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Non-Existent is a fiction novella written by the young author, Nathan Thornsbury. The story follows a man named Ezekiel, who finds out that he doesn't really exist, and is actually a self-sentient hallucination/imaginary friend, created by a man named Jacob. The story begins when he wakes up on the floor of an unfamiliar apartment with no memory of his own past or identity at all. The situation is explained to him by his jerk-ass of a creator, Jacob (Who is also aware that Ezekiel doesn't exist). He grows to accept this fact, and goes about his life - or lack thereof - with Jacob, slowly realizing that there is more to the two of them than he was told. The story covers many touchy subjects, such as domestic violence, the impact of childhood abuse, the treatment of mental illness, and many other topics.


This story provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: In the final act of the story, we get a glimpse into Jacobs mind and his early childhood memories, and we discover that Jacobs parents were extremely abusive, neglectful, to the point where at the age of 5, they had him in a dirty basement, making him practically fight the family dog just to eat.
    • Also, Olivia's dad definitely qualifies.
  • Aerith and Bob: Ezekiel and Jacob.
  • The Alcoholic: Jacob does seem to have a nasty addiction to any and all alcohol.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: When Jacob is drunk, he does many stupid, aggressive, violent, and downright awful things.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: In the first act of the story, Ezekiel falls in love with Jacobs current girlfriend, Olivia O'Neil. However, he knows that things between them will never work out, not only because she's dating his creator, but because he simply doesn't exist. Though, in Act II, all of that does drastically change.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: It is never quite stated which screws are loose up in Jacobs head... But it's clear that there are plenty.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It is never exactly stated what Ezekiel is, whether he is a spirit, a self-sentient hallucination, or something else entirely. The author has gone on the record saying that he wrote it that way on purpose, so that the reader can decide for themselves what Ezekiel really is.
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  • Ambiguously Gay: It is never clearly stated whether he is or not, but there are things that point that Owen might be.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Act III suddenly begins with not only a flashback to six-months before, but the entirety of Act III is from the perspective of Jacob, going throughout the Asylum after he is medicated to remove Ezekiel's tether, while also doing further flashbacks to his past, when early iterations of Ezekiel were the corrupting influence.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: One of the primary interpretations of Ezekiel is that he is the personification of the Yin to Jacobs Yang, representing the pure opposite of Jacobs mindset and personality.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Kinda. Technically, he was buried 20+ years before, but he is there...
  • Attention Deficit Oh Shiny: Jacob in the very beginning of the story.
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  • Bait-and-Switch: In Act II, after Ezekiel is freed from the tether with Jacob, and goes about the consciousnesses of Limbo, he comes across one that sends him back into Jacobs old apartment, though Jacob does not yet have the scars. The scene replays the exact description and dialogue as an earlier scene, making the reader think that Ezekiel was somehow sent back in time. As it turns out, Ezekiel is actually within the memories of a self-aware Olivia, while she is in her coma.
  • Beat: Many times, but the most significant time was when Jacob first told Ezekiel that he didn't exist. Ezekiel's response after the beat: "I'm sorry?"
  • Bedlam House: The Asylum in Act II.
  • Big Bad: Jacob, of course.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: In Act II, when Ezekiel finally is able to be with Olivia... It may be within a coma, but still...
  • Big Good: If Jacob is the Big Bad, this of course leaves Ezekiel to be the Big Good.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The bitterness of the ending all depends on how much the reader empathizes with Jacob by the end of the story. Even though Ezekiel and Olivia get to live happily ever after together, Owen and Jacob are still dead.
  • Black Comedy: The story sets itself up to be a dark comedy, but it quickly grows to become much more serious when Jacob hits Olivia for the first time.
  • Blatant Lies: In Act II, after Ezekiel comes back with no memories of the truth, Jacob explains the situation of what led them to be there, but he tells a version of events that makes Ezekiel seem like the bad guy.
  • Bloodless Carnage: When Jacob impales Ezekiel's hand to the table once he finds out Owens fate, Jacob comments on how great it is that Ezekiel doesn't bleed, because of the whole not existing thing.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: When Jacob is talking about the many different types of medications that were prescribed to him, he mentions "Schizophrenia, Manic Bipolar Disorder, ADHD".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A couple times, like when Ezekiel mentions that the courthouse in Act III was 'Just a meaningless plot point', and when Jacobs questions that, Ezekiel tells him not to worry about it.
