You can go into the fantasy world of any book and stay as long as you want, but you must be careful to not interact with the protagonist or their story because if you do it you’ll be included in the history and you’ll be trapped inside.
When the arm emerged from the ink, long fingers grasping and digging, I knew I’d fucked up the ritual. The heart of the cow in the center rippled, and the fingers speared through it, tearing it into pieces that disappeared into the growing mass.
“Please, I just need you to remove one thing,” I hissed. “Don’t… Don’t make me a fuck up.”
But it didn’t respond. Why would it? I hadn’t given it a narrative arc for fear it’d be too intelligent.
When it reached into the heart of the rite book and ripped it out, ink spraying and gushing forth from the still beating narrative, I started to back up from the cursed thing. Step by step taking me closer to the shelves. The static ate into the heart of the computer, distortions rippling across the text file like fire, and I knew for a fact this was bad.
I could hear the book squealing, screaming, screeching, a thousand buried entombed faces looking up into the heavens, a break in it’s passage.
I brought my hands up in front of him. Curled them back into the casting position, and sank my teeth into my lips to keep focused, to keep on task and to keep looking at it.
The toothed maw spilled out of the depths of the description box, and the great beast of ink flowed out of it like a broken pen. It had no eyes, because it had thousands of hair like extensions out of every surface.
and now it was here. My pet project, life out of ink, was here in the real world. I swallowed.
What I wouldn’t do to have my uncle here.
But with a result like this, I wasn’t going to try and drag him out of his narrative like that.
Then the beast lashed out, long binding bestial features driving into the books scattered around me.
It was reaching for their hearts.
Tensed up, stared straight ahead. The smell of ink was overpowering, but…
Fictional lives were just as real as this world’s lives, and I didn’t know what that ink would do, or how powerful it would get if it devoured the hearts of other books.
I could cause permanent damage to the entire concept of fiction. There was a reason why nobody dragged things out of books. There was a damn good reason, and here I was, trying to do just that with a bit of my blood and the heart of a cow. Ink made from a giant squid, and a sacrifice of a chained up narrative.
The computer erupted into flame with a crunch of a broken battery, and I made my decision.
If there was one person who could fix this mistake, it was my uncle. I reached behind myself, picked up the book that’d been locked since I was nine, tore open the chain, and lunged at the ink monster.
It turned its head to look at me. I thought it might’ve looked like betrayal. On the way there, I slammed the laptop shut hard enough that the glass cracked, and the ink squelched out like a popped balloon, or a burst blood vessel.
It roared, once, sounding like a wounded animal, and then I slammed the book around its head. Then kept right on pushing, forcing it into the pages, slippery piece by slippery piece.
What had I been thinking? I knew full well it wouldn’t work. I knew full well it had been a stupid idea.
I knew what I’d been thinking.
I was lonely.
I wanted my uncle.
I thought I knew better.
The ink sloshed across the side of the book, ruining the pages, and then it came down with a crunch upon the body of the beast, sealing the heart I’d given it in between chapters 17 and 18.
Then the book shut.
My heart was pounding. I stank of ink and blood and other fluids, splattered out of organs both real and fake.
But I’d survived my first experiment.
I reached a hand up and wiped inksweat off of my head, and walked to the boundaries of the rite circle and scuffed it with my shoes. I didn’t need that.
I frowned down at the busted laptop, and tried to think how long it’d take my next paycheck to clear. Or even if it is worth it. Everyone else had given up on my uncle ever returning; inkbending was hard, dangerous, and everyone knew the odds there.
Everyone knew what happened when you joined the canon of the world.
I kicked the laptop out of the circle, and turned around to see the rest of it.
Only to see a single tendril of the narrative killer zipping right at me.
I’d say I did something exciting, like shouted, or demanded I’d be freed, or swore vengeance, but let’s be honest here, I squeaked, and it tore me off of my feet. My fingertips bled as it dragged me in across the library carpet.
But the pages of a book had never been more than a suggestion for me, and even being force inside, I couldn’t hang onto the edge for more than a second.
Then the cover slammed shut on my head, and I gave up on even that.
Self inserts, eat your heart out.