The Meeting

Photo by Damir Kopezhanov on Unsplash

The cave-like office was lit up by the rhythmic flashing of the red alarm light. The vast room was dully lit, though there were no windows or light fixtures to be seen. In fact, the room was empty spare a long rectangular oak conference table. Not real oak, of course. Trees didn’t grow here, nobody manufactured saws or any materials necessary to build a table, and it’s not like you’d find a home furnishing store either. Nonetheless, Good rubbed her hand over the table in front of her, thinking about the worlds where trees grew and tables were made. 

“Though I do enjoy these little meetings of ours, this one will be pointless if he never shows up,” said Evil, who sat directly across from Good, and was glaring at the empty seat at the head of the table. Balance, sitting opposite the empty chair at the other head, clicked their tongue as they silently thumbed through manilla folders labeled with unimaginably high numbers. 

Abruptly, Death stood from the table, his spinny chair loudly rolling out from behind him, stalking silently to the empty seat, leaning both hands on the back of the chair, “I know I physically can’t, but some days I just wanna kill Jerry,” he says as he pushes off the back of the chair with a dramatic drawn-out sigh, walking back to his chair.

“Really? That’s so out of character for you,” taunted Life, faking concern. 

Balance lifted their eyes from the box of folders sitting at their feet, squinting at the glaring red light illuminating the dull room every other second, “There has to be a way to turn that thing off, right? I feel like I’m gonna have a seizure,” they said, trying to rub the pain in their right eye away.

“The visual alarm for Error Code #4511263 will not cease until all members of the Council have entered The Great Room and the meeting has commenced,” Evil mocked as he repeated the law out of the Reality Council handbook verbatim.

“Well, remind me of that one when I’m flopping on the ground like a fish out of water, choking on my tongue,” said Balance sarcastically, giving Evil the fakest smile they could give.

“That would certainly put a damper on this already dull day,” said an out-of-breath voice as he huffed through the massive arched doors. His hair was a mess, unbrushed locks going in every direction. His arms hugged a bundle, that was most likely a neat stack at some point, of crumpled papers and documents. 

“The man has no sense of time, I swear,” mumbled Life.

With an exasperated sigh, he dropped the papers onto the wood — or wood-ish — table and dropped his weight into the black spinny chair located at the head of the table.  The table was meant to resemble the corporate offices found on Earth. Well, some Earths. Pretty on-brand considering the Reality Council’s job was to protect just that. Earth. Well, all versions of Earth. And given the numbers on Balance’s manilla folders, there were plenty of versions, giving them lots of work to do. A silence fell on the group, making the obnoxious glow of the red alarm light very noticeable. After a considerable amount of time went by in silence, Balance looked over to the disorganized man smiling at them with his hands folded out in front of him. With wide eyes, Balance slowly moved their head forward in anticipation.

“Ah! Right, of course,” Jerry said, knocking himself upside the head, “Let the meeting commence,” and with a wave of his hand, the rhythm of the red light was broken, and the dull lighting of the room fell over the extremely odd, powerful bunch. 

Flipping through his stacks of paper, trying to right some along the way, Jerry mumbled, “Unfortunately, we don’t have much time to deal with this matter.”

“And who’s fault is that?” mumbled Life, looking down at the table, resting her head on her folded hands.

“We haven’t got time to be passive,” scolded Good.

“Yeah, Jerry made sure of that,” laughed Evil, but one look from Good made him clear his throat and put on a serious face.

Jerry straightened the papers on the table, “We haven’t had an Error Code #4511263 in quite some time, so to briefly review: when two events happen simultaneously in different universes, The Merger happens, and the two realities collide without the knowledge of those living in either. This keeps the number of realities in the multiverse manageable for us. Error Code #4511263 is alarmed when two realities should have Merged, but the unforeseen actions of one change the course of one reality, stopping The Merger with another reality.”

Balance added, “And this makes our already hefty stack of worlds to keep an eye on a little less…”

“Manageable?” offered Good.

Balance glanced back down to the box of manilla folders at their feet and began thumbing through them again. Evil and Death shifted in their seats at the same time, as silent thoughts passed through the minds of the beings.

“So, how has this changed the course of that world’s timeline?” asked Good.

“Nothing on a global scale, but the astronomics got slightly altered due to the lack of Merging. When the realities didn’t collide, the stitching was ripped between worlds, sending a ripple through space, causing a rock to break off of…” Jerry paused to lick his fingers and turn the page of the document in his hands, “Astral Body B-43 heading straight towards both worlds, just in different parts of the worlds and a few years apart,” he dropped the papers from his hands and they drifted neatly down in front of him.

“Out of curiosity,” pried Death, “Can we do nothing and let both worlds end?” Good and Life gaped at Death’s remark.

“Less work for us,” added Evil, smiling either at Death or the surprise displayed on Good and Life’s faces.

As if Death hadn’t just proposed mass extinction, Balance grabbed a folder from the box, flipped it open to a page somewhere near the end, and slid it across the table to Evil, “Because that’s how joint world 78302240567 is supposed to end after The Merger. Not an astral impact. In fact, neither of those worlds should ever end separately, they should just have one joint ending,”

Death, who was leaning over Evil’s shoulder to read the page, sucked in a breath through his teeth, “Why don’t we just be kind and let the asteroid hit them?” Balance gave a considering nod of their head as they took the folder back. 

“Unfortunately, that’s not our job. We fix what’s broken, not decide whether or not it’s broken enough,” interjected Jerry, “Nonetheless, we need to find a way to match up a new moment to create a new Merger.” Balance once again pulled out two different folders, one belonging to each would-be Merger world. Papers from both folders were passed among each other, the documents being traded, read, put down, and covered with more documents. Finally, one long line of papers was strewn out from Balance to Jerry. The twelve eyes scanned over the coherent timeline surrounded by a jumble of meaningless papers.

Life slumped back in her chair letting out a long sigh, “That should do it,” she said.

“Indeed,” Jerry agreed, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck, “If Andi Brookes gets a phone call 10 minutes before she has to leave for work, she’ll miss her bus, making her catch the next one which crashes, killing her. Her sister won’t go to work once she finds out, leaving the meat company she truck drives for without a driver, leaving the meat delivery to Joanne’s Deli a day old. Jacob Downes, a regular at the shop, should get food poisoning from his regular double grilled turkey panini, and so on and so forth until we have…” Jerry’s eyes stopped at the last page in the line, which overlapped with the last page from the second world doomed to collide.

“The Merger,” finished Good.

“Someone has to make that call though,” hinted Life as they all shifted forwards in their chair to look at Jerry.

“I know, I know, I’ll get to it,” shrugged Jerry as he gathered his papers again, standing up and moving towards the wide arched doors he had so abruptly shuffled in through earlier.

Good huffed, “Don’t wait too long, reality stops for no one.”

Jerry stopped momentarily to pull open one of the doors to the office and called over his shoulder, “Has to wait for me!” and the door swiftly closed behind him.

The remaining five stood from their chairs but didn’t turn to leave just yet.

Finally, Good spoke, “For Time himself, that man has no sense of it.” 

About Erin Owens 423 Articles

Erin Owens is a sophomore at Clayton A. Bouton High School.