    • It is again broken in Act II, when Owen and Ezekiel are talking, and one of them points out that this could all be some big cosmic story, but the other points out that no one would bother to read that.
  • Brick Joke: The couch in Jacobs apartment being described solely as 'Disheveled'. The author has gone on record to explain that he kept using that term, solely because it annoyed his mother, who was the first person to read the first draft of the story.
  • Broken Pedestal: In the beginning of Act II, due to Ezekiel not remembering the truth, he sees Jacob as a man wronged by the world, and who still stands to fight it. But that pedestal of glory is shattered when Ezekiel remembers the truth about Jacob.
  • Call-Back: In the final act, when Jacob and Ezekiel are reunited, Ezekiel and he are fighting, and Jacob slips up, accidentally calling him 'Vermus', and he becomes visibly upset, showing that the events of Act III had a serious impact on him.
  • Call-Forward: In Act III, when Ezekiel is warning Jacob against pursuing a relationship with Olivia in the flashback, Ezekiel mentions that if Jacob wants companionship that he should "Get a dog", and maybe even name it "Jessica". The reader doesn't understand the true meaning of this taunt though until the final act, when Ezekiel is going through Jacob's childhood memories, and see's the parental neglect, including that Jacob was forced to practically fight the family dog for food, Jessica, at a very young age.
  • The Cameo: In Act II, when Ezekiel is running throughout the ward of lobotomized patients, he passes three charts with the last names starting with 'BER', 'ZDE', and 'GRO'. The author has gone on the record saying that these are actually the last names of three of his best friends from high school.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story starts as an admittedly dark comedy. It quickly becomes significantly more than that...
  • Character Development: Oddly enough, the main character, Ezekiel doesn't get as much character development as Jacob does. Jacob goes from Ezekiel's foul-mouthed jerkass creator, to being a seriously troubled individual with deep-seeded issues.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jacob's constant headaches and migraines end up being a serious Chekhov's Gun, for the fact that in the final act, we discover that they are due to a massive brain tumor, which caused the headaches and the constant mood swings and tendencies towards aggression.
  • Damsel in Distress: Olivia is this to a slight degree, though she isn't always completely helpless in her situation.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Just about everyone in the story.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Plenty. Whether it be from Fight Club, Watchmen, Pulp Fiction, or anything with Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Dying In Your Arms Tonight: Not in the traditional sense of the trope, but Jacob is technically being held in Ezekiel's arms when he dies... Though it is Ezekiel holding Jacob as they fall to their deaths from on top of a hospital roof, but still...
  • Easter Egg: Far too many to count, between Fight Club, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, to even more obscure sources, like Jon Tron.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Jacob seems like a lovable jerkass for the beginning of the story, but that all changes the first time he hits Olivia. He then is seen as an extremely troubled and damaged individual, but he becomes even more vile as the story goes on.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Owen... Poor, poor Owen...
  • Foreshadowing: In a flashback in Act III, Ezekiel taunts Jacob by mentioning a dog named 'Jessica', which causes Jacob to lose it and beat Ezekiel to death. Earlier in the story, we notice that Jacob gets significantly uncomfortable around dogs, but that's all we are told. In the final act of the story though, we discover that Jacobs fear of dogs is due to his parents neglecting him, forcing him to practically fight the family dog, Jessica, in order to eat at an early age.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ezekiel kills Jacob and himself at the end of the final act, not knowing if Ezekiel will cease to exist afterwards. He does it though, because Jacob would have otherwise caused the death of dozens of life support patients, as well as Olivia.
  • Hypocrite: Jacob yells at Ezekiel (and Olivia) plenty of times, despite him doing the exact same thing days, and even moments before.
  • Impaled Palm: Ezekiel in Act II. For the specific situation, see the below trope "Impaled With Extreme Prejudice".
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In Act II, when Ezekiel see's what Jacob has caused to happen to Owen (Namely being lobotomized), Jacob proceeds to impale Ezekiel's hand into the bed with a scalpel.
  • Insanity Defense: Vermus was made to do so by his lawyer... The asylum has a way of breaking the most stable of minds though.
  • Ironic Echo: "You should know by now (Jacob/Ezekiel)... That I don't like sharing." Jacob first says this to Ezekiel before he reveals Owen's fate, and Ezekiel said the exact same thing to Jacob in the flashbacks of Act III, as a warning to Jacob against pursuing a relationship with Olivia.
  • Irony: There are many moments of Irony in the story.
    • In Act III, we get to see that there have been points where the roles were reversed between him and Zeke, and that Ezekiel was the real Jerkass, while Jacob was trying to be good.
