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Prologue

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See…

In the tiniest particle of thought are a million billion possibilities. Each one blossoms outward, spreading and changing and growing and in turn producing its own versions of reality. The stars wink in and out as worlds collapse—one dimension over, nothing. On a small and insignificant planet somewhere in the cosmic parking lot of the metaphorical seedy bar and grill, nations rise and fall, brave deeds are done, lives flare into existence and are snuffed out—one world away, the planet burns. The whole of existence wheels and reality continues. All of them.

In the depth and breath and width of all things, infinity.

This is the multiverse.

Watch—

A butterfly. Bright yellow with black markings. Its fragile wings beat steadily, flitting among the sun-dappled trees, unaware of the momentous ripples of change each tiny alteration in the atmosphere brings. But look—a small boy has stepped on it. Gone. Lying in a crippled heap on the ground. And what now?

"Not a damn thing."

What?

"Not a damn thing, I said. I find all of this butterfly nonsense to be highly unlikely and probably made up on the spot."

Oi, who are you? And what are you doing in here? This room is narrators only!

"No one much. Do butterflies even have anything to do with the actual Butterfly Effect?"

Well—yes! It's to do with air currents and typhoons and—

"I always thought it had to do with the shape of the graph."

It doesn't bloody matter! Look here, you can't go barging into prologues all willy-nilly and interrupting a very dynamic introduction. There are rules about this sort of—

"Really?"

Yes! The Official Rulebook of the Narrator's Guild! It says, right here as you'll see quite clearly, page seventy-two, paragraph three, clause nineteen: 'under no circumstances is the narrator to be interrupted.'

"Huh. Well I'll be damned. Butterflies are still bloody silly, though…"

Fine then, no butterflies, if you're so bothered by it. Now could I please finish this up?

"Sure, sure. Don't mind me."

Thank you. Now then, where was I? Ah yes.

Between these infinite probabilities, there are those who travel between them. There are those who oversee them. There are those who slide between the worlds like fish through water, not disturbing the quantum flow—

"Hey, what's quantum mean, anyway?"

What? Do you remember how we discussed page seventy-two, paragraph three, clause nineteen?

"Does it mean anything? I mean, I hear the word bounced around a lot, but nobody really wants to tell me what is."

Look, quantum is…

Well, look, it's like this…

It's to do with...

"You don't even know, do you?"

Alright, so maybe I don't! Just rest assured it has a lot to do with what I'm talking about, and I'm the narrator here, not you, so just let me say my bit and we can all move on with our lives, alright?

"Alright, geez, no need to get so pissy."

Oh, you know what? Sod this. Do the narration yourself if you're so wise and knowledgeable, they don't pay me enough for this. I'm leaving.

"…wonder what his problem was. Er, anyway, I guess I should say this. I don't think the other guy's coming back. I didn't even know you could break a metal door like that…ahem. To summarize, a butterfly flaps its wings, and in a completely unrelated incident thousands of miles, sixty years, and several worlds away, a girl named Aline was lying on her bed and staring at the ceiling."

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A Few Quick Notes, as of April 17th, 2011:

So this is technically the sequel to 'Welcome to Fanfiction', inasmuch as the characters involved have the same names and the basic idea for the world in which they live and interact are the same.

In truth, that's basically it. This is far more an original work; the characters are much more developed, often in ways I didn't expect as I was writing it; some characters who started out as representations of aspects of myself for the purpose of a short and silly parody story decisively became their own people, people who I don't think I even understand completely anymore; something that was short and silly and definitely fanfic-y became a lengthy (for an online story, anyway) war epic concerning the entire world of fiction.

In short, ignore 'Welcome to Fanfiction'. The world and characterizations pictured there are essentially non-canon to this story. You don't even have to read it, though I'd be thrilled if you did. Just know that Aline previously went to the world in question when she attempted to write a story, and it didn't go very well for her.

It also got much bigger than originally intended. It was meant to be a oneshot when I first thought of it. The tale grew in the telling, as it were

I promised myself I wouldn't post this version until I had the whole thing finished, but I realize that I'm not finishing this nearly as soon as I want to, so I'm putting this up just so I can stop assuring reviewers of the old version how much better the new version is.

Many, many people have edited, looked over, criticized, praised and picked apart the numerous versions of this still-unfinished story, and I can't possibly list them all. Every one of you has my thanks.

All that said, if you actually bothered reading this lengthy author's note (if you didn't, please do, come on, it'll take like two minutes), continue on. Or don't, I guess. Whatever you like.