Author : Philip Ryburn

“600 words?! I’m expected to create an entire universe, complete with believable characters that the reader can relate to and care about in a mere 600 words? Are you outta your ever-lovin’ mind?”, Christina Hoffman was exasperated. Clearly, this was not going to do.

“I’m afraid you have it correct, Christina. It’s just the way things are. Create a believable universe, populate it with a character or two who are believable and then wrap it all up nice and neat in 600 words.” The Editor was nothing if not blunt. He’d been through this a billion times before and knew he’d go through it a billion times again. It was tedious but that was the price he had to pay to get that one Story, that one Universe, that would save his own universe from plunging into a black hole. Literally.

“You don’t understand,” Christina was trying to stall and The Editor knew it. He understood. He let her continue: “I’m just a hack writer. I do one-offs for fluff magazines. I don’t DO entire universes!!”

The Editor was unmoved. As mentioned, he’d been through this many, many times before. It’s always the same: attract a writer into this wormhole and explain the reality of the situation- that the universe they believe they exist in is actually fake. A hologram. Or something like that- they can’t really grasp Q-dimensional tesseracts at this point in their quantum holo-evolution- and tell them that they must produce a believable universe in under 600 words of code or they go *poof* and everything they ever thought they “knew” would disappear in a quantum cloud of nano waves and quark-strings as if they had never existed. Which, of course, they don’t. But that’s besides the point.

The Editor, as powerful as he was, had his own problem: namely, that his own universe was slipping away into the bowels of a black hole at the center of the universe. The only way out was to create another universe to slip into. One that was complete and whole and believable… but required a brevity that was almost impossible to match. 600 words. No more. No less. It’s all the Universal Computational Tesseract would handle within the confines of Q-dimensional holo-physics.

“Well, Christina, if you aren’t even going to try…”, The Editor said with a sad and tired voice. “No!”, Christina balked. “I can do this. I’m a writer. I can do this.” The Editor always felt a small shimmer of something akin to love whenever they did this. It’s almost as if they they could… “Then get to it, Christina. I haven’t got all day.”

Christina wrote. Furiously. Pounding the keyboard. Sweat pouring down her face. 150 words. 370 words. 465 words!!! The Editor leaned in with anticipation, reading over her shoulder. Not bad, he thought. Could it be? Perhaps this one is the One….

A shudder interrupted his thoughts. The Editor looked up and noticed the walls were beginning to dissolve. “I’m sorry,” The Voice said “but I thought I made it clear. A story was to be delivered by 16quaStriations or you go. Sorry. Times up.” The Voice. The Voice of infinity. The Voice from beyond the Q-dimensional tesseract of Ultimate Reality.

“No! Wait! I almost have it!!!” The Editor pleaded. Christina, oblivious to Q-dimensional tesseracts, continued to pour everything she had into her story. 550 words! 585! 590!!! “It’s all right here!! I swear!!”, The Editor screamed into the Void of Being.

”Sorry,” said The Voice.
“They don’t call it a deadline for nothing.” *poof*

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