I sat and I wrote. I wrote everything about the tapping from the box, the breaking of the fourth wall, everything.
“So, what now?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” said Todd.
“Well, where do you want this story to go? You and him have the guns here, so I assume you’re in charge.” At any given time, I had either Todd’s revolver or Chekhov’s gun trained on me. “You can all go back through the fourth wall, and I can continue to write your adventures for as long as I’m able.”
“Don’t do it comrade,” said Chekhov, “It’s a trap. He’ll leave us there or kill us.”
“And what happens when you die?” asked Todd.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I guess you’d go back to the darkness forever. Maybe you could break back into this world, but what would be the point? A cowboy, a cosmonaut and a dinosaur wouldn’t exactly fit in anywhere.”
“You’re right,” said Todd, and shot Wrecks through the head. The life left Wrecks’s eyes as his body crashed to the floor.
“What? Why?” exclaimed Chekhov.
“The writer was right,” said Todd, “We couldn’t have taken him anywhere here. He’d have been a liability. And now I know we’re mortal here.”
Chekhov looked shaken. “I don’t know about this.”
“Have you forgotten who our true enemy is here? Have you forgotten what he did to you? What he did to us? How many times did you die because of him?”
“More than I can remember,” admitted Chekhov, “But without him, we would never have had life at all. I’m sorry my friend, but you have lost sight of why we came here. We came to be free, not for revenge. Your quest for vengeance has blinded you to everything but your own selfish need. You’ve killed our friend, and now you’re talking about killing our creator. I cannot follow you down this path.”
“Very well,” said Todd, “Then I have no more need for you.”
There was silence for a few seconds while Chekhov contemplated his words, but it was quickly shattered by the gunshot sounding from Todd’s revolver. The bullet ripped through Chekhov’s suit, the white outfit staining with a blossoming splash of red. “Oh,” he said, and dropped dead, blood pooling around his body and soaking into the carpet.
“And now your turn,” said Todd, pointing his gun towards me. I tried my best to look afraid, but couldn’t contain my laughter. “Something funny, writer?” asked Todd.
“Yes actually,” I said, “You can’t kill me.”
“And why not?”
“Your gun’s about to jam.” He pulled the trigger. There was a loud click as the bullet trapped itself in the cylinder.
“What? How did you-”
“This ending’s already been written. I finished the story already. Now we just wait for it to play out.”
“When?” Todd stammered, “While I was killing Chekhov and Wrecks?”
I laughed again. “Don’t be an idiot. You didn’t kill Chekhov and Wrecks, I did. Granted, I used you to do it, but everything that has happened since you stepped through that portal has proceeded exactly as I wrote it. Seems the pen is mightier than the sword after all.”
“No,” said Todd, “I made that decision. They were detrimental to my plan, I chose to get rid of them.”
“Did you?” I said, “Or did I just reduce your odds dramatically without even lifting a finger? You poor, deluded fool. You are my creation, you bend to my will. Even you breaking your way through the fourth wall was an idea I had when I found that box and read those stories. You have no free will, I’ve been in control from the beginning, and I’m afraid your time is now running very short. You’re an aberration, you don’t belong here. Maybe you get resurrected every time someone reads your story, but I will see to it that after you die, nobody ever reads that book again.”
“Then why are we still talking? If you’re so sure of how this ends, why not get on with it?”
I smiled. “Because I love a villainous monologue.”
“So, you think you can just deus ex machina yourself out of this fix?”
“Oh Todd,” I said, bending down, “This isn’t a deus ex machina. This is Chekhov’s gun.”
The futuristic weapon blew a hole through Todd’s chest. He was dead long before his body hit the floor. Without any further hesitation, I took the old book out into the garden and burned it. When I returned to my room, the three bodies had disappeared, and with them, my writer’s block. I sat at my desk and opened a new file, but not before saving the last story of Cowboy Todd, Cosmonaut Chekhov and Dinosaurus Wrecks to a dark corner of my hard drive, where it would never be read again.