When Scribe-Eating Books Collide

Hi Readers,

This is Sarn, Ran’s father. Something strange happened when we pushed through J.C.’s “window into another world” last week. The picture fuzzed and swirled, and reality splintered.

“Come back!” J.C. called.

“We can’t. We’re trapped.”

And my magic didn’t like it. It kept shouting its usual objection, ‘unnatural,’ until I wanted to scream. Instead, I held tightly to my son’s tiny hand. Ran, in turn, clutched his Bear, but the stuffed annoyance had gone limp, and the twinkle had died from his button eyes.

Magic was screaming inside my head, making it hard to think. It was also streaming out of my eyes in a luminous green army of stabbing ants. Only there was nothing for it to attack.

Meanwhile, the book that stole our author flickered, its cover changing between a proud wounded warrior who reminded me of someone I used to know to a guy and a gal with swords fighting through falling fire.

The book spasmed. Its spine bent, and Melinda dropped into that fiery wreckage.

“No!” I shouted into this bizarre place between planes (dimensions?).

As Melinda fell, the fire receded, and a futuristic office took place. In reaction to that, her face became harder, her body tensed and readied itself for action. But we were still stuck in between, floating in spangled nothingness with no recourse but to watch.

“What’s happening?” Ran asked.

I squeezed his hand and shook my head.

“Just hang tight,” J.C. said, “another reality is overlapping ours. I was afraid this would happen.”

“But why’s it overlapping?” Ran asked as I pulled, and he floated up, so I could hug him.

He curled his little body into my chest. If we stayed together, we’d be okay. Ran was my world. I could live anywhere he was, even between worlds, though solid ground and trees would be nice.

“Because scribes hold reality in their minds. What they create becomes real, but without them, the worlds they build get a little wonky. Usually, it’s not this bad, but there are other forces at work.”

“I don’t like the sound of that. What other forces?” I asked before my son could. Ran shivered in my arms.

“Let’s save that discussion for after we retrieve your scribe. While I’m separating these story dimensions, I can’t see what’s happening in them. So please call out if anything changes.”

“Like if Melinda gets into life-ending trouble?”

“Yes, for your sakes, let’s hope she doesn’t.”

“And if she does?” Ran peered over my arms at the scene still forming below. It was another window, hacked into the star-studded space between story dimensions. “She is our scribe. Trouble stalks us. It likely does her too.”

“True, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll hurry up then. Please shout out the instant things start to go pear-shaped.”

“Will do,” I promised.

Even my magic stopped probing our formless surroundings and focused on that diamond-shaped window into an office in another book’s world. It looked strangely futurist compared to what I’d seen in Melinda’s world.

[The following account is an extract from the mind of author Richard Parry whose reality overlapped ours this week:]

Melinda faced Nate, nothing separating them but two glasses of water and a ceramic table. “You say you captain the free trader Tyche.” She said the ship’s name like tich.

“No,” said Nate.

“It’s in the file—”

“I don’t disagree with the file,” said Nate. He held up his augmented hand, two golden fingers upright. “A couple points, though. I don’t say I’m the captain. I am the captain. Second, it’s tie-key. Not tich.”


“The ship’s name,” said Nate. “You’ve got to say it right.”

“Tie. Key,” said Melinda. “Happy?”

“Not particularly,” he said. “On account of you arresting me, hauling me in on a range of fabricated charges—”

“You were caught smuggling!” she said. “Your cargo pods are full of bioweapons.”

Nate winced. “They’re not weapons. They’re eggs.” He frowned. “What did you do with ‘em, anyway?”

“Evidence room,” she said.

“Good,” said Nate. He waited for a couple heartbeats. “That’s not here, is it?”

“It is.” Melinda leaned forward. “You’re under arrest. In a police station.”

“We should go,” Nate suggested. He shifted, adjusting his black ship suit. It was standard spacer fare, enough to keep the hard black at bay in situations where your ship no longer could.

Melinda preferred living with a real atmosphere. “Did you miss the part about being under arrest?”

“No,” he said. “Been under arrest plenty times before. I haven’t been under arrest where people are stupid enough to put Ezeroc eggs in a broom closet.”

“Evidence room.”

“May as well be a broom closet,” said Nate. He narrowed his eyes. “You don’t seem alarmed to hear about the eggs.”

Melinda shrugged, a what-can-you-do gesture. “Everyone needs bioweapons.”

“Not this kind.”

Every kind,” she said. “Ezeroc are just the latest you spacer scum have dragged in. Washed ashore with the rest of the trash, like someone’s discarded boot.”

“I fancy you’ve never worn boots like these,” said Nate.

There was a scream from outside, cut short. Melinda looked at the door. “Uh,” she said.

“Sounds like your bioweapons,” said Nate, leaning back. The man had the gall to look relaxed, like people dying was just one more thing on the list of to-dos for today.

“Can’t be,” said Melinda. There was another scream, then the hard hammer of weapons’ fire. The door shook as something heavy hit the other side. “It can’t be.”

“It can,” he said. “It is. You know what else it is?”

She looked back to him. “What?”

“The sound of I’m right, you’re wrong,” said Nate. He drummed his fingers, flesh, and blood beside metal, on the table between them.

“What do we do?” she said.

“‘We’ don’t do anything,” he said. “You get me a blaster, and I’ll work something out.” He flashed a winning smile. “It’ll be fine.”

“Oh God,” she said. “We’re all going to die.”

[Richard Parry’s extract ends.]

“Ah, J.C.?”

“Melinda’s in trouble already?”

“Yes, can you separate our realities now?” Ran asked.

“Hold on, I’m working on it.”

While J.C. works on that, check out Richard Parry’s latest book, Tyche’s Demons. It’s on sale today.

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Until next time, dear reader

This is Sarn, father of Ran, “the paternal character” wishing you a great week!


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