July 26, 2012
The headquarters of Glee during the off-season seemed deserted. The studios were silent, the rehearsal rooms were empty, and the sets had been taken down. Behind one door, however, a light flickered. Ryan Murphy sat alone, apparently deep in contemplation of the words on his computer screen. For hour after hour he remained motionless, save for the back-and-forth of his eyes and the tiny movements required to scroll through his work. Eventually, a smile began to bloom across his face. With a final glance at the screen, Glee’s creator hit SEND.
Christopher Paul Colfer, age 22, had many accolades to his name. He was the winner of a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Teen Choice Award, and a Golden Globe Award. He had even been acknowledged as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. But the accomplishment of which Chris was most proud was becoming a New York Times #1Bestselling Author.
Ever since he was old enough to hold a pencil, Chris had loved to write. From his first childhood scribblings, through his tenure as president of his high school writers’ club, and continuing on into his every spare moment once he got caught up in the whirlwind of Glee, Chris had a story he wanted to tell. Now, all those years of hard work had finally paid off. The Land of Stories had traveled from his head, to random scraps of paper, to his laptop, to bookstores around the country. He couldn’t be more delighted.
Chris was spending a couple of days at home before heading to Ohio for the last leg of his book tour. Ashley had graciously agreed to feed Brian while he was away, as she always did when he went out of town. Although he knew on a rational level that his cat would be just fine without him, Chris couldn’t help but feel guilty for leaving again so soon. To make himself feel better, Chris was spending every waking moment carrying Brian around like an overstuffed teddy bear. Right now, the two of them were sitting in front of his laptop as Chris tried to catch up on his email.
Noticing that he had a message from Ryan Murphy, Chris clicked it open. The subject line read simply “Glee,” and the body of the email was blank. There was a file attached, but Chris was wary about opening any attachments unless he knew ahead of time what they contained. After all, anyone’s email could be hacked, and Chris wasn’t willing to take any risks when it came to his laptop, where he kept all of his writing.
Chris was just about to hit Reply to ask Ryan about the attachment when Brian flicked out a paw and started downloading it. Chris tried to cancel the download, but his laptop wouldn’t respond. Fearing a virus, Chris decided to shut the computer down. Nothing he attempted had any effect, though. The attachment just kept on downloading.
Chris phoned Ryan, but only got through to his voicemail. He sent a text, but received no reply. Shit. Why couldn’t he even turn his laptop off? Apparently, the file that Ryan (or someone…) had sent was quite massive. After an hour of fruitlessly trying to stop it, Chris gave up and decided to go to bed.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Chris was awakened by a strange humming sound. He blinked his eyes open and noticed a glow coming from the corner of the room where he’d left his laptop. Had the download finally been completed? And did his laptop now contain some hideous virus that would corrupt all of his files?
Chris leapt out of bed and rushed over to his laptop, hoping against hope that everything would be okay. Just as he reached for it, the humming stopped and the glow faded. Was it dead?
With trembling hands, Chris picked up his laptop and turned it on. To his delight, it started up normally. In fact, there didn’t appear to be anything wrong with it at all. Checking his recent downloads, Chris found no trace of the mysterious attachment, and the email from Ryan seemed to have vanished, as well.
Had he dreamt the whole thing? He had been awfully tired, between all of the flights, and book signings, and his chronic struggle with insomnia. Chris laughed to himself. What a strange dream – his cat downloading a suspicious email from his boss. With a sigh of relief, Chris shut down his laptop and went back to bed.
Chris awoke to the sensation of Brian’s paw batting softly at his cheek. Knowing that the gentle taps would become progressively rougher if he didn’t feed his cat ASAP, Chris dragged himself out of bed and shuffled sleepily to the kitchen to make breakfast. Between the whirring of the can opener and the purring of his cat, he almost missed the strange humming noise that was coming from his bedroom.
As he made his way back down the hall, the humming grew louder, and Chris could see a bright light shining through his bedroom doorway. He paused, recalling the vivid “dream” he’d had the night before. Had it been real, after all?
Suddenly the doorbell rang, followed immediately by the buzz of an incoming text on his phone. Of course it was Darren, sending Open the door – I know you’re home. Chris glanced back toward his room. All was dark (or as dark as the blackout curtains in his bedroom could make it at midday) and quiet. Shaking his head in confusion, he turned and went to let Darren in.
The sight of his friend brought a warm smile to Chris’s face, and he stepped eagerly into Darren’s open arms. Darren squeezed him tightly, rocking back and forth a couple of times, before pulling back to say, “Hey, man, it’s great to see you. Two weeks apart is too fucking long! Just because you’re a big-shot author now, you’d better not forget the little people.”
“Are you making a short joke at your own expense, Darren?”
“Not intentionally, but if it gets me that laugh I’ve been missing so much, then why not?” Then, glancing at Chris’s sleepwear, Darren asked, “Am I getting you out of bed?”
“No, don’t worry, Brian already took care of that. Just let me slip into something a little less comfortable.”
Darren followed Chris down the hall to his room and flopped down on the unmade bed while Chris got dressed. Noticing the laptop sitting in the corner, Darren asked, “Were you up late working on your sequel?”
Chris followed his friend’s gaze. “No, just catching up on email. But I think there’s something really weird going on. My laptop keeps glowing and humming.”
Darren looked at him blankly. “So? It’s a laptop. They’re supposed to glow and hum.”
“No, not like normal glowing and humming. It’s like something magic, like the book the twins fall into in The Land of Stories.” Seeing Darren’s expression, Chris continued, “You must think I’m crazy.”
“Not crazy, just overworked. You’ve been living and breathing that book 24/7. But your book tour is almost over, and then we’ll have a little down time before shooting for Glee starts back up again. Maybe we should plan a quiet little vacation together.”
Chris was formulating his reply, unsure whether to insist on what he’d seen or to chalk it up to fatigue, when his laptop suddenly began to glow and hum once more.
Darren leapt off the bed and grabbed Chris’s hand. “Oh my god! That is so cool! It’s not just the screen, the whole thing is actually glowing! And that humming is almost musical. In fact, I think I recognize the tune…”
As Darren spoke, he was moving slowly toward the laptop, dragging Chris along with him. Chris hung back, fascination warring with his natural caution. As Darren reached for the computer, Chris cried out, “Wait!” but it was too late.
Chris watched in horror as his friend’s hand was sucked into the laptop. The fingers of Darren’s other hand tightened around Chris’s own, and the two of them were drawn inexorably forward. Chris closed his eyes against the brightness, and he felt himself falling.
Moments later, Chris and Darren landed in a heap, hands still clasped together. Chris was on top, so Darren had mostly broken his fall. Struggling to his feet, Chris reached down to help his friend up.
Darren seemed to have had the wind knocked out of him, and he looked dazed. His eyes (with those ridiculously lovely eyelashes) were blinking slowly as he turned his head from side to side. “Where are we?”
Chris thought (hoped) he knew. Tugging Darren along with him, Chris walked toward a nearby tree, where he could see that a poster had been pinned. The sight that greeted his eyes was both familiar and completely unexpected:
DEAD OR ALIVE
FOR BURGLARY, THEIVERY, AND
RUNNING FROM THE LAW