I’m a big daydreamer. I love the imaginary space in my head so much I gave it a name. I know everyone who comes here, naturally, since I created them all.
I’m in my head right now, procrastinating. I’m supposed to be writing a piece for Unbound Worlds’s Dear Reader column, but instead I’m sitting at the bar cooking up this semi-existential story:
I walk into Cloud Nine, and the bartender reflexively grabs my “Space Cadet” mug from the rack of glassware mounted on the wall. I settle into my regular corner seat and catch my mug as it comes sliding down the length of the polished bar. Root beer foam sloshes across my fingers.
I dry my hands on my pants and survey the room while I slurp at my drink. The usual crowd has gathered.
Playing pool by the jukebox are the not-so-super heroes I invented with a friend in grade school. One hero is a terribly-constructed, humanoid robot named Wild Weirdo and the other is a mono-wheeled, hair-covered, bio-mechanical hybrid called Swarp. After Wild Weirdo misses his shot, Swarp uses the cannon built into his hemispherical body to fire pool balls all over the room.
The horde of stick figures on the dance floor dodge the billiard barrage and then turn to cheer on my collection of Lego Space Men who, yet again, are battling my collection of Micronaut action figures for dominance of a plastic lunar surface.
Flying over all this are a half-dozen digital tanks, each constructed from a short stack of blue rectangles. The tanks zoom around on rockets and fire orange circles at each other. An errant shot sails out of the battle zone toward a booth along the back wall.
Seated in the booth are four of the people who help me run my imaginary city-state of GTopolis. The Minister of Mobility looks on as the Mistress of Darkness and the Minister of Chaos simultaneously arm-wrestle the Pope of the Stupid Pagan Cult. The Pope easily defeats them both and takes a celebratory swig of his Mint Julep. He briefly chokes on, and coughs up, an orange circle that had fallen in his glass.
The orange circle bounces across the floor toward the club’s rear entrance and rolls under a table. A young man and woman sit lurking in the deep crimson of the emergency exit sign. Before they shot out the nearby lights it was easy to recognize them as the main characters from my first novel, BLADES OF WINTER, and the upcoming sequel, HAMMER OF ANGELS. The red-haired girl is the gun-toting figure on the book covers. Her name is Scarlet.
Scarlet leans across the table and whispers, “Hey, who’s that schmoe at the bar?”
“The fat one?” her partner replies.
“No, the fartsy-looking dude. Beard. Glasses.”
“Oh, that guy.” The young man sips his soda water. “I don’t know, but he’s always here.”
Scarlet takes a pull from her beer and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. “Doesn’t he have a job?”
“He works from his bar stool, somehow.”
“What’s that written on his mug?”
Scarlet crosses her arms and coldly regards me across the room. “Weirdo,” she says.
I must admit, it’s a little disturbing that my most fully-realized character thinks I’m a weirdo, but this isn’t the first time Scarlet has surprised me. She’s known her own mind since she first barged into the imaginary space in my head. It was disorienting, initially, to have such a loud person in here. Then I grew accustomed to her racket, and my daydreaming wouldn’t be the same without her.