I bounced my knee impatiently as I sat in the circle of eight chairs that had been set up in the musty basement of some backwoods town hall. If I listened closely enough I could still hear the music and pounding of feet on the floor above that I had snuck by to get here. I’d been sitting here by myself for a half hour. I fidgeted and twirled a lock of hair around my finger for a moment. I was starting to think that no one else was coming when Aydin walked in.
Aydin was the thirteen year old girl’s dream vampire inspired by the novel Twilight. He was beautiful with long black hair that just curled at the ends. He was of course in Twilight fashion not affected by the sun and a vegetarian surviving on only the blood of animals and human donations. His author had left his story when she started high school, leaving him in the middle of a battle between his will to remain good or turn to the dark side to save the women he was in love with, but had only known for a few chapters. He practically glided into the room and took a seat across from me. He jerked his head in acknowledgment and I offered him a small smile. He was the strong, silent type.
Next came a wisp of a girl with starlight in her eyes. Her author had written her as an alien who had crashed to Earth. She pushed her sunglasses up into her blue hair as she sat beside Aydin. Her name was KirMatena, but we just called her Kira.
“How are you today Kira?” I asked and she looked at me, her eyes sparking and flashing.
“This week was a good week. I resisted the urge to kill many an enemy.” She sounded proud of herself and I smiled indulgingly.
“That’s good, I am glad.” Aydin touched her shoulder gently.
Kira had been the villain of her story, she knew many forms of hand-to-hand combat and was also an expert with a sword. It had taken a long time to convince her that humans didn’t need to be killed on sight.
The twins walked in next. They were already bickering and hardly seemed to notice the rest of the group as they came in and took seats as far away from each other as possible. It was unfortunate that their author had left them in the middle of an argument. “Hannah, Savannah.” I brought their attention back and for a moment the both of them were silent. Then they went back to staring daggers at the other. As far as I knew, no one had ever gotten it out of them exactly what their argument was about.
Silas strode in next followed by Raine. I could hear the clink of chainmail as Raine sat down beside Savannah. His blonde hair was windswept and his eyes weary. His author had left him in the heat of battle between Silas’s people and his. Silas was an elf, his dark hair was cut long to hide the tips of his ears, but nothing could be done about his brooding expression.
The last to arrive were a pair of characters who everyone could see were clearly in the you’re-my-best-friend-and-I-am-totally-in-love-with-you-but-don’t-want-things-to-be-weird-between-us stage. Zorah and Tony took the last two seats beside each other and I surveyed our little ragtag group.
“I’m glad everyone could make it today.” I started and the group grumbled a few words of greeting or agreement. “So I thought we would do something a bit different today. I know in the past we have discussed at length what has happened in all of your stories and everything that has happened up to this point, but I wonder what would happen if we were to look into the future and think about what might happen next.”
I was met with blank stares. “A man cannot know his own future, for he would be doomed to change it just in the act of knowing.” Silas spoke up and I pressed my lips together.
“Yes, but you are all works of fiction, therefore your authors had a plan for you, an ending to your story. I wonder if it would be helpful to you if you came to terms with that reality.” I explained and Hannah popped her lips together.
“How are we supposed to know what was going to happen? Our author abandoned us, she left us to argue forever.”
This may be more difficult than I had first thought. They all suffered from writer’s block just like their author. “Okay what would you like to happen? Let’s do this, let’s pick a story from the group and let’s write it together.”
The people around me exchanged glances. The twins shrugged in sync from across the circle and Aydin nodded. Only Silas and Raine remained stone-faced, but I knew why. It was their destiny to die. At the end of their battle the hero of their story would survey the corpses of men and elfs alike. He would notice in passing the bodies of an elf he had met in the wood and a man he had seen farming a field in a neighboring town. He would only give them a moment of glory.
“What story do you suggest?” Kira asked and I looked between the faces.
