Since I live alone, I’m always scared half to death whenever a voice addresses me at a time when I should be the only one at The House on the Hill.
“I was wondering if you had a second to talk,” the mystery voice inquired from the doorway of my living room.
I looked up from my book to discover a handsome young man, probably in his late teens or early twenties, smiling at me. He looked very familiar with his slightly crooked glasses, messy brown hair, and NYU sweatshirt, but I couldn’t quite put a name to his face.
Nor did I know what the hell he was doing in my house.
“Do I know you?” I finally decided to ask out of all the questions that were rattling around in my head at the moment.
The stranger feigned being hurt by my not knowing who he was.
“Sure you don’t want to guess?” he asked playfully. “I was certain the sweatshirt would be a dead giveaway.”
He pointed to the three white letters emblazoned across the purple garment on his chest, but seeing the name of my alma mater didn’t tell me who he was.
“Are you a younger version of me sent from my college days to deliver me a dire warning about the future?” was my best guess.
“I’m a little too handsome to be that, don’t you agree?” he quipped.
He had a point, and I had to nod that I concurred.
“You’re close, though,” he informed me. “I’m Cole, the lead character from the TV series you’re writing about your time in college. Since I’m based on you, we do look alike, but the casting people are definitely going to want someone who looks less dorky. No offense.”
“None taken,” I assured him with a smile and a wave. “So let me get this straight. You are a fictional character from one of my scripts, who has come to life and wants to chat?”
“Bingo!” Cole replied and tapped his nose. “I know it might sound a little farfetched, but you did bring me to life in your computer, so who’s to say you couldn’t go the same thing in real life?”
I shrugged. “I feel like Geppetto, only with a laptop. Do you have Jiminy Cricket hiding somewhere over there?”
Cole laughed, and it sounded disturbingly like my laugh. Which made complete sense, seeing as how he is based on me, but it was still very weird.
“It’s obvious where I get all my witty dialogue,” Cole gushed as he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorway, looking right at home.
I wanted to be a good host, and offer my guest a seat, but this was all a little too much for me to process. I decided to let him stand there, where I could keep an eye on him.
“So what brings you to life, Cole?” I asked with a nervous chuckle.
“We were all talking…”
I cut him off. “By ‘we’ do you mean all the characters in the script?”
“Sorry, for not clarifying,” he apologized. “Yes, I am referring to the other characters in the script. Anyway, we were just wondering what’s going on with the series. When last we heard, you had a surprise meeting that led to big news, but since then, there’s nothing new. We’re just getting a bit bored in your laptop, reliving the same ten episodes on a continuous loop.”
He looked at me expectantly, and I was suddenly at a loss for words. I’d never considered what life must be like for my characters once I’d finished working on the stories in which they existed.
“Ummm, I’m sorry for the delay,” I blabbered as I tried to figure out what to say. “I’m a bit bored, too, waiting for word on what’s next. We left it with my contact at the TV station trying to set up a meeting with the production side of things to discuss making the Pilot.”
Cole’s eyes lit up. “The Pilot is one of my favorite places to hang. So much happens in that episode, and it’s fun getting to meet everyone for the first time and move into the dorm. I think I spend the most time in the Christmas episode, though, because that’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Again, I wasn’t sure how to respond.
“I’m glad you enjoy the world I’ve created for you…”
Cole began to pace across the living room, but remained on his side of the table, as if it were an imaginary border between, well, my sanity and insanity.
“Do you think you could press things with your guy at the TV station?” he finally asked as he picked up the pace on his pacing. “I mean, we all love the world you’ve made for us, but we’re getting cabin fever. I’m sure you can only imagine how it’s affecting some of the other characters.”
He didn’t have to give me names. I knew exactly who he meant. It was like Cole and I shared a mind and I knew exactly what he was thinking.
“I could try that,” I promised. “I’ll email him again.”
Cole stopped pacing and smiled at me. “That would be awesome. Maybe you could send him this blog post to read. He might see it as a very creative way of checking on the status of the project.”
I nodded in agreement. I liked the way this kid thinks. “Can’t hurt. It might help for him to see how passionate the characters are about getting this series made.”
“We totally are,” Cole nodded from a few feet away, and it was like I was looking in a mirror, only the mirror was reflecting images from thirty years in the past. “We’re also very anxious for you to start writing new episodes.”
“To give you something new to do?” I asked, but already knew the answer.
“Exactly,” Cole confirmed. “We’ve all read the notes you’ve made on Season Two, and we love what you have in mind for us. We are especially excited about the new location you noted. It will be cool to have another place to spend time. Things are a bit limited in Season One.”
I nodded and sighed. “Sorry about that. I just wanted to keep the budget low, so I only used a few locations. My hope is that Season One will be such a success, that there will be a much larger budget for future seasons.”
“That would be awesome!” Cole replied with a fist pump. “New York is such a cool city, but you rarely let me wander off the campus…”
“It’s for your own good,” I countered. “New York is a dangerous city, and the last thing I want is for anything to happen to you, or to any of your friends.”
We looked at each other for a moment while that sank in, and then we burst into laughter at the exact same moment.
“How come only you came out to visit?” I asked once the laughter had subsided.
Cole shrugged and went back to leaning against the doorway. “We thought this would be the least freaky of all circumstances, since I’m merely an extension of you. The idea was that this would be almost like talking to yourself.”
“Can other characters appear if I wanted?” I asked hopefully.
“I know what you’re thinking, but that wouldn’t be a good idea,” Cole sounded almost like he was scolding me.
“What do you mean?” I asked defensively.
“We both know that one of the characters in the series is basically your dream woman. You’re wondering if she could come to life, fall in love with you, and solve all the single life problems that have been haunting you since your divorce.”
Cole looked at me like he dared me to tell him he was wrong.
“It’s not the most ridiculous idea, and given how dating has been going for me, it very well might be the best idea,” I stated confidently.
“I wouldn’t hold my breath,” Cole suggested. “This little incident is probably just a result of your being overtired and falling asleep on the couch while watching football. When you wake up, I’ll be back in your laptop where I belong.”
I could feel my shoulders sag at that revelation. As strange at this conversation had been, I was really enjoying Cole’s company.
“I’ll do everything in my power to get this series made, and then get them to agree to a second season,” I gave Cole my word.
“Thanks,” he answered with a charming smile. “Send this post to your friend at the TV station, and I bet it gets the ball rolling.”
And with that, I awakened to discover one of the kitties licking my face, the football game on the TV, and no one else in the living room with me. The weirdest things happen to me sometimes, but I’m not complaining…