(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. San was written by Tyler Wise.)
A guest would be arriving soon. Too soon for San’s taste and not the average visitor. Not a boy or a girl, but a woman. An adult had never set foot inside his factory and the prospect quite excited San. Something new was happening. Not the same job of growing up, night after night. This time, his visitor had already done that, possibly ages ago. Growing old would be old hat to her, just like it was to him.
“Late, late, we’re going to be late,” murmured the Puppet Master’s side of his face. Where San was excited, the Puppet Master was predictably nervous and afraid. This woman’s arrival broke several of this world’s rules—rules he followed to a scary degree.
“You’re getting on my nerves,” San hissed. “Grow a spine. That mettlesome boy has a stronger one than you.”
The Puppet Master grew silent at that. But his side’s hand tapped nervously at his side.
As much as San hated to admit it, he was right, they were cutting things rather close. He increased his already impossibly long strides as he headed for the entrance. Plush creatures moved hurriedly about, getting out of his way as quickly as they could. They were each ten times more nervous than the Puppet Master. A new guest had vastly different effects on their master’s mood—they never knew which way his temper would go.
Soon as San stepped into the entrance hall a knock came on the massive doors to the factory.
“She’s here,” both sides of San’s face said in unison, one with excitement, the other with fear.
Kelly stepped into the factory and immediately saw the tall figure of San. She greeted him with a nod, but then glimpsed around at all the plush creatures hastening out of sight. Well, this was going to make a very interesting interview, and she fixed her gaze back on San once more and smiled. “Hello, you must be San. I am Kelly, and I believe you are expecting me. What a…unique place you have here,” she said, casting her gaze around once more.
“Why, hello there!” San burst out with, happily, deciding to go for his usual approach at first: start sickly sweet and try to hold that facade for as long as possible. And not to smile. He must not show the horrible teeth that awaited inside. “It is a pleasure to meet you, my dear lady.” San took a large bow, still towering over Kelly at half his height. “And, yes,” he said after straightening back to his full height. “It is quite an impressive place, thank you for noticing.” He smiled, his mouth closed in a tight line.
Kelly smiled then began to stroll around a bit, finding the place curious. “So, what is this place exactly? Did you create it?” Her eyes then found his. “Or were you created here?”
“I…” The Puppet Master’s side of the face squirmed a little, repulsed at the prospect of San lying. Despite this, San pressed on. “I did create it! All me, no one else. I’ve been here for many many years, pumping out all the toys in the world! I love the children, you see.” A pause, then, “As for where I was created…it was not here. But I was made to be here, you might say.”
Kelly noticed the slight hesitation and then the bold proclamation that he had indeed created all this, and she narrowed her eyes but said nothing of it at the moment. “And who made you? How did you become the Puppet Master?”
San held back the rage brewing inside at her words. He hid it perfectly, his own words sickly sweet when he spoke, “My dear lady, you are mistaken. I am not the Puppet Master,” He said, turning his head so as to only show the white side. “I am San. But him,” he turned his head to show the other side, dark as shadow and teeth as white as snow. “He is the Puppet Master.”
The dual face turned back to look at Kelly straight on. “I apologize for our appearance, we are normally not jammed together like this, but we had…some trouble with one of our…clients. For the foreseeable future, it appears we are stuck together.”
“I see.” Kelly nodded, taking in the literal two-faceness of this individual. Well, this was unique. “And what’s the difference between San and the Puppet Master?” She motioned to his appearance.
San could feel her taking in his massive figure for the first time. Somehow she had suppressed the urge until now, perhaps out of politeness, but her eyes began to wander now. Starting at his too small feet, up his tall frame, noticing as she went the massive almost muscular appearance of his hands, yet also seeing the smooth and elegance to them. Up she went, to his face, seeing his abnormal skullish head, and the eyeless sockets. The teeth he kept hidden inside as she examined the San side of his face: white and bony. Then the Puppet Master’s: dark as the night and milky smooth.
And finally he could see as she made note of his clothes, his blood red coat and hat, a macabre Santa Claus impression.
