Imagine a cold morning with a gray sky. I sit at my desk, clicking through documents on my computer screen. There is a cup of coffee to my left. My cat Maxie is curled up at my feet. Outside the door of my home office, I see an impatient man scanning through the messages on his phone. He’s reading a text from his wife.
“You know, you can have a seat,” I tell him. He walks in and stands in front of my computer with his arms crossed, his feet planted. He’s wearing his usual jeans and t-shirt, with mirrored sunglasses. “Can you take those off, please?”
“Fine,” he says, removing the shades and sitting down. I click onto a file marked with his name—Justin Granthem.
“And your problem today is…?” I say, my eyes still on the screen.
“I don’t have a problem, I have a request.”
I look up then. He’s serious. Now that his sunglasses are off I see that his eyes glow fluorescent green. Not good. I click on my lunar calendar. No full moon. But crap, that doesn’t matter. He can change into his werewolf form when he feels like it. Why the hell did I put that into the storyline?
“It’s about Rafael Castillo. I want to kill him.”
I sigh. “Justin, we’ve talked about this. I’ve given you plenty people to kill. You can’t go around killing everyone that pisses you off. Your story is a serial. Don’t you get it? You can’t kill people until only you and Marradith are left.”
He gives me a cocky grin. “That would be fine with me.”
“Justin, let’s go through the list of the people you wanted me to let you kill. There was Will, who has helped you out of more than one jam….”
“I still have some doubts about him.”
“There was Syd…”
“Oh come on, look at all the people he‘s killed! I bet he doesn‘t have a kill quota….”
“And there’s Nora. She’s your mother-in-law.”
“Which is the best reason for her to die.”
“Well you can’t kill her! What will your wife think? And you certainly can’t kill her in the prequal, because that means Marradith wouldn‘t be born. Which by the way, you’re lucky I even let you be a part of that story. I compromised with you on that front, didn’t I?”
“You did,” he says, standing up to leave. “But I maintain the right to revisit this issue later.”
“Well,” I say. “Let me put it to you like this. Marradith has been pissed for the last four episodes. Do you wonder why? I can make her stay that way much longer.”
He cusses under his breath and stalks out, hands in fists. He almost bumps into the next character standing in line. “Sorry, Miss Luella,” he apologizes, and walks past her.
“Come on in, Luella. I’ve been expecting you,” I say.
She walks in, pulling up her skirts as she carefully steps into my office. I watch her sit down. Her posture is so painfully correct that I pull myself out of my slouching position over my keyboard. She touches her hair gently with a gloved hand, and the plume in her massive, lace covered hat moves faintly. Her tiny, corseted waist makes me want to suck in my breath or buy one of those stretchy spandex girdle things.
She speaks softly but meets my eyes squarely.
“I wanted to ask you, what seems to be going on here? I thought my story was through for now. Ben and I were looking forward to a vacation. A honeymoon, at least.”
“How is the Sheriff?” I ask. “I’m not really sure how you guys are when you’re on a break.”
“Ben’s fine,” she blushes. “The matter is that you seem to be working on something with us. Starting and stopping. So we‘re on break… until all of a sudden we‘re not.”
“I have been considering some new options for you and your town.”
“Options? Is that what you call it? We don‘t know where or when we are these days. Last week you wrote about what happened in 1888 and this week it’s 1873 again. It‘s very confusing.”
“I’m going to clear that up for you soon, I promise. Be patient with me.”
“Is it that young man that was just here? Is he causing a problem?”
“No. I think I’d like you to go on a trip soon.”
“Trip?” she lifts an eyebrow. “Another zombie hunting expedition?”
“No, there won’t be any hunting involved,” I smile slyly. “But you may get to take a trip on a train. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
“Perhaps,” she replies coolly. “By the way. How did that young man know my name?”
“He’s seen pictures. He’s married to one of your great-great nieces, actually.”
“You don’t say?” she blinked.
“Luella,” I lean closer, dropping my voice to a whisper. “You didn’t see any dead souls hanging around him, did you? I’m not sure I trust him lately.”
©2011 Lori Titus