There’s Something Here From Somewhere Else (Part 8 of 9)
(first appeared at valterramagazines.com October 2013 issue)
As Ruth read the diary there were forces gathering outside the green split-level house in need of a coat of paint. Some of them Special Forces. They had been drawn to the house by the various tracking devices inserted in Nap’s car and now they were coordinating amongst themselves who would storm the house and who would sit back and wait for those people to be killed by Nap Lapkin. If it weren’t for the fact that the man behind the desk in Washington had plans for those reading glasses he would have just ordered a strike on the house that would have left the entire neighborhood a smoldering hole in the ground.
A hole that Nap would have no doubt climbed out of.
Word was, among the agencies that had need of such people, that Lapkin was immune to the effects of both tear gas and stun grenades. The last time he had been shot it was only discovered after a routine examination found a small opening in his chest cavity. He had also violated Madonna Axiom on at least half a dozen occasions. Madonna, the reigning piece-of-ass Amazonian in the intelligence community.
The chatter on the walkie talkies surrounding the green split-level in need of a coat of paint was getting a little irritable. Protocol began to break down and harsh words were exchanged. Feelings began to get hurt.
Nobody wanted to be the first to enter the house.
“If this diary is correct, things are a lot worse than either of us could have imagined,” Ruth said cryptically.
“I can imagine some pretty bad stuff,” countered Lap. “In fact, I’ve seen stuff that most people can’t imagine so you can only imagine the stuff I can imagine.”
“I’m serious. Do you know anything about Hindu gods?”
Nap thought for a minute.
“Buddha and that gang?”
“No. Not Buddha. Vishnu. Krishna. Ganesha. That gang,” Ruth retorted rather sharply.
“I’m not sure you have the right gang. Ganesha sounds like an Italian pastry.”
“My point,” she said in a frosty tone, “is that a lot of what has been written about their version of the end of days isn’t quite accurate … according to the diary anyway.”
“How so?” Nap didn’t really care but he didn’t want the little scene to lose any of the building drama. He remembered that Ruth was a librarian and now suspected that they had come to the part where she leisurely removed the glasses, undid the clip that held her hair up and shook her hair free in slow motion. He thought she might even bite her lower lip ever so slightly.
She explained about Saraswati imprisoning the beast of doom at the bottom of the sea, complete with the bit about keeping him there as long the world is pure and man is wise. She decided to use the “beast of doom” moniker over the Shiva Badavagni tag in the hopes of conveying to Nap the seriousness of the situation. Her gut told her this was a good decision as he seemed to perk up at the name.
“Apparently the legends were wrong. She’s not imprisoning him until ‘wisdom is abandoned and man corrupts the world;’ she is imprisoning him until someone unworthy takes possession of these damn glasses.”
“Hindu gods are the ones that have all the extra arms, correct?” Nap had managed to grab the wrong end of the story and now seemed determined to slowly wrestle his way to the other end. “Swords and elephant heads if I’m not mistaken.”
“Listen, we don’t have time for this. Saraswati was talking about these glasses the whole time. They are some sort of litmus test for humanity. If they fall into the wrong hands Shiva will be released and the world as we know it will come to a swift and rather unpleasant end.”
She paused to let that sink in.
“You’re not telling me that I’ve gotten roped into saving the world again are you?” said a now animated Lapkin.
“That’s what you’re taking from this? That you’re somehow going to be inconvenienced?” Ruth was livid. “I’m not sure who the hell you are but …”
That’s when the front door exploded inward.
I know you’re bracing yourself for an action-packed ending here but let me stop for a second and ask if you remember reading those books when you were a kid that let you pick the direction you wanted the story to go.
I know there were a lot of Dungeon & Dragons books like that but I distinctly remember there being a lot of other ones as well. Encyclopedia Brown for instance. If you pick up the rusty sword turn to page 135, if you think Sally Jackson was the one who stole the bike turn to page 70. That type of thing.
I always wondered why there weren’t any adult books that gave the reader these types of options. I can’t count the times where I’m eighty percent through a great book when all of a sudden the author takes the plot in some stupid direction and blows the whole deal. I sit clutching the pages in an impotent rage, wishing all manner of awful things on the writer and hoping somehow to get those hours of my life back.
I dare say you might be experiencing something similar even as we speak. And by we I mean me and by speak I mean write.
Be that as it may, now that I’m on the writing side of the equation I can now see why offering readers choices as you plow along with a story is such a bad idea.
It would be a lot of work.
I’m sure there are some of you that would love to go back and have Nap hesitate in the library and not fire blindly behind his back killing his chiseled contemporary Tim but let me assure you, if he hadn’t done exactly that Tim would have killed him. Tim would have then killed Ruth and taken the glasses.
Is that really what you would have wanted?
The only other alternative would have been for me to sit down and write an entirely different book and believe me when I say it’s doubtful that this one will ever get finished let alone another version.
Now take and multiply it by another dozen twists and turns this story could have taken and you’ll see why nobody writes books like that for adults.
It’s just not doable.
But before you go off sulking let me offer you the following compromise: I can’t go back and change the fact that Nap shot Tim in the library but I will give you a choice of endings now.
That seems very reasonable, don’t you think?