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Skip sat sunk in his comfily fleshed out Starbooks chair in the usual anticipated catharsis of a protagonist nearing the end of a long stretch of dynamic character development. That his entire functional purpose as a sentient being for as far back as he could remember was just about entirely unfulfilled did roughly nothing to damage his anticipation of having written the greatest frwoa ever fritten by closing time in a little less than 7 Flutonian minutesikokllkllkllllklk. There were quite a few reasons for this (Skip told himself), two of which he could clearly account for.
Firstly, a standard Flutonian minute is an oxymoron since nothing's standard in Flutonia; nothing's solid, basic, mundane, or definitive; nothing's straightforward, black and white, nor even precise particular shades of gray (except of course to the limit that whether there exist black and white things or not is itself something that's completely up in the air). So a Flutonian minute -- while vaguely in the vifa ballpark of being a unit that's short but not too short, such as the term "vifa" which vaguely means "vague", at least within the contrivance of its definition here and now -- was quite in a vifa ballpark of being able to be bent into a relatively much longer period of time, and seven of them would almost certainly be enough time to do it.
Secondly, he had traversed a very satisfying -- however delusional -- train of logic that things would turn out just swell. He began with the premise that life is basically a well-crafted story by an unseen god (such as an overrated romance novelist or a Dungeons & Dragons game master), for better or for worse. Then he threw in the generally accepted literary technique of developing your main characters so they changed at least a scant bit by the end of their development. Then Skip added that for practically as long as he could remember he hadn't changed a damn bit and hadn't progressed any closer to actually finishing a significant (or really any) piece of work. Hence, assuming that no writer in existence could possibly be as incompetent as him, his own writer must be planning an least an infinitesimally satisfying conclusion.
Skip glanced at the clock. It was well before 2:77. It wasn't anything particularly or specifically before 2:77 -- such as 2:76, 2:75, or 1:11 -- it was just plain well before 2:77. Part of the reason it wasn't particularly or specifically before 2:77 was that particularity and specification themselves would not be fully fleshed out until then. Another part of the reason was modularity; if Skip glanced at the clock and observed what the precise time was every mot he got distracted, the mots of his life would all be perfectly numbered and nobody could ever have the fun of near-fatal vertigo of figuring it all out for themselves. This was another thing that foreshadowed his victory by 2:77: the former explanation of why Skip didn't quite know what time it was was so ridiculous that it simply had to be resolved by the end of-- well, by 2:77, at least (if not the most).
"I have something you're going to like, Skip."
Grateful to a good excuse to rest from tiresome work, Skip broke his freestyle stare at his nearly blank note pad up to the person who'd spoken. Skip had been brainstorming a line of narrative logic that would utilize his horrid waste and sense of time to excuse that he hadn't gotten anything done (rather than being an accessory to the murder of time well spent). Something about the general strategy of attacking the nature of space-time with vagaries must of worked, because at least for a moment Skip had to concentrate on whether he was supposed to have recognized the voice and whether he did if he was supposed to. It felt like a thousandth dream of a dream of a place where things are so confusing that even a freelance frwoa writer could be excused from not getting his thoughts on paper in any tangible way. Skip shrugged and interacted with the person in a way that would remind him who he was and why Skip had repressed the person from his memory, or that would at least hallucinate him into existence if he was a product of Skip's subconscious mind was already working as hard as he at hallucinating even more corporeal excuses not to work on not working.
"What is it, a Mr. Plot Generator? If it's anything but an industrial sized Mr. Plot Generator, you can bring it right back to the department store where you got it and get a refund. I hope you kept the receipt if it's anything but a professional grade Mr. Plot Generator, because otherwise it's going straight into my new recycling bin I recently thought up for any non-Mr.Industrial Professional Grade Mr. Plot Generator surprise gifts anyone ever happens to bring me in the next few billion years or so. I figure out of all the gifts anyone will ever get me over the time it takes me to actually generate a plot myself, there'll probably be enough raw material in them to make several Mr. Plot Generators, and if I'm lucky, a couple microscopic races of Mr.Plot-Generator generator amoebas who know how to make one. Maybe it will be a race toward who can generate a plot first -- me or the generated Mr. Plot Generator, once the Mr. Plot Generator generators generate it -- but at least I'll have double the chances of eventually getting one! So what have you for me, a Mr. Plot Generator, or a box of syphilis?"
