The Author sat on her celestial throne, her brows knit. She couldn’t find Charlie or Emily or Violet anywhere. It was as if they had simply disappeared.
Claire had dragged herself back to the sky with her normally perfect hair singed and her clothes charred. A scowl was etched on her face.
“What happened to you?” asked the Author.
“It was Emily,” Claire muttered. “She zapped me with…something, dang it, I don’t know, and left me twitching on the ground. It was awful! I was just trying to Persuade Charlie- I was kissing him, and he noticed my eyes. He’s such a clod, I didn’t think he would. And so I tried to pull him back, and that’s when it happened.” She sniffed loudly.
“I have no sympathy for you,” said the Author. “You failed. Your job was to erase any memory- any fragment of his time as an Inspiration. I messed up saving them. It was a mistake. I thought she was dead for sure when I ‘granted’ Charlie’s wish, and I thought he wouldn’t be able to fight back. He’s strong- too strong. What did he have that any normal Inspiration didn’t?”
“Do you think he’s a-”
“Don’t say it.”
“He must be a Protagonist. There’s no other way. He’s cheated death multiple times, and his willpower is abnormal.”
“What about the girl?”
“Perhaps. We have to keep everyone in check. Everyone must be equal under my power. We mustn’t allow anybody to be the hero. This is my story, not his, not hers, not anybody else’s.”
“Of course. Now what should I do?”
“Kill them. Kill them all.”
The trio sat in the closest ice cream parlor, discussing their plans between bites of dessert.
“So how are we going to execute this again?” asked Violet. “Are we supposed to just…tell everyone to tell their partner to do their own thing? That’s impossible.”
“I guess you’re right,” Emily chimed in. “But if we throw the whole system out of whack, it’s going to upset the Author. She’s going to tear herself apart trying to sort it all out.”
“Well, none of them are ever going to agree to do badly. The Author has them under her spell. She only let me go down because you were in trouble,” said Charlie. “So maybe if we all come down…”
“Bring all of the Inspirations to Earth,” said Emily. “That’s it.”
“Yes!” yelled Charlie, leaping from the booth. “That’s absolutely it!” Then he shrank back down. “That’s a terrible idea. Do you realize what the repercussions could be? They all have different powers, and imagine what would happen if they all combined! The world would become a fantasy land.”
“No,” said Violet, emerging from her bubble of silence. “Emily’s right. You said the Author will flip out, right? That’s exactly what we want to happen. Like Emily said, she’ll tear herself apart.”
“Okay, okay. Gotcha. But how the heck are we supposed to do that?” sighed Charlie.
“I’m going to spread the word,” said Emily. “And when you wake up tomorrow, act surprised. Everything is going to be different.”
She sprinted through the double doors and took to the sky, and the two watched her as she disappeared through the cover of clouds.
“Why are we doing this?” said Charlie. “What’s the point?”
“I’m not sure,” Violet replied. “But something tells me if we don’t, our lives are at stake.”