Here's part 2, by Lydia. I've decided to put each installment in a separate post, and create a new tag so you can still read them in order if you want. (Sorry for all the mind-changing -- I've never posted a group fanfic before!)
And now we need a writer for part 3, so please comment below if you want to be that writer -- and ideally, if you can provide an installment by next Friday.
Dickens looked around. Shaken, dismayed, and a little disturbed at what had just happened, he was stuck. What was he to do now? Where should he go, who was it that had the key? Mr. Dickens held his head. What a day this had been!
Suddenly, without any warning, a carriage came flying down the cobblestone street towards where Mr. Dickens was standing. Mr. Dickens quickly stumbled out of the way. As he looked up at the carriage that had nearly taken his life, he saw a person in the back of the carriage glaring in his direction. Red hair, pale skin and tall…could it be?
“No,” Mr. Dickens said to himself. But it was who he had feared it to be. Uriah Heep. Had that speeding carriage been an accident? Had Uriah meant to kill him, but the person driving did not realize it? Mr. Dickens’ head swam, and he had a hard time catching his breath.
“Excuse me, sir, are you just going to stand there like you are king of the streets?” Mr. Dickens first looked up, but realized that the voice was coming from much lower. A female, obviously a child but bent over as if she had lived since the middle ages, shook her crutch threateningly at Mr. Dickens, who quickly pulled the carpet bag David had given him closer to his chest.
“I apologize,” Mr. Dickens began. “But –“
“Unfortunately we do not all have the luxury of standing around clutching a bag to our chest,” the little girl scolded which, coming from someone small, was both humorous and frightening. But as Mr. Dickens surveyed her closer, something in her eyes began to look vaguely familiar.
As she rolled her eyes and pushed past him, he gently touched her arm.
“Jenny?” he asked. “Jenny Wren?”
“Unhand me, sir!” she asked. “Only the man I am going to marry can touch me in such a familiar way! And I am lost and scared, and I do not need you to hinder me any longer!”
“Please, I –”
“If you are looking for my father or know him in any way –”
“I don’t!” Mr. Dickens said. “I mean, I do, but –”
“Oh!” Jenny’s face turned red with anger, and she turned to walk away.
“I am not sure how I am going to explain this to you,” he called after her, “but I am Charles Dickens,” he said slowly and loudly.
“Well la-da-dee. How very nice for you. And I am quite capable of hearing, thank you.”
“I know but you see…that is my doing,” he said. Jenny looked at Mr. Dickens with utmost disdain.
“That I can hear is your doing, is that what you are saying?”
“I believe you have gone mad,” Jenny snapped, with a toss of her head. “Of course, I might have gone mad. I do not remember how I got on the street…”
“You are not mad!” Mr. Dickens exclaimed. “And neither am I! You see – I wrote a story about you, and I read you out of the book.”
“You read me out of a book?” Jenny twisted her shawl with anger. “You cannot be serious, Mr. Dickens. And what is the book? If I am from a book, which book am I from? Mind, I am humoring you, Mr. Dickens.”
“You are from Our Mutual Friend,” Mr. Dickens said, reaching out to her and then stepping away again when she looked at him reproachfully. Jenny stared at him for some time, and then she hobbled over to a bench, where she sat down and looked up into the sky. He could tell she was thinking, and she looked almost pretty as she did so. But her beauty vanished in an instant when she looked back up at Mr. Dickens.
“You are saying you created me?”
“And how did I get here in a place that I wasn’t at before?
“Because…something happened. When I read to my followers, I bring my characters to life (or so they tell me); and this time I really did bring you to life in this world, along with many other people from many of my other books.”
“God brought me to life, you blasphemer,” Jenny mumbled. But a look of belief did seem to pass over her face. “So you are saying I don’t exist?”
“You existed in my writing, Jenny,” Mr. Dickens said quietly. “But no. This is your first time in the real world.”
“Oh,” Jenny’s face fell, and a look of sorrow was evident in her eyes. “I always knew I was different, Mr. Dickens. And I knew that somehow I didn’t really exist. But I thought I was just being silly and morose, like people tell me whenever I share my thoughts.” She grew quiet, and Mr. Dickens took a seat beside her.
“You are alive Jenny, but in a different way,” Mr. Dickens explained softly. “You see, whenever I read the story you are in, or whenever anyone else reads it for that matter, your character is always brought to life, and you always exist. In a way, Jenny, you can never really die. You are always in that story and (if it helps) you don’t die in the book, and nothing bad happens to you. You are safe, but the villains in the book are not. Bad things happen to them, and they are angry with me now that I read them into this world. In fact Jenny,” he looked down at the small face, “they want to kill me.”
Jenny looked at her hands. She stared out into the distance, and then slowly put her hand on Mr. Dickens' arm.
“They will not kill you if it is up to me,” she decided. “And furthermore I believe every word you said, that is…if you are not trying to sell me something?”
“What?” Dickens exclaimed. “No, dear child, not at all!”
“Well then, it is settled,” Jenny said, with a nod of her head. “Have you any pistol?” Mr. Dickens looked at the child with great disbelief. “If we do not want to be killed, we must have a pistol, should we not, you young lad?” she continued.
“Well I have some things in this carpet bag,” Mr. Dickens replied, opening the parcel slowly. “But I don’t know what is in it, as I didn’t look…”
“A thief, Mr. Dickens?”
“Who, me? No, never! I got this from one of my other characters, David Copperfield, who actually got most of the things that are in it from my room. I think his revolver is in there, however.”
“Never heard of him, this David,” Jenny mumbled, taking the carpetbag into her lap and examining its contents. “Aha! Here is a revolver.” Jenny pulled it out, and held it in her hands.