  • Jerkass: Jacob, he is practically the benchmark of this trope.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Olivia in Act II, and also Jacob in the final act.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: There are multiple times where characters acknowledge that some know that this is only a story.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Jacob says this in Act III, in relation to Ezekiel being right that Olivia wasn't 18 years old.
  • Magical Anti Biotics: The way that the medication Dr. Monroe forces into Jacob just so happens to temporarily sever the tether between Jacob and Ezekiel is fairly inexplicable.
  • Meaningful Echo: "You should know by now (Jacob/Ezekiel)... That I don't like sharing." Jacob first says this to Ezekiel before he reveals Owen's fate, and Ezekiel said the exact same thing to Jacob in the flashbacks of Act III, as a warning to Jacob against pursuing a relationship with Olivia.
  • Meaningful Name: The reader could predict the terrifying retelling of the famous Pulp Fiction speech in Act II while Owen is being smothered based on the constant Quentin Tarantino references and the main characters name being 'Ezekiel'.
  • Mind Screw: The entire beginning, when Jacob is trying to explain to Ezekiel what he is. The whole concept and perspective is hard for one to get their head around.
  • Mood Whiplash: The story goes from a slightly dark comedy to full blown drama the moment Jacob first hits Olivia.
  • Noodle Incident: We don't know exactly what led Ezekiel to kill himself with Jacob's bathtub and microwave shortly before the story begins, but it is hinted that Olivia's nose bandage may have had something to do with it.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Jacob tries to trick Ezekiel into thinking his memories were only this in Act II, but Ezekiel rejects this almost immediately.
  • Parental Favoritism: Well, it's clear that Jacob's parents at least blame Jacob for the miscarriage of Jacobs twin brother in the womb.
  • Parental Neglect: Jacob definitely qualifies.
  • Product Placement: In the early drafts of the story, the pizza that Jacob eats in the beginning is Hungry Howies Pizza, and Ezekiel insults how delivery pizza never lasts long mercilessly. In later drafts, the author changes the brand to something else so that he isn't sued.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Well, not quite reformed, but when Ezekiel is brought back to Jacob in the final act, Ezekiel does immediately reject him, despite the fact that Jacob is honestly trying to be better, despite himself. Ezekiel doesn't know about anything that happened during the previous year while Jacob was with Vermus, so he is technically right to assume that nothing is changed.
  • Running Gag: Not only the 'Disheveled Couch', but also the fact that every single time Quentin Tarantino's name is said (Which is far more than expected) it is spelled a different way.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Ezekiel, through his different incarnations.
  • Shout-Out: Oh, too many to count, between Fight Club and just about everything Tarantino.
  • Smash to Black: Frequently, the transition between scenes is Ezekiel being knocked out, whether that be from Jacob or getting knocked down by asylum orderlies.
  • The Sociopath: Jacob, at least in the very end anyway.
  • Tempting Fate: Ezekiel: "I can't imagine what could happened that would be so severe, to make me want to kill myself." We find out soon enough.
  • Title Drop: A few times as an adjective, but the first true title drop is when he realizes that how Owen see's him is what he technically is: nothing but a non-existent voice.
  • Tyop on the Cover: During the early drafts, Non-Existent was actually spelled as Non-Existant.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In the end of the final act, Jacob goes from an extremely troubled and pained individual with serious trauma, to full blown maniac, threatening to kill dozens of hospital patients, all because he knows that he'll be dead soon anyway.
  • Wham Episode: In Act II, after Ezekiel is freed from his tether with Jacob and goes about the minds and consciousness of the worlds people from within limbo, he finds himself in Jacob's apartment again, but in the past. Suddenly, we find out that he is within Olivia's consciousness while she's still in her coma. The rest of that Act shows Ezekiel and Olivia going throughout her own memories, hanging out, and Ezekiel actually gets a chance at a relationship with the girl of his dreams.
  • Wham Line: "Well, to put it simply Zeke... You don't exist."
  • Wham Shot: In Act II, Ezekiel wakes up without any memories on the top bunk of a bed in a sterile white room. Ezekiel hears movement beneath him, and he slowly looks over the edge to see Jacob, with a massive scar on his eye, and scarring on his ear. Jacob looks back up at Ezekiel with a knowing, mischievous smile and he says "Why hello again old friend... We have quite a bit to talk about."
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Ezekiel, but specifically in the beginning of Act II, when he wakes up without memories.

Example of: