James stared at the faces around the table: Cliff, Liam, Kelly and Sam. The five of them were in a small smoky room. James thought to himself: this is going to be good.
“More tea Mr. Riseborough?” James asked.
James imagined Cliff to say “Why yes James, I’d love some tea,” instead of what he really did, which was mumble through the gag in his mouth and make a half-hearted attempt at escaping from the ropes that bound him.
“Lovely,” James said, pouring Cliff some more tea. “And you Mr. Harll?” A repeat of the above performance ensued, featuring Kelly.
Cliff began mumbling fervently and struggling against his bonds. James gave a sigh, then got up to remove his gag and restraints (although he left Cliff’s feet tied to the chair).
“What the hell is going on here!?” Cliff screamed.
James sat down again. “What do you mean Cliff?”
“Do you have any biscuits?” Asked Liam. James nodded and pointed to the plate behind the milk.
Cliff ignored Liam. “I mean what the hell are we all doing here?”
James looked around at the people surrounding the table once more. “Why, we’re having tea, Cliff.”
“But why the hell have I been tied up? And why are we having tea?”
James looked confused. “Um… because.” He stared at the table. “More tea?” He asked hopefully.
“No I don’t want more tea! I want to know why the hell we’re here!”
“Are you sure? It’s chamomile,” voiced Sam.
“Mmmm…” said Liam. “These biscuits are wonderful James.” James smiled.
“I don’t care what kind of fucking tea it is, I want to get the hell out of here, or you’re going to tell me why not.”
“Uhh…” James stared around the room. Then he fixated on a point on the wall and his eyes just kind of glazed over.
“Shhh… Cliff.” Liam whispered. “You’re going to ruin the story.”
Cliff stared at his sometimes friend/sometimes enemy Liam. “What story?”
“The one he’s writing right now.” Liam winked knowingly at Cliff.
“Oh for christsake! Is this some god-awful story? Well what the hell are we doing here then?”
Liam shrugged. “Hey, give him time, he’ll probably come up with something, besides I like tea.”
“No. We’re sitting in some stupid room drinking tea. This story isn’t going anywhere.”
“Hey!” shouted Liam. “Shut up about my story!”
Cliff looked confusedly between James and Liam. “What? I thought James was writing this story.”
“I am.” Liam said. “It’s me, James.”
“Now I’m confused,” said Sam.
Kelly mumbled in agreement.
“What? I’m the author.” Said Liam. “I can do whatever I want.”
“But that’s just confusing,” said Cliff. “If you’re writing the story, you should be the one speaking.” Cliff looked over towards James, who was daintily arranging biscuits around his tea cup.
“Hey, shut up you.” Liam said. “It’s my story, I can do whatever I want.”
“Well, yes, you’ve proven that. Don’t you understand, you’re violating some fundamental laws of story writing? Not only are you talking to us as the author, but you’re doing it through one of your characters, and one who’s not you.” Liam looked disheartened. “And what the fuck are we doing here anyways.”
“I like tea.” Said Liam.
“But is anything going to happen?”
“Like something funny, or interesting.” Cliff sighed. “Is there a plot even?”
“Hey ya,” said Liam. “Do something funny. Why don’t you guys go to the center of the earth again?”
“What? We did that already. That was another story… and a much better one than this.”
“Ya… you remember when we all had funny names?” asked Liam. “I was Legion, and you were Immortal Goose. Liam was Mighty Viking and I’d tease him about spam. You remember that?”
“No,” said Sam.
“See, that was a mildly amusing joke,” said Cliff.
“What!” cried Sam. “I don’t even know what you guys are talking about. Hi, I’m Sam.”
Cliff burst out laughing. “What the hell was that?” He said, pointing at Sam.
Liam smiled. “See, you do like my story.”
“But that had absolutely no place in the conversation.”
“Hi, I’m Sam.” Said Sam.
Cliff stared at Liam. “What the hell are you doing, James?”
