“You’re … you’re not supposed to be here.” Charlotte was truly appalled.
“Why not? If characters can talk about the book they are in, why can’t an author talk to his characters?”
“But if you’re here, then who is writing this? You can’t be in two places at once.”
“Of course I can. I can do whatever I want. This is fiction. I’m sorry if you are disturbed by any of this.”
“You seem very smug about it all,” Sheldon said. “Isn’t there anything that would disturb you?”
“I can’t see how,” said the author. “I mean, after all, this entire world is my creation.”
“Not according to the cat,” said Charlotte’s mom. “If your characters have free will, then you’re not really in charge. We are.”
“Nicely put,” said the cat.
“Thank you,” said Charlotte’s mom, looking very pleased with herself.
“That’s only part of it,” came a voice from the door.
“And who are you?” asked Charlotte.
“I’m the author, of course.”
Charlotte looked from one author to the other. They looked quite identical, except for the fact that the first author was looking very pale. “You didn’t expect this, did you?” she asked him.
“Not really. I guess this means…”
“It means,” said the cat, “that you’ve become a character in the book. So you are no longer the author.”
“But wait,” said Charlotte’s mom. “If entering the scene makes someone a character, then aren’t they both characters now?”
“Oh no,” said Charlotte’s dad. “Looks like we’re going to get an author infestation. It’s like the stateroom scene, but with recursion.”
“The stateroom?” Sheldon said quizzically. “Is that physics?”
“Marx brothers,” said Charlotte’s mom. “You really should pay more attention to the classics.”
Just then a third author showed up at the door. “That’s only part…”, he began, but when he noticed the first two authors, he lapsed into an embarrassed silence.
“Dear,” said Charlotte’s mother to her husband, “it looks as though you were right. I have a feeling it’s going to get awfully crowded in here. Is there nothing we can do?”
“Wait,” said Charlotte, “I think this is all happening because the book is in limbo. And I just remembered something.”
“What’s that?” Sheldon asked. Just then a fourth author walked in. Seeing the other three, he didn’t even bother trying to announce himself. The third author stepped aside politely to give him space. The room was beginning to become crowded.
“I remembered that I have the power to change the book.” She took the piece of paper out of her pocket, the one with the altered title page, and unfolded it. “Does anybody have a pen?”
“I do,” said the first author.
“Thanks,” said Charlotte. “I hope you don’t mind my messing with your work.”
The author chuckled, “It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve done that.”
“True enough.” Charlotte thought for a moment, and then wrote something down. Suddenly all the authors vanished from the room.
“I’m not a ghost anymore!” said Charlotte’s mom. “And neither are you dear,” she added, looking at her husband.
“Hey, I’m not either,” said Sheldon. “How did you do that?”
Charlotte shrugged. “I just found the right title. The rest of the book pretty much writes itself from there.”
“What’s the new title?”
Charlotte read from the page. “Sheldon, who is not a Ghost; A Love Story.”
Sheldon beamed. “That is a very good title. And looking at you right now, I find myself extremely happy that I am no longer a ghost.”
Charlotte blushed. “I quite agree. Nothing like being able to decide for yourself what story you are in. And I guess we really have the cat to thank. I don’t think I would have figured any of this out otherwise.”
“Say,” said Charlotte’s dad, “Where is that cat anyway?” They all looked around, but the cat was nowhere to be found.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure I know where we will be able to find her,” Charlotte laughed.
“In the sequel, of course.”