DISCLAIMER: This story was a personal writing experiment by the author. The intent was to write one short story that satisfied all five of this week’s prompts. So that is why you will see it posted five separate times (assuming I am allowed to keep them each posted). Enjoy!
I remember the first story I ever attempted to write as a child. It was to be the first in a series of children's books, there would be a great adventure that spurred from a chance encounter in a small village. My three young protagonists would be thrust into a fantasy world of chaos and destiny. But I never got past the first few chapters. I still have them though. A part of me wonders how different that story would have turned out if I'd have finished it back then, there's something interesting about a children's story written by a child.
Remembering our childhoods and the things that inspired us is a beautiful experience. So I'm going to reminisce a bit about my inspirations, and allow my inspirations to reminisce about their inspirations, and so on. There are so many people who had an influence on me growing up, some of them were even fictional. But as authors go, I really don't know any of them, so I need an ethereal guide to help me learn. Let's manifest him. His name is now Rembrandt and he only knows what's happening right now, with a shaky concept of the future and a fleeting understanding of the past. That sounds fun doesn’t it. I created him just now, but I need him to explore the minds of the past. I can’t be present with him, so he needs autonomy and direction. Tada! Now he has it. Don’t you Rembrandt? “Yup!” Perfect! Now, the rright now is subjective to the time he’s in, not the time we’re in. Obviously. Some of my early inspirations when I began writing my fantasy series as a child were Emily Rodda’s Rowan of Rin series and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Let’s have a visit with J.K. Rowling. Rembrandt will take the story from here, I hope he remembers everything, and I hope he tells the truth.
J. K. Rowling
BAM! “Here we are! The past! What year? Wait, the present, not the past…or the future, depending on how you look at it. Who is this? J.K Rowling? Ok, then. Hello Miss Rowling!”
The author was taken aback at Rembrandt’s appearance. [speaking Britishly] “Who are you, where’d you come from?!?!”
“That doesn’t matter! I have to know before I leave though, who inspired you as an author, who do you owe your muse and your creative influencer?” It would make sense that miss Rowling would need more convincing before she started talking, but we’re in a short story that has a 3000 word cap, and I’m on a deadline here so I can’t dive into everyone’s expected dialogue now can I?
“Well, as individuals go, Jessica Mitford was one of the biggest influences in my life. As authors go, I’d have to give that honor to Jane Austen, no question, though I did greatly enjoy C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia as a child. There are so many I could get into though! Tolkein was such a wonderful and prolific author, as was Le Guin, underrated by my belief. Oh, and of course…”
“Enough, enough!” Rembrandt broke in, startling the kind author. “I’m on a journey of inspirations here, I have a mission you see, I don’t have time to chit chat. Now, oh shoot, where was I heading? Um. Your favorite author...lived in Texas?”
“Jane Austen! That’s right! Let’s see, she would’ve been….late 1700s and early 1800s. Yes, that’s right! I apologize miss Growling my memory is shotty, but I must go, thank you for not freaking out on me, toodles!”
POP! “Here we are, quite fancy! When is this, 1814. Good good. Oh! Miss Austen! There you are. I must speak with you for a moment. You see, I’ve been manifested by an author, or was it an actor? I have…oh, let’s see here. I wrote it down and put it in my pocket. Ah! Here we are. To [author’s name], I would be considered quite fortunate if you would honor me with your thoughts. Who has been your greatest influence as a creative? What works inspired you?”
“Oh, my!” exclaimed Jane Austen, speaking however English people spoke where she lived at that time. “Who are you?”
Three minutes later, after needed explanation from Rembrandt.
“Of course I’ll assist you Rembrandt. I have greatly enjoyed the works of Samuel Johnson, as well as those by Frances Burney. You know, very few people have taken the time to ask me about these things. Though I do believe inspiration is such a wonderful thing!”
“Yes! Yes! Of course, but which of them was the very first author?”
“Who started it all? Who was the first author?
“I thought you were on a journey of inspiration, from author to author.”
“Well maybe so but I must say that, being given the power to be right now, but at any time anywhere, why not go farther back. Who is fully original?! Who has no inspiration?! Who was first?”
“Well I know that Dante Alighieri is quite an old writer, his poems are well renowned. But he’s not the fir…”
“Perfect! To Mister Dante we go!”
POOF! “There you are! Mister Dante Allierghy, I must speak with you.” The Italian man stared intensely into Rembrandt before speaking in an Italian way.
“Who are you and why have you entered my home in a poof?”
Rembrandt explained himself as best he could, but his memory was a continuous struggle for him. “I must know the first author Mister Dante Allergy. Who started everything, where is inspiration from?!”
Dante continued to stare at Rembrandt, the fire in his home lighting his face with an ominous glow. You are a precarious man Rembrandt. You’ve read my works I presume?”
“I have not, it means nothing to me until I have the first creator! The original inspiration!”
“I am the greatest poet of my generation, perhaps ever, and you claim to have not read my works. Here.” Dante sat up and walked to his bookshelf, grabbing a book off the shelf. He handed it to Rembrandt. “This is my Divine Comedy. It was originally to be Called Dante’s Comedy until a friend of mine read it. Do you know what he said? He told me it was the greatest piece of poetry in existence, that it was Divine and sent to me from God. He was right. Read. Then we will talk.”
“Sent to you from who?”
“God, the great Divine.”
“Who is that, is he a creator?!”
“Read. We will talk after.”
Frustrated, Rembrandt sat down by the fire and opened the first page of the Divine Comedy. Over the course of the next few hours he read the first and last book he would ever experience. His love for reading grew at that moment, and Rembrandt even considered postponing his journey to give himself time to read more. As he finished the book, he began to get scared, as this reading was beginning to inspire him. No! I cannot be inspired; I must find the one without inspiration!
“Mister Dandy Allergandy?!” I have read your story! Now honor your promise and guide me to inspiration!”
“I cannot guide inspiration, what inspired you from my stories?”
Rembrandt thought for a moment, remembering a line from the Inferno story. “Who is Homer, this poet sovereign?”
“An ancient Greek writer. Why don’t you go and find Homer, and speak to him. If not Homer, then speak to God.”
“Which first, Homer or God?!” But Dante had gotten up and moved towards his bed, ignoring now the presence of Rembrandt. “Homer it is.”
EXPLETIVE! Rembrandt stubbed his toe on a rock when appearing near Homer. There he was, Homer. Sitting in the grass doing not much of anything, seeming to play with a flower, but in a very 8th century BC Greek kind of way (whatever that looks like). “Who are you?”
“I am Rembrandt!”
“Who inspired you?!?!”
“You are a great writer, yes? Homer?” Rembrandt was nearly on the verge of tears, acting in complete panic and desire to know, nearly at the point of madness.
“Please leave me be. I am trying to enjoy some time in nature. I am not sure how you found me, but I need you to step away.” He returned his focus to the flower in front of him, a joyful smile forming on his face.
Rembrandt’s face began to contort, a frown starting to form. “No! I only need a minute of your time, and then I will be gone.” He grabbed Homer’s arm, receiving a stern look in response. “Are you the first creator or were you inspired?!”
“Let go of me!” Homer started struggling, but Rembrandt tightened his grip on the author, shaking him back. The flower fell as Homer tried to free himself. But Rembrandt wasn’t human, he was manifested by the author of this world, me, he’s my creation, and I can’t stop him now. How could I? He’s my creation, designed to discover, but he’s gone off task, no longer pursuing the assignment I have given him. He’s lost his way, but do I take away his free will? What of my free will and my creator? I can’t. Rembrandt continued to shake the author.
“I don’t want to hurt you, but I need to know!!!”
Homer could feel his skin and bones aching and caving under the pressure of Rembrandt’s aggression. “I don’t have inspiration from man! Look around you, look at the beauty of Greece, look at the history of our land. I am inspired by the truths of our past and the beauty of creation, that which the Gods have created.”
“God’s?! Plural?! No?! The other man said one God, now there are many?!?! Who created them?! Where were they inspired? No! No!!! NO!!!!!” Rembrandt’s aggression raged too hard and he squeezed too tight, feeling the body in front of him break inward. The struggle ceased. Rembrandt couldn’t bring himself to look down at the corpse in his hand. He stared upward, refusing to acknowledge the life he had taken. “God. My next stop. I can feel him in the timeline, but I can’t pinpoint any location or time, he’s everywhere and nowhere. So then shall I be.” He disappeared.
God, The Creator
Rembrandt appeared…where? “Hello?” There was only black.
“Hello.” The voice was everywhere all at once, including inside Rembrandt’s mind.
“Where are you? What inspires you? Are you the first author?”
“I am the Divine author”
“So was that other guy”
“Dante blasphemes me with his proclamations. Do you not feel yourself now?”
Rembrandt realized at that moment that he had no body, and nothing tangible with him. “What is this?”
“Dante can’t do this, can he? But you are a peculiar one Rembrandt. I did not create you, and yet here you are; real. Not my creation, but you have taken the life of my created child.”
“I needed to know, he wouldn’t tell me.”
“You aren’t meant to be here, and you aren’t meant to know, so it is time for you to cease. Rembrandt received an image in his now non-existent mind. He could see that this God, this creator was sitting before the vast expanse of nothing, both eternal and non-existent. It went forever but never had a starting place. As he pondered the creation of the universe and man, he calmed down, considering what this inspireless inspirer could inspire in him. What came before God? Is there memory to be had? Is everything before God lost to oblivion? Does the beginning of God result in a new start, or the first start? At that moment he was granted an answer. “Oh, well that’s easy! It’s…well, it’s…oh drats! No! I’ve forgotten! No! NO!!! Help me remember!”
But there was only silence, only darkness, only forgetfulness.