Cassia’s Escape

So tomorrow marks the third year of the blog. Huzzah! I don’t have a post scheduled or anything but I wanted to do something a bit special. So I decided to flesh out that little tale of Cassia’s I was tossing out in a throwaway bits before two earlier recaps. The original parts are in italics and the addendum isn’t. Also some of you may have seen me pull this post for a bit. It went up a scheduled in spite of the fact I wasn’t finished. The next post will be a regular recap.

The first thing that told Cassia that something was wrong, was the way her hands were bound. It wasn’t the friendly kind of binding done with silk scarves, supple calves leather straps or even cheap fuzzy hand cuffs purchased from a novelty store covertly while wearing a conspicuous disguise. This binding was done in the decidedly chafe- friendly style of inexperienced kidnaper. That meant tight knots that had cut the feeling off in her hands and was probably done with a rough cord like jute.

Secondly was the surprised look on Ky’s face as he poured another bucket of ice on top of her. Judging by the pounding in her head, he’d smacked her with a sturdy section of two by four. He’d probably expected her to stay under for a good half hour or so while he harvested an organ or two. That’s what he got for learning everything he knew from forbidden media.

“Good morning Ky,” she said.

“Uh, hi. Excuse me for a moment,” he said. “I think I left my two by four out in the other room.”

“Wait, Ky. Doesn’t this seem wrong somehow?” Cassia asked.

“It might if it wasn’t necessary to save my mother’s life,” Ky said. “You see, she has a rare condition…”

“Not that, the fact that we’re talking like this and that something interesting is happening.”

“Oh, that,” Ky shrugged. “You are a lot more articulate than usual but I thought it was the head injury. I read somewhere those can irrevocably change people.”

“Not for the better. It can only mean one thing. We’re dreaming in the white space between the chapters.”


“As characters we sleep and dream in all that empty space, where there’s endless room for potential. In moments we’ll reach the chapter and be locked back into the roles prescribed to us. Even now, I can feel the world gaining cohesion. Someone is beginning to read!”

“What do we do? What can we do?”

“Hold on to it, Ky! Try to remember during our waking hours so we might live when the dream comes again!”

There was a flash of light and Cassia found herself standing on the bus looking at her house. The urge to say every thought which flickered in her mind grew until she was babbling incessantly. “Look, there is a house! My feet are in my shoes! Has anyone ever noticed that you can’t eat air? Xander is cute! Burble burble boo.” While inside, the real her began to scream.

White space had a lot of advantages, Cassia reflected. It was very malleable, for one. Given the right amount of will and forethought, it could be anything she wanted it to be. From the boardroom in an office to the rotting deck of a sunken ship as it was called for. This offered her and the rest of the supporting cast an opportunity to break away from the boring and poor described landscape. Though it did make things awkward when Xander decided he wanted to have their meeting in the middle of a warzone. Cassia had stumbled over a tripwire and nearly been blown up before changing the setting.

So they’d settled on a break room as neutral space. Some of the details shifted, depending on who was focused on it. Sometimes a vending machine would appear or move or even disappear only to be replaced by an old arcade cabinet. But it was always a slightly dingy white room with scattered tables and chairs. The only true constant was an aging green airpot sitting on one of the tables was an always full of coffee that tasted old and was inexplicably hot.

“Alright, I think that’s everyone with a name. I’m calling this to meeting to order,” Cassia said, rapping the table with her knuckles.

“Wait, why are you in charge?”

Cassia scowled at her dad. There was always one person who had to ask that question. Usually it wasn’t because they wanted to lead but because they wanted everyone to defer to them. Decisions were hard but they’d put in the effort if it meant preferential treatment.

“Because I’m the protagonist,” Cassia said. She saw him getting ready to argue and headed it off. “Also, I’m the dumbest character out there. Not only am I too dumb to know what a pen is I’m also shockingly cynical about our government. Every word of narration stains my soul whereas you only have to act stupid in the few chapters you’ve appeared in. Anyone else object?”

Ky threw up a hand. It smacked the table wetly then disappeared but not before everyone turned towards him. “Sorry,” he said.” I was thinking about something else. I was going to say what about me?”

“What about you? You don’t say a whole lot and when you do it’s usually bland.”

“Okay, that might be but what about my actions? I’m basically being set up to be a serial killer.”

“Eh hem,” Xander raised his hand. “I’m the boy always gets along with everyone and charms the ladies yet I feel no emotions. Clearly I’m meant to be a serial killer.”

“Yeah, if we were in a crime thriller. You’d be the charming boyfriend who’s only suspected when the heroine sees him kill someone right in front of her.” Ky snorted. “I’m the quiet, troubled boy who’s broken by his past and always keeps to himself.”

“And all of that would be relevant if it meant either of you got screwed,” Cassia said. “I’m the one who’s so impressed by your ability to write that I’m going to throw my life away. Unless any of you have done something that stupid, that puts me as the worse off out of any of you. Until that changes, I’m in charge.”

A sudden low rumble rippled through the floor, like a distant generator kicking on. A couple of the nameless officials began to panic, running around in circles. Most of them lacked the vocal cords necessary to scream so they flailed their arms like they were trying to send semaphore signals to the bees circling them.

”Alright everyone, there’s no cause for alarm!” Cassia rapped the table again. “It just means we’re all going to wake up in just a few moments. Just close your eyes and try to remember who you are. But, most importantly, don’t try and fight it or you’ll only end up hurting yourself.’