“Why don’t you decide together?” I told them and they looked around again. It was hard for them to be anything larger then what they had been written to be. They had backstories, but a lot of them didn’t have hobbies or lives beyond their storyline. They existed now as fragments of people too alive to be simply characters, but still not complete. I longed for them to have this moment of self-actualization. The moment when they became more than just a few descriptive words on a page.
“Perhaps we should work on Zorah and Tony’s story.” Aydin said quietly. “They are closest to the end.”
The twins rolled their eyes, but didn’t say anything as I shifted in my seat to look at Zorah and Tony. “Okay…so we will work on their story. Tony would you remind the group where your story has left off?”
Zorah clenched his hand in support as he began, “Well we just met our main antagonist and she is looking to take over the world using animal/human hybrids. We were sent to fight her fire with our own. Animal baby to animal baby. We were just captured and had a conversation with the Shepherd before we escaped and our author stopped writing.”
Tony flipped his black and white hair out of his eyes as Zorah flicked her tiger tail impatiently.
“Can’t we just say they lived happily ever after the end?” Savannah sneered and Aydin shushed her.
“Oh course not. What kind of ending would that be, not everyone can live happily ever after.” Aydin scoffed. His love interest had a current boyfriend and the two of them had been thrown together to try and save the girl, but in the end only one of them got to keep her.
“Aydin’s right,” Zorah said, “We can’t live happily ever after if the Shepard lives happily ever after because…well know, conflicting interests and all that.”
“There should be a mighty battle, where you slay your enemy with your bare hands.” Kira exclaimed lifting her hands up to mime choking someone.
“I was thinking something less violent.” Tony mused. He was the smart one, Zorah was the strong one who always took the hit for him, even if he would have taken it for her.
“What is the use in less violent, a dead enemy is much less dangerous then a living one.” Kira continued and Aydin made a choking sound in the back of his throat. “Present company excluded of course.”
“Okay. Zorah, Tony what is it that you both want most in the world right now.” I asked them.
“To fit in.” Zorah.
They spoke at the same time and then looked at each other.
“So what you’d give you that?” Everyone around me shifted uneasily. They all knew what they wanted more than anything and it weighed heavy on each of their minds. They were fiction, but they all yearned for something and the main purpose of their plotline was to make them work for it.
To bleed for it.
Even to die for it.
I looked away from the group for a moment to listen to the people dancing above me.
“I suppose that in order to have justice we’d have to stop the Shepherd.” Zorah said slowly and I turned back to search her face.
“How would you like to do that?” Everyone was silent as I stared intently at the pair. “How should the Shepherd be stopped?”
Tony’s eyes flickered between me and Zorah, “She should go to prison.” He said finally and I settled back into my seat.
“Good, so the Shepherd will be betrayed by someone on the inside, someone will let the FBI in and she will be arrested.” I said and Zorah and Tony nodded along.
“Then we get to go home.” He said and I smiled. Wasn’t that a nice thought?
I glanced down at my watch.
“Speaking of home, I think that will be enough for today’s meeting. I’ll see you next week.” I said springing up. Everyone else got to their feet.
“Tony, Zorah a second please?” I asked as everyone made for the door. I waited until everyone else was gone before turning to the pair. “I just wanted to thank you for your participation today. It was really inspiring.”
When everyone had finally gone, I picked up the chairs and laid them flat against the wall then I walked upstairs to where the dance was wrapping up. I found my parents still in their silly outfits by the punch bowl.
“Hi honey where did you run off to?” Mom asked me and I just shrugged. She wasn’t going to get a word out of me.
We headed home and I opened up my laptop. I scrolled to the folder named stories and clicked it open. I opened a story titled “The Tiger Inside” and scrolled to the bottom.
“Little did Tony and Zorah know that someone was already working with them from inside the Shepherd’s organization. It wasn’t long before the FBI were called and let into the compound. The Shepherd was arrested and the animal babies were once again able to go home. The end”
I finished typing slowly and hit the save button.