He was waiting outside my building today. Isaac. He had set up a checkerboard, red and black, on the steps leading up to my building. As I approached, he starting placing pieces on the board - but not checkers. Some were chess pieces - I saw a rook and a bishop - but there were some Legos and Monopoly pieces and even some from Candyland. It looked like a jigsaw board game made out of anything you could find.
I stopped at the steps and Isaac looked up at me. "Do you ever wonder where ideas come from?" he asked. "Or, perhaps, where they go? After you are done with them, after you have written them down, do they just stay there? Or do they go, perhaps, to some other place, a place filled with unused ideas, just waiting for something to think of them?"
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Now that's a question," Isaac said and turned back to the board. "I'm playing a game."
"You," he said. He waved at the board with one hand. "Go on, it's your move."
"I don't want to play," I said. "I just want you to leave me alone."
"You have to play," he said. "You were already playing before I got here, you just didn't know it."
"Please," I said. "Leave me alone. I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know-"
"No, that won't do," he said. "You know more than you think."
I was tired. I closed my eyes and removed my glasses, rubbing the bridge of my nose. "What are you talking about?" I asked.
"A game," he said, waving his hand in front of the board again. "A game of reality. Alternate reality, one might even say."
I looked at him, realization dawning. "An ARG?"
"Ah, finally," he said and smiled. "This is the game you play. The game we play together."
"You think this is part of the ARG? This...this is my life."
Isaac looked at me and laughed. "If you believe your life is not a game, you are in for quite a shock." He turned back to the game board. "Look at it. A random assortment of pieces, following no apparent rules except that which you set. And yet the idea of them came from somewhere. Someplace else. Perhaps the place where all ideas come from." He looked back at me. "And as the idea of them is real, so are they. Look." He pointed behind me and I turned around.
I saw. I saw them. I saw what I was avoiding. I saw them all.
I saw birds, hundreds of birds rising in the sky, lightning flickering between them as they rose.
I saw a dog, huge and jet black, red eyes and sharp fangs.
I saw an old man with a heavy coat, his eyes hidden, his face wrinkled, his arms holding a heavy book.
I saw shadows on the ground. I saw strange blurs out of the corner of my eyes. I saw a boy with skin like ice.
I saw a pool of water waiting. I saw open doorways leading to strange cities, which I realized was all one city.
I saw a dead man in a gas mask before a symbol of twin triangles. I saw a puppet who had taken control of her strings and the strings of those around her.
I saw a man with a bird's face and a wooden cane. I saw another man, deformed and sick, with a wicked smile and a waiting touch.
I saw the blink of an eye and the scuttle of mechanical legs and the silence of empty space.
I saw a beast kneeling on the ground, a beast with pale white skin and black eyes, a beast red in tooth and claw.
I saw a man standing tall, a man in a black suit, without a face but with arms outstretched.
I felt Isaac pull me back and I fell to the ground and everything I saw disappeared.
"What," I said. "What."
"You have seen the true nature of this world," Isaac said looking over me. "I am sorry. You know what kind of game you are playing now. I thought once you could stop playing, but now I am not so sure."
I couldn't move. I had seen them, the Fears we had made up. We had just made them all up. But they were real. We made it all up and it all came true anyway - the words floated back up into my mind.
I closed my eyes and tried taking deep breaths. "What can I do?" I asked, but when I opened my eyes, Isaac was nowhere to be seen.
I slowly got up from the ground and walked to my apartment, carefully looking behind me each step of the way.