Bewildering Stories

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You Don't Exist, Either

by John Thiel

There isn’t anything wrong with a werewolf. They make tolerable pets. You see, they don’t exist, and that’s highly tolerable. Ask a witch. She’s been there, she’s had a werewolf as a pet. And as she concocted her witch’s brew, the wolf would swish and circle about the cauldron, keeping her company in the effort. She would say, by way of a soup-stirring spell, as she mixed her pot, “Kalli kalli kalli kac kal, witch’s brew. Witch’s, witch’s, witch’s brew.”

Both the witch and the werewolf weren’t real, by anyone’s exacting standards, and it troubled them, of course, but it was part of the pleasure of their company. People and things that don’t exist can’t harm you, even if they wanted to or would do so, and so one need merely enjoy when looking upon them and their activities, or seeming to do so. (One isn’t sure but that a reader of this story might not exist also.)

Suppose, though, for a while, that a werewolf does exist, big and bold, badder than old King Kong. It is a willing suspension of disbelief. There are (or aren’t) ancient orders who know about these suspensions. You can come up with pretty nearly anything when you suspend your disbelief. Now, if you suppose a werewolf exists, you still don’t suppose that a witch exists, and so she doesn’t(such is the power of the mind). I have provided a tale with at least two nonexistent characters in it. So our werewolf sits there by himself, with slosh from that kettle-shaped septic tank spilling over him every once in a while. You ask, “What is this, a controlled behavioral experiment in animal psychology? An intermittent slosh spills on the animal, like, will it be able to adapt to it?” And the wolf says, “I can’t adapt to anything.”

Suspend your disbelief in the witch. Now she can say, “And nothing can adapt to Alfredo, either.” That is the name she has given the wolf.

Someone has already suspended his disbelief in a behavioral psychologist, who enters and says, “I categorically deny that this is an experiment in animal psychology. It is a story, or an attempt at one, and we are the action.”

“So what’s the action?” a warlock asks.

“Regarding the statement that a witch doesn’t exist unless thought to exist, ’such is the power of the mind’,” says the behaviorist, just as if he were a reader talking about the story, “a person who believes that of himself is a megalomaniac or a solipsist, and imagines himself to be something that doesn’t exist, id est, a god; the mind has no powers and is used exclusively in thought, and one’s mind set does not determine reality at all.”

“Therefore the person doesn’t exist?” says the warlock.

“He does, but he imagines himself out of existence.”

“Is there such a person hereabouts?”

“We are imagining such a person for the sake of hypothetical examination.”

Here you object. As a reader, you are the imaginer or non-imaginer of the various personnel you are visualizing, or are being told to visualize. One of the characters in the story is casting doubts on your own reality.

Therefore you enter the picture complaining, and immediately the werewolf takes out after you.

Very nice of you to contribute to the action and character development of this story. It has to be something that might please an editor.

Copyright © 2003 by John Thiel