ZedneWeb / Library / Revenge


It was a dreary day. The gray sky was overcast and a light rain fell, chilling the air. None of this mattered inside the mall, though. There are no windows in the mall: the last thing managers want to do is remind customers that there's a real world outside, where they might have things to do. Despite the weather, there was a good crowd at Jake's Books 'n Stuff. This in itself was unusual, as Jake's had heavy competition from the larger chain stores, which had outlets near the mall. Today, however, Jake's had something they did not. Daniel McGrath was signing copies of his new novel, The Revenge of Trees, which was selling reasonably well throughout the country.

"And who should I make it out to?" McGrath asked the young lady before him. On hearing her name, he smiled and inscribed the inside cover of her book.

"Thank you, Mr. McGrath!" she cried, moving on to let the next person approach.

"Good morning, sir," McGrath said, smiling.

The man did not answer; he just stared. Do I know this man? he wondered. He looked oddly familiar, even though McGrath was sure he had never seen him before.

"Hello?" McGrath tried again.

"Daniel McGrath?" the man asked slowly.


"Author of The Revenge of Trees?"

"Um ... yes?" Where was this going? The encounter was beginning to make McGrath uneasy.

"I am Roger Cusbane."

McGrath blinked, nervously pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "What a coincidence! You have the same name as my lead character. You even look like I envisioned him."

Cusbane snarled. "You put me through hell in that novel of yours, McGrath."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Was all that humiliation really necessary?" Cusbane demanded, ignoring McGrath's question.

"I'm sorry, is one of us confused?" Whoever this person was, he looked upset and dangerous. As if sensing some danger signal, the crowd had parted, leaving a six-foot semicircle around the signing table. McGrath hoped things weren't about to become violent. Cusbane was a large man, and -- in his novel at least -- a violent one. "I assure you, I didn't intend for this character to represent you. I don't think we've even met."

Cusbane managed to look even angrier. "I am the character in your novel, and I'm not too happy about how I was treated."

McGrath blinked again. Was this a practical joke? Jake's didn't seem to have room for hidden cameras, but that didn't prove anything. "And how did you get here, then?" he asked.

"The bus."

"I meant, if you're the character from the book, how did you get here in the real world?"

"Never mind!" Cusbane shouted, leaping over the desk. McGrath swore, and ducked underneath, crawling out the other side. "I'm going to get some revenge of my own, now!"

McGrath remembered where he had heard that line before. The epilogue to his book involved a short sequence wherein Cusbane threatened a character representing the author. Now it seemed it was playing out in real life, as if he was the character representing the author. Unless ... he actually was that character. Oh no, he thought, remembering how the epilogue had ended. Things were going to get worse before they got better.


"Revenge" is an assignment I did for an English class which received some positive response. That, and a growing realisation that the material in the library is getting rather old, prompted me to add it here.

For one of our assignments, we had to come up with five opening sentences and five situations, make four copies, and then trade them with three other people. Then we had to write a 500-word story based on one of the sentences or situations. (This is why the story is so short.)

Dave Menendez
5 December 1997

David Menendez, zednenem@alumni.psu.edu