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Short Story: Pete and Max


This is a story I wrote which basically reflects my philosophy of pretty much questioning everything, especially our views on our creator. I like it myself, I hope it gets the message across.

 

 

Max stood up. Snatching a packet of sugar from the table, the young man turned to his brother. "Hey, Pete… You ever think about time?"

Pete, three years senior to the seventeen year old Max, pushed his chair in and replied. "Well, sure. Who hasn’t, really?"

"True, but have you ever thought about it in relation to our particular… situation?" Max downed the sugar packet and began strolling towards the exit.

"What situation do you mean?" Pete looked confused, following Max to the door. Max opened it, stepping out into the night. The wind was chill and the world dark.

"Our being fictional characters, created by an author that transcends our concepts of time and space, existing on a higher plane of reality," replied Max. They began walking home, slowly.

"Ohhh… That. What about it?" asked Pete

"Well, I was thinking. Consider the phrase ‘Max stood up.’ Sound familiar?" Max stopped at a bench, sitting down.

"Well, yeah. It’s the first line in this story," answered Pete, sitting down next to his brother.

"Right. Now, what happened when the author wrote it?" Max rubbed his chin, thinking.

"Well, obviously you stood up. What’s your point?" Pete seemed to be getting confused, and Max knew he would only get more so…

"But before that… I was never sitting down."

Pete gaped. "What? What are you talking about? Of course you were, how could you stand up if you weren’t sitting?"

"Pete, think about this from the perspective of the author, not just from our own limited perceptions. We know that ‘Max stood up’ was the first thing the author wrote. We also know that the author created our entire universe. Therefor, the first bit of our universe to be created was my standing up. My sitting down was created solely by the implication that to stand up, I must have sat down first."

"I don’t get it," announced Pete, leaning back in his seat.

"All right. Think about this story, our reality, as a jigsaw puzzle. It is a complete entity, and when it all fits together it makes a composition of a definite shape. But that doesn’t mean that the pieces have to be put together in any specific order." Max almost wished for a pencil, so he could draw some sort of diagram…

"Okay, I think I understand. You’re saying that the author doesn’t have to create our universe in the right order. He can create the future, and fill in the past as he goes along. That makes sense." Pete sat up, more confidant.

"Yeah. So, if he can create the past after he creates the future, than, logically, what he does in the future can effect the past. Think about the jigsaw puzzle again. Lets say you’re making up each piece as you go along, not just putting together pieces that already exist. If you put down a part of the picture, you still need to make the other pieces fit, whether they fit to the left or to the right. So any time the author writes something, he has to make sure what happens before or after it fit together with the present. The present effects the past as well as the future, though not in the direct way we can naturally perceive." Max was speaking quickly now, his thoughts unfolding as quickly as he related them to Pete.

"This is kinda freaky…" said Pete, unnerved.

"No, it’s not," said Max.

"You’re right, it’s not…" Pete paused, "Wait, why did I suddenly change my mind?" He appeared confused again.

"Because the author decided you would." Max shrugged.

"But that contradicts what he wrote before! He’s not making all the pieces fit!" Pete really was confused now.

"That doesn’t always matter. He can fix it if he likes, adding some reason that we don’t yet know about. He could, however, just leave it unexplained, to be considered something that was purely for the benefit of the author’s plan which we can’t fully understand. His writing may be judged by other authors, but that makes little difference to our plane of reality. It is whatever he has written, quality or not." Max sat back, happy to have reached this conclusion.

"Hey, that’s a bit dangerous to say, isn’t it? The author can do whatever he wants to this reality, so you don’t want to make him mad." Pete glanced around nervously.

"Nah, he’s all-powerful, all-creating, and all-knowing, right? I can’t say anything he hasn’t decided I’ll say." Max remained confidant.

"Do you think so? That’s like saying we have no free will."

"Not necessarily. Yes, he dictates everything we will think or do, but if he writes that we have a free will, we have a free will. We have simply been created with a free will that will cause us to do what he desires." He shrugged.

"That’s not free will, if he made us for a purpose," protested the older brother.

"Really? If I turn on a blender, the blades are spinning without my help. I know what they will do, though, if I put a tomato into them. The blender was made for a specific purpose, but it still moves of its own accord. We’re like that. We perform our function not because we have no mind of our own, but because our minds have been constructed for that purpose. The author desires to keep us in character, and so instead of making us all do exactly what he wants done, he simply sets situations in place that result in the desired effect."