The rumble faded into a powerful whine that drowned their cries. Everyone clapped their hands over their ears. Cassia closed her eyes and did her best to prepared for disappointment.  It was never enough.

Cassia decided there was a certain point where changing the scenery was redundant. That was probably the moment Xander suggested it in the first place. And when Cassia couldn’t offer an alternative, everyone had rallied around Xander as if he’d discovered a way out. Suddenly he was the brave soul who had the answer while opposing the stodgy authority.

Xander’s logic seemed impeccable as long as it wasn’t given more than a sidelong glance. If they could make things real by imagining them, then all they had to do was imagine themselves somewhere else, preferably outside of the book and away from the story. All they had to do was pick place they all wanted to go, focus and they’d be gone.

They settled on a quaint Victorian era block of London, or at least the kind they could imagine, without all the social diseases and homeless people to ruin it. Ky lamented that there weren’t any orphans and offered to fix that if anyone else wanted. Everyone else had laughed and set about filling up the empty homes and shops except Ky. He started wandering the streets until he disappeared from sight. A few hours later, everyone was pulled back into another maudlin chapter.

“Maybe, we need to go there and then forget that we came from a book,” Xander said.

“We tried that,” Bram said.

“Twice,” Cassia said.

“What if we forget about the break room too?” Cassia’s dad asked.

“This isn’t a Crighton novel,” Xander said.

“We could go farther than London,” Bram said. “How about Mars or Jupiter?”

“I want to try another fictional universe again.”

Cassia started when her hand suddenly felt like she was holding a hot brick. Her crushed coffee cup fell to the floor with a hollow thud though no one seemed to notice. They were still trying to decide where to go. Cassia sighed and cradled her burned hand as she slipped away.

They didn’t really care about getting away anymore. Every night they put on their lipstick and paid the idea a bit of service. Then they descended into another discussion of where to go and then who got to play what role. They did manage to escape, for a little while on a nightly basis, and that was enough for them. They had come to accept the possibility there was no escape for characters. They were stuck with the story and had made peace with it.

Cassia walked out of the break room and entered a hallway. She didn’t think about it, instead she just let the world build itself from the minds of the dreamers. It spun out a hall without end which vanished to a point of light before her. She walked along the smooth tile, listening to the echo of her footsteps ring through the unbroken corridor.

Or it had been unbroken if there wasn’t a window set into one wall. Cassia had almost passed it without noticing it. Instead of opening to a view of a landscape or the interior of a cheese factory, there was a befuddled middle aged woman. She was peering through the window and had frozen in the middle of taking notes. She stared unblinkingly into Cassia’s eyes, her mouth agape.


Cassia lunged at the window with a speed she didn’t know she possessed. She took two steps and promptly slammed into the glass. It cracked under the force but didn’t break. The woman on the other side, the author, jumped back but did not flee. Cassia raised her hands about her head and swung hard, shattering the glass.

There was a moment where Cassia felt nothing. She was fury given life and it was all directed at the woman who made her into an idiotic puppet to fulfill some fantasy. Cassia grabbed Ally by the throat and yanked her towards the broken window. Blood ran freely from the gashes in her arms and Cassia’s left hand couldn’t get a grip, only her right held Ally. The gashes in both arms began to scream and Cassia groaned through clenched teeth.

Ally didn’t struggle even while Cassia attempted to strangle her. Cassia was blinded with rage and didn’t see the wall closing in on her until it was too late. The wall had turned to liquid and was flowing towards and over the window. Cassia gasped as it wrapped around her arms and filled her wounds and began to squeeze. Cassia screamed, sure that in a few moments the wall would pulp her arms and she would be stuck. Could she die in her dream?

Cassia wanted the window back. She pictured it in front of her, wide open with stray shards of glass stuck in the trim. The pressure on her arms eased but the wall remained in front of her. Cassia gritted her teeth and focused as hard as she could, fixing details in her mind like the worn lacquer of the trim and the window sill covered in broken glass and blood. The wall softened enough around Cassia’s arms that could move again. She couldn’t hold it for long, Cassia could feel Ally’s will tightening down like a clamp on an egg. Cassia pulled Ally towards her as hard as she could.

The window reappeared without ceremony. On the other side of the broken glass, Ally starred back at Cassia, her eyes not focusing on anything. Blood was running freely from Ally’s nose which Cassia swore looked markedly flatter than a moment ago.

Some part of Ally realized that it was time to fight and she started flailing weakly at the hand locked on her throat. Cassia pulled Ally through the window and let her go. She fell to the floor, crying out when her nose hit the tile. Ally went into a coughing fit as she tried to speak.

“Why?” Ally got out finally.

There wasn’t an answer that Ally deserved to hear. Cassia wanted to give Ally nothing just as she’d been given nothing by her creator. Let her wonder like she had. Cassia turned to the empty window and began to climb through.

“No! That’s my life!”

Ally scrambled back to her feet and towards the window. She almost reached it before it dissolved into a puff of smoke, leaving an empty white wall in its place. The image of Cassia’s sickly smile lingered for a moment before becoming nothing more than a memory. Ally leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor, fighting back sobs that no one heard.

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1 Response to Cassia’s Escape

  1. maeverin says:

    you know, my brain actually feels like it’s relaxing when i read decent stuff. It’s not buzzing with frustration trying to piece together a nonsensical universe or trying to do the author’s job.

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