I discovered a new species of caterpillar!
And it's only a little annoying.
It is cold outside. With winter pressing its face against the window and blowing in under the door, my hope is to bring you a little light; something warm and cozy, that pairs well with slippers and a hot cider.
The best fantasy is based in reality. This is what really sells good fiction; a feeling of familiarity, and the addition of details that are just so specific that they can’t help but seem anything less than real.
Because of this, research is a world-builder’s greatest tool. I’ve done a lot of research over the years, and happened upon all sorts of discoveries. I’ve discovered that the scaly formations on alligators, bird feet and turtle shells are all called “scutes.” I’ve learned that frogs don’t have ribs. And I’ve discovered… other stuff! Lots of other stuff, very interesting stuff.
But today I wanted to share something truly amazing.
Because in the course of my Quiet: Level One research, I’ve discovered an entirely new organism.
I found it shivering in the cold, trying to keep warm under a chair on our terrace. At first I thought it was a wilted piece of celery, with those little tufts on its head… and then it moved. It was terribly slow, and it appeared somehow frustrated by its own slowness. Curious, I reached down to pick it up and maybe bring it inside for my daughter to look at-
-and that’s when something truly amazing happened.
As I raised the celery-thing to my face, it began to speak:
“Jonah lifted the half-frozen creature from where it lay huddled,” it said, looking somehow hopeful, “and wondered at the strange workings of fate. Was it mere chance that caused him to find the creature, or was it somehow providence? Could it be that the Gods-”
I’m ashamed to say that I panicked then and threw the creature against the wall.
Feeling terrible, I scooped it up, ran inside, and wrapped the tiny creature in a blanket-like napkin. Half-delirious, the creature - I’d decided by then that it must be some sort of caterpillar, its “celery-stalks” more akin to feathery moth antennae when examined up-close - proceeded to describe the physical appearance of my living room. Its voice was a little slurred from the impact, but still its vocabulary was impressive - though it had a tendency toward superfluous language (it described my couch as being both “expansive and mammoth in scope”) and editorialization (it called our drapes “an unfortunate shade of taupe”).
I tried to engage with it directly, and though it appeared to understand my every word, I could not get it to answer in kind. When I asked the caterpillar its name, it pretended not to hear; when I pressed it with more questions, the creature turned away from me, looking distinctly uncomfortable, and began to describe the TV (which, I’m rather pleased to say, it referred to as “expensive-looking”).
The creature now resides in a tank in my daughter’s room, having taken up residence with our pet snail, Boomer (who was found in a box of lettuce two years ago). I’ve decided to call it “The Narrator Worm,” because it reminds me of the term “ear worm,” and because “Narrator Caterpillar” has too many syllables.
Things I know about the Narrator Worm:
It came from the Tree of Worlds.
It likes gnocchi.
It can only narrate from the perspective of whoever it’s with. When I step back from the tank, the Worm begins narrating life from Boomer’s perspective (though it appears very bored doing this, staring at me from across the room while it drones: “and still the viscous mollusk remained inert, content to remain within the confines of its shell, as usual, despite the thumping cadence of the stereo, from which Taylor Swift decried again and again the cruelty of the summer.”
And, despite its incessant, moment-to-moment narration, the Narrator Worm appears to exhibit a deep, almost existential concern for the Tree of Worlds. It seems to know something the rest of us don’t.
And this last point has spurred me to action.
I’ve decided to introduce Quiet and the Narrator Worm. Not only is Quiet a great listener, but it is my belief that, as annoying as it might sometimes get, the Worm - with its gift of speech and reserves of hidden knowledge - may prove a vital ally in the struggle to come.
And I want to thank you, my friends, for joining me in my struggle. Because while I alone must write and render every single page of Quiet: Level One, the truth is that I cannot do any of it without you. Your friendship and support empower me and give me the confidence to plow forward with this mad adventure.
Whoever you are and wherever you are this holiday season, I am wishing you the best. Life is beautiful, life is terrible, and the truth - the real truth - is that love is all that matters.
Happy Holidays everyone,
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