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This is the Story That Devours Itself

Michelle Muenzler, also known at local conventions as "The Cookie Lady," writes fiction both dark and strange to counterbalance the sweetness of her baking. Her fiction and poetry have been published in magazines such as Daily Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, and Electric Velocipede, and she takes immense joy in crinkling words like little foil puppets.
This is not a regular story. This is a hungry story, built of words with tongues of glass and cracked marbles for eyes. You think you know this story, you think you've heard it before... but you haven't.
It only sounds like the one you know with its crunch-crunch-crunching of plot-laced bones and its smack-smack-smacking of fat story lips.
There used to be characters in this story, but they were the first to go. Swallowed down its story gullet. Two of them screamed and declared their eternal love for each other. The third one merely laughed and vowed one day to return.
There also used to be a setting. Not a very good one, mind you, but solid enough to serve its purpose. That, too, was eaten. Mashed into a paste of generic trees and endless airports and washed down with a maudlin shot of rain.
No one misses that setting, though--or the characters, if we must be totally honest. Certainly not the story, and certainly not me.
To be fair, the story has tried to create as much as it has eaten. Sucked sugar off three-act arcs until its head near exploded. Molded fleshy outlines to show off to its friends when its friends still visited, only to debone the outlines hours later and watch their skins slough uselessly to the floor. Once it even tried dialogue, a casual "hello" left adrift in the void where its apartment had been a week earlier.
51B, in case you were wondering.
And no, nobody responded.
The story also tried to liven things with mood and tone, with analogy and metaphor. It clung to rocky cliffs, peaked and pitted by tongues of salt while seabirds wheeled tirelessly overhead; it heaved beneath the weight of olive trees bowed with fruit, sweet oil dripping down its back. But that too is now gone.
It's all devoured, most everything that made the story what it was. That told it what to be. All the bits chomped and chewed and swallowed into an over-masticated mush.
Very little remains of the story now, just two simple elements:
Its hunger.
And me.
I must admit to being a bit selfish at this point. I've argued with the story for days about the importance of narrators. Without us, a story can no longer be a story. Somebody must tell the words, must provide perspective. Relay the wishes of the story to the world abroad...
Right?
Yes, of course I'm right. I'm the narrator after all, and I know my job better than anyone.
But I saw the way the story eyed me last night. I saw hunger giggling in its ear while they both drank cheap wine created just for the occasion. The story didn't make wine for me. Not even an empty cup.
And now I've another invitation to visit the story tonight.
It told me not to bother bringing a gift, to just bring myself and don't be late.
I tried declining.
I did decline, but the words were swallowed before they left my mouth. Consumed by the story's desire for completion. For resolution.
So here I am, despite myself. All dressed up and only one place to go.
The story is king, after all...
...and nobody--not even this poor narrator--can refuse that.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015


This story was born of an odd title scribbled atop a small Chinese restaurant to-go box, fragrant from the sweet morsels of orange chicken nestled within. As such, I cannot blame it for being so consumed with hunger. Perhaps I should have shared....

- Michelle Muenzler

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