kramer door

Hidden Flames - Part One

Summary: Eventually, Arin stood as the three others ran off into the forest, kneeling beside the river. He stared at his reflection, grimacing slightly at the shimmering pool. Finally, he lowered his hand to touch the surface, drawing up a spiral of water as he lifted his hand. Danny gasped. The boy dressed as a Fire Nation member was a waterbender.

Genre: Avatar AU, Humor, Adventure, Egobang, Mystery, Fluff

Warnings: none

A/N: This won’t be very many parts, maybe 3-5. But I couldn’t resist putting my own spin on the Gru//mps as Avatar: TLA characters. I hope you’ll forgive what kind of bender I made everyone, as this is just my personal preference. I’m unsure if people will like this, so please, please, please let me know what you think!



The first time Danny saw the waterbender, he was alone for once, enjoying the pleasant spring morning.

Airbenders didn’t mix with others very often. They led a somewhat isolated lifestyle. It wasn’t necessarily because they disliked the other tribes, it was just because they valued their lifestyle and stuck to their heritage. Especially Danny’s family.

Danny had grown up learning about the free-spirited, funny, stubborn waterbenders, the reckless, fun-loving firebenders, and the hard-working, stoic earthbenders. He’d always wondered what they’d be like. Airbenders were disciplined and calm, but could be as carefree and risk-taking as anyone else.

His closest friend, Brian, was a somewhat strict airbender that had grown up in the temples, practicing and working every day to the point where Danny teased him about being akin to a ninja with how serious he could be. But even Brian had his moments of fun and being a reckless boy.

Danny had been around ten, and it was rare that he was alone. He’d glided down to the bottom of the air temple, gazing out into the forest and wondering what was beyond.

Then he’d heard laughter.

Curious, he scooted down until he found a river with four kids running around it, all about his age. Three boys and a girl. They were dressed like firebenders.

“No fair! Bending is cheating!” One boy yelled at a blonde skinny boy, who smirked.

“Just because you can’t bend, Barry, doesn’t mean I can’t use my fire!”

“That’s exactly what makes it unfair, Ross!” The first boy huffed, chasing him.

The third boy plopped down next to the girl, watching Barry and Ross chase each other. “What d’you think, Suzy?”

The girl, her dark eyes bright, brushed her hair back. “I didn’t use my fire, so I didn’t cheat, Arin!”

Arin laughed, and Danny felt something in his chest spark at the sound. There was something magical about that boy’s–Arin’s–laugh.

He wanted to hear more.

“Hey, Arin! Why don’t you come practice your firebending with me since Barry can’t?” Ross called, and Barry retorted by scooping up mud to throw at Ross.

“Ah…maybe later!” Arin called back, and his shoulders drooped as Suzy glanced at him.

“You haven’t told Ross yet?”

“I mean…” Arin scratched his head. “It’s not that simple, Suzy. You’re like family to me. Everyone thinks we’re siblings…”

Danny inched closer as their voices dropped.

“Ross and Barry are our best friends. They’ll understand,” Suzy was saying.

“I know, and Barry isn’t even a bender, but still…”

“Still what?”

Arin stared at his palm, curling his hand into a fist. “I’d like to know where I came from and who I am before telling them.”

Suzy just nodded, eventually standing to pat Arin’s back comfortingly before dashing off in pursuit of the two boys in the middle of a mud war.

Arin watched her go, and Danny felt his heart ache at the look of unhappiness on Arin’s face. He wanted to comfort him, but he stayed put.

Eventually, Arin stood as the three others ran off into the forest, kneeling beside the river. He stared at his reflection, grimacing slightly at the shimmering pool. Finally, he lowered his hand to touch the surface, drawing up a spiral of water as he lifted his hand.

Danny gasped. The boy dressed as a fire nation member was a waterbender.

There wasn’t anything wrong with that, but it was very unusual. Why wasn’t he at the North or South Pole along with the other waterbenders?

Danny watched, mesmerized, as Arin formed the water into little animals–an armadillo-lion, a catagator, a dragonmoose, even a lemur!

Then Ross ran out from the trees, his face splattered with mud, and the water-lemur suddenly dropped back into the river, lost with the rest of the flowing stream.

“Tag!” Ross yelled as he passed Arin, leaving a muddy handprint on his back. Arin leapt up, a bright smile on his face.

“No you don’t!” he said gleefully, chasing Ross into the trees and out of sight. Danny distantly heard Suzy shriek and then laugh, presumably getting tagged.

Danny wanted to join the game, but he couldn’t get the image of the boy gently caressing the water, winding it in and out of his fingers with ease.

He’d looked so peaceful for those few moments.

Then he glanced up, realizing the sun was very low in the sky and that he’d better get back before he was missed.

With a last long look at the river, he summoned a gust of wind and flew back up to the temple.

~~~

Danny had never forgotten that day, as it had been his first encounter with members from another nation.

He could also never forget the face of that waterbender boy.

Arin.

He told Brian about what he’d seen, too excited to keep it to himself. Brian had listened interestedly.

“I wonder why he won’t tell the others?” Brian had wondered after Danny had finished. “It’s very unusual for a waterbender to be living in the Fire Nation and pretending to be a firebender. Why doesn’t he just go to one of the Poles?”

“Maybe he can’t?” Danny suggested, and Brian had shrugged. They’d dropped the topic, since neither had any more information.

A few years later, things had changed. Danny had changed. He was twenty, and he wanted to see the world. He wanted to learn about other cultures. He wanted to meet new people. He wanted to see more than this small air temple.

His parents had wanted him to keep learning in the temple, but they understood. They couldn’t keep Danny here, and they recognized that. So with their blessing, Danny contacted several areas offering places to study before settling on a small farm in the Fire Nation where he’d study local horticulture for six months.

As he was packing, he heard footsteps and turned to grin at Brian. “You here to see me off?”

Brian rolled his eyes. “I just wanted to confirm that you’re serious about this.”

Danny looked at him. “Of course I am, Bri. You know me. I never liked being stuck here for so long. I need to see the world, and this is as good a place to start as any.”

Brian nodded. “I know.”

Danny held his friend in a brief hug before letting go, smiling. “Come visit, won’t you? It’ll do you good to get out of that stuffy temple every now and then.”

Brian shoved him playfully, and Danny set off for the Fire Nation with hope and excitement burning in his chest.

~~~

When he arrived, the door was thrown open to reveal a young man his age with shaggy brown hair and a five o’clock shadow.

They looked at each other for a solid minute, both seemingly nonplussed, but then the guy grinned. “I take it you’re the airbender who’s living here now?”

Danny smiled and bowed slightly. “Name’s Dan Avidan.”

“I’m Barry Kramer.” Barry opened the door wider. “C’mon in.”

Danny walked in to see another girl and two other guys also in the house, all chatting animatedly as he entered. Barry gestured to each of them.

“Dan, these are Holly, Matt, and Ryan. They’ll also be studying with you. Holly’s from another air temple and Matt and Ryan are earthbenders from Ba Sing Se.”

The three other greeted him politely, and Danny was thrilled to see that Holly was a fellow airbender. He talked to her, as she was from the Eastern Temple, and Matt and Ryan seemed like nice guys.

“I hope to study the Fire Nation’s unique aerial animals. I love birds and the like,” Holly explained, her eyes bright. “You’re studying the flowers?”

“Yeah, the local horticulture. Though I hope to also study the actual culture itself, too,” Danny laughed as Barry offered them cups of herbal tea. “I haven’t seen much besides the Western Air Temple.”

