Before Convergence #1 - Melissa And The Author

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 04, 2017

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Submitted: May 04, 2017

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My name is The Author.

Since my childhood, I've possessed the ability to create. Yes, it's as simple as it sounds: I've created whole worlds and characters. When I first started, I utilized the works of others, but gradually, I came up with ones I could call my own. For a while, I was the invisible mastermind tinkering with the lives of my creations, but today, I was going to go one step further, for a storm was coming.

"What do you mean?" The girl standing before me asked in an inquiring tone. "How is this even possible?"

This is Melissa Bailey. She is an average height and build peachy-faced girl in her late teens. She wears an unassuming light grey tunic and matching pants, with a similarly-colored half-cloak tied to her neckline by a bronze chain. At the center of the chain sits a bronze phoenix crest, which is the only real piece of accessory to her outfit. Utilitarian brown boots completed the practical look, contrasting with the only strong colors on her person: her fair shoulder-cropped light-blue hair and matching eye color.

"It's true," I said, my voice coming out in a neutral tenor. "For lack of a better term, I created you."

"You can't be serious."

"I am. Try remembering what happened five minutes ago. You can't, can you?"

Melissa stared at me, her eyes narrowing. After a moment, she sighed in resigned acceptance.

"Alright. I'm...not sure how I feel about this."

"That's fine," I nodded. "If I were in your shoes, I'd have a ton of questions right about now."

"I do." Melissa spread her arms wide, gesturing to our surroundings. "For starters, where exactly are we?"

It was the obvious question. The two of us stood at the center of a large, sterile, white-colored room completely devoid of anything else. There were no obvious sources of light, yet the place was brightly lit by some form of ambient lighting, with not a shadow in sight.

"This," I said with a smile. "This is the White Room. My safe place, if you want to call it that, where I can think and tinker with, well, whatever it is I want."

Melissa's eyes lit up in understanding. "I see. I suppose it's not too surprising for a creator to have a workshop of some kind."

"Indeed." I paused for a moment. "Though this is the first time a sentient creation of mine has been aware of the White Room's existence while within it. Normally, I would have transformed this place into a proper setting first, say…a forest or town. This version of the room is a blank canvas, so to speak."

Melissa raised her left eyebrow at me. "I'm flattered you think I'm worthy of seeing this."

"Why's that?"

The question seemed to stump her. It took her a few seconds to respond.

"Why me?" Melissa said finally. "I don't remember doing anything to deserve this kind of special treatment."

I frowned. "To tell you the truth, the reason you don't remember is because right now, you are a shell of your former self. Just like this White Room, you are a construct of Melissa Bailey: one I've just created. You currently don't have her memories."

Melissa frowned. "So…there's another version of me out there?"

"Not exactly…"

"Did you…erase my memory?"

"That's not quite right either, since you never had those memories to begin with."

Melissa's gaze turned somewhat expectant. "Could I...have those memories then? I don't like not knowing who I am."

I hesitated. "I'm sorry. This is…new territory for me. I didn't want to show you anything until I was sure you could handle it."

"Why? What happened? Did I do something bad?"

"Are you sure you want to know?"

This time, Melissa was the one who hesitated, but it didn't take long for her to decide.

"Yes."

From within the large sleeves of my white robes, I withdrew a deck of cards. They were as white as the color of my clothing, with no markings of any kind on either facing. I used a spring flourish to expose the cards, then stopped once I hit one of the cards in the middle. I drew that card with my left hand, returned the rest of the deck into the folds of my sleeves, then pinched the chosen card with two fingers in my right hand while holding out my left to Melissa.

"Take my hand," I said.

Melissa was somewhat confused by my demonstration. "But...all of the cards were blank. How did you know which one of them to pick?"

"I just do."

In Melissa's eyes, I could see her innate curiosity and desire to know drive her forward. She reached out to grab my hand with her own, and as she did, the card in my other hand issued a brilliant flash of light, overwhelming everything.

-

Melissa sat alone in the darkness, crying. Thoughts raced through her mind. The Author...everything she'd ever known...her life, her experiences, her sense of self...it was all fiction. Created by someone with an overactive imagination. It was all a lie, a fabrication, a fake.

The Melissa from the White Room heard these same thoughts, even though she had not been the one to think them. She was wondering why she was wallowing in this pitch blackness, but slowly, she felt herself tugged into the mind of this other Melissa. It was as if her consciousness had been locked inside the body of another, with that person clearly being herself from the past. Her first instinct was to call for The Author, but she found she couldn't control the actions of her current body. She quickly came to the conclusion that this was a memory where she could be nothing more than an observer. As she settled in, her thoughts merged with her past self's, and slowly she began to understand what had led to this moment. A feeling of betrayal, friends she'd abandoned, the destruction of a city...

A sudden noise made Melissa scramble upwards from her sitting position.

"W-Who's there?" She asked cautiously. She instinctively reached up with her hand to clear her eyes of tears, but what would that have accomplished? This building had no power, no light of any kind, and no windows. She could only rely on her hearing, touch, and sense of smell if there was any sort of danger or-

Her thoughts were interrupted as her ears registered another sound: the scraping of metal against what sounded like a scabbard or sheath. In response, Melissa withdrew and held her battered but trusty circular metal shield in front of her. The defensive weapon wasn't much, but it was big enough to cover a good portion of her torso.

That was when the first blow was struck, her shield emitting a dull metallic clang as it strained against whatever it was her attacker was using. Rebuffed, the assailant spun in place, and Melissa just barely heard the swoosh of the weapon, clearly a thin blade of some kind, before she blocked the lower attack aimed at her midsection just in time. In retaliation, she aimed a wide swing with her free hand for where she thought her opponent was, but there was nothing except empty air. At the same time, the force against her shield lifted and she heard steps moving away from her, letting her know the assault had ended, at least for the moment.

