I wrote this some time ago for a creative writing scholarship. I never got around to sending it. The piece had to be less than 1,000 words.
In Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Words Their Universe Ends
“…Me of course.”
And thus, Humpty blinks into existence. He sits on a wall. A woman walks by.
They sit in stony silence.
“Don’t you have anything to say?” Humpty asks.
“I have some things to say.”
“Well then, please tell me something.”
“Fact or fiction?”
“Both,” Humpty says after a little consideration.
“God created the universe in seven days,” she responds.
“That’s quite a feat.”
“I never took it literally.”
“Yes, there are also seven deadly sins.”
“Did he create one on each day that he created the universe?”
“Tell me more.”
“Well, seeing as you are the only one here. I will tell you everything. I am Mary. I only exist, one lexicon at a time.”
“And so do you. Every tiny detail is controlled by a higher being. Everything is laid out and we are merely existing in every moment as that moment happens. I know it’s hard to see, for it is hard to explain, but that is the best I can do.”
“Destiny? A higher being? That’s not so different.”
“He thinks he’s so clever for putting us in this position. He tries too hard I say.” Mary stares off into space. “I see loops of black against the void. Also there is a silhouette that rests behind them. I believe it is our creator.”
“But the day is blank, or is this all in metaphor?”
“Follow me. You don’t see now, but I can bring you to the truth.”
“I cannot physically follow you or I will fall off this wall, but I will listen to your teachings. Really, I have nothing better to do.”
“Alright. Now Humpty…”
Humpty interrupts, “How did you know my name?”
“You are fairly famous.”
“For what?” Humpty inquires.
“Well, you are embodied in a nursery rhyme.”
“May I hear it?”
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…”
“This is true.”
“Let me finish.”
Mary clears her throat. “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great…” she pauses.
“A great what?”
“Empire does not rhyme with wall?”
“Forgive me. I will disclose the rest of the nursery rhyme when I feel you are ready. I have not determined if the words hold significance or have to do with your fate.”
“What is my fate then?”
“Look, I’ve only got the foggiest notion of what’s going on, but it seems to be more than you’ve got.”
“I’m just an egg.”
“So, this fate you speak of…”
She looks back up to the wall where Humpty precariously perches. “Perhaps if I teach you what I know, the creator will have mercy on us. As I was saying, every detail, every word we pronounce is ordained in the scheme of this universe. I know this because I see past the third wall.”
“A wall like the one I sit on?”
“Well, this creator you speak of gave us an awfully boring place to live. Everything is white. What a depressing void.”
The setting: Humpty sits on a muted, narrow stone brick wall — about fifteen meters high. Mary stands quite distanced at the wall’s edge, wearing a floppy hat and large sunglasses. The two are situated in a neat meadow with rolling hills. Patches of clover and small wild flowers spot the meadow. Humpty’s wall kingdom juts out of the earth, pushing dirt around its edges. Out of the clumps of dirt, grass grows taller and ivy crawls up the wall’s crevices, with some vines reaching just shy of Humpty’s kicking legs. Next to Mary is the only man-made debris: a paper ice cream cone with a snail inside.
“God has shown us!”
“I see! Just look around!”
“The flowers! They are so beautiful.”
“And look at that snail. Is it some illusion?”
“You mean allusion?”
“If it is, it’s fairly arbitrary.”
“Well, I suppose God had to make at least one.”
“So this creator is ‘the God’?” Humpty inquires.
“Well, he’s empowered and controls our fate.”
They sit in awe, becoming accustomed to the newly exhibited setting and almost forgetting the blankness that proceeded it.
“Sitting here, I just had a revelation.”
“Whatever is it?” Humpty balances above the female Shaman with impatience.
“This story,” she sighs. “It’s going to end soon.”
“How do you figure?”
“Well it has to be less then one thousand words.”
“One thousand! Good god, that’s hardly anything. Is that what our meaningless lives have been confined to?”
“Yes, and by the way, you did not capitalize God.”
“Isn’t it wrong to make money off of god?”
“No, you did not capitalize the first letter of his name.”
“Not enough emphasis?”
“I mean, as in lower case, uppercase.”
“How would you know from me speaking?”
She shrugs, “I see past the third wall.”
“So one thousand words is just an allegory, right? I mean, how many words have we spoken as of yet? Who’s really counting?”
Mary shakes her head.
“Why must you be so vague? What do the thousand words signify? A thousand years? Days? God created the world in seven.”
“Thanks for the correct casing on God, but you still don’t understand. You do not see.”
More stony silence ensues, then:
“Wait, maybe I do,” Humpty says as he leans forward. He squints hard in front of him. “Someone is looking at me. Is this … is this the third wall I see past?” he asks tentatively.
“Yes! You’re aware!”
Humpty leans farther, teetering on the edge of the brick wall. “Whatever this silhouette god is, he’s absolutely evil for doing this to us.”
“No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.”
“Who said that?”
“Who is that?”
But Mary did not finish. She was out of words. And Humpty was finished too.
He leaned too far forward and crashed. He could not be put back together again.