Recreational Reality

Part 0: The Middle of Nowhere

Beyond infinity, less than nothing, before the beginning, and after the end, there was nothingness.

This is where Kevin awoke, lying face up in a field of brown grass, staring up into a featureless blue sky. He stood up, and took a look around, as the field spanned on forever in all directions, only appearing to disappear in an infinite horizon in a distance that didn't exist.

Where is this? he thought. Turning around, he saw a small speck of black upon the endless horizon, and having nowhere to go, walked towards it.

Having walked for centuries or seconds, he arrived before he started, standing next to a great city upon the infinite plain. It had buildings stretching into the sky, out of sight, and leading away onto and beyond the horizon in front of him. However, it was far from a lively place, as every building was made out of dark gray tile, and had no entrances or windows as far as the eye could see.

He stepped inside the cacophony of buildings, and looking around, saw a small booth interspersed between a gap of the strangely boring architecture.

Upon the booth was the word 'Information' written in large white letters, along with a sign below that said, 'Welcome to The Middle of Nowhere! Population: Zero'

    I hope I can at least get some answers, Kevin thought, walking up to the booth. Wait, what kind of a place has a population of zero?

    "Ah, well this is the Middle of Nowhere, you know," said a perfectly-ordinary looking man behind the counter, who was certainly not there a moment ago. "And technically, I'm not here now either," the man said.
    "What?" Kevin said, having a hard time understanding what the man had said.
    "And neither are you," he said, "because none of this exists! Pretty interesting we can still have this conversation, wouldn't you say?"
    "Uh... I have no idea what that means, or where this place is, or how I got here," Kevin said, "just to make that entirely clear."
    "Oh, I already knew that," the man said, "anyways, before we get impossibly far along, I'm Fred, a pleasure to meet you." He held out his hand for a handshake.
    Shaking Fred's hand, Kevin said, "I'm Kevin. From New York City."
    "Ah... New York City," the man said, "well, you're probably going to ask how to get back."
    "Truth be told, that cannot be done," the man said, "I'm afraid there's no direction you can go from nowhere to there."
    "But - I don't understand. I mean, where is this place, really? It looks like Kansas, or maybe Africa, although I was just asleep... Hey! Wait, is this a dream?"
    "Sorry to disappoint, but this is not a dream," Fred said, "in fact, it's not a place at all. None of this exists, including me or you."
    "That's total bullshit," Kevin said, "we can't be standing in a place that doesn't exist! Look, this counter is solid!" He banged his hand on the counter, making a dull thud.
    "I see..." Fred said, looking at Kevin closely, "that you do not yet see."
    "Okay," Kevin said, "and I'm pretty sure you're crazy. Unless..."
    "Sorry to disappoint again, but no, this is no afterlife, if that's what you're after," Fred said, "or a beforelife either, in fact."
    "You know what - this conversation has been thrilling, but I must be heading out. I'll just have to find help somewhere else," Kevin said.
    "Ah, but there's nowhere to go from here," Fred said.
    "Thanks for your time!" Kevin said, walking away.

• • •

Minutes or eons later, Kevin sat down on the grass, surrounded by identical-looking buildings. How long has it been? he thought, I can't even see a sun here, the light just comes from nowhere. Perhaps I should have listened to that crazy guy a bit more.

    "Don't worry, you will learn," Fred said, from behind him.
    "Gah! Jeez, couldn't you have warned me?" Kevin said, getting up and dusting himself off.
    "Possibly," Fred said.
    "That's not very helpful," Kevin said, sounding a bit miffed. "If you can't tell me what this place is, then what are all these buildings for anyways?"
    "Oh, they hold everything that doesn't exist," Fred said, "that one over there has the largest number, for example." He pointed to a long, short building, which disappeared off into the distance.
    "The largest number?" Kevin said, "you mean like infinity?"
    "Oh, no. Much larger than that. It's larger than all other infinities, even larger than all concepts of numbers," Fred said, "would you like to take a look at it while you're here?"
    "Not really," Kevin said, "but wait, how can a number have a physical form? Is it written down?" He stared at the enormous building, wondering who would go to all the trouble, if what Fred was saying was even true, of course.
    "No, it is not written down," Fred said, "in fact, it truly does not need to be in a building, although, it is much easier to not lose that way."
    Kevin merely stared at Fred again, completely lost.
    "If that's not your interest, perhaps you'd like to see the smallest number instead?" Fred said, pointing to a small microscope on a nearby table.
    "That was totally not there a minute ago," Kevin said, surprised at seeing the table.
    "And its not there now either," Fred said, smiling.

Kevin looked down at the ground, feeling totally overwhelmed from this conversation, and tired of all the concepts he didn't understand.

    "Okay, so I don't really understand any of that, and I really just want to go home," Kevin said, "you said I can't get to New York from here, maybe you could tell me how to get someplace else, so I could maybe catch a flight, or... at least get me back to Earth? If this is another planet?"
    "I'm afraid not, that is not a path at the moment," Fred said, "there is only one place I can send you from Nowhere."
    "Okay, where is it?"
    "Somewhere," Fred said, smiling a bit, "across the Precipice of Possibility."
    "Great. Can't you be more specific?" Kevin said, sounding frustrated.
    "No," Fred said, "are you ready?" He pointed behind Kevin.
    "Holy Shit!" Kevin said, looking behind himself, seeing that he was standing on the very knife-edge of a great cliff leading downward into an unknowable inky blackness. "You've got to be joking! How can this be the only way out of here? And how the hell did you do that?"
    "Ah, it was nothing at all," Fred said, "and you must go that way, as one cannot simply go directly from Nowhere to Somewhere. One must again exist, and be a something that can be somewhere. Since this is a rather unusual process, some would even claim impossible, and correctly so - it's hard to say where exactly you'll end up."
    "No way!" Kevin said, "I'll never survive falling down that, it must be a million miles down!"
    "Actually..." Fred said, "nevermind. The details are less than irrelevant. Let's just say... in the grand scheme of things - some things thought to be impossible are not, occasionally nothingness is greater than the sum of its parts, and once in an infinity - physics makes a mistake. And so I must send you back."

Fred held out his palm, as Kevin felt himself falling over the edge, screaming as he went down.

    "You will understand! And when you do - return!"

Kevin fell down, the light above receding into nothingness, as time immeasurable passed instantly, as he fell for miles or inches, eons or seconds, and everything and nothing was and was not.

Exist Again

<< Back to the Index<< Back to the Chapter ListOn to Part 1: Lost Among the Impossible >>

Published on Recreational Reality by Metafictional Press. First Version 2018 November 25, Latest Version 2018 November 25.