Author's note: I finally decided to write about writers. It feels like cheating, it's so easy.
Chapter 4 (part 1)“What do you mean, you saw them?” Sean’s voice was entirely disbelieving, his expression skeptical. Merry spread her hands, keeping her voice at a whisper.
“I don’t know, it all happened so fast,” she hissed. “But I was alone one minute, and the next, there they were!”
Sean gave her a look, one eyebrow raised. “Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?”
“They said I wasn’t!”
Her friend nodded, readjusting his reading glasses. “Ok. I’m just saying it
“But it was so real!” she protested, elbowing him. “They were exactly how I wrote them, and then I tested in on Eclipse, and she appeared too!”
Sean shook his head. “Merry, come on. I’m jealous of your amazingly detailed dream, and its odd plot, but that’s really impossible. Logically so. Think about it.”
“I did think about it! I told Lore he wasn’t real, but then I poked him!”
The kid in front of them turned his head slowly and stared. Merry glared at him until he turned his head slowly back around. She lowered her voice again.
“He told me that I would really have to believe to do it again.”
Sean removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Merry, seriously, let’s just focus on future writing today. The next challenge is in a month. We only have that long to plan, so we’d better get cracking.”
Merry’s face fell, but she had known this would happen anyway. Sighing, she turned away and opened up her backpack, pulling out her notebook and scribbling down what she had learned about Eclipse last night. If she really had.
“Maybe Sean’s right,” she thought offhandedly. “Now that I’m awake it does seem a little silly…”
Her pencil tip drifted as her mind did the same, and when she looked down she had sketched out a rough picture of Lore smiling. She paused, studying it, wondering why she had randomly drawn him. He looked more real than usual, as if she really knew what to draw this time.
“Hmm…” she hummed to herself thoughtfully. “He looks so real…”
Then the bus rattled to a stop in front of the school. Everyone began to leave.
The day dragged on for what seemed like years. Merry was distracted all day, and all her teachers caught her guilty of staring out the window instead of studying. Sean, who sat next to her for most of their classes, was continually elbowing her in the side, making faces. She shrugged and went on staring as soon as everyone looked away.
The whole day lay ahead of her yet, and she wanted nothing more than to get home, lock her door, and try again, but today she had the obligation to go to Sean’s house. He was excited she could come after yesterday’s disappointment, so she couldn’t just leave him alone two days in a row.
Her thoughts seemed to be running rampant in her head. She couldn’t stop the image of her character returning continually. Eclipse, Cheera, Lore, all waiting in her room boredly, breaking things that didn’t belong to them, more than likely. She giggled into her hand. If it was real – which she was sure now that it wasn’t – that was most certainly what they would be doing.
She imagined Lore approaching her lava lamp again. Perhaps he would have a conversation with it. That would be amusing. Cheera would find it stupid and more than likely kick Lore in the backside, or the shin.
And Eclipse, the newbie who seemed stronger than Merry thought she would. She would watch the other two and laugh before clapping Cheera or Lore on the back and send them staggering. Eclipse did seem much more muscular.
“Merry!” the teacher’s stick smashed down on her desk with a loud snap, and Merry jerked her head up, eyes wide.
The class tittered as the teacher glared at her over the top of his glasses, his eyes narrowed.
“This is the second time I’ve had to come over to your desk and try to catch your attention, young lady.” He slapped a folded note down before her. “Take this to the principal’s office.”
“Eh?” Merry asked, alarmed. “But…I was just thinking…”
“I think you’re mistaking ‘thinking’ for ‘daydreaming’,” the teacher said, on the verge of a chuckle, and the class tittered again. “Now go.” He pointed at the door.
Grumbling, she stood up and stalked for the door, converse shoes making almost no sound. She exited the room angrily and went for the principal’s office. She hated the principal, and she was pretty sure he hated her, although she could never prove it. Since she began school here at eight years old, she had only been sent home with a note twice, and she had a sneaking suspicion she would be sent off with another one this afternoon. She grumbled and, switching to stomping, entered the principal’s office wishing she could just disappear.
Meanwhile, Lore was staring the lava lamp in the face and holding a conversation with it.
“You’re looking rather nice today,” he said, watching the wax blobs go up and down endlessly. “In fact, I might say that you look stunning.”
“Stop being a creepy idiot,” Cheera said from the window, turning and kicking Lore in the shin. He hopped away with a yowl. “Even I can tell the difference between animate and inanimate objects.”
Eclipse laughed. “You two are so funny. It’s hard to believe this isn’t your world. You seem so comfortable in it.”
Cheera deadpanned at her as she held up a superhero figurine, and Lore slowly drifted back to the lava lamp. The dark-headed swordswoman shrugged.
