::: the novel written in seven hours :::
Before events proceed any further, certain things need taking care of. It's necessary if this is going to move forwards at all. Imagine, if you will, because you have no choice in the matter, that Eric and Allen never went to Charel's place, because they didn't, at least as of now. That's all, continue.
Somewhere, someone hit their smite key, and Susan, being one whose focus never falters when she has something on her mind, was hit with that brilliant flash of light that she had defined her existence in pursuit of, and wandered directly in front of Eric's car, which is now still driving around town. Her head smacked against the cement, and the book that she had lovingly retrieved from the library flew into the air and landed on her face, providing the last amount of head trauma needed to remove Dear Susan from her world and this story. Damn shame, Eric and Allen probably could have provided some great input on sexual perversion experiments, but Susan wasn't that interesting of a hero anyways, and for the record never achieved closure because she couldn't share her brilliant hypothesis with anybody.
"Shit, you killed her," Bob said, putting an enormous effort into trying to sound indifferent about the miracles of death, and failing miserably.
"Oh dear god," Ruby muttered as she scanned the streets, frantic that maybe-Jane would see that she had been involved in the death of a person and the destruction of literature.
"Wow, she looks awful. Even worse than that cat we saw a few blocks back with the fuckin cigarette burn on its face." Allen said this aloud as he thought it would be more appropriate than his thought that this would make a great topic for a poem, one fit for Charel's loving approval.
Eric didn't say anything, as he realized that drawing attention to himself might draw attention to the fact that he just killed someone. Being indifferent to the existence of the human race as a whole, he saw no reason to feel guilty over the death of one single person who couldn't even be the hero in a small-time novel.
Putting all of his knowledge to use, except for anything scientific and his scholarship of Mandarin Chinese, Eric determined that the cynical looking guy who seemed to be squinting his eyes at the corpse would be the key to removing them from this situation.
"You do realize,"Eric said in Bob's direction, gaining his attention, "that we have just the right amount of people for Euchre?"
He caught some sudden movement in the corner of his eye, and looking over, saw that the girl had brightened up at the mention of Euchre. He also noticed she was scratching her ankle, and was pretty sure he saw that she was slipping a wallet, no doubt the dead girl's, into her sock.
"Are you in?" He asked her in that tone that indicates 'say yes or we shall shun and/or stone you'. She nodded yes.
"Dude, your grill's all fucked up," Bob said, regaining control of himself, eager to gain control over a new flock of people.
"That's OK," Eric replied, shrugging his shoulders, disappointing Bob with his superior casualness, "I was thinking of taking up auto-repair anyways. Now I have a project."
Please appreciate the depravity of these four now sitting around a table, beginning a game of Euchre, because that's what you have. Again, you have no choice in the matter.
As is customary in Euchre, especially with total strangers, Eric initiated a conversation; Euchre should not require the total concentration of the player.
"So what do you guys do to pay the rent?", Eric asked, not realizing that the author had switched over to the attitude of Bob, and that all answers would therefore be given to make the characters loathsome to the reader.
"Well," Ruby answered hesitantly, "My position in life was never really defined, so I have no answer. In order to impress you, as of this moment I am an honor student double-majoring in Philosophy and Women's Studies, and I volunteer at a homeless shelter." Nobody was visibly impressed, because they weren't.
Bob, upset because the jittery girl had spoken before him, thereby upstaging him, answered with obvious disdain for the previous answer, "Well, I," holding out the 'I' so as to indicate that he was more important, "just kinda do my own thing. Sometimes, when it suits me, I write an amazing witty column for a local magazine." He didn't mention that he lifted weights so he wouldn't decay too quickly, or that he squinted so that everything became more surreal, and especially not that he liked to say things postmodern; he assumed all that was obvious.
"I write poetry," Allen blurted out, hoping his two new friends would be impressed and ask to read some. Neither did, so he felt obliged to prove that he was a good poet. "I've been published in some magazines, and I have a friend who insists they're the best poems she's ever read."
"What about you?" Bob asked, realizing he didn't know Eric's name and didn't care to. "What's your poison?" Bob figured, with Susan dead, someone else would have to start speaking in cliches. He decided he would work on mumbling tomorrow.
"Eh, I program computers for some local engineering firm. Nothing special." Eric was rather disappointed by the vague murmurs of approval that he received from the newcomers. Worried that they might become interested in him, he changed the subject of the conversation as he so expertly can.
"So Allen and I were talking earlier about what we want to do with ourselves in life. What say you for yourselves?"
Ruby had suffered much mental duress from her interactions with maybe-Jane. Paranoia had set in long ago, and she deduced that her sitting at a table with three strange men was too much of a coincidence, that it had been orchestrated by that woman, and that they would each return to her and give thorough individual reports. Her overactive conscious had also informed her that she had sinned against the earth and must repent. These two thought trains, initiated at the car crash, had fed themselves and each other up to this point, and produced the response, "I want to save the world. People everyday are killing the planet and themselves, and I think we should all help to put a stop to that."
Bob, being Bob, had spent his time wondering how he could take credit for Susan's death, and how messed up of a relationship he could establish with the jittery girl. He had also considered in passing how Susan's death somehow, although he wasn't sure exactly how, validated his approach to life, and that he should continue his straight and narrow. "I personally don't give a fat rat what happens to this world, I'm just gonna do my own thing."
Eric smiled, realizing he finally had faces to go with the conflicting voices of his conscious. He also realized that, between those two voices, he liked Allen much better, mediocre poetry and all. "Works for me," he said, keeping the conversation nice and shallow.
There is nothing else. All the characters that were left living continued their existence, independently of each other, except of course for Eric and Allen, being no better off for having met each other. Their lives faded to a gray nothingness, and meant nothing to nobody, but deep inside, Allen, Ruby and Bob wept for this fact, and had dreams where they were heroes and heroines, but never had the courage to rise up and make something of themselves. Eric, however, was generally happy with the rut he set up for himself. and lived out his life happily miserable, knowing he was the least important thing on just about everybody's list. Or maybe it doesn't. As far as this writer is concerned, there is nothing else, but if it will make the reader sleep better, everyone lives happily ever after in whatever fashion you see fit. You can even bring Susan back to life if you want to, but I wouldn't recommend it. Watermelon, watermelon, bubble gum, whatever.
...on to Chapter Eighteen...
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