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1-123 - SkipFron
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1-123 [Frook 1, chapter 1.2, brick 3]

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 "Do you ever get the feeling that it just never begins?"
 "At least once, I'm sure. 'The phylor stirred his fading memory of a precisely portioned mix of intoxicating liquids tweaked over billions of years. At first he had asked the bartender for the drink by name, who had never heard of it and suggested a vifa Rum and Coke. Then he tried to describe the precise ratio of particular types of booze that involved mixing it, but the bartender had never heard of any of those, either.'
 " 'Troubled, the phylor had then listed, in order, 47 types of booze that would serve as tolerable substitutes for the drink, as each was successively denied in turn at increasing frowns by the barkeep (partly because the phylor seemed to be infringing some sort of comedy skit involving a shop and a lack of a dairy product). Most of the types of booze he'd never heard of. The rest he gave a shrug at as if the man had inquired about a rough draft of an Egyptian translation of the Bible long after the collapse of the star system Sol.'
 " 'Exhausted--yet without hesitation about the necessary next course of action--the phylor had asked for a few sheets of paper, and had scribbled out a bizarre mess of molecular formulas and philosophical proofs of some of the substances he'd asked for. The barkeep simply blinked a few times as if being handed a child's crayon drawing of an imaginary barnyard animal. Both glanced at the wall clock and decided they didn't have time to pursue the matter.' "
 "Skip, do you ever get the feeling it just never begins?"
 "I'm quite sure you've already asked me that at least once in this very bar. Maybe twice."
 "When was that?"
 "Just after you ordered your drink."
 "Ah, your recounting of the traumatizing ordeal must have gotten me nostalgic for it."
 "My amnesia must be contagious."
 "Since when did you have amnesia?"
 "You're not seri--"
 "Joking, of course." The phylor's infinitesimal embarrassment said it wasn't a hundred percent true. He suddenly turned serious. "This is grave. Quite grave. Graveyard shift grave. Date-expired Gravy Train grave..." The bartender froze and his eyes flicked upward for a moment as he calculated whether "Gravy Train" touched upon infringing anything copyrighted or was just a regular trademark violation. He shrugged, resumed for a moment, then froze again as he realized "Graveyard Shift" was a Stephen King novel. He decided that whether the latter was infringed depended on whether the phylor had mentally capitalized the 'S'. Refusing to succumb to cynicism and the risk of getting furious and breaking something again, he nodded committed to the more optimistic scenario and resumed his cleaning.
 "This just doesn't make any sense. I could understand your amnesia at the end of the day; it would make a brilliant cliffhanger plot twist to create suspense for any further frwoas about you, but now? What is there to forget anyway? You just popped into existence this morning at 1:11 o'clock!"
 "I did? Oh, right; I still keep thinking I came in as far back as I can remember, seven minutes later."
 "And two minutes ago, yes." The phylor glanced at the bar clock again anyway for effect. "1:23. 1:23... why 1:23? It's supposed to be 7:73 right now. I was supposed to meet you for the last time at the end of the day when you publish your book. This must be your second time off the train, right? The second set of seven seconds you've existed since you thought Okuaka into existence?"
 "I--"
 "Right! How would you know. Amnesia. I suppose there's some sort of plot continuity where you vaguely remember your first sour to keep things going as the minutes progress, but I can't think how to use that to our advantage."
 " 'Sour'? "
 "Sour! Sevth of an hour. Seven minutes of the 49 minutes in every hour. You coined the term for gods' sakes. Have you lost your tot? You--wait! You only made up the term later in the day! That's right! Why would you remember? See, I was supposed to pick up a copy of your final book at the end of the day. You were going to sign it for me and I was going to bring it back to the Old Cateot Museum of Future Past Relics. Now I have nothing, and infinitely worse, my mistot here may have unraveled the entire process leading up to your book's final publication! At the best, you'll write a slightly different version now, but even that could be catastrophic to the entire known universe. Even one altered word could send a ripple through the entire progression of Okuaka and affect all the books ever written--or that ever will be written, from your frangle. Even a single typo could throw off all the temporal perception of the tots at the big crunch I'm now afraid to find a tot back to. In addition to screwing the known universe over, Zeroa's tot schedules could starting un-synching, leaving us to being dropped off totally off our tots! Like... well, like here and now, for example!" The phylor threw his hands up motioning to the room, then noticed the clock again and gave it another rhetorical stare. "So why are we here now... Why 1:23.. Why 1:23!?"
 The phylor thrust his glass off the bar table where it simply hovered in mid air for a few moments--as the bar air was a little slow and still getting used to the new rules of gravity--and then dropped to the ground and shattered as it remembered what it was supposed to do.
 "Right! Gravity was recently installed. It all got fixed by the end of the day, I'd forgotten. I thought the glass would just vanish completely as it used to do, or forget about itself or whatever." The barkeeper refrained from getting angry, but simply looked over the bar table and frowned as if he'd had the same thought and fully understood. He grabbed a broom from the corner that had rarely been used, and glanced up at the now-oblivious trouble maker with a confused look as to whether this was supposed to be his job, or whether he should have volunteered to clean up his own damn mess.
 "Conflict."
 "What?"
 "Conflict. You say I'm writing a great book. Any book requires conflict. I don't know what sort of story I was supposed to have come up with, but it seems to me as a fresh budding writer that an initial crisis of the upcoming events of the day--already threatening the very fabric of existence--is as good a plot as any, however miserable a headache it's giving us both. It 'breaks the fourth wall' so to speak, thrusting the freer into an instant crisis that could surpass the frwoa medium in question and threaten the freer's sanity in a very real way, especially if they're philosophy majors. Why, our writers themselves may just be inserting this absurd plot-twist theory of mine because they themselves haven't a damn clue where to go at this point and are praying to their own writers that I take over and help all of them out. Perhaps they'd written a brilliant seven-page frwoa and people liked it so much they were contracted for another 117,642 when they'd already wrapped up their story and hadn't a damn clue to go from there. You want a story that breaks new boundaries? Well there you go, and here we are!"
 "Genius!!" The phylor slammed his fist down on the bar table in excitement causing another glass the barkeep had placed just on its edge to tip over and shatter. The air had remembered what to do this time, and the barkeep's expression said that the phylor should have done the same. Yet it still held a gram of guilt. Perhaps it was idiotic to have placed the glass down on the edge of the table to begin with, especially given the one just broken and his pre-knowledge of the violent tendencies of the rowdy customer. In any case, for some strange reason he looked like he was about to burst into tears, then sniffled, shrugged, and reached for the dustpan again.
"That's it! Let's go, we'd better figure out how to fix this as fast as possible. Come on, Skip, I suppose I'm your guide for the next four minutes or so, improperly inserted into your plot line or not. If we can't find a way to water down your plot to one less prone to catastrophic tragedy, all Okuakan fictional writing until its final collapse could be in gravy train-grave jeopardy."
 "And I thought forgetting about it was a crisis."
 "If you're lucky, you'll get a few more crises by the end of the hour, and then you'll have no problem thinking up material whatsoever. Maybe you'll discover something less radical to write about. Like a plush octopus or a gay chinchilla. Wait, I shouldn't have--forget I said that!" The phylor moved to leave but the bartender cleared his throat. "Oh, I wasn't expecting to be in the bar scene. I don't suppose you panhandled any money in the station your first seven minutes and hid it away somewhere with a reminder note on where you put it?"
 "I doubt it, but I could check."
 "Forget it." The phylor reached for the pen before leaving and scribbled out something confusing enough to distract the bartender until they left. "Molecular formula for adamantium."

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