Part 9 - String Theory
Sometimes when you think you escape, you don’t.
It’s all an illusion that the fairy-tale allows you to believe.
Last time we spoke and I reflected upon my ongoing tale, I was escaping from Ian, Evie, Nigel and Echo. Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe I’m running away from the good guys, but I can’t help but be suspicious. I don’t know what’s really going on.
I’m sure, if you haven’t read an episode before, you’re wondering how it’s possible that the author of the series is unaware of the plotline. Let me recap.
When I first found myself in this Alt-World, I thought it was just like my own. It seemed similar. It seemed like the terrain I had seen every day, day in and day out. But there was something a bit odd about this land -- my characters had become flesh and blood and they were trying to kill me!
It started out as me against my main characters Ethan, Kevin and Michela. Kevin faked me out and made me believe he was on my side, and I fell for the ruse. He was my favorite, so of course, I wanted to believe him.
I escaped from him just in time to discover the “real” Ethan Fairchild. When I say ‘real’, I mean a real person from the real world. When I originally created my spy guy, I had a real person in mind for him -- of course, it was only a person I had ever seen on the MetroLink train I rode to work on Wednesdays. I never saw this man very often, but he looked like the man I would cast as my perfect spy. He was the type of man that if you only glanced at him you would swear you had just seen Matthew McConaughey. This was the man I saw in the Alt-World. Kinda freaked me out, if you want the truth.
To keep myself from confusing the fictional Ethan with the real man, I deemed him, Thornton. It was the middle name of my character. Not long later, Thornton revealed to me that he was truly the not so evil twin of Ethan. I should have known. But I didn’t. They had fooled me again.
There was really no one to trust in this world but myself. And that knowledge was a bit daunting to grasp.
He and a few other minor characters from the series claimed to be on my side. They said that the Black Council was attacking Legacy agents and compromising them but altering my storyline. They told me that the Legacy was a real agency and I was merely picking up their stories by a bizarre version of fictional remote viewing.
Then I discovered that I had a few powers in this Alt-World. I could make the characters freeze and throw them across the room merely by thinking it. It’s a cool power. Wish I had it in real life.
I used this cool power to escape, and now I’m on the run again. I’m not sure where I’m running to. I’m just running away. Away from my minor characters to a place where I can figure out what to do next.
That pretty much gets you up to speed about my journey.
Currently, it’s dark and I’m running.
At first, I thought I was home free. No one had followed me out of the place where Ian had me bound and gagged on a very hard, uncomfortable surface. It wasn’t long until I realized that a figure was dogging my every move.
I stopped and stood still. My breath hard and ragged. I could feel the fear inching up on me. I attempted to use my new cool power and thought about transporting the man far away. No matter how hard I pictured the outcome, I could still hear his footsteps breaking twigs as he grew closer and closer to my position.
“Why isn’t it working?” I whispered to myself. “It was working a minute ago and now it’s not working. Dang, my new power is broken and I haven‘t had time to even wear it in properly.”
A haggard man appeared from the shadows directly in front of me and I yelled a short, surprised burst of noise that was more like a bird cawing than a woman screaming for her life. “Please don’t kill me,” I begged, short of breath from my recent run. Did I mention that I have asthma? Running isn’t exactly the best exercise for me.
The man reared back. He seemed almost as taken aback as I was at my appearance. There was a real fear in his eyes. A fear that was mirrored in my own.
He held his hands out toward me in a non-threatening gesture. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you. But I have to know -- where am I?”
I inched forward attempting to get a better look at him. Underneath the days growth of beard and leaves stuck to his hair and clothes, I thought he looked a bit familiar.
“What’s your name?” I asked curiously.
He came forward extending his hand. I eyed it as if it was a snake about to bite me. He glanced at his hand and rubbed it against his faded, well-worn jeans, then extended it again.
“Nick. Nick Boyd. I’m an officer with the Seattle Police Department. I woke up this morning lying outside in a town I don’t recognize. Do you know where I am?” He paused. “Where is the nearest town?”
