The sun set and another deadline flew by. Increasingly impatient editors demanded he produce the promised manuscript. Their e-mails and texts buzzed in his ear. Yet, no matter what he wrote, despite the fact that every scene and action found its way into his novel, he was no closer to an end. The next great American project, his multi-genre magnum opus wandered lost, totally separated from cohesiveness. The book was about everything, about nothing, a monster now approaching 200,000 words. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how rigorously he outlined and storyboarded the action, he drew no closer to a conclusion.
Through the fog, a shape wavered. A dark and ominous presence in the mist. Somehow he knew it, but could not find its name. The creature reached for him in the dark, with prehensile limbs and uncertain intent. It whispered… it whispered…
The author stopped typing, stymied. What did it whisper, and why? What even was the ‘it’? Where was this going? This coda seemed so unnecessary so unrelated to the rest of the plot, and yet some force compelled him to affix this passage at the end of an otherwise complete text. It demanded he obsess over this seemingly needless paragraph, a vestigial appendage dangling from his manuscript.
Complete with introduction, rising action and climax, the plot of his book had resolved. Characters' nuances and motives made plain by 400 pages of perspicacious text. Lovers were joined and lost. They died and in death found themselves in the other’s arms again. Wandering the indefinite fog of plot, battling antagonist and protagonist alike, they endured. They changed; they grew. And the more they grew, the more their essence remained the same. And then the tale ended. The tale ended… until into it wandered fog, his lost protagonist far from home and the creature whispering faintly in the night. There at the precipice he sat, trapped by infinite possibility.
Desperate, the author pored over every page, searching his own words for clues to the finish. Where had he gone wrong?
Through the fog…
Years passed. Publishing houses abandoned him to his self-imposed exile. A brilliant mind succumbed to the madding dark, they muttered. What a shame, such a loss. Still he stared, oblivious to the civilization that left him behind, at the same forty two words, a paragraph with no end. A thesis with no conclusion. Marks on the page, time robbed them of their meaning. Now they were little more than mere totems of his failure.
He closed his eyes, and, as he did daily, tried once again to visualize this creature in the dark. This beast, it whispered a message of the utmost importance, both for his protagonists and for himself. If only he could hear, if only he could see. But alas he heard only murmurs, saw the barest hint of form. The indefinite creature loomed over an unsure end. The author wept.
Then, out of the blue, as inspiration is wont to do, an idea struck. One only born in a man divorced from his senses.
"This… doesn't have to end," He spoke, wheezing in a voice rusted by disuse.
So inspired, he slapped his laptop back to life and typed:
Through the fog, a shape wavered. A dark and ominous presence in the mist. Somehow he knew it, but could not recall its name. The creature reached for him in the dark, with prehensile limbs and uncertain intent. It whispered… it whispered…
"I cannot hear you," The hero spoke. ”Come closer…"
The creature did not move, nor did it raise its voice. He entreated it again.
"Please, I must know what you say."
Stock still it stood; features still obscure. Its outline was just barely visible in the night's gloom and the fog.