The story so far:
An hour had passed, information had been exchanged, but only one thing was certain to Vincent as he turned off the ionic torch and stored it back on his utility belt.
They were stuck in the prison.
The walls were incredible. No instrument could scan past them, no weapon or device of any kind could make the slightest impression. And the damnable old man, who called himself Daethnor, just sat there and smiled as the rest of them struggled to find a way out. Except for Jim of course. He was taking a nap, having decided the entire thing was a delusion. Vincent was beginning to think he might be right.
Johnny ran a switchblade across the wall again, but he couldn’t even scratch the surface. He cursed softly and clutched his head. “I don’t know if I can take this. I’ve been through weird **** before, but this is **** insane.” He looked around wildly. “I’m in a room with a **** vampire, a cyborg, and a really creepy old guy. I can’t take this man.”
Vincent had suspected Johnny would be the first one to crack. “Calm down. We just need to think-”
No. You need to fight.
The words came from nowhere and everywhere. They were heard by the ear but in the mind as well. Vincent swung his guns around but there was no clear source to the words. There was nothing on his scans. “Who are you?”
Jim looked up from his nap, and now his Glock was clearly visible in his hand.
”Is this better?” A short middle aged man, with a receding hairline and intelligent eyes appeared in the middle of the room. He was dressed in a white collared shirt and a pair of khakis. He floated in mid air.
Two uzis were in Johnny’s hands and he thrust them at the apparition. “Who the Hell are you? What do you want?”
”I… am Mitchell Price. Daethnor was right of course. I am the creator of all of you and the creator of your entire universes. I have created every moment and thought of your entire lives and in fact I am putting words in your mouths right now, even as you speak.”
Johnny snorted. “Yeah, the old man has been tellin’ us all about it. So our creator is some fat suburbanite author? Yeah right. **** Daethnor and **** you.”
Vincent held out a hand, metal implants gleamed on his knuckles. “Johnny, calm down.”
Sweat dripped down Johnny’s face. “No, no calming down. This is it. I can feel it. The end of the road. They finally got to me.” He laughed wildly. “Well I’m not going down easy. Let’s rock!” Johnny straightened his arms and bullets streamed from his uzis.
The strange man floated calmly as the bullets slid through his body like water and careened off the wall behind him. Vincent threw his body across Cor’s as the barbarian stood uncomprehendingly, even as the bullets whined around him. Saul remained focused on Mitchell as the bullets flew, some hitting his body and having absolutely no effect. Jim laid flat on the floor, hands over his head, and Daethnor remained snoozing as the bullets nearing his body slid to a halt and hovered in midair.
The uzis clicked on empty. Johnny stood panting breathlessly and lowered the guns to his side. Mitchell yawned nonchalantly. Johnny’s eyes were wide but sober. “This.. can’t… be…”
”I see the problem.” Mitchell rubbed his small chin thoughtfully with a chubby finger. “I wanted you all to fight to the death so that I could see who the best was, but not only will you not do it- its not in your characters really- but I cannot even convince you of the veracity of your situation. However,” Mitchell smiled, “I do not have to convince you. I am God here and what I wish… happens. And I think that you all believe me.”
And they did. Vincent suddenly knew that Daethnor had been right. He tried to fight it with logic, but inside, though it sickened him, he knew it was the truth. He could see the same forced realization sweep over the other men in the room. Cor groaned beneath him and he rolled off the big barbarian and pushed himself to his feet. The world seemed to spin around him. It was so mad… but it was the truth. He looked at the man floating in the center of the room… his creator. “Why? Why do you want us to fight to the death?”
”Because I wish to satisfy my curiosity. You are all facets of myself. Jim is my calm arrogant side. Saul is my dark vile side. Vincent, you are my law-abiding side. Cor is my heroic side. Johnny is my wild side. And Daethnor is my wise powerful side. Well, it is probably more complex than that but that is how I view it. And I wish to see which of my creations would win in a battle.”
Jim understood. He had read accounts of the powerful emperors of Rome and he knew the pattern. “So you want us to fight to satisfy your curiosity, but mostly for entertainment, huh?”