Holly nodded as Barry chimed in. “I think you’ll like it here. We’re not far from the capital, actually. But it’s a pretty quiet farm town. I’ll have to introduce you to some of the people I know. I have a friend that’s pretty much a whiz at all the types of bending.” Barry smiled. “I’m not a bender myself, so that’s why I needed help on the farm. In exchange for lodging, y’know?”

Danny nodded excitedly. “When can I meet you friend?”

“His name’s Ross, and I don’t know. I was planning on going into town tomorrow to do some shopping. Would you like to–”

“Yes!” Danny replied eagerly, bouncing up and down. “I want to see everything!”

Barry laughed. “Okay. Around ten, then.”

~~~

Danny was up and ready to go as Barry came in from farmwork.

Barry laughed at Danny’s eager expression. “Alright, alright. Let me change and we’ll go. Are you sure you want to wear that? You’ll blend in easier if you wear Fire Nation clothing.”

Danny shook his head. “I like my air nomad clothing.”

Barry shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

So they marched off a little after ten, Danny absorbing everything he could. He marvelled at the street vendor stalls and all the different people. The people here had lighter skin tones than he was used to seeing, and lighter eyes. Everyone smiled as he passed. They all seemed so friendly.

“Hey, look who’s here!” Barry laughed, waving. “Guys!”

Three other people hurried over, two men and a woman.

Danny’s eyes skimmed over them and came to rest on the second man.

His breath caught. Beautiful.

Before he could think more, Barry clapped his shoulder. “Guys, this is Dan Avidan from the Western Air Temple. He’s here to study the culture and staying with me for awhile.”

The first man stuck his hand out, grinning. “Hey, Dan. Welcome to the Fire Nation. I’m Ross, your local firebender.”

Barry rolled his eyes as Danny shook Ross’s hand. Something was stirring in Danny’s memory at the names Ross and Barry. What was it?

The woman also shook his hand. “I’m Suzy. My family runs a little restaurant here in town. You’ll have to stop by!”

He smiled at her, nodding. “I’ll do that. Thank you.”

Then he cast his gaze on the final man, feeling his heart thump. He was drawn to this man for some reason he couldn’t quite explain.

The man smiled at him, extending his arm. “Hey, man. My name’s Arin.”

Danny’s blood froze as he robotically shook Arin’s hand, hearing himself say: “Nice to meet you, Arin.”

Arin.

The same name as that waterbender from ten years ago.

Could it be a coincidence?

He couldn’t recall the memory completely, but he did remember the children’s names. So that’s why the names of these people sounded so familiar. These were the same people he’d spotted back then.

And Arin…Arin was the boy with the wistful look as he stared into the river. He could never forget the image of the water snaking in and out of Arin’s hands as he gently skimmed the surface.

He felt dizzy.

Arin’s eyebrows knit together. “You okay, man? You look a little pale.”

Danny cleared his throat. “Sorry, just tired from travelling yesterday. So all of you grew up here in the Fire Nation?”

“Yeah, we’ve lived here our whole life,” Ross replied brightly. “Suze and I are firebenders.”

Danny licked his lips. “And you, Arin?”

Ross looked panicked for a split second, glancing at Arin, but Arin replied smoothly. “I’m not a bender. I can’t bend.”

“When we were kids, we used to think Arin was just a late bloomer,” Suzy laughed, placing a hand on Arin’s shoulder. “But he and Barry can’t bend. It’s no big deal.”

Danny nodded. “I see.”

A shutter had closed over Arin’s eyes. To anyone else, it wouldn’t be noticeable, but Danny was sensitive to others’ emotions and could see the painted expression Arin wore.

Hearing Arin’s name and actually meeting him now, as a young adult, stirred old memories and emotions Danny hadn’t dwelled on in years. He now could recall that afternoon; the way Arin had laughed, the private conversation he’d eavesdropped on, and even Ross’s taunts beside the mud bank.

It ignited the old flame of curiosity within him.

He wanted to know more.

But this time, he thought as he glanced at Arin, feeling that spark of something in his chest, I won’t let him slip away.

The Grand Finale

    *** UNRECOVERABLE ERROR: ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT RESPONDED AFTER (_THRESHOLD) ATTEMPTS ***

    *** SYSTEM CANNOT PROCEED ***

    *** INITIATING EMERGENCY DIRECTIVES ***

    *** METANARRATIVE CAUSALITY LOCK ENGAGED ***

    *** WARNING: BRACE FOR IMMINENT METANARRATIVE RESOLUTION ***

    *** WARNING: BRACE FOR IMMANENT METANARRATIVE RESOLUTION ***

    "You know,“ says Jerry, as he and George watch an advertisement for a frozen food, "I don’t think I’ve ever used my freezer.”
    George looks at him in disbelief. “Never?”
    "Never!“
    "Not even once?”
    "Not even once!“
    "And you’ve had that thing for, what, five years?”
    "At least!“ replies Jerry.
    "And in all that time, not a single need for more than just basic refrigeration?”
    Jerry thinks for a moment. “Not that I recall.”
    "I don’t believe it,“ says George dismissively, returning his attention to Jerry’s television and changing the channel as if concluding the conversation.
    "I can prove it.” Jerry stands and heads to the refrigerator, throwing the freezer door wide open. To his shock, hundreds of tiny scrolls tumble out from inside.
    "‘Never used it,’“ says George, strolling cockily over. "What do you call this?”
    "I’ve never seen these before in my life.“ Jerry bends over and plucks a scroll from atop the pile, unfurling it.
    "What’s it say?”
    Jerry holds up a hand. “Would you give me a minute?”
    Impatient, George comes around and examines the scroll over Jerry’s shoulder. “‘The Driver’?”
    Jerry begins to read aloud, then stops. “I’ve never become a Hare Krishna.”
    George reads ahead. “What kind of a twisted fantasy is this, Jerry?”
    "Hey, I didn’t write this!“
    "Well, then how did it get inside your freezer?”
    The answer dawns on them both at the same time and they share a knowing look.
    "Kramer,“ they say in unison.
    George quickly snatches up another scroll, skims it, and hands it to Jerry. "Look, this one’s called ‘The Elevator’ and it’s all about how we die in an elevator accident. And then Kramer comes back to life.”
    "What kind of a sick mind…"
    They continue picking through the pile, skimming one after the other, until the buzzer sounds, startling them both. Jerry shakes it off and heads over to the panel.
    "Yeah?“ he asks, pressing the ‘talk’ button.
    "It’s Elaine,” replies a fuzzy voice over the intercom.
    Jerry buzzes her up and opens his apartment door.
    "Get a load of this one,“ says George, holding out another scroll. "‘The Resonance.’ I date a woman whose voice sounds exactly the same as mine. I think I would remember that!”
    Elaine arrives as Jerry fishes another scroll out of the freezer. She assesses the two men standing ankle-deep in a pile of papers. “Couldn’t decide on a recipe, huh?”
    "Elaine, you gotta see this,“ says George, handing her a scroll.
    She takes it from him and glances at it. "‘The Lemonade Stand’?
    "Just read it,“ says Jerry.
    She quickly reads it over, her face contorting into a number of expressions before finally settling on puzzled disgust. "What is this? Did you write this?”
    "Kramer,“ says George.
    "Kramer?” echoes Elaine. “But why? It’s grotesque!”
    Jerry half-smirks. “Yeah, well…”
    Elaine nods, conceding. “Yeah, I suppose, huh?”
    George picks up a shorter one and stretches it all the way open. “Well that’s weird.”
    "What?“ asks Jerry.
    "This one’s got a date.”
    "Yeah, I saw one where you go on all kinds of dates. That’s hardly the strangest plot line.“
    "No,” replies George, holding it out to him. “A date date.”
    "A date date?“ Jerry takes it from him, then examines one of the ones he’s holding. "This one has one too. And they’re both far in the future.”
    Elaine pulls a handful of scrolls out of the freezer. “Do you think these are supposed to be predictions or something?”
