February 2020

Greetings and Introduction

Welcome! The editors here at Excerpts from Nonexistent Books are honored, nay, humbled that you have chosen to read from our humble site, and we are even more excited to kick off a weeklong celebration of 10 years’ literary blogging!

This blog was started in 2010 with a humble goal: to provide an outlet for the finest literature that did not, technically, exist (and as a daily, and accountable, writing blog besides!). At times it seemed like the project would not last the year, and EFNB was woefully behind at times, up to a month in some cases. But now, 3,652 entries later, it has all come together.

For this commemorative entry, the EFNB editors have gathered some comments from our nonexistent authors, posed questions to some of our longest-running nonexistent characters, and compiled some tantalizing statistics for nerds and nerkles. Finally, we have some exciting news in the form of a blast from the past! Stick around—if you’ve been with us for 10 years of this nonsense, you’re sure to enjoy what we’ve got in store.

Comments from Nonexistent Authors

“Ladies, gentlemen, and anything in between, it has been a pleasure and I hope it continues to be.”
Mariana Brinson

“Has it really been ten years? It feels like five-and-a-half at most. Perhaps there’s a time warp thing involved, I dunno.”
Altos Wexan

“Oh wow!!! CONGRATULATIONS! That’s wonderful!! Wooooooooow, 10 whole years. That’s an impressive milestone!”
Amanda Elton

“How did you get this address? Get out of my office!”
Phil “Stonewall” Pixa

“Nice! As someone who can’t finish nearly anything with an semblance of consistency I find it impressive.”
Akima Wren

Nokin Kobeyashi

“It’s been an delight, since most sites think my writing is for the birds.”
Sandra Cooke Jameson

“I’m honored to be part of EFNB, and I will live on forever through its fame and glory!”
Blythe Hilson

Questions with Nonexistent Characters

Q: What is best in life?
A: To crush a difficult recipe, see it served before you, and to hear the happy belches of the customers.
-Takenaka Chihiro, the wandering Sengoku Jidai gourmet chef

Q: What do you like best about appearing in EFNB?
A: Since my author will probably never finish my novel or short stories, it’s the only way I can exist. I guess I’ll take it, since the alternative is staying cooped up in his head.
-Pamela Ellen “Peg” Gregory, minimum-wage space jockey

Q: What is a good quality in a nonexistent character?
A: Existence is illusory. We only give existence power through belief; with enough belief, even the most ridiculous thing can be said to exist and exert its will. The ideal thing is to be the hand or sword-arm of that thing–no one has to believe in you, but you may as well be all-powerful.
-Pierre Richat, enigmatic villain

Q: Who do you like in the 2020 EFNB blog draft?
A: I think we’ll see more low-effort bad poetry, more graphical elements stolen from old sheet music, and the occasional return of a character from the blog’s heyday. But look out for pass interference from bizarre ideas that the blog toys with extensively and then drops, and of course plenty of hasty entries filled in after the fact.
-Carl Drake, sportscaster for NBS Broadcasting

Q: Do you think any of the characters are authorial self-inserts?
A: No, I think the predominance of college-age men giving way to greying middle-aged salarymen in stories over the years is a coincidence.
-Eric Cummings, spoiled college student

Q: Which is superior, the realistic, sci-fi, or fantasy entries in the blog?
A: All genres are puny, and all the living authors vermin, destined to wither and fail before the unstoppable tides of entropy and cool animated skeletons. So, fantasy, I guess.
-Ulgathk the Ever-Living, Elder Lich of the Seven Lands

Q: Why do all the EFNB entries sometimes feel like they were all written by the same person?
A: Well, as Messr. Whitman once said, we are large. We contain multitudes. Each idea is like its own being, with its own life and death, even if it occupies the same skull as a thousand others. Perhaps we are all, ultimately, mere notions in a head so large and a mind so vast that we cannot even conceive of it.”
-Auguste Des Jardins, French filmmaker

Q:Who are you, really?
A:I am a servant of the power behind the Nothing, and an aspiring poet.

