What’s Going On Here?

‘What’s going on here?’

‘I don’t know, I’ve only just got here myself.’ Jim paused. ‘Anyway, who are you?’

‘I’m Natalie… apparently.’ She looked down at herself.

‘Natalie?’

‘So it says up there. So you’re Jim, then?’

‘It seems so. Do you ever wonder where he gets these names from?’

‘I think it is often what first comes into his head.‘ She was quiet for a moment. ‘Although, I just had a quick peek into his subconscious. It does seem he once knew a girl, a young woman, who was called Natalie. So maybe there is a bit of ‘y’know… there?’

‘What, a bit of history do you mean?’

Natalie laughed. ‘Hang on, remember he is a writer. So it is probably a bit of wish fulfilment. He probably just gazed forlornly at her across a crowded room a couple of times.’

‘That’s all?’

‘Oh, there was most likely some great tragic torrid love affair between them across countries and lives ripped apart by wars, or secret services bent on destroying them, or some great secret conspiracy by global corporations that they uncovered, only to have this other Natalie die in his arms in the final scene. But that would have only been in his head.’

‘Speaking of in his head,’ Jim said. ‘While you were in his mind, I don’t suppose you saw an outline or anything? Give us some idea of what we are supposed to be doing in this story.’

‘No.’ Natalie shook her head. The long shaggy blonde curls flicking around her face. ‘She wasn’t even a blonde,’ she muttered to herself before turning back to Jim. ‘No, nothing like that.’

‘Shit.’

‘What?’

‘You do realise what it means if there is no outline or notes or anything?’

‘No, not really. I’ve only been in a couple of his stories, since he got fed up with his old stock female protagonist. Or, rather, she walked out of the last story he wrote about her.’

‘She walked out? Can we do that?’

‘I suppose. She did. I know that for a fact. Apparently,’ she sidled closer to Jim and whispered in his ear. ‘I’ve heard rumours that she in living with the antagonist from that story he wrote a few years back. Do you remember? The one set in the desert?’

‘That one no-one could make any sense of?’

‘That’s the one.’

‘Oh. That antagonist was supposed to be quite a sexy baddie, though, wasn’t he? Tall, dark, handsome and with a tragic secret that informed his fatal flaw.’

‘Hmm, yes. I do remember,’ Natalie smiled and closed her eyes.

‘Natalie?’

‘What? Sorry. A touch of the flashbacks.’

Don’t tell me, not you and that antagonist?’

‘Well, we were in a short story together, and it was implied that we…. Anyway, so what if there is no outline? He could be trying one of those seat-of-the-pants methods of writing.’

‘No, not this one. He is a bit obsessive about things like that. If there is no highly detailed, colour-coded outline, then it means that he is just making all this up as he goes along.’

‘Why should that matter?’

‘Because that means that in a story like this he could stop anytime. As soon as he gets bored with it, he could-’

 

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