It was a calm Thursday evening and I was home alone. Nobody to disturb, nobody to bother me. The voices of some of my favorite singers emanated from the speakers of my laptop, while I stared at the blank screen in front of me. It was another of those evenings.
You know what I mean, right? Not necessarily an evening, but one of those moments on which a man decides to perform a certain task, but he does not manage to get any further beyond making the decision.
In this case, the lack of progress was not entirely to blame on me. After all, one needs to have a subject or a basic idea of a plot before it is possible to write a story. A writer can have all the power of will in the world, but without the abstract item called “inspiration”, there will not be a single word to hit the paper. Or the screen, in this case.
Time passed on. Fifteen minutes, half an hour, I have no idea. Somewhere along the line, the music had died off, leaving a seemingly impenetrable, nearly awkward silence. There was only me, staring at the screen as if the image of a blank page would somehow help me to organize the thoughts in my head. Of course it would not, but I told myself otherwise for the sake of argument.
Just as I was about to close my writing software, I heard a voice from my right.
“Is this what you look like when you’re being too hard on yourself?”
“This is what I look like when I’m trying to do my work,” I replied stoically.
Wait, what? I was home alone, right?
I looked up from my screen to see who was keeping my from not doing my work. In the comfortable leather chair next to my desk sat a Leopardess Halfling. A young adult female, judging by her posture.
“Not to be rude, but who are you, and what are you doing in my bedroom?” I queried.
“You don’t know me?” she asked with feigned bewilderment.
“Doesn’t ring a bell, no. Is there a reason why you’re here? I’d like to do my thing and write a story, if you don’t mind.”
“You’re a writer? That means I’m in the right place after all. Why don’t you recognize me? Don’t you know my name?”
“Why should I?” I asked bluntly.
“Obviously, you’re the one that made me up. I’ve got to be one of your characters, don’t you think?”
Made her up? Character? What had I gotten myself into?
“For the sake of argument, let’s assume what you say is correct. How should I know your name?”
Usually, Halflings wear a collar with a tag that shows their name. This Leopardess, however, did not.
“You’re the writer, you tell me! Why wouldn’t you know the names of all your characters?”
“There are nameless characters in several of my stories. I don’t know their names either,” I explained.
The feline remained silent for a while. I took the opportunity to turn my chair towards her, the tag on my own collar jingled in the process. Obviously, I am not a Halfling myself, but wearing a collar helps me to get into the right mindset.
“You haven’t answered my questions yet. And would you mind telling me your name as well?”
“My name is Sanora. I’m not here to interrupt you, but merely because I wanted to meet my creator.”
Let’s play along with her, shall we?
“Interesting. And what is it that you seek?”
“I wanted to know what you look like, what kind of person you are. Too bad you’re kind of a jerk.”
“That’s because I’m trying to write. I know it’s a bad habit, but I tend to be grumpy towards people that interfere with my creative process. As far as I’m creative and as far as there is a process, that is.”
I paused for a moment to drink some water. In my enthusiasm, I downed the entire glass. However, to my displeasure, it did not satisfy my thirst.
“So yeah, I try to be a nice person, but it’s not always in my league. Usually, I would’ve tried to get you out of here as soon as possible, but your presence intrigues me,” I continued.
Her ears perked up.
“Well, you claim to be one of my characters, but I don’t remember creating you. Furthermore, if you’re one of my figments, how did you end up here?”
“You took some courses in Theatre Sciences, right?”
“Then you know about the walls of the stage,” she mused.
“Of course I do, but what-”
My voice trailed off and I did not finish the sentence. I remembered a comic I once read, in which the plot dealt with the aforementioned walls. In theories about theatre there are always six, but in the comic there were seven. The seventh wall represented the person that wrote the play. Or, in this case, the guy that drew the comic.
“Wait, if you’re here, that means you know about the seventh wall. You know I am the seventh wall.” I thought aloud, moreover making a statement than contributing to any form of dialogue.
“It wasn’t that hard to figure out. You’re the one that invented temples with a solid lone wall in the middle of the room. You should’ve known that one day, someone would wonder why mortals are supposed to write on the wall in the middle of the room, instead of the actual outside walls.”
“Do you have even the slightest grasp of symbolism?”
“Yush, I know you have predilection for references.”
“What else do you know about me?”
“Anything I could have read from going through your computer, why?”
I shivered. What secrets did she know about me? Furthermore, I prefer to keep all my stories to myself until they are finished.