Statistics for Nerds

Most Comments: 56, From “A Muse’s Unvarnished Perspective” by Altos Wexan

Most Popular Year: 2012, 4394 visitors

Total Pageviews (including spambots): 37,028

Total Visitors (including spambots): 17,867

Most popular day: Tuesday (18% of views)

Most popular hour: 10:00 PM (14% of views)

Average Excerpt Length: ~300 (299.8)

Wordiest year: 2013, with 130,377 words written and 357 words/excerpt average

Total comments 2010-2020: 1,061

Average comments per excerpt: .29

Total likes 2010-2020: 6605

Average likes per excerpt: 2

Countries outside the USA with more than 1000 views: Italy (1,724), India (1,721), UK (1,355), Canada (1,145)

Total words written 2010-2020: 1,010,628

Still to Come!

Tune in starting tomorrow for a week of entries that are sequels to the very first pieces of nonexistent fiction every featured on this site!

“We’ve always gone our own ways, pursued our own interests, but…there has been a balance. A balance that is now upset.” The Azure Man exhaled, wreathing his head in blue smoke. “I’ve long had that balance as my interest, my reason. Hues are powerful, as I’m sure you’ve seen, and there is a greater balance at stake in the world which we are a part of.”

“You like to hear yourselves talk, too,” said Harry. “Don’t forget that.”

“Yes, quite.” The Man tapped a pale finger on his cheek. “You’ve let the Lady in Red draw living blood for the first time in decades, set the Green Couple fighting amongst themselves over your soul contract, turned the Yellow Woman’s madness back upon her, and managed to thoroughly, thoroughly piss off the Purple One, whom I count as my dearest enemy. Have I left anything out?”

“The part where I just want to go in peace and leave you Hues alone,” said Harry. “Maybe see Harriet one last time before they give her the chair.”

“That time has passed,” said the Azure Man. “The Hues of this city are in chaos, and they are demanding–or, rather, they will demand–action. I must give them something, even if it is an illusion or a scapegoat. You will do. Or, perhaps, your friend. Perhaps both. Convince me, one way or another, if you think you can.”

Harry fell into a stubborn, sullen, silence.

“Very well then,” the Azure Man said. “Hobson’s choice it is. You choose nothing, so that is what I will give you.”

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“There, there. Try not to move. You’ve been put through the wringer, and I’m not here to hang you out to dry.”

The Purple One set a glass of water next to Harry and walked toward the window, with its expansive view of the city below. They were dressed in a curious mixture of frills and spots, an amalgamation that suggested more than it said, and kept coy about the Hue that wore it.

“Why would you do that?” Harry croaked. “The other Hues have had nothing but trouble for me.”

“Yes, you do seem to have set them aflutter,” said the One. “Perhaps that is what I was curious about. I’m used to their disapproval, you see, and breaking their silly rules. Maybe you’ve got a natural knack for that. Maybe I’d like your help.”

“Just like the others,” Harry said.

“What?” The Purple one was next to him, their violet eyes wide, livid. “I am nothing like them!”

“You say that, and yet here you are, asking how I can help you advance your agenda,” Harry said. “That sounds like every other Hue I’ve dealt with this week.”

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    “Leave it to Green to be so utterly narcissistic as to divide in two, so that there would be someone to love them as much as they loved themselves, and so be of two minds about everything, forever.”

    The Yellow Lady glided down the stairs like a sunbeam, scarcely touching the steps. “And yet it is you who have paid for interfering in the business of the Hues,” she continued. “Your soul in hock. Your lady-friend accused of murder most foul. And you, here, with me. I imagine you’ve heard stories, have you not?”

    “They say you drive men mad,” Harry muttered.

    “Not just men! All sorts. Hues are not immune. I have a talent, like breathing, for unraveling the comfortable lies that people have built up and letting them see the truth. No one likes the truth. It is the harshest of things and can blow away sanity like a dandelion seed riding a blast wave.”

