A continuation of “If Will Scarlet Showed Up Out of the Blue— I Mean Red”
“So, yeah,” he’d say. “I can totally just pop in and out of your head at will. Ha! At Will. Anyway, is there food?”
This would fly in defiance of everything I know and/or speculate about the relation between planes, as featured in such literary masterworks as Inspired. Not the part where Will’s asking about food. That much is par for the course. But be-bopping from the Abréal to the Réalis (as featured in Reality as We Know It, newly-released in The Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology) just isn’t done!
“You can’t just do that,” I’d say, because, again, he shouldn’t be able to.
“Yeah, I know,” he’d say, striding into the kitchen. Getting to watch him stride would do wacky things to my lungs. It’s one thing to imagine it. Quite another to see with my own eyes. He’d pull open the fridge and freezer, looking for… well, probably pretty much whatever. “But I’ve developed super powers.”
“How?” I’d want to know. Now that I’ve either gotten over the first wave of shock or, more likely, have overdosed on it to the point that it doesn’t much matter anymore, I can begin to take an authorial interest in the how. One doesn’t like plot holes.
He’d crinkle his face at me – one eye going scrunched. “How in the deuce should I know?”
“ ‘In the deuce’?” I’d repeat. “Pretty sure it’s just ‘the deuce’, man, no ‘in’.”
“Couldn’t just let that slide, could you?”
“Could have, but didn’t. Why don’t you know?”
He’d shrug a shoulder. “Don’t know that either. I guess we could speculate. Can I have ice cream? I’m having ice cream.”
I would point out that, as long as his enjoyment of ice cream doesn’t involve him trying to force feed it to me (as is too often the case when he’s free-riding in my head), he can have all the ice cream he wants without me giving a single darn. This would result in a massive grin on his part, and probably his grabbing a spoon from the silverware drawer to shove directly into the carton of, I dunno, let’s call the flavor cookie dough.
“So,” he’d say, after sucking down a spoonful with relish, spinning around to lean back against the counter by the sink, “what could have happened that resulted in me being able to step in and out of your head as easy as crossing a threshold, but minus the imps?” Thresholder imps, of course, being a reference to another Inspired-world story of mine (which is due to feature in a super special Luna Station Quarterly thing in May. Stay tuned!).
A thought would at that point occur to me. “Wait. How do you know you can get back in? Have you tried?”
“Well, I—” He’d stop. Blink. “No, I haven’t.”
“So what if you can’t?”
“Ummmm, I’m pretty sure I can, but I mean, if you want me to try…”
“NO!” I’d say quickly. “What if you could get back in, but you couldn’t get back out? That would be a stupid waste; we haven’t done anything with you here, yet!”
“Mm, yeah, there’s a good point.” He crams more ice cream into his face, eyes trained thoughtfully toward the ceiling. “Well. What do you want to do, then? I could just stay here, indefinitely. I’m sure people in your head wouldn’t miss me that much. I mean, they totally would, but we’d still be sort of together. Like how you and I were together before I was here, sharing your plane.”
“That wasn’t the best sort of togetherness,” I’d say, already dreading the thought of things going back to normal. Because they’d have to, right? Things that are too good to be true don’t tend to last long.
“Not totally optimal, yeah,” he’d agree. His smile would change, going warmer and more deeply into me. “This is actually great. I never get to look at you, like this. I mean, I’ve looked at you, but…”
“I know what you mean,” I’d say, having observed the same sort of thing during his stride to the kitchen. “This is… we should hug again,” I’d decide. And we would. A longer hug, uncut by shock and the delivery of ponies. He’s a really great hugger. Not quite Edgwyn caliber, but definitely up there. Plus, Edgwyn wouldn’t be outside my head to compete, so Will would have the leg up.
“I am pretty sure I could get back out, though,” he’d murmur over my head. “I can tell. Like you can tell that you can, I don’t know, sing a song. A song you know, but just haven’t gotten around to singing yet, like… are there any songs like that?”
“I don’t know. I tend to sing the songs I know.”
“Well, the point is, you’re not worried that you can’t do it just because you haven’t.”
“That’s not a great metaphor, Will,” I’d break it to him. “I’ve sung songs before. So far as I know, you haven’t been doing much plane-hopping, ‘til now.”
“And how am I ever going to master my power,” he would chide, “if you won’t let me practice? Imagine a superhero movie where the guy gets a power but never tests it out because, oh no, what if he makes the face and it stays that way?! Is that how you make an X-Man? No.”
“Ally-y-yn…!” I’d wail, because I wouldn’t know how to cope with this conundrum.
“Yes?” Allyn would say, through me.
I’d point across the kitchen’s tiny space, tattling, “Will Scarlet’s on my plane!”
“Yes, I know,” Allyn-through-me would say. “He does that now, apparently.”
“That is so weird,” Will would say, because it would be – him listening to Allyn through the author filter instead of face to face, Allyn looking at him through my eyes, my eyes looking at a material Will… yeah, “weird” pretty much covers the basics. Then, “Hiiiiiiii, Allyn!” he’d call.
“Hello, Will,” Allyn would say, tugging my mouth up toward his sort of smile. “You’re very far.”
“Not so very,” Will would say.
“Feels like very, from here,” Allyn-through-me would murmur.
Will’s face would do a different sort of crinkling. A different sort of deep-into-you smile, laced with a grimace. “Aw, Allyn… Are you missing me?”
“Perhaps a little.”
“Want me to pop back in, real quick? Give you a hug?”
“No, wait!” I’d cry. “Allyn, is it safe for him to do that? Could he come back out? How is he doing this?”
Allyn would answer evenly, “Yes, it is. Yes, he could. And didn’t he tell you? It’s his superpower.”
“But… but…” I’d probably wave my hands around to underscore my flabbergasticity, like one does. As of that moment, flabbergasticity would be a word. “How did he get superpowers??”
“Vat of toxic waste?” Will would say. “Multi-colored meteor of unknown origin? Bite from a radioactive spider… monkey?”
“You’re guessing!” I’d accuse. “You are completely guessing, and your guesses are getting strange!”
“Don’t ruin the magic!” Will would shout. “Also, hey. Watch this.”
And then the punk would totally hop back into my head and out again before I could die of panic from staring into the eyes of my projected worst-case scenario. Because worst-case scenarios are like Medusa, don’t you know.
“Ta-da!” he’d say with zero apology. He’s an “all’s well that ends well*, never mind that I could have inadvertently doomed us all” sort of guy. (*Or “Ende gut, alles gut,” as they say in German.) “Told you. Just like singing a song.”
“That was not a great metaphor,” Allyn-through-me would tell him. Because when I’m right, I’m right.
Will would stick out his tongue, then polish off the rest of the ice cream.
[To be continued…]