Mr. Wickles adjusted his spectacles and sighed.
“Yes, Patches. My littlest brother, Finnegan. We were also discussing my Uncle Fontanello and my sister Eugenia, my ex-wife Angeline, the precise nature of my relationship to you – given that I masqueraded as your ‘master’ for a good three years – the tangled mess of a plot we’ve waded through up to this point. Now Eugenia tells me that you’ve returned from a doomed timeline, wherein our side were captured by that damned Uncle of mine, and that this is our last go-round to get the plan right. That, by the way, is the only reason I’m about to tell you any of this, Patches. You were only ever meant to be a cats-paw to the main endeavour, but you’ve turned out to be a major tool.
“The fact, Mr. Patches, is this: We’re in the middle of a war. A war of succession, to be perfectly frank. You’re a frontline player on the side of traditional fantasy.”
Needless to say, Patches was having a spot of trouble processing all this. Wickles, due to long observation of the poor enchanted feline, noted this and took pity on the poor creature.
“Look, Patches – surely you’ve noticed a number of discrepancies about you, lately? There are scads more fantastic creatures walking undisguised than have any right to. Even our vaguely steampunk setting has some anomalies – I’ve pushed the Writers to flood the market with steampunk as a sort of placeholder in the public imagination until we can get this conflict sorted out, but its hold is waning, and little flashes of contemporary urban fantasy are flashing through. We haven’t much time until this entire genre collapses, leaving us vulnerable to Fontanello’s machinations. Further, there’s been a huge uptick in conspiracy theories lately, lending credence to Fontanello’s vaguely-credible blend of Science Fiction and paranoia.
“He’s planning to wipe out or rewrite traditional fantasy entirely, Patches, and replace it with lizard-people, grey aliens, and faceless shooters on grassy knolls – it’s up to us to stop him.”
Patches, having recovered some of his wits during this lengthy exposition, stroked his whiskers thoughtfully. Though still a bit foggy, the explanation that Mr. Wickles was giving made an enormous amount of sense to his sleep-deprived brain. Struggling to ask an intelligent question after those solid walls of folderol, Patches raised a claw.
“Are you suggesting that my entire life and entire world are a fictional construct? Based on the whims of the literary market in some far-fetched otherwhere?”
“That’s it precisely, dear boy! I knew you’d get there eventually.”
“And, as a Librarian, you have a certain measure of influence over the public imagination? Where we reside?”
“Influence? Scads of it, cat – I manipulate it; I make it sing, and thrill to do my bidding. The trouble is, so does Uncle Fontanello.”
“And, while maintaining a separate existence outside of this framework where you exert that influence, you’re simultaneously operating within this framework, pulling strings on the inside?”
“Indeed. I’m what they refer to as a Self-Insert, or a Mary Sue, if you will. Derived from some hastily-scrawled fan-fiction I wrote myself as a sort of door-way. Bless the Internet – bless it.”
Patches scowled, and made his final point. “Alright, Wickles. All that being the case – given your near-omnipotence in my world, and given that doubtless you can manipulate me into doing your bidding regardless of my own thoughts or feelings on the matter – what the hell do you need me for, and why the hell are you telling me this?”