Deus Ex Liber

A Tangential Worlds Production
Deus Ex Liber

by Robert A. Howard

I leaned back and started to chuckle. It’s not a nice chuckle, not one of those cheerful Santa laughs. No. When I laugh, those around me get worried. They know mischief is in the air. And the mischief… yes, tonight it should be interesting. I glanced at the lights and dimmed them. While it’s tougher on the eyes… sometimes when I work, the mood is as important as being able to see.

This will send the Dave & Margaret Fan Club into an ecstatic fit. But how to begin… beginnings are always important. Ah… that will do nicely. I turned to the Tome… the smell of old leather is quite pleasant. I understand why she writes in here first. Well, besides the magick that comes from this book. It’s the soul of the Roomies.

Yes, the Dave & Margaret Fan Club will be beside themselves. I start laughing again. It might not be a pleasant laugh, but it’s music to my ears.

* * * * * * * * * *


Dreams swirled around. Margaret rested in the cold spring water, her tensions flowing away. She didn’t remember when she last felt so at peace with herself. Going camping alone was definitely a good idea. She did feel a small pang of guilt thinking of Dave; he was staying alone on campus over the break. But as she told April, back when the guys had vanished for a week… she was a single child. Sometimes she just needed to be alone.

Margaret blushed as she remembered that. Dave’s bed had been the neater of the two; of the three guys, he was actually the tidiest. (Well, the bathtub had also been quite clean, but she doubted Roger was entirely responsible for that.) She hadn’t thought twice about sleeping there… and the guys had been wanted by the Feds for hijacking an airplane while drunk (using bananas, of all things!)

When the guys had come home and Dave had climbed into bed, not knowing she was there… suddenly Margaret was very glad she was swimming. The water helped cool the blush and she took a deep breath to regain her calm. Then she laughed softly. Pegging Mike with the phone directory… that almost made it worthwhile, even if Dave had walked in on her afterwards. He had been apologizing for that for a couple weeks afterwards. Margaret shook her head again when she realized she was blushing again, and focused on her swimming again. Being alone was nice… except when her thoughts intruded. Finally she sighed and got up out of the water and walked toward her camp…

And outside the dreams, she climbed out of bed and walked out of the bedroom, eyes closed as she continued to live the dream… she felt her way along the wall to the door, stepping over the wires trailing on the floor to the reclaimed TV that the guys still hadn’t managed to steal back. Finally she followed the wall to the door leading out, instinctively sliding her hand to the doorknob and turning it…

Another nice thing about being alone was not worrying about guys trying to catch a peak at her. Still she glanced around, but she saw no one, and did not hear the worried chatter of squirrels that had gotten used to her but would yell at any other strangers. Margaret stumbled over a branch hidden in the leaves and then laughed at herself as she reached her sleeping bag. She peeled off the swimsuit and wrapped herself in a towel. She was getting paranoid. The squirrels had started yelling at something earlier, and she spent five minutes searching for the culprit; a raccoon had gotten into the stash of one of the squirrels. As an alarm, squirrels weren’t always reliable. She paused when a branch broke, and looked around again. The forest had grown quiet.

Margaret paused as the lock clicked open. The apartment door was one that unlocked when you opened it from the inside; she had argued with her roomies about replacing it, but they didn’t see the security risk with the door, and enjoyed not having to pause to unlock the door when walking out. Confusion reigned as she neared waking, but no further sound came, and she leaned against the cool wall as she slipped back into the dream.

The forest noises returned, as startled by the branch as she was. It was probably a squirrel that had gone too far on a dead branch and broken it. The silly things did that from time to time, and then pretended that it wasn’t their own stupidity to blame. Margaret took a second towel and scrubbed her hair before starting to brush it; she swore someday she’d cut it short, but she liked how it looked long. Even if it did tend to snarl if she didn’t brush it right after showering. Or swimming.

Margaret shivered as it started growing cooler out. Where had the day gone? Well, time had a tendency to fly when she was relaxing. Which was rare in college, so no wonder it had seemed to fly by out here. Still, she decided against getting dressed. The towel was comfy, even if a tad damp, and she didn’t have to worry about prying roommates rolling their eyes when she’d get into bed undressed. They didn’t understand how wearing a nightshirt felt constricting, almost strangling even with a loose neck.

The hallway was cool and Margaret shivered, the coolness penetrating to her dream as it grew dark in her mind as well as in the hallway. The lightbulbs in this area had burned out over a week ago, and the superintendent had quit recently. No one was willing to accept the job (yet) so the lights remained out in the hall. Margaret paused at the door to the guys apartment, and the door opened quietly as her hand pressed against it.

She slipped into the room, stepping over Roger’s pet rock, Fluffy, (who waited patiently near the door to trip any unsuspecting trespassers) and walked through the growing clutter of clothes to the bedroom. Chester glanced up from the sofa with wide wise feline eyes and watched her traverse the minefield of clutter. Finally, she slipped into the bedroom and walked over to the closest bed and slipped in under the covers, sighing softly as the warmth sank in.

Margaret chewed on a couple granola bars and washed them down with some spring water. She looked up and could see the first stars peeking out… but as tempting as it was to stay out and watch, she was getting a little chilled. Then she smiled.

She dragged her sleeping bag over to a clearing and unzipped it, hanging her towels on a low dead branch to dry, and got into the sleeping bag, zipping it back up behind her. She sighed as she started to get warm again and just watched as the stars slowly started to emerge in the growing twilight.

Dave woke as an arm draped over his side, his breath caught in his throat. The arm didn’t move… and as he thought, he suddenly caught a light scent, of conditioner. It took a moment to sink in where he remembered the smell… Margaret used it. He sighed, knowing that it wasn’t some weirdo like that transvestite stalker or Blue, and started to drift off again… and then came wide awake.

He carefully turned his head. It was Margaret. She seemed asleep. Though how she could sleep with his heart beating that loudly in his ears, he didn’t know. His thoughts raced and finally he pressed a thumbnail into his hand to focus his thoughts.

Margaret had somehow gotten into his bed. This wasn’t a dream. Well, maybe it was a dream… but usually his dreams about Margaret involved going to movies or dinner and ending up putting his foot in his mouth and her slugging him.

If Margaret had intended to get into bed with him, even to tease him, it wouldn’t be with Mike sleeping in the next bed. She had enough problems with April and Marsha teasing her… with Mike adding tidbits, she’d end up wearing her “Die” T-shirt for a month or more.

