Author: David C. Nutt
“Why are you doing this to me?”
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself, his torturer, sighed. “To get the authors attention.”
“You mean God?”
“Hardly. I refer to the author of your story.”
“No. Your story. You’re the author of my story, so it’s really your story’s author we’re trying reach. Glad I’ve finally got your attention.” The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself flipped a switch that sent excruciating pain through his entire body.
“I don’t understand! What could I have possibly done to you for you to do this to me? And how did I even get here.”
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself shook his head. “I didn’t understand it all at first either. In fact, I sat where you did a few months ago asking the same questions of a man who looked exactly like me. This isn’t really that odd because he was me, and I am you.”
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself smiled sadly. “Hang on, this is gonna scramble your eggs. You see, you’re the author of our world. You wrote a short story about a hell pit opening up and elder gods walking amongst us, killing us, torturing us, eating us…the whole Cthulhu schtick only not as good as Lovecraft. Kind of trite actually.”
“It wasn’t that bad. I sold it to a publisher for—”
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself cut him off by flipping the switch and sending pain through his body. “Don’t interrupt. This next part is crucial. Your story became my universe. Your poorly written, horrific, Hieronymus Bosch, grotesquerie became the world me and mine inhabit the moment you hit “return” and closed your laptop.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. I created this nightmare?”
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself nodded. “Yes.” He flipped the switch again.
“STOP! I’ll do whatever you want. Just stop.”
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself shook his head. “Doesn’t work that way. I have to do this until the next author up the chain of being manifests in this universe. Don’t ask me how our dark mages, priests, physicists or whoever figured it out. All I know is that until we get the last one in the chain, in this room, in the chair where you are now, all of us suffer.”
“How far does it go?”
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself brow furrowed, deep in thought. He flipped the switch. “No one is sure. Counting you, there’s about 70 of us here now, each had our turn where you are, and where I’m standing. The current theory is as soon as we get the last one in the chain here, in the chair, all this ends; and all of us…me, you, the 70 others, go back to a single point and have a normal life as one. But until then…” The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself flipped the switch.
There was a knock on the door. A head poked in that looked like the man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself and spoke. “He’s here.” The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself smiled and nodded. “Luck is with us. Your time in the chair is over.” The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself unstrapped the man in the chair. The man who had been in the chair rubbed his wrists.
The man-who-looked-exactly-like-himself smiled. “You get to flip the switch.”