Short Story: Meta Much?

This one took second place in one of our regular Writer’s Plot challenges. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (and not so innocent).


Meta Much? 

My Glock hit the surface of the table in front of me. My writer’s group, seated in a square of tables, stared in disbelief.

“Jess, you brought a gun to the library?” Betty asked.

“Fuck yes, why the hell not?” I retorted.

“Safety violations. You’ve said it yourself before,” said Francis, opening her iPad just to check.

“Look, it’s loaded,” I said. I picked up the gun, pointed the barrel at Darrel and fired. His head slumped to the table.

The group looked at me in horror. I shrugged my shoulders. “What? He never talked anyway.”

Screams filled the library. Some fled the table, others froze unable to move. Henry stood up and approached me, trying to talk me down. I shot him dead too and continued firing until every last member of our writer’s group was lying in a pool of their own blood. Lucky I brought spare bullets. From out of nowhere I heard clucking. A chicken appeared from behind a bookshelf and waded through the writers blood.

“No, no, no!”

I threw my wireless keyboard at the floor.Thespacebarfelloffagain.Ireattached it.

The cursor on my monitor blinked angrily at the end of my last sentence.

“God damn Gerry expects us to work that into our story? Fucking chickens?”

I downed another bottle of Chilean Pinot Noir from my giant wine glass. Just another writing assignment. You can do this Jess. You’re a bloody writer. I continued my story from where I left off, even keeping in that chicken bit. I could always delete it later.

I shouldered my bag and marched towards the library exit. Unfortunately some men in blue were there to greet me. As messed up as I was, I was no cop killer, and retreated to the non fiction section. I hid behind the biographies with my back against the books and my Glock at the ready. How would I get myself out of this mess? I had made sure there would be no more writing assignments–that was for sure–but the killings had escalated the situation, rather than fixing it.

Okay, so I’ve written myself into a corner. I reached for my glass. Empty. Shit.

The door creaked open. I turned to see Paws with his tail wagging. He came up to me and I scratched behind his ears. Oh you always know how to fix a girl’s mood don’t you Paws? I looked closer at his nose, it was covered in some kind of brown-green sludge. “Paws, have you been in the dumpster again?” I smacked his bottom and he curled up in the corner.

This story was proving harder than any story I had written before. I had this strange fogginess, like my head was full of space and missing memories. It was as if I was dreaming.

Too much wine again? But no, this was something else entirely. I felt as though I didn’t belong. I was an imposter. I shook the feeling off and returned to my story.

I heard cars pull up outside the library. I couldn’t see them but by the way the doors slammed I knew it was the Armed Offenders Squad. Oh goodie, time to see what my hubby thinks of this situation.

I stepped out from behind the shelf to face an empty library. The chicken had waddled out of the library and was poking around outside, scratching at one of the three trees in the neighbouring garden. I spotted the black cars. It was the Armed Offenders alright, and one of them was looking right at me; James.

I don’t even know what I’m writing anymore. Is this a fantasy? Some sick dream I want to get out on paper? I should probably just delete this and go with something safer. I closed the document and  pressed the delete key. I clicked yes to send it straight to the recycle bin, but the computer wouldn’t let me. The yes option was greyed out. Oh, maybe it’s still open somewhere? I closed all my windows and tried again. Yes was still greyed out. What the hell? I kicked the desk and Paws scampered out of the room. Fine, do what you want computer. I opened a new document. I made sure the formatting was just right and attempted to write.

In a lush green field I strolled with my sidekick chicken resting on my shoulder. The sky was blue and dotted with fluffy clouds. “Looks like we have good weather ahead,” I said.

“Still we had better get to the cabin before dark,” clucked Dresande.

“I know that you silly old chicken,” I said. I smiled and ruffled his feathers.

He clucked, irritated.

We passed by three bare trees, with branches like contorted outstretched hands,  and entered the foreboding forest. The forest was black. Pitch black. “Are you still there Dresande?”

I didn’t hear a response. I felt my shoulder, he was gone. Something in front of me flashed white and I was blinded. I covered my eyes. I heard shouts. I took away my arm and found myself looking at a bookshelf. I felt something heavy in my hands. It was a Glock.

What… the… actual… fuck. I stood up and backed away from my computer. It wasn’t me. I didn’t write that. Something was hijacking my story. Was it my computer, some bizarre joke hack? But I knew it wasn’t. I felt my hands write it, but I couldn’t control them. My own hands.

I held them out in front of me, palms up, half expecting them to jump up at me and tear apart my face. Okay, that’s it. I need a break. I walked towards the door, when it swung shut right in front of me. I tried the handle. It was stuck. “Okay, prank’s over guys!” I shouted. “Charlie, open this door right now!”

I jiggled the handle again. Nothing. I stamped around the room trying to make myself heard downstairs, until something caught my eye. After the last sentence was an extra line. One I didn’t remember writing; Finish the story.

I sat down in my computer chair and sighed. “Fine, if you’ll just let me get on with my life, I’ll finish this shitty story.” I poised my fingers above the keyboard and with no thought or effort, they began to type.

I walked towards the window where James stood on the other side dressed in a padded suit of black and holding onto a Bushmaster M4. His mouth was hidden by material. James’ eyes went wide as he took in the scene before him; the bodies that lay around the tables. He looked back at me.  He could not believe what I had done and I couldn’t either. So he did what he knew best, what he was trained to do. He aimed his rifle at my chest. I aimed my Glock between his eyes, the small gap between his helmet and his armour.

“No, I won’t. I don’t want to write this,” I wiped a tear from my eye. “You can’t make me write this!”

The keyboard began typing on its own; Finish it.

“Finish it yourself you supernatural asshole.”

I looked in disbelief as the keyboard continued to press in keys without the need of fingers; I’m not supernatural. I’m a writer, just like yourself. My story requires that you finish your story.

I swiped the air over the keyboard. Nothing. No invisible hands. Nothing physical anyway.

Jess, you’re not real. Well, not this version anyway. You’re a character. I created you from what limited knowledge I have on you.

“I’m real. I have to be real,” I said, desperately trying to cling on to reality. If that’s what you could still call this. I grabbed the keyboard and typed the two most powerful words known to writers everywhere.

The End.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Really. It’s a coincidence. What, you don’t believe me?

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