Dave sighed softly. It felt nice having her next to him. But best to play things safe. He carefully wormed out from under her arm and left the bed to her. She immediately claimed the warm spot he left behind, and Dave swallowed. Her shoulder was bare. He remembered the last time they (accidentally) ended up in bed together… and went over to his bureau, pulling out a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt.

“Better safe than sorry” he muttered to himself and left them, folded up, on the pillow next to her head. Then he went to the living room and noticed the door ajar. The lock was broken, and without a superintendent to do repairs, they had resorted to leaving Fluffy before the door to trip people. It hadn’t worked. He closed the door and put Fluffy against the door to keep others from getting in easily. Roger didn’t want Fluffy used for that, claiming it was too erosive, but Dave didn’t care at this point.

He cleared the sofa off (leaving Chester for last) before picking up Chester and lying on the sofa.

“Sorry Chester, but I’m sleeping with you tonight.” Dave smiled “I bet you saw her come in, too. But if I wake her up, then she might start yelling again and wake up Mike, and I don’t want to be between the two of them if they start throwing things. I just hope that she wakes up before Mike does in the morning.”

Chester just watched with wise eyes and Dave soon drifted off to sleep. Dave might not be able to wake Margaret, but Chester knew just what to do. He jumped off Dave’s chest and sauntered into the bedroom, smiling to himself.

* * * * * * * * * *

I leaned back. What to write next, though? Maritza had commented on this; writing yourself into a corner. But how to wake up Margaret… Well, Chester would wake up Margaret no doubt… and she’d probably blame Dave for somehow getting her into his bed… but how could I end this so it was cute and fun? And not have Margaret refusing to talk to Dave?

I went to the microwave and heated some water to make some tea. That always helps me relax when writing. While it brewed, I took out one of the older tomes, the Sub-love-me-nal story. This was one of Maritza’s stories, that she had scripted and drawn. It was a favorite, and hopefully it would help me get an idea on where to go next. I didn’t notice that words continued to form in this Tome as I brewed my tea… I wouldn’t notice until I came back and noticed these very words.

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Margaret was starting to drift off, the stars twinkling distantly above her, when something jumped on her chest. She glanced down, startled, and Chester took the opportunity to lick her nose. “Gah” Margaret opened her eyes, still half asleep, to find Chester comfortably perched on her chest, his face inches from her own. She smiled, blinking sleepily.

“Why hi there, Chester” she said quietly, not wanting to wake her roomies. She glanced over to April’s bed and paused. April didn’t have a tentacle instead of an arm. She only knew one person… she took a sniff off the air and wrinkled her nose. The smell of unwashed laundry. One of Mike’s trademarks, unless he ended up burning the clothes. Which meant….

Margaret frantically looked around her, blushing, but Dave wasn’t there. She sighed and then noticed the pile of clothes next to her on the pillow. Her blush deepened and she carefully picked up Chester and moved him off of her, and then hurriedly dressed under the blankets. How had Dave gotten her into his bed? Why?

Margaret’s eyes started to smolder as she quietly got out of bed and stalked out of the bedroom, Chester following, his tail waving triumphantly in the air behind him. Dave was lying on the sofa… and Margaret paused. He was shivering a little. It had been cold in her dream, too… but if it were a prank, why was he sleeping on the sofa? And without even a sheet? It didn’t make sense.

She leaned down and shook Dave’s shoulder. “Dave. Wake up” she muttered, her annoyance still audible. Dave made a small noise but remained asleep. Margaret growled softly and shook him again “Dammit Dave, wake up.”

Chester jumped up on Dave’s chest and walked up to his face, where he licked Dave’s chin. “Ah! Chester, stop that!” Dave said, blinking his eyes blearily at his cat. Chester sat up and started licking a paw, satisfied with himself.

“Dave… what am I doing here?” Margaret asked again, keeping her voice low but her annoyance still leeched into her voice. Dave looked up at her, a startled look on his face, and then he looked puzzled.

“Then it wasn’t a dream…” he started, and then seeing the look on her face, Dave sat up, forcing Chester to jump down in annoyance. He glanced back up at her and looked a bit panicked and unsure of himself. “I woke up and naked and you were and naked and…” he stopped, closed his eyes and said “Punch me. Please.”

Margaret’s anger dissipated in confusion. “What?”

Dave kept his eyes closed. “Punch me. I can’t think straight…” and then he stood. “Never mind, I know what will help better. Want some coffee?”

“Um… sure. Thank you. I take it you didn’t…”

Dave shook his head as he walked into the kitchen, and Margaret followed, watching quietly as he prepared half a pot of coffee. He leaned against the refrigerator (which had to have been scrubbed within the last two weeks, the thing was actually white, instead of the green color when she had stayed over. Margaret hadn’t dared open the refrigerator, even with her guns handy.

Dave closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The coffee maker burbled behind him. “I woke up and found you in bed with me. A… At first I thought it was some weirdo” Dave opened his eyes and looked apologetically toward her “or… or B-Blue for some reason… but then I could smell your conditioner and realized it was you.”

Margaret felt her cheeks flush… he could tell her just from her conditioner? It was almost scary… yet she remembered how she could tell when Dave was behind her just by his footsteps. Was it any different? She closed her eyes, wishing the coffee was ready. Why was she here?

Dave continued. “I was about to fall back to sleep and then… then I realized… why would you be in bed with me? I mean, I don’t…” he stopped and Margaret opened her eyes. His were clenched shut, and Margaret realized the conflict Dave was going through… what to say. What not to say. But she couldn’t reach out to him, not open herself up to be hurt. Even Dave had betrayed her trust. Once.

“Anyway, I realized that you must have… well, sleepwalked or something. If Mike or Roger had done this, they’d be laughing at us and have taken pictures or something.” Dave opened his eyes and they gleamed blue for a moment as he struggled to regain his composure.

The coffee machine took that moment to hiss at them, and they both started, looking at it and the enticing brown fluid sloshing within. This was the distraction they needed, before they said something too much, before they took one step too far. Dave gratefully grabbed two coffee mugs from the strainer and poured each some coffee. “Um, you take it black?” Dave asked, his voice skipping for a moment.

Margaret smiled. “Just half a teaspoon of sugar. You like cream, right?”

Dave laughed softly “Yeah, and sugar. I know, I’m a wimp, I should drink it black.”