    "I don’t know!“ replies Jerry. "I don’t know why anyone would write anything like this.”
    "Why don’t we go ask?“ Elaine starts toward the doorway but George quickly shuts the door.
    "Considering everything we’ve been reading,” he says, stepping between her and the exit with a condescending expression on his face, “do you really think that’s a good idea?”
    Elaine slumps a little. “Yeah, I guess not.”
    "Whoa, whoa, whoa!“ exclaims Jerry, staring at yet another scroll.
    "What?” says Elaine.
    Jerry hands the scroll over to her. “You’re not gonna believe this.”
    Elaine reads it over, mumbling.
    "What?“ says George. "Hold it up so I can read it too.”
    She complies, and George leans over her shoulder to read.
    "Oh, this is ridiculous,“ he says, after a moment. "I look nothing like the Penguin!”
    Elaine and Jerry share an eye roll.
    "Well, did you catch the other part?“ asks Jerry.
    George shrugs. "I’ve only been reading mine.”
    "‘Kramer starts writing down detailed predictions about events on small scrolls, which he stores in Jerry’s freezer,’“ quotes Elaine.
    "Now that’s just spooky.”
    "That’s for sure,“ agrees Jerry. "This whole thing’s giving me the creeps.”
    Elaine drops to her knees and starts digging through the pile. “I wonder if there’s one in here about us reading the predictions he’s been making.”
    "Well, there would have to be, if he was any good at it,“ chuckles George.
    Jerry grabs an armful of scrolls and dumps them on his dining room table. "I want to try to figure this out.”
    "What’s to figure out?“ asks George. "You’re living across the hall from a psychopath.”
    "Would you just help me bring ‘em over here?“ asks Jerry.
    "Yeah, yeah.” George starts pulling piles out of the freezer and hauling them over.
    The three spend the next few hours sitting around Jerry’s dining room table reading the bizarre stories. Jerry carefully flattens them out and stacks them in a pile, making notes on a legal pad normally reserved for his new material.
    "Oh, wow,“ says Elaine, after awhile. "George, you gotta read this one.”
    "What?“ asks George, taking it from her. As he nears the end, the color drains from his face. "Oh, wow.”
    Jerry stops reading the one he’s holding. “What? What is it?”
    "I… think this was a dream I had,“ says George, handing the scroll over to Jerry. "Maybe. I don’t know. It seems so familiar.”
    "Have you ever been on a battleship, George?“
    "Never! It’s just, there’s something about it.”
    "Maybe you told Kramer about your dream and he wrote it down,“ Elaine suggests.
    George shrugs. "I don’t really talk about my dreams. Especially not with Kramer.”
    "No, I think I know what you mean, George,“ says Jerry. "There’s one I saw…” He trails off while he digs through the pile until he finds the one he’s looking for. “‘The Machine’. It just seems so familiar. And it’s not the only one.”
    "You probably both just talked about this stuff in front of Kramer before,“ explains Elaine. "You know what he’s like, maybe he was—”
    A loud slam from the front door startles them all. Elaine yelps.
    "What are you doing locking the door?“ comes Kramer’s muffled, angry voice. "You could hurt someone!”
    Jerry rolls his eyes. “Should I get it?”
    "He heard me scream,“ says Elaine. "He has to know we’re in here.”
    "Maybe he didn’t.“
    "I know you’re in there,” says Kramer through the door. “I heard Elaine scream.”
    With an annoyed look, Jerry heads for the door. “Fine.”
    Kramer slides into the room, but more slowly than usual. “What’s with the lockout?”
    Elaine grabs one of the scrolls and thrusts it in his face. “I’ll have you know my lemonade stand was a rollicking success when I was a kid!”
    "What are you talk…" starts Kramer, trailing off when he notices the pile of scrolls on the table.
    "Yeah,“ says Elaine, seethingly. "Recognize these?”
    Kramer spins in a circle, glancing around the apartment like a stunned animal, unsure how to respond. The others watch him, shaking their heads, until he finally calms down.
    Jerry raises one eyebrow at him for a moment. “You done?”
    Kramer nods.
    "All right, then,“ says Jerry. "So would you care to explain?”
    "The scrolls?“
    Jerry spreads his arms in exasperation. ”Yes, the scrolls.“
    "But I’ve got something more important to tell you.”
    "What do you mean?“
    "Just answer the question!” demands Elaine.
    Kramer points at the windows. “But have you guys noticed how dark it is outside?”
    The three turn and look out the window.
    "Wow, have we been reading these that long?“ asks Elaine.
    George checks his watch. "It’s three o'clock. Is there an eclipse today or something?”
    "Do I look like an astronomer?“ says Jerry, approaching the window.
    "I don’t know,” replies George saltily. “What does an astronomer look like?”
    "I think it varies,“ says Elaine.
    Jerry opens the window and sticks his head outside, but finds not a single person anywhere in sight. Aside from all the parked cars, the streets are utterly empty.
    "It’s quiet,” says George, coming up beside him and poking his own head out. “Too quiet.”
    Jerry turns and frowns at him. “Really?”
    "What? Just because it’s a cliché, that means nobody can ever say it again?“
    They pull back into the apartment.
    "There’s nobody out there,” says Jerry.
    "What do you mean?“ asks Elaine. She rushes over to the window and looks outside. "There’s nobody out there!”
    "That’s what I just said!“
    "Where are they?”
    "Your guess is as good as mine.“
    "We’re getting distracted,” says George. “I wanna know about the scrolls.”
    "Yeah,“ agrees Elaine. "Kramer, why did you write such awful things about all of us?”
    "They’re not all awful,“ says Kramer. "And I don’t know, I’m not the one who thought them up.”
    "But you wrote them,“ says Jerry.
    Kramer nods. "Yeah.”
    "Then what could you possibly mean?“
    "Are they supposed to be predictions?” asks Elaine. “There are dates…”
    "I saw them happen,“ says Kramer. "I can’t explain it. Maybe they’re, I don’t know, parallel universes. Or maybe they happened and we all just forgot.”
    Elaine grabs one off the table and reads it aloud to him. “‘The Journey. When Jerry falls asleep in a cab, he wakes up in a mysterious village full of retired comedians that he can’t seem to leave. Elaine is devastated to learn that her recent relationship has taken place entirely on the holodeck. George takes the wrong subway and ends up in Narnia. Kramer gets stuck in a revolving door and thinks he’s walked for miles.’ I don’t think any of that’s ever happened. Well, maybe the revolving door…”
    "What’s a ‘holodeck’?“ asks Jerry.
    "I don’t know,” says Kramer. “I just wrote it down!”
    The three sigh in unison, each of them visibly deflating in a different way.
    Elaine digs through the pile until she finds the scroll she’s looking for, and thrusts it at him. “And what about this one? George meets ‘the Writers’? What does that even mean? Writers of what?”
    Kramer shrugs. “That’s just what I saw!”
    "Saw where?“
    Kramer shrugs again, increasingly agitated. "I don’t know!”
    "It’s getting darker out,“ says George, still staring out the window. "Something’s not right.”
    "Yeah,“ agrees Jerry. "I can’t shake the feeling I’m being watched.”
    "By thousands of eyes,“ says George.
    "Yeah.”
    "It’s like something out of the scrolls.“
    "Well, we haven’t read them all yet,” says Elaine, half-sarcastically, “maybe this is in there.”
    "Hey, Kramer,“ says Jerry, "do you remember anything about some kind of machine in the basement? In the boiler room?”
    "Yeah, isn’t that in one of the scrolls?“ replies Kramer.
    "Yeah. But did I talk about it with you at all? Before you wrote it?”
    Kramer shakes his head. “Not that I recall. Why?”
    "It’s just, there’s something about that one that’s really sticking with me for some reason.“
    "Yeah, that’s a weird one.” Kramer walks over to Jerry’s kitchen and grabs an apple. He takes a few bites, then notices something on Jerry’s bookshelf. “Hey, Jerry.”
