Seven Basic Plots

Entry by: Writer_GG

25th January 2016
Doctor Morgenstein was doing his rounds in the maternity ward, and -much like every day since his Purpose had been revealed to him - wondered if today could be the day. Nothing he saw, heard or smelled indicated anything unusual: pink infants being cradled by exhausted mothers and awkward fathers, the incessant wailing of babies and husbands, and the smell of puke, poop, placentas and perspiration. It looked like today was going to be just another day, and this made him neither happy nor sad. His Fate was what it was, and it would wait as long as it took.

“Doctor, doctor, come quick!” one of his nurses suddenly shrieked at him from across the hall.
“What is it, then? A stillbirth? An adverse reaction to an epidural? Another father who couldn’t take the suspense and bolted? Speak, nurse, I haven’t got all day,” Doctor Morgenstein -who did in fact have all day- said.
“I think you’d better follow me, Doctor,” the nurse said, her face as pale as the nameless things that lived down in the ruins behind the hospital.
Sighing, and making the kind of grunt that would have impressed the goblins of the Outer Forests, Doctor Morgenstein followed his nurse into room 665.
At first, nothing looked out of the ordinary. A mother, a father, a baby, all breathing, none of them missing any limbs or showing signs of acute bodily trauma. Then he saw the expressions on the parents’ face. They were clearly in a state of supreme shock. The mother seemed torn between the maternal instinct to keep her newborn infant close to her, and a terrible sort of repulsion, as if she was in the presence of an unspeakable horror.
“Who do we have here then?” Doctor Morgenstein asked, trying his best to sound friendly, which came about as natural to him as to the great hissing hydras of the Red Desert. “What an adorable little face she has. Wait, don’t tell me... she’s a Number Four, right? A new Voyager to welcome into this world, to leave us and return one day, with treasures for the mind and riches for the soul?”
An eerie silence filled the room. Everyone was staring at him, except for the baby, who had her eyes shut as if in meditation. Doctor Morgenstein interpreted the awkward silence as an indication that he’d missed the mark with his guess - unusual for him, but not unheard of, as he was only human after all.
“No? A Number One, then? She does look rather strong, doesn’t she? Stocky build, arms made for waving a sword about.”
“Doctor, I think you’d better have a look at her Mark,” the nurse said, uneasily.

Doctor Morgenstein was intrigued now. Not a Four, nor a One... he couldn’t remember the last time he didn’t correctly guess a baby’s Purpose within the first two tries. Lifting the baby up, and carefully turning her around to look at the little back, he saw...
Doctor Morgenstein nearly dropped the baby. In the spot between the tiny shoulder blades, right where the Mark that indicated every person’s Purpose from birth was supposed to be, was a horrifying expanse of smooth, utterly blank skin.
“Is this some kind of sick joke?” the Doctor asked, briefly forgetting that he was in the presence of the newborn’s parents. The mother immediately started sobbing, and the father threw himself down into the chair next to the bed, seemingly having lost all will to live. Typical Number Sixes with their overly dramatic gestures, Doctor Morgenstein thought. Of all the kinds of people in the world, he found the Tragics to be the most insufferable.
“What.. what shall we do with her?” the nurse asked, careful not to upset the parents further. As a Number Five, being diplomatic didn’t always come easily to her. She had a tendency to make light of any situation, which Doctor Morgenstein found incredibly annoying. Not today, however; her sense of humour seemed to have temporarily abandoned her, which was at least a small blessing as far as the Doctor was concerned.
“Put her with the Monster Slayers. Number Ones are the most numerous, so at least statistically we’ve got the highest chance of being correct. Hopefully it’s some sort of freak temporal anomaly, and her Purpose will reveal itself a few days or even a few hours from now.”
“What if it doesn’t?” the husband asked, his voice drawn out and shaky, which made him sound like one of those really annoying howling banshees that roamed the haunted graveyard at the edge of town.
“We will figure something out,” Doctor Morgenstein said, but he knew in his heart that he was only giving the poor man idle hope. He felt his Mark burning, and felt a strange itch in his soul, the likes of which he had never experienced before, but which had been described to him a thousand times over. There could be no doubt: he was about to fulfil his Purpose.