Mitchell shrugged. “So to speak.”
Johnny screamed and changed out the clips in his uzis. Still screaming, he raised his guns towards Mitchell-
Vincent averted his gaze from the mass of gooey flesh and clothing that had been Jonathan Sanchez. His cyber brain released chemicals to ease the naseau in his stomach. There was a wet sound and when Vincent looked back, Johnny was back, sitting on the floor, unharmed, with wide crazy eyes.
Mitchell slowly scanned the rest of them. “Now, the rest of you need to learn your lesson as well.”
Vincent sucked in air to protest and then the world becam a mass of pain and terror beyond anything he had ever known as his flesh came undone, splitting and ripping, bones disinterating and merging with his alloyed implants, and compressing into a ball of flesh. He was nothing but fear and pain… and he died.
And then he was alive and well sitting on the floor. He looked around the room and saw that he was not the only one who had shared the experience. It had happened to all of them.
Mitchell chuckled, pleased with himself. “Now. You have all learned your lesson. Even you Daethnor. I want you to all start planning how you will begin fighting or I will send you all to an eternity of Hell unlike anything you have ever imagined. Farewell for now.” Mitchell bowed and disappeared.
A tear leaked from Vincent’s bionic eye.
Ouch. That hurt, describing myself so truthfully, but I am an ardent user of Rogaine, thought it hardly helps, and I have packed on the weight recently. At least I can face up to the truth. And perhaps I am a bit sadistic. But not really. These characters are just fantasies. They are not real. I suppose the tiny bit of guilt I feel comes from something one of my friends once discussed with me. Some metaphysicists- philosophers who dabble in science as I like to think of them- have proposed that there are endless versions of reality, and that when people fantasize they are peering into or even creating some alternate version of reality. So if this were true, then I would really be a God to my fantasies and I would be truly inflicting pain right now.
Balderdash. Not true. Forget the thought. I will not limit myself. In fact…
Only a moment had gone by when Mitchell reappeared with a small blonde woman in tow. Vincent watched in horror as Mitchell pulled a small cylinder from his pocket and thumbed a switch on its side. A meter long beam of light emerged from the cylinder- the hilt actually. Mitchell held it over the woman, who started crying and babbling. “Mitchell, I am so sorry for cheating on you. I know what I did was wrong. I’m a whore-”
”I’m over it.” Mitchell swung the light saber through the woman and her body split cleanly into two cauterized halves. Mitchell waved a hand and the body disappeared. He smiled grimly and vanished.
Ok. Had to put that in there. Kind of sick, even I admit, but I actually feel a little bit better. Now I have to make sure no one ever reads this. Hah! Ah well, I can always edit this later. So where was I? Oh yes, in need of a third cup of coffee and an ending for my story. This is so great! And so easy. These characters feel alive. They do feel like they are writing themselves. I suppose with over twenty novels of character development behind them their actions are no great mystery. So lets end this all, what will they do? Who will win? Ok.
Cor was the first to speak. “I do not care.” His face was pale and grim. “I do not care if I spend eternity in Hell. Maybe he is my creator but I do not worship him.” Cor clutched at his chest. “My heart knows what is right.”
Vincent nodded slowly. “I agree.”
Saul stood to his feet. “Don’t be fools. At least this way we are not consigned to an endless Hell. Perhaps we can even bargain with our creator.” Saul tried to smile but it fell from his face. “Maybe if we die in the fight he will grant us an eternity in an endless paradise.”
Jim perked up at this. “Damn, maybe the bloodsucker is right. Let’s cut a deal.”
”There’s another way.” Daethnor stood to his feet and a massive strength emenated from his body. “We can cast a spell. It is very simple.”
Vincent clutched his head. Maybe he was going mad. “What are you talking about? He is God. We can’t cast a spell on him. Perhaps in your universe, but think about it. He could just get rid of your magic.”
”He does not want that.” Daethnor walked to the center of the room. “He wants me to cast this spell and that is why I can and will. But you must all help me. It will take all of us to do this thing. All facets of him must be one. Stand close and link your hands.”