Margaret shook her head as he went into the refrigerator (which didn’t give off any horrid odor either, the guys had cleaned it. Probably for Blue’s visit) and removed coffee cream, and poured some in his mug, and then put half a teaspoon of sugar into her cup (and two into his), stirring hers before using the spoon in his own cup. “Here you go” he said, handing the mug to her handle first, and she stood there a moment, savoring the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

Dave poured some cream into a dish on the ground and Chester was suddenly there, able in the manner of cats to travel from the sofa to the kitchen without traversing the points between, and started lapping up the cream. Dave put the cream back in the refrigerator and stepped past her to head back to the sofa. After a moment, Margaret joined him.

Dave focused on the mug, holding it before him without sipping it. Margaret almost missed when he started speaking, he was so quiet. “I would never do anything like this to you, Margaret. I…” Margaret closed her eyes, and Dave paused, noticing her flinch at even the suggestion of saying he loved her. “I wouldn’t betray your trust in me. I mean… I’ve done some stupid things in the past, I know… but I wouldn’t.”

“I know, Dave.” Margaret blew on her coffee and sipped at it, not noticing her hand trembling. “I… I know you wouldn’t. It’s just… these stupid things keep happening, you know? It feel like someone’s having fun at my expense.”

Dave chuckled “You mean, like we’re characters in a book? You think the Man upstairs is writing our destiny?”

Margaret was silent, her eyes glacial. “Yeah. Like someone’s manipulating me.”

Dave smiled “I don’t think we can just track down God and confront him.”

Margaret looked angry for a moment and then sighed “Yeah, I mean, it’s not like we can find Him.” She looked down and smiled as Chester rubbed his head against her leg. “Hey, stop that. That tickles!” Chester looked back up at her and meowed. Margaret met his gaze and paused. “I bet you would know, though.”

Dave looked confused. “Chester would know what?”

“Where to find Him! Cats know things! The Egyptians knew that, that’s why they worshipped cats!” Margaret’s eyes gleamed as she put down her coffee and picked up Chester. “Can you show me? Show me the one who is controlling my life?”

Dave looked concerned “Um, Margaret… aren’t you taking this a little too far?”

Chester stared at her and meowed again, and squirmed. Margaret let him go, and Chester walked to the door, looked back at them and meowed again.

“See, he wants us to follow him!”

Dave opened his mouth to protest and then thought better of it. He went over to the door and moved Fluffy out of the way before opening it. April stood there in pajamas, her hand raised to knock on the door. “Oh, Dave! Um, have you seen…” Margaret pushed past them and rushed into her apartment. “There she is. She left the door open” April said, looking accusingly after Margaret.

Dave rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “Um, she apparently went sleepwalking. It’s not her fault, really.”

April’s eyes opened wide. “Um… doesn’t she…”

Dave nodded. “Yeah. Now she wants to have a word with God about it.”

Margaret came out holding her shotgun. “Let’s retake my destiny!”

April winced “I hate it when she says that…”

They followed Chester to the stairwell and headed up to the next floor, and over to a wooden door where he sat, looking expectantly at Margaret. “Hey, isn’t this Martin’s room?” asked Dave.

Margaret shook her head “No, his room’s further down. It’s a broom closet. But Chester says this is it…” Margaret moved her leg back to kick the door.

“Sheesh! Let’s see if it’s unlocked first” said April, stepping in her way and turning the doorknob…

* * * * * * * * * *

I skimmed through the pages that had been writing themselves while I was waiting for my tea to steep. This wasn’t good. Not only was the Tome writing itself, it had written me into it. This was… unexpected. Events were spiraling out of control, and I had to think fast to regain control before it was too late.

I caught up to this paragraph right when the doorknob turned, and grabbed for my pen… but it was too late to stop the door from opening…

* * * * * * * * * *

April pushed the door open and looked in. “See? It’s a broom closet.” Margaret and Dave peered into the small room as well, where several brooms, a mop, and some supplies were stacked against a side wall.

Dave stepped in and went to the supplies. “Oh cool, lightbulbs! We can finally replace the lights in our hall!”

Margaret just stared. “I don’t understand… I was so sure.”

April hid her smile behind her hand “Well, we were following a cat, after all. He’s probably laughing at us right now.”

Chester looked up from where he sat at the rear wall and meowed at them. Then he stood and walked through the wall.

Dave shouted “Chester!” and ran through the wall after him, dropping the lightbulb boxes.

Margaret ran after Dave and vanished through the wall as well. April sighed and shook her head. “As if things couldn’t get any worse” she muttered, stepping through the wall after the others.

* * * * * * * * * *

Chester raced toward me. He knew. Well, cats know many things. It’s why they are associated with witches and writers, those of us who work magick. I watched Dave stumble through the wall next and added a line to the book, enjoying the look of confusion as I vanished from his sight. Not that I was gone. Just that they couldn’t perceive me. Except for Chester. But he is a cat, after all.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dave stumbled as he chased Chester through the wall. It wasn’t a wall though… it some something else. It twisted his insides, and some inner feeling told Dave that wherever he was going, he wasn’t at the college anymore. Or Kansas either, and he shook his head at that thought. He wasn’t going to college in Kansas….

He didn’t expect the room. Or the older man looking at him from a desk. Dave had a sense of deja vu as he looked at him and stumbled to a halt. “Hey…”

The man smiled wickedly at Dave, a devious gleam in his eyes. Dave took a step closer, and the man vanished from his sight. Dave’s jaw dropped. “What… where’d he go?”

Margaret stumbled against him, nearly dropping her shotgun. “Oh damn! Ugh, I feel like I’m going to be sick… where’d who go, Dave?”

“There was a man there” Dave waved his hand at the desk. Chester jumped up on it and sauntered across it, sitting down on a book there, looking pleased with himself.

Margaret glanced around the room. “I don’t see anyone… maybe he ran to the other room. What did he look like?”

They started across the room toward the door to the other room, Margaret keeping the shotgun ready. “That was the odd thing,” Dave said, “He looked almost like my father.”

“Your father?” Margaret blinked.

“Yeah. Sort of. You know, a bit older, darker brown hair with grey in it. He saw me and then just vanished while grinning at me.”

Margaret snorted. “Great. We find God and he looks like your dad.”

Dave looked thoughtful. “Well, He is said to be the Father of us all…”

Margaret glanced away and muttered “Maybe that’s why I didn’t see him then. Hey, what’s this?”

“What’s what?” Dave looked over at Margaret.

“This.” Margaret was by the counter, where a cup of tea was brewing, and an old leather-bound drawing pad lay open. “This tea’s still steeping. There was someone here recently!”