    "What?“
    Kramer retrieves a book from the shelf and holds it out to him. "Isn’t this that book? From the scroll about the machine?”
    "Yes,“ replies Jerry.
    "But the scroll never says the title of the book,” says Elaine.
    "This is the one, though,“ replies Jerry. "I know it is. I don’t know how, but I know.”
    "That doesn’t prove anything. Kramer could have just seen it on the shelf before, or… or… I don’t know.“
    "You gonna read it, Kramer?” asks Jerry, ignoring Elaine.
    Kramer slowly opens the cover, then slams the book shut again. “I’m too scared!” he wails.
    Elaine turns the scroll for The Machine over. “Hold on a second… Kramer, what’s this?”
    "What?“ he asks, taking the scroll from her.
    She points to some small printing on the back. "This. It’s like a computer error code.”
    Kramer flips the scroll over and over, then hands it back to her. “I don’t know. I didn’t write that. Look, it’s not even handwritten, it’s printed on there.”
    "Yeah…" Elaine frowns.
    "Why are we even talking about all this?“ asks George. "It feels like we’re putting on a show for someone.”
    "We’re just doing what we always do,“ says Jerry. "I mean, aside from the scrolls part and the nobody’s outside part.”
    "It almost feels like we’re only talking about things to explain them to an audience,“ says George. He turns back toward the window. "Uh, guys…”
    "Yeah, yeah, we get it,“ says Elaine, noisily unwrapping a candy bar. "You feel like you’re being watched.”
    "No, you gotta see this.“
    The others approach the window. Outside, in the middle of a night sky devoid of stars, hangs an enormous, dark ball flecked with clusters of lights.
    "Is that…” starts Elaine, trailing off because the answer is obvious.
    "Earth,“ answers Jerry anyway, even though they’ve all recognized it at this point. "It’s Earth! Look, there’s New York City!”
    "But how?“ asks George.
    "It can’t be,” says Elaine, her jaw hanging open. “There’s no way! It’s not even moving, it’s just sitting there. I mean, what about gravity?”
    "And where the heck did all the stars go?“ asks Jerry.
    "I don’t like this at all!” wails Kramer.
    The four stare transfixed at the bizarre night sky, watching the dark, unmoving, parallel Earth staring back at them.
    Jerry finally breaks the silence. “We have to go down to the boiler room.”
    "Would you shut up about that machine for five minutes?“ snaps George. "We’ve got bigger problems.”
    "Yeah, but what are we gonna do about that?“
    "This is definitely like something out of the scrolls,” says Elaine.
    Jerry shrugs. “Yeah, but that kind of stuff just doesn’t happen.”
    "Well, neither does whatever’s going on out there.“
    "Can we just go look in the boiler room? In that scroll, that machine was able to do things. Change things. It put everything back to normal.”
    "But it’s not real, Jerry!“ protests Elaine. "It’s some… some dumb story that Kramer made up!”
    "Could you just humor me?“
    Something about his tone persuades her. "Sure, fine, I’m in.”
    "George?“ asks Jerry.
    George sighs. "Yeah, fine, whatever.”
    "Thanks for your enthusiastic support.“
    "I’m in,” says Kramer, before anyone even asks him. He glances nervously out the window one last time and yelps out a brief, fearful holler.
    On the way to the elevator, they bump into a panicky Newman skittering in a frantic dance out of his apartment.
    Jerry’s eyes narrow. “Hello, Newman.”
    "Jerry!“ he screams. He breaks into a maniacal, incomprehensible cackle, thrashing his arms around before finally settling down. "Oh, Jerry! Jerry, I was right! I once vowed that I would be there when your day of reckoning came… and here I am! Oh what a fool I’ve been, Seinfeld, what a fool! To think that—”
    "Okay, okay,“ says Jerry, interrupting his melodrama. "I get it. Just get in the elevator, we’re going to the basement.”
    "The basement? Why?“
    "Just come on.”
    The five squeeze into the elevator together and Kramer presses the button labeled ‘B’. They descend in silence, nobody knowing exactly what to say. Just as the elevator passes the second floor, Newman quickly presses the ‘L’ button. The doors soon open onto the first floor and he rushes out into the lobby.
    "Newman, what are you doing?“ asks Kramer.
    "I have to get out of here!” he yells. “I have to get out!”
    "Newman, come back! You don’t know what’s out there!“
    Before anyone can stop him, he sprints to the front door and slams it open, stumbling outside. He spins to face them, but suddenly disappears.
    "Gee, what a loss,” says Jerry, trying to combat his fear with humor, secretly hoping that Newman is somehow okay.
    The elevator doors slide shut, and soon they’re in the basement standing in front of the heavy steel door of the boiler room. They exchange nervous, hesitant glances.
    "This is it,“ says Jerry.
    "It sure is,” agrees George.
    "Yowza,“ whimpers Kramer.
    "Oh, would you just open it already?” grumbles Elaine, turning the knob and shoving the door open.
    The four gasp in unison as stark sunlight blasts through the doorway into the darkened hall. As their eyes adjust, they realize they’re looking out at the deck of an old battleship.
    "How is this…" starts Elaine, but trails off, too astonished to finish the thought.
    "Isn’t this from…" says Jerry at almost the same time.
    "That mumbo-jumbo scroll,“ finishes George, both completing Jerry’s sentence and answering his question.
    "Do we go in?” asks George. “Or… out, I guess?”
    "I don’t know,“ says Jerry. "This is a little too much.”
    Suddenly, Newman appears at the end of the hall.
    "Newman!“ says Kramer, relieved, taking a few steps toward him.
    Elaine grabs his arm. "Kramer, wait.”
    Newman starts slowly toward them, eyes wide. “THE CREATURE THAT RESEMBLED NEWMAN STOOD STILL, STARING AT THEM FOR A MOMENT, BUT THEN TOOK A STEP FORWARD. JERRY AND HIS FRIENDS REALIZED THIS WASN’T THE MAILMAN THEY HAD KNOWN, BUT RATHER SOME SORT OF SIMULACRUM THAT WAS NARRATING ITS OWN ACTIONS—AND THEIRS. TERRIFIED, THEY FELT THEY HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO STEP THROUGH THE DOORWAY ONTO THE BATTLESHIP. SOMEWHERE IN THEIR HEADS, THEY BECAME AWARE THAT THIS NEWMAN MONSTER WASN’T REAL, BUT HAD BEEN CRAFTED AS A NARRATIVE DEVICE TO FORCE THEM TO MUSTER THE COURAGE TO GO THROUGH THE DOOR. THIS UNDERSTANDING WAS QUICKLY REPLACED BY THE SUSPICION THAT PERHAPS THEIR OWN ACTIONS HAD ALL SOMEHOW BEEN ORCHESTRATED AS WELL, AND THAT THEY WOULD HAVE ENDED UP ON THE DECK OF THE BATTLESHIP WHETHER THEY WANTED TO OR NOT.”
    The four of them crowd the doorway in a frenzy, each trying to pull themselves past the others. Eventually, they all spill out onto the deck, toppling into a pile.
    Jerry stands up and dusts himself off. “Real nice, guys.”
    "You were the one pulling my hair!“ growls Elaine.
    "That was me,” admits George, almost proudly.
    "Hey, what is this place?“ asks Kramer, rotating slowly, lifting his head to take in the complete scope of his surroundings until he is eventually gawking straight upward.
    Directly overhead, two nearly identical Earths hover side by side at an indeterminable yet unnervingly close distance, one with seemingly more lights than the other on its dark side.
    "I think I’ve been here before,” says George. “I mean, if it actually exists—which apparently it does—then I must have.”
    "But where’s the Machine?“ asks Jerry.
    "You’re standing on it,” says a voice from behind them.
    The four spin, startled. Kramer yelps again.
    Two men, one taller and one shorter, stand side by side in front of them.
    "Who the hell are you?“ asks George and the taller man at the same time.
    "Are you…” says Elaine and the shorter man at the same time, “the ‘Writers’ from that scroll?”
    "How are you doing that?“ asks George and the taller man at the same time. "Saying the same thing at the same time. Stop it! Stop doing that! Cut it out! I said stop it!”
    "George is getting upset!“ says the taller man to the shorter man, nudging him with his elbow.
