There is a world that exists between the blurry lines of fiction and reality. A world much like our own and, yet, impossible. It is a broken world; it's story cut down before it was ever fully told. The people in it, save for a select few, are flat archetypes with simple lives and no real purpose other than to adhere to the needs of the narrative. The protagonist leads the narrative, giving the people around her fleshed out lives and being.
That is, until twelve years ago.
Two friends went to an elementary school in eastern Telworth city. A nice, clean, coastal neighborhood, prone to park benches and fairly decent sunsets. The friends, Fen and Laura, were two grades apart but still very close. Not just because of shared interests in books or puzzles, but also because they were both born different. They, for no apparent reason to them, were self aware.
For most of their early lives, they thought they were the only ones who knew the world they lived in was just a story. Until that day, twelve years before now, when a new kid came to school. His name was Axel and he was... different. For starters, there had never been a "new kid" before. The protagonist never spent time in eastern Telworth so the place never had a need to be dynamic. And yet, here was this new kid. Not only that, but he didn't fit into any archetypes neatly. There were bits from several of them all bundled up into one. Was it possible? Someone else like Fen and Laura existed? The two friends were determined to find out.
But doing so came with a price.
That same day, without any explanation or hints in the plot, a horde of machines began ransacking the school. Children and teachers alike ran for cover, but Fen and Laura were excited. Their tiny part of town would finally be visited by the protagonist! Soon enough, she showed up; determined to find a way to stop these machines. Fen and Laura, dragging Axel with them, followed the protagonist from a distance. Strangely, the protagonist was having trouble fending off the machines. That wasn't right, this was her story. The robots should be nothing to her. They shouldn't-
As the children watched in horror, unable to do anything, the protagonist, their hero, was slain. Her broken body flung limply to the floor as the whole world shuddered. The protagonist was dead, her story over way before it was supposed to have ended. There was now a gaping hole in the narrative of reality. But what could fix it?
As Fen and Laura stared, Axel stood up and began walking towards the robots. Fury filled him as the narrative chose its new protagonist. In the face of this threat to all of reality, everything just started clicking into place for the three kids. Laura somehow knew where a weapon which worked against the machines was, Fen inexplicably figured out that the robots all communicated through a digital hive mind, and Axel miraculously found an old broadcasting machine to send a "shut off" command to the attacking horde. It was bad writing. Terrible writing. But the narrative had no other choice but to resort to it.
The machines were stopped, the world was saved, and Axel became the new protagonist.
From then to now, the story became about Axel, Fen, and Laura. The three kids grew up going on adventures and saving the world again and again. The people around them started to gain personalities and dimensions too, though not to the same level. Every story needs supporting characters after all.
Now I take you to the present day. Axel, Fen, and Laura now go to the same college and live together in a nice, two story apartment. Recently, however, more and more strange things have been happening. The adventures are becoming more frequent and unrelated. Random people are starting develop personalities on their own. It's almost as if the world is unfocused.
Perhaps some old wounds are starting to open up again...
CHAPTER ONE: Close Encounters of the Weird KindAxel
Axel woke up one Saturday morning in a cold sweat. Another nightmare. He'd been having a lot of those recently...
Morning light peaks through the window onto his face. The digital clock on a bedside table next to him reads 7:56 AM. Try as he might to go back to sleep, his stomach seems to have other plans. There's food in the kitchen downstairs. Maybe some breakfast would shut his stomach up.
Laura had fallen asleep reading the night before. She was fast asleep on the couch, the lamp in the room still turned on and a book on top of her chest. The TV across from her shows nothing but a blank screen. She awakes to the sound of stumbling footsteps on the stairwell in the other room. Her friend, Fen, walks into the living room.
Fen was already halfway down the stairs by the time she was fully awake. She walks into the living room to find Laura laying on the couch, a book on her chest. The TV on the wall across from her is off, the little display on the cable box reads 7:57 AM.