* * * * * * * * * *


I watched April step through the wall as Margaret and Dave huddled around the second notebook. My mistake, leaving the Sub-love-me-nal art exposed along with my tea, where they could see it. I contemplated writing those two items vanishing as well, but unfortunately Chester wouldn’t let me. The cat just sat smugly on top of the Tome, letting me scratch the top of his head.

April glanced over at me and mouthed the word “What?” at me – no doubt wondering what was going on. Of course, I knew the truth. Even before she had revealed herself to me with the question. And being able to see me.

I grinned and said “Cry havoc. And unleash the dogs of whimsy.” I glanced back at Chester, who still sat on the Tome, not letting me in unless I moved him (and reveal myself). “Come on, shoo! Beat it!” I scolded him.

Chester settled down on top of the book, covering even more of it. “Typical cat. You’re all royal pains in the ass, you know that?” I muttered under my breath.

Chester just licked his paw and exuded feline amusement and self-satisfaction.

* * * * * * * * * *

April headed over to where Margaret and Dave stood. “Um… what did you find?”

Margaret held up an unadorned coffee mug. “Tea. Constant Comments. Seems ‘God’ likes herbal tea.” She half snarled. She put down the mug and turned the page on the notebook.

“I… I think this is us, Margaret” Dave said, a wondrous tone in his voice.

“I know it. I knew I was being manipulated!” Margaret slid a hand into the shorts pocket, and pulled out a lighter.

“What I’d like to know is… why do we only have three fingers and a thumb in these drawings?” Dave asked, turning another page. “Oh my… this is when Margaret found out about that damn T-shirt a month ago!”

April smiled slightly “Well, it helps make the hand look more proportional. Many cartoonists would draw hands that way.”

Margaret flicked the lighter on and put the flame to the page; it crisped and started to burn.

* * * * * * * * * *

I tried to lure Chester off the page, but he didn’t want to move. He was having too much fun being a cat. I wanted to get at the Tome. Thus he wouldn’t let me. That’s part of the reason I missed Margaret taking out the lighter. I did see the flame when she flicked it on, and knew what was to come. I leaped from my desk toward Margaret; unfortunately, I didn’t get the chair out fully and tripped over it…

* * * * * * * * * *

They jumped as the man appeared, tripping over his chair. He had been sitting at the desk all along, somehow hidden from their sight. “You fools! You don’t know what you’re doing!” He pushed past Dave and slapped at the notebook; one page crumbled and disintegrated under his hands.

Margaret stepped back and pointed her shotgun right at his head. “Now I have you, you bastard! I want my life back!”

He gave Margaret a bemused look. “You have no power here, Margaret. Nor does your shotgun. Pull the trigger, if you don’t believe me.”

Margaret gave him a cold stare and turned the shotgun to just miss him.

*click* *click* The shotgun didn’t fire.

“Damn.” Margaret opened her shotgun and checked it. “Why didn’t it work?”

* * * * * * * * * *

I checked the page before, and the page after. And ignored her pulling the trigger, though it took some effort not to react… having someone pull the trigger on a shotgun inches from your head is unnerving, even if the shotgun doesn’t work. Margaret had managed to burn out the page when Dave went down the elevator with Margaret. And this was one of the older Tomes, with the magick of the Roomies in it. The page afterwards was already altering; time was changing. I could sense the effects around me.

“You fool… you don’t know what you did!” I looked at Margaret. “You changed the past.”

“So?” Margaret shook her head. Already the temporal flux was influencing her, changing her memories. Everything from the altered elevator trip on was being rewritten in her and Dave’s mind… and worse was yet to come.

“You don’t get it, do you?” I shook my head. “You altered history! You didn’t find out about Dave’s subliminal T-shirt, did you?”

Margaret looked confused. “Yeah, I did. He was going down the elevator with me, and I helped him redye it. Mike had pulled a prank on him, to make the football players hit on him.”

I glanced at Dave, who had the good grace to look uncomfortable. I turned back to Margaret. “You still don’t understand. Did you kick him in the balls afterwards?”

Margaret looked shocked and Dave winced, not that I blame him. I winced at that scene myself. Margaret said, “Why would I do that? I love Dave! He’d never do anything on purpose to hurt me!”

“Then he didn’t go on the Misery Journey? He didn’t get the laser vision?”

“Laser vision? What are you talking about, mister?” Margaret grabbed my arm.

I grabbed Margaret’s shoulders. “Look. The guys took him out drinking, and they were gone for a week. When they came back, Mike had a tentacle replace an arm, Roger had an eye in his hand, and Dave had laser vision.”

Dave swayed and put his arm on the table. “Um… I don’t feel so good…”

Margaret started to turn toward Dave but I wouldn’t let her. “Did they? Answer me!”

She shook her head and pulled away from me. “No, they didn’t. Why would they?”

“Because you broke up with him over the subliminal T-shirt. Except now you didn’t…”

Dave said “I love you, Margaret” and faded away.

Margaret stood still in shock. “Dave? Davey? Where are you?”

“…and Cthulhu’s Microdragon ended up eating him because he couldn’t get away.”

“DAVE!!!!!!!!!”

* * * * * * * * * *

Margaret dropped to her knees, hugging her arms around her stomach. “No… no. Dave can’t be dead… I mean, we were talking about maybe getting engaged after college. He… I… it’s not fair! He… he wouldn’t just abandon me like this.”

Chester jumped off the desk and walked over to Margaret, meowing at her. She looked at him and then hugged him close before looking up at the man, tears streaming from her eyes. “Do something. Bring him back!”

April knelt by Margaret and put her arm around Margaret’s shoulder. “It’ll be okay, Margaret. Look, everything will be fine, I’m sure. Right?” She glared up at the man, who took a step back.

* * * * * * * * * *

This was unexpected. I didn’t expect to feel… guilt. All I wanted to do was to bring Margaret and Dave a little closer together. Well, and to put Margaret in an embarrassing situation. I mean… it’s not like they’re real… except here, they are. And I’ve broken the magick.

I started forward as Margaret started to cry, but April’s glare sent me back a step. This didn’t make any sense! They’re just characters in a story. They’re not real… maybe if I keep telling myself that, I might start to believe it again. All I knew was that somehow, I had to make this jetter.

I smiled, even through April’s glare. There was a way, of course. It wasn’t too late. Chester was here. He shouldn’t be. He didn’t exist until a bit after Dave and Margaret had destroyed Cthulhu’s Microdragon… but he was here, comforting Margaret.

