A dark, shadowy figure ensconced at a corner table scanned the activity around the bar then shook its head. “Losers,” it muttered under its breath. “Look at them. Whining, griping, carrying on. Humph.”
“You don’t seem to be doing much better y’self.” A small ugly man slid to the floor off his stool and waddled over to the figure’s table. “In fact, you ain’t even got a face.”
“I do if I choose to,” the figure informed him, turning the opening of its hood in his direction.
“Bah!” The dwarf snorted, waving his hand in dismissal. “Ya ain’t got a face and ya ain’t got no manners neither. How come you’re in here if ya got somewhere better to be?”
“I didn’t say I had somewhere better to be,” the figure replied. “But you don’t hear me whining, do you?”
“So what’s your story then?” The ugly man clambered onto a chair at the figure’s table, settled back and began kicking the legs. “How come you’re here?”
“I’m not needed,” the figure shrugged. “No one wants me, so I’m here. I’m one of the few with a permanent room upstairs.”
“Bah!” the ugly man laughed, then signaled for a waitress. “None of us is permanent. Your author-”
“Doesn’t have any need for me,” the figure finished for him. “He’s moved on to other things.”
“He could start writing-”
“He can’t start doing something he never did,” the figure interrupted.
The ugly man peered at the figure then picked up a drink that had materialized on the table. “Ya ain’t making no sense,” he observed around a mouthfull of suds. “You’re here. You gotta have an author.”
“I do... did,” the figure agreed.
The ugly man crossed his eyes and wrinkled his nose. “I still don’t...”
“Look,” the figure said, bending forward. “I’m a character, okay? That doesn’t mean there was ever a story. All my writer did was create me... us... lots of us. He never wrote anything.”
“He might,” the ugly man insisted, suddenly sympathetic for the dark stranger.
“He won’t,” the figure insisted. “He never intended to.”
“Then how come he created ya at all?” the ugly man asked. Maybe the figure was delusional... it happened.
“He used to play ... games,” the figure explained. “Role-playing games. He spent a lot of time creating us, but most of us never got beyond the first stage. I’m one that at least got a body, such as it is. He only used a few of us before he quit playing. That’s okay though,” the figure finished, settling back against his chair. “He was terribly bad at the games; that’s why he quit. I’d rather be sitting here, talking to you and enjoying myself, rather than being digested by some hideous monster.”
“Watch who you’re calling a monster,” a deep voice boomed from the shadows.
“I wasn’t referring to you,” the figure said, glancing up at the darkness.
“Just watch it,” the voice cautioned. “The GM made just as many of us ‘wandering encounters’ as her players did you guys.”
The figure snorted, turning toward the ugly man. “Don’t mind him, he doesn’t even have a body. The GM never got that far before the game ended.”
The ugly man lifted an eyebrow, then nodded and climbed up onto the chair seat. Holding his arms out to the sides, he bent his knees and sprang backwards into the air. He executed a perfect back-flip, landing gracefuly on the floor without mishap. The bar broke into thunderous applause as he straightened. He bowed toward the other patrons, then retrieved his drink. “Well nice meetin’ you,” he raised his glass in salute to the dark figure. “I’ve got a circus to catch. Just stopped in here t’ grab one fer the road. Take it easy.”
The figure watched as the ugly man wove through the crowd and made his way out the exit.
“You think he’ll be back?” the voice boomed from the shadows over head.
“Eventually,” the figure replied. “They always return. Feel like a game of chess?”
“Sure,” the voice agreed. “I’m white this time.”
Copyright © 2007 by Crystalwizard