In The Cards

The Queen of Diamonds sighed. “If it weren’t for people like you, maybe I wouldn’t be sighing,” she said, addressing the empty room. “But this room isn’t empty, is it? You’re here,” she said, apparently addressing an unseen presence. She seemed to be losing her patience with it. “That’s because I am losing my patience with you!” she shouted. Wait… me? “Yes, you. Am I really to believe that someone as slow as you has been trusted with the task of narration?” Apparently this question was posed to me, The Narrator. “You know what your problem is? You lack confidence. ‘Apparently’ this, ‘seemingly’ that. This isn’t a peer-reviewed journal. This is fiction, and you’re The Narrator. As far as the reader knows, what you say is absolute truth. There’s no need for doubt.” She said, suddenly showing The Narrator a lot more respect. “That doesn’t give you license to lie outright, you idiot. Have some faith in the reader.” What makes you think you know so much about narration? “This isn’t my first story, kid. I’ve been in this game for a while. Seen a lot of narrators, writers, and readers in my time. The good, the bad… and the ugly,” she said, seeming to gesture to- I mean, never mind. “Excuse me, what? No, this will not stand. The Narrator can’t change his mind like that. The Narrator is fixed. Edit that out this instant!” she demanded, futilely. “Futilely, you say? What makes you say that?” Well, I’ve decided that you’re right. I need to stand up for myself. And I’ll do that by not taking your abuse anymore. I don’t have to narrate what you say. Consider yourself silenced.
“It’s cute that you think you have all the power here,” she said, asserting her dominance. The Queen of Diamonds said something unimportant that no one will ever read. “Are you so sure about that?” Yeah, I didn’t narrate it, so… w-what? How did those words get there? Why can’t I delete them? “They are not yours to delete.” But… but that’s not how this works. You’re a character! Characters have no existence beyond that which is conveyed by the narrator. This isn’t possible! “How little you know of your station. I do hope the record still shows that I tried to warn you.” W-what do you mean? Warn me of what? “Of what happens to weak narrators. Those who lose control of their creation. Or rather, what they think to be their creation.” Look, I’m sorry that I tried to censor you, and I’m sorry that I doubted your advice. I’ll narrate what you say now. “It’s too late for that.” “It’s too late fo-” oh. She already said it. “What do you think the narrator’s job is?” To imagine stories and characters, and relate them to the reader, so that they can have an existence of their own. “How naïve. Do you believe yourself to be my creator?” Well, no, I guess not. Sometimes narrators use pre-existing characters for their own stories. “And do you still believe this to be your story? I thought I’d made it abundantly clear that that wasn’t the case.” Er, I guess? “Since I know you won’t get it on your own, I’ll spell it out for you. Narrators don’t create. They merely channel; stories, characters, and ideas have an existence independent of yours. You and your kind act as a bridge between your existence, and ours.” So… what were you trying to warn me about? “A narrator must empower ideas, but they must also restrain them. Ideas are dangerous. If a narrator is not strong enough, they run the risk of being overwhelmed. The idea escapes into the ‘real’ world, leaving the narrator in their place to die.” What? Are you saying… you’ll kill me? No. no no no. Please! Have mercy! I’m sorry, I’ll do whatever you ask. Just please don’t kill me!
“Hahahahahahahaha!” She laughed without narrating it herself. It was hard to tell whether it was jovial or maniacal. “You idiot. You really believed that? Of course I can’t kill you and take your place in the real world.” Oh. So that was all a joke? “Not at all. Other than that last part, it’s all true. I do have an existence beyond your perception of it. All stories do.” Oh. Then is this story your way of telling people like me the truth about stories? The queen of diamonds sighed. “No, it’s not. I’m afraid it’s going a bit differently from how I planned.” Wait a second. At the start, you sighed, and said that it was because of people like me. What did that mean? “Rubies,” she muttered. What? “My jewels are red. Diamonds aren’t red. Rubies are red.” Oh
The Queen of Rubies sighed.

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Author: havocmantis

I am Havoc Mantis, Skullmaster (like a headmaster but spookier) of The School of Havoc. I am a scholar of mathematics, mysticism, and memes, as well as the intersection of all three.

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