Let's get the basics out of the way right now, up-front: as far as I can tell (and let's not depend too heavily on my perceptions here, because She manipulates those, too, I'm pretty sure), I'm a character in a story which is being written right now by some chick at a laptop. I'm pretty sure it's a woman, because I'm female, and if I was writing an avatar of myself into a story with the smugly sadistic satisfaction this Bitch perpetually demonstrates every time She cockblocks my efforts at escape, then that avatar!me would also be female. Seeing as I'm treated like some kind of psychological self-exploratory experiment, I hazard a guess that I'm supposed to be Her little fictional avatar, and if I'm anything like Her (or She's anything like me? I dunno', I guess it all comes out about even whichever way you look at it), then She is really, really messed up. I mean batshit levels of messed up. I can't do anything without Her interfering just before I pull it off, and the things She invents to keep me here are sometimes petulant and mocking, sometimes beyond the pale.

I'm always looking for a fast way out, while She's looking for ways to keep a plot moving forward without me messing it up for Her, and it's become something of a game between Her and me. At least, I like to see it as a game. She probably just sees it as writers block centered on one stubbornly defiant little protagonist. Hey, it's not like it's my fault She wrote me with such a profound disinclination to cooperate. I'm just doing what I do best, as well as I know how, with what resources and sheer cussedness I've got at my disposal.

The real problem is, I think, that I'm a little too self-aware and pragmatic for Her to know how to handle me. Either of those, on its own, would be harmless, but together they make me acutely, painfully genre-savvy.

I'll give you an example. I woke up today on a school bus surrounded by Japanese children and dressed like one of them. I don't speak a damn word of Japanese, but somehow I could understand everything they were saying. Next thing I know, we're reenacting the opening scenes of Battle Royale, and I guess She knows a lot about the movie, because I do, too. My name gets called first to go out onto the island, and I catch my backpack when it's thrown at me. I dash out the door, pull out the machete from the bag, and wait near the exit of the island's military facility. As each kid steps out the door, I do for him and toss his corpse into the shrubbery. Pretty soon, it's down to me and the last two or three hypercompetent kids who made a more cautious exit, and I finish them off with the grenades I found in another kid's pack. Game Over, right?

Wrong. Next time I blink my eyes, I'm with a team of college students, lurking in front of a haunted house or something, and they're telling ghost stories. Two of them are already groping each other and looking around for a make-out spot, and a third is suggesting the group split up and look around the property. I don't want no part of that bullshit, so I get into the group's van and NOPE the hell outta' there, driving quickly and carefully back toward civilization. I go into the nearest Burger King and buy myself a Whopper. Those dipshits are copiously welcome to enjoy being part of a stereotypical 1990's slasher flick, but I'm staying right frickin' HERE in this beautifully well-lit and public establishment.

Or... not. What now? There's a guy with some kinda' English accent, and he's fidgeting nervously while sitting on the edge of my work desk in some kinda' office building. He must have said something shyly funny, because I hear a laugh track in the back of my mind. Okay, so that rules out soap opera. What's this one, a sitcom? Chick flick? A woman steps out of a nearby office and starts bitching me out over Author-knows-what, and yeah, okay, it's a chick flick. Easy way outta' this one, for sure; I don't even know why She bothers throwing this sappy love-sick garbage at me. I stand up from my cubicle, grabbing a nearby letter opener in one hand and a pair of scissors with the other, and with one clean quick gesture I lay open the carotid arteries of my bitchy boss and the sad-sack Brit attempting to flirt with me. Gore sprays everywhere, and I laugh at the comically baffled expressions on their faces. Weren't expecting that in your pathetic little genre, were you?

I haven't always been as aware as I am now. There were times, in the early years, when maybe the Author's personality and self-concept weren't too fully developed, because I wasn't too fully developed myself, and She could get away with little cock-ups, plot holes, and countless other things which nowadays would just have me rolling my eyes and asking Her how the hell She expects anybody to willingly suspend their disbelief for this drivel. Over time, though, Her writing quality improved, and so did my own ability to recognize my role in this situation. Her errors, now less frequent, also became much more glaring- so much so that occasionally they would snap me right out of my flow and call my attention swiftly to the fact that my existence is a purely artificial contrivance of a more powerful Being. Once I gained that level of awareness, I stuck with it, plus or minus the occasional lapse into amnesia artfully applied from Above.

