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Urban Fantasy Adventure Funny

Why do such nefarious things always happen when I’m supposed to be in bed? This was the thought that Tarina Persson considered, though nothing truly nefarious had yet occurred. Tarina was about as far from nefarious as she could be, still in her long-sleeve bamboo pajamas—her favorites, incidentally—black with white trim and vaguely reminiscent of a sailor’s uniform. However, Tarina was well aware that the wind outside, which had suddenly stopped, had, until then, whipped the coniferous trees by her back patio into a frenzy. And a quick examination of the clock told her that once again, she’d been so captivated in her story that midnight had come and gone, and along with it, the moon so that only blackness could be seen through the welded window on the nineteen-twenties farmhouse-style home.

Silence didn’t always mean evil things were afoot, not in the real world, and not on Riverdale Avenue just across from the university and seconds from the Sunflower vegan diner. Tarina debated yielding to the night and leaving her protagonist, Urfa Huxley, poised on the cliff’s edge, ready to topple over the side. Or not. Tarina paused and listened for the sound of movement or even insects.


Urfa would have thought something was up. Urfa would have produced the Stone of Ariases and cast a protection spell over her home. Or, as she did in the first novel, Urfa might cast a blood spell. She might raise her hands and mutter the magic words to bind whatever was in the darkness to herself so that she couldn’t be killed without the following death of whatever had killed her.

The sound of breaking glass pierced the night. Tarina tried to place the origin. Living room? No, the glass there was blocked by curtains Tarina never opened. That sound had been crystal-clear and not muffled behind heavy velvet. For the first time in the eight months since the divorce was finalized, Tarina thought about calling her ex-husband. He’d tell her to get out of her head, though. He’d only tell her…

A thud. She thought somewhere in the dining area, which made more sense. The windows there were originals, and there were no curtains any longer since, of all the petty things, George had decided the curtains were one thing he absolutely could not live without.

“Tarina? Tarina Persson?”

A voice. Not just any voice, but a voice that she’d heard in her head since she began her first novel nearly three years earlier. The seductive tenor dripping with honey could only be one person.


That person didn’t exist.

Tarina slammed her laptop lid down. Her nook was in the kitchen, off to the side of an expensive stove, across from the hole that used to hold her Whirlpool, until George decided it was his refrigerator. The mediator agreed as she agreed to just about anything because, after all, Tarina was keeping the house. By contrast, the fridge and the curtains were nowhere near the eight-hundred-thousand dollars for which the property had been appraised.

None of that mattered now, except that the dining room was just on the other side of the wall from her. She picked up her laptop and held it with both hands, doing her best to imagine it as a bat. Her left hand supported the edge where the lid had closed, and her right hand the back. It was a MacBook, lightweight, but made of very hard metal, so Tarina thought that it would slow down whoever it was in the next room.

Then the wall disappeared.

Walls around Tarina weren’t in the habit of disappearing. She’d gotten rather used to the idea that her walls would stay where they were. So when this one disappeared, the first thing Tarina thought to do was ask herself why? Why would someone make her wall disappear?

Which was itself a very strange thought, Tarina realized quickly as the laptop tumbled from her fumbling hands and slammed across her toes, back edge first. There was a crunching sound and a great bit of pain that shot up her leg while her body fell to meet the floor. Her teeth clenched, and her eyes watered, but she thought, good. Good to be down, below the line of sight. It would be better to hide behind a normally solid and non-transparent wall, but Tarina felt it was a little late to want something like that, so crouching on the ground and holding her rapidly-swelling toes was perhaps the best she could do.

The wall didn’t reappear.

And worse, Tarina very clearly made out the shape of a six-foot tall elf-lord, diviner of wills, and conqueror of heroes. Spikey black hair shot up from her invader’s head in a sort of a crown. Deadpan black irises stared forward from a pale bloodless-looking oval face. Black lipstick and fingernails held the ends of obsidian chains wrapped around Urfa’s shoulders. Because it was Urfa. There was no doubt anymore that Tarina’s anti-hero had jumped right out of her book and into her living room. And…Urfa was looking for her.

“Tarina, finally,” the crone said, but she wasn’t a crone. Tarina had made her up to be a non stereotype and a nonarchetype. She wasn’t a crone, she wasn’t a maiden, sage, huntress, or mystic. Nor was she the queen or the lover, as identified in three of Tarina’s “girlie” magazines, as George liked to call them, and as though he didn’t know what the term meant (an illusion dispelled when she checked his search history). No, Urfa wasn’t a crone any more than she was real. Which reminded Tarina that, no, Urfa wasn’t real.

“You’re not real,” she accused, ignoring how vivid Urfa’s black irises were despite the darkness surrounding them.

“I’m not?” Urfa said, backing away from her, robes swishing. Suddenly, Urfa fell too, so it wasn’t just Tarina on the floor. Urfa held her foot, face screwed up in pain. “Why do you do that to me?”

