The long school day had finally ended. It was fall, and the sheer length of the year was beginning to set in on the children. They craved an escape, a way to get out of this repetitive stretch of their young lives- and for most of them, the promise of the upcoming fall break satisfied that. But for a few… Yes, just a few… salvation would come much sooner…
The air was cold, but the sidewalk was still warm from the midday sunlight. As orange leaves pelted the road without relent, a boy and his classmate walked jauntily down the road, at last returning to their homes on a Friday afternoon.
“You know, this is all pretty great, isn’t it? Like… wow, man. Just wow. This is totally awesome.” The boy, Manny, exclaimed without warning or cause.
“How the three of us have been friends for a whole six years now. I mean, who'd've thunk? I can’t believe we’ve stuck this close for so long.”
“Yeah… me neither.” The child in green said, the insult lost on Manny.
“Phew… six years… so wait, how old are you again?”
“At least six.” Olive said, absentmindedly gazing at the clouds above.
“Agh… even though I’ve known you this long, sometimes I still feel like I don’t know you at all! Would you- mind if I asked you some questions?”
“So, where you from? If that’s… not too personal.”
“Oh, like, around… eh, there.” Olive said, pointing up in a random direction, Manny staring off into it in a vain attempt to discern an answer.
“Uh… huh. Did you uh, fly here?”
“Must’ve gotten here somehow.”
“So do you have like… a family, or…”
Olive looked at Manny and could see that this boy was truly making an attempt at genuine understanding. Feeling bad for him, the child tried to give him what he wanted.
“You and Jack… yeah… you two… are like a family to me.”
“Yeah…” Manny replied, captivated. “Yeah.”
The two had stopped walking at this point. They were just standing in silence in the middle of the empty, car-less road, looking vaguely upward as they half-heartedly attempted to communicate with each other.
“So… you’re a… guy, right?”
Before Olive had to answer, a third child, wearing a full size men’s trenchcoat, approached the two, seemingly arriving from nowhere. Olive assumed he had waited around the turn until they got close, as would be typical for him. Manny did not question it. Either way, neither cared. The person they both called their best friend had arrived at last.
“Olive! Manny! I have arrived!” He declared.
“Ohmigosh, JACK!” Manny shouted.
“You two wanna come over to my place tonight?” He asked, already knowing the answer.
“DO I?” Manny immediately replied. Olive smiled, but once Jack turned to them, they had begun to reconsider what was really worth doing.
“Well… hm. I dunno Jack. I mean, like… why? No offense, but… what is it we really have left to do over there? It seems like the only fun we ever have together is watching stuff, and it’s been six months since we finished everything you owned. I just… don’t see the point. Our stock’s run dry.” They answered. Jack smiled.
“Is that what you think, Olive? Well, have I got news for you… check this out!”
Jack then threw open his black trenchcoat in such dramatic fashion and to reveal something so amazing that both Olive and Manny were nearly blinded on the spot. It was lined with DVDs, Blu-rays, and VHS tapes! Games for every console known to man! As he flung it open, two entire laptops sprung out, both open to software that was already running! Stuffed near the chest were several large tomes of stories yet to be told! Jack was no longer a mere man, but rather a walking media buffet!
Olive almost wanted to look away, but couldn’t bear to do so in the presence of something so amazing. Flustered beyond relief, they covered their pink face and gazed longingly through their fingers, saying just one syllable in response:
“Where’d you GET all that?” Manny asked, and very understandably so.
“From my dad.”
“You have a DAD?”
“Not anymore. He died yesterday.”
“Oh… I’m… sorry, man.”
“It’s cool. I'm over it. Besides… I have Evil Dead.”
“Evil Dead?” Olive couldn’t help but exclaim.
“And Evil Dead 2.”
“Say it ain’t so!”
“L-looks kinda… scary!”
“My dad loved scary shit. So, we doing this?”
“Uh, uh…” Manny murmured.
“Hell yeah man.” Olive spoke up. “Nothing beats a good distraction.”
“Then meet me there at six!”
“Oh- well, I dunno, Jack-“ Manny said again. “You see, I uh..”
“My mom’ll make us some grub!”
“Oh boy!” And with that, it was settled. The end of the children’s boredom- and the beginning of their doom.
Jack was crouched. He had meant to be setting up. But instead he found himself staring at the strange trinket around his neck, something round and the color of a reflection. Before he knew it, everyone arrived at his house, coming in from the small door of his giant media center- a museum covered in posters, memorabilia, and machines capable of playing any media known to man.
“We’re here!” Olive declared, a fair bit brighter than usual.
“Oh, hey guys! Check it, we got sandwiches!”
“Oh boy!” Manny repeated his inflection from an hour ago.
Everyone hurried down to Jack- Manny eager to eat, Olive more interested in the odd CD wrapped around Jack’s neck.
“Hey, Jack… what’s that thing you’re wearing? Doesn’t look like your style.”
“Just another trinket my dear departed dad left me! His will had it under the media section like all the other stuff I inherited, but… it didn’t fit into my blu-ray or anything. I wonder what it could be…”
“Forget that, let’s eat!” Manny decided for all of them.
They began eating their first meal of the night. Jack was done before Olive had gotten halfway through theirs. It was as if the sandwich had never even been there. They looked at each other, and then Jack looked to Manny.
“Damn, I lost my sandwich. Hey uh, Manny, can I borrow yours?”
However, Manny was lost, his hands held together in prayer, reciting quite a long bit of grace. Jack shrugged, securing the boy’s meal in his hands- offering half to Olive, who gladly accepted. The two watched him in silence as they ate.
Soon enough, the time came.