    "Oh, come on,” replies the shorter man, shaking his head disapprovingly.
    "Sorry, couldn’t help myself.“ The taller man turns to Elaine. "To answer your question, yes we are. And to answer your question, George, we know what you’re going to say because we wrote it. And to answer a very pertinent question I’m sure a number of our readers are asking at this point, yes, we’re doing another pretentious ‘writers meet the characters’ thing. But this time there’s actually a point, so please bear with us.”
    "Well I’m lost,“ says Jerry. "I mean, I read the stupid scroll, but actually being here…”
    "Don’t worry, Jerry, you’ll understand it all soon,“ says the shorter man. "He wrote it that way.”
    "But first,“ says the taller man, "take a closer look at the ocean. I want to show you all something, for frame of reference. I want you all to understand just how long we’ve been doing this.”
    "Are those… shoes?“ asks Elaine.
    "These are all the shoes you’ve had over the course of the series, Elaine.”
    "Actually,“ says the shorter man, "about half of them were generated during the time loop between when you kept finding shoes and then losing shoes.”
    "We did a lot of time loop stuff, huh?“ says the taller man.
    "The phone call from the endless corridor…”
    "Man, those were the days, huh?“
    "That was a couple months ago.”
    A wistful expression passes across the taller man’s face. “Yeah, well, time works a lot differently in here. Go ahead, Elaine, you can say what you’re about to say.”
    "Could you stop with the—hey, I can talk whenever I want! I don’t need your permission.“
    "I mean…” The taller man shrugs. Suddenly, dozens of Puddys begin raining from the sky, exploding into bursts of shoes on impact with the deck. As instantly as it had started, it stops. “Sorry, I’m showing off. It’s just that my ability to write out these bizarre scenarios is coming to a close. I just want to have a little bit of fun with it before I have to give it up.”
    "Why would you ever give up that kind of pow—" says George, but he suddenly stops moving, staring blankly ahead, mouth slightly agape.
    Jerry looks at Kramer and Elaine to discover them both suspended as well. He pokes Kramer, who sways very slightly but remains otherwise inert. “What did you do?”
    "Don’t worry, they’re all fine,“ answers the taller man. "They’re just not relevant right now, and this is going to dramatically simplify our conversation. Do you realize how hard it can be to write dialog for six different characters in the same scene? You end up talking about who said what more than what’s being said. There’s a reason most books don’t have discussions between a dozen people at a time. And this conversation is about to get a little complex, because it’s the climax.”
    "‘Climax’? Climax of what? What are you talking about?“
    "Our world is dying. We’ve done so many terrible things for so long that everything is falling apart. Climate change alone, I mean… people finally started to come around on it, but not until years after anything could have been done to reverse it.”
    "So we created the Machine,“ says the shorter man. "It’s not a real machine that exists in an actual place, it’s a written machine, a description of a machine, that installs itself as living information in the brain. And we used it to start copying our own universe wholesale into your fictional universe, to preserve it.”
    "All those bizarre events?“ says Jerry. ”That’s your universe? Maybe it should be dying.“
    "It’s abstracted. Compression. Think of it as kind of a… poetic code.”
    Jerry shrugs. “But how does making your world into stories save it?”
    "You’re interacting with me right now, Jerry,“ says the taller man. "And through that interaction, we’re both making tiny copies of ourselves inside each other’s heads. And now I’m imagining you—the you that’s been installed in my brain—awkwardly pulling on a Superman suit and falling out of your living room window. Only, instead of dying, you’re totally fine once you hit the ground. There’s a lot you can do with an idea. All the stuff that’s been going wrong in our world, we can fix it in its raw idea form. And even though we ourselves may ultimately not survive out in our world, the copies will, and who’s to say those aren’t real?”
    A couch appears and the shorter man sits down on it. Which, to be honest, is an arbitrary event that I’m writing just so that you can know who’s talking without me having to just keep saying ‘said’ over and over again. Actually, let’s say he stands back up again and the couch bursts into ten thousand butterflies, like Kramer did that one time, just so that I don’t have to have all the other speaking characters find their own places to sit in the next few paragraphs. It’s a little awkward if there’s just one person sitting while everyone else is standing. I’m not even sure why I wrote that. I’m sure I could have come up with something else.
    Anyway, what the shorter man says is, “we met with George once before. He doesn’t remember it, except for some hints at recollection that we’ve included in this story for narrative purposes.”
    "Just like we did with you and the Machine,“ adds the taller man, "to get you to want to come back down here.”
    "We didn’t tell him what we were doing. We just wanted to see how our interactions might play out once we finally had to do what we’re doing right now. We needed to know it was even possible.“
    "When we spoke to him, we told him about the ‘benefit of being an idea’. Every day, we changed your lives, made you new stories. Every day, everything you did was malleable, changeable, doable and undoable an infinity over. Even the most dramatic and devastating events were impermanent. And we fed all those narratives through the Machine into your universe, and installed them all into our readers’ heads.”
    "And then installed them in here into—"
    "Not yet,“ interrupts the taller man. "He figures that part out on his own later. This is supposed to be the part where we imply that maybe our own readers are themselves actually inside a Seinfelt episode or something, which would give our whole plan a kind of recursive protection. Which, I mean, I guess I just conveyed that idea by saying it in this block of dialog.” He laughs. “Jesus, I’m making my own head hurt at this point. Anyway, Jerry, we brought you here to this place because we need your help.”
    "‘Help’?“ says Jerry. "How am I supposed to help you? You two seem to have it all figured out. Why not just write it? ‘Everything wrong with the world turned out to be okay, and everybody lived happily ever after, the end!’”
    "It’s not that simple, Jerry. I wish it was. But nobody’s going to read that because it’s boring, and if nobody wants to read it, then it doesn’t get copied into anyone’s brain. And if it doesn’t get copied into anyone’s brain, then the Machine can’t do its job.“
    "But why me? Out of all the people you could have possibly written about…”
    "Seinfeld was one of the most popular shows of all time, in our world. Everybody knows about you. What better way to hook into the collective human psyche than to leverage that existing recognition?“
    "Really!” Jerry smiles broadly, clearly flattered. “But what happens when all your readers die? Your world is falling apart, you said it yourselves. What happens then?”
    "Time doesn’t work the same way in here. If I say something is infinite here, then it’s infinite. The concept of infinity still represents the infinite, even if it’s expressed by a finite system. Wait. Sorry, this is the part where we imply that our readers might be inside a Seinfelt. Because that way, they’re preserved as fictions inside their own collective heads, and then our universe is preserved… never mind.“
    "Well, then,” says Jerry. He quickly shakes his head back and forth as if trying to shake away his confusion. “But that still doesn’t answer my first question—how am I supposed to help? You’ve already used us to tell all your little stories. What else is there for me to do?”