"Who are you?" Melissa demanded. "Why are you attacking me?"

A breeze above her was the only warning she got as she brought her shield up to block the overhead swing; again, just in the nick of time. The pressure of the opposing blade moved away quickly, and in anticipation, Melissa placed the shield directly in front of her upper body and face. This turned out to be a mistake, as a booted foot struck her left leg, making her lose her balance. She shifted herself left and used her shield as a cudgel and swung, but again, she hit nothing. She did feel something though, just on a different part of her body. Brilliant white-hot pain engulfed her senses as a blade of some kind cut into her exposed right arm. She realized her opponent had exploited the fact that she'd left her right flank open due to the missed swing. She gasped hard, staggering back.

"Please!" Melissa exclaimed, her voice pained. "Why do we have to fight? Whatever reason you have for trying to kill me...it doesn't matter! Nothing matters anymore..."

Again, there was no response. Not with words, at least, but a flurry of attacks. She was forced to hold as strike after strike pelted her shield, battering it endlessly. Her injured right arm throbbed and she could feel red-hot blood dripping off the bottom of her elbow. She couldn't sustain this: sooner or later, she wouldn't have the strength to continue blocking the attacks. 

That's when she felt something deep within her flare to the surface like something primordial bubbling up.

"I don't know who you are, but if you want to kill me so badly, just know that I will never stop resisting you." 

The blows halted for just a second, and Melissa felt a hand grab the edge of her shield at the uppermost area. Thinking this an attempt to yank the shield away from her, she pulled the shield down towards her stomach. This also turned out to be a mistake as she felt a second burning sensation in her left shoulder. This time, she let out a scream of pain and pulled back, her left arm dangling uselessly at her side. Still, this wasn't going to take her down yet. Not by a long shot.

"No!" Melissa's voice was now raw but unyielding. "I don't care if I'm just a character in a story! So what if my life is a lie? THIS is what living looks like! Me fighting back against you! Even if you take me out, I'm going to make sure you remember the name Melissa Bailey!"

With that, Melissa lunged forward in defiance of her grave wounds. In her bloodied right hand, her shield whirled like a buzz saw, forcing her attacker on the defensive for the first time in the entire fight. Melissa's wild chain of attacks was such that there was no opening to exploit. Eventually, she overwhelmed her opponent, with a final bash sending the mysterious attacker flying, followed by a loud crash as they struck something unidentifiable in the distance.

Melissa had just a moment to relish her victory before she dropped to one knee. Adrenaline had been fueling her this entire time, but it wasn't going to be enough now. Her wounds were bleeding furiously. Her left arm was unusable. With each passing second, the shield held in her bloodied right hand felt heavier and heavier. In her head, she could hear the pulsing of her heart and the sound of her own labored breathing. Even staying conscious was a chore.

She didn't know how long she stayed there, but when Melissa felt the tugging on the back of her hair, she knew it was over. A third searing flash erupted across the front of her neck, adding to the problems overwhelming her senses. She let out a gurgle, falling face-first onto the ground as her killer let go of her hair.

Murky as her mind was now, she knew she had little time to live as no air came from her attempts to draw breath. From those first few attacks by her assailant, she'd known she stood no chance of surviving this calamitous night. She understood that her role in the story was to be the weakest, slowest, and least able member of the party of protagonists. She'd been purposefully handicapped, designed to be someone who'd die to further the plot. She was the sacrifice to rally the heroes to go forth with courage and finally defeat the final antagonist. 

Only…this hadn't happened like that. Melissa was here, alone, having fled from her friends. While she was still going to die, the others would never know what became of her. And yet, against this mysterious opponent completely out of her league, she'd won one bout. Even as her mind began to shut down, a feeling of euphoria overcame her, and her lips curved into a smile. She had beaten the odds. She'd gone beyond what she was supposed to be capable of; what she was created to be. For just those few moments, she had defied the Author.

As the darkness overwhelmed her, the last words she heard were feminine and soft.

"I shall remember you, Melissa Bailey."

-

Slowly, the card held in my right hand dissolved into the air, its power spent. I tried to drop my left hand, but Melissa held fast, as if she was trying to hold on to that final moment of her past. She looked at me as if seeing me for the first time. In her misty eyes, I could see a multitude of emotions, chief among them sadness, anger, and euphoria.

"So that's what happened..." Melissa spoke quietly. "What I did...how I died..."

"Yes."

A pause. "What do you want from me?"

I returned her stare, my pure-white irises gazing into Melissa's own light-blue ones, before I responded.

"That night, you did something extraordinary. While you did lose the fight and your life along with it, what you managed to do during that time convinced me you deserved a second chance at life. Yes, you were a secondary character meant to die, but you defied your role, and that is something I respect."

"I...see..." Melissa's cheeks took on color as she nodded in appreciation.

"To put it mildly, I think I've wasted your true talents, so to make it up to you, I propose that you join me on a journey."

"A journey?" 

"Yes. I wish to show you how you can become something….more. As part of that second chance, so to speak."

"And the catch is...?"

"Nothing I can think of."

An uncharacteristic smirk formed on Melissa's lips. "And...if I find a way to defy your will again?"

"So be it." My answer was unflappable; a challenge of its own. "You could refuse, if you wish, but I'm promising you answers. There is more to the story than what you've seen so far."

Melissa pursed her lips silently. For a moment, I wondered. Had I misjudged my own creation? Would she turn me down? Would she be content with her satisfactory performance and decide this story wasn't for her?

I didn't have to wait long as she uttered one word.

"Deal.


© Copyright 2018 T. J. Wong. All rights reserved.

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