As she looked him over, San replied, “Oh, lots of differences. For one, I am more prone to breaking the rules and he is a spineless wimp when it comes to that sort of thing.” The Puppet Master’s face visibly flinched at his words. “The other key difference: I make the children who come here want to stay forever, forever a kid. But he likes to scare them into adulthood, or trick them. Despite what I’ve said about him, I do find him to be quite clever. I’d be careful around him.” San smiled again, almost a bit too wide.
Kelly just arched a brow and began meandering around the large room. She wasn’t impressed with San’s attempt to intimidate her because she’d faced many other characters like him, but of course he had his own uniqueness, which she wanted to delve into. She turned back to face him. “Why would you want to make children stay children when they are, after all, supposed to grow up?”
“That is my job. To provide resistance, make them squirm. They are not supposed to want to stay a child, but many do. I sort them out. Capture the weak ones, or inspire the stronger willed children to continue on their journey. Surely you’ve noticed it in your world. Growing up is not what it was. I’m winning.”
San noticed Kelly inspecting the room and the plush creatures that were walking idly about. “Oh! My dear lady, I am so sorry, we have just been standing here pointlessly. Allow me to show you the way to the Dinning Hall, it will be much more comfortable there.” San gestured down a side hall and started to walk off in that direction.
Kelly nodded and followed him. “However, I sense you feel…bound by the rules of this place or so. If you could change things, what changes would you make?” And her gaze took in all their surroundings and the creatures that scurried out of sight as San and Kelly walked through a corridor.
San had to turn away to unleash his full smile. The prospect of changing the rules was just simply too exciting. He shook his head, composed himself, then turned back to Kelly as they walked. “I would be rid with all of them. This place does not need rules and limitations. All of the current ones, they simply exist to baby the children. I say, away with them! And if some kids get hurt in the process…well, so be it.”
The Puppet Master’s side looked physically pained at this discussion of changing the rules. He looked as if he might puke at any moment.
Kelly saw how the Puppet master’s side seemed grieved by this, and she decided to address him. “But you, Puppet Master, you disagree with this?” She raised her brows. She was curious to see how San and the Puppet Master interacted.
San seemed disturbed that she would dare address the Puppet Master instead of him, but he allowed it and stayed silent so that he could answer.
“I disagree fully.” His voice was similar to San’s but a bit more reserved. Not as loud and extravagant. “The rules are important. They protect us, the children, and this world. Your world, too. Without them…the two would cross more than they already do, and that would bring chaos. Chaos!”
Interesting. Kelly mused but looked back at San. “And if you had your own way and did away with the rules, what if a child died here? Then what?”
“A child will die here. One way or the other. I already have him picked out.”
Kelly arched her brow at this. “What do you mean you’ve already picked him out? And why are you so determined that he die?”
San grimaced. And his massive hands curled into tight fists. Even the Puppet Master’s side couldn’t prevent his hand from closing. “The one that put us in our current dual body, he is the one that must die. He took something from me. Prevented me from making history and doomed me to be just like all of my…colleagues. For now, at least. I have plans, grand plans, to right this wrong. I will go down in history and, when I do, there will be no one left here to make songs about it.” San laughed, a horrible laugh that sounded like “Heh, heh, heh” mixed in with a very faint “Ho, ho, ho.”
Kelly had to pause and tilt her head to a side. “So…if you succeed, and if there’s no one left here, then…technically you won’t make history because people won’t know you existed at all.” But then she thought of another angle. “Unless you intend to venture over, somehow, to the real world…” And she trailed off to let him say what he will.
“They will know. Right before they die, they will know. I’ll make sure of it. As for the real world…I hadn’t considered that. I suppose it would be fun to watch two worlds burn. The two of our worlds are linked, you know, if one dies…the other will surely be soon to follow. Ah, but here we are,” San said, stopping in front of an open doorway. A massive dining hall was inside, the ceiling impossibly high and the far wall not even visible in the distance. A long table stretched out from their side of the hall and dissappeared out of sight down to wherever the other end of the hall was.
“Take a seat, any seat. Except for the one at the head, that, of course, belongs to me.”