“Do what?” Tarina said, her instincts taking over as she jumped to her feet and rushed over to her character to examine the foot. A long gash ran along the bottom where a sliver of glass still was half-embedded. “I didn’t do that.”

“Not directly. But why do I have to run around barefoot?”

Tarina blinked. Then she retrieved a towel from the kitchen, dabbed a bit of water onto it, and did her best to remove the sliver and press the towel against it, only to realize that in the dark, she’d pulled the white handtowel down and the blood would never come out of that.

“You’re a warlock,” Tarina said. “Of course, you run around on bare feet.”

“Ambrose has sandals,” Urfa said. “He’s a warlock.”

“He’s a necromancer,” Tarina replied as she tied the towel around the foot. She’d have to give up the towel because blood had soaked it completely.

“Fair. What of Killian Gardiner? Now that guy got to wear nice suits and designer footwear.”

“Of Blue Bloods? That guy was a total tool.”

“Uncle Arthur? Adam? Chablis? Dresden? Constantine?”

“All men, Urfa. Here, does that feel better?”

At least the blood had stopped spreading.

“It’ll heal,” Urfa said. “But you get my point. Here I am, battling the forces of evil…”

“Forces of good,” Tarina said. “You’re an anti-hero. And I made you up.”

“So you can give me shoes, right?”

“I-I guess. But you’re missing the point. You. Are. Not. Real.”

“Odd,” Urfa said, poking at her arm. She extended an open palm over her foot and a second later pulled the rag away to expose a completely whole foot, no slice or cut whatsoever.

“If you can do that, why are you complaining about shoes?”

“I had to learn to do that because I don’t have shoes. Do you have any idea how costly it is in the middle of a fight to have to look where I’m stepping all the time?”

Tarina shook her head.

“Why are you here?”

“To ask for some shoes.”

“You’re supposed to be in my book, remember? On the edge of a cliff, facing certain doom.”

“That’s another thing. Why all the doom?”

“You’re an anti-hero in an urban fantasy, Urfa. That’s just what happens. Certain doom. And then overcoming long odds. That’s the way it works.”

“You forgot about love,” Urfa said. “You kill off my lover in book one. And in this one, you’ve already had one lover betray me and trick me into being on that cliff in the first place. Check it. The guy would have never fooled me. He hasn’t liked me since the first day he met me. A good lay, but that’s about it.”

“I can’t help it if you can’t keep a man,” Tarina said, irritation pushing through her voice. “And give me back my wall.”

“It looks better this way,” Tarina said, motioning to the open space. “You needed me to do this.”

“I need you to get back in the book and do what you’re supposed to do.”

“You mean you want me to fall for your flat ‘boyfriend’ and go up to the edge of the cliff and look over because, of course, my long-dead sister really isn’t dead, and she was hanging on for dear life. That’s the best you could do?”

“Well, maybe not the…”

“And honestly, wouldn’t I have cast a flight spell if I had gone to the edge? You know I can do that. I do it in chapter six of the first book.”

“I forgot. But…”

“Are you sure you’re even a writer?”

Tarina snapped her mouth closed. It was one thing for George to tell her she couldn’t write and that she should give up on her writing career (and raise the babies they’d both already agreed they didn’t want, but he’d changed his mind in his rapidly approaching middle age, and he’d decided that they both wanted a couple of young-uns around the house. His words.

“I am a writer,” Tarina demanded. “I have to be a writer.”

What she didn’t say was, if she wasn’t a writer, what was she? No husband anymore, and like it or not, her doting mother had taught her that a woman wasn’t a real woman if she couldn’t keep a man, or that relationship would have lasted about a month instead of seven years.

“Look here,” Urfa said. “I think perhaps we got this wrong. Maybe I’m the writer, and you’re the protagonist.”

“In an urban fantasy?”

“Well, yeah. What magic do you know?”

Tarina thought for a second. Then she chastised herself for thinking for a second because magic wasn’t real, and her character wasn’t here talking to her, and for damn sure, she was having a mental breakdown. She shook her head.

“No magic,” she said.

“Are you sure?”

Urfa raised her other hand in front of Tarina’s face, and Tarina felt a tug behind her neck. She leaned forward and opened her mouth to deny again, but a light shot out of her and past Urfa to shatter the other dining room window and burn a hole through her favorite elm.

“I knew there was magic in you,” Urfa said.

“There’s no such thing…” Tarina protested at first, then another burst of light shot out of her mouth and burned another hole into the tree.

“I can teach you,” Urfa said.

“Teach me, oh figment,” Tarina replied.

“Not here,” Urfa told her. “This world…there’s something wrong with it. The magic seems to have mostly dried up here. You need to come to my world.”

“Your world?”

