I opened the microwave and the smell of popcorn immediately filled the kitchen. I drank in the fake butter aroma that brought me back to golden days of yesteryear, when Eric and I would go to the movies. That was the plan tonight too, though this time it was only me and the movies would be playing on TV in the living room. Eric was away at his writer’s group and I was getting some quality “me” time. I dumped the popcorn into a paper bag and picked up my paper cup of soda. This would be a night to lose myself.
The knock at the door made me jump, just like one of those old scary movies. We live on the fourteenth floor of a so-called secure building, so people knocking usually meant neighbours. I set the food down and went to answer it.
I pulled the door open and stopped dead. My jaw dropped. There was a cowboy standing there, right out of a Clint Eastwood movie. He wore a greatcoat and duster over his shirt and vest, and below his chaps were rugged pointy-tipped cowboy boots. He smelled of dust and sweat and horses and, uh, other cowboy things.
I swooned, partly because I’d always loved those movies and partly because the smell of cow flop was a bit overpowering. He caught me in a rugged arm and pulled me close. I couldn’t tell whether I gasped because of the smell or because of the real concern I saw in his steely blue eyes.
“Are you all right, miss? What’s your name?”
“Well, Wawawanda, what’s a young gal like you doing all alone in this godforsaken place?”
“The city’s not that bad...”
I trailed off and looked around. The hot sun was beating down on the dusty ground and the wind raised tiny dust devils around us. We were standing in the doorway of a dilapidated shack in a small town that even the ghosts had deserted. And my popcorn was gone!
“What the fudgesicle?”
But I already knew what the problem was. Eric. My idiot writing-obsessed brother had somehow written the entire world out of existence. I wasn’t sure how he did it, but he just had to be involved. All that was left was me, a ghost town, and a kind-of-hunky cowboy that I had just created on my word processor. I think I’ll call him Dusty.
I could tell my brother hadn’t written this because Dusty wasn’t poking me with his stiffened rod (which Eric would have some lame excuse for, of course). Disgusting. I looked at Dusty again, as his personality details started moseying their way into my head. Well, maybe we can come back to the stiffened rod around chapter eleven or twelve, after I’ve gotten to know him...
- - -
I hit the ‘print’ button and the page came out. As I stared at the words I finally understood what Eric felt after he’d created something. I was hooked.