“But I thought you guys thought that was funny.”
“Well… it is, sometimes. But that’s just stupid.”
“Hi, I’m Sam.” Said Kelly.
Cliff stared in disbelief at Kelly. “Now how the hell did he do that? I thought he had a gag or something.”
Liam looked around nervously. “Um… he does.” Kelly mumbled, as if to assure this point.
“Then how did he say something?”
“Uh… I took his gag off for a bit back there.” Liam nodded.
“Well you have to say that you took off his gag then.”
Liam took off Kelly’s gag back then when he said something.
“Well you can’t do it now!” Cried Cliff. “You’re making a mockery of the writing process. I’m quitting your dumb story.”
“What?” cried James. “You can’t do that! Do something funny now.”
Cliff turned to look at James. “So now you’re James, huh? Is this some sort of bad imitation of the exorcist?”
Liam cleared his throat. “Uhh.. I mean, What? You can’t do that! Do something funny now.”
Cliff shook his head in dismay. “Listen, we’re just the characters – it’s your job to make us do something funny.”
“Oh…” said Liam. “How about if I do a jig?” James got up and began dancing a jig.
“No, this is dumb. Who else wants to play Canasta?” asked Cliff.
“Sure, why not.” Said Sam.
“Sure…” said Kelly.
Oh, but Liam took Kelly’s gag off again before he said that.
Liam pulled out a deck of cards and began shuffling.
James sat down again. “Hey, c’mon guys, let’s go do something. Hey I know. What about if some diamonds were stolen. Ya, that’s it. Hey guys! A bunch of diamonds were just stolen! Let’s go rescue them.”
“Would you just shut up already,” said Liam. “It’s bad enough you were making me speak. But you didn’t even have me eat any of the biscuits that whole time.” Liam scooped one of the biscuits from the plate and began chewing.
“Yup, sure, great idea.” Said Cliff as he rearranged his cards. “Why don’t you go rescue them with a bunch of other people.”
“Oh ya, well…” James looked around.
“You have no facial hair!” Finished Claire.
Cliff looked up in disbelief. “Claire!? Where the hell did she come from? And besides, Liam’s bald. See!” Cliff pointed emphatically at Liam.
“What do you mean?” asked James.
Cliff threw down his cards in disgust. The rest of the players stared at Cliff for a moment, then decided that Liam would just play for Cliff. “You said at the beginning. We were all in this little smoky room. How the hell did Claire get in here?”
“Uh… those vents.” James said, pointing at one of the air vents. “She crawled in.”
“To say ‘you have no facial hair’? And besides, Liam’s bald!! Look! He’s bald!” Cliff pointed more emphatically at Liam.
“Yup, pretty much.” Nodded Claire. She bent down and crawled back out through the air vent.
“Why did she say that anyways?” asked Sam.
“Because that’s what she said last night,” nodded James.
“And our readers are supposed to know about this how?”
Flashback: Last night we ran into Claire and she said that Cliff had no facial hair.
Liam was staring in revulsion at James. “That was the worst flashback I have ever read or experienced.”
“Hey, it’s not that bad.”
“Yes. Yes it is. James, end this story, now.” Liam looked around. “Oh, but first let me eat some more of these biscuits.” Liam grabbed a number of biscuits and began shoving them into his mouth. “Where did you get these anyway?” He asked through a mouthful of crumbs. “They’re delicious.”
“Oh, just the supermarket. I can show you where.”
Liam smiled and nodded. “Ok. Now end this story.”
“Oh... come on.”
“C’mon, do it.” Said Cliff. “To think… I’ve utterly wasted my time here. I could have been in some porno story instead of this.” A huge smile crossed Cliff’s face. “Ya…”
“Well, ok. Thanks for coming guys.”
“I liked the story.”
“Shut up Sam.”
“I liked the biscuits.”
“Shut up Liam. I swear if you prolong this any more I will erase your nads in my story.”