The Ladder


In a surrogate reality.

Over a mountain that always burns. 

Through a forest filled entirely with trees made of knives.

Beyond a moat filled with basilisk bile.

Through a door that asks an impossible riddle.

Lies the den of Anton 2: The Ender of Worlds.

He and the first Anton are actually the same creature, but he was advised to pretend that he was a sequel.

Despite being around forever, Anton 2 had only ended about a dozen worlds. Not because it was particularly difficult for him. Nor because there was a lack of worlds that deserved to die. Chiefly because he lacked the passion for the act and, as a result, required a bit of convincing from someone very invested in having their world end.

That, and he was quite hard to get hold of.

One guy who managed to find their way to his den was a powerful wizard named Dennis.

On a Friday afternoon at around 3pm, a giant gold and leather suitcase appeared out of nowhere in Anton 2’s stash chamber. One minute there was no suitcase and the next there was one lying on the floor. Not a sound nor a spark accompanied this magical appearance. 

The suitcase opened up by itself and Dennis climbed out of it as if he was ascending a ladder into another world.

“What the fuck!” Said a startled Anton 2, who very nearly ended his own world out of surprise.

“Sorry.” Said Dennis, who wanted to be polite out of fear for a creature who is its own sequel. And because he was about to ask for a big favour. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.” He added.

“Give me a minute.” Said Anton 2.

Dennis waited. 

He watched Anton 2 compose himself, admiring the giant scarab’s imposing physique and magical aura. The light seemed to bend around Anton 2, as if reality breaks around him. Dennis recognized this as a sign of tremendous magical power and knew that his lifelong undertaking of kicking Mantar’s ass may finally come true today.

It made him very happy but also nervous.

“It’s okay,” Anton 2 said. “It’s just been a seriously long time since anyone’s been here.”

“I understand,” Dennis said. “Are you lying down on your back right now? Are you upside down, with your feet in the air, or is this how you look?”

“This is how I look when I’m lying on my back with my feet in the air?” Anton 2 replied, confused.

“Are you stuck? Can you flip yourself over?”

“Yes, I’m stuck. No, I can’ flip myself over.”

“How long has it been this way?” Dennis asked, knowing that the answer was going to probably stun him.

“There’s no one else here. In this universe. I live alone in a reality dedicated to housing my own terrifying existence. You need to get through some really challenging environments to get to my house. Or, evidently, a magic fucking suitcase. So let’s just go with ‘a very long time.’” Anton 2 replied.

“You can end worlds, but you can’t turn yourself the right way around?”

“Correct.”

Dennis wondered if this was an example of irony. He wanted to say something poetic but didn’t want to look stupid in front of Anton 2. Although, he had to admit, his admiration for the legendary word ender was waning pretty fast.

“A terrible irony.” he ventured.

“Well no. It’s just really inconvenient and also humiliating. Ironic would have been if I… Where are you going?”

Dennis opened the suitcase and started climbing back down to his apothecary, where the other end of a magical ladder was manifest.

“Help me?” Anton 2 said.

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