“Oh no!” he groaned, “don’t tell me it’s you 2. What a lame attempt at humor.”
The Tin Man was sitting rather awkwardly on a tree trunk between two unlikely looking bushes. “You took your time getting here.”
“What do you mean?” he asked the Tin Man. “I don’t recall us deciding to get together here or anywhere else in particular. Besides weren’t you on NGC 206.572.3 somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy? That’s millions of light years from here and now.”
“Well, you remember my old pal Yggdrasil’s rules of order? You were thinking about the object of our mutual affections, Ellen of course, and then you thought of me,” the Tin Man explained.
“But how did you get here so quickly?” he asked skeptically.
“Speed of thought,” the Tin Man flashed a disarming smile, “dashing through the quantum foam.”
“I don’t suppose you brought your tree-some friend,” he said dejectedly.
A voice boomed from the tree top behind the Tin Man’s stump, “Just because this is a barrel of monkeys doesn’t mean you’re not going to die tragically pretty soon.”
“Wh-what?” he whispered.
“Hey,” came a voice out of the darkness opposite the tree, “up until now, I could barely follow what was going on here. Now, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on!” A multitude of voices murmured agreement.
First the boundaries between the author and his characters had broken down. Now the boundaries between the author and his audience were breaking down. The outer walls cracked and crumbled, and the whirlpool turned ever inward.
The young man covered his ears and ran out of the clearing, not paying attention to the path from which he had entered.