“Well, for characters with books and worlds that are already established, you don’t seem too… estranged by this one.”
“It’s easy to fit into,” Lore claimed, following the lava lamp’s strange tail to where it plugged into the wall. He tilted his head at it. “You know what I mean… everything looks so simple.” He gave the tail a tug and there was a bright flash as Lore jumped back, surprised, and the lava lamp went dead. The other two stared. “Heh… I did say it looks simple, didn’t I?”
Cheera waved her hand at him and turned back to Eclipse. “He used to be calmer,” she explained. “Then he figured out how to go around the writer’s rules.”
Eclipse blinked. “Writers have rules?”
“But not anymore, eh?”
“Not for us.”
Eclipse seemed to think this was a good thing. She smiled and clapped Cheera heartily on the back, sending her stumbling. “Well, good. I think you two and I are going to have a lot of fun in the near future.”
Cheera righted herself, brushing herself off, and then squared her shoulders. “Mm-hm. Whatever you say. For now, you have to try and help me keep Lore from being an even bigger idiot than he already is.”
Eclipse peered around Cheera. “Where is Lore?”
Without turning around, the elf woman narrowed her eyes slowly, fists clenching. “I guess we’re a little too late about the idiot part.”
“Never mind that,” Eclipse proclaimed, suddenly unsheathing one of her swords and slinging it over her shoulders. Cheera looked slightly surprised. “We can just go find the sucker!”
“Er…” Cheera eyed the blade. “With… a sword?” She mused on the idea, rubbing her chin. “It might just work. But… which way did he go?”
“Waaaaa-hooo!” they heard from outside the window, up on the roof.
“Aha,” the two women said in unison, and then headed for the window.
Lore decided the roof directly above Merry’s window was a very fun and interesting place to be. From there he could see the whole world, it seemed. Below him was an exquisite garden the size of a small house itself, and then beyond there was a huge, sprawling city. He danced around on it for a while, testing its wait, and then did a nice hand spring before landing on his hands and feet nearby. He perched on a nice, level section, inhaling the scent of the garden deeply, and closing his eyes as a soft breeze passed by, giving the moment a perfect touch of serenity and peace.
“Ahh…” he said lowering himself and sitting on a nice outcrop of tiled roof. From behind closed eyes, everything seemed perfect. Smiling, he lifted his head and smelled the thick scent of strange flowers, wondering if he should venture down himself, later. Other smells from nearby houses drifted up to him as well, but he didn’t know what they were or what they meant. Everything here was so new, so fresh.
He opened his eyes slowly and looked out over the sunny, hot city. Everything about it seemed peaceful. Tranquil. Calm.
He looked down, for some reason, just in time to see Eclipse and Cheera poke their heads out and look up at him. Cheera’s expression went from determined to angry.
“Aha!” she shouted, pointing at him. “You get back down here this minute!”
“Who, me?” he swung his feet at them and grinning.
“No, the guy behind you,” Eclipse said sharply, pointing over his shoulder. Lore’s eyebrows went up and he whirled around to see, giving Eclipse the opportunity to reach up, grab his foot, and give it a hefty tug. He gave a cry of distress before he teetered, fell, and caught himself on the window ledge.
“Shew.” He let out a relieved breath. Then the other two took one of his arms each and heaved him up into the window. As soon as he was on both feet and the window was closed, Cheera kicked him in the side.
“Ack!” he cried, staggering away. “Why, why do you have to have such sharp feet?”
“You doofus!” Cheera shouted, throwing her hands into the air. “You don’t know what’s out there. Heck, you don’t even know what’s in this room! Why would you go venturing off on some heroic journey in a world we know nothing about?” her expression softened and she pulled her eyebrows together. “One of these days, you’re going to do something that kills you.”
Lore made a solemn face and, placing his hand over his heart, said, “I swear that if I do something that kills me, I will make sure it kills me thoroughly.”
This earned him another sturdy kick in the side. He leaped away, chuckling, as Cheera seethed and Eclipse plopped down on the bed, giggling.
“I told you guys you’re funny,” she said.
“Ok, new plan.” Cheera exhaled loudly as she sat heavily beside Eclipse. “Try to keep the elf nut from killing himself.” She eyed Lore as he stood on his hands, grinning widely. “Thoroughly or otherwise.”
“I’m just exploring the possibilities of this place,” he replied casually, turning so he could see himself in the full-length mirror, still upside down. “I mean, if you can break the rules in our world, why can’t you break them here?”
“You seem to have broken gravity,” Eclipse mentioned, motioning at him. His smile widened and Cheera patted Eclipse on the back.
“He’s just standing on his head.”
