Prologue: A meeting with Chaos
Daniel Carlson (always and only Daniel) was walking home from work. Now, you might call his job boring. I certainly would. Daniel Carlson was not just a CPA; he was a tax accountant. Worse still, he worked for the Internal Revenue Service, which made him not only boring but really unpopular. He had no friends, no children, no wife. He had just enough money to own a house, but not enough to keep it up.
I need to emphasize this: he's the dullest person you can imagine. No, wait. Imagine the dullest person you can imagine, then imagine him being even duller. If this causes an infinite recursion of dullness and makes your head explode, I apologize, but that's about half as dull as he actually is.
Got that? Good. Because his life is about to get very, very undull.
Anyway, back to the story.
On his walk home, Daniel spots a shiny US quarter in the street. Never one to miss a free quarter, he carefully raises his pant legs just so, maintaining the perfect crease, and bends down to pick it up.
At which point he is promptly hit by a bus. Or at least, he would have been.
When Daniel Carlson woke up, he found himself wearing something altogether different. No pressed business suit, no briefcase, no cellphone, just a dirty tunic and some pants. He would have blamed it on getting drunk at a party, but he'd never been drunk or at a party. (See? Dull!)
"Oh dear. Where am I now?"
In a ditch.
"Wait a minute! Who said that?"
I did. Hiya.
"Who are you?"
"And who is 'me'?"
You! HA HA HA HA HA HAH! Even after millions of years, that never gets old.
At this point, our intrepid sort-of-hero was completely thunderstruck.
Right. Anyway, I am Chaos.
You know, you shouldn't talk out loud. People might think you're crazy.
"I'm hearing voices in my head; perhaps I am crazy."
I wish. Crazy people are much more fun. Let's start over. Your name is Daniel Carlson, you live at 1234 Main Street, and have had the single most dull life in existence.
"I find that hard to be--"
Believe me, I checked. Anyway, I am here to make your life interesting. I am, quite literally, the personification of Chaos, and I've chosen to inhabit your body for the next 421 years!
Well, er, I lost a bet. Anyway, I've saved you from certain death and transported you to the year 1399.
Daniel Carlson, to his credit, had been coping quite well with having Chaos in his skull up to that moment. It was time for him to use the most fierce retort in his entire repertoire.
"I beg your pardon?"
1399. You know, one thousand three hundred and ninety-nine years after the purported death of that Jesus fellow you're all so wild about.
All right, Danny boy, it looks like --
Chaos unleashed the most horrendous version of "Danny Boy" that the world had ever heard. I mean, really, really awful. If your head hasn't already exploded from dullness, this song would finish the job.
Daniel coughed, and Chaos stopped.
Look, jerk, I saved your life, made you immortal for at least the next four hundred and twenty-one years, plus or minus a couple of months, and are taking you on the ride of a lifetime, and you're fighting with me. I will call you whatever I damn well please and you'll like it, or else.
Daniel replied, "Immortal?"
Yep. You cannot be killed. See, it would be really inconvenient if you died while I was trapped in this miserable bag of meat. So, I've made you immortal. You cannot possibly be killed.
Daniel brightened. "That means I can finally re-read the tax code!"
You dunce, you're in 1399. There is no tax code.
Those five words were the most horrifying things he'd ever heard in his entire life. Not the first five, the second five.
So, here's the deal, Danny boy. I'm going to give you incredible power; you will get to rule over 40 separate countries. However, it's up to you to get yourself close enough to the king, or queen, or whatever ape is running things. I've made this one easy for you; they'll be walking by in about 20 minutes. Oh, and also, each time you jump to a new country, your body will change to something period and country appropriate. I can't even promise it will be an animal, but it will not be inanimate, so you have that going for you.
Oh, and one last thing. Should you under any circumstances try to shirk your duties, I'll punish you.
You're immortal. You can still feel pain, humiliation, or discomfort, though, and I can always make you do something unpleasant.
I wouldn't test me. I've been alive since the Dawn of Time; I can think of all sorts of pranks.
Daniel had to agree that was fair.
Oh, and one last thing. So people don't think you're nuts and burn you at the stake, you shouldn't talk to me out loud. I'll still put your words in quotes so everybody knows who's talking, but you can just think something and I'll understand it. I've taken the liberty of making everybody you see speak to you in English, so you can understand them, although they will think you're speaking their language.
"That's decent of you. Wait, who is everybody?"
The Readers, of course. Stop wasting time. You have a country to rule!
"Now, good sir Chaos, where might that be?"
We'll save that bit of news for the next update!
"Update of what?"
At that point, Daniel Carlson felt the most absurd thing he'd ever felt.
Something inside his brain was shaking its head.
Future updates will feature screenshots a-plenty, don't you worry. I'll switch countries every ten years, unless it's danger of being annexed.
First proper update should be this weekend. Enjoy!