“Everyone get enough to eat?” Jack asked.
“N-no, uh, I dunno what happened but-“
“Yep!” Olive silenced Manny with their own voice.
“And everyone’s here, yeah?”
“All here.” They both said, one most hesitantly than the other,
“In that case, who’s ready for some impressions to be conveyed through an intervening substance?”
“I- guess I am!” Manny proclaimed.
“J-Just put it in already…” Olive blushed.
“It’s been too long since we’ve all done this… when I absorb these pieces with you all.” Jack announced, proudly holding up the entire Evil Dead trilogy in one hand. “Each time, it’s like I’m fusing a part of you into myself. Like we’re all experiencing the same thing, and becoming one.”
“It’s the best feeling in the world.” Olive agreed. Manny merely watched their words, for he did not hear their meaning.
“Well then… about time we started. Let’s go!”
The case of the fist movie was split open like a fresh clam. As he threw this disc in, the air split- Manny blinked, and Olive’s hair billowed bashfully in the wind. It stopped at the mouth of the player, slowly taken in by its electronic jaws with the sound of a faint hum…
“Here we go, here we go~” Olive chanted.
And as the screen alit, their feast began. Colors and sounds quickly replaced the boring- albeit large- suburban room. Ash’s war on deadite kind was only the beginning- the first second in an eternity. The atmosphere was that of an electric rollercoaster, ideas and aesthetics penetrating the hearts and minds of the eaters. They screamed and hollered as they saw sights never seen before- stories upon stories upon stories upon stories of stories- it was all so very deafening. They enjoyed games opening the nature of their worlds to them, crying out in horror as they unveiled the secrets even they kept- covered their eyes on shock as they carefully turned each page of massive, intimidating comics from Japan- played their hearts out in a game of Smash Brothers, the original one, for N64, because that was the only one Olive and Manny had never played before. They lost their minds over even the oldest and most traditional of print books, reading along together as they bounced off the walls. By the time they were watching an emotionally exhausting genre-defining anime film, their appetites did damper a little, however. While the first visual novel they read was a delight, the second seemed to drag a bit. They couldn’t understand which way they were supposed to read the graphic novel version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA, as the printing was unusual from what they expected from manga and they were all quite drained at that point. The fifty-third round of GoldenEye (N64) was characterized by slow, zombie-like movements as they struggled to press the buttons. They tried reading more books to refresh them, but lacked the attention span- so, of course, they decided to put on more movies. They were thirty-two minutes in to watching all three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies at the same time spread across three different TVs of varying ages when Manny finally spoke up.
“Man, I dunno how, but like… I’m all… media’d out…”
“Where’d all the… fun go?” Olive responded. “It’s like at some point everything just… stopped.”
“Ugh, this blows…” Jack of course then couldn’t help but cry. “I just wanna see more stuff! Hey- why don’t we watch Evil Dead again? That was fun, right?
“Jack…” Manny moaned.
“Oh no, I’m not having any of this! I don’t care if it scares you, that’s the point!”
“No, look, I think we’re just tired… Maybe we should go to bed…”
“N-no! We can’t do that!” Olive sprang to life. “Think of all the things we have left to watch! Surely, one of them has to click!”
“Will it..? I mean… I like hanging out with you guys, but we’re worn out… the media’s got nothing to do with it.”
“What…? What? How can you say that? Jack, are you hearing-“
“No… Olive, I think Manny might be right. The high’s over…. Hell, now I wonder if any of that stuff was even any good to begin with.”
“Are you kidding? I just- I want it back! I want it to be like the first time again! I wanna feel that again!”
“It won’t happen, Ollie!” Jack cried out dramatically. “I hate to admit it… but… It’s… It’s all over…”
There was a profound moment of silent defeat. Then, once again, Manny said something quite poignant.
“Hey… listen. Maybe we should just take a short break. We’ve been going at it for hours at this point. I’m not even sure what time it is. If we just step back a minute and talk or something, we can probably come back to things later and-“
“HOLY SHIT JACK, YOUR THING’S GLOWING!” Olive shouted.
“WHAT THE HELLLLLL?????” He offered in response. The strand disc-like thing was indeed glowing as a low noise emitted from it, not unlike the sound of a player accepting a disc as they had heard so many times before that day.
“What even IS this thing?”
“It hasn’t done this before, has it?”
“That’s bad. That’s GOTTA BE BAD. Y-you should put it back, Jack. Y-you saw all those scary movies. C’mon, put it back!”
“No, wait, I wanna see what happens…” Jack said. Then, they heard its voice from within the relic.
“Ah!” Even Jack was afraid.
“IT TALKED! Dude, that’s just like- a- thing, in one of the things we watched!” Olive struggled.
“𝒟𝐼𝒩𝒩𝐸𝑅 𝐵𝐸𝐿𝐿, 𝒟𝐼𝒩𝒩𝐸𝑅 𝐵𝐸𝐿𝐿!” It called. Manny was on the verge of tears.
“I-I don’t like this! Put it back, put it back!”
The trinket jumped from Jack’s hands and landed on the ground a few feet away. Everyone stared at it, cowering curiously behind the furniture as it squirmed.
