Hello! This bit of fiction is a little longer than I would normally post. If you make it to the end, I hope it was worth it!
“It was a dark, and stormy night. The thunder clapped and the lightening flashed.”
Really? It was a dark and stormy night? Could it be any more of a cliched opener for a horror story? Celine thought, as she deleted everything on the page until only the stupid little cursor sat there blinking, waiting for her to fill the page with something magical, or inspirational, or quite frankly she would settle for just not shit.
Her editor was making daily checks to see if this sequel was ready. Her debut novel stayed on the New York best seller list for months. The little book exceeded her expectations because the heroine, touched a nerve with so many, and they were baying for a sequel. She just didn’t want to write one. The book had a nice ending, all the loose ends and questions tied up into a nice pretty bow. The killer was dead, the girl gets the guy, and they live happily ever after, bonded by their life and death experiences.
Now she had to make something terrible happen to them.
The doorbell rang, and Celine dropped her glasses on the table. Stretching her neck to the side and ignoring the pain shooting down her shoulder blade. She really needed a new office chair.
She opened the door and a woman was standing on her doorstep.
“Hi,” Celine said looking for a package or an iPad to complete a survey. Something.
“Hi Celine,” the woman replied, her face was familiar. Maybe her editor sent her over.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure we’ve met before, but I can’t seem to remember your name.”
The woman frowned and flattened her palm to her chest. “It’s me. Auburn.”
Celine gripped the front door, ready to close it. Auburn? As in the name of the main character from her book? People were rarely called Auburn which is why she chose it for her character.
“Did Phil send you over? My phone’s not working properly, maybe he sent a text.”
“Who’s Phil? It’s me, Auburn Knight. I’m engaged to Dash Howard.”
“Right. Um, I’m flattered that you’re so into the book, but I don’t really invite fans into my home. I’d be happy to meet with you at my publisher’s office.” Celine was already shutting the door when a big hand slapped the wood and pushed back.
“You really need to hear what she has to say Celine,” a voice dripping with a Scottish accent was low, but it made her listen. That is what he sounded like in her head. Dash Howard.
Celine peeked around the door, if it really was Dash he would have a scar running from his eyebrow down to his chin. She hadn’t written that into the books, but it was in her head, it was a flaw that her editor made her take out because it would mar his features too much. She never thought so, she thought it was a battle scar for the pain he’d been through. But this man couldn’t have a scar.
The ginger hair was the same, it flowed in a lion’s mane around his head, his sunglasses barely holding it back. He smiled, and it lit up the sunshine brightness of his eyes, then she saw it. The pink line running down his face.
Her heart thumped in her chest, and she stepped onto the stoop, reaching out to touch his face. The warm stubbled cheek was real, and she snatched her hand back. She turned to the woman, looking for the small birthmark behind her ear, in the shape of a rabbit, she hadn’t written that into the books either.
There it was the pinky brown rabbit stain.
“I don’t understand,” she said clutching at her blouse, looking for something to hold herself together.
“Celine, you created us, we are real.”
“I’m having a nervous breakdown, right? I told Phil I didn’t want to write a sequel.” Celine leaned against the door and closed her eyes.
“We are real, Celine. Look,” Auburn shouted to a lady walking past, and she shook her head murmuring about the rude young generation. “See everyone sees us.”
“It was just a story. I wrote about you, you are fiction.”
“You see that’s the thing, Celine,” Dash said leaning his shoulder against Auburn. “We don’t know why but we are real, our lives are laid out, but now we are waiting because you started something and haven’t finished it.”
“You are characters in a book. It’s all fake.”
Dash rolled his eyes and squinted at her. “It might be fake to you, but it’s real to us.”
“Just imagine that I believe you and this isn’t some weird cosplay joke. There is nothing left to write.”
Auburn looked over her shoulder and pressed into Dash. “Actually, there is. Crawford is not dead.”
Celine stepped back and eyed the street. “Yes, he is. I killed him, I wrote it. There was no way he could come back.”
“It’s the sequel, Celine. They always come back.”
She ushered them inside because she still wasn’t sure if this was a delusion or not. A real, walking and talking illusion, that other people could see.
“Not a sequel. I haven’t written anything. And you’re not real!” she shouted and slumped into a winged chair.
“Let’s get past that,” Auburn said, pulling back the corner of a curtain and looking out. “We have bigger things to worry about.”
Celine laughed and slid down, so her heels touched the floor. “This is insane.”
“Insane or not, here we are.”
A cold feeling twisted her heart. “If you are real,” Celine said, “Does that mean Crawford is real too?”
Dash nodded slowly, and she felt the colour drain from her face.
Crawford was evil. She had written him to be the most hateful and despicable creature she could think off, and she was glad he wasn’t real. But if he was. If he knew how to find her.
“We think he’s coming here,” Auburn said, kneeling in front of her chair. “He wants you to write this book so that he can win.”
Celine covered her face with her hands and Dash pulled them away, moving to kneel beside Auburn. “Think Celine. You know him, you created him. How would he come for you? Where would he get to you.”
Celine swallowed and pulled back the memories she wanted to forget, the nights spent inside Crawford’s head getting him down on paper. He was cunning, patient and twisted. He was the thing that chased you in your dreams, he was the monster under the bed, he was the one waiting in the dark alley.
“He,” Celine swallowed hard because she knew the answer. “He would have been watching me for days. Weeks even.”
Footsteps echoed from the basement where her office was.
She dropped her voice to a whisper. “He’s in the house.”