I smiled humorlessly at him. I knew Nick Boyd. Nick Boyd was a character from my series, “By Any Other Name.” He was someone that I knew had a real life counterpart. I didn’t know what he looked like, and considering he didn’t look like the character I had cast him as, I assumed he was the real deal.
“I’m not exactly sure myself. My best guess is England. But that’s under the assumption that we’re in a location where I have set one of my series. Other than that, I have no clue. I sort of just woke up here myself.”
I quickly relayed my situation to him. I told him all about Ethan and the spy guys who were after me. He gave me the same humorless look that I had given him earlier. He wasn’t quite convinced that fictional people would be after me. I guess it must have been the police officer part of him. He had to see it to believe it. He needed some evidence.
Nick spread his arms wide and gestured to the woods around us.
“You’re telling me that this is all make believe?” he asked skeptically.
I shrugged. “As far as I can tell, the only real thing in this reality is you and me.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Simple,” I said. “Everyone else is a character from my series.”
I never realized until now how hard it was to understand my series. The man was looking at me like I was the crazy one. He had no clue what a web serial was or how I could even be in this situation to begin with. I had to agree with him there. I didn’t know why I was in this situation either.
“If you believe this nonsense, that’s up to you. I just want to get on the phone and call my partner. He’ll come and pick me up. I’ve had just about as much make believe as I can take.” He placed his hands on slim hips. “Where is the closest house to here?”
I thrust my thumb behind me. “Back at the place where evil twin, Ian, was holding me. Maybe you can break in and do your police thing. Confiscate a phone or something. Then try and call your buddy. If no one’s ever heard of him, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” I saluted him and began to walk away down a path that would take me in the opposite direction.
“Hey! Where are you going?”
“Not back there. They won’t recognize you since you don’t look like the person I cast as Nick Boyd in my series. So, you’ll probably be safe enough. If that doesn’t work, click your heels together three times and say ‘there’s no place like home.’” I nodded. “It worked for Dorothy. It couldn‘t hurt.”
I kept walking and didn’t look back. Maybe if they did try something funny back at the house and eventually captured Nick, if he thought the words and thought of home, it might just save him. I was pretty sure that if I had my special power, Nick could have it as well since he was a real person.
As I walked I contemplated as to why Nick would show up here. He’s not a main character in my main series. I hardly write on him at all. But there was a time, before the Legacy that I was writing about a policeman named Nick with a woman who strongly resembled Gia but went by the name Tessa Wainright.
When I first thought about writing an espionage series, they were the people who came to mind, along with a man named John Holland who eventually morphed into my version of Ethan Fairchild. John was a police sketch artist. So how he ever eventually became Ethan is hard to figure. My mind threw everything into the mixing bowl of my brain and it came out The Legacy.
“When is this going to be over?” I silently asked myself. I was so tired and I just wanted this game to end.
A ringing sound echoed through the forest. At first it sounded far away, but soon the noise was coming from the stump next to me. On the stump was an old tin can. Attached to the can was a piece of string. I picked it up to examine it and the echo ceased.
It was only a tin can, but somehow I could hear chatter on the other end. As I put the can closer to my ear, I realized someone was talking on the other end.
“I just wanted to thank you.” The voice said. “You provided exactly what I needed. Without your help we never would have won the war against The Legacy.”
I gasped. “What are you talking about? Who is this?”
“Thank you, Ms. Walker for bringing Nick Boyd to us. You may go home now. Your contract has expired.”
The caller never identified himself. But I could distinctly hear Nick shouting in the background.
How had they gotten him so quickly? And why did they even want him?
Before I could think of a way to save Nick, I experienced an immense tugging. It was almost like someone was pulling my soul away from my body and my body refused to relinquish it.
Suddenly, I awoke in my own bed.
My face was dripping with sweat. I had apparently left the tv on while I dozed and could hear the newscaster relating a story about the sudden disappearance of a police officer in Seattle.
“It was real.” I whispered. “It had to be real.”
Oh, God. What had I done? Because of me they had Nick.