Doomcon Tale

Thomas never quite understood the delicate and fine art of moderation. That isn't to say that he was irresponsible, naive or stupid, it was just that he wasn't able to grasp the concept of ‘too much’. Despite his laziness, he often tried to deal with multiple tasks at once, leading to an overwhelming amount of work, responsibility, and blame on him when things went wrong. He was trying his best at all times, very few doubted that, but truth be told, he was utterly, thoroughly incompetent. One can easily find expired products in his overfilled fridge, trashed leftovers with enough calories to sustain someone for three days straight or three to four soap dispensers in the bathroom. Upon being asked about these things, Thomas would just shrug and reply with “Better safe than sorry”, or some other cheesy line to justify his wasteful tendencies.
Which is why he was once more flat-out drunk and barely conscious, as he made his way through the city’s streets to get home. His performance could hardly pass as walking, it was more of a continuous falling process in which he miraculously managed to avoid face-first contact with the ground.
The past six hours have been incredibly fun for Thomas - despite being kicked out of three bars and two nightclubs, getting wasted whilst partying loudly and trekking around the district to get to the next fill mill had its attractiveness. Especially as he and his peers liked to chug beer as if it was water. Much to his dismay, the nature of alcohol didn't make these memories last, and the following morning will most definitely have him be in a miserable, pitiful state, as hangovers usually go. But all that was of no concern to him at the moment, as all of his sluggish thoughts were dedicated to remembering the steps that needed to be carried out in order to use the extradimensional Way nearby to get to the Wanderer's Library, where his makeshift home was located, between the high, dusty bookshelves in one of the many ‘slums’.

Eventually, at a time so late at night one could say that it was already getting early, Thomas managed to stumble into the alley containing the invisible magical portal, knocking over a small trashcan and scaring away a stray cat in the process. In order to open the way he needed to… needed to…
Thomas figured out it had something to do with the brick wall he was currently using to support himself. His hands slowly began to explore the texture of the graffiti marked structure as he pressed his face against it, greatly enjoying the supposed comfort of these several tons of stone.

“What was the damn Knock again…?”, he attempted to mumble, but to any outside observers who could have been nearby it would have more sounded like a sloppy “Wawas d’kna ‘n?”, which wasn't as articulate as Thomas intended it to be, but luckily for him he was unable to notice anyways. Hitting the wall a few times with his bare palms didn't work, so he continued with the rather stoic approach of standing there and developing a mental map of the wall by inappropriately running his hands across it. Safe to say, despite the rather pragmatic approach to the problem, his actions didn't and wouldn't lead anywhere in the foreseeable future. And somewhere, far in the back of his mind, Thomas realized that, but it didn't stop him from continuing.
He let out a frustrated groan and tumbled backwards, angry at the wall, the world, the Library, and everything else in existence that was even remotely related to his situation. So angry, in fact, that he attempted to run head-first into the wall to bring it down for denying him access to the Library. He got lucky and didn't split his skull open due to this foolish act, but instead landed right through the new opening in the wall.
What wasn't lucky, however, was that it didn't lead to the Library, but instead to a deserted island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. If it hadn't been for him tripping over himself and only getting halfway through, in turn also experiencing a rough meeting between face and sandy ground, he would have ended up there, for what would have most likely been the rest of his life. Thomas rather helplessly crawled back and tried to stand by supporting himself against the wall - his hand slipped and he fell, letting out yet another pained groan.

The Way was gone, and Thomas was much too tired and confused to try to use it one more time. Hardly coherently, he wondered why the Way didn't lead to the extradimensional archive he wanted to get back to.

"Don't ya have your own silverware?"

"Lost it after the Library tried to redirect me to what I can only assume to be Utah.”


"A hot, deserted and barren wasteland. On a second thought, could have been Venus…”

"Har-har. Welp, guess I gotta share mine. That all of your stuff?"

"Mhm. What's left at least.”

"Sucks to suck."

