It happens before I wake up. I am suddenly, violently wrenched from my bed, my eyes not fully snapped open until I am dragged outside, snow coming in contact with my bare feet. I scream, kick, try to get away, but whoever holds me clings like a steel claw, the metallic vice grip burning my skin with cold. My kicks fly into the air. I wonder if I'm still dreaming. Someone draws a bag over my head, and the world plunges into darkness. I still make a point of screaming and fighting.
"Oh, would you just shut up already? We're not going to kill you." The sound of that voice halts my movements. It's eerily familiar. The person who grips my arms takes my moment of shock as an opportunity to lift me from the ground so that my feet no longer have to drag through the snow.
"You'd think she'd be a little more volatile," says someone else. Again, I recognize an impossible voice. "With the way she painted all of us, I imagined she was just as full of hellfire."
"Well, she did nearly wrench my arm out of its socket when she tried to get away." That voice should be non-existent. The cold, inhuman grip on my arm should not be there, but it is. My world is spinning with every shaking, shuddering step my captor takes and I believe with every movement that I truly have become unhinged from reality.
Finally I come in contact with the snow once again. I'm set down to kneel, my pajama pants collecting a painfully cold coat of water. My skin is going numb. The bag is wrenched from my head and I'm bathed in the soft glow of moonlight. I gasp in the cold, sharp night air, blinking wide-eyed and staring like a frightened deer. As my vision adjusts, several figures come into focus. "Give her a minute," one of them says. "I want her to be fully awake for this."
"I'm pretty sure I am awake," I say, staring up at my character, Zorana, leapt from the pages of my mind to stand before me, glaring. I glance over to Faranea, who leans casually against a tree. "What I'm not so sure of is whether or not I'm still sane."
"Oh, you never had your sanity to begin with," says Jasmine. I turn to see her and Eadel striding toward me. Their boots crunch through the snow.
"Alright, what the hell is this all about?" I ask. I have to force my teeth not to clatter together. "Are you upset that I never finished your story, Jasmine? Because it's not my turn to write your chapter- oof!" Jasmine kicks my side with her boot. I double over and gasp for air.
"No, idiot, this isn't about my damn story. This is about you neglecting your own happiness over the last four years," says Jasmine. I look up at her, confused.
"Oh, don't give us that look!" says Eadel. She holds Jasmine tightly in the cold. "We are tired of you using me and Jasmine as tools to flirt with the girl of your dreams and then ignoring whenever she flirts back."
My jaw drops. "I... I..." I forget how to form coherent sentences. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Faranea pushes off the tree and walks over to join Zorana. "We thought you might say that," she says.
"What?" I ask. The smirk she wears summons a sense of foreboding inside me.
"Seth!" yells Jasmine.
"Who the hell is Seth?" I ask, looking around.
He emerges from the trees, tall, trim, prized bow in hand. He looks down at me and I suddenly remember. "Nice to meet you," he says.
"Thanks for coming, Seth. We have to go," says Jasmine. She and Eadel walk away.
"Wait, where are you going?" I yell back at them. "You can't leave me with these guys! They might hurt me!"
"Well, you've got one thing right," says Seth. "Hold her back." Faranea and Zorana each grip an arm of mine and wrench my torso back so Seth has a perfect line of sight. He pulls the string back and an Energy Arrow generates in his grip. My eyes widen as he takes aim directly at my heart.
"Do it," Zorana orders.
He fires and I scream in shock as the Energy Arrow sinks into my chest, penetrating my heart. "Another one!" yells Zorana. Seth draws back the bowstring and fires another one. The pain of all my buried emotions rips through me.
"No..." I groan, realizing what they're trying to do.
"Another one!" Will draws back the bowstring. An arrow materializes and he releases. It sinks into my chest and I scream in defiance, trying to bury my feelings, fighting them. I don't want to acknowledge them.
"Again!" He draws back, the arrow flies.
"Again!" It's getting harder and harder to fight.
"Again!" The cold is too much. Everything is. I need it to stop.
"Alright!" I yell. "Alright!" Seth pauses in drawing his bow. The grips on my arms relax. I feel tears streaming down my face. My throat feels raw from screaming. "I... I'll tell her."
Zorana pats me on the back. "Good girl," she says.
"Just, get me to a computer," I say. "I need to write down what I want to say to her before I actually do it." My characters finally show me some pity and help me to my feet. They escort me back to my home, and I try to ignore the maelstrom of emotions swirling around in my chest. When we reach my computer, Zorana lets me slump down into my chair. I turn the machine on and log into all of my accounts. A small notification bubble lets me know the girl of my dreams is online.
"Talk to her," says Faranea.
"Fuck no, I don't know what to say," I say.
"If you won't type anything, I will," says a new voice. I turn to see Sasha and Inu enter my room.
"Oh god, not you guys," I groan. "Look, it's crowded enough with Zorana, Faranea, and Seth so why don't you-" A ping from my computer interrupts me. I have a new message.
Hey Mag. I study the simple words, freezing. I feel fear coursing through my veins.
"Say something!" barks Sasha. She pulls a chair up next to me and tries typing on the keyboard.
"No!" I yell, trying to pry my character away from the keys. Inu restrains her.
"She has to do this on her own, love," Inu whispers.
I hesitate before typing, Hey.
Soooooooooo what's up?
Not much, just got attacked by some friends of yours. I reply with something safe. My characters groan.
Huh, I know how you feel. This response gives me pause. I turn to look at my characters. They try to look innocent.
