Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap tap...tap-tap tap...
Another hour later she was smiling at the completed manuscript resting delicately in her hands. The front page branded her name, and she could imagine it now, millions of copies of her first novel being bought in bookstores all over the world. She would be famous, a worldwide published author at the young age of seventeen, earning millions. While the rest of her classmates would still be dreaming dreams of fortune, she would be living hers, smiling as she undertook her final exams. While they would be chewing their fingernails as they awaited their A level results, she would be writing the sequel to this very story in her hands, knowing that even if she didn’t get into the best university, she would still be going places with her writing.
She looked down at the title page. ‘Whispers In The Attic’ by Ashley Davies. This was only the beginning for her, she could feel it.
And then she met up with an editor and the world came crashing down around her ears.
“You didn’t write this,” he said simply.
“This isn’t your own work.”
“Yes it is,” Ashley insisted.
“No, it isn’t. This book was written two years ago by Sarah Hawkes. It was a bestseller all over the world. This manuscript is the exact same as her book, word for word.”
“But... But that can’t be right! I’ve been working on this book for nearly four years! I’ve been... I’ve been writing this since I was-”
“Is this some kind of joke?” the editor asked impatiently. “Because I don’t have time for this.”
She left the building a disgrace, distraught, confused. It made no sense. It was her writing. She hadn’t even heard of this Sarah Hawkes before today. How could she possibly have written a story that she had never read word for word?
Her best friend, Kaylie, was also puzzled.
“And you’ve never heard of Sarah Hawkes or read any of her books?” she asked Ashley to confirm.
“Even if I had, how would I write something that is word for word the same without even realising?” Ashley asked.
“You think this is funny?” was the question Ashley was asked by yet another editor. It was two years later and yet another one of her books was an exact copy of one by Sarah Hawkes. It was baffling and unnerving. What the hell was actually happening? How was it happening?
“I’ve never even heard of Sarah Hawkes before!” she sobbed, her words falling on deaf ears. Frustrated one night, she deleted all the files on her computer that contained her stories. She would never be a writer now. Her life was...
Kaylie simply watched her friend, an uncertain frown creasing her forehead. “Ashley...” She thought carefully about continuing, but Ashley understood.
“No!” she yelled. “No! You can’t possibly be telling me that you don’t believe me! You’re my best friend!”
“Well I’m sorry for doubting you, Ashley, but what am I really supposed to think? That it’s just another coincidence? These books were published two years ago for Christ’s sake! It’s not like this woman stole your stories.”
“I know,” Ashley sighed. “I know.”
“Tell you what,” Kaylie said suddenly. “Let’s go ice skating. Or bowling. Or go watch a movie. Just to take your mind off this and then maybe later on you’ll be able to come up with something original.”
Ashley nodded before throwing her arms around her friend. “You’re the best, y’know.”
“I do know.”
Tears of frustration streaked her face as she stormed up to the reception. The lady at the desk looked down her nose at her with a disapproving look on her face but Ashley didn’t care. She placed the palms of her hands flat on the wooden surface and leaned in towards the receptionist, glaring from underneath her tear soaked lashed.
“I need to see Sarah Hawkes, immediately.”
“I’m sorry but that’s not possible,” the receptionist dismissed her.
“I need to see Sarah Hawkes,” Ashley repeated sternly.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Then there’s nothing I can do.”
“Now listen here, you-”
“It’s okay, Martha,” a silky voice reached out behind her. The receptionist nodded submissively, asking politely for the next person in line as Ashley spun around to come face to face with a tall slender blonde woman dressed in a blue pinstripe suit. “Sarah Hawkes,” she introduced herself, offering a hand. “I have been waiting for this day. Follow me; my office is upstairs.”