The voice was cold, and, had it not been my own, it would have probably sent some shivers down my spine. I was alone, in a dark room with nothing in it but a single desk and chair. On top of the desk rested a small, black computer screen. It, and the room, had changed in the time that I’d been gone. A previously bright and buzzing room had gone dark. The computer, slowly evolved from nothing but a small notebook, had shut down. A small layer of dust covered it all.
The place was musty.
“Come on. Sit down.”
I willed myself to move over to the center of the room, where the dusty laptop was. My legs felt heavy. With arms like rubber, I slowly pulled back the wooden chair and sat down. Turned on the computer.
My fingers touched the keyboard… and stopped.
How do you pick up the trail of something that was abandoned for so long? How do you fill in the gaps that are forgotten, that are no longer exist in your mind? It had been such a long time. So much had happened. How do you continue after all that?
I couldn’t. It had been too long.
They were gone.
Slowly, I pulled my hands back.
“Now hold on just one second.”
A single light appeared in what had just been a pitch black room. It floated right past the screen and came to a halt next to my desk, where the light slowly turned into…
“Yes, me,” Nikola repeated, in an irritated tone. “Were you expecting someone else?”
“There were dozens of you. It could have been anyone.”
Out of all possible people, it had to be him who came back first. My bloody luck.
“Oh, no, it could only have been me. I have a few things to say to you, Michelle. Remember how you made all of us, forced us into that twisted storyline for your readers’ entertainment, and then abandoned us? Because I do.”
“I’m sorry, okay?” I snapped back. “But we have more important things to be thinking about at the moment than your parental issues. We’ll talk later.”
“Oh no, don’t you dare. Don’t you-“
I swatted at him, like one would swat at an annoying fly, and the creation called Nikola was beamed out of my mind instantly. It went quiet, and the room faded back into darkness.
My fingers moved back towards the keyboard.
That’s right… there had been dozens. Dozens of lives and storylines that I’d created, with these hands, all that time ago. There had been so many… and I could not remember any of them.
If I did not remember them… then I could not continue their story. Was this doomed from the start? Was it impossible? How could I-
Something sharp hit me on the back of my head. Hard. That hurt! I winced and grasped at my head. Slowly, I turned around. Him again. He was looking away from me, casually examining his fingernails. A book in hard-cover lay on the ground right next to my chair. Thrown by him, no doubt.
“Having a good time in that chair?”
“Having a good time throwing things at my head?” I replied angrily.
“Always. But really, you should be grateful.”
“And why in the world would that be?”
“Don’t you recognize it? I’ve kept that safe for you all this time. You have no idea how difficult that was, really. And not even a single thank-you as a reward? My, you’re cold.”
“Kept what safe?”
I turned around angrily to face him. But it was already too late- he’d erased his appearance again, this time out of his own accord. I was once again left alone in the room.
Slowly, my attention turned back to the thing that he’d hit me on the back of my head with. It was a small book, with a universal cover that could hide anything. I did not recognize it. Or… maybe I did.
“What… was this again?”
As I picked the book up from the ground, I could feel something tingling in the back of my mind. A memory, too old to recall, calling out to me from the depths.
Something about this notebook felt… familiar.
I flipped the pages, going back to the beginning. And then I realized. This was my own handwriting. When it was still smooth and readable, before I became interested in a different writing system.
Images flowing through my head. Heavy. Couldn’t… think. Dizziness was too much… fading away…
These were… my words. It was my notebook. My own, that I’d started writing when I was still just a teenager. It suddenly came back to me. I was fifteen, bored during class, and a story came to me when I was supposed to take English notes. And, as any bored fifteen-year-old, I went with the story instead.
This was where everything had started.
I’d written so much after that. The notebook got full and was replaced by a small laptop. When that aged, I’d purchased a large computer, big enough to handle a few games. I’d gotten to experimenting with creating people. Gave life to Cathy, the main character of my first big story, and so many after her. Came up with a huge overall plotline. Set everything in motion for the final two chapters of their tale… and then…
And then I left.
“Do you remember?”
Nikola was back. But the arrogant smirk had finally disappeared from his face. His expression was composed as always, but his eyes were not. They seemed to be pleading with me. Pleading to recall what had been lost.
“You’re not finished yet. You can’t be finished with us yet. We still haven’t had our ending- you have to give us our ending, Michelle. I don’t care what you had in store for everyone. Nothing could have been worse than oblivion.”
I wanted to finish it. I did. But too much time had passed. I did not… remember.
“I… don’t know.”
“Then read that notebook. Everything from the past is in there. This was too big to just vanish from your mind. You never truly forget the stories you make. Where you left off.”
That… I did remember.
Slowly, I closed my eyes. Allowed the story to return to me. All of their faces flashed by in my mind. Catherine. Natalia. Micah. Raven. Chase. Their lovers, and their children. The villains that I had betted against them. Nikola and Selene. In that moment, every single one of them was there in the room with me. I felt their personalities, their willpower. They would not be denied. They wanted an ending… and so did I.
Cathy and her murder mystery. The tragedy of Wyatt and Natalia. The Gate. Micah and Ethan. Raven and the mystery of Nikola and Selene. Chase and his unfolding story… and then…
And… then… I… knew.
“Bar the door,” I commanded. “I will not be leaving this desk tonight.”
“My dear, we’re inside of your mind. You don’t even have a door.”
“Fine. Then bar something to keep the other stories away from here. I’m not moving on until you have your ending.”
“Hearing you say that is like the most beautiful music to my ears,” Nikola responded. His confident smirk was back, and his eyes glowed fiercely. “I will track down Chase. Take all the time you need to recreate us. We will make sure nobody disturbs you until you do.”
I nodded once.
“Good. I’m counting on you.”
“I want my earrings back, Michelle. Not having them makes me feel less alluring.”
“Yeah, yeah. Now get out.”
His disappearance went accompanied by an amused laugh. In between seconds, Nikola had once again vanished.
But I was no longer alone. As I sat back down behind my old desk, I could feel their presence. They were all around me. Just like old times. Waiting for me to write down their story. I was ready. I would do it again.
And this time… there would be a finale.
The computer sprang to life.
I exhaled slowly… and started typing.