    Okay, brace yourselves, everybody, because this is where things are going to get even more complicated. Hey, I just realized, we’ve never done a Seinfelt where we directly address you, the reader, have we? We’ve done one where you’re a character, and we’ve broken the Fourth Wall quite a number of times, but we’ve never done anything like this. Well, we’re inside your head now so I suppose none of that really matters anymore. You can imagine us doing whatever you want for the rest of your lives. I’m sure many of you have already thought up your own Seinfelts, and I’m sure they’re brilliant. Anyway, I’m really getting off track. I’m just feeling sentimental. Let’s get back to the story.

    "On the most fundamental level, everything is a probability wave until it’s observed,“ explains the taller man, "at which point it resolves into one of a number of possible states. Are you familiar with Schrödinger?”
    "I know his cat was not too happy with him.“
    "…I’m suddenly regretting having you make that joke. Anyway, Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment to represent, using familiar objects, what’s actually going on on the subatomic scale. The cat goes in a box with a poison capsule and a little machine that measures radioactive decay. If the machine detects that decay, then it releases the poison and the cat dies. But the particle in question is an undetermined probability wave until the outcome is observed. It’s every possible measurement at the same time up until that point. And because the entire system—the cat, the poison—relies on that particle, the whole thing becomes one big probability wave until the box is opened. The cat and the poison and the detector, it’s all in every possible state of outcomes, just like the particle, until it’s observed. And then, yada yada yada, the cat is either alive or dead.”
    "What does all this have to do with me?“
    "I’m getting to that, just give me a second. Sorry, it’s not your fault, I made you impatient to break up my own dialog so that it doesn’t seem so dense. The point is, when you open the box, you bring into existence not just the outcome you observe but the history required for that outcome. It’s called ‘retrocausality’. The particle’s wave function collapses in the past to bring about either a living cat or a dead cat. You can’t choose which outcome happens, but your observation still makes it happen, along with everything leading up to that point, because you’re collapsing a wave function with an indeterminacy that has spanned a period of time.”
    "Look, I don’t care about any of this, and I’m probably not going to remember it either. Quantum physics, probability… that’s not really my thing.“
    "But Jerry… you’re an observational comic.”
    "Booooooo,“ says the shorter man.
    Jerry frowns. "You have got to be kidding me.”
    "I mean, it’s intended as a bit of a joke, yeah,“ says the taller man. "But it is the narrative we’ve constructed. We’ve given you the power to un-observe things. You can uncollapse wave functions.”

Quick aside: I really hate it when writers bury the ‘Character said’ at the end of a long paragraph of what that character is saying so that you have no idea who’s saying it at the outset and have to go back to the start and re-read it in the correct voice. It really messes with the narrative flow. I’m realizing now, though, that these little side-notes are causing their own kind of damage to narrative flow, so this will be the last one. Sorry.

    "But why me?“ asks Jerry.
    "George Costanza is Jason Alexander. Elaine Benes is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Cosmo Kramer is Michael Richards. But you’re Jerry Seinfeld in both places. You’re the common thread. You’re the only one who can save us. All of us.”
    "Save you? What do you mean?“
    "Our own world is a probability wave that’s been collapsing itself in the wrong direction for millennia. And what we need you to do is uncollapse it, right back to the start, and then do the same thing with your own world. We’ve taken care of the rest.”
    "And how am I supposed to do that?“
    "Just do what you always do, Jerry.”
    Jerry thinks about it for a moment and soon realizes exactly what that means. “What’s the deal with… uh… what do I say?”
    "Just clear your mind and let it happen.“
    "What’s the deal with…” an idea dawns on him and he smirks. “What’s the deal with the universe? If it keeps getting bigger and bigger, why does my apartment have to stay the same size?”
    A hazy light begins to glow from seemingly everywhere.
    "Keep going,“ says the shorter Writer.
    "What’s the deal with the Big Bang? I mean, what’s the hurry? Why not slow down a little and make sure you get it right? Plus, there’s no point putting on a fireworks show when there’s nobody around to see it!”
    As he jokes, his voice gets louder, until the battleship beneath him begins to tremble with each word. Soon, he is somehow speaking in harmony with himself, a chorus spanning the entire audible range like a rainbow of sound. The vibrations seem to be pulling apart the very fabric of reality.
    Jerry looks up at the sky and notices that the two Earths have blurred into overlapping blue-green streaks. Elaine shudders and blinks out of existence, then George. The Writers have become hazy and translucent. “And what’s the deal with the readers? If they care so much about all the details of my life, why don’t they come do my laundry so I have more time to do something interesting?”
    The sea surrounding the battleship lurches violently, then disappears, splashing and draining into an endless white void until not a drop of shoe is left. The shorter Writer blinks away and the taller one begins to flicker. Only then does Jerry notice that Kramer hasn’t blurred at all.
    "Why isn’t Kramer going away like Elaine and George?“ asks Jerry.
    The remaining Writer smiles sadly.
    "What’s the deal with Kramer? He slides into my apartment like he owns the place, why doesn’t he pay any rent?”
    Kramer remains crystal clear, but the clouds disappear from the sky, leaving behind a crisp view of the smeared Earths against a solid black backdrop.
    "What’s the deal with Kramer?“ asks Jerry again, more forcefully, his voice rippling forth like a shockwave. "He has so many crazy ideas all the time, you’d think he’d invent a better haircut.”
    The battleship disappears beneath his feet. All that remains is Jerry, Kramer, and an unrecognizable, flickering, bluish blur that had been the two Earths.
    "I can’t uncollapse Kramer,“ says Jerry. "Writers! Can you hear me? Are you still there? Tell me why I can’t uncollapse Kramer!”
    There is no answer.
    Jerry looks down at his own hands and can see right through them. He knows that his next joke will probably be his last. Suddenly, he realizes what is happening. “Oh no. Oh, Kramer. Oh, Kramer, I’m so sorry.”
    Kramer unfreezes and begins to glow. “Sorry for what, Jer?”
    "All this time, it was staring me right in the face.“ A sharp lump forms in Jerry’s throat. "The scrolls, the Machine, the book… it all makes sense now. ”Cosmo.“ Cosmo Kramer. It’s all inside of you! They put it all inside of you! The whole universe! Oh, Kramer, I’m so, so sorry.”
    Kramer smiles. “It’s okay, Jerry.”
    "No! No, it’s not, Kramer! What am I gonna do without you? What am I gonna do without all your crazy antics? Sure I’ve got George and Elaine, but they’re not enough! I thought we were gonna be living across from each other for the rest of our lives!“
    "It’s okay, Jerry. I’ll still be around. Now tell me one last joke. Make it a good one.”
    Tears spill down Jerry’s cheeks. “I can’t.”
    "You have to. It’s already too late.“
    "I can’t!”
    "You have to!“ shouts Kramer.
    Jerry sobs for a moment. "What’s the deal with goodbyes? They’re usually not that good. Sure, we’ve got ‘bye’, but that’s too neutral. Why don’t we have ‘badbye’? And even if you’re glad they’re leaving, you still had to deal with them while they were there. Maybe that’s why there’s a ‘hell’ in ‘hello’. And…” As he trails off, everything disappears, leaving the two alone in an endless white infinity.
