Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The moonlight turns the billowing drapes violet where they intrude on the silver trails it throws across a marble floor. The distant sound of a saxophonist is barely discernible, like some fey melody carried on a breeze to tempt the unwary into folly.
“We can’t go on like this, Hubert.”
Hubert rolls onto his side, sucking in his gut as he does so.
“Whyever not, Daphne?”
She turns from watching the play of the harbour lights.
“He suspects. I fear what he would do.”
“Piffle, dear heart. You’re imagining things.”
A tall man in a red suit brushes the drapes aside as he steps into the room from the balcony.
“She’s not. He knows. The thugs he hired are waiting in the alley for your departure. Daphne’s going to be the victim of a brutal home invasion. You’re going to be found floating in the harbour, nothing but a mugging gone wrong.”
Hubert lunges from the bed, snatches one of the pistols from his discarded gun belt, and drills the intruder through the heart.
The red-garbed man looks down at the neat hole in his suit.
Daphne passes out. Hubert keeps looking back and forth between the smoking gun and the shrinking hole in the red material.
The shot gentleman cuts a short bow.
“Daniel Continuity Plotmore, at your service. Please, call me DC.”
DC moves quickly, retrieving and then handing Hubert his trousers.
“Don’t mind me, I’m just an assistant.”
“God. For this particular world, that would be Algernon Westlake, a renowned author of torrid romances in a nearby reality. Unfortunately, Algernon just got dumped. His latest bestseller, ‘Balcony to Passion’, has suffered a hitch while he works through the hurt. Which is entirely unfair to the characters who get to suffer because he needs to vent.”
Hubert pauses as he buttons his waistcoat.
“Algernon is the true name of God?”
“From a niche viewpoint unique to this world, yes.”
“This world is nothing but a backdrop for some torrid pulp romance?”
DC waves towards the balcony.
“Hardly ‘nothing’. I mean, look at that view. It takes genuine vision to craft that.”
“We’re all puppets in some book?”
“Not entirely. I mean, now it exists, most people in this world will live lives free of his influence. You, on the other hand, were destined for a premature death.”
“We’re all a figment of somebody else’s imagination? Come on.”
“You just watched my suit regenerate after I ignored a bullet.”
Hubert shudders, then points a finger at DC.
“How do you fit into this?”
“Powers come in many forms. Divinities are only some of them. I come from one of the others, one with a greater interest in equity for mortals. Right now, Algernon is dreaming up a revised storyline that’s much better than tawdry arranged murders. The inspiration will wake him, and also help him towards emotional healing.”
Hubert looks down at where his shirt strains about his gut.
“Any chance he could trim me up?”
“Until he edited you to look like how he imagined his ‘rival’ to be, you were.”
Hubert draws a sheet over Daphne.
“What about her… Us, even?”
“Wait for her to call after the silly argument you had tonight.”
“The one Algernon’s going to write tomorrow.”
“I should go?”
“Out the front door.”
Hubert conceals his doubt and confusion, nods curtly, then leaves.
“Another happier ending.”
He turns to look at you, then winks.
“I really shouldn’t give spoilers, but sometimes I simply can’t resist.”