And then, the trinket gave its voice:
“ɪɴ ʙᴇᴛᴡᴇᴇɴ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰʀᴀᴍᴇꜱ ᴏꜰ ᴛɪᴍᴇ… ᴡɪᴛʜɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ɢʟᴀꜱꜱ ᴏꜰ ʙʀᴏᴋᴇɴ ᴍɪᴍᴇꜱ… ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ꜱᴀᴋᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴀᴛ’ꜱ ᴛʀᴜᴇ… ꜰᴏʀ ᴄʟᴇᴀʀ ᴇʏᴇꜱ ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ᴏꜰ ʀᴇᴅ ᴀɴᴅ ʙʟᴜᴇ… ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛᴡᴏ ᴍᴇɴ ᴡʜᴏ ꜱʜᴀʀᴇ ᴀ ꜱɪɴɢʟᴇ ɴᴀᴍᴇ… ʀᴇʟᴇᴀꜱᴇ ᴍᴇ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜɪꜱ ꜱᴀᴄʀᴇᴅ ᴄᴀɢᴇ!”
The small thing exploded. From the chaos emerged a man in white, his right eye glowing a vibrant blue next to his left gleaming with a devilish red. He could, otherwise, not quite be described. His outfit seemed to change with every glance. Like a cloud, he was perceived as what you perceived him as and little else- those few details the one constant, along with his identity- the overwhelming presence of a showman.
“W-what the…” Olive immediately felt this being on a different level than the boys did- despite appeared as anything but, this was something very much of this world- it was as if it was a living work of art.
“𝙇𝘼𝘿𝙄𝙀𝙎 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝙇𝘼𝘿𝙄𝙀𝙎… 𝐁𝐎𝐘𝐒 𝘼𝙉𝘿 𝐁𝐎𝐘𝐒…”
“AHHHHHH!” Manny’s ear-piercing scream was interrupted as the interloper teleported across the room through janky, stop-motion-esque “frames” of time that he seemingly cut out for himself. He appeared right next to Jack, offering his staticy hand.
“𝙸’𝙼 𝐌𝐎𝐍𝐊𝐄𝐘𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐄𝐒, 𝙰𝙽𝙳 𝚈𝙾𝚄’𝚁𝙴 ຟคt¢hiຖງ ⓞⓒⓣⓞⓑⓔⓡ ８ⓣⓗ , ②⓪❷1. W̳A̳N̳N̳A̳ ̳S̳H̳A̳K̳E̳ ̳M̳Y̳ ̳H̳A̳N̳D̳,̳ ̳B̳A̳S̳T̳A̳R̳D̳?̳”̳
Jack shook Monkeyshines’ hand. Monkeyshines shook his hand. The other two could only watch in horror and suspense as they tried to comprehend this strange apparition's motivations for doing such a thing. But there was no reason. Monkeyshines threw up 1889 blank CDs onto the boy’s arm, giving him many cuts and rendering an entire corner of the room useless.
“What the hell!?”
“𝐻𝐸𝐻, ͓̽S͓̽O͓̽R͓̽R͓̽Y͓̽!͓̽ ͓̽ O̴N̴E̴-̴H̴U̴N̴D̴R̴E̴D̴ ̴T̴H̴I̴R̴T̴Y̴-̴T̴H̴R̴E̴E̴ ̴Y̴E̴A̴R̴S̴ ̴O̴R̴ ̴S̴O̴ ̴I̴N̴ ̴T̴H̴E̴ ̴ƑԱហហӋ βටX̴ 𝐖𝐈𝐋𝐋 𝐃𝐎 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 Ͳට Ⱥ ⱮȺហ ටའ ͲǶའƐƐ.” Monkeyshines tried to laugh in his deafening, hoarse voice, but he could only do it once, so he looped the sound on repeat for seventeen seconds straight.
“What ARE you?”
“𝙃𝘼𝙑𝙀𝙉’𝙏 𝙔𝙊𝙐 𝙋𝘼𝙄𝘿 𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙀𝙉𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉 𝙏𝙊 𝙔𝙊𝙐𝙍 𝙃𝙄𝙎𝙏𝙊𝙍𝙔 𝔹𝔬Ⓞᵏ𝐬, Ⓢ𝑜ＮⓃ𝓨? 𝓦𝓗𝓨, 𝙄’𝙈 𝔸 𝕄𝔼𝔻𝕀𝔸 ₲Ɇ₦łɆ!”
“A game genie?” Manny postured.
“𝐀 𝐌𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐀 𝐆𝐄𝐍𝐈𝐄! 𝒜𝒩𝒟 𝐼’𝑀 𝐻𝐸𝑅𝐸 𝒯𝒪 𝒮𝐻𝒪𝒲 𝚈𝙾𝚄 𝙰𝙻𝙻 𝙰 𝐵𝑅𝒜𝒩𝒟 𝒩𝐸𝒲 𝒲𝒜𝒴 𝒯𝒪 Ɇ₳₮ ɎØɄⱤ ₣ØØĐ!”
“We already ate…” Olive truthed.
“ПӨƬ ƬΉΛƬ KIПD ӨF FӨӨD, YӨЦПG ᄂΛDY! α яєαℓ ∂єℓι¢α¢у! I’M ƬΛᄂKIПG QЦΛᄂIƬY ΣПƬΣЯƬΛIПMΣПƬ!”
“More… movies and stuff? Thanks, but I... think I’ve had enough…” Jack honestly remarked.
“ɴᴏᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴛʜɪꜱ ʏᴏᴜ ʜᴀᴠᴇɴ’ᴛ, ᴍᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ꜱᴜᴄᴋᴇʀ! ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴀ ʟᴏᴏᴋ ᴀᴛ ᴍʏ “3🄲 🄶🄻🄰🅂🅂🄴🅂!”
“You mean l-like, T-three dee?” Manny once again incorrectly corrected.
“🆃🅷🆁🅴🅴 🅲🅴🅴! 🆃🅷🅴 🆃🅷🅸🆁🅳 🅲🅸🅼🅴🅽🆂🅸🅾🅽, 🅰 🅿🅻🅰🅽🅴 օʄ ʄɛɛʟɨռɢֆ ʍօʀȶǟʟֆ ʄǟɨʟ ȶօ ʀɛǟƈɦ աɨȶɦ 𝘛𝘏𝘌𝘐𝘙 𝘞𝘈𝘝𝘠 𝘓𝘐𝘛𝘛𝘓𝘌 𝘈𝘙𝘔𝘚! 𝘎𝘖 𝘖𝘕, 𝘛𝘈𝘒𝘌 🅰 🅿🅰🅸🆁!”
Jack and Olive both took them, a bit excited. They resembled the man’s eyes. Manny was not so keen on the idea.
“I-I’d better not…”
“̳C̳O̳M̳E̳ ̳O̳N̳,̳ ̳I̳T̳’̳S̳ ̳A̳ ̳F̳R̳E̳E̳ ̳♥M♥E♥A♥L♥! ̳D̳O̳N̳’̳T̳ ̳Y̳O̳U̳ ̳𝐿♡𝒱𝐸 𝑀𝐸¿” Manny yelped as Monkeyshines slapped them on his face.
“ｎỖⓌ, 𝕨нＩςⒽ O͓̽N͓̽E͓̽ ͓̽O͓̽F͓̽ ͓̽ʸᗝυ’ѕ ͓̽T͓̽H͓̽E͓̽ ͓̽C͓̽H͓̽E͓̽F͓̽?͓̽”͓̽
“That would be… me, I guess?” Jack admitted.
“̴W̴E̴L̴L̴ ̴T̴H̴E̴N̴ ̴𝙋𝙐𝙏 𝙎𝙊𝙈𝙀𝙏𝙃𝙄𝙉𝙂 ̴O̴N̴ ̴T̴H̴E̴ ̴S̴C̴R̴E̴E̴N̴ ̴A̾L̾R̾E̾A̾D̾Y̾!̾ ̾A̾N̾Y̾T̾H̾I̾N̾G̾!̾ ̾A̾N̾Y̾T̾H̾I̾N̾G̾!̾”̾
Jack nervously held up Evil Dead again, slowly inserting it into the player. But as it began, things were different. They only wanted to look at the screen, but instead, their entire world was Sam Raimi’s lucid dream. The RGB around them bled into streaks of madness, his vision forcing its way into their stomachs as the whole room started to smell like Buffalo sauce, adderall and Eutopia by Hikkie-P.
“OH MY GOD-“
“I-It’s REAL! It’s MORE THAN REAL! It’s in my BONES!”
“I can feel it deep inside me!”
“STOP IT, MAKE IT STOP! I DON’T LIKE THIS!”
(っ◔◡◔)っ “ⱤɆⱠ₳Ӿ KÌÐ, WÈ ÄLL §MÖKÈ HÈRÈ, ÐÖñ’† WÈ?” Monkeyshines voiced through the insanity. And then, Olive and Jack began to chant.
Meanwhile, Manny just looked around, terrified. He didn’t know what to do! He didn’t know where he was! And as Monkeyshines joined the chanting, he only grew more confused! “𝔐𝔒ℜ𝔈, MORE, MORE, 𝑀𝒪𝑅𝐸, MORE, MORE, MӨЯΣ, MORE, MORE!”
It was a gas explosion of artistic intent.
Every single source of content in the entire room was experienced by everyone in it in an instant.
The feeling lasted for decades, and all the same, the duration of smoking half a cigarette.
It was heaven and hell.
It was fun.
Afterwards, the children were left shaking. At least, Olive and Jack were.
“G-g-godd, dude… that was so good…”
“Jack… I-I’m shaking!”
For Manny, it would be more accurate to say he was shivering in fear.
“Th-This is… that was…”
“I want more!” Olive cried. “Genie, give us more!”
“𝒯𝐻𝐸 𝒩𝒜𝑀𝐸’𝒮 ɱơŋƙɛყʂɧıŋɛʂ, 𝐿𝐼𝒯𝒯𝐿𝐸 𝐵❀𝒴❢ 𝒜𝒩𝒟 𝘐 𝘎𝘓𝘈𝘋𝘓𝘠 𝘞𝘖𝘜𝘓𝘋! 𝘞𝘌𝘙𝘌 𝐼𝒯 𝙽𝙾𝚃 𝙵𝙾𝚁 𝙾𝙽𝙴 𝙻𝙸𝚃𝚃𝙻𝙴 𝙸𝚂𝚂𝚄𝙴…”
“What is it?” Jack asked sternly.
“𝙎𝙊𝙈𝙀𝙊𝙉𝙀 𝙃𝘼𝙎𝙉’𝙏 𝘽𝙀𝙀𝙉 𝘾𝙃𝙀𝙒𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙃𝙄𝙎 𝙁𝙊𝙊𝘿.”
Everyone looked at MANNY.
“Wh… What is it, guys?”
“𝚈𝙾𝚄 𝙰𝚁𝙴𝙽’𝚃 𝙻𝙴𝙰𝚁𝙽𝙸𝙽𝙶 𝙰𝙽𝚈𝚃𝙷𝙸𝙽𝙶, 𝙰𝚁𝙴 𝚈𝙾𝚄? 𝚈𝙾𝚄’𝚁𝙴 𝙽𝙾𝚃 𝙶𝙴𝚃𝚃𝙸𝙽𝙶 𝙸𝙽𝚃𝙾 𝚃𝙷𝙴 𝙴𝚇𝙿𝙴𝚁𝙸𝙴𝙽𝙲𝙴! 𝚈𝙾𝚄’𝚁𝙴 𝙹𝚄𝚂𝚃 𝙷𝙴𝚁𝙴 𝙵𝙾𝚁 𝚃𝙷𝙴 𝙲𝙾𝙼𝙿𝙰𝙽𝚈, 𝙰𝚁𝙴𝙽’𝚃 𝚈𝙾𝚄?”
“What? What was I doing wrong?”
“𝐌𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐀 𝐈𝐒 𝐌𝐄𝐀𝐍𝐓 𝐓𝐎 𝐁𝐄 𝐄𝐀𝐓𝐄𝐍- 𝐁𝐔𝐓 𝐘𝐎𝐔’𝐕𝐄 𝐖𝐀𝐒𝐓𝐄𝐃 𝐀𝐋𝐋 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐅𝐎𝐎𝐃!”
“I-I’m sorry! I just don’t understand any of this stuff! It doesn’t make any sense! And I don’t like any of these stories we’ve been watching at all! They’re scary, they’re confusing- they all just- they all just suck!”
Everyone looked back at Manny.
“ÐÖñ’† చටའའӋ, ƓįའꝈϚ. Ì WÄ§ JÚ§† “JÖ§HÌñG” WHÈñ Ì §ÄÌÐ MÄññ¥ HÄÐ WÄ§†ÈÐ HÌ§ £ÖÖÐ. Ìñ £ÄÇ†, §ÌñÇÈ 🅷🅴 🅽🅴🆅🅴🆁 🅳🅸🅶🅴🆂🆃🅴🅳 🅸🆃, ÄLL †HÄ† GÖÖÐñÈ§§ Ì§ §†ÌLL Ìñ§ÌÐÈ HÌ§ 𝐌𝐄𝐀𝐓 𝐏𝐔𝐏𝐏𝐄𝐓!”
“W-what are you saying?” Manny sweat. Olive looked away from him, turning to Monkeyshines.
“You mean that…”
“𝘼𝙇𝙇 𝙏𝙃𝘼𝙏 𝙉𝙐𝙏𝙍𝙄𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉 𝙄𝙎 𝙎𝙏𝙄𝙇𝙇 𝙄𝙉 𝙏𝙃𝙀𝙍𝙀. 𝘼𝙇𝙇 𝙊𝙁 𝙄𝙏 𝙁𝙍𝙊𝙈 𝙃𝙄𝙎 𝙒𝙃𝙊𝙇𝙀 𝙇𝙄𝙁𝙀. 𝙃𝙀 𝙉𝙀𝙑𝙀𝙍 𝙏𝙃𝙊𝙐𝙂𝙃𝙏 𝘼𝘽𝙊𝙐𝙏 𝘼𝙉𝙔𝙏𝙃𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙃𝙀 𝙎𝘼𝙒. 𝙉𝙊𝙏 𝙀𝙑𝙀𝙉 𝙊𝙉𝘾𝙀! 𝘽𝙐𝙏 𝙔𝙊𝙐 𝙏𝙒𝙊… 𝙔𝙊𝙐 𝙏𝙒𝙊 𝘾𝙊𝙐𝙇𝘿 𝙀𝘼𝙎𝙄𝙇𝙔 𝙎𝙏𝙊𝙈𝘼𝘾𝙃 𝙄𝙏. 𝙄𝙁 𝙔𝙊𝙐’𝙍𝙀 𝙇𝙊𝙊𝙆𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙁𝙊𝙍 𝙔𝙊𝙐𝙍 𝙉𝙀𝙓𝙏 𝙈𝙀𝘼𝙇…
…𝐻𝐸’𝒮 𝓇Įgħ𝓉 𝕙𝔢Ｒᗴ.”
Olive spoke quietly to Jack, looking at him with a blate little smirk.
“Yeah?” He softly replied.
Jack picked up a camera.
“H-hey…. Hey! What are you guys…”
As blood was strewn about the room, Monkeyshines laughed responsively over and over again until the violence was over. The hungry mouths below him found their mark, and before anyone knew it, the deed was done.
The red children shivered in pleasure.
“So many messages…” They vibrated.
“So much CONTENT..!” He ejaculated in reply.
“I don’t think I’ll ever top this high…”
“Oh, but we will… With that video tape… we can re-watch our dinner… over and over again! And with these glasses… everything else will be just as exciting.”
“𝘛𝘏𝘌𝘕, 𝘞𝘏𝘠 𝘋𝘖𝘕’𝘛 Y̾O̾U̾ ̾O̾L̾D̾-̾T̾I̾M̾E̾R̾S̾ ̾S̳E̳T̳ ̳U̳S̳ ̳U̳P̳ ̳A̳ ̳G̳A̳M̳E̳?̳”̳
“Good idea.” Jack said.
“Very good idea.”
In a few minutes, Jack had gotten Super Smash Bros 64 back into the cartridge slot, and the eaters held the controllers tightly in their aching hands. Jack with the red one, a rumble pak plugged into the back, and in the P2 port, Olive with the translucent purple model. The game began with lights and music and characters from distant worlds. However, the intro felt a bit long this time. Jack was the one to skip it. They loaded into a game. Jack picked Fox. Olive picked Kirby. Jack made the executive decision to play on Hyrule Castle. And so, the fight began. Olive was the first to lose a stock. In all honesty, they weren’t really trying, and Jack was better anyway. All the same, the fight continued on.
“Are you… feeling anything?”
“ῳɧąɬ’ʂ ɬɧɛ ɱąɬɬɛཞ? ყơų ɖıɖŋ’ɬ 🅻🅴🅰🆅🅴 🅸🆃🅴🅼🆂 🅾🅽, 🅳🅸🅳 🆈🅾🆄?” Monkeyshines leered over their shoulders.
Olive focused their vision on a single pixel on the screen.
What a lonely pixel it was.
Just part of a wall.
They jumped off the stage, and as the camera moved, the pixel became little more than a part of the washed-out sky.
“It’s not the same without…”
“Dammit…” Jack clenched his remote. Olive sighed.
“I… I don’t think we should have eaten Manny…”
“Yeah…” Jack admitted, a tear brought to his manly young eye as his stomach grumbled.
Monkeyshines wasn’t the least bit concerned about him- but Olive- out of nowhere, he got right up into their face, spitting out dialogue.
“ＷＨＡＴ Ａ ＳＡＤ ＥＸＣＵＳＥ．”
“Huh?” They questioned.
“ᴀ ɢɛռɨɛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ꜰᴏʀɢᴇᴛᴛɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴄʜᴇᴡ… ɪꜱ ʏᴏᴜʀ 𝘍𝘙𝘐𝘌𝘕𝘋 𝘛𝘏𝘈𝘛 𝘐𝘔𝘗𝘖𝘙𝘛𝘈𝘕𝘛 𝘛𝘖 ʏᴏᴜʀ DIПIПG ΣXPΣЯIΣПᄃΣ?”
“Genie? What are you saying, Monkeyshines?”
“ᵀᴴᴵˢ ᴾᴵᵀᴵᶠᵁᴸ ᴸᴵᵀᵀᴸᴱ ᴴᴱᴵᴿ ᴴᴱᴿᴱ ᶜᴬᴺ ᴮᴱ ᴱˣᶜᵁˢᴱᴰ. ᴮᵁᵀ ʸᴼᵁ’ᴿᴱ ᴺᴼᵀ ᴼᴺᴱ ᴼᶠ ᵀᴴᴱᴹ, ᴼᴸᴵⱽᴱᴿ. ʸᴼᵁ’ᴿᴱ ᴬ ᵀᴿᵁᴱ ᴳᴼᵁᴿᴹᴱᵀ, ᴸᴵᴷᴱ ᴹᴱ.”
“Am I also a… genie?”
“thคt’Ş riງht. i 𝒟𝐼𝒟 𝒜𝐿𝐿 𝒯𝐻𝐼𝒮 𝒯𝒪 𝐻𝐸𝐿𝒫 ฯ໐น ᖇεΔς𝓗 𝓎ᗝยⓇ ᵗŘⓤє f໐r๓. ¢คຖ ฯ໐น ℱ𝒆𝒆ㄥ ｉţ?”
“What do you… mean?” Olive looked into the beast’s crackling electric eyes. Jack tried to grab hold of their shoulder- but for the first time, Olive saw something in those eyes they had never seen in anyone else before- themself.
“I feel it…” they said, enraptured by the illusion.
“Olive?” Jack tugged on his last friend’s green garb, but it was still pointless.
“Yes, I feel it!”
“ᴛʜᴇɴ 𝙻𝙴𝚃 𝙸𝚃 𝙾𝚄𝚃! ɴᴏᴡ ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɴᴏᴡ, 𝘖𝘓𝘐𝘝𝘌! 𝘕𝘖𝘞 ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡʜᴏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴀʀᴇ! ʙᴇᴄᴀᴜꜱᴇ ɪ 𝐓𝐎𝐋𝐃 ʏᴏᴜ! ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ᴀ 𝙈𝙀𝘿𝙄𝘼 𝙂𝙀𝙉𝙄𝙀!”
Olive cried out the name of something that didn’t exist as light flared from their mouth. Jack flinched. Monkeyshines smiled. The world slept in ignorance of the birth of its new god.
“OLIVE!” Jack shouted. “Snap out of it! OLIVE!”
The smoke of a broken monitor began to clear soon enough.
“So this is how it feels… to Ŧᵃ𝐬𝓣ⓔ it all at once.”
They flexed their pale white fingers, gripping and releasing the air, over and over again… it felt different to them than it had before.
“I get it now… It’s [̲̅A][̲̅L][̲̅L] media… It’s all 𝙴𝙳𝙸𝙱𝙻𝙴. 𝙏𝙃𝙄𝙎 🅸🆂 ᴡʜᴏ 𝐼 𝓡𝓔𝓐𝓛𝓛𝓨 𝐀𝐌.”
“Olive… snap out of it! This isn’t you!”
“Then why don’t you just ᄃΉΛПGΣ ƬΉΣ ᄃΉΛППΣᄂ, Jack?”
Like a demented vampire, the new Olive leapt at Jack as he screamed. They tried to bite into him, but he swung a remote at their head, suppressing them for only a moment.
“Let’s put on a show, Jack. Öñê lå§† Mêål for the W̲h̲o̲l̲e̲ ̲F̲a̲m̲i̲l̲y̲.̲”̲
“🅄🅂🄴 🄸🅃, 🄾🄻🄸🄶🄰🅁🄲🄷! ᴜꜱᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀ ᴀꜱ ᴛʜᴇ ʟᴏꜱᴛ ᴛʜɪʀᴅ ᴘʀᴏᴅᴜᴄᴛɪᴏɴ! 🅄🅂🄴 🅃🄷🄴 ＣＩＭＥＮＳＩＯＮＡＬ ＦＩＳＳＵＲＥ！”
Olive couldn’t understand, so they acted like he did, and raised their hand. Just as planned, it began to glow with the force of the cosmos.
“What are you trying to DO?!” Jack screamed over the rising action.
“†HÈ ÖñÈ †HÌñG Ì ÇÖÚLÐ ñÈVÈR ÐÖ Ìñ M¥ вяσкєη §†Ä†È!” Monkeyshines answered. “𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙂𝙍𝙀𝘼𝙏𝙀𝙎𝙏 𝙈𝙀𝘼𝙇 𝙊𝙁 𝘼𝙇𝙇- 𝘼 𝙑𝙄𝙊𝙇𝘼𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉 𝙊𝙁 𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙍𝙐𝙇𝙀𝙎 𝙊𝙁 𝙎𝙋𝘼𝘾𝙀𝙏𝙄𝙈𝙀! 𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙇𝙄𝙑𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙒𝙄𝙇𝙇 𝘿𝙄𝙀, 𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝘿𝙔𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙒𝙄𝙇𝙇 𝙇𝙄𝙑𝙀, 𝙋𝙄𝙂𝙎 𝙒𝙄𝙇𝙇 𝙁𝙇𝙔 𝘼𝙉𝘿 𝙇𝘼𝙒𝙎 𝙎𝙃𝘼𝙇𝙇 𝙎𝙃𝙄𝙁𝙏!”
Olive swiped, breathing life into the dead air that could not hear their power. Jack jumped back at the last second.
“𝘊𝘓𝘖𝘚𝘌, ⓄⓛĮ𝓰𝕒𝐑Ｃ𝐡… 𝘉𝘜𝘛 𝘠𝘖𝘜 𝘔𝘜𝘚𝘛 𝘏𝘐𝘛 𝘈 🆃🆁🆄🅴 🅳🅴🅻🅸🅲🅰🅲🆈! 𝘚𝘖𝘔𝘌𝘛𝘏𝘐𝘕𝘎 𝘛𝘏𝘈𝘛 𝘊𝘈𝘕 𝘙𝘌𝘈𝘓𝘓𝘠 𝘉𝘌 𝐆𝐈𝐕𝐄𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐅𝐎𝐑𝐂𝐄 𝐎𝐅 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐋𝐈𝐅𝐄 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐏𝐀𝐒𝐒𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐊𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝐌𝐀𝐍!”
“D-don’t do this! You don’t know what'll happen if you hit something with that!”
“That’s EXACTLY WHY... I want to know, Jack. I want to know so BΛDᄂY what will 𝙃𝘼𝙋𝙋𝙀𝙉!”
Just like the demon, Olive’s laugh was corrosive as it tripped over and repeated the first syllable of itself. They swiped, unavoidably close to the boy this time, but it was blocked as he raised a copy of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. The force of the resulting explosion was akin to a nuke contained within a single room, as everything went flying. But instead of anything being destroyed, only the book was harmed- from its corpse spread an entire world. Jack tried his best to look around and understand it all, but it was pointless. His tiny media room was now stuffed full of broken buildings and advanced motor vehicles. People he vaguely recognized- no, characters- marched around the chaos like zombies, pleading to go back to their home. The contents of the entire volume glitched and stuttered as they continually rearranged themselves over and over again within the tiny space. Jack set his sights on his friend, blocking out his surroundings.
“Olive… Don’t you wanna watch more things with me, Olive? Don’t you want to hang out ever again?”
“I’m on a ⓓⓘⓕⓕⓔⓡⓔⓝⓣ ⓛⓔⓥⓔⓛ ⓞⓕ ⓣⓐⓢⓣⓔ ,⃝ ⓝⓞⓦ ,⃝ Jack. I’ve finally learned who I really am. I’ve finally become the 𝐄𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐀𝐩𝐨𝐜𝐫𝐲𝐩𝐡𝐚.”
“What the hell are you TALKING ABOUT? We’re FRIENDS! Don’t you remember?”
“𝙄𝙎 𝙏𝙃𝘼𝙏 𝙒𝙃𝘼𝙏 𝙈𝘼𝙉𝙉𝙔 𝙒𝘼𝙎 𝙏𝙍𝙔𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙏𝙊 𝙎𝘼𝙔 𝘼𝙎 𝙔𝙊𝙐 ₴₩₳ⱠⱠØ₩ɆĐ Ⱨł₴ ₣ⱠɆ₴Ⱨ?”Monkeyshines screeched.
Olive swiped again. Jack managed to grab their wrist, thankfully not harming him- though the power of the universe was inches away from his face as their hand struggled against his innate human power.
“What will you become when I expose you to the 𝒇𝓘ⓢรＵ𝐑Ｅ 𝒻ỖℝĆᗴ, I wonder… a corpse? A simple meal? Or maybe… a genie like me?”
“You genies aren’t human! I don’t want anything to do with you!”
“Yet it was man who created us.” Monkeyshines spoke. “Wishing for entertainment and progress, they locked us away…. Never even considering how fun it could be if they just let us free.”
“I’m sure our fathers would be proud to see us in such 𝕙𝐢Ｇ𝔥 𝓕ι𝒹ｅ𝓁丨𝔱ч.”
“GET AWAY FROM ME!”
Jack threw the demonkin off him, causing them to land on the pile of scattered movies messily gathered on the floor topped with Evil Dead 2. In a second expulsion of content, the room quickly became full of both evil and dead alike. Ash was far too confused to do anything about his current situation, screaming as he attempted to saw his way out of the westmost wall that currently had a few deadites clipping through it.
Blown aside again by the power of the Cimensional Fissure, Jack found himself against a wall, transformed into a mixture of two different crumbling buildings- one of wood from Raimi’s world, and one of concrete from Otomo’s. Under his foot rested many of the empty CDs Monkeyshines had spat out, and one bloody camcorder.