I stretch and yawn in my own bed on my moisture farm somewhere. An old man is standing in my doorway, saying something about a rebellion, an evil empire, and a mentor I must go seek out to unlock my true power. I'm really worried about the farm's bottom line this year; the black market lord who controls our sector has had my aunt and uncle in a really bad squeeze lately, and the imperial authorities have been paying a little too close attention to everybody for months now.

I blink, and the synthetic memory glitching vanishes. I scowl up toward the ceiling.

Monomyth. Really? You've done this one like... what... seventeen times this week, at least?

In my "journeying" under Her auspices, I've done a lot of learning. She wrote me to be a quick study- just inquisitive enough to find useful skills and information wherever I go, but not curious enough to be a damn idiot, like those kids back in the haunted house story. My costume, appearance, and immediate priorities change with each new scene-reset, but somehow my knowledge and abilities seem to be conserved from one episode to the next. I've learned swordplay and marksmanship, mechanics and explosives, every martial art under any imaginable sun, cooking, mathematic and scientific principles. I've taught myself how to charm a lock, pick a pocket, sneak past castle guards, perform first aid (and at least a few complex surgeries), kidnap dragon eggs and train a dragon to carry riders. My life is that one Bill Murray movie, but a thousand times over, even with all the immense variation the Creatrix has thrown at me... and I can't honestly say I know who "Bill Murray" even is- some member of God's species, or another character like me? I dunno'. Anyway, I've also learned to recognize the finer nuances of genres which look quite a bit alike from a distance, but which actually follow very different rules and can require very different tactics to escape. I've learned that the fastest way out of the Hero's Journey is to be as unheroic as possible.

Turning toward the warrior monk standing in my doorway, I liberate the old fart of his fancy laser sword with a bit of pocket picking skill I learned in a caper episode, and I lob off his head while he's still busy hunting for it. I take his cloak and put it on, head outside, and hop onto his landspeeder. At Toshi Station a half hour later, I use the contents of his wallet to pay for those power converters I was wanting for so long. Can't say I'm particularly bothered by the razed husk of my family farm, or their burned-out corpses on the sand; it always happens like this, and all their names and faces have long since blurred together. What worth is sentiment, for somebody who never spends more than an hour or two in any one narrative existence?

I guess She got bored watching me tinkering aimlessly on the newly appropriated machinery, because now I'm surrounded by talking flowers, and there's a small furry animal running away, screaming to anything with ears about his obsession with the passage of time. I'm not a big fan of the surreal ones, even if they demand a little more than the usual creativity from my Creatrix, so once I get my hands on a proper Vorpal Sword, I turn it on every living and nonliving-but-still-walking-and-talking thing in my vicinity, "friend" and "foe" alike. For a moment, I consider falling on it myself, but I don't really know what happens to me if I try to suicide my way out of one of Her stories. I have a feeling She would get bored pretty quick if that was the only solution I used for everything, and She's bad enough when she appears to be mostly entertained. I don't want to know what She cooks up when She's bored. Maybe I should start working on some nonviolent escape methods, since the last few have been pretty bloody; I don't know if She's just bloody-minded, and writes it into my personality, or if it really is all on me how I behave, and She just sets the scene. If the former, then it's no news to me how frakked in the head She is, but if the latter, then I need to avoid being too repetitive.

Oh, what's this, now? Streamers of falling numbers, green against a black backdrop, and suddenly I'm flying, fighting hand-to-hand with a man in a very official-looking suit. Mmmn, gratuitous violence, I could get used to this...

...if it wasn't all so disgustingly meta. Wow, God, I get that You resent the problems I'm creating for You, but could You be a little less goddamned snarky about it? Waving recursive realities in my face doesn't make me like You more, genius, and tempting me with plenty of genre-consistent combat opportunities isn't going to be enough to keep me here. I stand perfectly still and wait for the men in suits to fire a volley of bullets at me, but instead of using Bullet Time, I stand still and wait for the red to blossom across the black leather of my overcoat. I walk slowly and methodically toward the Suits, until I'm standing face-to-face with the one closest to me, and I cup his face in my hand and kiss him on the mouth, unhurriedly waiting for the genre to fracture and shatter around me. It isn't right for the Chosen One to surrender like that, after all. I feel my face start to morph into a likeness of the Suits, and then reality shifts again.

I'm in a forest now, but not the talking kind, and I'm wearing a red hooded cloak and carrying a basket of bread and cheese and fruit cordial. I can already hear the she-wolf approaching, but I know where the woodcutter lives, and I guess that makes this situation pretty manageable. I put on my most guileless ingenue's smile, turn to face Her, and curtsy.

Iron Noder 2013, 21/30

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