[a short story]
It was dark. Night actually. Sometime in the night. I heard a voice, best described as spectral. I am dreaming, I thought as I tried to wake up but I was already awake, obviously, or I was dead. Deep in the silent night it’s often difficult to know if one is alive or dead. Especially when in your mind you have become convinced that “death” is just another form of life, one you’re not quite yet comfortable with.
So let’s say I was alive then, as you would understand that to mean, that I was in a body, and that body was actually functioning. I could move with it, or make it move things. That kind of being alive. For the record.
The voice trembled some. It was difficult to place in terms of gender, or age. It was the voice of an old male child who never quite gained its adult voice. The voice of someone who had done a lot of smoking, perhaps died from it. Again, what does that mean… nothing. And I was dead wrong in my evaluation so let’s not spend more time on that.
“I would tell you of things you should know ere this night ends.” Said the voice.
“Who are you?” I had to ask, you understand. It’s simple human curiosity. We always want to know whom we’re addressing (or undressing, but that’s another topic.)
“I am Noone” the voice said. It pronounced it “Noo Nee”
“What sort of language is that?” I asked.
“It isn’t a language, it’s a statement. I am a statement. I am supposed to be read, not heard. This is terribly inconvenient.”
“You’re telling me!” I exclaimed, somewhat exasperated.
“Yes, indeed I am telling you. That’s why I’m here, to tell you. But I’d rather be read. Can you read me?”
“No, I can’t. You’re a being, (and I thought, I sure hope so!) not a book, or a parchment or scroll. You can’t be read. Spell your name for me, I’m confused by it.”
“Ah well, there you see, you got it wrong in the pronunciation. It is no one. That’s not a name, it means you don’t exist. You are no one.”
“I know. That’s why I keep telling you I’m meant to be read. I can articulate only what I can read. I don’t have a spoken language, only a written one. I am from a written world. We are not a language, or even languages. We are words, we exist only in words, sentences, paragraphs, and of course the more advanced of us exist in stories. I’m just a word construct.”
“So how can you make a voice, then? How can I hear you audibly? How can you articulate, as you put it?”
“How could I answer that? Perhaps putting words together creates certain images and looking at those images, sound emanates in the mind of certain beings? Perhaps… wait… perhaps when I’m near you I’m no longer Noone, I mean no one, but actually someone, or some one?”
“You mean like a living ghost? A “for real” ghost?”
“I cannot read ghost. I do not relate. Perhaps we word beings do not know of your ghost concept. If I were a ghost, what could I do?”
“Well, not much. You could haunt places, make ghoulish sounds and scare the bejeesus out of credulous people. Come to think of it, this would be a good time to try it out.”
“A-good-time. You want me to be happy?”
“Oh, don’t be so literal. No, I mean it’s Halloween. It’s believed that ghosts come out on Halloween and do all sort of mischief, or scare non-ghost types. Ghosts are spirits of the dead, some long ago, some recent. Some ghosts are demons from fire worlds. It is believed they can be nasty. They can even rob you of your soul and when you die to have to become one of them.”
“Not a good time, then. Not a good time at all. I don’t think I want to be a ghost. I think I would scare myself and that would be very inconvenient.”
“Speaking of inconvenient, what was so important that you had to wake me up for, and we had to go through this whole mishmash of weird introduction?”
“Oh, yes. I almost forgot, but I can’t forget, I’m words after all. I’ll read myself to you. You are Anson Jones. You are going to be thirty three years old on October 31. You have made your living from words, having written several novels and three books of poetry. All your income has derived from the use of words. You are a very fortunate man. On midnight of October 31 this year you have qualified, from your life-long use of words, to become a word being. You will be translated into a book. But not just any book. You will become the most important book on Word World. You will, in fact be so important, you will be published as a trilogy. You will enjoy a long shelf life in every library on Word World.
That has never happened on Word World and the anticipation is heating up, a river of ink needed to maintain written word speculation on what your entry will do to our social life, our economics, our very encyclopaedic space. Some articulate it as a revolution. Some write that it is an apocalyptic event. A few crazy word splitters even write that you are he who was predicted to come; that you will bring us into a third dimensional state of consciousness.
So, Mr. Anson Jones of Earth, we shall all await your arrival with bated breath – as a figure of speech of course, we do not breathe as such, we write it. Thank you.”
“What can I say to that? Nothing. I went back to sleep thinking it was a silly dream after all. Was I surprised when I woke up this morning and realized I could not speak, that I could only write my thoughts down? Not really. I just know I used the word “inevitable” a few too many times in my novels. It was sure to turn and bite me in the ass sooner or later.