Setting: A court room, high noon, late summer. Somewhere in the distance, a bell tolls.
Sara, looking very anxious, rocks back and forth over the defendant's table. She periodically eyes the crowd behind her as though she recognizes them but can't...quite...place them.
The door behind the judge's podium opens.
Disembodied Voice: All rise for the Honorable Judge Oxbow!
Crowd stands. Sara freezes, gaping at the judge as he rises to the podium.
Oxbow: Does the defendant refuse to pay respect to the Honorable Judge?
Sara: You're not a judge -- you're a pirate!
Oxbow: Let the records show that the defendant--
Sara: *scrambling to stand* No, no, I'm standing! I'm standing. See? Standing.
Oxbow: Good. Now the state will hear the case--
Sara: What state? WHERE ARE WE??
Oxbow: *exasperated* THE STATE will hear THE CASE of Thorne, Pate, and Unnamed vs. Sara Raasch, Author.
Sara: *groans* Oh no.
Crowd sits as the Honorable Judge Oxbow sits. Sara remains standing, head hanging, as she comes to understand why she has been brought to this godforsaken place.
Judge Oxbow bangs his gavel.
Oxbow: Release the jury!
Sara: "Release"? What the--
The door beside the jury box opens and a group of all-too-familiar faces files in. At this point, Sara whirls on the crowd behind her, then back to the jury, crowd, jury, crowd.
Sara: Object! I have an objection! Objection, OBJECTION, Your Honor!
Oxbow: The trial has not yet begun. There is nothing to object!
Sara: You've compiled a jury of all the characters who had really, really unlucky roles in my books. This isn't fair! And the crowd-- the crowd is a bunch of the minor characters who died in town explosions and battle scenes. THEY ALL HATE ME!
Sara: SO this won't be a fair trial!
Oxbow: You wrote me without an eye. How's THAT for fair?
Sara: Profanity. Carry on.
Oxbow: *adjusts his judge's wig and waggles the gavel at Sara* I don't think you fully realize the consequences of your actions, Madam.
Sara: *snorts* Madam?
Oxbow: Because of your negligence, innocent characters have been suspended in a state of frozen animation for MONTHS. Their lives have literally stopped because you, YOU, were careless and selfish. We have gathered today to hear both sides once and for all and to come to a ruling.
Sara: A ruling?
Oxbow: *shifts through papers* I call the first plaintiff to the stand: Crystal Thorne.
Sara is the only one, again, who doesn't stand when the back doors open. Crystal marches down the aisle and heads straight for the podium where she takes her seat with a flip of her pink-and-black striped hair.
Crystal: Thank you, Your Honor. Nice wig.
Oxbow: *adjusts the wig again* Why don't you begin by stating your case to the jury?
Crystal: Don't mind if I do.
Crystal faces the jury. Sara keeps a stern focus on the defendant's table, afraid to look at the jury for fear their vengeful gazes might incinerate her from the inside out. Or outside in. Neither would feel very good.
Crystal: I'm Crystal Thorne. 16 years old. I should be in the prime of my life, right? Frolicking through a KICK-ASS story. Making sequels. Conquering love triangles. But where am I? WHERE AM I?
Crystal pounds on the podium, enraged.
Crystal: I've been trapped as nothing more than the blinky line thingy in a Word doc for MONTHS! MONTHS! I'm young! I'm interesting! I'm bubbly! LOOK AT MY HAIR! Any author would be THRILLED to have my story. And she's just-- she's just--
Crystal breaks down into sobs, unable to continue. The jury turns, as one, and sets an even more threatening glare on Sara. Sara shifts, pretending to pick at a spot on her jeans.
Oxbow: Thank you, Crystal. Will the next plaintiff please approach the stand?
The doors open again. Sara turns this time and smiles when she sees who the next plaintiff is. Surely HE will stand up for her...
Maxence Pate stands beside Crystal at the podium. He puts his arm around her as she continues to blubber.
Max: I had the same problem too. A solid plot. Strong characterization. A promising future. Then she had to go and lead me on. Make me think I was special. She kept primping me, what she'd wrote of me, but she never wrote more. I just stopped. Do you know what that's like? DO YOU? To just STOP? It doesn't feel right. It ain't right!
Crystal howls, a bit too theatrically. Sara giggles, which elicits shocked gasps from the crowd. One of the jurors stands, hands in fists, but is convinced to sit by another juror.
Oxbow: Do you have anything to say for yourself, Author?
Sara: *giggling* I'm-- sorry?
Oxbow: Sorry? SORRY? Sorry doesn't make up for the wasted months! The stopped lives! Characters FROZE because of you, and you're "sorry"?!
Sara: *standing* Look, I'm sorry you got all worked about this, but it's hard. Don't you realize how awesome all of you are? It's nearly impossible to stick to just ONE story.
Oxbow: That's precisely why we're here today. Jury? Have you come to a conclusion?
One of the jurors grunts in agreement and hands an envelope to the Honorable Judge. Sara squints at him. He looks familiar too -- almost piratic...
Crystal: Wait! You haven't heard the last plaintiff!
Oxbow: *rips envelope from juror* Well-- that's really beside the point. Decision's been reached.
Max: The decision can't be reached yet! SNI is in the hall!
Sara shudders and glances over her shoulder at the mention of her arch nemesis.
Sara: *growling* SNI...
Oxbow: *hastily tearing open the envelope* Oops, too late! Jury's decision: Sara Raasch, Author, will drop all other stories and focus wholly on completing the STREAM PIRATE sequel. Case closed!
Max: What? That can't be the decision. Case not closed!
Crystal: Yeah! You rigged it! SECURITY!
Oxbow: *trying to sneak off podium* Thank you all for coming here today-- Sara, you will be expected to carry out sentencing in the next few hours-- until then, I must--
Oxbow runs out the judge's door, followed closely by Crystal and Max and most of the jury.
Max: Stop! STOP! You stupid pirate!
Crystal: I didn't even get to wear the wig!
The crowd joins the chaos by erupting into an all-out character fight. STREAM PIRATE characters against all others, everyone screaming about how important THEIR story is and how shiny THEIR dialogue is and oh, look, THEIR settings are SO much more exotic...
Sara stands in the middle of the courtroom. Yazoo, Crystal, and Max are still chasing each other through the judge's quarters to her left while her arch nemesis SNI is still waiting in the hall to her right. Hm.