Three days passed. The baby had been under constant observation in the Number One nursery, and while she looked healthy and content enough, her mere presence appeared to upset the other infants. They appeared to sense that something was wrong with her, that her very existence was upsetting the balance of the Universe.
Unmarked. Could it be that those silly legends were true? They were nothing but folk tales, yarns spun by idle minds who were frustrated by the wait for their own plots to unfold. There was no evidence, no solid proof for an Unmarked human to ever have existed.
And yet, here she was: a human devoid of Purpose, her future life a blank canvas, a book filled with empty pages, devoid of plot, storyline, twists, obstacles, goals or victories. Someone who would be able to shape her own destiny, someone who could take control of her own Fate and live her life outside of the constraints imprinted upon her very being from birth. Here she was, an Unmarked, a true abomination.
He thought about the life the child would likely have, growing up without a Purpose, unbound by rules, not fitting into any of the categories that the entire world was built around. She wouldn’t be able to attend any classes, wouldn’t be assigned a trainer nor a mentor, and would be completely clueless with regards to what career to pursue - if she even made it that far.

He thought about the dream he’d had the night before. A little girl, perhaps six years old, was being yelled at by all the other kids, taunted and insulted for being different. She ran away, crying, and ran straight into a dark cave in the woods behind the school. The cave was inhabited by giant blood-sucking bats, in the midst of an epic battle with a pair of Number Ones. Startled by the sudden intrusion, the Monster Slayers briefly dropped their guard, resulting in the tide of the battle turning against them. They were mercilessly slaughtered, their plots cut short, their Purposes unfulfilled.
Shrieking, the girl ran out of the cave, and bumped into a Number Four on his way to Heroes’ Harbour, to catch a ship to the Forgotten Shores.The Number Four tripped and fell, breaking his leg on a sharp boulder. As a result, he missed the ship he had paid for with his life’s savings, and he had no conceivable way of ever departing on his Voyage; another Purpose destroyed. The dream went on like that, Comedies and Tragedies fizzling out before they reached their climax, Number Twos going from Rags to Riches and back to Rags, before dying of starvation, and so on and so forth. It was the worst dream he had ever had.

Something needed to be done. This creature was a threat to the very fabric of the world, and a huge responsibility rested on Doctor Morgenstein’s shoulders. It was then that he understood: instead of bringing life into this world as he did every day, he would bring death today, and by bringing death, he would save mankind. His Mark was a rare one, and the Purpose of Number Sevens was always unclear until it stared them in the face, which often only happened late in life. It was time for him to fulfil his Purpose, to transition from an obstetrician to a murderer, the perfect Rebirth. He felt his Mark burning hot underneath his shirt.
He took the Unmarked baby from her cot, walked into the storage room, and closed the door behind him. He kept a dagger in his lab coat, as most sensible citizens did .You never quite knew when a hobgoblin was going to run amok through the streets, and while he knew it was not his Fate to die at the hands of a monster before fulfilling his Purpose, being bitten by one of those vile creatures was still mightily painful. He pulled out his dagger, and looked at the unsuspecting infant.
She was staring straight at him, and she had the most unusual eyes. Their colour was unlike anything Doctor Morgenstein had ever seen: he swore he could see swirling vortices of iridescent blue and soft pinkish clouds of stardust, with tiny white pinpricks of light shining through from behind the veils of colour. He looked into those eyes, and felt a strange sense of calm come over him, washing away all the stress and sense of responsibility he had felt ever since he had become aware of his duties as a Number Seven. He looked into those eyes, and felt that everything was going to be alright with the world after all.
He put the dagger down, picked up the Unmarked one, and walked back out into the hall. Not looking back, he walked through the wards, down the stairs, and out of the front door. The wide world stretched out in front of him, a blank canvas to be painted with swirling colours and stars.
He felt his own Mark twitch, stretch, pulsate and settle, and he did not have to find a mirror to know that he was a Number Seven no more. And thus, they walked out into the early light of dawn, the most unlikely duo in all of recorded history: the first person unburdened by a plot, and the first person to break free of his plot and step into another.

Far off in the distance, a banshee howled, and it knew the world would never be the same again; for it too had a story to tell.