"So run me through this again..."
"This machine will import you into an infinite paradox of fictional worlds all created by one Jessica Jones."
"Why her worlds?"
"Don't you know anything. No writer has attempted as many genres and styles in such a short time as her. To get the ultimate literary experience you will literally jump from one 'reality', so to speak, to the next."
"Sounds - "
"Enthralling? Entrancing? Ethereal?"
"I was going to say fun. Nice alliteration though."
"Ah, I see you're learning."
"So how about we get started?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
The Scientist sat her down in the plush seat, strapped her wrists down and placed gel on either sides of her forehead.
"This feels ominous."
He placed the electrodes on the gel, strapped her ankles to the legs of the chair and let out a slightly maniacal laugh. Her face paled.
"I am very sorry. I got carried away."
'It was too late to turn back now', she thought.
"Are you ready, Ms Smith, for a Literary Extravaganza?!"
"I suppose I have no choice now."
"Now, now, where's the fun in that?"
Before she could utter a squeak he heaved down the gigantic, rusting lever and sent a shock through her entire body. This was it.
'Liza was, literally, thrown into the first of many worlds, and damn it didn't feel good.
She saw a guy, suave and slick, climb out of a car. She wasn't much of a motor buff so she ignored the vehicle and focused on him.
He had dark purple bags under his eyes - stress, lack of sleep, she couldn't know for sure. His hair was tousled, she guessed it wasn't some preppy boy look but because he had spent too many hours awake, running his shaking hand through his tired hair.
She took in her surroundings and shivered. This wasn't a place you'd want to be, especially not at night. 'Liza wanted to run up to him and take his hand, she didn't want to be alone. But, no, she remembered what The Scientist had said, "You must not, under any circumstances, interact directly with the characters - the shift between reality and fiction may blur and even I don't know how catastrophic that result could be." She cursed his genius and shoved her hands in her pockets as she crept forward.
He was now at the entrance of the dilapidated house; he placed a key in the lock and tentatively opened the door. She tilted her head and hid behind a bush to try and get a look into the house, but it was pitch black in there. Darkness surrounded everywhere, the only light had been the car's headlights and they had quickly abandoned them when he had turned off the car's engine.
She'd lost him. He had entered the house and hadn't left for a few minutes. She had started to follow but the stench of decay and death made her recoil. Suddenly she heard a noise, the sound of heavy and rushed footsteps - and they were heading towards her.
She turned and ran, looking for the place to jump, to escape into the next 'reality'. She found it with uncharacteristic ease and as just before she slipped into the next realm she heard the noise of an exhausted man vomiting.
She was drowning. She struck her arms against the water and fought for her life. The waves were apathetic of her presence and gently left her on the shore. She coughed and spluttered, clearing her lungs of sand and salty seawater.
She pushed against the beach floor and carefully stood up. The next characters were in front of her - she had to hide, they couldn't see her, or - well, or else and she didn't want to find out what that Or Else was.
The cliffs. She climbed her way up a sandy slope and hid amongst the long, prickly grass. She had a clear view of a blonde woman, walking slowly through the ocean waves.
'Liza put shifted uncomfortably as she watched a grown woman cry in moon-lit isolation. The chilling temperatures nipped at her bare arms and tried to distract her from the scene of true love unfolding beneath. A man was running towards her, it was like a scene in a movie. The happy ending.
The sounds from the previous world haunted her and echoed through her head; but 'Liza shook her body silently and refused to let a display of such deep emotion be ruined by the immediate past.
Below, they embraced, they kissed, they held hands and walked slowly across the sandy shore, away from the pain of this night and towards a bright future together.
'Liza thought back to reality, her lonely existence spent picking up the pieces after each time her heart had been broken. But tonight wasn't about her. It was about literature; it was about the beauty people could find in short stories, the horror and all the rest that people could enjoy as words scattered across a page.
She climbed higher, and higher. The wind pushed her body and pulled her hair. But 'Liza would be the victor here as she reached the top of the highest cliff, and, closing her eyes tight against the intrusive winds, jumped.
She was prepared this time, and manoeuvred her feet and hands to take the blow as she smacked onto dying ground. A cloud of dust surrounded her scuffed trainers and she rose carefully, almost waiting for her body to creak. She took a second to take in the new world and smiled slightly as a sign, wooden and firm, informed her exactly where she was - 'Caramyah'. It made a refreshing and welcome change from ambiguous settings.
She took a pocket watch out of her jeans pocket and brushed sand off its silver surface. Her fingers ran over the engravings and her smile widened as she remembered the moment her father had handed it to her. Her grasp tightened as she remembered his death shortly after.
The bellowing roar of a creature and a sudden gust of dust contaminated wind shocked her out of her contemplative reverie and she quickly pocketed the pocket watch as a dragon all but fell out of the sky.
A knight, from what she could tell, stood defiant in front of the creature, sword raised. The beast didn't seem to mind and barely blinked when the man roared back.
'Liza shut her eyes in horror as the man charged and plunged his sword deep into the beast's chest, causing its grotesque organs to spill from its body, knocking his enemy down. She didn't need to look again to know that this was it for her and the world of Caramyah. She ran away, looking for the next place to jump, sad that a place she thought sounded so full of hope was yet another of shattering despair.
