I thought I'd do something a bit different today. As I'm closing in on the end of Heaven & Hell, it felt like it was time to bring together some of the various world leaders I've used through the book in what might be considered a summit. With yours truly conducting the summit. Just a word in advance: it does get silly. Not as if that should surprise you by now....
A large conference room. A group of men are gathered together around a table, a summit of world leaders. To be precise, they're a summit of world leaders from the fictional world as depicted in Heaven & Hell. Some of them have names... others have merely gone through the book as nameless titles. Most of them wear business suits. The American President sits with the British Prime Minister. The Israeli Prime Minister is seated with Palestinian President Jibril Miraz and the Syrian President (yes, I know that's an odd combination). Pope Timothy (sorry, Benedict, but there's no room for you in the Kendallverse. Does that mean I have to do a lot of Hail Marys in penance?) sits at the table, and unlike the extravagant clothing one might expect of the Vicar of Christ, he's simply dressed, in a black priests' cassock. And sunglasses for some reason. And rounding out the group, sitting at the end of the table, are the tag team rulers of Iran. President Aref Harandi looks as menacing and annoyed as ever... while beside him, the Supreme Leader, Azad Garoussi, sits in bitter silence, glaring at everyone else (Ayatollahs tend to glare a lot) as though wondering how he got suckered into showing up. In walks the author, known in some circles as William Kendall.
Kendall: Thank you all for coming today. I know it's been a long flight for some of you to meet here in between the Fourth Wall.
United States: Not so much for me. Just a quick hop in Air Force One.
Great Britain: I'm curious as to what the purpose of all of this is.
Syria: And why am I being designated by my country in these... transcripts? Is that the proper term?
Israel: Yes, I am too. And those two as well.
Kendall: Look, I very deliberately named some of you in the book, and didn't name others. And since there's more then one President, and more then one Prime Minister, I thought it would be less confusing to designate you by country.
United States: Wait. I'm the most powerful leader on Earth, and you don't even give me a name?
Garoussi: Aref, think of the opportunity. We could kill every last one of them right here and now and have our way with the whole world.
Harandi: Yes, but we don't have a gun.
Great Britain: I suppose you two crazy sods realize we all just heard you say that.
Garoussi: Heard us say what?
United States: Answer me this. Am I supposed to be the President in your... what's the term you used? Out there where you live beyond this... Fourth Wall?
Miraz: What is a Fourth Wall anyway?
Israel: I've heard some odd ideas about it.
Pope Timothy: It's the literary notion that characters in a book, television program, or movie are seperated from the audience by an invisible Fourth Wall. From time to time, writers like to have a character realize that they're actually fictional characters being written by someone else. It's quite often used in the comic book field. In fact, the characters She-Hulk and Deadpool are infamous for doing that sort of thing.
Syria: Wait... the Pope reads comic books?
Pope Timothy: An old habit I got into during confessionals. There's only so many times you can hear someone say "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned a whole lot. In the last six hours I robbed two banks, committed adultery, and swindled a fortune out of a rich widow." At some point, reading light entertainment makes the confessional time go faster.
Kendall: Your Holiness, I think the Catholic Church would prefer you keep that to yourself. Now, if we could continue? Mr. President...
Miraz: What is it?
Kendall: No, him.
United States: Yes?
Kendall: In regards to the whole are you or aren't you the American President in my reality thing, I'm really leaving that matter to the reader's imagination. You might be the current President, and you might not be. At least I'm being reasonably respectful of you when I'm writing you. It's not quite the same with your Syrian counterpart over here. He's definitely not the sociopath currently running things in Syria in my reality. This guy here's a man of honour.
Harandi: Note to self: have the Syrian President killed.
Syria: I heard that, you know.
Kendall: Enjoy it while it lasts, though. You're not going to be the President of the United States anymore in a couple of books.
United States: Why not?
Kendall: Well, the book after that one requires a personal connection to the... oh, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself, and going into detail about that would be considered a spoiler. All I'm saying is you're not going to be a two termer. Sorry. I know that's got to be disappointing, but as the creator of the Kendallverse...
Pope Timothy: Wait. Did you say creator?
Kendall: Yes, I created all of you. Out of my imagination.
Garoussi: Are you implying you're the Creator? Are you implying you're God? Blasphemy!
