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Allowing the Characters Carte Blanche

“It is time, Will, that we tell you the entire story,” the Queen said. “Forever and ever your father and I have lived inside of this storybook kingdom. Chapter after chapter, book after book, we played our parts without asking questions or making demands. It was a grand life from the very beginning, as best I can recall. Although I must admit that I have little memory of those early books and I’m not much of a reader. We had plenty of food, warm fires, reliable palace staff … You have no idea how difficult it is to find good help in some books! There are stories where butlers and cooks commit atrocities that defy …”

“Mother, puh-lease! Let’s stick to the subject at hand,” William said, looking at his timepiece, hoping to have some daylight left when her tale was over.

“I’m getting there William, now relax. You still don’t get it, do you? You’re acting like time really exists! There actually is no such thing. Only the here and now—one page at a time. One sentence at a time. One word at a time. One syllable …” The look on William’s face brought a halt to the Queen’s elaboration. “Okay, so anyway, as your father said, early on in this current book, we became aware, not only of our long history of living in books, but conscious of our ability to alter our story.”

“You know what?” William asked, assessing the situation objectively. “We can actually end this absurdity right here and now!” He welcomed the opportunity to dispel his parents’ delusion in a logical, rational manner and be on his way.

“Let’s say that we are characters in a book—” as the Prince said these words, the absurdity of the idea formed a huge chuckle in his throat which he couldn’t quite swallow, so he spoke around it with some difficulty; “—You can’t alter a story, my dearest parents. A writer, reflecting her or his ideals and values, writes a story and the characters are nothing more than a collection of descriptive words and phrases that create an illusion of a person. Perhaps this illusion is depicted in a stationary little illustration, at best. But its only existence is in the minds of the writer, the readers, and the illustrator. The characters have no consciousness let alone control over their lives. You are having a breakdown of some sort. It’s understandable with all of the pressure you’ve been under. What with Mother’s disappearing and …” He hesitated, as the Queen became visibly uncomfortable. “I’m absolutely certain this is all just a phase. And as much as I hate to eat and run, I really need to go now,” he concluded.

“The earlier books worked exactly as you’ve just described. But not this one!” The Queen halted William in his tracks. “You see, Hannah …”

“Are you referring to our creator?” William interrupted. “I only learned of her today. I must admit that I considered you both a bit remiss in your training and education of me to have not even mentioned our creator!”

“Relax, we’re mentioning her now, William. She’s our author …”

Once again William interrupted, “She’s not an author, Mother! She’s our creator, for Stewart’s sake!”

“Oh, William—author, creator, whatever! Even though she’s technically a non-book resident, we all live in stories of one type or another. Writing books is how our author deals with her own story—more accurately, writing about The Kingdom of Somewhere is how she deals with the realities of her story. Even though she’s written many books about our kingdom, this particular book is very special; it’s enchanted! This enchantment created a loophole that allowed the King and me to take control. So much for the author’s personal struggles and chasing her tail like a cat; we’re in charge now! We dictate this story and Hannah types away.

“Can you imagine how self-absorbed a person must be to create an entire kingdom and then manipulate it to reflect the trials and tribulations of her life? That’s precisely what Hannah does! She claims she needs clarity! She needs therapy—maybe even a straightjacket—if you ask me.

“Currently she’s having some sort of mid-life crisis … attempting authorship of her life, and trying to connect with a higher power. I can’t imagine how she intends to contribute to her own story when she can’t even manage to write a book as simple as this one; but then again that’s not my problem.

“Anyway, she initially created This Book to vent her left-wing radical politics—dropping little philosophical gems every chance she got. What a transparent dim-wit … But at some point she decided to give the characters in our kingdom free rein— with minor assistance from her—hoping to uncover hidden truths and secrets that she’s convinced lie in her psyche. She hoped that we, the characters living deep within her unconscious mind, might reflect her inner world back to her. We hijacked This Book in no time, took over authorship and meanwhile Hannah is thanking us! What a moron!”

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