(Author’s Note)… Well, here it is. I am going to start posting the chapters of the fourth and probably not final book of my action/humor science fiction series: The Otherwhere Chronicles. Although the books are, I think, able to stand alone, it would obviously behoove you to buy the first three, if you find yourself getting sucked into the story. They are available right there—> in my sidebar—> by clicking on the little pictures of my book covers.
Even if you don’t care about how all the hundreds of characters and dozens of races ended up where they are, or why they are doing what they are doing, please feel free to give me some feedback. Pointing out any glaring mistakes would be helpful too, but I did get around my inability to edit my own work by having this story be written and told by some unknown alien. So, if he isn’t an expert in the English language, don’t blame me.
Here is the prologue, which begins each of the four books. It will give you some sense of what is going on… I suppose… And I am not going to put the list of characters and races that are included in the books, unless a few of you really want me too. Why distract you from some light reading. Also, I will not post the last quarter of so of the book. Something about a cow and giving the milk away for free. HA!
I would like to take credit for writing this story, but the truth is that I did not. I realize that by placing my name on it I seem to be taking credit for its authorship, and I do apologize for that. In my own defense I feel justified in claiming some ownership because in a way, this story is about me. Oh, it isn’t about the me that is writing these words in this time and place, but if I am not mistaken, the hero of this story is another me from another reality.
I realize how confusing this must be to you. It certainly confused me when I first began to try to understand it all. And the story itself, not just the details surrounding it, is strange and a little mystifying.
For one thing, it seems to have been written by an alien. And as if that wasn’t difficult enough to take in, the alien in question has a tendency to ramble on and then suddenly veer from the course of his own narrative to go shooting off in some completely new direction. He also has a penchant for leaving important details out and then coming back to them at a later time, at least when he isn’t going into incredible depth of detail over some seemingly insignificant bit of information.
If you can manage to make it past these idiosyncrasies the story is absolutely incredible. Moreover, I believe that every word of it is true. I have not edited or changed the story in any way despite the unusual style of the writing. I want it to unfold for you in the same way that it did for me. I did not feel that it was my place to second-guess the author’s choice of words nor the order in which he placed them. Once you get used to the manner in which he wrote, the style has a certain grace, elegance and flow that is really quite charming.
Perhaps I should begin at the beginning.
The manuscript containing this story showed up on my front porch about a year and a half ago. Someone dropped it off, rang the doorbell, and then disappeared. It arrived wrapped in a large leather pouch. I am assuming that the pouch was some type of leather, although unlike any that I have ever seen For one thing, it was a deep, rich purple color. I don’t mean that it was dyed or otherwise colored purple. I mean the skin of whatever beast the strangely textured hide came from was actually purple.
The paper on which the story was written was likewise otherworldly, and I do not use that word lightly. The paper, if paper it was, was a bright, shiny white and was thinner than any tracing paper, and yet I could not tear it with my bare hands. It could be cut with sharp scissors, but it would not burn even when held in the flame of a candle, nor would it be dirtied by the soot of the smoke.
The words themselves, in English, were written by hand. But as I have stated, I have come to believe that the hand that wrote them was not the hand of a human being. The ink used was red, and glowed with a faint inner light. You can, in point of fact, read them in a completely darkened room.
As you read the story you will come to understand that the narrator is describing events that he actually witnessed and yet he takes no active part and the participants in the story seem to be unaware of him. I am convinced that the being who wrote these words did indeed observe all the events that transpired without being a part of them, if that makes any sense at all.
Of course I thought this was all some elaborate hoax when I received the package, a practical joke being played on me by some particularly clever friend. But I rapidly understood, as the miraculous properties of the ink and paper made themselves known to me, that this was not the answer to this mystery.
Once I began to read the words themselves, written in a beautifully flowing script, I ceased to worry about the origins of the documents and became instead enthralled by the story itself. Oh, the style of the storytelling can be trying but once you get past that, the story begins to sweep you along. You are floating on a raft in a river of words, and you begin to wonder what strange places this magical river will meander to next. Yes, you get delayed by swirling currents or sidetracked into small tributaries, but even these diversions from your journey offer panoramic vistas or unexpected delights. They add to the adventure rather than detract from it, and you never know when something that you learned during one of these interludes will become important later in your voyage.
The story is like a river in one other way. As it progresses it becomes deeper and wider and swifter in its passage. The journey becomes ever more exciting as you pass through rapids and dodge jutting rocks. And if, as I believe, it all actually happened, or will happen, or is happening, then there is hope for all of us. And I don’t just mean all of us here on this planet.
I found this hope in the hero of the story who happens to share my first name, and if he is real, a great deal more than that. Oh, on the face of it he is a most unlikely hero. He is over 50 years of age. He works as a custodian on an alien space station and is in no way important or even special. He isn’t particularly strong or brave or clever or smart. He is, when you get right down to it, quite reluctant to take on the role of hero, and yet take it on he does despite his feelings. And in a strange way that is the most heroic thing about him.
He is lazy, sarcastic, irreverent, irritable, stubborn, self-centered and quirky. But he can be funny and charming, loyal and even brave when it is required. But he also refuses to take himself too seriously, and this goes a long way towards making up for his less than stellar qualities. He may well be, as I said, the most unlikely hero ever born of our species, and yet somehow that just seems to make him more human.
It slowly dawned on me, as I began to read about this other Arthur, that he was in fact me. There are facts in the story that only someone who knows me intimately could possibly know. Many of the facts are just a little bit wrong, the details just a little bit different, but the similarities are overwhelming. This is me. But another me from another reality, another dimension.
I realize this is all hard to believe. I know that it requires you to accept as fact that there are endless otherwheres and otherwhens and countless other yous out there. I was forced just then to use words that do not exist to try to get you to accept the existence of places that do exist but that you can not see or touch. If you cannot bring yourself to see the truth in all this, I cannot blame you. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to believe either.
But once I got past all that, and I accepted the fact that we are not alone, that the universe is populated with a multitude of other beings, and that this isn’t the only universe, I began to realize that being alone on our planet is much worse than being a part of a much larger family. And not only you, but each and every one of those beings out there around us also has their own endless version of themselves in other universes, universes quite like ours and universes so different that we would recognize not one bit of them.
It is that very endlessness that gives me hope. Because endlessness, by definition, never ends. And that means that we will never end, no matter what befalls us in this reality that is all that we know.
So believe or not as you choose, but the aliens will find us sooner or later. They will come and most of them will be friendly. And if some of them are not friendly, just know that somewhere out there is a man named Arthur who has a way of keeping bad things from happening.
I am fairly sure that I am not the only me to get a copy of this manuscript. That other me, the one around which this story centers, now has the ability to cross between realities. I think that he is giving the story to as many other hims, or us’s, as he can in his spare time. I am not entirely sure of his motives. It might be his way of telling us that momentous events are coming our way. But I suspect that the main reason he is doing it is that he just thinks it’s funny.
- H. Browne