"You didn't think you were getting special treatment, did you?" asks Seth.
Really? What happened to you? I ask, unable to resist.
Let's just say, I got some painful inspiration. What happened to you?
I was shot, multiple times in the chest. My reply is blunt. I feel betrayed that my own characters would force me into this situation.
Oh my God are you ok? I smile. "She's concerned about me guys," I say.
Yeah, they were energy arrows so…
They made me realize something. I might as well get around to something. She invented the energy arrows. She knows what they're used for. She knows I'm in love with someone. I might as well tell her.
They tend to do that.
I echo my own thoughts and type, They…uh, they made me realize…um, that I'm in love with someone.
Good to know that they work correctly lol.
I uh, I'm still a little unsure how she feels though. Damn it, she's not taking the hint. Why doesn't she just automatically know my feelings for her?
"Just tell her!" whines Zorana. "She's not psychic."
Well you know me. I always say that it's better to tell them even if they don't feel the same way. Who knows? You might make their day. I stare at the new words on the screen.
"See?" says Faranea. "She's asking you to tell her."
I sigh and shrug my shoulders. "Whatever." I type hesitantly. Well… I pause, my fingers hover over the keys. I hear Inu and Sasha mumbling things to one another. Seth is glaring at me, his bow clutched tightly. Zorana and Faranea watch me from my bed.
You still there? Her message appears on my screen with a blip. I have to respond. "Do it, pussy," growls Sasha. "Or I'll tell her what explicit thoughts you have running through your head."
"No!" I yell, covering the keyboard with my body as Sasha makes to grab it once more. "I'll tell her, right now, I promise." I take a deep, shaky breath. I feel Zorana's hand on me in comfort. "I can do this," I whisper. I type the words and hit enter, holding my breath as they appear on screen.
Yep. I um….I'm in love with you. I've been in love with you for four years. My heart hammers. I don't know what to do, what to say.
Stop joking. The reply lights up on the screen, an ethereal glow of denial. "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" I ask, looking around to my characters.
"Be more assertive," Sasha growls. I see her claws twitching to have at the keyboard once again. I sigh and type a reply.
I'm not joking. I'm serious here. I love you.
Her reply indicates more denial. Seriously it's mean. "She's not getting it guys," I moan. "This was a bad idea."
Zorana smacks me upside the head. "Just shut up and write back. We know what we're doing here."
I write back, dejected: No! I really do love you. Do you not have feelings for me? Fine…whatever, you don't have to dance around it. Just let me know. "Pussy," Sasha mutters.
I… "Look!" yells Faranea. "She's writing something!"
I can't believe this. Everyone, including me, collectively groans. "This is hell," I say, slumping onto my desk.
Is this good or bad disbelief? I type the words cautiously.
Good. I think. "Yes!" I say. I look over to see my characters smirking at me. "What?" I ignore them and type a response.
Well, if you need to think about it some more, just let me know. I wait for her response patiently.
See that's the problem. I've been trying not to think about it. Trying for about four years now, not to think about it. Because I just knew that I didn't have a chance in hell with you. So I didn't want to get my hopes up. And now, I don't know what to say. I stare at the screen in disbelief.
"So what do I say?" I ask. The next thing I know I'm being tossed from my seat and Sasha has the keyboard. She types furiously and Inu and Zorana attempt to pull her away from the computer while I tug at the keyboard cord screaming, "No, no, no!"
"Shut up, you pansy!" she snarls. She succeeds in hitting the enter button once, and I pry the keyboard from her finally.
I groan as I read Sasha's text. You're a total babe. Of course you'd have a chance. "Sasha!" I yell. "This makes me sound like a moron! How the hell am I going to get her to like me now?"
"Maybe if you were a little more confident from the start you'd have her," she says. I grumble to myself and read the reply she finally sent to Sasha's horrid lines.
A babe, huh?
Well, I might as well roll with it. You are hot. Your mind is sexy.
*Blush* No one has said that before.
Really? I would have thought you charmed droves of women into your bed with your good looks. I wait for a reply. None comes. Are you there? I was just teasing...
Sorry, fell. "She fell?" I ask. I look back to see my characters shrug.
Oh, sorry about that... So, I never got a response from you. "She won't confess her love if you bring up the subject like that," says Zorana.
"No one asked you," I say. "And all of you will keep your mouths shut unless you want me to write you guys into my depressing, edgy literature I'll be publishing at age 30. You will all die for my fortune. Just like Shakespeare and Hamlet." The room grows silent.
Noticed that, did you? I groan and bang my head on the desk. Why is this so difficult?
You're being awfully evasive.
I wait for a reply. It's hard. I groan. She's delaying again.
What's so hard about us?
It's hard because it's too easy.
She's scared. Hell, I'm terrified. I type the only reason I can think of as to why the two of us should try dating. Well I think we owe it to ourselves to give it a shot.
Yeah? "Here it comes," says Faranea. Everyone else shushes her in anticipation.
…I love you too. I always have. But I thought I was just a faceless fan girl to you. My heart soars. I feel happiness well up inside me and Sasha says, "We told you so."
Well I see that now.
I always thought you were an incredible writer.
No, you're brilliant. I've always looked up to your writing. You're a rock star. I grin. She thought I was a rock star.
Funny, I always looked up to your writing.
So what do we do now?
Anything we want. We have all the time in the world. And we really do. We really, really do. I sigh and push the keyboard aside. Smiling as my characters chatter away in my mind, spinning new tales, letting me be at ease for one moment where I can escape to that bliss that only comes with love.