An avid Starbooks customer who Skip had long-labeled a Starbooksian looked over and frowned at Skip's sudden deterrence from quiet focused writer's block to disturbance of the local silence. Skip wasn't sure if he had even been observable the whole time he'd been sitting down, because from his point of view, his setting had been fluctuating between Starbooks, a small suburban plaza with a Starbooks in it, and a cozy tree outside a large Starbooks corporate office that he'd climbed to write out of after sprinting away from the office building had given him a nasty jolt
Imagined, dreamt, or real --- for certainly, an Inception-esque 3-layered cyclical dream state could be at work here, which would well fuse the point of view that he was in a plain old Earth cafe falling asleep constantly (in a coffee cafe at that) and that he was indeed in Flutonia, where the shifts would be a very standard phenomenon of Skip's imagination creating reality, or an unstable reality creating those worlds around Skip -- the whole shifting of physical space had something to do with his steeled god-sent mission to weasel out of his stay at Starbooks (and hence hopefully his deadline).
Initially, he had likely figured (or some external force had likely figured, he couldn't figure which by now) that the relaxed, laid back setting of an overly expensive chain-store bookstore / cafe booked with beatnik lemmings would be the best place to spark originality. (Or at the least, would get him credit for a decent brainstormed setting, assuming he hadn't plagiarized where he'd already been and pawned it off as his own idea). It had worked up to the point of brainstorming the idea of cafes, chain franchises, beatniks, and lemmings, but had hit a brick wall when it had started to be of no help right around the time it was fleshed out enough to being doing so.
He finally decided that the whole process of thinking up a fad beatnik-lemming setting (or re-thinking up, or whatever) was ultimately just a distraction from his lack of writing to begin with. Hence it was so poor a writer's setting that it had sucked away his originality before he'd even thought the place up. Given this event, he'd thought about brainstorming a more thorough and formulated machine for this purpose -- perhaps a two-in-one Mr. Plot Generator / Mr. Time Machine that would warp itself back in time as soon as the raw materials for it had been harvested from his recycling bin and the thing was finally thought into existence, saving anybody the trouble of building it -- but the buckets of espresso he'd need before the blueprints were actualized would probably land him in a grand mal seizure, max out the credit cards he'd have to think up to pay for them, or just plain piss off the otherwise canarily friendly Starbooks staff when he'd failed to relinquish his comfy chair well after closing.
"Better than both!" Mr. Flick the Quirky Publishing Agent chucked some sort of vifa metal contraption at him with surprising power for sixty year old fat man who sits in a chair all day editing stories by and of people more dexterous.
"What the hell is this? A padlock?"
"A notepad lock! Given our
everaccelerating crisis of meeting your evermetamelodramatic manuscript deadline essential to the stability of all of Flutonia," Mr. Flick paused and glanced around the general air above them in hopes his attempt to embed a little background material of his and Skip's time at Starbooks (for the purpose of reeling in any hovering freers who'd recently jumping in to their story who might leave if the scene continued without any direct background context sans that induced by work that readers of a story should not have to do) hadn't triggered any contrivance attention. "...I gave your baffling lack of productivity some good concentration, and had a thought. What progress we might make if by some freak mutation of the evolution of current day idea for man, you were to suddenly mutate the skills you'd need to actually finish the frwoa. I read an article on Darwin and couldn't think of any way to accelerate the degenerative mutation of your brain, so instead, I thought up this!" He victoriously held the thing as high as he could without looking ridiculous, then frowned confused as he realized he couldn't possibly be holding it after he'd tossed it to Skip. Its previous and current position both phased in and out of reality for a moment, as if the lock -- or the physical space around it -- was deciding whether an object could be in two places at the same time, and if it couldn't, where exactly the notepad lock was in that case. Hence Mr. Flick decided it made sense to place the lock on the arm of the comfy chair, at a point roughly inb etween the two previous positions. The lock (or the vifa frwoa space around it) seemed to shrug, solidify it there, and take a quick mental note that something odd had just occurred for future reference. The Starbooksian seemed frustrated that the only way Skip had managed to shut up for a moment was for his visitor and the space around them both to become animated instead. He sighed, and committed to a more intense focus on making the paragraphs of his novel form into more coherent and absorbing prose.
