Excerpt Two!

I figured, seeing as I gave you the first two pages of the new WIP and as I haven’t yet finished, I could give you another page or so, just to tide you over until I finished writing it. You’ll be pleased to know that the writing goes well. I’m particularly chipper today so it should go even better than usual. My aim is to get it finished as soon as possible so I can release it to you lovely people (free of charge, of course).

I would exceedingly appreciate any feedback you care to give – even if it is to say you hate my writing and I should go die in a hole. Honestly, I’d prefer constructive criticism, though. That way I can improve my writing and bring you much better pieces to read.

Anyway, here it is:

The Leaking Manuscript


I was still asleep. I had to be still asleep.

The shadow stepped closer still. I grasped a knife from off the side. “Come any closer and- And–”

The figure cocked its head on one side as if gauging me.

“I’ll carve you up!” I squeaked and realised too late that I’d said what I’d typed out for Lydia. I panicked. Fictional characters are not supposed to come to life. They’re supposed to stay fictional and buried in your head. What would this thing do to me? I hadn’t written that far in the book. He was supposed to say something next, but-

“Oh thank god!” the shadowy figure cried, sucking in oxygen like it was all going to disappear. I opened my eyes wider and dropped the knife. “Do you know how difficult it is to survive in reality without a mouth?!”

I closed my eyes and opened them again as if the figure would go away, but he didn’t.

“We need to get out of here and go somewhere quiet before you start using your imagination again."

I mouthed at him like a fish, clinging to the edge of the worktop. I had the strange sensation that there was a black hole somewhere behind him and I was being sucked in. These things don’t happen in real life. They just don’t.

He made a noise and shot hot air through his nostrils like an animal, snatching hold of my wrist and dragging me out of the café through the back entrance. We crashed along the alley.

For an imaginary character, he was pretty fast.

I wondered if I was having some kind of breakdown or I had schizophrenia. Schizophrenia was more likely. These were my characters. They couldn’t possibly be real so I had to be having delusions. Maybe if I just imagined them away-

“You don’t want to do that right now,” the shadow man growled over his shoulder, dragging me through the maze of passageways. “If you do that then you’ll be left with Lydia.”

“Lydia? How do you know about Lydia? What does this have to do with her?”

He stopped at the end of the passage, glancing out onto the street like we were spies or something. I noticed too late and smacked ungracefully into his back. There was another snort through his nostrils and I looked up to find him glaring at me with blue eyes so vivid that they could have been purple.

“Stop describing my eye colour and stick with the situation. I’m not supposed to be here and nor is Lydia, but she got through and now she’s running amok! Not to mention the fact that everything in your head seems to be leaking out still!” He seemed more enraged by the situation than I was. He yanked down his hood to reveal ruffled black hair sticking out at every imagined angle, stringing his hand through it for a frustrated moment. “Look, our best bet is to go sit in that café across the street and stake out your house. I can fill you in there and we might be able to see if Lydia comes back.”

“Who put you in charge?”

“You did when you let Lydia get out. Now pretend you actually like me so nobody gets suspicious.”

He tightened his hold around my wrist again and pulled me across the street to a rival café. Who knew that imaginary characters could be so bossy? Surely they were supposed to simper and do everything you said?

“And Lydia does everything you say?” I opened my mouth to protest but the hard line of his mouth and the black scowl across his temple persuaded me otherwise. He pushed me down into one of the garden seats outside. “Just stay here and wait while I get us some beverages.”

What kind of fictional character called drinks ‘beverages’ in everyday conversation? I leaned forward, narrowing my eyes as I watched him through the doors. He rested against the counter, worn jeans scratching the smooth panelling. His shirt was a crisscross of black and blue, the blue matching his eyes perfectly. I had to hand it to myself, he wasn’t bad looking as far as imaginary men go.