“Don’t worry, Margaret. I’ll set things right” I said to her, trying to stop her crying. I realized how cocky I sounded, and added “I’ll try, at least.” I had to be careful, or else I’d jinx myself.

Margaret looked up at me and sniffed, trying to pull herself together. I hadn’t realized just how much Dave meant to her. Of course… things were different now. She had allowed herself to trust him, and hadn’t pushed him away. But… somehow Margaret seemed… different now. Vulnerable.

I shook my head and walked over to the desk and sat before the Tome. How to do this… I started to write. And the Sub-love-me-nal Tome’s page regrew. It reformed from the ashes, the inks emerging, the images drawn. History would be rewritten. And… and Margaret’s new found love for Dave would fade, sadly enough. But better than the alternative.

I finished writing and walked over to the drawn Tome. It sat there, the ashes of the burnt page around it, the paper not regrown, the magick still broken. I had failed.

* * * * * * * * * *

Margaret’s eyes dropped to the floor as the man grew frustrated. Whatever he had tried, had not worked. Dave was not here. She sank to her knees as she remembered… Dave had been here. He couldn’t have been. Not after the Microdragon. But he had come into the room with her and April. She closed her eyes and buried her face in Chester’s fur. Somehow… the cat was linked with Dave.

“Margaret? Margaret, where are you?” a voice called out, muffled through the wall.

Margaret started at the voice. “Martin?” she answered and then flinched, holding Chester close. The cat squirmed until she loosened her grip. After the Microdragon… after Dave had died, he had gotten her out of the hospital.

Martin stepped through the wall and looked behind him, a disturbed expression on his face. “That shouldn’t be here” he muttered before turning back to the room. His hair was a shock of red in the otherwise dull room; even the dim lighting didn’t do more than dull it. The only other splash of color came from the gold of April’s hair. He knelt by Margaret, giving April a thankful smile, and said “There you are. I was worried when I realized you had wandered off again, Margaret. What are you doing here?”

Margaret sniffed and wiped her eyes on her… on Dave’s sweatshirt. It was Dave’s. She was sure of it “Dave was here. But something happened to him and now he’s gone…”

Martin bit his lip and glanced away. Margaret balled a fist and punched his arm. “You don’t believe me, do you? You’re always treating me like I’m sick in the head or something.”
Martin looked back. “Margaret, of course I believe you” he snapped at her, “I mean, I sensed something… I don’t know, missing? Something. A few minutes ago. It’s just that I just don’t want them putting you in that fucking hellhole they claim is a hospital. If they think you’re seeing things, then they’ll toss you back in there without thinking twice.” Martin grimaced and then shook his head “Sorry, I shouldn’t have cursed like that.”

“I did see him, Martin! I did! He was here! Right?” Margaret turned to the man, who seemed to be wishing he could fade from sight again.

* * * * * * * * * *

I closed my eyes, wishing I could just wake up and find out this was just a bad dream. Not only had I killed Dave with my idiotic story… I had almost driven Margaret insane as well. I could see it. Martin was right. She was getting better. But she had cracked under the strain. No wonder she seemed vulnerable… no, fragile was the word. And I had taken a hammer to her world and smashed it again.

There was only one last thing I could do. I just hoped she would help me.

* * * * * * * * * *

Margaret watched as the man closed his eyes, his face rippling with several emotions. Guilt. Regret. Resignation. And finally Determination. He opened his eyes and looked back at Margaret. “Go with Martin, Margaret. Go back to sleep. This is just a bad dream. That’s all.”

“What? Wait a minute… you’re just trying to get rid of me, aren’t you!” Margaret’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.

The man rolled his eyes and sighed. “Look, I’m not trying to trick you. It’s just that…” he closed his eyes for a moment and paused. He opened his eyes and tilted his head to one side, “There are things you can do in dreams that you cannot do in reality. And sometimes magick only works when you don’t watch it.”

Margaret shook her head and said “You’re just trying to confuse me. You killed Dave when I was here. So bring him back!”

The man shook his head sadly. “No, Margaret. You killed him.” Margaret’s eyes widened in shock and she nearly fell back. “By burning that page, you changed everything. So long as you’re here, it can’t be fixed.” He sighed, his eyes shining in the dim light. “But in your dreams… anything is possible. Even this.”

Margaret snorted. “So, by going to bed, I’ll end up waking up, and this was just a dream? Dave will be alive?”

He smiled sadly. “Yes. It will have been a dream. Including your love for Dave.”

Martin took one look at Margaret’s face and pulled her to her feet. “Um, I think we’d better go if you want Dave back.” Margaret’s confusion was obvious. “If you kill him” Martin nodded at the man “Then how can he bring Dave back?”

Margaret stood stock-still for a moment before she sighed, her shoulders slumping. “You’re right again, Martin” She let Martin lead her toward the wall leading back to the broomcloset. She vanished into the wall.

Martin paused short of the wall and looked back. “I think you’re wrong, though. I think Margaret loves Dave anyway. Maybe, the signs are just hidden.” With that said, he stepped through, leaving the man alone with April and Chester.

The man sighed and then looked at April. “Maritza. I need your help.”

* * * * * * * * * *

April smiled and picked up Chester. She tickled his tummy for a moment before looking back at me. “So, what gave me away?” she asked.

I shrugged. “You could see me when you came through the wall, when none of the others could. And when Margaret changed the past… you didn’t show any confusion at all” I sighed and shook my head “It was a gut feeling, mostly. I just knew you were Maritza.”

April gave an amused little laugh, her eyes twinkling. “So you’re sure I’m not one of the other writers yanking your leg”

“I doubt any of them would do that. They are your characters, after all. It’s one thing to write stories with the Roomies. It’s another to walk around and be one of them.” I smirked and added “Besides, I’m not sure the others could do April justice.”

April chuckled. “You’d be surprised.”

I nodded, not saying anything. I was just postponing it. Dammit, I owed it to both Dave and Margaret to ask Maritza to fix what I had broken… but I was reluctant to ask.

“Maritza…” I closed my eyes and forced it out. “I messed up. I tried to fix it…” I glanced at her “But I can’t draw. I can’t replace what was burned out of your story.”

“Why do you care? It’s not like they’re real” she taunted me with my own thoughts from earlier.

“You’re not going to make this easy for me, I take it” I asked, sighing.

