Canto 2: The Untimely Demise of King and JoanA Chapter by Amanda
If Stephen King of J. K. Rowling should ever read this, please take no offense. You're my favorite people ever.
From that point on, the hike was a quick, dizzy blur. Stephen King walked with a slight limp, but somehow managed to stay at the head of the pack, often forcing our group past more lethargic hikers.
The summit was crowded with spectators, all come to witness the same thing I had: the sunrise above the clouds. At that point I doubted any sunrise from any point or peak on earth could top what I had already seen that evening.
King, Joan, Fitz, Ernie and I all chose a viewing point with as much distance from other hikers as possible. The first rays of dawn were just beginning to paint the far-off horizon with hues of orange and pale blue. I glanced at my watch: 3:45 a.m. It would be another twenty minutes before we’d see the full shebang.
“Amanda,” King sighed from beside me. He leaned back on his elbows, staring across the vast, eerie expanses of cloud and mist. His glasses deflected the first sparkle of morning sun, and a thin, sad smile played across his lips.
“Yes?” I replied.
“You know we’re not here right?” chuckled King.
“Well, duh,” I answered. King’s bushy eyebrows rose inquisitively. “Both Fitz and Ernie over there have been dead god-knows-how-long.” Neither Ernie nor Fitz seemed to hear me, but were engaged in intense conversation several feet away.
“Then how would you explain this?” asked King. “How do you explain this conversation, right now? Are you dreaming?”
I paused for a moment, considering the sad possibility. “I don’t think so,” I answered. “If this were a dream, my feet wouldn’t be hurting so much.”
This earned a drowsy chuckle from both King and Joan. “Well, you’re right,” admitted King, pushing his glasses back up the crook of his nose. “You’re not dreaming.”
“Then can you explain what’s going on? Because for the past two hours, I’ve been making peace with the assumption that I’ve finally gone crazy.”
“All good writers are a little crazy,” crooned Joan, leaning her head against King’s shoulder. “No one wants to read the things that normal people dream up.”
I absorbed this somewhat comforting thought and began to settle back into a place of quiet complacency.
“You’re not crazy,” said King, after a long moment’s silence. “At least not that crazy.” I looked at King. He looked at me, a flicker of remorse just barely visible behind the dark hue of his spectacles. “The fact of the matter is, Amanda, that Fitz and Ernie aren’t the only dead ones. We’re all dead.”
“What?” I asked, unsure of whether imaginary King was just displaying a characteristic bit of dark humor, or if indeed imaginary King and imaginary Joan could actually be departed souls.
“It’s true,” breathed Joan.
“That can’t be true,” I laughed. “If both of you were dead, it would have made headlines. The whole world would know about it!”
“And they will,” sighed King with a pointed nod. “Tomorrow.”
I abruptly stopped laughing. King’s expression was like chiseled granite. He continued on. “Joan and I were both en-route to a fundraiser in Bangalore. Somewhere over Eastern Europe, the plane experienced some kind of technical malfunction. There were a few seconds of turbulence, and then we could hear the engines sputter before finally clicking off. The plane started to nosedive-“
“Stop,” I interrupted. “J. K. Rowling and Stephen King are not dead!”
“Sadly dear,” breathed Rowling, “we are.”
“I don’t know what your problem is,” scoffed King. “You’re the last person on earth who will ever see or hear us again. Our children can’t say that much.”
“Yeah,” said Joan, “so if you have any good questions, now would be a great time to ask.”
I thought for a moment, staring from one literary genius to the other with dumbfounded wonderment. “Joan?” I finally asked. “Is Dumbledore really gay?”
Joan laughed, a happy, jovial laugh one would not expect from a very-recently-deceased spirit. “Oh, god, I don’t know,” she admitted. “It started as a joke. Those reporters fly at you with all sorts of serious questions, serious words. It kind of started as a personal joke, but you know how they are. They’ll snap at every single word, and choke and maim it until it’s a whole new creature altogether. But of course, once it was out there that I’d said he was gay, I couldn’t just detract it. There would have been uproar from the gay community. So I left it be. And hey, why the hell shouldn’t he be? I think it makes him happy.”
“Okay,” I nodded with a smile. “And Mr. King?”
“In Full Dark, No Stars, did you really mean to imply that a man bit himself to death?”
“Okay, just checking.”
© 2011 Amanda
AboutI'm a small-town business student who loves to write. I have just recently completed the final draft of my first-ever manuscript, most of which can be found on my page under "The Race of Kings: The Dr.. more..