Killing Knowledge
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Reality coughed chalantly as a Way warbled into existence within the roots of the oak tree outside the Birch home. Finnegan lurched off the tree and kicked the air filter and adjoined vial of ectoplasm into the hole, watching it stretch beyond infinity before disappearing completely with a faint pop. He grabbed the panama hat from off a low-hanging branch, taking care not to look at it or think about it for too long.

After a sigh he took a step over the void and he dropped down the rabbit hole.

Finnegan stepped, or rather slid, into one of the upper foyers of one of the many branches of the Wanderer's Library. The ectoplasm sloshed as he collided with the filter, threatening to tip over. A quick look around told him his entrance only served as a sort of catwalk between the two nearest "floors" of the Library.

After reorienting himself he stood and stumbled and slouched against the railing, looking down into the other lobbies from his pseudo-balcony. A group of authoritative individuals, whom through a fair amount of squinting and guesswork suggested to be from FBI's Unusual Incidents Unit, were communicating with another group of Serpent's Hand members.

The Hand was, so far as Finnegan understood them, a group of unlikeminded individuals gathering together under a name that sounded like a cult from an '80s film. They had no cohesive creed, had no way to filter out undesirables as joining amounted to claiming to be a member, and had no leadership beyond the self-imposed bosses of the various cliques.

This particular clique seemed to be missing said boss, as none of them in particular were communicating with the UIU head. One did step forward long enough to take a box from the hands of one of the UIU members. It looked like the groups continued speaking after that, but from this distance Finnegan couldn't hear anything and he quickly lost interest. He had more pressing matters at hand anyway.

Like the human-shaped headache on the balcony opposite of him. Finnegan couldn't quite make out what they looked like, but they made his head throb. Snapshots of the Library, taken from various places, slid before his vision before being clawed away. His vision swam as he looked away, but the reach of the hole in his head extended as he began to associate the problem with the Library.

It took only a few moments this time, and Finnegan released the hat. A single row of books exploded into a massive bookshelf, which unfurled itself into an entire wing. Finnegan squeezed at his temples and leaned against the railing.

By the time he was fully cognizant he could see a group of authoritative figures down below, marching single file through a portal. He could barely make out the UIU logo on one of their shoulders before the last of them departed.

It was then he realized he had no idea where he was. He gripped the railing and leaned forward, craning his neck to take in floor after floor of bookshelves. They bent in on themselves and doubled back, like the cortex of some giant being. The immensity of it almost overwhelmed him, and he swung back away from the railing.

Finnegan bumped into someone in his backpeddling, but they caught his arm and steadied him. He offered a rushed apology and looked-

A black hole bore straight into his mind from the hands of an indistinct figure in a tweed wool newsboy cap. Eyes caught in the event horizon, Finnegan could only stare. The pit in his mind expanded, having grown large enough to continue growing without Finnegan actually holding the hat. Images of the Birch home fell away, quickly followed by more books of the Library. A gap opened within his minds' eye of The Utterly Bazaar, and shops and shoppers fell into the yawning chasm. He tried pushing his way through the crowd but the crack in the concrete eventually caught him, and he fell into nothing.

* * *

Nobody was on the balcony several minutes later. Two Nobodies, actually.

The newer of the two palmed the panama hat on his head and lifted it so he could properly see. A young Asian woman with a newsboy cap stared back at him with no small amount of trepidation.

Blinking, he tried to assess his situation. He couldn't remember anything, at least not specific to himself. Simple factoids and language skills remained, but the whens and hows of him learning them were gone.

Focusing, he found a slag of emotions, thoughts, and memories coagulated into a solid lump in the center of his mindscape. Something called a Finnegan pulsed from within. Pushing into his former sense of being, Nobody found Finnegan in a memory. He sat at home, alone, working on some audio project or another. He was content.

Nobody stood up slowly. His female counterpart cocked her head and they stared at each other for several seconds. Something in the air sparked between them as two similar forces butted heads. The longer they retained eye contact the stronger the friction became, and spacetime was not handling reality trying to ignore itself very well.

But then she looked up and the sparks dissipated, air collapsing back into the void while simultaneously popping back out into existence. A pair of wet pops went off and the area was no worse for wear, save for an unmemorable singed smell. She nodded at the space to his left and she walked off.

"Thanks?" he ventured over his shoulder.

She paused. Opened her mouth as if to say something, shook her head, but then hesitated again when she moved to leave.

"Wait, wait." Nobody hauled himself up with the aid of the railing. "Where do I go from here?"

"The Head Librarian might know something, but nobody just walks in and starts getting answers."

Turning on his heel, Nobody scooped up the nearby air filter and headed for the Head Librarian's office with a confident stride.


Nobody eyed the bowl of candy suspiciously, then eyed the world serpent in the pit before him. He weighed his options before lowering the filter of ectoplasm- he still wasn't sure why he had brought it with him. It had just felt important, somehow. He nodded at the Head Librarian appreciatively and took a candy.

"You have come to question the nature of your existence."

"Something like that," Nobody said with the Twizzler hanging from his mouth. "I can feel who I used to be, poke and prod at memories, but it feels… distant."

"I cannot tell you who you will be, but I can speak of who you were," Satan replied. "Our multiverse- because yes, there are plenty of multiverses within the omniverse that do not include us- is constructed from thirteen intertwined baseline realities with a vast nothingness in the center."

Nobody eyed the bowl of Twizzlers.

"Within these baselines are thousands upon thousands of individual universes, with massive similarities between some universes from different baselines. Each universe of a baseline has one specific thing in common that roots it to the baseline. Of these billions of universes, your former self is within 74 of them."

Nobody almost choked. "That's it?"

"I suppose it might be 73, now. Within every other iteration of reality that he happens to be born in, he subsequently leaves it roughly twenty-five years later. Can you guess why?"

"I be- I mean he, Finnegan, becomes Nobody."

Nobody wasn't certain whether snakes could smile or not, but he was willing to bet that's what Satan did in response. Or smirked, at the very least. It was unsettling, whatever was happening.

"Or Reality tries to make him one, at least."

Something stirred in Nobody's mind. Said something, or someone, was shaped suspiciously like a Finnegan. "What do you mean tries?"

"It doesn't always… take, so to speak."

Faint quasi-memories of his mind exploding filled his mind. The thought of being ushered into the nothing between worlds filled the resulting void. It did not sound fun.

"How would I make sure I stay in place?" Nobody asked.

Something sparked behind the pince-nez spectacles. "Nobody really knows for certain."

With a grin and a twirl, Nobody departed with the filter in tow.

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