Rebecca frowned as she picked up her phone. There was no dial tone.
“Susan,” she called, as he walked to the reception. “My desk phone doesn’t seem to be working, and neither is my cell phone. Can you get an outside line?”
“No, I can’t get a dial tone either,” Susan said as she tapped the phone and tried punching the numbers. “Funny, I received a call from a Martin Esker from Halifax, Nova Scotia just a few minutes ago.”
“Martin Esker? Hmm..,” she thought for a while. “Doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Well, he said that he received a call from Bell.”
“Bell, as in the phone company?”
“Bell, as in Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the phone.”
“I know, it sounds crazy. He said that he thought it was some kind of a prank call, but found it to be so authentic, and is confused.”
“So what did this Martin Esker want? And why did he call the Protagonize Character Placement Agency?”
“Well, he didn’t know it was us,” Susan replied. “He said he meant to call one of his friends, someone named Eric, who also lives in Halifax. Somehow the call was routed to us. But when I told him who we were, he was interested. He said that he is actually part of one the Protagonize stories. He wanted to know what happened next in his story, or if he could at least be placed in a different story. He has been sitting in his living room not knowing what to do next. Anyway, I took his number and told him that we would get back to him.”
Rebecca ran a search in the database. “Aah, yes! Here it is! Calling Doctor Bell, by FaltarEgo.”
“FalterEgo?” asked Alan, overhearing their conversation. “Isn’t he the guy who started to write about us as well?”
“FaltarEgo, Alan,” Rebecca corrected. “With an ‘a’, not an ‘e’. He doesn’t like it when people misspell his name. Yes, he is the one who started to write about Protagonize Character Placement Agency among other stories, some of which he seems to have abandoned.”
“Wait, we aren’t a story!” Susan protested. “We are real! We simply help place characters in stories!”
“We are real because we think we are,” Alan replied, sounding philosophical. “We have writers writing about us. We have characters from other stories, some of whom have become permanent residents here.” He continued as he saw Jeeves with a stiff upper lip appearing out of nowhere once again. “Where are we if not in a story ourselves?”
“Alan is right, Susan,” Rebecca pointed out. “Think about it. It has been a long day with so many things happening. Jason has been murdered, which Jake is investigating now, by the way. This crazy Joe guy keeps popping back and forth. Is he a character in a story or a writer, or both? Our phone lines are jammed. Someone from a story from May 23rd, 2008 tries to place a call to his friend to tell him about a call he received from someone over a hundred years ago, and his call comes to us now. What do you think is happening?”
“Sounds like we have entered a sci-fi realm of a story ourselves,” Alan muttered.
“Could be,” Rebecca agreed. “It’s all up to the writers.”
All of a sudden, an eerie music began to play. Alan jumped in fear. “Did you hear that?!”
“Ah, it’s just the phone ringing, Mister Smithee,” Jeeves said in a calm demeanour as he picked it up.
“Good Afternoon, Protagonize Character Placement Agency, how may we help you?” he asked, and listened intently, his facial expression changing from confused to entertained.
“You should listen to this sir,” he said to Alan who was frowning at him, and handed him the receiver. “It sounds like a recording of some sort. A very interesting narration, I must say sir. The gentleman calls himself Doctor Pinch, and talks about some strange species like Addendumdums, Aephooz, Agma-Gamas, and so on and so forth.”
As Alan held the receiver in his ear, he heard a loud, ear-piercing scream. “AIIEEEEEEEE!!”