“Jack… can’t you see? I’m so happy right now.” Olive murmured. “Those movies… those games, books… my Ꮆㄖ𝐃, Jack! That’s the one way I was able to ignore it! The aching inside my head… to tell you the truth, Jack… I really didn’t know who I was. Had no idea who I aspired to be. But now… well, shit, Jack! Like any of that matters anymore when I can be a badass MΣDIΛ GΣПIΣ! A̶H̶A̶H̶A̶H̶A̶H̶A̶!̶”̶
Olive readied their hand of creation once again.
“I have the power… to make mankind’s fiction real. And just for the hell of it… I’m gonna use that power… to make this world 𝓈𝓉𝑜𝓅 𝓂𝒶𝓀𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓈𝑒𝓃𝓈𝑒. So you can all feel what I felt… and so I can see what happens! First test… what happens when I strike a living, human being?! 𝐿𝐸𝒯’𝒮 𝐹𝐼𝒩𝒟 𝒪𝒰𝒯, 𝒥𝒜𝒞𝒦!”
Olive swiped. Jack raised the device.
The camcorder burst in Jack’s hands as he wielded it as a shield.
Suddenly, the madness shrinked to a chilling silence.
“Oh, no…” Monkeyshines stammered.
“Huh?” Jack looked all around, noticing the camera had left his hands.
“𝓞𝓗, 𝓦𝓗𝓐𝓣 𝓐 𝓦𝓞𝓡𝓛𝓓! You’ve really gone and done it now, Oligarch…”
“I- have? W-what did I do, Monkeyshines?! What did I do?! I don’t like this, Monkeyshines! 𝕐-ʸ𝓸Ｕ кｎＯ𝓦 ｉ 𝔻๏几’ⓣ 𝓵𝓲𝕂є ⓑ𝐞Ɨｎⓖ 𝕔ᗝᶰ𝔽ⓤŜⓔᗪ!”
“The Cimensional Fissure… The lost third ability of my design, split from my body… Its purpose was to turn fiction into reality, reversing all its properties. But… I don’t know what will come of this… you brought back something that once belonged inside this reality, mere minutes ago at that… of course, if that was all, it would be nothing… but to return that boy’s darkest memory to life… the memory of the weakest being in existence, one who was consumed, but could not consume himself- he is the Antichrist to our existence. And he will surely… want revenge.” The demon mourned.
The bodies of another Olive and Jack flew across the room, their mouths dripping with his blood.
“You don’t mean-“
“Now he’s… Now he’s…”
Manny stood behind Olive, a dead TV channel burning into his eyes.
“MANNY!” Jack cried out for help.
“̸͓͚̖͖͙̈̂͂͐͘W̷̡̥̼͎͕̯̥͚͑̿̇̒̄̀͐̽͜͝͝atching…” the young phantom spoke.
“Manny, I-I’m sorry! Don’t- Don’t do this- AHHHH!”
Manny bit into the newborn genie, depleting them off all their power. In a flash of static, their body disappeared.
“AH-AHHHHHHH!” Jack srieked out in terror, just as seen he had seen so many characters do so prior in the long night or entertainment.
“̶̮̹̱̈́͒͐͋̈̀̾B̴̢̧̺̖̼͚̑̎̽̔̊̀́͛͠urning e̶͈͔̒̾̀́̒̒̊̇̾͝yes…” the lumbering madman hobbled toward him, twitching as he struggled to keep his half-eaten guts inside him.
“I’m sorry, Manny… I’m SORRY!”
And with a single bite, Jack, too, was gone.
“We are all doomed… the runtime draws to an absolute end. I’m sorry, William.” Monkeyshines looked up at the ceiling, imaging a rainy sky.
“̵̨͔͍̦̯̟̊̂̀̆͑̔͝Ẃ̴͔̳͕̣͓̣̙͙̙ATCHING--!” Manny turned to the demon, grunting like a wild animal.
“I’m sorry, evil child. Your bite… it is the only thing that can end this world, I suppose. And at this point… that’s all I can ask for.”
With a raised arm, Monkeyshines shot all his remaining power into the boy. He didn’t notice it at first, but later felt as though the ceiling and sky above him had become completely see-through.
And with that, Monkeyshines met his end as well. Three spirits exited his hollow body, before it dissolved forever. Manny looked up at them- three creators. Two men, and an actor resembling the demon himself. Manny did not understand, but unlike Olive, he did not care.
All he cared about was the eyes he suddenly felt burning into his back as he fell to his knees.
“̶̛̲͈̼̦͓̈́̐̓̊̅̕͘͠Ț̷͍͍̖͙̮͉̭̥̺̅̔̈́͌̍̌HEY’RE Ả̸̛̘͎͔̠̠͚̘̩̪̐̄̌͆̌ͅLL W̴̧̤̤̣̙͙̹̳̐͌̚͝ATCHING… T̸̡̰̻̟͉̱͚͕͙̹͛̏̓͂͒̉͠HEY’RE Á̷̗̳͚̈̋̆̄̊̓̂LWAYS W̴̤̅͆̑͋̈́̂ATCHING! Ș̶̨͓̦̑̈TOP L̶͉̪̟̰̻̳͒͌̌̅̽̉̈́̄̕ͅOOKING Ḁ̸̱̍̑̑̋̊͝͝͝T M̶̬̭̜̀̃̀̋͂͝E… S̸͈͌̍͑̕͝TOP Ļ̷̨̮͙̗̱̳͐͐̀͋OOKING Ḁ̸̱̍̑̑̋̊͝͝͝T M̶̥̠̲̰̳̐̎̾̋͜E!“
Manny turned to us, and in his sorrow, he clawed at our shield. But the boy could not reach us. Just like everything else in this world- in this story- he did not understand. And while he could let all the other chaos go… he could not accept this feeling.
Manny bit into the earth.