Johnny shook his head fervently. “I am not going to die again. No way.”
Daethnor muttered something under his breath and Johnny blinked. A calm resolve appeared on his face and he stood up and raised hands to either side. Somehow Daethnor had given him the strength. “Okay. I guess I am ready.”
Jim took Johnny’s hand in his own and reached out to Cor. Cor took Jim’s hand and reached for Saul. “Come demonspawn, give us a chance.”
Saul sneered. He looked at the ceiling. “Mitchell. If you can hear me now, hear this, I am ready to battle these fools. Give me a sign and I will kill them all right now.”
Vincent reached for his guns, but there was no response.
Daethnor held out a hand for Saul. “See, this is what he wants deep inside. He knows that this is who we are.” Daethnor’s mighty gaze swept over the assembled heroes. “Mighty and noble to the last, though even Hell itself is threatened. This is who we are, what he created. This is a final test for all of us. Even you Saul. Accept my hand.”
Saul hesitated only for one last moment and then took Daethnor and Cor’s hand. He bowed his head and took a deep breath. “Then so be it. To Hell with it.”
All eyes turned to Vincent. Jim cracked a grin. “Come on Space Cowboy, it wouldn’t be a proper party unless the cops showed up.”
Vincent nodded and took Daethnor’s hand and Jim’s. He looked at Daethnor. “Okay old man. If we are going to Hell for this, it better be good.”
Daethnor bowed his head and began to chant.
I wonder why I didn’t take Saul’s offer? I think Saul could have killed the rest of them. If it’s even possible to kill Daethnor, that is. Of course, I can understand why my subconscious would want to keep writing. Perhaps I haven’t exercised all of my psychological demons yet. And what else am I going to do tonight? I have no kids, can’t have any actually. Me and Jenny figured that out in the fertility clinic all those years ago. And I don’t feel like spending another sad night at a bar, waiting for a woman to get close enough to me so that I can drop the bomb that I’m a successful and rich author. I mean, why else would a woman talk to me? I’m a fat, socially inept loner. I couldn’t even keep it together with Jenny and she would put up with almost anything. How did I blow it? So, I guess I’ll keep writing. Wow, my honesty is really on tap tonight. I guess in the end all I have is my writing, but that’s fine. Because I’m a great writer damn it.
As the six men chanted, the white walls dimmed. Green ribbons of energy twisted in the dark room around the men and their clothes flapped and moved in the mystic wind. As Daethnor repeated the same chant over and over again the other men took it up and their voices filled the room about them. Their voices filled the universe.
Daethnor raised his head and yelled above the roar of the wind. “Now use your strength. Fulfill our creators wishes. Summon the power and take control over him!” The green light illuminated his face with an eldritch light and his serpent eyes glowed.
A hazy image of Mitchell appeared in the center of the six men. He was sitting at a desk, hunched over a laptop, typing furiously. An empty mug of coffee was on his left and an old picture of him and his ex wife sat on the desk to his right.
Daethnor yelled, “Now end this thing for us all! It is not us who must fight, but he who fights himself! Help him help us!”
In the small image, Mitchell continued to type with his left hand while he reached slowly for the drawer with his right hand. He fumbled for a moment and pulled out the loaded Glock. He put the gun against his right temple.-
Ok. Now I must congratulate myself on the lengths I go to for my craft. Yes, I am really holding a loaded Glock to the side of my head as I type this with my left hand. Because somehow I’ve written myself into my story. Wow, it’s a really good ending I think. I never would have come up with it. But my characters did. Really, it was Daethnor. I miss Jenny. I really miss her right now. But anyway, I need to finish this story. I really really need to finish this sad sad story…-
The room pulsed with swirling energies and the image in the center became more clear and more real. Vincent felt his arms trembling as the power filled him. Daethnor was screaming something but now all Vincent could think of was pouring his energy into the spell, of making his creator pull that trigger. The fat little man who no one truly loved. Especially Jenny. I’m too old to start again. Who will truly loveme if I am ugly and cannot have children? Tom, youare my lastfrend I guess. I will mss you
In the image, I pull the trgggrsaea