto his red chair behind him.
"Oh no." A nameless council member said, clearly disappointed.
At this point, it is safe to say that I was no longer your typical adventure movie protagonist.
Not five seconds later, the chamber door opened, and the six Gentak leaders from the next room were standing there. They looked pissed. All I am going to say about the Gentaks is that they had the build of humans, but with scaly, brown skin and dinosaur faces. Their appearance wasn't relevant though. All six of them had huge plasma rifles. That was relevant.
The Gentaks didn't hesitate to fire. Pink bolts raced from their rifles towards all of us. The defenseless council members started dropping dead as plasma energy burned into their skulls. A bolt nearly missed my head, causing my asshole to tightly pucker. It was all happening so fast that I couldn't think to move.
Mura grabbed me and pulled me close to his face. He had a booger in his nose.
"You maggot!" Mura yelled. "I was set! All you had to do was shake his hand! They were going to treat me like a king! I w—"
Then a plasma bolt went straight through Mura's head. His eyes rolled back into his skull, and his body rapidly slumped to the ground. I looked around to see what was going on. Dead council members lay everywhere. I was the only one left standing. The gunfire had stopped. Nice. It seemed like these Gentaks were going to spare me.
Then one of the Gentaks sent a plasma bolt through my brain without warning. I couldn't quite see the details, but I assumed that it was gruesome. I died.
* * *
It wasn’t a dream after all, because I'm in Hell now. It turns out God was real and all that Bible shit was true. They got one thing dead wrong though. It turns out Hell isn't actually a pit of eternal flame. It's cold…fucking freezing actually. It's an icy abyss. The one humorous thing that can be taken out of this is that all of the people on Earth have been misusing the phrase "a cold day in Hell" for all these years.
I got here because my actions caused the eradication of the entire planet. Apparently the Gentaks felt as if the Humans had tricked them after I failed to complete the prophecy. They are not known for responding well to trickery. After they slaughtered the Great Council and I, the Gentaks launched a large-scale attack on every Human institution they could find. The Humans had no choice but to retaliate. Long story short, the war got bloodier than it ever had. Both species ended up launching weapons that destroyed the planet.
While I did intend to break the prophecy, I did not intend to cause millions of deaths. But intent doesn’t mean shit in Hell. It might save you in the court systems, but not here. So here I am, one of Hell’s most deserving citizens. If only it was a dream.
A couple of lost souls pass me. They wave. I wave back, knowing I've met them before. I just can't remember their names. I am still pretty new, so I haven't gotten all the names down yet. I've met a great guy named Uk though. He's been here about five millennia, so he knows the place pretty well. He's introduced me to a lot of people so far and has been showing me the ropes. He's got a good reputation with Satan too, so he's looking like a good friend to have. However, it is very cold, and jackets are not permitted. The people are pretty boring too.
"Man, take a break." Uk interrupts me. "You've been working on that story for a while now."
"I'm coming." I tell him. "I'm just finishing up."
"I'll have to read it some time. You want to go wander around aimlessly some more?" Uk asks.
"Sure." I say. "It's not like there's anything else to do."