The cracks in the broken soil grew and grew; becoming more expansive as she ran. Suddenly the floor opened up, nothing but black beneath - 'Liza tried to stop before she fell into the unknown, but her worn-down trainers couldn't take it and she plummeted over the edge, another world awaiting her arrival.
Her insides began to twist and she fell to the ground. What was this place? The Scientists voice boomed un-forgivingly around her skull.
"Sometimes worlds will clash; they will combine and merge and several stories will ambush you at once. There is nothing I can do, sorry. You must steel yourself against it and try your best."
She screamed in agony.
'Damn any characters who hear, I'm done.'
A bird hopped by her head and she turned to face it. Hop. Hop. It was tapping the ground with its miniature feet, taunting the worms beneath to surface. She knew what was coming next.
A worm broke through the dark mud and the bird immediately hopped over and ate it in one gulp. Nothing is safe in any world it seems.
"Well Hello there… I'm Death."
She turned to scream but found no one and thus no sound escaped her lips. She could hear the thoughts of what she assumed to be the Grim Reaper but she was still alone. It's internal monologue continued, sounding almost as if it was being played through a pair of speakers.
"Helloooo I am deaaathh!!"
Nope, that just sounds stupid.'
She giggled at its attempts to sound menacing, threatening and concluded it just sounded silly. She had had enough of this world too; death seemed to seep from its imaginary pores - a recurring theme that unsettled her.
She rolled onto her other side, ready to stand and search for the next place to jump when her exploration was cut to an end as her body fell, again, through the floor.
She kept falling. Falling. Constant falling.
World after blurred world flew past her eyes and she didn't think she was going to stop anytime soon. She felt like Alice, falling down the rabbit hole.
A strange and harsh world, one she belatedly recognised as New York, sped past her eyes; she barely caught a glimpse of an obviously out of place woman, struggling to find her way through crowded paths. Humiliation - yet another world of pain.
The next world seemed just as callous; a wife, holding her children close, weeping at the end of her dead husband's bed. A tear rolled down 'Liza's cheek as gravity kept her lingering for a moment more to watch the scene of tortuous misery. At last the ominous force showed some mercy and she resumed falling at an alarming pace.
The wind righted her, she stood upright on air as she watched a scene in a classroom; more embarrassment for the main character, a character it followed through dark days of dark thoughts until he met his demise - his untimely suicide at such a young age as The Clown with no name.
'Liza forced her arms to cover her eyes, she didn't want to see anymore. She couldn't take anymore of this cynical part of life. She was happy damn it, she was optimistic. Despite everything she believed in love, in happiness - the second world had proved that in spite of the bitterness it could all work out.
The wind dropped her suddenly and she heard a rib crack as she landed in the next world.
She was on a pier. No place to hide but she didn't think it mattered, the characters were all-consumed in the action. A brawl to the death was taking place between two men. The scars on one and the broken arm of the other implied a long-standing grievance and the golden hair of one man made 'Liza hope he would win.
The golden-haired man tackled the other, sending his sizable body tumbling to his death amongst the rocks below. More death. The survivor ran on, to the tip of the pier - where the story would reach its climax. 'Liza followed.
Another man, a villain she presumed, was holding a blade into a woman's neck. The looks exchanged between her and the golden haired man hinted something more, something special - true love.
The villain had had enough and pushed the woman body over the edge, causing the golden-haired man, fury entwined with passion, to attack and murder him. 'Liza didn't so much mind the death in this world, it seemed Just.
The golden-haired man turned and ran down the steps of the pier to the beach below. 'Liza couldn't resist following. She found the man on his knees, clutching the woman to his chest. She began to cry, too much death, life and love cut short. But the woman coughed and opened her eyes.
The man held her tight and sobbed into her shoulder; Ella weakly moved her arms round his waist and cried too. This was a happy ending.
Renewed with hope and vigour 'Liza ran back up the steps, hurrying to the end of the pier. She climbed on top of the white railing, metal there to protect but did no such thing in this story. She closed her eyes, feeling the breeze tickle her face, and fell forward - into the sea, and into the next world.
She was back on a beach. There was a man. He had a gun. He put the gun to his head. He fell to the ground, no longer with us. Suicide. Destruction. Damned despair.
'Liza ran into the ocean and forced herself not to surface as she waves rushed past her, throwing her into the next story.
A bedroom this time. Indoors. Warm. Two identical figures. One changing. One scared. 'Liza watched with horror as one character was wiped out, replaced by the next. Horror. Terror. A sheer, unrelenting lack of mercy shown by the author and 'Liza had had enough.
She took her pocket watch and went to press the button that revealed the clock's hidden face. But the room changed again. It returned to its innocent state and the girl lie, sleeping peacefully. 'Liza changed her mind and walked over the bedroom window, climbing out and falling again. She didn't see the intruding figure shatter this peace as he swung open the bedroom door and tauntingly sing,
She's still falling. She's in another world yet she's still falling. This isn't right. 'Liza shuts her eyes tight in distress as she realises that this, in a story by Jess, this is 'right'; her suspicions were confirmed as she turned her head to see an auburn haired woman falling to her death.
'Liza wondered why the woman decided to jump, whether she's cold in that paper-thin dress, and whether-
The woman's body hit the ground with such a sickening thud that as 'Liza's feet hit the ground she straight fell to her knees and vomited. The floor showed mercy again and kindly dropped her into the next nightmare.
Insanity! Sheer, unadulterated madness! 'Liza cowered on the floor, clutching onto her mind in an effort to keep