“Copperfield got shot. And it was a strange death…”
“Well, now we have a revolver now to defend ourselves.”
“What we need to do is find Mr. Pickwick,” Mr. Dickens said quietly, showing some concern.
“Pickwick,” Jenny spat out the name. “What a terrible name.”
“I came up with that name, thank you very much!” Mr. Dickens was injured. He had worked hard on that name.
“Well that makes it even more stupid,” Jenny said. Mr. Dickens grew quiet, and Jenny saw that she had hurt his feelings. She rolled her eyes. “Cheer up, you baby. What does this Mr. Pickwick want?”
“He has something for us, though what it is I have no idea.”
“Perhaps he will have a weapon?” Jenny asked.
“Your guess is as good as mine, my dear.”
“We must be on our way. We should find a carriage quickly, young lad.” Jenny closed the carpetbag, grabbing Mr. Dickens’ hand and darting toward the street. They found a carriage, and quickly got inside.
“Do you know the way?” Jenny asked. Mr. Dickens said he did, and gave the driver the address. They were on their way.
“Do you come this way often?” the driver asked.
“No, not often,” Mr. Dickens answered.
“Why are you going there, then?” asked the driver.
“Why do you care, sir?” Jenny asked defensively. Mr. Dickens put his hand on her.
“Oh, no reason,” the man continued. “I just find it interesting that you are heading that direction so quickly, and so hurriedly.”
“Well that is none of your business,” Mr. Dickens replied calmly. The man turned around, and Mr. Dickens gasped. This man was another one of his characters – this man was James Steerforth.
“Do you know who I am now, Mr. Dickens?”
“James Steerforth,” Mr. Dickens replied.
“Very good! You cannot be all bad since you know my name, can you?”
“He is not bad at all, you wicked boy!” Jenny shook her fist at the young man, and stomped her crutch against the floor of the carriage. What a predicament the two were in! As the sun had just fully risen minutes ago, sunny and bright with the expectations of the day, all of creation knew not how much trouble was happening inside that little carriage. Mr. Dickens, however, knew that Pickwick’s place was not the destination Steerforth was likely taking, as he had been looking out the carriage and saw that they were going down alleys and backways – not to Mr. Pickwick’s club. And for one more terrible twist of fate, Mr. Dickens remembered the carriage that had sped towards him earlier that day. Could Steerforth have been the one driving?
“Steerforth,” Mr. Dickens began, “I will outright say it, as I see no reason to hint the question to you, or try to get it out of you any other way.”
“I am listening with all my heart, Master Dickens,” Steerforth mocked.
“Earlier this morning, just before the sun had lightened the sky, even before I met this child,” pointing to Jenny, “I was standing in the road when, barely before I could move out of the way, a carriage came full force down the street right towards me. I have reason to believe it was you doing the driving, as I saw Uriah looking back at me from his seat in the back of the carriage.”
“Well Master Dickens!” Steerforth laughed with contempt. “Indeed, it was I who was driving the carriage. But really Master Dickens, should we really be standing in the road where it is hard for a carriage to stop suddenly? A thought, merely a thought. Do not take it to heart, you poet.”
“I am not a poet.”
“Poet, author, they are all the same thing. As for Uriah –”
“Riah would do no such thing!” Jenny interposed with indignation.
“What a cheeky little thing!” Steerforth chuckled. “You apparently do not read much, Miss Crutch, as Uriah would certainly do such a thing. Though,” turning to Mr. Dickens and then back to his horses, “he was not supposed to look back and give himself away. What an idiot, no wonder he ends up in jail.”
“I say again, Riah would do no such thing, you monster!” Jenny bashed her crutch against the floor of the coach once more, though this time Mr. Dickens was afraid it might go right through.
“It is a different person, Jenny,” Mr. Dickens explained. “U-riah Heep was a villain in another story I wrote. The one with David Copperfield –“
“Did he get shot, poor Daisy?” Steerforth asked.
“Why do you want to know?” Mr. Dickens responded.
“Well that obviously means he did,” Steerforth replied. “And I would like to know because my pistol has gone missing.”
“Did you shoot him?” Mr. Dickens asked, his eyes showing the anger he felt.
“Of course I didn’t shoot him,” Steerforth said. “But there were four people with me this morning, who were all near my pistol, who all left and then my pistol was gone. One of them took it.”
“And I suppose you are not going to tell us who the four people are?”
“Indeed you are correct. Now I am sorry I interrupted the lesson. Please continue, headmaster.” Mr. Dickens looked back at Jenny.
“The story with Uriah Heep also had,” with a glance at Steerforth, “our driver. Riah was a character in your book that was completely different than U-riah.” Jenny nodded, understanding.
“Oh, thrilling show, Master Dickens,” Steerforth said, “what a good teacher you are to your pupil, Miss Crutch! I would clap if I were not, well, holding the reins.”
“You shan’t be for long, you insolent child!” Jenny yelled out and, before anyone could stop her, she stood up and hit Steerforth with her crutch as hard as she could on the back of his head. Steerforth’s head began to bleed, and he let go of the reins, clutching his head in pain. The carriage spiraled out of control, and crashed into the dark alley they were in.
Mr. Dickens was in pain, shocked, and trapped in the carriage when he heard a small voice, not Steerforth’s, not Jenny’s, coming from outside the carriage. It could have been the voice of anyone – a young boy, a lady, an old woman. But it was not a man. Mr. Dickens was drawn to the sweet voice.
“Hello?” the voice called again. Mr. Dickens heard Jenny tap her crutch so the voice would hear where they were. Mr. Dickens knew they would soon be free...