She smiled back at me… no. She showed her teeth. It wasn’t a smile. “You weren’t very nice to Margaret earlier. She might be ‘just a character’, but she’s my friend.”

I nodded. “I know she’s real, Maritza. But I couldn’t ask for your help with her standing here.”

“And that gives you the right to accuse her of killing Dave?”

“Well, technically…” I shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I think we can agree I acted like an ass. But will you help me set things right?”

April turned and started toward the wall. “Oh, I already did.”

I blinked and turned toward the Sub-love-me-nal Tome. The page was restored. The page after was correct as well. Poor Dave… and yet… that one incident was important for him, and for Margaret. And maybe Martin was right.

* * * * * * * * * *

Margaret jerked her head upright, her eyes opening wide. “Dave!”

“Um… are you okay?” she heard Dave ask from beside her.

Margaret blinked sudden moisture out of her eyes and glanced around. She was in the guy’s apartment, sitting on their couch. Dave sat next to her, holding two cups of coffee. Her eyes focused on the cup of coffee.

“You drifted off for a moment, so I took your coffee so you wouldn’t spill it” Dave explained, offering it to her. She gratefully took it and sipped at it. Dave waited a moment and then asked “Why’d you call out my name?”

Margaret let her hair shield her face as she felt her cheeks flush. “Um… sorry. It… I just had a quick nightmare, that’s all. You… there was an accident, and you were hurt.”

Dave nodded and hid behind his coffee cup, taking a sip. An awkward silence fell between them. Margaret’s thoughts raced as she considered how to change the topic. “Um… remember what we were talking about before… before I drifted off…”

“You mean, how you got over here?” Dave looked at her without flinching.

Margaret nodded. She already knew, somehow. Perhaps it was when he had looked her in the eye without flinching. She dropped her gaze first.

Dave focused on the mug, holding it before him without sipping it. Margaret almost missed when he started speaking, he was so quiet. “I would never do anything like this to you, Margaret. I…” Margaret closed her eyes, and Dave paused, noticing her flinch at even the suggestion of saying he loved her. “I wouldn’t betray your trust in me. I mean… I’ve done some stupid things in the past, I know… but I wouldn’t.”

“I know, Dave.” Margaret blew on her coffee and sipped at it, not noticing her hand trembling. She wondered at the sense of deja vu. “I… I know you wouldn’t. It’s just… these stupid things keep happening, you know? It feel like someone’s having fun at my expense.”

Dave chuckled “You mean, like we’re characters in a book? You think the Man upstairs is writing our destiny?”

Margaret was silent, her eyes glacial. “Yeah. Like someone’s manipulating me.”

“Margaret, I wouldn’t… you know that… I mean, okay, yeah, I did that stupid subliminal T-shirt thing but… I mean, you saved my life. More than once. I’d never…”

Margaret glanced at him and smiled suddenly, the sense of deja vu evaporating as quickly as her anger. “Oh, Dave, I know that. I’m just being paranoid again…”

“You’re not paranoid” Dave said, “You just… um… you’re just careful… er… you…”

Margaret sipped her coffee, hiding her smile as she watched Dave stumble over his tongue. He always stammered when he thought he might say something embarrassing, like earlier, before she had drifted off. Margaret sipped her coffee again, savoring it, hoping not to remember. For a split second when she woke up, the pain at thinking Dave gone… she shivered and glanced at him.

Dave had stopped stammering and retreated into his coffee as well. Margaret sighed softly and looked into the black depths of her own cup. The dark liquid reflected the light from the kitchen. She was a single child. Sometimes she needed to be alone. But… sometimes it felt good to be with someone as well.

“So, I hear you’re going camping for the Columbus Day weekend.”

Margaret blinked and looked at Dave. “What? Oh… um, yeah. I just need to get away for a little bit, and relax. How about you?”

Dave shook his head. “No plans, really. Just stiy here I guess and hope Mike and Roger don’t drive me batty.”

“Too late for that.” Margaret smirked at Dave.

Dave sighed and rolled his eyes. “Thanks. So, are April and Marsha going with you?”

Margaret shook her head. “No. Marsha hates the outdoors and April is too addicted to her web comics. Besides… don’t you ever feel the need to go off by yourself?” Margaret sighed and finished her coffee. “Sometimes I just… well, just need to be by myself for a bit.”

“Yeah” Dave nodded and then laughed softly, “To be honest, I kinda envy you. I’d love to get away from here too. Just relax for a few days.”

Margaret looked in her empty cup and bit her cheek. It wouldn’t be the same. She needed to get away by herself. April would tease her. But… sometimes….

“You know, it’s not really safe to go camping alone. Anything could happen.” Margaret willed herself to look at Dave. “And I’m sure we can keep out of each other’s way. Solitude and safety.”

Dave looked dumbfounded. “Are… are you… sure, Margaret?”

She gave Dave a sarcastic look “What, don’t you think you can manage in the woods for a weekend?”

“Oh, it’s not that. It’s… I just… thought you wanted to be alone.”

“I do, Dave. And you’re not like April,” Margaret snorted. “If I tell you I want to be alone, you’ll leave me alone, right?”

“Um, yeah. Of course.”

Margaret smiled. “You’ll see. We’ll have fun. Can I have some more coffee?”

* * * * * * * * * *

I followed April out through the wall, pausing in the broom closet to pick up a box of lightbulbs for the hallway. I caught up to her at the elevator.

She glanced at me while patting Chester, “What?”

I held up the box of lightbulbs. “I figured I might as well replace the bulbs in the hallway. Since it’s my fault the superintendent quit and all…”

She arched an eyebrow at me. “And?”

The elevator dinged and opened, giving me an extra moment to gather my thoughts before speaking. The elevator closed and we started down to the next floor.

I sighed and shook my head. “Well… I guess I should apologize. For what happened.”

She just smiled, scratching Chester’s ears. “Yes, perhaps you should.”

The door dinged again and opened, allowing me a moment to regain my composure. I followed her out into the hall. “Look. I’m sorry I messed up your story. I didn’t mean to. I still don’t know how it got that out of control.”

“I think you’re apologizing for the wrong thing” she said, turning toward me. “I’m angry on how you treated Margaret and Dave like objects. Not for the story itself.”

I must have looked confused, for she continued. “Look… the Roomies are my friends. I enjoy other peoples stories of them… but sometimes you can go too far. To you it’s just good fun. But to me, they are special.”

I nodded. “Sort of like you’re their mother.”