Thomas shrugged at that comment and went to put down the cardboard boxes somewhere in hia cousin's flat - an anartist through and through, as was evident by the unusual and borderline eye-paining design of the apartment. Floating orbs mimicking lamps, furniture that practically sprouted out of the ground, walls with far too many shades of the entire color spectrum, various twisted and misshapen figures and forms distributed everywhere in the rooms and, curiously, a small animate pet rock with about as much cognitive capabilities as a housefly. Robert wasn't the kind of person one would expect to be a respected individual for his work, and sure enough, he wasn't. To him, anart was all about creating fun items and gadgets for aesthetic or entertainment purposes, not a serious business one should be too dedicated to - why bring the troubles of the world into what was supposed to be a hobby you withdrew yourself in?

Thomas placed the boxes on top of a small coffee table that appeared to only be balanced on an off-centered empty plastic bottle and stretched.

“You got any idea just why the damn Library suddenly wants all of us dead?”

Robert, clothed in a long-sleeved t-shirt and ripped jeans, answered from he nearby kitchen.
“No fuckin’ clue. Edward’s not been havin’ these problem at all, all’s randy dandy for him. Though, he’s said some poor bastard who tried gettin’ to London from the Library rushed past him and ended up in a volcano. Seems kinda random. Did you ask your Librarians?”

The chocolate-themed couch was a lot more comfortable than Thomas had expected. He sighed softly and tried to get into a comfortable position.
“Nope, they still scare me shitless. Buuut these Hand folks seem to try to solve this problem - how, I don't know. The only thing I saw was them trying to tell people to use Ways as little as possible. Which, fair enough, one way to prevent deaths. What's your WiFi password?”

Very secure passcode for smart artistic dudes with too much free time zero nine two, no spaces, the initials all capitalized, numbers as numbers.
", he said in one rushed sentence, "Anywho, ‘bout these Librarians of yours-”

“Wait, wait, wait, wait. Where does it start and end?”, Thomas interrupted him confused as he looked at the error message on his cracked phone screen.

An exaggerated groan emitted from the kitchen.
“Know what, I’ll set it up for ya in a minute. Unpack your stuff as you wait, or don't, ‘cause then you’ll take up less space.”

“Uh-huh”, Thomas hummed in return, gazing over the boxes and backpacks all around the room. Admittedly, it wasn't much, but he really couldn't be bothered right now to take care of that. It's much more convenient to keep them so organized anyways.

This will be some fun weeks, huh?, he said to himself, wondering how much impact the apparent malfunctioning of the Ways will have on his life.

Making his way upstairs to what was at this point his and Robert’s shared apartment of nearly eight months, Thomas grumbled a few curses due to the elevator still being in maintenance. Because it was Saturday evening, the most likely time at which the technicians would be done was Tuesday, which would be alright if it weren't for the fact that they had been working on it since Monday by now.
On the fifth floor he began to pant - working out has never been one of his favourite activities, and regular drinking sessions most definitely also took their toll. Regardless, his ear drums miraculously didn't suffer too much from the loud party music he often ruled out as background noise when he took shots, which made it possible for him to hear the ever so slight sounds of the TV in the living rooms, sounds that only increased as he came closer to the door. As he stood before the door and fiddled with his keys, trying to find the fitting one, he was able to listen to the current broadcast and make out a few words.

”…unusual places… rammed into each other… reported clones of animals and…”

Finally, he found the right key and immediately went on to open the door and enter the apartment.
“Hey Rob, turn down that volume!”, Thomas griped as he took off his shoes in the small corridor leading right into the living room.

“Shut up and watch this!”, Robert snapped back from the couch, not averting his attention from the TV for even a second.

Thomas, a bit of a slow thinker, rolled his eyes and made his way into the room, as per usual first aiming for the kitchen to make himself a nice cup of coffee. He didn't pay much attention to what the news reporter was uttering, it probably didn't concern him anyways, until…

“And according to several anonymous sources, this ‘secret government’ agency has been witnessed closing up these mysterious areas several times in the past few months, going as far as relocating the residents under different pretenses.”

Thomas frowned and looked up from the coffee brewer.
“Is that the Man?”

“You bet your ass it is! Fucking-”
Robert angrily zipped through various channels until finally finding one that seemed to satisfy him.
“Here, look at that!”

