Tuesday, April 5, 2005 | Fiction
The Author of the Universe
Let’s say that you’re reading a short story by some guy named Jeff Haas when he decides to make you the protagonist. You’d have to admit that you’re in a pretty precarious position right off the bat, as Mr. Haas has been known to put his protagonists through all sorts of horrifying ordeals, even to the point of killing them off.
But for the sake of argument, you’re the protagonist and Mr. Haas places you in a small sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic. Normally, this might be a fun place to be, with warm tropical breezes, gently lapping waves, and gorgeous supermodels lounging in string bikinis, sipping piña coladas.
But this simply isn’t that kind of story. No, instead Mr. Haas has placed you all alone in your tiny sailboat in the Caribbean just as a tremendous hurricane is bearing down on you. The wind is whipping your sails and the waves are pounding against the hull, rocking you back and forth and making you seasick. To make matters worse, your emergency outboard engine just ran out of gas, and you neglected to pack a life raft.
Now, you might pause to wonder why it is that you’re alone in the middle of a hurricane. It might be that you’re clandestinely running drugs from Jamaica to Fort Lauderdale, or you’re escaping from the mob like a lawyer in one of those John Grisham thrillers, or perhaps you’re fleeing a jealous husband after being caught in flagrante delicto with his beautiful wife. But you really don’t have the time to reflect on the machinations of your backstory right now, do you?
Suddenly, you remember the brand new marine VHF radiotelephone you bought in Jamaica—if, indeed, you really were in Jamaica—and struggle to the cabin to broadcast a mayday signal. Lucky for you, the Coast Guard has been monitoring your frequency and a helicopter arrives just in time. You’re miraculously airlifted out of the ocean and, though your sailboat is lost, your life is saved.
Now that you’re lying in a hospital bed you have some time to reflect on your ordeal. What might originally have seemed to be a man-against-nature story might actually have been a man-against-author story. That is, if you indeed were the protagonist, and Mr. Haas was responsible for creating the hurricane, then Mr. Haas himself was the antagonist of this story.
So, as you’re recuperating, you might ask Mr. Haas why it was that he placed you smack dab in the middle of a hurricane in the first place. But instead of telling you that you have no right to ask such a question, Mr. Haas would simply say that your relationship to the author of this story merely mirrors his relationship to the author of the universe.
But at least Mr. Haas saved you from the hurricane.
Jeff Haas is an American writer of speculative fiction whose other stories can be found on the Web in Opium Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, The God Particle, edifice WRECKED, and Whispers of Wickedness (really, just Google him!). He lives in Atlanta with his lovely wife Melissa and talented daughter Carrie.