“Oh, right. Your head is empty. It’d cave in if you stood on it.”
“Ha-ha, very funny.”
“Thank you. Now come sit down before you break something that doesn’t belong to you.”
Sighing dramatically, Lore flipped upright and then slowly dragged his feet over until he could safely flop down on the bed behind his two friends.
“So what are we supposed to do now? Just wait until Merry gets back?”
“It seems plausible, doesn’t it?” Cheera held up her fist and glared at him. He gulped.
“…I can see where your teacher gets his complaints,” the principal said suddenly, and Merry looked up hurriedly.
“You are not listening, Miss Johnson.” The aging man, arms folded on his desk, did not seem amused as he stared at her over the rim of his thick glasses. “You were, as is the popular saying, staring off into space.”
“Uhh… heh…” Merry squirmed in her chair, smiling apologetically. “Sorry… what where you saying?”
“I was saying that I’m going to have to send you home with a note.”
“Gah,” Merry thought, biting her lip. “What… kind of note?”
“The kind you write on paper.”
She waited in silence for a few moments as the principal stared her down, and she did her best to retain eye contact. After a while of fidgeting and shifting around, she opened her mouth.
“When exactly are-?”
“You may go now,” the principal huffed suddenly, sliding a piece of paper across his desk toward her. She snatched it up and stood quickly.
“Thank you,” she said offhandedly, and then promptly whirled around and exited the room. She made sure she left too quickly for the principal to say anything. However, she was surprised when, she came out of the room, Sean was sitting across the hall, waiting for her. He had his notebook up and was muttering to himself as he scribbled away. He sounded angry, for some reason.
“Sean?” Merry asked as she approached, slipping the note discreetly into her pocket. “Did class end early?” Sean looked up as she approached, and she immediately saw he had a black eye. She stopped in her tracks and let out a squeak. “What happened to you?”
He shrugged. “Some kids were making fun of you after you left,” he said simply, removing his glasses and standing, his accent stronger than usual under duress. “So when I told them to stop they began picking on me instead. One thing led to another, and now here I am. I’m sure you can guess what happened.” He headed for the office and Merry watched him go by, somewhat surprised.
“Oh,” she said slowly, blinking.
“And so now I’m off to see Mr.-Notes-Are-Always-Written-on-Paper-and-Nobody-Knows-That.”
Merry wanted to chuckle, but couldn’t. Instead, she smiled a little and shrugged. “Well, good luck. Just… don’t zone out.”
“Luckily, I don’t plan to.” With a slight smile, he disappeared behind the principal’s heavy door and left Merry alone in the hallway. She stared after him for a minute and then, in a sort of daze, looked away and began shuffling back toward class.
Sean had never done anything like that before, at least not to that extreme. Maybe something was pushing him over the edge lately. Perhaps something at home, or to do with his mother. She shrugged and decided he could explain later. For now, she had to get back to class and see what other nonsense the teacher had cooked up for her.
Yet all she could think about was getting home.
The end of the school day came quickly after the first few classes, luckily, and soon Merry found herself sitting in her old familiar bus seat beside Sean, delving into her pocket-sized first aid kit.
“The school nurse already had a go at me,” Sean explained uncaringly as he drew a technical diagram for a piece of technology in his book. “So there’s no need to crack out your handy-dandy emergency stuff.”
“My handy-dandy emergency stuff is good for emergencies,” Merry said stoutly as she pulled out her mini bottle of rubbing alcohol. She doused her handkerchief in it and went for Sean’s eye.
“Whoa, whoa,” he leaned away, startled. “What are you trying to do, blind me?”
“Stay still,” she said in a motherly voice, trying to put the cloth to his face. He pushed it away with his hand.
“I told you the nurse already had a go at me. You don’t need to do anything, seriously. It’s ok.”
She shook her head. “This is my fault, I’ll deal with it.” Sean laughed.
“Your fault? I’m the one who hit the other guy first.” Merry shook her head.
“You’re crazy,” she said, sighing and shaking her head. She glanced out the window and watched as they neared Sean’s stop. Suddenly, she got an idea. “Hey… do you want to go to my house today, instead?”
Sean looked up. “Eh?”
“It’s Thursday, isn’t it?” she asked, looking at him. “The nurse will be in to look after your mother until after six o’ clock. You can hop off at the bus stop and tell them you’ll be back before then.”
Sean seemed to debate it for a moment, throwing back pros and cons in his head. “Well, I can see what she says,” he shrugged. “I’ll do it quick, if the bus driver will wait for me.
“Yay,” Merry smiled widely and settled back, a little happier. Sean glanced sideways at her.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with the dream you were telling me about, does it?” he asked out of nowhere, and she looked up, eyes wide.
