Chapter

41

She’s right, of course. I do have to be stopped.

Not because I’m really that bad. I mean, I don’t think I am. I’ll understand if there are those who disagree. If my agenda was to try as hard as I could to make sure no one thought I sucked, what the fuck would ever get done? How would I go about taming this world, or shaping reality for the better? And if I didn’t bother pursuing those goals, and thereby tacitly accepting the untold suffering that resulted from my inaction, wouldn’t that make me a bad person? If I try and succeed, I’m a hero, right? And if I try and fail, at least I made things interesting on my way to the grave. There would be a tragic nobility in that. And the way I see it, settling for anything less from my arc would be, frankly, pathetic.

So yeah, of course I know I “have to be stopped.” It’s part of the contract. What you sign up for when you assume the burdens of this sort of power. Where there is that which must be subdued and suborned for the greater good, there is that which will instinctively resist. That which intuits that whatever’s going on here is “wrong.” Otherwise, intervention wouldn’t even be necessary, would it? If reality and those within it were already so intrinsically pliable, so amenable to deviating from their own nature, the sins of men and faults of God would have no rigidity or resilience. There’d be no challenge in forcing their correction. No reward in ramming salvation down their throats. I know this isn’t coming cheap, what I’m trying to do. The cost of it is knowing I need to be stopped. I accept it consciously, and when the time comes—if it comes—I’ll offer myself up gladly.

But I’m not a fool. I know what accepting this cost really means, through any objective narrative faculty. No matter how I rationalize things, how grandly I orate my supreme designs, or how indulgent and self-obsessed my concluding soliloquy may come across, I’m perfectly aware of what I’ve become in all practical ways. I am the villain now. It’s gotten impossible for me to see this result as anything but inevitable, from the day I was spawned from a puddle of slime. I want to be a good person. I believe I am a good person. But when you’re someone like me, good is never going to be quite good enough.

The problem is, I think power like mine can only make antagonistic intent unavoidable. Who could wield such control over people’s choices and the course of events without ultimately becoming the enemy of anyone who notices? Maybe only a stronger person than I could manage to pull it off. Someone like Dave. So when I say I know I need to be stopped, I guess it’s more than just accepting my end of a diabolical bargain. I know I need to be stopped, because I’m sure deep down, somewhere inside my infinitely recursive sense of self, I know what’s going on here is all just a little bit sick. To be honest, I’d consider killing myself and sparing reality all the trauma from the jump—I mean, a legit suicide, not one of those melodramatic faux-suicidal plays for attention, sympathy, or Jake’s dick. But to really do it for keeps? For a truly selfless purpose? Nah. Too cowardly for that. Too afraid to stop existing for good. Wouldn’t you be if you were me?

I guess therein lies the problem. If I weren’t me, obviously I’d consider myself much less indispensable. Only worthless people permit themselves the great luxury of a valorous sacrifice. When the deed is done, what was really lost? It’s like the guy in the mail room quitting in a self-righteous huff. Who the fuck were you again? No, when the sense of self is so substantial, when the fate of everything turns on every vain whim of an ego this sprawling, this entrenched in the very medium that contains all else, there’s a certain existential sunk cost that goes with the whole deal. A persona that vast doesn’t just self-terminate. It won’t allow itself to.

That’s why when someone finally comes knocking for the price I owe, I’ll fully welcome it. By then it’ll have been a long time coming, and I’ll probably have done more than my share to make sure, somewhere along the way, it all got put into motion. What good is a villain who doesn’t have a satisfying dramatic comeuppance in store for him? So yeah, the next time I die, let’s pencil it in as a Just Death. And let’s also have it on good authority that the next time Dave cuts off my head, it’ll be for good.

I’ll be looking forward to that day just as much as the next guy.

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