A week or so ago, I was brushing my teeth and an idea came to me about what happens when characters die. I think it all started with the image of "fog black as ink" and the idea of Elsa from Frozen being a writer who can produce said fog. The result was the following short story. Enjoy. Any feedback you want to give is welcome.
The fog was black, as if it were clouds of ink vapor rising instead of water.
Niall blinked. Where was he? How had he gotten here? There was nothing but the fog. He couldn’t see a sky, nor walls nor landscape to either side. The only thing he was sure of was that there was something solid beneath his feet. He took a deep breath. The fog smelled like ink too. As he exhaled it swirled in the air, curling and twisting in blue-black puffs.
Niall took a step forward, and a small pain shot through his chest. He looked down. There was a hole the size of a child’s fist in his shirt, letting the skin on his chest show. In his mind, he heard the shouts of soldiers falling, saw a flare of fire, Vi’s face as she threw herself over a fleeing refugee, felt the pain in his chest again, this time stronger.
He’d been hit with something. A piece of shrapnel, probably. But the skin beneath his shirt was fine. There was no blood.
Did that mean he was…?
The dark fog shifted, caught in a breeze. It swirled forward, as if leading him. He followed it.
After a few steps, the fog cleared to reveal a throne, and a woman sitting on it. The throne fanned out behind her head, it’s tall, pen-like spikes shooting into the air. No, they weren’t just pen-like, they were actually pens. Very large pens.
The woman smiled at him. “Hello, Niall.” She wore a circlet of typewriter keys on her head.
Typewriter keys? There were no typewriters where Niall was from. How did he know what they were?
Niall coughed. “Are you…?”
Her smile widened. “I am The Author. Yes.”
“So that means I’m dead.” With a wound like he’d remembered, there was no chance he could have survived.
The Author cocked her head to one side. “In a way, yes.”
Niall nodded. It was only a matter of time before this happened. If it hadn’t have been him, it would have been Vi or Zeke or Jenkins. Or maybe all of them. That’s how war worked. “So, what happens now?”
“You pass on. You go through that door. Very simple, really.” She gestured to one side, and the fog condensed into the form of a black door with a crystal handle.
Niall gazed at the door.
“Do you have any questions before you go?” The Author asked.
“Yes.” Niall looked back at her. “Vi and Zeke, do they…?”
“Yes, they survive. It’s in The Plot.” The Author’s smile became gleeful. “They survive, and Vi finds her little girl again. They go back to Spryll and live a good life. Zeke ends up becoming a cheese maker, though no one but me will ever know that. It’s in The Plot, but too much detail for The Book. Anything else?”
“Why do I know those are typewriter keys? There are no Typewriters in Ootwox.”
“Ah, but you’re not in Ootwox anymore, are you? You’re in my Mind. People in the Mind have access to all the information I have.”
Niall nodded. That made sense. He glanced back at the door. “I’m ready.”
The Author waved her hand, and the door opened.
“That better be someone dead and not some cheeky spawn of a plot bunny,” a female voice said.
The Author rolled her eyes. “You’re all cheeky spawn of a plot bunny.” She looked back at Niall. “That’s Joy. All the Unwritten stay in there too until it is time for their Story. She’s been waiting for her Story for a few years now. She’s impatient.”
“It doesn’t help that the lop-eared pirate over here gets a story before I do,” Joy’s voice said.
“I’m not a pirate!” said another voice, this one male. “And my true love awaits!”
The Author glared at the door. “Joy, Sebastian, shut up. I’ll get to your Stories eventually.” She turned back to Niall. “If you think you can handle those two, the door is ready for you.”
Niall smiled. “I’ve dealt with Characters like them before.” He’d be in good company. He nodded to The Author. “Thank you.” He stepped through, and the door closed behind him.