's 2019 Horror Write-off:

Excerpts From A Book That Will Never Be Written 4

Submitted by Brendan Cleary (email)

Section 59: In Which Our Heroes Meet A Man You Recognize

At the highest peak of Catastrophe, the man you all know as Daniel Frondless was waiting. The long melt was nowhere to be seen here on the cliffs, and the spiral snow spread itself into mathematical formations that could solve all of the people on the D.I.S.C.’s ills if they only bothered to decode them. Passing the time, the man who is undeniably Daniel Frondless had fun taking his foot and wiping away the spiral snows patterns. There’s no need to describe the man as you know who Daniel Frondless is. He looks like that. If you do not know the exact proportions, conjure up your own Daniel Frondless. However you picture him is good enough for the man here to resemble. But, there is one detail you can’t leave out. Broken fractured glasses that he stringently wears, do not forget those, readers! If you have a piece of paper and are inclined to do so, now is a good time to draw your mental image of Daniel Frondless.

Have you done it? Good. Have you not? Don’t worry, you can continue reading.

“Hard to believe” The man you are picturing as Daniel says, “this wasn’t here a week ago.”

He wasn’t alone. 

RATT, encased in the armor of the selected works of the Cassowary Sisters, shivered at his words. She had hoped that the work by such unimaginably literal and dull writers would be perfect camouflage against a supposed BookBiter. No luck for RATT. His slow turn towards her dashed the wild hope that he was talking to himself. SHE(THE RATT) picked off a snippet from their debut novel, an excerpt on the growth of the yeast trade in Littleborough that could not be refuted, but the man you recognize as Daniel Frondless held up a hand.

“Please” he said in a voice remarkably pleasant but strangely unfamiliar. “I’m not the one you’re looking for Mrs… I’m sorry I don’t believe I know you.”

“And I don’t know you.” RATT snarled, she said this from the very back of her throat, to give her words the extra malice that only a hearty dose of phlegm could provide. She had never seen this man before in her life. Which frustrated her, so long following the trail of the Book Biter and their numerous compatriotes and here was another giant piece to that puzzle making himself known.

Daniel Frondless, as we know him, was taken aback. “That’s… very odd. In any case, I don’t know why you think I-”

“You know these mountains did not exist. Everyone who knows who isn’t responsible are good friends of mine.” the tail of RATT flicked so fast it appeared to remain stagnant. “I don’t know you.” 

The man that RATT did not recognize as anyone in particular moved his head back and forth, but not at a rate that made his head look stagnant. “Oh… are you telling me… this wasn’t just happenstance? Some group is behind this? Making things seem like they’ve always been here” Daniel Frondless contorted his mouth into a shocked o that was so tight it certainly strained his face. “God, the disregard for history, the utter depravity to make people believe a week old mountain has stood proudly for centuries. Why, and the people erasing decades old peace treaties and creating weather based anomalies that have allegedly been here since our D.I.S.C, they’re all the same group? Working together, or atleast united with the same goal? Messing about in the written world to change our own?” His question were very blatantly not questions. The man who we can view only as Daniel Frondless and nothing else, took five giant steps forwards. 

The impeccable and strong RATT did not move, a fight was what she wanted.  This was the original Book Biter, she was sure of it. As unsatisfying as it was to have the one behind all this be a complete unknown, she felt confident after that vapid speech of his. It was as good as a signed confession.

He stopped after those five steps, showing no plan to close the distance. In terms of ending this years long conflict with a bloody and tense battle, with space for feats of strength and acrobatics when applicable, RATT and the man whose face she didn't know were not on the same page.

“Maybe… if we keep waiting here.” Who we all know as Mr. Frondless said. “Then whoever is behind this will show himself.”

“Himself?” RATT poked.

“Yes. Of course I know who he is. That’s why I’m up here, I decided. I am happy to tell you, Mrs. large for a rodent, that the man you are looking for looks exactly like me. Has my manors and charm, even my cracked glasses, each individual fissure like a mirror to my own.” 

RATT had reached her limit.

The man who can’t be anyone but Daniel Frondless dropped his voice by three octaves. “You see, I decided to come up here, dressed and looking like I am, to be a visual representation of the Book Biter you seek. This isn’t who I am. In reality, I’m really a porpoise with a strong sense of purpose, and a name that is the same as my species-”

RATT had broken her limit and was now 

“-but in all caps-”

running straight at the man she didn’t know at 

“-and with an extra letter.”

a startingly fast velocity

“The only thing is-”

RATT collided, her paper armor detached from her and embedded into the man known as Daniel Frondless. This was not supposed to happen, was never the point of the armor, and it caught HER(THE RATT) by surprise, but the man who suddenly felt like a stranger to us fell onto the floor, dead or an approximation of it.

If you have drawn a picture of Daniel Frondless, now is the time to take that picture and utterly destroy it.

RATT celebrated by scampering onto his face and nibbling his ear. It tasted like heartbreak and impotence. That doesn’t say anything about the man RATT was on, but it provided some damning information about the ear.

It is at this point in the tale that we have caught up with our characters, and everything that is written from this point on is reactive instead of proactive. We are all in uncharted territory. We hope you are feeling the exact right mixture of fear and excitement that makes your heart close in on itself and your fingers tingle.