“I never directly disclose much about myself in my stories. I wanted to know where you got your knowledge. Have you read all my stories?”
“Including the unfinished ones, yush.”
“Did you also look into the Chronicles of the Second Age?”
“You mean that document about the history of my world?”
“I did,” she said, letting her head hang low for a while. “Why did you write it like that?”
“Ignoring the actual intention of your question, I created the Chronicles for myself. I’ll probably never publish them, they’re part of my notes. It’s nothing but a summary of facts I documented to keep track of main events in my stories, so I can easily determine which characters can refer to what parts of their history.”
“That’s not what I meant. You mention the Revolt you’re going to describe in Scavion, Incorporated, but you also speak of a Halfling Upheaval. From what I understand, both are Halfling acts of rebellion against humans, but isn’t the Upheaval an actual civil war?”
I nodded again.
“Then how can you summarize it in only one sentence? You noted thousands of deaths just like you would mention any other fact in the list,” she said, somewhat at loss of words.
“That’s because it is. To me, they’re all flat facts of a fictional world.”
“Have you ever stopped to consider that the Upheaval is real to me?”
“Have you stopped to consider that I still have no clue who you are?”
For a moment, Sanora looked like she was about to break down and cry, but instead, her facial expression changed to an angry one.
“Why the angry face?”
“I am a child of the Upheaval. My parents and both of my brothers were killed by humans during the civil war. Don’t you think I have the right to be angry with you?”
“You do, but what motivated you to go through all this trouble?”
“I-I wanted to know why.”
Suddenly, the ugly and inevitable truth dawned on me.
“No… That’s not the reason. Knowing why your family died isn’t going to solve anything for you. We both know that’s not how it works.”
She calmed down somewhat and her ears were folded flat against her head. I had exposed her and she knew it.
“All of this effort, it was to persuade me. You want me to change the course of your history, don’t you?”
Sanora remained silent.
“That’s why you’re here? To interfere with time? And you’re calling me a jerk?”
“You read my stories, right? That means you’ve read Oblivious of Truth as well.”
She made a confirming gesture.
“Somewhere halfway in that book, I claim that one human on his own can only create something less complex than himself. It would take several mortals to create something advanced. That, or it would take a god.”
“Where are you going with this?”
“There is a reason why the Archangel Galiant is a reflection of me. It’s not because I think I’m perfect, but because I created your world. I’m the one that’s supposed to know what’s best. Like you said, I am the writer, not you.”
“So what happens now?”
“You leave me no choice. You have attempted to tear down the seventh wall, in the assumption that you can do better than I. I don’t know how you did it, but you managed to slip into my world. I cannot allow you to go back.”
“You might teach others how to get here, or deliberately break any of the other walls. Especially the fourth. I can’t have you ruining any of my stories.”
“What are you going to do about it? Kill me?”
“That wouldn’t solve the problem. I need to erase you.”
“And the difference is?”
“If I erase you, it’s like you never existed.”
“But how are you going to do that?” She asked firmly, putting her hands in her sides. “You can’t just delete me, I’m already in your world.”
“There’s always magic, am I right?” I swiped.
“Impossible!” the Leopardess objected, standing up. “Your world doesn’t know the magic mine has!”
“True, but you’re still my creation.”
I intercalated a short dramatic pause, which I used to stand up as well.
“That means that I should still be able to do this,” I said and I firmly grabbed her by the throat with my right hand.
As I bent my left arm and pointed at her face with my index- and middle finger, I could read the disbelief from her eyes.
“You might think I’m arrogant, but you are the one that thought she was better than the one who created her. Mortals shouldn’t try to play Angel, Sanora. For that insolence, you will receive what you deserve.”
In sudden fright, the Leopardess inhaled sharply.
“Arcanára eracárian delèndarrh!”
To my surprise, the spell actually worked. The Leopardess dissipated right before my eyes. However, when she had nearly vanished, she appeared to explode violently. Something hit me in the face.
When I came to my senses again, I found myself with my forehead on the edge of my laptop. The second thing I noticed was that I was still thirsty. As I sat up and shook my head, I noticed that the comfortable leather chair next to my desk was occupied by a pillow and a backpack. There was no Leopardess there, and there probably never was.
In one draft, I emptied the glass of water on my desk, whilst telling myself that it was time to actually start doing something useful. This time, the water actually quenched my thirst.