046. Simulacrum In The Metaphor House

Open your eyes and the dream persists. He steps into the Metaphor House and all he can see is a rickety table with a can of Acme Processed Meat. Then it is a room with a man in a chair stroking the ugliest cat you have ever seen.

Another rickety table with a typewriter on it wobbles and then falls over, the rusting machine atomising in a puff of dust as it hits the floor. James Joyce holds up a copy of Ullyses and likewise falls to the floor and is translated by the action into a cloud of dust.

‘I am a Delta, and I know that you are Carter Brecht.’

‘Are you really here?’

‘Really here? Am I what I am? What a strange question to ask, here of all places. I am and am not; am knot; am united and untied, all at once.’

‘Great, so I have travelled from the interior logic of reality, into a place where reality in a fungible thing, and I am dealing with someone who may not be in front of me’

‘Does it matter as long as it helps?’

i Suppose not’

‘Anyway, what did you expect coming here? I know you for what you are and you are trained to operate flawlessly, even within the bounds of a place that is resolutely not what it seems. And is, at points, exactly what it seems – and at others exists somewhere in between. I am here to help you, of course, but the nature of this place is not about straight lines, and in that, isn’t it a mirror of the game your are playing?’


‘Don’t mind if I do. You know there are deteriorating pathways that make this game as beautiful as it is? There are misunderstandings that enrich the experience. What would life be without friction? Without fiction?’

‘The cat Spay? James Joyce was Arnover? Who are you? Is the house Reality?’

‘This place is all about metaphor We explain ourselves to ourselves.’

‘You’re me?’

‘Something like that. Or a Marley perhaps. Aren’t all metaphors really just data-ghosts? How do you think the people reading these words in the future see your reality?’

‘When are you from?’

‘Always or yesterday. You are asking the wrong questions. I am here and not here. Maybe you shouldn’t even be talking to me. Weren’t you looking for a distraction.’

He blinked, and The Metaphor House was emptied. And he wondered for a second whether or not it had been filled.

‘You know, in the beginning was the word was a pretty good story,’ said a voice out of nowhere, ‘And then the word became flesh is a pretty good continuance,’ and a man wrapped around the words. ‘Do you think I had an idea or the idea had me? Am I the egg or the Bloop Hen?’

Carter stared at him blankly – this person or whatever it was that he was witnessing, was not in need of any answers.

‘Did you know that the first Reality Engineer was a Metaphor Technician? Sorry, I mean Neanderthal: a being called Bartag that dreamed himself immortal. He started off painting pictures, and then he learned words, and after he realised that he could change the perceptions of others, he rebuilt the world around a new idea of itself.
‘The problem you have is that you think that the future is arrived at in a straight line, and that it is travelled to from the past, so that it is the past upon which tomorrow is built, but what if yesterday were built on the foundations of tomorrow? What if we were all travelling in circles?
‘See, you think that the Carter Brecht you saw was something out in front of you, but he may have been something from behind you.’

‘Look, I know that Reality and time aren’t a straight line, I am a Reality Engineer.’

‘Or an engine. Just a reality engine. Isn’t that true also?’

‘What’s happening here?’

‘What’s happening here?’

‘You’re an echo.’

‘I’m an echo.’

Carter laughed. Playing fucking games at the end of the universe. Or was it the beginning? It didn’t matter, did it? He came here to work out his own thoughts on what to do next – the whole conversation a metaphor for his own internal thought process. Well, with a little spice thrown over the top by the architecture of the house; it was an engine housing, and he was the engine. He knew all this – strange how one could forget things that they had been trained in for years.

Step back from the enfolding dream, and it was like you never left. He understood things a lot better now. This was a story, and they had all forgotten that that was what they were doing.

‘Where’ve you been, Carter?’

‘Spirit Quest in the bathroom.’

They both laughed. A break in the clouds. A glimpse of sunlight.


045. Midwife At The Crooked Womb

Julia stood there looking at Seymour, The Twisted Prophet, and she offered him a seat. How often did you get to meet the original See-More who worked with the original Living Element, and here he was stepping between the raindrops?

Between the lines. Between the pages. The caesura in the turn. Death was balance on the edge of a page, and birth was a new chapter.

‘I knew you were coming. I sent out for Insomniaxe Coffee. It’s Americano style – wasn’t sure exactly what kind of beverage you would prefer.’

‘That’s perfect. I am here because this womb was a little more crooked than I had been expecting. It happened outside his main story, and I was expecting that there may be some kind of structural collapse occurring in his story architecture.’

‘Not that I have observed. But then I am only there for the delivery, and who knows, I may turn out to be an unreliable Frame Narrator.’

‘Great, so you’re the reason for all that Frame Dragging?’

She smiled. ‘We were apparently thought up in the collapsing narrative moment of the masculine story, if you believe the propaganda, but we all know that women are the gate through which a man comes into the world’

‘Yes, well I may be an unusually receptive audience as far as that idea is concerned, given where I spend more than half my time’

‘I heard that there is an exodus of Eveleens occurring, and that the Walking Houses are running. They say Spay interfered with the setting of the type and there are self-proliferating errors abroad in the world.’

‘I wouldn’t worry – sorry – what was your name again?’


‘So, Julia, I am a metaphor, as are you, and the Crooked Womb has taught me that no birth is what one expects it to be, and likewise no deaths are quite what one would expect either.’

‘Then why are you here? You are contradicting yourself. You came here because you were worried, and now you tell me not to worry. Which is it?’

‘It depends where you are, I suppose. There is the central land mass of the text, there are the surrounding islands of the context, there is the souterrain of the subtext, and there is the universe of the metatext. I often do not know which level I am operating on, and so I have to let my surroundings determine how I act.’

‘And being twisted you answer like a noodle wrapped around a fork.’

‘That’s how we all get when the road forces us to make a decision, isn’t it?’

‘Not necessarily; we live in the realm of the uncollapsed wave and the double slot experiment.’

He smiled. He was often required because of his job to talk in absolutes, so he liked someone who had a more fuzzy logic approach to the whole game – Sheridan had always been so certain.

‘Speaking of uncollapsed waves and redialled possibility. Have you ever affected a reverse birthing? A rewind into a womb?’

‘No. Have you?’

‘No, but I have been building the concept in a notional space I injected with metaphor tech, so I believe that it is possible.’

‘Who are you hoping to pull through the birth canal?’

‘Coran Andress.’

‘You want to try and drag an Immaculate Author back through birth to some perfect state?’

‘Not to the beginning of the universe, just back before he fell from his perch.’

‘You make it sound like another facet of The Nest.’

‘That’s unintentional – I assure you.’

‘That’s a lot of energy, Seymour. How would you gather it?’

‘I have some Reality Engineers on my side.’

‘I’m not going to say anything is impossible’

‘No. It’s not.’

‘But there are Abortifacents abroad.’

He smiled — he had been through many difficult births, as had she, and he had full confidence that they could deliver on the promise of this idea.

A long way away a Living Element opened his eye and it glinted bright green. He knew what Seymour planned. That green eye was like a green light.