He turned his head and glared at me through the door like he was reading my mind. I jumped back before he could impale me with that stare any more. He seemed to be blaming me for this. How was it my fault that Lydia had gotten free? All I’d done was go to sleep and ignore her!

Maybe I was still asleep. This would all be so much easier to bear if I was still asleep.

“You’re not asleep.” Grumpy Mr Fictional dumped a black coffee in front of me and threw himself in the chair opposite, making sure he had a clear view of the street outside my house. “If you were asleep then I wouldn’t be able to do this,” he said, reached over and pinched me. I snatched my arm away and rubbed the sore skin.

“How do you know what I’m thinking?”

A tight smile stretched his lips. “It’s like having a little voice inside my head. The more I ignore it, the less I hear it.”

“You don’t want to hear it?”

“Your internal monologue is nothing to do with me,” he bit.

I recoiled. Was there really any need for him to be so bitter? Surely he should be happy that he’d been liberated from the inside of my mind considering how much he seemed to hate having anything to do with it?

“There are reasons why fictional characters are fictional. Lydia is one of those reasons.”

I folded my arms across my chest and stared at the shabby cup of coffee he’d placed so unforgivingly in front of me. “What’s so wrong with Lydia?”

Mr Fictional choked down on his cold laughter. His eyes, filled with incredulity and cynicism. “You’re the person who thought her up and even you can’t control her. Surely that says something?”

“I can’t control you, either; so what does that say?”

“That says nothing. I got out the same time that Lydia did and I’ve been fighting your will ever since.” He threw a vicious glance my way. “If you’d finished imagining me, I would have caught up with you quicker.”

I scowled sulkily. What did he want me to do? Apologise? I hadn’t even been aware of his existence until he’d jumped into the café like some kind of hellish shadow creature.

“I still don’t understand what’s so wrong with Lydia being real if she is actually real and I haven’t just finally cracked.” Part of me wanted him to ask why I might crack up, but another part deduced that he probably already knew. After all, he’d known where I worked and he knew where I lived. Did he know my whole life story? I tried not to think about my worst mistakes in case my ‘internal monologue’ bothered him. Besides, if he didn’t already know then giving him more ammo to fire at me was hardly my best ploy.

His fingers nipped hard at the flesh of my arm. I yanked away with a yelp.

A sadistic smile crossed his lips and settled back in his chair. “If I was some kind of delusion I wouldn’t be able to keep doing that.”

I frowned hard, rubbing my arm. “The mind is a powerful thing,” I muttered. Too powerful if this was all true. I snorted through my nose and threw myself back in my chair, mirroring him tersely. “If, and it’s a big ‘if’, this is all real, how do I get you all back in my head?”

“That’s why we’re here, idiot.”

Idiot? Mr Fictional was really beginning to annoy me now. How could I ever have thought up such an irritating being?

“We need Lydia,” he continued. “If she agrees to go back then everything’s reversed and you get to carry on with your pathetic existence as a waitress.”

“I’m trying to get published,” I growled, making the black smudges beneath my eyes narrow.

“That will never happen. I mean, get real; do you really think somebody would want to read the tripe you write?” He shook his head, ignoring me as I blatantly gaped at him. “Being creative and imaginative doesn’t get you anywhere.”

“I’ll remember that the next time I dream you up!” I snarled.

He rolled his eyes. His mouth opened, no doubt to make another nasty quip, but he started instead. He froze and narrowed his gaze. I turned to look in the same direction, but he snatched my arm. I swear I got whiplash from the intensity of that jerk. He didn’t look apologetic at all. Instead he smiled slightly and turned his head towards me as if he was actually really interested in what I was saying.

Maybe being creative and imaginative wouldn’t get me anywhere, but without it he wouldn’t have had any idea how to blend in like a pro.

“Lydia’s across the road,” he breathed, vibrant blue eyes directed over my shoulder. “As soon as she’s inside we need to go over there and get this sorted so you don’t lose your job.”

My job? I was more concerned about my sanity than my job!


To be continued…

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