We met Will Fallon in the short story “Remember Me?” in my collection Something Special. Will encounters a woman named Susan Follows who can travel between worlds and who has come looking for his cat, Sam. Sam, it turns out, isn’t from around here. And in the world from which she came, she can talk. Will and Sam travel with Susan to many worlds until they end up back home, and Susan continues her travels on her own.
“Happy Enough”, a sequel to this story, appears in my new collection , The Woman in Red. In this excerpt, Will Fallons encounters someone who shouldn’t exist–a fictional character of his own making.
The second incident happened on Tuesday of the following week while Della was away at a conference. I was to meet some friends at a nearby Irish pub that evening. Being the first to arrive, I scanned the patio for a free table. They were all occupied and I was about to head indoors when a woman rose and walked towards the exit in my direction. I was about to thank her when I realized it was the dinosaur-dress woman from my story, “Under the Sand.” She was Black, her hair arranged in ringlets falling to her shoulders, and she wore a close-fitting cotton dress decorated with dinosaurs. I was stunned. Recovering a moment later, I decided what to say.
“Hi,” I said, when she was closer. “I was going to thank you for the table, but I think I know you.”
The woman said nothing, and instead raised a skeptical eyebrow. Interesting, I thought. If this is a show for my benefit, why does she look like I’ve just given her a lame pickup line?
“You work at FLIR, don’t you?” I continued. “I saw you speak at a defence conference.”
The skepticism on her face was quickly replaced by surprise.
“I’m Will Fallon. I used to work as a technical writer. You’re … Briana?”
“Briana Davison,” she said with a smile.
And that’s when the blood drained from my face. I hadn’t used her last name in the story, something that I’d kicked myself for. But that was the surname I’d chosen as part of her backstory, as was the defence conference. I had to force myself not to sway on my feet.
“Nice to meet you,” she continued. “You live in Kingston?”
“Um, yes. Are you here on business or sightseeing?”
“Bit of both. I’m collaborating with a professor at the Royal Military College. Well, I must get on. Nice to meet you, Will,” and she extended her hand.
“Same,” I mumbled, and we shook. Watching her leave, I whispered, “Stay clear of San Diego.” Then I took a seat at the empty table and ordered a large whiskey.
It was earlier than planned when I got home. Despite my best efforts, I’d only paid half-hearted attention to my friends, and when they noticed, I pleaded lack of sleep. Sam was waiting for me just inside the door. That was unusual. She went out most nights through a second-floor window that I keep open, leaping from the window ledge to the maple tree and returning home the same way.
Sam came up to me and rubbed her head against my leg. Kneeling down, I scratched behind her ears and looked into her eyes.
“You know, don’t you?” I said. “That something’s wrong. You always know.”
The Woman in Red is available from the Amazon bookstore.