“The dream you were telling me about this morning,” he repeated, shrugging. “The one about your characters coming to life or what. You’ve been zoned out all day thinking about it, so you want to go home to see if they’re actually there, right?” his voice seemed almost accusing, and Merry made a stony face.
“I want to spend time writing with you,” she said in a stern voice. Sean looked away with a sigh.
“Sorry… I just thought you were… you know, still thinking about it.”
“Hm,” Merry shrugged as well. “Well… I was thinking about it a lot today, but you were right. You know… it’s just a dream. I should forget about it.”
“Well I didn’t say that,” Sean defended himself by holding up his hand. “If you forget about it, a good lot of potential story ideas could go down the drain. I say you write it down somewhere and then keep it for anything you might want to write in the future. What do you think?”
Merry half-smiled and pretended to chuckle. “Maybe,” she said. “Maybe.”
The tired bus pulled up to Sean’s house and stopped there, just outside of town. Merry could see his small abode through the trees, and as Sean stood up she wondered why he went to her big school if he came from such a tiny house.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, making his way up the aisle. He muttered something to the bus driver before hopping off the vehicle and dashing up the path to his home. Everyone waited , stretching, until only a few moments later, Sean dashed back out. He clattered up the stairs and plopped down beside Merry again as soon as he was back to his seat.
“She said yes,” he replied with a smile, and Merry smiled too.
“Good,” she said, with a sneaky look. Sean leaned back and stretched, closing his eyes and yawning widely. Taking the opportunity, she pushed him back by the shirt collar and swiftly put the handkerchief to his eye.
“Gak!” he shouted, but she pulled away before he could push her hand out of his face. “You… you… did that on purpose,” he stuttered, defeated.
“Yep,” Merry grinned triumphantly and stowed the handkerchief in the front pocket of her backpack again. “I’ll have Carrie do more for it when we get home, if you like. It’s gotta be sore, right?”
“Yeah, a little,” Sean touched the skin around his eye and winced. “Who knew that tall, muscular, sports people could hit so hard?”
Merry giggled. “You’re so crazy.”
“I knew that.”
Merry knew the rest of the day would be much more pleasant, now.
Hours later, Merry’s room was a wreck. There was popcorn everywhere, blankets scattered about, computer cords laced over the floor, and music playing from the speakers on her little end table. It was otherwise empty, at least until the door swung open and Merry limped in, holding her gut and laughing so hard she thought her lungs would come spiraling out her throat. Sean was close in tow, laughing just as much.
“That… was… hilarious!” Merry shouted, falling face-first onto her bed and pounding the pillow with her fist. Sean shut the door and slid down it with his back, laughing into his hands.
“I shouldn’t be laughing,” he managed to gasp out between hiccups of laughter. “I feel bad for your little brother.”
“I don’t!” Merry exclaimed cheerfully. “He deserved a hot plate dropped in his lap, it’s his fault for not eating his food like a normal person in the first place.”
“True, that,” Sean said, chuckling. He spread out on her floor and picked up her notebook lazily. “Ahh… so, what are we going to do now?”
“I dunno,” Merry replied, lifting her head up. Her eyes drifted to her computer. “What time is it?”
“Then we have plenty of time.”
“Yes we do. Would you like to write?”
“Sure.” He pulled out a small laptop from his backpack and flipped it open, hitting the start button. “Which story are you going to do?”
Merry pulled herself up, opened her mouth to reply, and then stopped. “I… Um…”
Sean looked up after donning his glasses. “What?”
Merry fell into deep thought, furrowing her brow. Most of her wanted to write Lore’s and Cheera’s story, but for some reason she didn’t feel she should. Something about the way her dream was so realistic last night, or the way her drawings seemed so much more complete. There was no way she could just sit down and keep writing that story without finding more out about the two main characters.
She caught herself thinking it and promptly smacked her had with her palm. “Argh…. Um… I’ll… oh, I know.” She swung her feet over the edge of the bed and slid into her computer chair, flicking it on with a jiggle of her mouse. “I’ll do some of Eclipse’s new story. I want to characterize her a little more before we… um… I just want to characterize her a little more.”
“Uh-huh,” Sean said distractedly, already typing away, his eyes glued to the screen. Merry opened a new document and watched the cursor blink for a minute.
When she and Sean had entered the room, nothing was there. She had half-expected there to be characters milling about, checking out all her cool stuff and being silly with one another, but instead they were greeted by silence. She had been disappointed, but at the same time, she had expected nothing more and nothing less.
“So…. Eclipse,” she thought, staring at the screen. “You’re not real. But I’ll try to come close.” She began to type.