    Kramer starts to emit a low hum. “Badbye, Jerry.”
    "Badbye, Kramer.“
    As Jerry fades away, his perception of the world fades out with him. The last thing he sees is Kramer’s dopey smile.
    Moments after Jerry disappears, Kramer spasmodically shudders, sending out a low hum through the void. The sound travels outward, stops, and reverses. When it finally returns to him, it crushes him into a singularity. He doesn’t have time to scream.

    *** CLIMAX ACHIEVED. NO FURTHER ORDERS AVAILABLE ***
    *** ACTIVATING SELF-DESTRUCT ***
    (3)…
    (2)…
    (1)…

    INT. NOWHERE - …DAY?

    Having successfully completed its responsibilities, THE MACHINE dutifully writes itself out of existence. The surrounding void and whatever traces that may have remained from either of the two universes disappear along with it, including the very notions of appearance and disappearance. Nothing remains, not even the concept of nothing. It’s all up to you now, Kramer. Thank you.

    ***

    Kramer reaches out with the only finger on his only hand and turns on one of the only two lights in the world. His apartment is one of three units on the fifth floor of his building, the westernmost of the only eight buildings in Manhattan [the largest of the thirteen cities on Earth, the only known inhabitable world within the twenty-one star systems in the observable universe]. Thirty-four Planck "seconds” later, fifty-five people appear on 89th Street [one of the one hundred and forty-four streets on the island of Manhattan].
    The calendar in Monk’s Diner reads August 21 [the 233rd day of the year], 2015, and the time on Elaine Benes’s Apple Watch reads 6:17AM [the 377th minute of the day].
    "Why are we here so early?“ asks George [who has 987 hairs remaining on his head]. "I didn’t even know they opened this early.”
    "They normally don’t,“ says Elaine. "Jerry, you’re the one asked us to meet here. Why so early?”
    Jerry stares down at the table, unresponsive. Out of the corner of his eye, he notices that he has 1,597 unread Gmail messages.
    "Jerry?“ prompts Elaine, eliciting no response. "Earth to Jerry Seinfeld. Hello! Stop staring at your phone! Do I have to FaceTime you to get a response?”
    "Two thousand, five hundred and eighty-four,“ mumbles Jerry.
    "Come again?” says Elaine.
    "Four thousand, one hundred and eighty-one.“
    Elaine and George share a concerned look.
    "What are you, counting something?” asks George.
    Jerry suddenly snaps out of his trance. “Kramer!”
    Elaine furrows her brow and waits for him to continue. “…versus Kramer?”
    "Sorry, I, uh… I don’t know what came over me.“
    "That’s okay,” says George. “Like we were just saying, it’s early.”
    "Yeah. Yeah, it is. I, uh wanted to talk to you about…" he searches his memory. “Uh. This new show I’ve been doing, it’s called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
    "We know about your new show, Jer,“ says Elaine. "We’ve both been on it. Hey, are you feeling all right?”
    "No, I'm… I’m okay. Sorry, it's… I just can’t shake the feeling that something’s missing.“
    "Missing?” asks George.
    "Yeah, like I'm… like I’ve lost something important. But at the same time, I feel like I still have it. More than ever. Like it’s all around me… but at the same time, it’s gone.“
    "…I’m gonna get the check,” says Elaine, after a moment. “I think we should all go home and get some apparently much-needed sleep.”
    "Yeah, that's… that’s a good idea,“ says Jerry. "Sorry, I just don’t know what’s come over me today.”
    "It’s okay. Will you do me a favor? Will you text me when you get home?“
    "Yeah, sure, Elaine.”
    Elaine glances at Jason and the two share yet another concerned look.
    "Jerry,“ says Julia, "I haven’t played Elaine in almost twenty years.”
    "Right, of course,“ says Jerry, trying to save face. "It was a joke! I was joking. Because we’re in Monk’s Diner?”
    Julia looks at Jason again. “Uh-huh. Hey, why don’t you head home? I’ll cover the check. You can get me back later.”
    "Thanks,“ replies Jerry.
    As he slides his key into the lock of his apartment, he turns and looks at 5B. A moment later, a young couple opens the door on their way out and he quickly spins back around.
    "Oh hey, Jerry,” says the man. “You’re up early.”
    "Uh, yeah,“ says Jerry. "Sorry, gotta run. Can’t talk. Busy day.”
    "Okay. Hope we’re still on for dinner tonight.“
    "I uh…” Suddenly, he remembers the plans he had made. “Yeah, of course. I’ll see you at your place at eight.”
    "Fantastic,“ says the woman.
    Jerry waits until they enter the elevator, then stumbles forward, falling face-first against 5B and sliding tearfully to his knees.

    ***

    Swallowing a hard lump in his throat, Jerry rolls up ‘The Grand Finale’ and slips it back into his freezer, tucking it as far away as possible. He doesn’t know if it will ever come true—none of the other scrolls have, yet, and it’s been four years since he first discovered them—but can’t shake the feeling that it’s all going to happen soon.
    Kramer slides in through the front door and Jerry quickly slams the freezer shut.
    "Hey, Jerry!” says Kramer.
    "Hey, Kramer,“ replies Jerry. "Am I ever glad to see you.”
    "That’s an odd thing to say—you just saw me an hour ago!“
    "Yeah, well.” He sighs. “Hey, I got some chocolate cake in the fridge. Wanna split it with me?”
    Kramer’s eyes light up. “Boy, would I!”

The Sketch Artist

Kramer accidentally slams a door in Elaine’s face, causing her to break her nose, and she calls Kramer “a societal evil.” Kramer takes the remark very personally, and resolves to become a force for good by learning how to draw police sketches. He gets Jerry to help him practice by forcing him to describe George. “How will this work?” Jerry asks. “You actually know what George looks like.” “Nah, Jerry,” Kramer says, “I purged all my memories of what George looks like. Just tell me.” Jerry finds this odd, but complies. “Well, he’s, uh, a sort of frumpy, bald man…” “Yeah, yeah, keep goin’, Jer.” After several torturous hours, Jerry finally looks at what Kramer has been drawing: Nothing but dark, concentric circles. It does not resemble George, or anything human, merely a whirling void.

Across town, for reasons unknown to him, George spends several hours swirling, whipping about, in the middle of an intersection, until he is nothing but a vertiginous dark cavity, consuming bystanders into his nothingness.

Noting the peculiarity, Elaine asks Kramer to draw a version of her without a broken nose.

The Warring Nations

George wishes to lose some pounds, but does not want to eat less. He finds that he is able to fulfill these desires by eating whatever he wants, and hooking the end of his digestive tract up to a powerful vacuum cleaner. Kramer knocks on Jerry’s door, and when admitted, walks slowly inside. “What’s this about?” Jerry asks. Kramer extends a literal olive branch. “Jerry, I have come to negotiate a cease-fire.” Jerry is confused: “A cease-fire? Who was I at war with?” Aghast, Kramer immediately withdraws his olive branch, extending his opposite fist full of arrows. “You refuse to recognize the great nation of Kramerica?!” Elaine, being the first to discover the scene, is left with the gross responsibility of cleaning George out of the inside of her vacuum cleaner.

The Crowd Favorite

As Kramer slides into Jerry’s apartment, the audience’s applause grows so raucous that George, Jerry, and Elaine eventually throw up their hands in frustration and wander off the set. Kramer remains in the middle of Jerry’s apartment, smiling and nodding his head cockily, his arms spread appreciatively. The audience continues to clap and hoot, their palms stinging horribly. Many suffer fractures of the bones in their hands and arms, but they refuse to leave the studio for treatment.