    She was nearer now, and the color of her garment and her eyes was hard for Harry to look at, it seemed to trail behind her as if itself hesitant at the association. “I will show you a truth, and if you are still sane afterwards, then you will have proven worthy of my time.”

    The air around her was visibly shimmering now, a tremblor made visible, and Harry could hear the sound of distant voices shouting and gibbering. Reality seemed to swim about him, and he was drowning in it.

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Greenman stopped and stared at the card. “This is real,” he said. “She is calling in a favor.”

“Absurd,” said Olive. “She doesn’t usually care about the other Hues. Too busy playing her little games.”

Greenman looked over at Harry. “What did you tell her,” he said darkly, “to get her to interfere in our business?”

“I just asked to trade myself in her place. And she said that all she wanted was one night of my friend’s life.”

Olive and Greenman looked at one another. “Your soul?” Olive said. “Worthless. Trousers for a button.”

“But a night of Ms. Rasmussen’s life…she must have something in mind,” Greenman mused. “And if we don’t, she’ll…”

“She’ll…” Olice echoed.

“She’ll…?” Harry said.

“Are you still here?” Greenman snapped. “Fine. The deal is done. Go and wait to hear from us once we decide what to do with your miserable soul. And don’t you dare interfere in the business of Hues again, because without a patron to protect you there’s nothing to keep us from leaving you monochrome.”

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“Well, you sought me out and here I am.” The Woman in Red sat in the booth, her outfit positively dripping with an otherworldly crimson, the reflected light giving all around her a notably pink glow. It might have been a trick of the light, but her eyes–clear and intelligent, if airy–seemed a darker crimson as well.

“Thank you for meeting with me,” said Harry. “It’s a great honor-”

“Please. I didn’t meet you for pleasantries,” the Woman said. “Tell me what’s on your mind. If it’s not boring, I’ll see what I can do. If it is…well, I’ll have to find some other way to make up for the time you’ve wasted, and I don’t think you’ll like it.”

“I have a favor to ask,” said Harry. “It’s about some of the other Hues.”

“Hmm? That’s asking a lot. They stay out of my business and I stay out of theirs. Why should I interfere?”

“The Couple in Green,” Harry said. “They took something very precious to me, and I want it back.”

The Woman leaned forward. “I. Do not. Care,” she said. “You have about thirty seconds to make me change my mind.”

“The Couple in Green took a friend’s soul,” said Harry. “She cares only for money now, and drowns herself in gambling and excess. I want to exchange hers for mine in their contract.”

“Oh, now, that is interesting,” the Lady said. “Release from a contract? That’s an everyday request, and I’ve eaten people for being presumptuous about it. But an exchange? That is delectable. I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you my calling card to take to them, on one condition.”

“Name it.”

“Your friend, what’s-her-name? I want her soul for one night. One crimson night, ichor-stained, to be my plaything.”

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The rusty nut splashed weakly into the puddle of garbage water, and Logona pulled it back with a length of transparent monofilament.

“Looks like it closed,” she said. “Doesn’t surprise me, the natural wormholes can be damn unpredictable.”

Ki shook his head. “How do I get back, then?”

“Well, there are plenty of permanent, or semi-permanent, wormholes,” Logona said. “But don’t just go jumping through them, or you’ll find yourself in a world of trouble. You need a tracer. I recommend Doctor Holey, mostly because I get a little somthin’-somethin’ from him if new customers mention my name.”

Ki stared at her.

“Oh hell,” Logona whined. “Didn’t I tell you this isn’t my usual gig? Fine. A tracer can tell you where you came from by giving you a once-over, yeah? Then you can make sure that you get to a wormhole that matches where you came from.”

“So this Doctor Holey can tell me where to find a way back?” Ki said. “I can go to him when I’ve found Chroma?”

“Hell no,” Logona said. “Doc Holey can tell you what you need to know, but you’ll need to hire somebody else to find one. A hunter, or maybe just a mapper if you’re tha hands-on type.”

Ki thought about this a moment. “If someone else had come through here,” he said, “perhaps meeting someone else, would they have gotten the same advice?”

“Most likely,” said Logona. “Mister Void, Doc Holey, and El-Lacunae are the only tracers near here, and no one who is combing is going to recommend the other two, on account of Void being a cheap-ass and El-Lacunae being missing and maybe dead.”

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“This is the cargo?” said Stella. “A computer drive?”

Whitaker hugged the transport case to him like a baby doll. “Not just any computer drive,” he said. “This has a complete set of updated teleporter keys, cryptographic ciphers, and routing information for the GesteCo Galactic Teleporter Network!”

“Email it,” Stella said flatly. “This ship has a cargo capacity of 75 metric tons. That thing weighs 7.5 metric kilograms, if that.”

“Coherent data streams go through the GTN,” Whitaker replied, owering his voice a note, as if the data might overhear, “and we’re worried about this information falling into the wrong hands. We’re using local FTL networks to do the update, but I need you to take me to Ultimata Thule so we can start the update from there too.”

“Sneakernet, huh?” Stella said. “Fine. But GesteCo is wasting its money.”

“GesteCo can’t waste its money,” Whitaker said, offended. “If it pays for something, that thing is worth paying for.”

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“This is Amai, of course.”

The blank look they got in return caused the woman to sigh. “Amai-of-the Wormholes? The Grease Trap of the Universe? The Super-Sargasso Sea?”

If anything, this made Ki look even more confused, and apparently it showed.

“Look, I’m no tour guide,” she said. “Give me something of value, something that’ll make it worth my while, and I’ll see what I can do. Otherwise you’ll have to sod off, you dig?”

Ki produced the 24k gold pin from Arik’s grenade and held it out, dangling, like an earring.

The woman greedily snatched it, bit it with teeth that looked like they had been filed to sharp points, and then tucked it away in one of a thousand tiny pockets. “Right, then. Name’s Logona, dig? I’m normally a comber, looking for fancy stuff on the Frontiers. Tell me what happened before you ended up here.”

“Aria had been killed, and the other bodyguards as well,” said Ki. “The kidnappers had taken Chroma. I killed all but one, and as he ran through the courtyard, he dove into the fountain there. I followed, and though it was only a few inches deep, I surfaced in that puddle over there.”

“Hooboy,” Logona said. “Sounds like you found a natural wormhole. Chances are your Chroma, whoever that is, has got herself taken into Amai. Did you try going back through the puddle?”

“No,” Ki said. “I am sworn to protect Chroma with my life and to bring her back if taken.”

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“What is the worst thing, Uncle?” said Takenaka Kenji.

Takenaka Chihiro’s normally bright face was dour and wan. “The worst thing, nephew, is that Nakamoto-sama will now make me doubt the sincerity of all who ask for help. Because of her selfishness, I will hesitate a moment longer before I assist anyone, be it with a good meal or a steady blade.”

Kenji took this in a moment. “Won’t it also mean that Nakamoto-sama will also start to think that all people who seem helpful are easily fooled?” he said.

Takenaka’s frown deepened. “It’s true,” he said. “Had I been a violent man, a bandit, I might have struck her down where she stood. I fear the road she is on has a violent end for her.”

The morning wind blew quietly around them as Takenaka and Kenji stook there a moment, quiet.

“Well, what will we do?” said Kenji.

“I think I will do some calisthenics, and you will make a fire,” said Takenaka. “Then we will make a fine supper for our own road ahead. I find that a bellyful of good food goes a long way toward brightening even the darkest of days.”

“Has this been the darkest of days?”

Takenaka smiled a little bit. “It will have to be a very good meal. Perhaps my best. And it’s just for you and I.”

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