Where Do Story Arcs Go When They Die?
rating: +67+x

I don't remember how it all started. I don't remember what I was doing, where I was, or any of that stuff everyone tells you they remember. The first I knew anything was wrong was when I showed up at the office, and the entire building was missing.

I guess it was common knowledge by then. I hadn't been paying attention to the news, or to my Facebook wall. The new Saints Row game had just come out, and well, I kinda got sucked in. No one else seemed to think it was that big of a deal, a whole building, just gone. The only one left was a man with a generic name tag reading 'Fred,' and he just seemed to be there to make sure no one fell in the hole.

“What happened here?” I asked him. He just kind of shrugged at me, like I should know. I couldn't shake the feeling that he shouldn't be here, that none of us should be here… and yet…

“The story isn't written.” Fred offered. “The writer couldn't make it fit.”

I stared at him, trying to make sense of the words. I felt like there should have been something more. Something bigger. An alien invasion? No, too cliché. An escaped- The thought died half formed, even more cliché then the one before. “I don't understand.” I told him. I stared down the block, looking at all the missing buildings. The longer I looked, the more seemed to be missing. If I squinted, I could make out the bare bones of an idea, the shape of something larger…

“It won't help.” Fred interjected. “This isn't a full story. Heck, from the little bits and pieces I've seen float past, it wasn't even supposed to be just one story. I mean, look.” He pointed upwards, where I could see a rough sketch of a giant machine hovering.- No, that wasn't right. The machine shouldn't be anywhere near here. And why would there be a giant metal castle floating next to it? “Someone was trying to tie a whole bunch of ideas together. Kind of like an origin, but-” He shrugged again. “In reverse? An ending story. This is the aftermath.”

I shook my head, and stepped away from him. “No, that's not right, it won't work! This entire mess is too complicated! It started out as such a simple idea, didn't it?” I looked at the people walking past, all of them ignoring me. As I turned to watch them go, I noticed that they were all the same from behind, empty, hollow shells. Not truly formed people, just approximations of such. “A man shows up at a work that is no longer there. Why not? What happened to it? Where is my office?” I turned back to Fred, my eyes drifting across an old man as I did so. He, at least, seemed real. Who was he to have been? My father, my boss, the secret agent who finally stopped my diabolical plans for world domination?

“Why am I holding a gun?” Fred shook his head at me, his gaze locked on the old man.

“You've had it this whole time. I don't think you're a very well thought out protagonist. The entire story seems to be collapsing around you.” Even so, he stepped away from me, out of range of my wildly flailing weapon. “You're kind of jerky too. Like the writer knew what actions he wanted you to take, but doesn't bother to mention you taking them until he feels it matters.”

The old man was looking at me, sadly, I thought, as he moved closer to Fred. I felt my mind split, part of it wanting me to save things, to protect my family, the other half cackling in glee that no one would ever know I was the one who had destroyed everything. “I don't understand!” I called out… but the two men didn't seem to care.

“We can't talk here.” Fred said to the old man. “We're too open to Narrative Causality. This… I'm not sure this is a real story anyways. It feels off. Wrong. Or maybe it's just me being too active.” The old man nodded at him, and, without speaking, managed to ask Fred where they should meet.

“Stop ignoring me!” I yelled, my hand bathed in the ancient flames of Kaliop. “Stop acting like I'm a bad story! This is real!”

“To you.” Fred said, sadly. “We're just passing through.” He regarded the old man again, then nodded. “All right. Let's head over to the end. A new story will be there soon, I think we can sneak in under a cut. We'll be more protected there.” The old man ignored me completely, as he walked away.

I screamed at Fred, unleashing the full might of my power. It didn't matter. Everything was gone. I was all that was left, the last tattered scraps of what might have been a good story. I softly let out a breath, my wife/girlfriend/mother/daughter being the last name to pass my lips. And then I stopped trying to make it make sense, and let myself go.

And Fred was gone too.

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