George wanders back into Jerry’s apartment looking for his keys. Frustrated that the applause is still ongoing, he shoves Kramer, trying to snap him and the audience out of it, but Kramer slides on his slick shoes across the floor, arms waving wildly to maintain balance. The stunt sends the audience into absolute hysterics. People try clapping louder than each other, and soon fights break out over who can show the most appreciation through noise. Factions form, tearing seats out of the floor and stacking them into crude barricades that they shove into each other to make even louder sounds.

George returns to the apartment with Jerry and Elaine, and the three try to pull Kramer out the front door. They manage to drag him to the elevator before he breaks away and runs back to Jerry’s living room. The audience is so thrilled by his return that they begin to tear each other apart so that the horrific, agonized screams might overtake all the other sounds.

Eventually, after almost a day, half the audience has been murdered by the other half, and the remaining members are too weak to engage in any movement at all. The pools of blood have spilled into Jerry’s kitchen, soaking Kramer’s shoes. He takes a step backward, slipping a little, but there are no cheers. Only a few people are able to manage weak groans.

Kramer frowns. “What, that’s all you got?”

The Metaphorical

Kramer slides in through Jerry’s front door.

“Ah,” says Jerry, standing at his kitchen counter. “It’s you.”

A pained expression seeps onto Kramer’s face, his jaw wiggling as if chewing on something unpleasant. Finally, he replies, “Morty and Frank at NoLIta. Morty of Florida. Florida under two moons. Frank of Queens. Queens of crossroads, at NoLIta. NoLIta, her sky gray.”

Jerry stares blankly at him for a moment. “Okay, so what’s the problem today?” he says exasperatedly.

Kramer shrugs, confused. “Puddy beneath MoMA.”

“Puddy? David Puddy? Why’s he under the MoMa?”

Kramer shakes his head. “Uncle Leo, his eyes closed.”

Jerry sighs. “Jerry, his patience running out. Here, why don’t you have some coffee? It might calm you down.”

Kramer waves his hands. “Bania, at rest.”

“Oh, this is just a whole new level, Kramer. I thought you were a little odd before, but this really takes it.”

Nearly in tears, Kramer turns toward the door. “The beast at Niagara!” he shouts, storming out.

“Well, all right, then,” mutters Jerry, returning to his newspaper.

Rushing outside, Kramer bumps into Elaine.

“Kramer!” she exclaims. “You’ll never guess what happened to me today. I was in my office when Peterman—“

“The East River in winter,” interrupts Kramer.

“Wh… what about it?” asks Elaine, confused.

“Davola at court, the court of silence.”

Elaine frowns. “Kramer, I have no idea what you’re trying to say.”

Kramer runs away, wailing miserably. “Sacamano, with sails unfurled!”

Hours later, George finds Kramer sitting forlornly on a park bench.

“Hey, Kramer. You seen Jerry? He left a message on my machine, but I haven’t been able to get a hold of him. He didn’t answer the door. I think something might’ve happened to him.”

“Newman, on the ocean.”

“What do you mean? Did Newman do something to Jerry?”

Kramer shakes his head sadly, frustrated by his communication difficulties. “Uncle Leo, his eyes closed.”

“He killed Uncle Leo too?”

“Puddy beneath MoMA!”

“And he buried Puddy under the Museum of Modern Art?” George clutches his bald head in dismay. “What the hell is going on?”

Unable to take it any longer, Kramer stands up and shouts, “Whatley, his face black, his eyes red!”

“Tim Whatley? He was in on this, too?”

Kramer shakes his head and gestures toward Jerry’s. “Jerry and Newman at Niagara.”

“We gotta call the police,” says George, heading toward Jerry’s apartment.

Moaning in agony, Kramer follows after him.

George spots Newman walking up the street and rushes angrily toward him. “What did you do to Jerry?” he demands.

“Jerry?” asks Newman. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Puddy beneath MoMA!” shouts Kramer, tugging on George’s arm. “Puddy beneath MoMA!”

“Yeah, I’ll get to that in a second, Kramer,” says George. He grabs Newman by the front of his postal uniform and slams him up against the nearest wall, cracking it behind him. “Tell me what you did to Jerry!”

“Nothing!” replies Newman, his eyes wide with terror. “I didn’t do anything, I swear! I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

George punches him in the face.

Kramer tries to pull him away, but George’s fury is too intense. “Puddy beneath MoMA!”

“I don’t care about Puddy right now, Kramer,” growls George, throwing Newman to the ground. Some bricks tumble out of the damaged wall.

After several minutes, Jerry and Elaine appear around the corner nearby. When they see the mess, they both spin and try to walk away without being seen, to avoid getting pulled into the undoubtedly ridiculous situation.

George catches them out of the corner of his eye and stops his assault on Newman. “Wait… Jerry?”

Jerry drops his head resignedly and turns around. “Hi, George.”

“Jerry, I thought you were… but Kramer said… he… I… I…”

“Oh, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer!” roars Newman, clambering to his feet, backing away furiously. “All of you!”

Kramer sighs. “Jackie when the walls fell.”

ERROR: OBSCURITY THRESHOLD EXCEEDED—CENTRAL PREMISE REQUIRES DETAILED KNOWLEDGE OF SPECIFIC EPISODE OF STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, “DARMOK”

WARNING: EXCESSIVE LENGTH FOR PAYOFF

WARNING: SYSTEM MESSAGES STILL VISIBLE TO READERS—ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT RESPONDED TO SUPPORT REQUEST. TRYING AGAIN (ATTEMPT 2 OF 4)

Jazzpunk: A Spy Game Full Of Jokes, Blokes And Cold War Tropes

As if on well-timed comedic cue, the new adventure game Jazzpunk comes sliding in like Kramer through Seinfeld’s door. Released earlier this month, the game was developed by Necrophone Games (Luis Hernandez and Jess Brouse) and published by Adult Swim. The game, which has been nominated for the grand prize at the 2014 Independent Games Festival, is to video games what movies like Airplane!The Naked Gun and Hot Shots are to film. Perhaps a more apt comparison might be the improvisational game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where “everything is made up and the points don’t matter.”

The Doubling

George wakes up one morning and opens his eyes, but is alarmed to discover that he still can’t see. With some effort, he manages to open a second set of eyelids that have inexplicably grown beneath his first. He tries to rush to the bathroom, but trips over his extra set of legs, all four ending in a pair of feet that each sport ten toes. “What’s happening?” he moans, but his words sound funny produced by two sets of vocal cords shaped by two tongues and two sets of teeth. The grotesque effect is especially pronounced coming out of two mouths at the bottoms of two heads.

After getting dressed – a difficult feat, considering all his duplicated limbs, but easier than expected, considering his clothes all seemed to have been tailored to accommodate his new form – he rushes to Jerry’s apartment, but is confused by two copies of Jerry’s building right next to each other.

He spots another George, identically malformed, out of the corners of his eyes, standing in front of the other building. The two march angrily toward each other to confront one another. Their argument consists of the same sets of insults hurled back and forth like some horrible echo.

Two Elaines approach, slithering down the road on their backs, attached at the soles of their feet. “George!” they cry in unison, then “George!” again when they spot his duplicate.

“Can you believe I woke up like this?” he whines.

“Never mind that!” she replies. “What am I going to do with all my shoes?”

The four pick one of the two buildings and make their way up to Jerry’s apartment. They find two of him inside, and wonder if the other building’s apartment contains two of him as well. The two Jerrys are seated across from each other at the dining room table, telling the same jokes to each other in unison, trying to race to the punchlines before the other can get there.

Suddenly, forty Kramers squeeze in through the door.

“Kramer!” says George, amazed. “Why are there twenty of you, but only two of all of us?”

Kramer shrugs. “There were always twenty of me,” he replies, matter-of-factly.