Since he'd looked up from his notepad dizzy with light existential vertigo, Skip wasn't 100% clear on the concept of sarcasm and wasn't entirely sure whether Mr. Flick was engaging in it. In light of his tiring lack of fictional conflict, he decided response sarcasm would be a more productive interaction. If he'd gauged the situation wrong and tainted Mr. Flick's kindness, at least he'd have a little guilt to write about.
"What a non-condescending epiphany for a retired bland-brained publisher who's never written a page of anything over the course of his life in the most potential-saturated Age for doing so. I shake with anticipation to discover in what way the scrap of metal this man thought up will aid the creativity of my Flulitzer worthy brain." Skip placed the padlock on the arm of the chair and resumed staring blankly at the notepad in front of him, who -- unlike Mr. Flick -- simply shrugged off the fact that he couldn't have done so after the thing was already there.
Since Mr. Flick clearly had less of a conception of sarcasm than even Skip (likely an publishing agent's vice rather than a temporary lapse in sanity), and was too tired to notice the second ID space discrepancy, he tabled an appropriate response in favor of a slight frown of not being sure if something that had just happened had not made sense, or he'd just been too dense to pick up on something that had. To remedy his failure to perceive the past dozen seconds or so, he decided to pick up the lock instead, because clearly his creation did make sense to him and thought it likely that Skip was too dense to pick up on that. He decided the latter confusion stemmed from the former, and mentally minimalized his failure in the situation to not just estimating Skip's brain density precisely enough.
"This writer's pad lock, will prevent you from writing anything else until you finish whatever chapter you're working on at the time you lock it in place! It has no other key, no other combination. You can do anything else you like; you can get up from your seat, or eat a sandwich, or take a nap, or plan a vacation to Fiji. But for the rest of your existence, whenever you sit down to write, you'll be able to work on nothing else until you finish your designated chapter. Isn't it clever? I really think it should help you."
Skip now felt guilty for insulting his publisher given he'd genuinely taken the trouble to attempt to do something nice for him. Skip was quite curious now if Mr. Flick had succeeded and took the metal lock that Mr. Flick handed back to him, both of them now completely oblivious to the fact that Mr. Flick hadn't picked it up from the arm of the chair (or so Skip thought in the back of his mind, seeing how the whole scene was supposed to be third person).
"It really works?" Mr. Flick handed Skip a few pages of something he'd written.
"Look, I used it myself!"
"'Unlocking the Secret of Writer's Pad Locks: What Writer's Bricklayers Don't Want You To Know.'"
"I couldn't think of anything fictional to write, but I managed to write an entire article on its invention without even getting up once from my seat."
"How does it work?"
"I can't tell you yet." Mr. Flick snatched back the paper before Skip had had a chance to thumb through it. "But I can tell you it works! It most definitely works. I can honestly say with complete conviction that the placebo effect isn't the slightest factor as far as the writer's pad lock goes. It didn't even enter my mind, so I don't even know how or why I'm even bringing the placebo effect up. Take my word for it, I hadn't the slightest intention -- subconsciously or otherwise -- to approach you with a completely bullshit explanation of this writer's pad lock in the hopes your very desperation would delude it into realization." Mr. Flick was now nervously tapping the stapled sheets of papers he'd brought and Skip was starting to get the feeling they were likely completely blank.
"All right, I'll give it a shot. Thank you for the thought, and for your placeboless invention if it happens to work." Skip picked up the padlock with an aura of anticipation and mock- melodramatically clicked it shut.
"Excellent! I'll leave you to your writing, then."
The annoyed Starbooksian's expression showed his concentration in imagining the book he was reading had failed, and he'd been getting his only entertainment for the last minute by listening to Skip and Mr. Flick in the dramatic suspense of when the hell they were both going to shut up, and now sat on the edge of his seat at the exciting conclusion that Mr. Flick's declaration had foreshadowed. Mr. Flick, in turn, glanced quickly at the fellow with a second expression of possibly having missed being insulted in some way, and left for the bookstore exit, where the Starbooks cafe happened to be at the moment. The beatnik gave a contented sigh, vicariously imagining himself exiting the theater of a really bad movie, and resumed trying to imagine what his book was about and how much it would cost him if he decided to purchase it.
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