Chapter Fifteen: Avoid the Void
I turned around, hoping to see whatever was here with me, and know it as it knew me in this void I had been delivered to. When I moved, the whiteness stirred and I could see the limits of it. There were walls some couple hundred feet out in each direction, though they shook and flashed between white and gray. Shocked, I stopped and turned the other way, then started walking. As I did so the walls morphed and the whiteness dissolved in flashes, revealing some world or image beyond. In between each flash of white, each reassertion of the boundaries of this place, I could glimpse people, larger than life. I kept walking, faster now. Before me were rows of white men in suits, staring solemnly at me.
A man in a plaid shirt tending bar handed a drink to someone whose back was turned to me. He smiled at me, a wide but painful smile.
A large man in khakis with a shock of white hair held an iron pole. He whacked at something on the ground, and a bumpy white ball came bouncing towards me with incredible speed. It was about to hit me when-
I was almost at the border now. Fuzzy gray lines darkened and coalesced into the shape of a man. The man stepped out, dragging something behind him, and the flashing stopped. I had stopped running, but shifting my vision yielded no more apparitions. I stared at the White's new occupant. He was young, pale, and wore a black peacoat and black jeans. It was the man from the house Jim Davis had built. He was pulling a little red wagon behind him, with something on it under a towel.
The man in black waved at me as I stood in the pure silence of the void and stared.
"Thanks for coming," he said, "Can I offer you some snacks?"
I looked around. The fuzzy gray borders had faded back to white. There were no shadows in which to hide a pantry or even a box of Chex mix. I looked at the wagon with the obscured mass upon it and stared back at the man inquisitively.
"You wouldn't want to eat that," he said, "Here!"
There were plasticky fruit-flavored hexagons of delicious sweet loveliness in his hand, the kind that explode into divinely saccharine sticky juice with the slightest bite. They had always been in his hand now, except I could remember when they weren't. But was that now, as I took them from him? I wasn't sure. Time had grown drippy and vague.
"Hey," I asked as I bit into some blue-flavored sweetness, "Are you God?"
"Yeah," he said, "That's me."
I paused a second, caught off-guard. I opened my mouth like a ventriloquist's dummy, then closed it and waited for him to say something else. When he did not, I loosened my maw again in protest.
"No, no, no," I said, "That's not right. You're not Him. He wouldn't say 'That's me!' Maybe He'd say 'I've Been Called So Before', or something. No, I don't think so. Which means... this isn't Heaven, is it? Or 'The Place You Call Heaven'?
"Whatever. No, this is a place I created recently. It's called the White. It's very White. As you saw."
"Oh, yeah... golf... hey, don't look at me! You created it!"
"Yeah, I did. Can't remember why. Good for business meetings. You know, focusing on corporate synergy and all that. Though I don't honestly know what that means."
"Wait a second... Jim's House, the Computer, that shit Stanley said- it was you! You were his business partner, weren't you?"
The man in black sighed and pulled his wagon out from where the edge of the White, swinging the handle around and stopping it in front of himself so he could rest a foot upon it and pull out a pack of cigarettes. He offered me one, which I declined. Choosing to look like a loser in front of God, I thought, that's the final test isn't it? What am I afraid of, cancer?
"Again, that's me," he said, lighting up a cigarette (whichever brand you think is the coolest), "Ashe, one of my smartest, could transmit all the numbers or whatever with that big computer they have up there, but in the end if you're talking about wiping seventy-five percent of humanity off the face of the earth, there's only ever been one way."
The man in black breathed out his first puff of smoke and stuck his cigarette right back in between his sexy lips. He leaned down and pulled the towel off his wagon, after which it stopped being anywhere. There exposed in the wagon was a slightly pulsating darkness in this white. Around its lumpy blackness the wagon and even the surrounding whiteness seemed to grow gray, as if it had sucked in the light.
"This thing is really dense," he said, "And heavy. You wouldn't believe how long I've been lugging it around. It's worth it, though. If you want more gross sugary cum-filled snacks it'll make you as many as you want. With it I made the White, but I could easily make a better place, any place at all. A titty bar, they still have those right? Or a dick bar? Best dick bar you've ever seen, bunch of Hanses and Franzes with stangenbrots between their legs. They would just exist! How about a luxury pleasure dolphin bar? Do you even know what that is? I could throw in the male strippers too, if you want! You know what? I know what you want, I could give them all dad bods and tails! And one guy, his head could be a Ms. Pac-Man Machine! One you could actually get a high score on! And everyone could care, somehow! They'd totally metaphorically suck your dick about it as they sucked your actual, chemically-softened female-identifying dick! Who needs the world, right? If you want I'll get rid of all of it, let's start off fresh! Eh?"
"No, no, no! I don't want any of that! I just want to go back to the world as it is!" I said, stifling my urge to ask him to bring Nash back from wherever she had gone to, or to fix things with me and Joyce. Part of me even wanted Michael back, as fucked up as that was. But this guy's whole deal had a real monkey's paw vibe to it and I didn't want to find myself on the wrong end of some after-school special-style lesson today.
"Fiiine," the man in black said, rolling his eyes, "I figured, anyway. Would have been fun, but I've always been a sucker for jumpy girls, still full of hope somehow."
The man, or whatever he was, dropped the burning butt of his cigarette and it was gone. He still stamped at the place where it would have landed, though, and sighed. He looked up at me in this unexpected sad shaggy dog sort of way that made me want to reach out and touch him.
"If you want to go back to Earth," he asked hesitantly, "I'm guessing you're going to want the population to stay intact?"
"Yeah, that's going to be a problem. See, I already promised another girl we'd wipe a bunch of 'em out. And she's put in a lot of work... I'll tell you what, I can send you to her, and you two can hash it out?"
"You know," he said, as a growing aura of pastel blue appeared and formed a wall that enveloped me, "If you kill her or whatever, you can go back, and I'll keep it all as-is. Or, you know, if she kills you, we do the other thing. Either way, good luck!"