Welcome to Word Enchilada S01E03

We write prototypes, eat enchiladas and get in fights


A microquest for Everything2 in the spirit of Game Jams


The updated rules are in Word Enchilada Rules, but here’s the TL;DR

  1. Just before the Quest starts, a theme will be revealed. Please don’t spoil it for yourself, only read it after the official start of the Enchilada1;
  2. You have 48 hours to write a prototype2 that follows3 the theme;
  3. You post the prototype in this node;
  4. ???
  5. Profit! You will receive fabulous prizes4

After the Quest is over, you’re encouraged to give the noder below you some feedback on their prototype. Bear in mind: the goal of Word Enchiladas is to write for fun and outside of one’s comfort zone, so be constructive and be kind.


The theme for this Enchilada is:

QBA’G WVAK VG > E2 Rot13 Encoder

The suggested nodetype is:


Start and end times

The Word Enchilada starts at March 26, 2021 12:00 PM and ends at March 28, 2021 12:00 PM in whatever time zone you observe.

Notes for today: The Enchilada Master has been *very* busy these days, but prizes for S01 E02 will come soon! We appreciate your patience. Also, I'll read your messages soon, but thanks a lot for your words of appreciation, they do help a lot in these dark days :)


Noder Gave feedback Received feedback (anonimized) Good enchilada Enchilada Master’s notes Total
Intentions ✅✅✅ {3/5}; {3/5} Giving feedback is a sadly overlooked part of these events, thank you for doing it! +15 25
lizardinlaw {3.5/5} “A tad shoehorned into the theme”; {3/5} I’m not smart enough to know the full implications—or indeed, meaning—of medical terms… Sorry :( +5 10
realplayer {4.5/5} “Love it, amazing, but it also feels fairly complete as is”; {4/5} That’s a name I hadn’t heard in quite a while… and please don’t make me write on statistics and BS +5 15
npecom {5/5} “Good as is but also want more of it”; {3/5} 🌮 You owe the Enchilada Master a 500,000-word essay on the attributes of God, whether turning a man into a frog is Good and whether the acts of God are what define Goodness. I want it in my cubicle by Friday before lunch. That will be all. +10 25
JD {4/5}; {4/5} You’ve been given a wonderful, yet terrible secret. When the time comes, you’ll know who to pass it on. +5 15
nicolasstag {4/5}; {3.5/5} 🌮 Wait, is this for real? 15
Jet-Poop {4/5} Now I’m curious to read the story of the toy that was granted True Life and enjoyed it only for an instant before an eternity in Hell +10 15
Zephronias {4/5} 🌮 15
wertperch {4/5} 🌮 Cosmogenic literature is a guilty pleasure of mine :) 20

Closing comments

2021-04-20, 1021 GMT-0500: Sorry for the delay, everyone

  1. The idea being that you shouldn’t prepare anything beforehand, and that you should only have 48 hours to work on your writeup. But I’m just a footnote, not a policeman.

  2. The word “Prototype” is important here: you’re expected to write a quick draft, not a perfect, well edited writeup.

  3. The phrase “Following the theme” is purposefully ambiguous. Be creative :)

  4. Actually, some GP, depending on how much the E2 gods can spare… Updated details on the Word Enchilada Rules

Jynx is found in Pokémon Snap in the cave map. The first time around they just sit in a pool of water. After you unlock the Pokéflute you can make them dance which will hatch the Articuno egg. As a child it irked me that no matter which Pokéflute song you play the Jynx dance is always the same.

The N64 was truly a marvelous machine. The most frustrating game I owned for it was Hey You Pikachu!. It was an innovative thing. It came with a microphone attachment and your main interaction was to give your electric friend voice commands. Mind you this come out in 2000-ish so it wasn't exactly good technology. I distinctly remember losing my shit one time when the yellow bastard was being particularly difficult. I demanded that all background noises stop. My brothers, my Dad in the bathroom, my mom saying something that didn't concern me, all of it. If I'm remembering right I was near tears. Ah, childhood. I can't remember if I ever beat the game or why/when I stopped playing but I sure remember my tantrum.

I hear Pokémon Snap 2 is coming soon. It really is a perfect game for the Nintendo Switch. I'm sure that 2020 put a delay on it's release. We really talked up 2021 for a while there too. I hope we didn't jinx it.

Famous illusionist Uri Geller has made several paranormal claims that go beyond simple spoon-bending: On many occasions he has proclaimed to be able to positively influence the outcomes of public events and the actions of people. As ridiculous as some of those claims sound - what if he has influence on public events, but this influence is (against his own will) actually negative? Think of one of the public events Geller tried his best to prevent, Brexit. What if he jinxed it? What if he jinxes it in general?

It's not hard to determine that Geller was unable to prevent Brexit, but proving he jinxed it would seem impossible. This is because Brexit is a singular, infinitely complex, event. However, perhaps if we look into a different field, to find a high number of more simple events that Geller tried to influence, maybe we can establish whether Geller jinxes it from a purely statistical perspective. Something like sport events.

I've previously written an account of the millionaire's short heyday as a ball whisperer, when he claimed he was able to influence the results of high profile association football matches. What few people know is that, as a big football fan, Geller would continue trying to assist dozens of teams with his psychic powers for at least two decades, both at club and national level, in many countries and both in top and lower leagues.

Years back, a study finally crunched numbers. From what I remember, the result was that, on average, the teams who publicly enlisted Geller's assistance ended up winning fewer points in their league matches than they had before asking him for help.

Geller's most recent claim regarding a major public event is, of course, related to COVID-19: He announced to make a prediction when the pandemic would end.

Please, Uri, don't jinx it.

This is not an original idea. It is paraphrased from memory and came from an introductory passage in the novel, "The Frog Pond" by Joyce MacIver.

Back to the frog pond

There was once a little man, of little consequence, in a little town. One day, the little man began packing up all his belongings and his neighbors asked him, "Where are you going?"

"I am going to Timbuktu," the little man replied. The neighbors, in shock, said, "Don't jinx it! Don't you mean, 'I'm going to Timbuktu, God willing'?" "No, I mean I'm going to Timbuktu", he replied.

So God turned the little man into a frog. He lived in the frog pond for seven years, whereupon God turned the frog back into the little man. The little man went back home and commenced packing. Again, the neighbors inquired, and again were told, "I'm going to Timbuktu". Again he was sternly warned not to jinx it and again he stubbornly replied, "No, I mean I'm going to Timbuktu". He then paused and added, "...or else back to the frog pond".

Added after feedback: Side note, I occasionally find myself, after saying that I plan to do something, wanting to add, "...or else back to the frog pond", which would be significant to me but opaque to anyone who doesn't know the back story.

I awoke this morning from a dream where I, in fact, saved a wee turtle. It was making its way through the snow, a dog was waiting to pounce, and I picked that shelled baby up and placed it in the river which, though a short distance away, was experiencing warm spring temperatures.

Some of my ideas for stories or characters have come from dreams. Although the character of Patti Washington from The Con has antecedents of sorts in my real world, the name and character and a central scene (in a forthcoming short story that features her) appeared in a dream, years ago. I knew I had something interesting with the character, and she seems to be a focus for a lot of the response I've received from people thus far who have read the book.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kublai Khan" took its starting point, at least, from an opium dream. Many a 1960s hit had not dissimilar origins. Paul McCartney heard the music for "Yesterday" in a dream, though the original lyrics were allegedly something like:

Scrambled eggs
Oh my baby how I love your legs
Not as much as I like scrambled eggs

Wisely, he revised them just a bit.

Robert Louis Stevenson had been working actively on what became "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde," but a dream helped him complete it. Many a work has been written as metaphoric dreams, regardless of actual inspiration. Sting, meanwhile, literally dreamed The Dream of the Blue Turtles. I do not know if they were wee.

You get the idea. Dreams and creative inspiration have been long-time bedfellows.

Although I am no musician, I sometimes dream in songs. There was a song in the Patti Washington dream, though the tune, I later realized, my brain plagiarized from a song in Disney's adaptation of The Jungle Book, one of the first movies I saw in a theatre. My aunt took me to it-- I think she wanted to hear Louis Prima sing. Other times, the tunes sound original, though I cannot write them down, or even correctly recall them. I often wonder if I could have a career penning weird songs. Let's take a look at a few:

You've got the cutest bum
In the entire slum.

Well, it's no "Kublai Khan," but less intelligent things have been the basis of hit songs. I passed them along to my nephew, a successful working composer for movies and TV shows and videogames.

I suspect I won't be hearing them in a soundtrack any time soon.

How about this upbeat piece?

Hey little Bernard are your noses interchangeable?
Did you see the sinister figure who dances on the white picket fences at night?
Were you there in the bushes on that afternoon when the phoenix took flight?
Do you know the twin sisters who practice ritual magic alone in their room?
(I cannot recall the next line. It ended with "doom")
Did you watch as the legion of the dead danced up in the air
Floating three miles above the Tri-County Fair?

I awoke feeling fearful and uncomfortable, before feeling a new appreciation for why McCartney modified the lyrics to "Scrambled Eggs."

Then there was this charming ditty, dreamed about a year ago. I woke and immediately wrote it in my journal, only to see that it was utter nonsense. A country blues tune, it was, but with a distinctive Johnny Cash riff and a Tom Waits sort of vocal:

Big boob bum!
Riemann sum
Little Johnny's got his gun
Little Jenny wants to ride a silver horse

Big bomb bay!
Doo Dah Day!
Little Johnny's gone away
Little Jenny wants to chart a different course.

Yeah, I have the same response as you. WTF???

The most recent song to invade my dreams featured clean electric guitar riffs. Children chanted the verses. The world's worst rapper performed the chorus:

Joan Buchanan passes gas
Joan Buchanan—kick her ass!
Joan Buchanan bitch-slapped the guy
Who kicked her in the ass and he started to cry.


Say hello to the duck!
Say hello to the duck!
If the duck comes by
You wanna say "hi!"
So say hello to the duck!

Joan Buchanan—she's on fire!
Joan Buchanan changed our tire
Joan Buchanan drove our car
Joan Buchanan- she's a star!


Joan Buchanan drove us home
Joan Buchanan's out on the town
Joan Buchanan milked a cow
Joan Buchanan take a bow!


I Googled "Joan Buchanan." There are a handful of them, all quite disconnected, so far as I can determine, from the song's subject or my own life. But perhaps she will be a character at some future date.

Alas, I don't see much potential here for a career as a song-writer. But if such a thing were in the cards, have I now, by posting this lyrical treasure trove online, jinxed it?

It was a cool August evening, golden hour. The sun was low, a slight breeze brought a bit of a chill, and we were fishing. Three friends and I had taken a few fishing rods and hiked a half mile through a field to get to the creek. Really, it wasn't much of a creek at all; it was where the field tiles all drained off. A large pipe — big enough to crawl in — constantly poured water into a small pool — tiling from all the fields. During the rainy season, it became a babbling brook, but today it was simply a pool at the base of the pipe, about forty feet across. The cutoff was steep, and it was easy enough to fall in.

Bringing the rods was my idea, and my friends weren't all that enthused. They fished for a few minutes before giving up. "There are no fish in this," they said, "it's too small." I argued that I had caught a fish before, and that it really was a lot of fun to try fishing for them. "There is no way you will ever catch anything." they said.

"I promise that there's fish here. I guarantee that you could catch something if you tried."

My friend said something that I did not anticipate, and wasn't sure if I was pleased or apprehensive to hear. "Nic, I will bet fifty bucks that you will not catch a fish."

I didn't have fifty dollars. I wasn't entirely sure I would catch one that evening, the fish might have been too small. We shook on it anyway.

I caught a fish. He threw back his head and groaned, laughed, rubbed his eyes. The other friend was laughing his head off. "You jinxed it, you jinxed it!"

"Yeah, I jinxed it," he said as he opened his wallet. Before giving me the money, he said "I'll only give you the money if you give me the fish."

It was not part of our deal, but I complied. I didn't really care. After I had given him the fish, it struck me that he might attempt to do something to the fish in order to get a negative reaction out of me. I'm okay with catching and eating fish, but I don't like the concept of a person putting the fish through non-necessary pain. When you catch them, you put them on ice, and their metabolism slows so much that I imagine they die without feeling much of anything. I decided to hike back out to the car, knowing that they would follow me shortly. If he would have abused the fish to get a reaction out of me, he might have just tossed it back in if I left.

I later found out that he put the fish on a metal stud that jutted out from the concrete platform that the pipe went through. The other friend showed me the video of it happening. Its mouth was around the stud, I'm not sure how far he jammed it on. I'm not sure if it's reminiscent of a giant nail, or just rebar that's sticking out. I've never observed it closely. To this day we don't know if the fish is still there. In my mind it likely isn't.  It's still horrible to do that to something alive, but I don't know if it qualifies as cruelty. I'm not sure to what degree a fish possesses perceptual awareness. I think it's certainly indicative of a lack of empathy. But it's fine, some people are just like that.

Later that night, maybe half an hour later, we two out of the three of us (myself included) agreed to go to a hookah lounge, so the other guy tagged along. He drove, though. It was our first time, we were doing it just to mess around, maybe screw with people and get kicked out.

I can't remember the prices, but I think two people was just shy of thirty bucks. The third friend decided that he didn't want to participate in the hookah, and that he would only sit there and talk with us as we did it. Somehow, the friend that made the bet with me managed to haggle the guy at the lounge down to 20 bucks. It was a very nice hookah lounge. Like, incredibly nice. I don't know how in the world he even managed to haggle to begin with. I slapped a 20 on the counter — since I had made 50 bucks that day, it was my treat.

He hit it hard and got buzzed until he couldn't talk. The owner came out and glared at us from the bar. I laughed a lot. The other friend sat there awkwardly. "He can try it," the employee said, "he doesn't have to pay for it." 

He took one hit and said "I don't like it." I personally thought it was magnificent. You could take it all the way in on empty lungs. I think I put all four coals on. Magnificent.

Before we left the other friend and I made him drink an entire bottle of cold water. I decided I liked being buzzed, so we walked down a block to a gas station and I spent the remaining 30 dollars on a reusable e-cigarrette (vape). This was back when they said it was harmless. I hit it hard for a couple of years but I quit once they said it's not actually harmless. I'll probably go to a hookah lounge again sometime though. I just don't want to go alone, and the friend that I went with is dabbling in harder drugs and no longer partakes in really any nicotine at all. It is what it is.

All in all, I would say the ordeal was a very interesting event. I enjoyed burning fifty dollars in a night. I'm sure he wished he hadn't jinxed it.


Announcer: "Goooood evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to America's favorite game show --"

Audience: "DON'T! JINX! IT!" 

Announcer: "That's right, and here are the stars of our show -- Zat Payback and Klonkor, the Beast that Eats Eyes!"

(Audience cheers, Zat and Klonkor emerge from backstage, waving to audience. Klonkor moves to back of set by game board while Zat walks toward the three contestants.)

Zat: "Hey, everyone, how are you doing? Welcome to 'Don't Jinx It,' the game of mystic spellcraftery where three ancient, diabolical sorcerers must complete thaumaturgic challenges without putting the jinx on their targets! Now let's meet our contestants!"

(Zat turns to first contestant, a tall, elderly man with a long white beard. He wears a robe and tall, pointed hat decorated with stars and moons.)

Zat: "Solomon Bloodsworth is a wizard from Cleveland, Ohio! Solomon, what can you tell us about yourself?"

Solomon Bloodsworth: "Hi, Zat! I'm an Archmagus of the Seventh Order working to crush the will of all who oppose me. I've been married for over 200 years to my wonderful wife Esmereldreth the Crone, and I enjoy enslaving the innocent and collecting bottle caps." 

Zat: "Thanks, Solomon!"

(Zat moves on to the next contestant, a pale woman wearing an ornate armored costume, glowing in shimmering red and black colors.)

Zat: "Next up, we've got Angela De Vile, a sorceress from right here in Burbank! Angela, I understand you're new to the magic scene?"

Angela De Vile: "I've only been at it a few decades, Zat, but I expect good things to start happening for me very soon now that I've acquired the Eternal Eye of Val-Gahad!"

Klonkor, the Beast that Eats Eyes, suddenly appearing right next to Angela: "THE ETERNAL WHAT OF VAL-GAHAD?"

Angela: "Um, the Eternal Eye of Val-Gahad, but it's not a real--"


Angela: (incoherent shrieking and bleeding)

Zat: "Whoops, gotta be careful with the, um, orb word around here, right, folks? Don't worry -- we've got a backup contestant on stand-by, but while we wait for Klonkor to finish eating, let's move on to our next contestant!"

(Zat turns to the third contestant, a 30-foot-tall mass of tongues wearing a Hawaiian-print necktie.)

Zat: "Welcome to Xhalfar the Subjugator, an Omega-class mystic horror from Dimension 766924. Xhalfar, it says here you've got an unusually large family!"

Xhalfar the Subjugator: "Well, good afternoon, Zat, it's great to be here. I hesitate to call them proper family -- they're mostly barely sentient goblinoids I've uplifted from common salamanders. One must build up an invading army using the elements one has on hand, as you know. But I do amuse myself by naming them for celebrities, you know!"

Zat: "Fantastic, and it looks like Klonkor's finished up with Angela, so let's bring in our backup contestant!"

(A thin woman wearing all black clothing enters. She has very pale skin, long black hair, and black, dripping makeup.)

Zat: "Everyone say hello to Raven Ebony Darkmentia, a darkmancer from Gainesville, Florida! Welcome to the show, Raven!"

Raven Ebony Darkmentia: "Oh my god, like, thank you so much, Zat! I like to teach yoga in my spare time, I've written two cookbooks for vegan darkmancers, and I've been married for almost ten years to the very concept of evil and conquest itself!"

Zat: "That's wonderful -- glad to have you on the program! Alright, we've met our contestants, let's move on to our first round!"

(Stagehands wheel in a cart containing a young dachshund puppy)

Audience: "Awww!"

Zat: "Alright, the first round is for you, Solomon! All you have to do is give this adorable dachshund puppy a pair of wings. Are you ready? Thirty seconds on the clock and... Go!"

(Solomon raises his hands and begins chanting mystic phrases. After ten seconds pass, he gestures at the puppy. A bolt of green and purple lightning arcs across the stage and obliterates the puppy, as well as the cart and a portion of the backdrop behind it.)

(Buzzer sounds. Audience groans in amused disappointment.)

Zat: "Ohhh, too bad, Solomon, but you definitely jinxed that poor dachshund!"

Solomon: "I zigged when I should've zagged, Zat!"

Zat: "Let's move on to Round Two! Raven, this challenge is all for you!"

(Stagehands wheel another cart onto the stage. This cart contains a vintage Captain Action action figure.)

Zat: "Okay, Raven, we've got this normal, unliving action figure. Your challenge is to give it the spark of True Life. Ready? Thirty seconds on the clock and... Go!"

(Raven points at the toy as her eyes roll back in her head.)

Raven, in a discordant tri-part reverse harmony: "live, object of plastic, live in the name of the bleak sisters of the netherdark."

(The action figure turns its head, looks at its hands in surprise, gazes up at the stagelights above. Suddenly, a tiny flame pentagram surrounds it. The action figure screams once, then is sucked down into the pentagram and disappears.)

(Buzzer sounds. Audience groans in amused disappointment.)

Zat: "Raven, I'm sorry. While you did bring the toy to life, you also immediately damned it to Hell. As you know, the rules state that counts as a full jinx." 

Audience: "Awww!"

Raven: "Oh, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles!" 

Zat: "Third round, and Xhalfar, this one's for you." 

(A stagehand leads a white stallion onto the stage.)

Zat: "Okay, Xhalfar, your challenge: Change this horse's color from white to black. You have thirty seconds and... Go!"

(Xhalfar waves some of its tongues and its necktie at the horse. The horse immediately turns inside-out and erupts in a fountain of blood and body parts. The stagehand runs offstage shrieking.)

(Buzzer sounds. Audience groans in amused disappointment.)

Zat: "Xhalfar, I'm sorry, that definitely counts as a jinx!"

Xhalfar: "I'm sorry, Zat! Like I said, I mostly work with goblinoids!"

Zat: "Folks, we're going to take a break for a few commercial messages -- and to clean up the stage. But we'll be right back with our bonus round!"

(COMMERCIAL 1: Newtco Automotive Insurance: A newt uplifted to full sapience rants about car insurance and its desire to eat small insects. 0:30 seconds)

(COMMERCIAL 2: Jellygen memory supplement: Hyperintelligent jellyfish beam mind-control rays through the TV to get consumers to buy their brain vitamins. 0:60 seconds)

(COMMERCIAL 3: MyCushion pillow manufacturer: A madman sells pillows and his soul. 0:30 seconds)

Zat: "And we're back, and ready to begin the bonus round! You all know the rules: You'll have three identical targets, each of you must work to create the biggest, most advantageous transformation of the target without jinxing it out of existence! Whoever creates the best transformation will take a decisive lead -- and since you're all tied at zero, you definitely need a win. Aside from that, there are no other rules!"

Solomon: "No other rules?"

Zat: "That's correct!"

Raven: "No other rules at all?"

Zat: "You got it! No holds barred!"

Xhalfar: "Hmm, interesting." 

Zat: "Everyone ready? Here are your targets!"

(Stagehands throw three black cats onto the stage, then run for cover.)

Zat: "Alright, is everyone ready? Thirty seconds on the clock and... Go!"

(Solomon conjures a fiery meteor which blasts into Xhalfar and sets it on fire. Raven casts a Storm of Knives on Solomon and stabs him to death. In its final death throes, Xhalfar pulls a holdout pistol out of a dimensional pocket and blows Raven's head off. All three black cats run away.)

Audience: (gasps)

Audience: (cheers)

Zat: "Well, folks, for the 468th show in a row, we've got no winner at all for this episode! But don't worry -- the fun will continue tomorrow on a brand new episode of..."

Audience: "DON'T! JINX! IT!" 

Zat: "Uh, hey, Klonkor, you're kinda in my personal space. Back off a little, okay?"


Zat: "Whoa, hold on, big guy. My contract with the studio clearly states--"


Zat: (incoherent shrieking and bleeding)

(Roll credits)

The man with the terrible eyes is having a bad morning.

Rain pours down, hitting him hard on the shoulders and head. He feels the water soaking into his hair and down the back of his neck, seeping into his shirt. The wind whips at his clothes, strong enough to trip his balance if he's not careful. Every time he tries to pull his jacket's hood back up, the wind blows it back again. He clutches the meager bag of groceries to his chest and sincerely regrets coming out at all. Even Dog was wise enough to stay back at the motel, rather than come out in this weather.

The sidewalks in this town are cracked and irregular, with dips and broken hills where tree roots have pushed the pavement up. The overcast sky -- simultaneously dark and painfully bright-- makes his eyes hurt, and that combined with the wind, street, and rain make the long walk back to the motel miserable.

Inevitably, he trips. He scrapes his hands badly with the landing, but at least he didn't land directly on his face. The bottled orange juice, assorted snacks, and the microwave burrito he'd been hoping to have for breakfast spill onto the pavement. When he picks himself up, he finds the thin plastic of the bag torn open.

A car speeds past, right up close to the curb. Water kicked up from the tires soaks him and anything that hadn't been vacuum sealed in plastic. The burrito, he notes with mute despair, is a goner.

Silently, he goes to pick up the scattered purchases. The juice, the packet of trail mix, the few energy bars, gum-- these are small enough to shove into the pockets of his jacket and jeans. Others, like the chips and few pieces of fruit, he carries awkwardly in his hands. Things slip continuously from his fingers as he goes; his hands are too cold to grip anything tightly, and he is forced to awkwardly juggle them.

So focused is he on not dropping anything that he doesn't notice that he's made it to the crosswalk until the high-pitched beeping of the Cross Now sign alerts him. Someone, apparently, had pressed it before his arrival, and he was just on time to catch it.

Relived at least for this good luck, he starts to cross the street. As he does, a truck speeds past, grazing his back. He feels a heavy force against his head, like someone had hit him, and the sound of something breaking. The next thing he knows, he's flat on his belly, his face ground against the tarmac.

He needs to get off the road. The thought is urgent, urgent enough to cut through the pain in his head. He staggers to his feet and lurches forward, his hands out as though looking for something to lean against. His head pounds, but it's manageable,and he's able to ignore it until he makes it to the other side, where there is a covered bus stop.

He collapses gratefully onto the bench and, for the first time, touches the back of his head. His fingers are stiff from the cold, and while he doesn't feel anything from them, his head blazes in pain where they touch. When he pulls his hand away, he finds blood and bits of plastic.

The mirror. The thought is sluggish. Must've got dinged on the mirror.

He does not know how long he sits staring at the blood on his hands, then staring at nothing in particular. His hands shake, and his heart beats rapidly, as though he had finished an intense run. Despite this, he wants to sleep. He wants to be warm. But everything hurts, and the thought of moving is viscerally repulsive. At some point, he pulls the hood over his head again, and he tugs it down far enough to cover his eyes and shield himself from the brightness.

"Hey man," a voice says.

He blinks and looks up. A man in a blue uniform is looking at him.

"Yeah, officer?" he says, his words slurred slightly.

"You can't be sleeping here, bud."

"I'm not," he says. If feels like someone else is saying the words, as though he's running on autopilot. "Just waiting the rain."

"It stopped raining a while ago," the cop says.

He blinks. The rain is pouring. The droplets are plinking loudly against the bus stop's roof. Water is splashing onto the officer's shoes from the drops.

"What?" he says.

"You been drinking?"

The cop's tone sends a bolt of fear through him strong enough to cut through the aching fog in his head. If he's been drinking, then that means he'll get taken to the station. If he gets taken to the station, then he'll be locked up. If he's locked up, then people can find him. Things can find him. Or worse-- and here he shudders at the thought-- they might notice the head wound and take him to the hospital.

"No, sir," he says, resisting the urge to pull his hood down further. "I'll head out. Sorry, sorry."

The cop stands back and watches him shuffle away. The rain continues to pour, but at least the wind has calmed down.

It isn't for another few minutes that he realizes he'd left half of his purchases in the street. When he turns behind him to look, he can barely make out the cop car still parked by the stop through the thick rain fall, and he decides against going back to retrieve anything.

Then, he looks up.

Above him is an angry black cloud.

The rest of the sky is clear blue.

He stares at the sky. The storm cloud rains harder in response, and he has to look away.

"Oh, come on," he says softly, his voice filled with an exhausted desperation.

The cloud above him thunders.

The rest of the walk back to the motel is particularly miserable.

Patches of sidewalk suddenly jut up or dip down. More cars speed by to splash him. The wind picks up again strong enough to tear the hood partially off his coat, ripping it at the seams. At one point, he steps over what looks to be a shallow puddle, only to sink up to his calf. All the while, the rain cloud above follows him and only him.

By the time he finally trudges up to the motel, keycard clutched between numb hands, the pain in his head has blossomed into a sickening haze, and his shoulders and back scream in agony, as though the truck had done much more than graze him.

He stumbles inside the room and finds Dog asleep on the bed.

Slowly and stiffly, he removes his jacket and begins to empty his pockets. Most of the food has been pulverized within the wrappers. He places it all on the desk and looks at it, too miserable to feel properly sad over it. Outside, he heard the rain still falling.

Still gotta check my head, he thinks blearily. He'll have to clean out the cut. A shower would--

He perks up at he thought. A hot shower would be perfect.

In the bathroom, he tries the hot water tap, and it comes off in his hand.

The cold water, he finds, works perfectly.

After, he dresses in old, but dry, clothes and stumbles into bed. Dog whuffs and wags his tail when he crawls under the covers, but otherwise doesn't acknowledge him.

"Today's a wash," he says. Outside, the sky thunders. "I'll try again tomorrow."

Dog laps his face in what he assumes is agreement, and he chuckles a little, even as he turns onto his side.

Almost immediately, his eyes feel heavy. His head still hurts, as does everything else, but it's become a distant, ignorable pain as exhaustion takes over. Moment before he lets himself sink into sleep, he notices the little calendar on the bedside table.

March 13

Ah, comes his last coherent thought. That explains it.

I have an early memory, even though they say that our earliest memories are suspect. In the beginning there was, I suppose, a dark and a void. I remember one, in the same way that you might remember a dream the evening after you had it. And it was dark. Dark in the way that a coal cellar is dark, at midnight, in the middle of the coldest winter you remember, and with your eyes closed.

Here there was a void, too. It was big, but I have no idea how big. Bigger than I was. It was black of course, but it had something…textural. There was grain, direction, distance. Movement. Barely discernable of course, but if you were patient enough, you'd notice it too.

And I was patient.

There was hesitancy, even in the unknowable time stream. I had no concept of time, no way to count or measure it; there was nothing to either count or measure, but I slowly felt the need to somehow change things. I felt (thought?) that I could move relative to the whatever that surrounded me and made me up. I watched and waited, so long observing the stuff that comprised everything, slowly understanding the gentle swirls of chaos before reaching out to it, peering closely into it, gathering and willing it. Eventually I understood it enough.

Everything changed. I brought threads together, tiny strings of willpowered chaos, flattening them from their horrible complexity into what was becoming order. Finally I could watch their vibrations, guide their flutterings into sanity. I grew them, numbered and organised them, wove them. They grew and blended, merged and split and as they did so, organised themselves. Fascinated, I touched them, these tiny things, poked at them to see what they would do, helped them fulfill what they needed, encouraged them to become clearer. I watched the order spread, building new shapes, conglomerating and generating new structure and then in turn, those structures influenced others. It grew. From this infinitesimal, it grew.

You would not believe how long it took, watching, waiting, living every moment with expectation and even delight. As I watched, it accelerated. I realised a concept of time within this tiny ball of boilingness. Under its own power now it was changing, struggling to realise its destiny, to escape the bonds that held it captive. Finally, I reached out and squeezed. It popped, it burst, it stretched and pushed and bubbled. It effervesced and within I could see the seeds of possibility as it created more and more new delightful things. The original threads, those fundamental strings collapsed into tiny spirals and vanished as the new particles pressed and pushed. As I looked closely between this new weave I could still see them wriggling and driving the new, and as I did so it all changed. Blowing outward, a new energy forced them to move, to change. Growing, it formed new structure and patterns, unfolding into the void as though it were pushing it away. And there was light.

Of course I still saw, experienced everything. The swirling clouds, the gathering and grouping and mechanism evolving. Bound together and yet pushing apart, this universe grew and spread, in some places bonding together with more matter, in others bubbles pushing stuff away. It grew tenuous and it grew denser, which might be hard for you to imagine given you live inside the membrane and cannot see the whole. Matter gathered and bonded, the forces of the new universe sorting themselves out and in a moment forming a grandeur that astonished even me.

Under the circumstances I couldn't help but reach inside as this was happening. I stirred and I prodded and I poked. Some things I strung together, some I pushed aside. I was happy as I watched and played, seeing matter organise itself. I could neither look away nor resist the temptation to create patterns, teasing and tweaking and pushing until it organised itself and learned to grow. It changed. This one teeny spot changed and the rest of that creation followed its lead. Then I left it alone, watched as it spread over one tiny sphere. Waters fell and rose, fell and rose, and the life ebbed and flowed with it. Finally it gathered itself together, and through much effort you stood on your own two feet. I showed you the earth and all that was in it, told you to be fruitful, to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. It seems you were highly successful in that. It's just a shame that you went too fast and too hard. You had such promise and you've spoiled it all. Back to the drawing board. I wonder what will happen if the next time I stretch instead of squeeze.


Or I could just leave it alone. Don't jinx it.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.