I was taking a Greyhound from Mordor to Tir Nan Og once, looking for a new opportunity, a change of scenery, or maybe just some loan sharks who didn’t have my name on their shoot-on-sight list.
I sat in the back, over the motor, where the driver wasn’t likely to see me dipping into my hip flask of high octane mead, and this sad sack sat next to me. I had him made before he’d stowed his sword and raygun in the overhead compartment, and I offered him a shot when he flopped on the seat. He needed one. Guys like him always did.
Blue eyes, piercing, natch, chiseled features and well-formed this and muscular that–I’ve shared seats with uglier men, that’s for sure. But there was something missing, he had that leech-like look of anticipated rejection, desperate for any scraps of attention.
I had a dozen beauties swimming in my bloodstream and sleep wasn’t coming anytime soon in any event, so I bit the bullet and asked him how he was doing.
And of course the story came out.
“I was gonna be a hero,” he said, his voice oozing self-pity and righteous indignation in equal measure. “I was gonna battle impossible odds and save the day, kill the big bad monster and get the girl.”
I handed him my flask and he took another belt. A big one.
“Then what happened?” I asked–like I didn’t already know. He had it written all over his face.
“My author gave up. Just quit. Decided that it wasn’t worth it and stuck me in a drawer. Me! After all I’d been through. You should hear my backstory–I was raised by scorpions, for Crom’s sake!”
“Tough break, kid,” I commiserated. I meant it, too. It’s not easy being fictional, but the Drawer was a fate worse than death.
“Authors,” he said. In his mouth the word was a curse.
“Any chance that you’ll get picked back up?” I asked him. Just making conversation.
All I got was a black look. “This NaNoWriMo my author’s doing a romance. Evidently those sell better.”
I slammed some more mead and thought about it. It’s a tough old world out there.