Jeremy BHL(Best Handled Lightly) appears from behind a rock that is Jeremy sized. He is nervous and looking left and right, right to left, as he toddles as near to the grisly scene as he wants to be. Oh Jeremy, why did you of all people have to get caught up in this mess, thinks Jeremy. Jeremy always thinks that, no matter the circumstances, but now his words have some legitimate relevance.

“My god…” he says, “that man you’re eating…” 

“Friend of yours?” RATT mutters between crumbfulls of ear.

Jeremy’s face goes lopsided. He thinks he knew this person, someone well known, but the name for the person he confused him with now alludes him. The body is of someone he’s never seen before. Why did he think any differently? Just a strange fellow with broken glasses. He shrugs and looks down on the side of the mountain. There’s a potpourri of lungs and intestines for animals he can’t identify. Grotesque work.

“You see that down there? Never seen anything like it!” He says, bemused and yet scared in a way he cannot articulate.

“The organs? Something he cooked up I assume he was going to make commonplace.” RATT says, finishing her meal. “If we had been a few moments later, we would have known that as the endless viscera waterfall or something dumb and needlessly wordy like that.”

Jeremy takes his hands and have them touch their tips again and again and again. “He’s the BookBiter then, right? He’s dead and all the falseness that he moved into truth will be gone like that, no questions asked?”

“If that was the case, we’d be dead on the ground. No baby aged mountain to keep us aloft.”

“Oh,” The thought of death is equally as sad as the idea of the falseness reigning, so Jeremy does not know how to feel about this. “Well… does that mean it wasn’t him?”

“I do not know” RATT says. She’s avoiding thinking about it until her meal is finished.

“Yeah but…” Jeremy struggles for words. “Yeah but… it has to be someone, right? This was our last real lead, whoever this guy was, he was our last real suspect. And if it’s not him, then-”

“Who was it?” a voice breaks through the raging wind. His words have the unquestionable effect of lowering the volume of the weather for the duration they’re spoken. “An excellent question, and for that you will get an excellent answer.” crawling up to the peak with his gloved hands caked with dirt, a man who looks exactly like the man who has just been murdered by RATT appears. “My name is Daniel Frondless, and I am the BookBiter. But I have left my BookBiting mask at home.”

Now is the time to take that picture of Daniel Frondless you destroyed and reverse your destruction. 

Jeremy stares stupidly at this man he recognizes as Daniel Frondless. RATT has no time for staring vacuously. SHE(THE RATT) runs at him at full speed.

“Oh wait, I lied, here it is!” Daniel says, referring to his mask. And RATT realizes he’s telling the truth, as it is taking considerably longer to get to him than it did the corpse of the man who looks exactly like him. The cunning sneak must have bit down on the circumference of the mountains peak and made it considerably wider during the climb. How did SHE(THE RATT) miss this? 

She has no time to admonish herself, as the mask comes out, a true BookBiters helm. it’s seventy desecrated books that have been unburnt lining a cellophane cage. Forty more than the mask Victoria Hadid held! The man who is apparently Daniel Frondless bites down hard, and RATT suddenly realizes that the goddess Lexicon did not pick her to become her herald, but another rat who was nearby at the time. She is a simple rat, who has lived thousands of years longer than a simple rat should live, but we all have our quirks. Ready to make up for her wasted years, she acts accordingly, and skitters down the slope to find a small hole to lie in and berries to forage.

Now, undoubtably Daniel Frondless turns his head to Jeremy BHL,(Best Handled Lightly) who is still processing what has happened and why his brain is filled with so many fond memories of a simple rat.

It’s frustratingly easy to bite on Jeremy’s lineage so that his parents never bumped into each other in the Aristodrat Stock Exchange. In response, Jeremy thinks nothing. As there’s no Jeremy to think.

Daniel Frondless is now alone. The corpse, which looks exactly like Daniel Frondless, both inside and out, does not count. Frondless examines the body, giving it a callous once over in the way one does to a newly arrived Figment Machine or All-In-One. Daniel Frondless is staring at the corpse, but his face shows no pity. He continues to stare, as if he’s willing himself to feel something, anything, for the person who is his exact double. He feels nothing. Absolutely nothing. His face is strained from trying to contort itself into an expression of grief. Maybe that feeling would change if he knew the papers that now hibernated within the body.

“Welp, nothing I could have done for you. You were good for… something” Daniel Frondless mumbles to no one. The corpse? Not even looking it in the eye. He can’t even if he wanted to, as the corpse is now being used by him as an impromptu bench. It’s become an irregular rectangle whose previous status as living is purely incidental. 

Impatient and bored from winning the day, Daniel bites down and changes history. Toads are now decorations that adorn the roofs of cottages. A continent now exists that no one has discovered yet. The woman who stopped a war was now the one who started it. Daniel doesn’t care about consequences, these are free form reality crunches with no thought behind them. Daniel likes to take credit for changes that have thought put behind them, thank you very much and have a nice day. A bite could cause seven burning suns composed of fetid blue miasma to appear at once in seventeen million years of time. Daniel would react with a shrug and approving nod, and continue his chewing. He’s waiting for someone, and has nothing in particular to do. But Daniel can wait, if there is one thing that Daniel has become very good at it is waiting. And the brilliant blue glow from the seven suns that surround D.I.S.C. create an admittedly stunning view.

At the highest peak of Catastrophe, Daniel Frondless is waiting for Foster.