Thats why Ive appeared to you today. In order to explain everything.
First, aside from the questions youve already raised about my supposed
demise, doesnt it strike you as strange that Im able to communicate
with you via this television?
Of course. But escaping death seems just a bit more unbelievable, if
you ask me.
I suppose youre right. O.K., lets see, where to begin... Basically, Scott,
I became worried about my relationship with you and William. For the most
part, we made a great team and we had plenty of great times together,
particularly in the beginning when the stakes werent as high. But then
the whole cult thing got started and I began noting a subtle shift in
the way you two reacted to me. I began to detect what seemed like envy
or jealousy. It confused me for awhile. After all, you two were responsible
for making me a cult leader, but then you began resenting the fact that
I was becoming the most interesting character in the hypertext. And then,
the more I became a focus of the Unknown, the more you two wrote about
me as if you could somehow negate my presence by contriving more tales.
Which, of course, had just the opposite effect. Then the carping about
how much I was writing began. I could see that things heading in the wrong
direction, but I didnt know what to do. And then things really fell apart
in Boston and we all went to detox. Scott, what do you remember about the spaceship and the extraterrestrials?
Not much really. I vaguely recall seeing the earth while in orbit, but
not much else . . . and, hey, Im sorry about all the not-writing-enough cracks, I was just overworked, and
feeling a little under appreciated . . .
No apologies necessary. Theres enough fault to go around. Little William
here, for instance, packs one nasty lit crit wallop.
But anyway. I dont want to drag this story out too long. The reason you
dont remember much about the spaceship is because the aliens scrubbed
yours and Williams memory and planted several advanced-brain-programming
hypnosis-like suggestions, one of which brought you and William here today.
As soon as William voiced the opinion that I might not be dead, he had
the fit you saw that had been programmed into his brain by the aliens.
Your programming made you arrange for this room which I had previously
designed for this very encounter.
Wait, wait, wait. Dirk, this is sounding way too crazy.
Any crazier than my becoming a cult leader? Or my assassination on New
Years Day? Or Frank being a member of the CIA?
Or William bungie jumping? Or you marrying
a fictional publicist? Look, Scott, you think things are crazy now, just
you wait. Those aliens are members of a transdimensional
hyperfictional race that roam across various galaxies, dimensions,
and timelines looking for fun ways to intervene in stories they take a
fancy to. As such, they not only help manipulate stories, places, people,
and things, they can sometimes tell you how the story will end. They told
me that the tension building in the Unknown would inevitably result in
my death and they offered me a way out.
And that was . . . ?
Roughly speaking, clones. Not real clones, in the sense of taking one
of my cells and growing a whole new me, because that doesnt work; apparently
you cant regrow memories as easily as you can grow bodies. So instead
they gave me several versions of myself that they harvested from the infinite
number of timelines that populate the omniverse. As near as I understand
it, the multiple universe theory postulated by quantum physics is true,
but some alternate realities are more vibrant than others: some just become
dead ends. And it was from those dead-end realities that they plucked
a half-dozen Dirks that I could use as decoys for those times when you
and William got out of hand.
So, the Dirk that got killed was one of those dead-end timeline clones?
Yep. I mean, it was a real death, but as the aliens explained to me,
since he wasnt supposed to be in this reality in the first place, it
was just as well that he got offed. If multiple versions of the same person
stay in the same reality too long, bad things can happen, I guess.
And the vampire episode?
Same deal. Didnt you think it was strange that you actually were able
to convince me to come to the lab without any of my followers? That
wasnt my modus operendi at all, and yet you managed to get me there
without any trouble at all. And note the quotation marks around me.
Remember how the Gospels take such trouble to
always put Dirk in quotation marks? Now you
But how did I escape death with a vampire chomping
on my arteries?
The aliens had to intercede at that point. I guess time travel is not an exact science and they cant forsee
everything thats going to transpire. But once they saw what was
going down, they did a little timeline manipulation and brought me in
to help clean up
the mess. One reason I havent been writing much hypertext is that
I continually had to fuss around with all the chaos you two guys constantly
Its been exhausting, let me tell you. Anyway, things are coming
hypertext-wise, at least until we start the second one,
which as you know will involve time travel. William remembered that
from his visit in the spaceship.
So what else is going to happen in the future? Did they let you in on
our respective fates?
They only tell you what they think you need to know. Theyre
manipulative little bastards sometimes, just like all authors. But get
this: the hypertext
wins an international hypertext competition! And we all get invited to
No shit? Will you be there?
Yeah, and so will William. And a good time will be had by all. Ive got
to go now. William should be waking up soon. Take care of him, Scott.
Ill be in touch.
Dirk waved, turned towards his computers, and the screen went blank. William
stirred and made slight whimpering sounds. Something was different, but
I couldnt quite put my finger on it. Then it struck me: my lust for heroin