The TV depicted some low-quality photographs of a small town from afar - at first glance, nothing seemed too off, but by looking closer…
“Various civilians managed to snap these pictures of the place in question - the strange intersections of the houses and environment as a whole are completely surreal and seem to stem directly from a nightmare. But we can assure you that they are not fake. According to reports there have been attempts to silence those who have witnessed this catastrophic event.”

Thomas gulped and let that sink it - a sip from a nice hot cup of coffee to wash it down would have been of help, but he forgot about the drink by now.
“So, uh, what's that mean?”, he asked a bit bewildered by the news.

“That they, friend, have fucked up!”
Robert clapped as he exclaimed that and turned to Thomas.
“And that's really damn bad. For them.”

Thomas nodded slowly, yet his frown remained.
“And what now?”

“Well, now…”
Robert jumped up from the couch that also served as Thomas’s bed and swiftly made his way past Thomas into the kitchen where he opened an elevated cupboard. Clanking and rumbling emitted from within as his hands rummaged through its contents.
I will go and mess ‘round with my friends, and you…”
Shooting a side glare at Thomas, Robert pulled four wine bottles out of the cupboard.
“Whatever you’re gonna do, I ain't tellin’ you what. Have a fun day.”

He gave Thomas a pat on the shoulder before leaving the apartment to go hang out in an abandoned warehouse reproposed for and by the local anart community.
Thomas, however, stayed, and sat down on the couch to continue watching the news. The pet rock - its name was Steven - rolled slowly to his feet and gave Thomas a nudge, but he wasn't in the mood to care about that.

A few days passed, and the media was all about these paranormal occurrences that seemed to become more common as time went on - the once secret, assumed governmental, agency was continuing to lose its masquerade as it desperately tried to cover up all of these places, coming up with explanation after explanation, ranging from toxic waste and radioactive materials to unsafe structures and nature reserves. To most it seemed unnecessary, as the cover had long been blown by now. Headlines mentioning Big Brother weren't uncommon, nor were conspiracy theories involving ghosts, aliens and Area 51. Preachers left and right warned about the end of the world, called for people to confess their sins and submit to their God, and masses of scientists and researchers tried to come up with their own explanations for the occurrences.
The anart scene profited greatly from this chaos. They held parties, converted people, were a lot more outgoing - just who would stop them?

Then one more week passed, and most people started getting worried. Several urban areas have been locked down at this point, residents in these areas went missing. The secret organization seemed as cold and stoic as ever, but their security presence seemed to have decreased. And what some courageous adventures found in the places was… concerning, to say the least.
A sudden supernova had been discovered, one that had been a rather insignificant star a few hundred light years away. The problem with that was that the star was supposed to die around six million years in the future, and a careful analysis of it revealed that it, its rest to be more precise, had two times more mass than it originally used to.
The biggest problem was that three more stars, visible with the naked eye, had appeared in the night sky, awfully close to already discovered ones. Once more, astronomists racked their brains about this circumstance, especially as the new stars had an uncannily strong similarity to their neighboured celestial bodies.
Much to no one's surprise, the rising number of monster sightings paired with other unexplainable phenomena did nothing to help calming the population either.

Unbeknownst to Thomas, it was on this day that yet another star would suddenly die, one that was of particular interest to only a single organization that was desperately attempting to cover up its existence in these trying times.
But even if Thomas would have known, it would have hardly made an impact on his actions. At the moment, he was trying to get back to the Library, despite the still dysfunctional Ways and the dangers they posed. He just had to find some expositional scripture or person who'd explain what was going on in the world, just to satisfy his own curiosity.
As such, it seemed reasonable to go back to the only Way in the area, the one in the alley right between a cheap fast-food shop and a small drugstore, and hope that it won't open up a passage to an acid pit.

His hands were in the pockets of his thin jacket that protected Thomas against the slight cold at this hour. He was making his way through the city with a casual pace, there wasn't any need to hurry, his head hanging low as he contemplated what to do after visiting the Library. Life was stagnating for him, and the seemingly impending doom that lingered all around was quite discouraging to most plans he could have taken into consideration.