She smiled and shrugged “I don’t think mother is the term. But you feel closer to characters you create yourself. Like you and Martin.”

“Martin?” I asked.

“Yes. You wrote him in to draw Margaret out of the room. I bet if you wrote some stories on him, you’d understand what I mean.”

“But… I didn’t write in Martin. I’ve never seen him before. I thought you created him” I said.

She quirked an eyebrow at me. “I didn’t. You mean you didn’t?”

All at once, it hit me. The story growing out of control. Martin, whom I had never known before. Even my insight… knowing that Maritza was walking around as April. Realizing that we could bring Dave back because Chester was still here. The fact that Chester didn’t vanish when Dave had died.

Maybe, I was not the writer. Maybe I was just another character…

* * * * * * * * * *

Maritza watched in astonishment as the man vanished. The expression on his face… she shivered, and not because it was cool in the hallway.

The lights sparked and lit up, glowing warmly, washing the shadows away, and she realized she needed to get back to the room, to check the Tome and find out just what had happened… but first, April did need to get some sleep tonight. She could get to the room as herself.

Maritza walked into the apartment, locking the door behind her reflexively, and went to the bedroom. Soon, April fell asleep…

And Chester watched in the hallway, waiting for the room to the guys apartment to open. It would be soon. Cats know things.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dave sipped his coffee as he watched Margaret talk about her camp site. For once she had relaxed and had let her guard down. She was pretty anyway, but now she seemed to glow from within with her enthusiasm brightening her face.

“…and it’s also got a spring that flows into a small pond. It’s a bit chilly, especially at this time of the year, but I enjoy swimming in it.” Margaret shrugged, finishing her coffee. “It’s very relaxing.”

“I’m sure it is,” Dave said, realizing on a subconscious level that he wouldn’t be considered staring at her if he continued the conversation.

Margaret nodded, adding “You’ll want to bring a sleeping bag or some blankets. It can get chilly up there. I like it though. I feel… restored after I spend a weekend there.” She paused and looked at the coffee pot, which was empty. “It’s getting late. Um, thanks for the coffee.”

Dave blinked and glanced at the coffee pot as well. He’d only had two cups, and the pot was empty. He avoided looking at Margaret. “Um, do you want some more?”

Margaret shook her head. “No, I should get to sleep.” She rolled her eyes and added “Hopefully without sleepwalking this time.”

Dave smiled. “Well, at least you came over here. I’d think it would be worse if you had been wandering the halls and someone had seen you.”

Margaret blushed. Dave wasn’t sure if it was because where she ended up, or the thought of being caught sleepwalking… but since she hadn’t punch him, it was probably the latter.

Dave got up and walked to the door, moving Fluffy out of the way before opening the door. Chester sauntered in from the hallway, rubbing against Margaret’s ankles before heading to the sofa. “Pleasant dreams, Margaret.” At her look he added “Sleepwalk free dreams that is!”

She paused for a moment and then shook her head. “Yeah. Um, I’ll return your stuff tomorrow, okay?”

Dave caught himself before he blurted out something stupid and quietly nodded. Margaret walked past, into the hall, and he closed the door behind her. He leaned against the door and sighed. Things could have gone badly… but it was still a nice feeling to wake up and have her cuddled against him.

He heard the door to the girl’s apartment rattle. It rattled again, and then he heard a knock. He waited a moment before opening the door and peeking out into the lit hallway.

Margaret stood before the door, her forehead pressed against the wood. Frustration mingled with embarrassment in her body language.

“Um, what’s wrong, Margaret?”

Margaret glanced over at him. “I’m locked out. April must have gotten up and checked the door.” She paused for a moment and added “Or Marsha did. I… I didn’t exactly bring my keys.”

Dave managed to resist the urge to laugh at the image, and then blushed as he tried getting the image of Margaret sleepwalking and having only keys out of his mind… “Well, um, I’m not really sleepy anyway.” He stammered out. He took a deep breath and said “Why don’t you come back over? We can study for next week’s Calculus test. I’ll make some more coffee. Okay?”

Margaret thought for a moment before nodding and heading back. “That sounds like an idea. You make the coffee, I’ll get your notes out. Might as well do something productive tonight.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Margaret looked up at the soft thump on the table. Dave sat, slumped in his chair, his head resting against a Calculus book. She took a sip of her coffee and leaned over, shaking his arm. “Dave?”

Dave sighed softly and moved his head against the Calculus book. Margaret stared at him and poked him on the crown of the head. “Come on, Dave. Wake up. It’s only…” she glanced up at the clock in the kitchen. “It’s only 3 o’clock.”

He didn’t even sigh this time. He never did have the stamina she did at staying awake. She shook her head and muttered “You wuss.”

Margaret poked him in the shoulder one last time, but he didn’t even flinch. “I can’t just leave you like this…” she looked at the path to the bedroom and shook her head. She might have managed to walk into there asleep, but she doubt she could manage it while carrying Dave. She glanced at the sofa and back at Dave.

“Well, you gave up your bed for me earlier… I hope you don’t mind sleeping there for the rest of the night” she said, smiling at Dave. Margaret finished her coffee and stood, stretching for a moment, before heading over to Dave.

He wasn’t that heavy, though Margaret knew she’d not be able to carry him too far without help. Chester watched as she carried him to the sofa, and jumped off as she reached it. She lowered Dave onto the sofa and then bent down to scratch Chester’s chin. “Hey you. And people say cats aren’t smart.”

She picked Chester up and tickled his tummy before putting him on Dave’s chest. “Be right back. I’m getting a blanket for Dave. Okay?”

The cat blinked and stared at her with wide eyes. Margaret shook her head as she turned and laughed softly. “Damn, now I’m talking to cats. You’d think I’m crazy or something.”

Margaret stood in the doorway, waiting for her eyes to adjust. After the brightness of the living room, the bedroom was pitch black. Finally she was able to make out shapes, and snuck carefully to Dave’s bed, where she stole a couple of blankets. She glanced over at Mike, but could only see a dark amorphous mass. With his tentacle arm hanging over the edge, he didn’t seem human.

Margaret snuck back out of the bedroom. It was the coffee speaking, and being up late. Mike was human. He was just twisted. He dated Marsha, after all.

Chester greeted Margaret at the doorway to the bedroom and twined between her legs as she walked back to Dave. “Didn’t I tell you to wait with Dave?” she quietly chided the cat, and tucked the blankets around Dave before picking up Chester and putting him on Dave’s chest again. Chester tucked his paws under him, settling in. “Night, Chester.”