“But of course.” Kelly looked at the long table and choose a seat close to the head of the table but not too close, and she sat down. “So you wish to destroy this world and perhaps the other. Very typical really. But why? Why does it even matter? When did it begin to matter that your name should go down in history?” She raised her brows as she observed him. “Did a child once upon a time irk you, and you began thinking? Or what exactly?”
San approached the table and makes a gesture with his hand, only realizing after doing it that his Elves were no longer around to answer the call and pull his chair back for him. Hatred raged inside, for the boy and his stupid puppet. They would pay for what they did to his beloved Elves, oh how they would pay.
For the first time in his life, San pulled the chair away from the table with his own hands, and then took his rightful spot at the table.
“Since I was born. I was born for this role. I strive to be the best, must be the best. None of the idiots here recognize me for what I am—I should be in charge. If they won’t give me my rightful place…then I shall take it. But I have not always wanted complete destruction. That came later. Came just last night, actually. When that stupid boy and his stupid puppet bested me.” San slammed his fist on the table, startling both Kelly and even the Puppet Master.
Kelly recovered quickly though and decided to press on something he said. “You said you should be in charge, but who is-really?”
San’s eye sockets narrowed. “I refuse to talk about him. Him and his stupid giant chair and fancy throne room. I want to kill him almost as much as the boy and the puppet.”
Now this got Kelly curious, and she leaned forward, setting her forearm on the table. She me his gaze unflinchingly. “Who is he? What is his name, and what is he to you?”
San remained silent, seething. The Puppet Master, however, began to talk. “He is nameless. Just like this world. He is powerful but there is not much to him. He oversees the rules, that is all. He did not create them, the world, or any of us.”
“Exactly!” Said San. “He’s a nobody—what gives him the right to order me around? Who decided that he should be in charge?” San shook his head angrily.
“Because obviously he determined that you’re too hot-headed and reckless to be in charge,” Kelly pointed out as she sat back. She smiled because she enjoyed getting powerful people like San all worked up since it revealed much of their personality. “Why does it bother you so much though? You fill a role unique to yourself. Why do you think you have the right to anything more than that?”
“Then say that to my face. But whoever is really in charge of this show never presents themselves. Never lets us in on the decisions. That makes it extra infuriating. And I have a right because I am better than everyone in this silly world.”
Out of nowhere, the Puppet Master spoke up, “Would you like something to eat or drink, Kelly?” he asked.
San’s mouth almost dropped at his twin’s sudden expression of hospitality.
Kelly smiled at San’s face when the Puppet Master asked the question, but she shook her head. “I’m quite all right. Thank you though.” And she focused on San once more. “And what makes you better than everyone else in this world?”
San, still reeling at the Puppet Master’s unannounced offer, was slow to respond. “I simply am,” he said. “That’s all that you need to know. I grow tired of your questions. I can not believe they allowed you to break so many rules to see me like this. I don’t quite understand what is so special about you to garner this meeting.”
Kelly grinned at this. “Oh, that’s easy. I’m the Muse. However, you do make a good point. My time here is about up now, so I will be leaving shortly. However…” She rose to her feet. “You are quite a greedy and selfish individual, San. I’m glad Ty did what he did to you, and I hope it takes you a very long time to unravel because…well, you need to learn your place. Now though, I will be going. Thank you for this conversation. It was quite…interesting.” And with that, Kelly opened a portal with a flick of her wrist, stepped through, and closed it behind her.
San’s hand had lashed out after her, moments too late to grab the woman and rip her to pieces. His anger had flared at the mention of the boy’s name, and by the time she had said the rest of it he was decided on killing her. To have her wiggle through his grasp like that…infuriating.
“She was nice,” said the Puppet Master, quietly.
She wasn’t. But she would be nice dead. As he mentally added her to his death list, he let out the full horrors of his smile, his crooked, spiked, ripped, and torn teeth were let loose for all to see.
Tyler Wise’s story ‘The Choice of Twilight’ is not yet published but can be found on Wattpad. Be sure to follow him on social media for more updates!: