More story less dialogue in this chapter, though the actual page count is slightly less, I get the feeling this is the longest chapter in this novel so far. Wait what? You thought I had forgotten about this story in the excitement of Heartless: Cold Hands? Of course not. This is a story I really want to write, and though it may not be the featured novel on my blog, I feel the abstract air in it really lends for an interesting plot.
Anyways, all that gibberish aside, in the last chapter, we had Phillip agree to help this strange person who has invaded his personal privacy defeat a dude known as the Executioner. Typical stuff huh? In this one however, we throw a bit of Inception stuff into the mix by having Phillip tell a story inside of a story. Yeah, I know, what in the world am I talking about? Just make sure you read all that came before this before actually attempting to read this chapter. Trust me it will help.
“The first step, Phillip, to this journey, is to fix your back. You can’t exactly go on a long journey with a back hurt the way you’ve damaged it.”
“You want me to– alter the past?”
“You can do it Phillip. Go back to the woods, go to that glen where you were chopping trees, and fix what went wrong. Do it Phillip.”
Settling back into his bed, Phillip closed his eyes and began reshaping his past.
I ignore the sound I hear as I am creating the story in which I chop the wood necessary for my business. It sounds almost like– no, I cannot allow my thoughts to wander when I am in the middle of storytelling. Wait, I have to continue my story from where I left off. I shift slightly with my eyes closed, and enter into another state of storytelling.
For some reason, just at this moment, I forget what I intend to do. Griffin whinnies and kicks again, and instantly I am reminded of the kindling. Bending down, I hoist the bundle onto my back. My legs complain slightly at the weight, but though they force me to hobble along slowly, the muscles in them are still strong, and can support a good weight. Turning around, I begin the journey back to my house, whistling for Griffin to come along. He plods steadily along beside me as we travel the worn road to my cottage.
As we move along, my mind wanders, and it is all I can do to keep my feet on the road. Suddenly, a wind from the west kicks up. It is a foul wind, boding evil. I pause my footsteps and turn to face the horizon where the sun is setting. Black clouds loom darkly on the skyline, billowing angrily and approaching at a rapid pace.
“We’re going to have to hurry, Griffin,” I say, a warning edge in my tone. He himself, animal that he is, detected the change in atmosphere long before me, and as I turn from the horizon, he starts forward, and it is all I can do to keep up with his walking pace.
As we move along the road, the clouds seem to come closer and closer at a rate which is impossible. Lightning flashes madly across the heavens, and thunder cackles heavily. The sound of heavy rain drowns out any other ambient noise that existed before, and a cold wind stirs the air. I shift the kindling uncomfortably on my back and stumble slightly over a pothole in the road. Griffin pauses to let me regain my balance, then he continues onwards.
Before long, the rain has caught up with us, and we are in the middle of a swirling storm. The rain impedes my vision till I can barely see the bundle that Griffin is pulling, and the donkey himself is obscured. I take a moment to look around as the whipping rain lulls briefly. Shapes and figures lurk in the shadows, seemingly grinning and howling at our discomfort. I turn away resolutely, doing my best to ignore them.
It is at this point that another shadow, larger than the others before, looms up in front of me. It is not exactly in our way, but to the right of the road. I squint, trying to discern what it could possibly be, but it is only when Griffin turns to head directly towards it that I figure it out. It is my house.
I dump the kindling by the front door, and with numb hands, undo the straps of Griffin’s harness. When this operation is complete, he gladly trots off towards his stable. I enter my house and squeeze the water from my clothes. It creates a puddle in my front room but I don’t care. Tired to the bone, with all my morale sapped by the pouring rain, I head around to my bed room and sit on the bed. I sigh, then lean my head back on the headrest and close my eyes.
I open my eyes. I am in my bedroom, with a slowly abating storm outside my house. My clothes are damp, and getting up from the bed, I head to the front room and light a small fire. The warmth it gives is enough for me to dry my clothes, and I do so gladly. My stomach grumbles after a long day at work, and getting to my feet, I open the small food cupboard mounted on the wall, hoping that by some magical chance there will be something there. There isn’t.
Sighing, I put out the fire and return to my bed. Now that my clothes are dry, my bed feels like the perfect place to be. The howling wind outside seems less threatening, and makes my cottage seem all the more secure. Slipping under my thin covers, I roll over and quickly fall asleep.
Before I know it, morning has arrived, and upon getting up, I sit straight in bed for a few moments, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. Yesterday’s story did not go so well. What with the storm, and the break. Ah well, there is nothing I can do about it. As I let the tension from correcting a break drain away, I close my eyes, just for a moment, for a few extra seconds of precious rest.
Phillip yawned and opened his eyes. The sun was shining brightly through one of his windows. Recalling previous incidents, he turned quickly to see if his unwanted guest had invaded his house again. The man was not there. With a sigh of contentment, Phillip swung his legs, stiff from the damp and exhausted from the exertion of the previous day, off his bed. Standing up, he wandered slowly around to the front room.
“Well Phillip,” a voice boomed. “I knew you could do it.”
Startled, Phillip stepped back a few paces, then blinked the haze around his vision away. He groaned internally. That man was there again.
“Can you just stop bothering me?” Phillip grumbled, walking pass the bearded stranger to open his food cupboard.
“An early customer had come and bought some of Phillip’s wood, leaving behind breakfast as recompense,” the man boomed.
Phillip turned around, and there on the table was a pair of apples along with a loaf of bread and cheese. A skin of cheap ale lay beside them. Sitting down in the chair which the stranger had vacated, Phillip began consuming the food like a starving man, which, in a sense, he was. When he had finally appeased his raving appetite, Phillip looked up.
“How do you do that?” he asked.
“Do what?” the man said, turning.
“Speak something and make it happen. You don’t worry about consequences, or cause and effect, you just add a fact and it happens. Also, how in the world do you remember our meeting from yesterday? We didn’t meet yesterday. Not after I changed the past that is. And why did I lose control partway through that story? I couldn’t stop the storm from coming.”
“One question at a time boy. We are both storytellers, but we each have our own different way of telling stories. As for how I remember our meeting that did not happen, I am a storyteller too. In stories that both you and I are involved in, I know just as much as you do. Now for the main question. Why did you lose control partway through your story. The reason is simple, but the implications are not as obvious. Our job as storytellers is not to force the story into our mould. We create the story to be sure, and we end it, but what happens between then is merely guided. On occasion, you will find that the story develops itself, and it can take paths you did not intend.
“This is one of the many dangers of storytelling. It is why there are so few of us around. Did you think it is because we are a rare type? No, there are thousands of us in this world, but some are so afraid of their ability that they never use it. Others do not know how to use it, and bring destruction upon themselves by doing so. You are in the middle Phillip, which is why you are key.
“Now that we have gotten over the fact that you did not actually hurt your back yesterday, we need to move on to the next step in this process. In order for you to defeat the Executioner, you are going to need help. Other people who can assist you in this task. I want you to create a story where you make friends. Preferably three others, around your age, and do try to make them a little more physically capable than yourself.”
Phillip stared daggers at his “mentor”, then, leaning back in his chair, closed his eyes, and began yet another story.
I’m sorry guys, I did want to get into the new characters in this chapter, but that chapter break was too good to throw away. Plus, I bet you guys are tired of seeing “***” all over the place.