Kendall: I wasn't implying that at all. All I'm saying is that I have omnipotent power over all of you. I can, if I wish, delete you from existence. It's the full right of an author to control their characters. Granted, sometimes characters don't listen to you and wind up doing whatever they want anyway...
Pope Timothy: My son, you're claiming omnipotence over our lives. That certainly implies that you're...
Kendall: Wait! You don't understand. All of you people are characters! In a book I've been writing.
Israel: I don't know about the rest of you, but I rather resent being characterized as a mere fictional character.
Miraz: I'm with you, Prime Minister.
Great Britain: Who, me?
Miraz: No, I was talking to him.
Harandi: I never thought I'd agree with an Israeli, but I too resent being dismissed as a mere figment of someone else's imagination. I'm the President of Iran! That means something, you know! I have the pathetic lives of every single citizen of my country in my hands! Even this senile old loon beside me!
Garoussi: What was that?
Harandi: Did I say that out loud?
Great Britain: Is anyone else developing a headache?
Syria: If I might ask a question, Mr. Kendall?
Kendall: Certainly, Mr. President.
Syria: What makes you so sure we're the characters and you're the author?
Miraz: Indeed. What if you're the one whose every action is being written by some other omnipotent unseen force?
Israel: Yes, answer that, Mr. Smartypants.
Kendall: Oh, this is just getting silly.
Great Britain: No, silly would be your use of Shakespearean related imagery for no apparent reason. Don't think we can't see those images you're inserting into this blog, because we can. None of them have anything to do with the subject at hand. Tell us, whatever would be the reason for that?
Kendall: If you must know, I borrowed the title for the blog from Shakespeare, so I decided to play around with images too. All the better to confuse my readers with. Besides, it's not like google images for diplomacy came up with a whole lot of potential images. Now, if we could get on with the work at hand?
Garoussi: Shakespeare was a blasphemer too!
Kendall: And you wonder why no one invites Ayatollahs to parties.
Gadhaffi: Sanctuary! I plead sanctuary! I've been overrun by rebel forces and I ran through some really strange door and where the hell am...?
He looks around the room, sees everyone...and waves.
Gadhafi: Um... hi! Listen, if you happen to see a horde of Libyan freedom fighters come this way, forget you saw me. In fact, I was never here!
Great Britain: Aren't you dead?
Miraz: That's what I thought.
Israel: That's what we've all heard.
Harandi: That was our impression too.
Syria: Did you fake your death somehow?
United States: Our intelligence sources have you dead in this reality, Colonel. Mr. Kendall here has plans to work your assassination into the backstory of a character down the line.
Kendall: Who told you that?
United States: We have our sources.
Kendall: It was Norma, wasn't it?
United States: I'm not at liberty to say.
Kendall: Okay, so was it Beth?
United States: I can't divulge that.
Kendall: It must have been Donna. It's always the quiet ones.
United States: I assure you, I can't talk about our intelligence sources.
Gadhaffi: Look, I'm not dead, all right? I'm just on the run. The whole counter insurgency plan didn't quite go according to, well.. the plan.
Kendall: Obviously this must be the real Gadhaffi from my side of the Fourth Wall. Somehow he made his way here. Which is surprising, because we're all a long way from Tripoli. Listen, Colonel. May I call you Moammar? You might as well just throw in the towel. You had a long run as a despot, but it's over. You tried your best, and you came up short. If you turn yourself in to the new governing authorities in Tripoli, I'm sure they'll be lenient.
Gadhaffi: Are you crazy? After what I've done? They'll hang me!
Pope Timothy: Yes, my son, no, wait... you're older then I am. My son sounds wrong. Yes, Colonel, they probably will hang you. And to be perfectly honest, don't you agree that you've had it coming?
Harandi: Note to self: blow up any potential insurgency.
United States: You know, we all heard you say that.
Kendall: Those two are an awful lot like the two real ones in my world. It didn't take a lot of imagination to create them. Bitter, vindictive bastards of the first order. Which makes them good fodder for manipulating villains and pulling strings for a few books.
Garoussi: Note to self: have this so called author and blasphemer assassinated. How hard could it possibly be to hire someone reliable?
Kendall: I heard that too. How many authors are the target of murder plots by their characters?
Great Britain: Well, rumor has it that Charles Dickens was actually killed by Pip and Estella...