She brushed the hair out of Dave’s eyes and lingered for a moment before stepping toward the door. Martin got home at 2 a.m. from his Security Job. He would still be up. She slipped out the door, closing it quietly after her, and walked to the stairwell. She shivered as she climbed the concrete steps; the bloody things were cold! And Dave hadn’t lent her socks, only shorts and a T-shirt.

She stepped out of the stairwell on the next floor and paused. There it was. The broomcloset. From the weird dream she had. Margaret walked over to it and paused for a moment before opening the door. Someone had left the light on in the closet, which smelled a little musty. A box of lightbulbs lay on the ground where they had fallen from the shelf, though no glass was on the floor.

Margaret walked over to the far wall and put her hand against it. But it was just a wall. “Margaret, you’re getting paranoid. It was a dream” she told herself, but still softly knocked on the wall, trying to find a hollow point. Finally, with a chuckle at her silliness, she turned and walked out of the broomcloset, closing the door behind her.

She walked down the hall. She paused at one door, light escaping through the bottom crack of the door, and the scent of incense was light in the air. The apartment was directly above the guy’s apartment, which she had used to her advantage before in waiting for the guys to leave before going into their apartment to copy Dave’s notes.

Still, she paused. Martin was odd. Not as weird as Roger, but the man claimed to be a witch. She had seen his altar in his bedroom once before; Waldo and Steve claimed to be Satanists. Martin was the real thing, though he had told her he worshipped a Goddess and not the Devil. Still… he was one of the few people in the college she might consider a friend when she wasn’t being antisocial. At least he didn’t meddle in her life like April did. He just listened.

The door opened as she was about to knock, and Martin smiled at her, his hair a shock of red in the light from the hallway. “Are you going to spend all night standing there, Margaret?”

Margaret glared at him. “Damn it, Martin, I hate it when you do that.”

“Do what?” Martin looked puzzled at her and gestured her into the apartment. “The ventilation fan broke while I was gone, and I was trying to fix it. I heard you and Dave studying and then heard you leave. I figured you’d be headed this way.”

“Um… oh. Sorry. I got locked out of my apartment.”

Martin nodded. “I’ll get the keys and let you back in. Just wait here for a minute, okay?”

* * * * * * * * * *

Martin closed the door behind him. He knew that Margaret wasn’t comfortable with his beliefs; of course, with those idiots Waldo and Steve on the second floor, he didn’t exactly blame her. But he had another reason to keep her out tonight.

He paused at the low oaken table. There was a sharper odor in the air, mingling with the scent of the oil lamps and candles that lit this part of the room… the scent of lightning in the air. Of Power. He would have thought that what happened tonight was just a dream… except for what lay in the middle of the table.

A leather notebook lay in the exact center of the table, and on top of it was a small silver Pentacle. From this, Martin could sense the Power. Fortunately, the Wards were holding. Martin paused and took another look at the text in the leather-bound Journal.

Margaret went wandering again tonight. I tracked her down and found her in a place that should not be. She went through the wall of the broomcloset. I was able to follow, as did April. When I say “through” the wall… I mean through it, as if it did not exist. Or as if it were a doorway to someplace else.

On the other side was another room. It could be considered an apartment, in some ways similar to the ones in this building. But there was a sense of Power there. Of Creation, and of Destruction. And there was a Man there as well.

At first, I thought I was looking at Dave; a Dave from an alternative timeline, perhaps. But I soon realized it was just a guise the Man had taken. I do not feel the Man was one of the darker spirits that those bloody idiots keep summoning. Instead… it was almost as if he were an incarnation of the God, though one that seemed a bit unsure of Himself.

Margaret started telling me that Dave had been there. I didn’t believe her at first… but then I could sense him as well. I never knew Dave that well, but there is a certain innocence about him. I sensed that same innocence coming from (of all things) a black cat also in the room. Also, there was the odd feeling of “loss” that I have been feeling, since Dave died fighting that monstrosity those scientists had summoned. As if Waldo and Steve weren’t bad enough?

I sense my time here is short. Something is going to happen. The Man told Margaret that she had killed Dave, by burning a page. I’m not sure what of, but there were books there. Perhaps she burned… I don’t know. I can’t being to guess. Well, it was rather nasty of the Man to say Margaret killed Dave. Though the God is not necessarily kind and loving. He is also Death, after all, and the Sacrificed King. He told her to go home, to go to bed. That it was all a dream.

He also said that Margaret’s love for Dave would fade. That it was just a dream. I don’t think it is. I think perhaps… she will love him anyway. It might not be the flame that burns now… but it will be there. I know it.

I can sense it coming. The Dreams. I end these words now with the casting of the Ward. But will I remember? Will the Wards hold? May the God and Goddess aid me in this venture…

Martin shivered at the last words. The Wards had held. But he had not remembered. Until he had read his own words. He was not sure if he would remember the words when he left this room… but Goddess willing, he would.

Martin grabbed the ring of keys from the bureau and snuffed out the candles with his fingers, finally dimming the lanterns until no light remained in the room. Then he left.

Behind him, a dim blue glow appeared around the altar. It brightened, and the words in the journal shimmered, shifted… and snapped back. The glow dimmed. The Wards had held. For now.

* * * * * * * * * *

Maritza walked into the room. All was as it had been left. A cup of now-cold tea sat before the microwave, the water almost tainted black as it had steeped so long. The archives sat silently in the shelves, her drawings preserved in this special place.

The Tome was still open on the desk where he had left it. She stepped closer and after a moments hesitation took a look.

The Tome continued to write, though no hand dictated what was said.

Maritza turned back a couple of pages. Margaret was locked out of her apartment, and Maritza winced as she realized she was the one who locked Margaret out.

She skimmed ahead to Margaret asking Martin’s help in getting into the apartment, and of Martin’s journal, and the altar. She felt a chill run up her spine at the eldritch ending of the tale in Martin’s room. Finally, she turned to the last page, where her entry into the room was being written.

Maritza could believe that the Roomies had started writing their own life yet again. They had often done that to her before. But the Tome was writing of her as well; her thoughts, what she saw, what she said, and what she did.

Finally she flipped further back, to when the writer had vanished. His final thoughts were there… Maritza flipped back to the end of the Tome.

He had seemed… Maritza hadn’t even considered he might be “just” another character in the story. Even he had thought himself real. What then did that say about herself?

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act ii, Scene 7

The End

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