Perhaps the single most fascinating aspect of my ongoing bat/rat saga is the way that other characters have begun to enter into it. At first it was just me, then the Monk entered the picture, then other people--heroes trying to win me back to the side of Good, villains eager to gloat at my downfall, and so on. These latest arrivals are almost all longtime readers of this very blog, which means there's this mind-bending situation where readers of my fiction (or whatever you want to call this role-playing dreamworld) are now entering into the story they're reading. As a writer in the daylight world, I wish I could find a way to create something similar. (I should note that all of us are merely borrowing scraps of a pre-existing fiction--the lore of comic books and their spinoff tv shows and films--that none of us can lay claim to, even if we are all fine-tuning it to suit our own purposes.)
I think of two parallels, neither of which I have any direct experience with. (Too busy living my own fantasy!) One is only a title: The Counterlife, which is the title of a Philip Roth novel I haven't read. Evidently it concerns a group of characters who slip in and out of various alternative destinies, drawn from their unfulfilled dreams and roads-not-taken. Me, I just like the concept implied in that title: that my bat/rat adventures are a kind of counterlife I can enter and exit at will, accompanied by a growing cast of fellow adventurers whose counterlives happen to intersect mine at the moment.
Then there's The Game, David Fincher's precursor to Fight Club, in which characters become engrossed in a live-action role-playing game that invades their "real" lives with fantasy elements. Once again, I haven't actually seen it (though I'm a sort-of fan of David Cronenberg's eXistenZ, which is also about a multi-player game that blurs the usual boundaries between reality and fantasy).
Another interesting parallel to what's going on in the bat/rat realm right now is the twist revealed back in chapter 17 of my "Beginnings" serial: that Batman actually began his crimefighting career as an online and offline fetish role-player whose virtual fuckbuddies started getting out of hand and committing real-world crimes. (Hmm, better point out right here and now that I'm NOT looking for that to happen in real life, folks. Let's keep this all in text form, please! There, THAT ought to make everything okay...)
Meanwhile, the man I've dubbed "the Monk" is developing quite a fan club of his own. I keep getting inquiries about him from people who read what I'm writing here and want something similar to happen to them. My counterlife identity as Ratman has become his number one recruiter--his "poster boy," as he calls me. I'm a little troubled to find out that so many so-called heroes share my desire to fall from grace. Aren't we supposed to be saving the world from the bad guys?
That last sentence only calls to attention the obvious question: which side am I on now: Us, or Them? Good Guys, or Bad?
Wait and see, friends and fiends, wait and see. Better yet, don't wait, just dive in to the storyline yourself. But beware: the water's pretty deep now, and the current is strong. If you're not careful, you'll either be dragged under or get carried away.
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