"Okay, I almost understand…"

"Here’s an example. Say the author wants a character to do some housework. He can do this in various ways. If he wants a character with no free will, he can say:

"John washed the dishes. John proceeded to vacuum the floor. He then made the bed.

"You see? No character, no will, just serving a function. On the other hand, the author could create a character with a free will, albeit one that produced the desired effect.

"John looked around his house. The dishes were all dirty, and he was hungry. Well, he’d have to do some. After finishing, he noticed the floor needed a cleaning, and his bed needed to be made. He didn’t really want to bother, but he had a friend coming over later that night, so it seemed necessary.

"Now, this character has a motivation and a will. He does what he does for his own reasons, though his reasons exist so he will perform his function." Max finished, hoping to see realization dawn on Pete’s face. It did.

"Okay, I get what you’re saying."

"Good, because things are about to get complicated." Max said. As he spoke, a large machine materialized in front of them. From it crawled a perfect duplicate of Max.

"Hey. I’m Max from fifteen seconds in the future. I’ve brought you this time machine." He brought Max to the time machine. "Now, go back in time fifteen seconds and give this to yourself."

"Yep, gotcha," said Max, hopping in. the machine disappeared.

"Max?!" said Pete, "What was that?!"

"Just a little time travel."

"Just a little time travel?!" yelled his brother. "Where did you get a time machine?"

"From myself. I traveled back in time and gave it to myself, remember?" Max sat down again.

"Yeah, but where did you get it from in the first place?" Pete was flabbergasted.

"From myself. Then I went back and gave it to myself, like you saw." Max seemed very calm about the entire ordeal.

"But that doesn’t make any sense."

"It’s a paradox. It happens when an event contradicts one law that the author has set down for our universe, but is logical by another. By simple rules of cause and effect, what I did makes sense: I had it because I gave it to myself. By simple logic, though, it doesn’t, because the time machine had no origin.

"Here’s another example. If I drop a bottle, by one way of looking at things it must travel half the distance to the ground before the entire distance to the ground, right? And then halfway from that new point, and half way from that new point, etc. etc. Therefor, it will never hit the ground because there will always be another half.

"However, if we simply take that it is moving at five feet per second, and it’s five feet to the ground, it will touch the ground in one second. See? A paradox." Max put his hands behind his head, once more content with his explanation.

"Okay, right. So it’s up to the author to choose which rule supersedes which?" asked Pete.

"Yup. One of them has to win, right? The author created the universe, he can choose which rules apply."

"But if the author is all-knowing and all-powerful, why did he create rules that contradict each other?" Pete was confused again.

"He created it, of course he knows everything. He created it, of course he can do anything. That, though, only applies to our universe. It doesn’t mean that he has any real sense or intelligence… He knows all the facts, and he can make his views a reality, he can even decide what views we have, but that doesn’t mean that he is fundamentally correct. He’s an author, a creator, and thus has knowledge of what he creates, not of himself or his universe. He may not be the only author on his plane of reality, just the only one who has any effect on the universe he created. He may even be an amateur."

"So he’s an omniscient idiot?"

"Not necessarily an idiot, but that’s the basic gist. It’s not as much of a contradiction as it sounds. He determines what makes sense and what is correct in our little universe. On his greater scale, though, he might have it all wrong. We just don’t know, because we logically can’t know any more than him. He obeys different rules. Scale, scale, scale."

"So, while we are ruled by his will, he may be ruled by the will of an even greater being?" Pete’s eyes were wide.

"Right, and who knows, that force may be guided by an even greater force on an even higher plane of existence." Max stood up, ready to go home.

"So, how do we know all this? I mean, it’s not exactly normal for fictional characters to be aware that they are fictional characters, let alone aware of what is being written about them." Pete stood up, too.

"Because the author has decided we’d be aware of it, for some purpose we cannot currently fathom." Max started walking. Pete followed.

"So how do we know there’s an author?" Pete asked.

"You mean, how do we know that it’s a conscious being writing this? How do we know that all this, including my knowledge, isn’t just some random collection of letters that happen to have formed a coherent story? How do we know it isn’t all meaningless?" Max kept walking.

"Yep."

"We don’t. But if this is infinite monkeys at infinite typewriters eventually creating Hamlet, then some where, some when, among all the jumbled masses of typewritten paper, we’re having a damn good time. Let’s focus on that."

"Sounds good to me."

Pete and Max had a damn good time.

 

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