An author is arrested and charged with character abuse. However, the trial doesn't go quite as the prosecution would hope ...
Part One: The Charges
Whoops. This was the first word that sprung to mind as I stood in the middle of the courtroom. Or at least, I presumed it was a courtroom, because it smelt like one. The distinctive whiff of paper and ink pens tickled my nose, while under it all was the sour yellow smell of stuffy old men in silly wigs who wear too much face powder and not enough deodorant.
As for what the room looked like, well, it looked like any other courtroom really. Rows of benches lining a single aisle which lead up to a high bench where the judge sat. I was standing at the end of the aisle, standing behind a low table, gazing intently at the wood and studying the greasy finger-smuges and dark rings of coffee mugs on the laquered wooden surface. Someone coughed nearby, but I was too entranced by a particularly interesting chip in the table’s edge to bother looking up. How, I wondered, had someone managed to carve out such an accurate picture of an upside down turnip in such a small area?
A loud bang from the high bench. I looked up huffily. “Must you make such a racket? You’ve broken my concentration now!”
The banger – a portly figure wearing what I could only describe as an oversized choir robe – ignored me.
“Spook of Night,” he said, “you have been summoned here, in lieu of your recent arrest, to answer to criminal charges, as pressed by the Imaginative Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Fictional Persons over a period of fifteen point two years. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“Gnah?” I said. I had no idea what I was supposed to say, for I had been far too interested in watching the judge’s eyebrows to pay any attention to what he was actually saying. They were enormous eyebrows, easily the length of my middle finger, which wiggled and bounced like a pair of hairy over-caffienated caterpillars over the surface of his greasy forehead. The caterpillars arched gracefully as the judge fixed me with a penetrating glare.
“You have been summoned,” he said, “to face charges for your vicious and abusive actions towards several members of the public. You stand accused by the victims’ representatives with commiting crimes of Supreme Nastiness, Acting with Intent to cause Pain, Distress and Discomfort and Causing Willful Damage and Injury For No Apparent Reason.”
“I am?” I said. “And who says so?”
The judge pointed to the juror’s bench. I turned to look, and found myself staring into the faces of a small crowd of irritable looking persons. All of them were injured or in some sort of physical disarray, and each had a murderous look on his or her face. I smiled and waved happily.
“Hey guys!” I grinned. “How are you? Wow, it’s been ages since I’ve seen some of you. How are you all?”
One of the characters, a skinny black-haired individual with a distinctly wild look about him, cackled.
“How are we doing? How are we doing, she says.” he snorted. “Of all the questions to ask, that has to be my far the most stupid I have ever heard.”
“You know full well how we’re doing.” said another. A pair of angry dark eyes peered out from underneath a wild mane of eye-wateringly red hair. I would have laughed, but I didn’t think that would be a good idea at the time. I had the feeling that hurting his feelings would lead to me being reduced to a small red smear on the edge of the huge longsword that lay across the character’s knees. He was fiddling with the hilt thoughtfully, as if considering which of my limbs he would like to hack off first.
“I knew I should have given you a frying pan instead,” I muttered, “although I suspect that would be equally painful in these circumstances ...”
The judge cleared his throat, “Do you have anything to say for yourself? Until then, we will presume you guilty unless proven otherwise.”
“Ah, well, you see ... it was all for the good of the plot, honest!” I bleated. My ears turned crimson as I felt my characters’ smouldering gaze boring into me.
“The plot?” the wild-eyed man was on his feet now, leaning over the table as if he meant to vault himself at me at any second. “The plot? You drove me crazy, murdered my best friend, turned my brother into a killer and blew our world to bits for the sake of the plot? What sort of sick little freak are you?”
“And what about me?” another swordsman, sitting beside the flame-haired grump, spoke up. “She killed me off on the first page, then decided she’d like to drag me off on some ridiculous overblown quest and dump me with a bunch of dillusional idiots who seem to think I’m going to save the world!”
“You threw me off a cliff!”
“Tried to drown me!”
“Broke my stinking arm!”
“Fish paste!” one voice rose high above the others. A green-eyed thief was glaring at me from the back of the room. A distinctly wet, oily smell wafted towards me across the room as he brandished his fist at me. “Fish paste! What sort of nutcase thinks of that?”
“Silence!” the judge glared down at us. “Control yourselves, all of you. We will settle this properly, like adults, not like a pack of squabbling idiots!”
A unanimous “humph” rose from my characters. I looked at the judge and raised an eyebrow, although I must say the gesture wasn’t as impressive on me as it was with his titanic monstrosities.
“So, what am I supposed to do now?”
“If you cannot defend yourself, which it is plainly obvious you can’t, you must be punished as the law dictates. Your sentence is,” he paused, no doubt for dramatic effect, before continuing, “to spend the rest of eternity in the Land of Happy Fluffy Bunnies as Junior Poop Scooper!"