It's a Miracle!

When Olaf awoke on a particularly fine morning in June, he found that his cereal had already been prepared for him and was lying, mysteriously fresh and inviting, on his kitchen table. I live alone, Olaf reasoned, so unless I made this myself last night, and barring a miracle, someone must have broken into my house and made me a delicious breakfast. I certainly didn't make this last night, and breakfast isn't generally miraculous unless it involves biscuits and gravy. This logic seemed flawless to good Olaf, though he failed to consider that perhaps the bowl of cereal didn't actually exist, or was a remnant of a separate universe that exploded and scattered bits of its reality throughout the fifth dimension. But we'll forgive him for this empirical oversight.

Carefully approaching the goodness on his table, Olaf snatched it and conducted many chemical tests on it in his underground bunker lab. And behold! To his utter astonishment, it was nothing more than wheaty, all-natural flakes in calcium-rich milk with banana sliced upon the succulent surface of this ritualistic morning phenomenon. Checking his house's sensor array, he found that there had been no intruders. There was nothing suspicious about the nature of the comestibles.

By this time, the Reader had reasoned that, due to the title of this work, Olaf's breakfast was indeed a miracle. "But wait!" said the Reader. "You've spoiled the story! Now I don't have any incentive to find out how Olaf's cereal came to be!"

"You assume that I'm completely trustworthy," the Author retorted.

"You mean you mistitled this writing on purpose?" the Reader inquired.

"Could be," the Author said cryptically.

"Or perhaps," the Intelligent Person interjected, "the miracle referred to in the title of this work isn't about the cereal, but rather a completely unrelated event that will shortly take place!"

The Reader snorted. "That's just below the belt! Now your characters' names reflect the validity of their ideas – or stand as a reminder of how much you can manipulate what they think!"

"Ar, whar be my rum?" said the Editor.

"But then again," the Author said, "you're still assuming that I'm a reliable narrator."

"Get on with it!" you said impatiently, having just remembered a very important rendezvous you'd be missing if the story didn't get a move on.

"Hold on!" the Reader cried, now slightly confused, "as the Reader, aren't I reading this?"

Not necessarily, said the Text.

During the preceding confuzzlement, Olaf had waited patiently for the various abstract concepts to finish their argument about existence and who's equivalent to who, although strictly speaking he shouldn't have been aware of proceedings outside his continuity. But as you've seen, this narrative doesn't exactly follow tradition.

But now Olaf is quite irritated, and he rather thinks his story ought to proceed. "Let's get on with it!" he says. "I've got things to do and breakfast to eat."

"Sorry," the Author replies.

"What's with the tense shift?" the Intelligent Person asks. You give an impatient e'r'hrm, and Olaf looks at you with a thankful expression.

But anyway, having conducted his tests and now quite convinced that he should really just enjoy his cereal, Olaf returns to the kitchen and devours the food. It is quite delicious. But then he realizes with a grimace that he must go to work at the bank, which he isn't looking forward to. Undoubtedly, he will get in his car and drive off, grumbling to himself.

"What's with the tense shift?" the Intelligent Person will ask. And naturally the Reader will agree with him, since tense shifts aren't standard in fiction. But the Author will dismiss this question.

"Avast, ye landlubbers!" the Editor will cry. "Thar be treasure in that thar sunken wreckage!"

When Olaf gets to the bank, he will inhabit his office on the topmost floor, and his secretary will give him a whole pile of papers with absolutely nothing interesting contained therein. But, before he can squash his psyche and become a calculating administrative machine, a gunman will come catapulting through the large glass window behind Olaf.

"Give me your cash-money!" the robber will cry.

"Sir, I cannot!" Olaf will reply.

But before the gunman can open fire, his rifle will jam.

"It's a miracle!" Olaf will realize, and his morning ordeal will come rushing back to him. The Reader will suddenly understand everything, and will make amends with the Intelligent Person, whom he had slightly offended. But you will continue reading, having completely missed the hidden, cryptic meaning behind this whole affair.

By the time the police have arrived and carted of this thwarted gunman, Olaf, having thanked the Author profusely for providing a miracle at the last moment, will live a long and happy life of health and prosperity.

And, most assuredly, the Text will eventually say, The End.

But, Olaf thinks to himself as he noshes on his delectable wheaty cereal, we still haven't cleared up how this breakfast got to be here. And the Author agrees. So, as Olaf is driving to work, he will suddenly realize how foolish it would be to assume that another bowl of cereal will appear on his table tomorrow. So Olaf will go to the store and purchase some more of the wheaty, all-natural flakes, some milk, and a bunch of ripe bananas.

Arriving at the bank, Olaf will enter the elevator and press the big number '37' on the panel.

"Hold on a minute!" the Author will say. "We've got something to do first!" Using his Author-type powers over the Text, he will transport Olaf back home the previous night.

So Olaf finally realized what he needed to do. The Author provided him with the groceries he had purchased the previous day, and Olaf made himself a delicious bowl of wheaty, all-natural cereal with banana slices on top. He left it on the table for himself to find tomorrow. And the Author returned him to the future to finally understand this shenanigan once and for all.

The End, says the Text.

"Don't listen to the Author's lies!" cries the Editor. "Olaf really dies when his stomach cramps up and he keels out his 37th story window!"