“Armageddon is nigh! The signs cry it all out loud! Turn to His graciousness, for He will save your soul once this plane has been demolished! Your flesh may wither and rot, but your mind shall forevermore be preserved! The body’s but a fleshy machine, but the ghost’s the power that it needs! No longer will you live in fear if you accept His loving help!”

Cults and sects, it came as no surprise that those were sprouting from the ground like fungi after heavy rainfall, each more trite than the next. Thomas thought he did well by simply ignoring the elder preacher.

“You!”, the robed cultist exclaimed excitedly, pointing at Thomas. “My son, won’t you step right to me, I have such wonders to share with you! Oh you poor and lost wanderer-”

“Thanks, not interested.”, Thomas mumbled just within earshot, increasing his pace a bit. The man grimaced at that and grabbed him by the shoulder, forcefully trying to get him to stay.
“But your soul, son, don't you understand, His grace will save you from the troubles that are to befall this world!”

Thomas whirled around and whacked the preachers arm away.
Leave me alone you old fuck!”, he yelled back at the man’s face, who took a step back, defensively raising his arms before his body. With that, Thomas turned on his heel and quickly walked away, ignoring the few staring passersby all around him.

He reached his destination twelve minutes later and leaned against the brick wall once more in an attempt to collect his thoughts. A handful of pedestrians passed during these few minutes and gave Thomas confused and disapproving glares, though no one bothered to approach him.
With a sigh Thomas fully stood and positioned himself across the wall, focusing on its center. The Knock was to run into it with no hesitation or decrease in speed, which would make it open to a Cooking section in the Library, right next to a small ‘settlement’ of folks with permanent residences in the safe realm.
He sighed once more, positioned himself properly, and began running, aiming for the E initial of a graffiti tag taking up most of the surface. A sudden pain shot through his body as he slammed into the stone, causing him to tumble backwards as he uttered a series of curses.

Rubbing his forehead and limbs, Thomas scanned over the wall with gritted teeth. It was as it had been before, nothing had changed.

That meant the Way was gone.

It was a calm night. Thomas was leaning out the window of the makeshift apartment, observing the much too bright night sky above him as he smoked. The peaceful atmosphere was almost uncanny, considering the state of the rest of the world. Somewhere in the distance a dog barked twice before falling silent once again.
He missed the balcony of the previous flat. Not only had it been a lot more comfortable to stand around there, but it would have also made for a more romantic scenery.
Romanticizing the end of the world, Thomas had never been a fan of that. What's so wonderful about the ends of countless lives, the destruction of normalcy and the eventual loss of all that one ever held dear? It was stupid, and deep down in his heart he knew that the hundreds of currently suffering authors all around the world agreed with him. There were no crickets around to fill the night with their calming chirping, all was quiet, safe for Robert’s snoring. The anartist was lying on one of two mattresses in the narrow room, turning in his sleep. Steven was resting next to the provisional bed, currently in his inactive state. Despite Robert being its creator, he himself had no idea how exactly it functioned. All that mattered was that it was an easy-to-keep and fun pet, one that didn't mind being kicked by its feisty owners at times. Its resilience was key to being a favored entity.

Some rustling made Thomas turn around to his cousin.

“What's with ya and your goddamn lack of sleep? Get back to bed, you woke me up!”, Robert groaned.

“Just smoking, sorry dude”, Thomas apologized meekly.
“In a minute.”

Robert grumbled and turned to the other side as he pulled the blanket over his head.
Thomas shrugged at that and looked back up at the sky. The world’s gone mad, it seemed to him. Ever since that catastrophe in New York, the Man’s efficiency at dealing with the situation dropped significantly. No one bothered with cover-ups since that event, the focus was now keeping everyone safe and finding a solution to the problem.

Thomas’s eyes scanned the far too many star constellations before eventually resting on the moon.
Despite the catastrophes here on earth, no one had been prepared for that. It just happened, from one moment to the other, and millions died as a result.
He sighed, finished the cigarette and flicked the small nub away, granting the satellite one last look. The way it was looming over the planet, far closer than ever, not even spherical any longer…
He shuddered, unnerved by the thought, and pulled drapes before the window to cover the awful sight.

He wouldn't find any more sleep this night.

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