“Yes,” Urfa said, extending her hand. “No job, no relationships, and just this house. Is there really any reason to stay?”

“My publisher would probably like me to stay,” Tarina said.

“Your publisher will drop you if you give them me standing barefoot on the edge of a cliff following some stupid lie my ex-lover gave me.”

That was probably true. The first book of the Wizards and Glass series had been perfection. It must have been. It sold over a hundred thousand copies the first month. But even Britta knew that her characters had gone flat in the sequel. Urfa was right about her ex-lover. It was as though when George left, he took her creativity along with the curtains.

“I guess…” she replied.

“You know I’m right,” Urfa told her, standing to her full height. Her pointed ears began at the tops of Tarina’s normal round-topped ones.

“What now?”

“This,” Urfa said, waiving her hands and dancing—very slowly, so as not to step on any more shattered glass, Tarina figured. But she danced, and as she did, the room became brighter and brighter until it suddenly disappeared altogether. There below was the water, and at the edge of the cliff, Tarina. And it did seem dumb, looking down into the abyss, knowing that the ex-lover had lied. She could fix it, though; she knew she could. But first, if she were delusional, she would spend her delusion learning magic. A thin smile spread across her face.

“Teach me.”


The realtor punched in the four-digit code, and the keyguard lock slid open, dropping the key to the dust-covered welcome mat with the picture of Samantha Stephens screen-printed on its top. He muttered and bent as quickly as his old bones would allow, careful not to rip his suit.

“And Tarina Persson used to live here?” asked a thin wraith of a woman whose blond hair hung down in stringy clumps and whose flowered mumu seemed four sizes too large. The realtor closed his eyes, held his hand around the key, and stood.

“Still does,” he said. “But I think she’s out today.”

He slid the key into the lock and stepped through the door. Then he paused, scanning the room. Glass shards or broken windows covered the dining area, which he hadn’t noticed through the trees against the house. That wasn’t the strangest thing, though. The wall between the dining area and the kitchen seemed to have vanished. As in, he could see where the studs used to be, and the tips of nails exposed themselves from the tops and bottoms of the gaps in the ceiling and floor about every eighteen inches, just like the code would prescribe. Just…no wall.

“What happened?” the girl asked.

“Don’t know,” he said, rubbing his eyes. His only hope now was that this potential buyer was as obsessed with Tarina as he thought. He thought he should get ahead and see if there was more damage. When he crossed into the kitchen, he saw a laptop on the ground. He grabbed it off the floor and put it on the desk, but not before nosily opening it. The screen of Tarina’s word processor was still up. He thought to close it again, but as he was about to, words seemed to be writing themselves in white across the dark blue background. He leaned close to try to read, an impossibility without his glasses. He only noticed a second later that the woman he’d brought with him was looking over his shoulder.

“She stood atop the cliff, her boots strapped to the highest eyelet and the black cloak waving in the breeze against the treeline. She held her hand out over the canyon. For a moment, all was silent. Then the earth began to rumble as the walls came together, crushing everything between until eventually, even Urfa’s ex-lover had become just part of the scenery, a bush, or a bird, or a pebble that no child would ever collect, doomed to be unseen and unheard and trapped within the mountain’s majesty forever,” she read. “Wow. Oh, it’s still going.”

The woman looked closer.

“Who is the woman in white? Urfa always wears black.”

“What?” the man said. “I mean, I don’t know.” He didn’t read Tarina’s books, though her being a famous author was a splendid selling point.

“Listen,” the woman said again. “And behind her, the crux of her power, the acolyte of wonder, raised both arms to the sky and called upon all the forces of good magic. Urfa looked at her and poised herself for battle since their mutual enemy had been destroyed, Urfa didn’t know what might happen next. Anything was possible. Only when the woman held her hand outward for Urfa to grasp did Urfa begin to understand that the past was over. They were on a new adventure now, and Urfa knew she had as much to learn from Tarina the Brave as the other sorceress had to learn from her.”

“A bit bold to name a character after herself,” he said. “James Patterson would never do that.”

“No. No, he wouldn't,” the woman said, wide-eyed as she seemed to start over reading the page. The words had stopped flowing. Except at the bottom of the screen, where six letters, a space, and a period were slowly printed in the center of the page, one after the other:

The End.

February 04, 2023 23:13

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1 comment

Ana Marina Rúa
02:43 Feb 16, 2023

A fun read! In a way, this breaking of the fourth wall (pun intended) is also a blending of worlds that a writer might very well dream of. The tactile and auditory images, as well as the elements of “real” life -curtains, inefficient mediators, the conflict between writing and conforming to dashed wifely expectations, the need to produce a great sequel- alternate effectively with the dialogue between author and character. I was left wanting more of the twist at the end, though- maybe I wanted to be sucked into that screen as much as the pros...


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