Mens Temporum . UK

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The Neverending Story

When a story breaks out of its boundaries and its characters engage with its author things get complicated. Michael Ende tackled this subject in his tale The Neverending Story and there have been times when I have also considered using red and green text here on my website. Here I have the added complication of time bending back on itself possibly both within my novel and my own life. Simply my now writing this story about writing that other story itself apparently inspired by the real life incidents described in this one shows how convoluted the overall story has become. On this page I explain how I first incorporated myself into my novel.

In the novel The Pumpkin temporarily abducts “visitors” from their lives in the future but never anyone from the past, so when someone from the past materialises in its reception area the staff are perplexed. Their only explanation, which has far-reaching implications, is that in fact the entire Pumpkin has itself been abducted by this man’s mind even though he appears to be inside it and that he may be its original creator. The man concerned I named Bernard Fermorick, Bernard being my own middle name and Fermorick also being an extremely cryptic reference to myself. Much as in The Neverending Story the writer had appeared in his own story. Bernard is given a document to read about the design of the technology within the building and suspects that he must have written it himself at some earlier time because, apart from its familiar style, it is in an encrypted file on the supercomputer which can only be opened with a password which he is asked to make up and remember there and then. He is also told to pay particular attention to the appendix and as a consequence calls the doctor attending him by name.

Once I realised that the novel was somehow related to my own experiences I saw in that reference to the appendix a message to myself but there were two possible interpretations of the word “appendix”. The unstated implication within the story was that a list of the names of the current staff working in the building had been appended to the document and Bernard had seen the doctor’s name there as he hadn’t been told it by anyone. By confirming who the doctor was he realised what had happened to himself and at that point vanished from the building. The equivalent task for me would be to find out who the doctor was in real life, so I searched the Internet for Doctor Victor Andrews, the name of my fictional doctor, and discovered a dentist by that name in Ponca City in Oklahoma. He also appeared as a member of an organisation that treated sleep apnoea. Among other symptoms this condition can cause sleepers not to be able to recall dreams. My thoughts that had originally inspired the novel had been present in my mind each morning on waking but I hadn’t been able to recall dreaming about them and it was possible that I had simply forgotten the dreams as a result of sleep apnoea, which in itself most likely changes the normal activity of the brain in other ways. In fact in the extreme it can be close to an unconscious near death experience. Apart from that possibly informative coincidence there were others. My American literary friend who had read my novel lived in Virginia but was raised in Oklahoma and knew Ponca City well. Also, at the time that I discovered this dentist my neighbour and her partner had recently returned from a trip across parts of America not often visited by tourists as they were visiting civil war battle sites. She had specifically mentioned that in their encounters with the locals they had noticed that the condition of their teeth was not so good as that of most British people’s. They had also visited Ponca City and since that time she regularly gets parcels of salt water taffy sent to her by friends living there as it is unavailable in Britain. Whether it is responsible for the state of American’s teeth is irrelevant but always a possibility. I have already mentioned the additional coincidence of my fictional doctor’s expertise as a conjuror elsewhere, so he certainly did seem to have helped me understand my experiences a little better.

The second interpretation of the word “appendix” was that it referred to my use of it in emails to my literary friend to describe the latter part of the novel where Graham and Lucine, the girl from six years in the future, experienced their lives together after Graham had lived through those six years and could meet and marry her in real life. My original story had ended with Graham’s first meeting with Lucine in the Pumpkin but it had also started with Lucine meeting Graham in the same encounter in an out of sequence opening chapter. I had added the “appendix” part of the story to extend it to normal novel length but these changes also put more emphasis on the six year period that proved so significant in my 2017 experiences.

After his experience in the Pumpkin Bernard Fermorick finds himself back in his laboratory testing his prototype circuits that will eventually form the basis of the many silicon slices lining that future building. He is last mentioned as starting to write what he can recall of the contents of the document that he read during that abduction and filling in the missing parts with his own expertise. In exactly the same way back in 2011 I was in frenzied activity writing down and expanding on the fragmented thoughts in my own mind which had materialised apparently of their own accord but now appear to have been souvenirs from my future experiences as described in this account. Somehow it seems that I represented myself in the way that I did in the novel because that was exactly how I would eventually appear in real life. That is something that I just accept now because there is simply no easier explanation, at least for me.

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