Image by Annie Spratt

Know thy SELF

Fraser wanted to be the world’s most published author. He wasn’t so egotistical as to imagine out-selling the Bible or the Koran, although in his more flamboyant moments the thought did briefly cross his mind.

He decided that to succeed his plan must include the key elements of greed, competition and the kudos of finding some sort of Holy Grail that had eluded the human race for centuries. In a ‘Eureka!’ moment, he hit on the idea of the Secret to Eternal Life Formula (or SELF).

The first step was to self-publish his first novel, ‘Forbidden Love’ (a 666-page saga about a romance between a man and a kangaroo, published under the pseudonym of Cogito Ergo Sum), and list it with Amazon. The second step was to initiate himself into the mysteries of the Dark Web and infiltrate its networks of encrypted conspiracy theorists, fantasists and paranoiacs (while managing to skirt the more unsavoury elements of sexual deviance and drug dealing; he did have some principles left).

Taking a leaf from the Q-anon playbook he began to drop breadcrumbs that alluded to an obscure author who had discovered the SELF and was in the process of disclosing the Formula, piece by piece, in a series of thirteen novels that were about to be released, one at a time.

And, lo and behold!! it worked. Sales of ‘Forbidden Love’ (which could only be purchased with cryptocoin, making following the money near impossible) skyrocketed and hundreds of chatrooms emerged debating where the first clue was hidden in the 666 pages (the length of all of his novels) and the significance of the various nominees for the relevant passage identified as the ‘obvious’ clue.

Fraser waited until the down-curve on sales to launch his next book. Amazon thought it had prepared but it’s site went down within 30 seconds of publication and took days to restore.

And so the trajectory soared, until Frasers’s readership eclipsed Shakespeare and his private wealth exceeded that of California, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates combined. The frenzy of competing theories as to what the clues were and their meaning within the bigger picture generated a level of hysteria and speculation never seen before.

At judiciously random moments, Fraser’s novels were released to a slavering public. By now, the competing theories of the SELF had developed fanatical followings. War broke out on social media platforms and spilled into the streets.

Fraser had decided this all had to end. His alter ego was now the most recognised name on the planet and his riches were incalculable. It was time to deliver on the promise and, at the same time, come clean on the greatest fraud since democracy.

So, on the first of April, 2024, he released his thirteenth missive, entitled ‘Know thy SELF’ which instead of 666 pages consisted of just 666 characters. And this is what he wrote.

‘Dear readers. You have followed me on this 7,992 page journey believing that, at the end, for the intuitive and the gnostic, the reward would be the secret to eternal life. Why you would seek such an unknowable state is for you to work out when next you stare at the night sky. At the end, know this. You have participated in the miracle of reading and sharing the imagination of someone whom you’ve never met and are unlikely to ever meet. You have engaged in conversations beyond your wildest dreams. You have been duped by false gurus and those that seek to divide rather than unite. And it has cost you nothing but your time. (I will be refunding your purchases, minus costs and a modest emolument to live on as I approach my final years.) But what you have gained is the knowledge that you have your own SELF.’

Fraser wants his self-published book to become a runaway success. He hits upon the idea of SELF to make it big. A satire on the self-publishing world of today by Doug Jacquier.

Doug.jpg

Doug Jacquier has lived in many places across Australia, including regional and remote communities, and has travelled extensively overseas. His poems and stories have been published in Australia, the US, the UK and Canada. He blogs at Six Crooked Highways (wordpress.com)