Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 15 (Second Draft)



Well shoot. Besides reworking the end with Zenny I only had minor adjustments to this chapter. And yeah–I decided to cut her in-person appearance out for now. Matt begged me not to, but I know that sacrifices must be made. Don’t worry, man; if we ever get stranded in the tundra somewhere, you can count on me to decide who gets cannibalized first.

And besides, this omission will no doubt make the next chapter that much more hilarious. You’ll see!


15 – Dead Zone


Mean returned to a room abuzz with activity: Tome was pulling his coat on while Darrow hurried to finish drinking his mug of juice.

“Good; you’re back,” Vornis greeted. A wool coat like Tome’s hung at his sides, with his long spines protruding through two jagged slits.

“Where are you guys off to?” Mean asked. Darrow smiled, tossing her a thick cap.

“To the Dead Zone!” Vornis said. “And get a coat–you’re coming with us!”

Mean pointed at Vornis. “So you’re going now?” she squealed. “You’re going to see her? Oh, oh, this is good!” She bolted into one of the adjoining bedrooms.

“This is going to be more than good,” Darrow chuckled. “Oh man, I can’t wait.” Vornis growled.

“I’m only taking you guys because I need you for my cover story,” he said. Mean reappeared, swinging a tan coat onto her shoulder.

“Okay, let’s go!” she said. Vornis nodded, and they all left the room. “It’s not going to be too cold, is it? And where are Trisk and Dark at?”

Vornis lead the way to the hex door. The sun was just dipping into view through the long, slanted windows.

“I sent him first,” Vornis uttered. “Didn’t want anyone to suspect me. Just play along with whatever he says.”

“And Trisk is off with Tenny,” Darrow told Mean, walking beside her. “She just swung through and poof–she was gone again.”

“We need to be staying together,” Tome said. “Has she forgotten why we’re here? Now isn’t the time to go off on dates.”

Mean sighed. “Yeah, I think I need to have a talk with her.”

“Assuming she shows up before everything goes kaput,” Darrow grumbled. “How late was she out with him the other night? You were up, right, Mean? Practicing that move?”

“Darrow–!” Mean hushed. Tome reached the hex door and glared back at her.

“You were practicing it!?” he cried. Vornis gritted his teeth with a wince, turning away to the payment kiosk. “That spell is dangerous–you said you wouldn’t copy it! Mean, I almost destroyed the world with that!”

“Yeah,” Darrow scolded with an exaggerated jerk of his finger. “Don’t make us take another trip back through time to stop you from destroying the world!”

“I’m serious,” Tome said. “I don’t want you using that again.”

“Okay, I promise,” Mean assured. Vornis turned back.

“Well, looks like Dark got us in for free. Let’s go.”

Tome pulled his collar up as they gathered together, vanishing from the room as a group and finding themselves in a large, metal hangar. A brisk chill and a gentle wind hit them: breezing in from the open garage door leading out into the night. The hex door on this side was marked by six lampposts. They were all alight with flames flickering at the tops.

“Oh, there they are!” a voice exclaimed from one of the hangar walls. There, a girl in a furry hood pointed past Dark, who turned and waved. They both began walking over.

“Check this place out,” Darrow said, staring at the many iron tracks bisecting the floor. “And is that another roller coaster over there?”

“It is the resort coaster, yes,” the girl in the fur hood proclaimed. “It should take you all the way to the reception area on the other side of the valley. Your friend Dark told me all about the strange feelings you’ve been having. I just hope this little trip clears it up.”

Darrow whined. “That was supposed to be private, Dark!” he lamented. The resort girl held her hands out.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” she said. “I was just so curious. I won’t tell anyone else, I promise!”

“I’d appreciate it,” Vornis said. “Now how does this vehicle work? Or will you be the one driving it?”

The resort girl stared at Vornis, lingering on his clawed hands for a moment. “It doesn’t need a driver; it just rolls over the hills. Natural gravity. We could power it on this side, but we like to conserve magical energy this close to the D.Z.”

“Sounds great,” Vornis said, stepping sideways past the glowing lampposts. Everyone else followed him, along the side of a railing separating the tracks from the concrete floor. Other lamps lit their way, flickering a bit behind their glass shades.

“This stuff is so old,” Darrow remarked as they came to a gate. On the other side a small train of interlinked cars sat on the tracks: sporting red, peeling paint and hitched to a post with a tether.

“Yes, it’s not much,” the resort girl said, opening the gate and ushering everyone though. “But we accept donations–oh, please–one person per car. Spread out.”

Darrow choose a car, digging around in his coat pocket before sitting down. Taking out all the aurons he had, he handed them in a noisy clatter to the attendant. She yelped at her overflowing mittens.

“Whoa!” she cried. “Thank you very much!”

“Eh, I don’t even know what to do with it,” Darrow admitted. “I just kind of go where the tracks take me.”

The attendant giggled, stuffing the money into her coat and taking a long, bristled swab in her hands. After slathering the tracks ahead of the coaster with grease, she went to the tether and unhooked it from its post.

“Alright guys, I sent a telegram; they should be expecting you. Have a good trip–I’ll see you all on the way back!” She walked to the back of the train and added: “Oh, and put your seat belts on.”

With her feet scratching at the floor, she pushed on the back car. The coaster inched forward with a squeak, gathering speed. Past the hangar door the track curved down, taking the cars with it into the night with a whoosh. A few startled shouts came back at the attendant though the breeze, and she stayed, listening, until the clatter of wheels upon tracks could no longer be heard. Breathless, she walked back to her post. A man in a plain cloak was walking toward her from the hex door.

“Oh, darn! Missed the train,” he said.

“Yeah,” the girl said with a sniffle. “I can call for another–”

“No, no, that’s alright,” the man told her. “But say–who was that large person? I thought I saw spikes.”

The woman stopped at a lamp that stood with no flame. “They were actually the people from that other world–the ones in the news.”

“Really?” the man said, pulling at the manicured beard that jutted out from his hood.

“Uh-huh,” the attendant went on. “The one in the armor said they were homesick, and that they needed to be somewhere without magic. I guess that’s how it is all over their world.”

“That seems–” the man started, closing his mouth as the hex door rippled. Out of it came King.

“Conneld! You! Stop! I know what you’re doing!” he roared.

Conneld closed his eyes and dragged his palm across his face. “Great.”

“Is that King?” the attendant asked. “From the King hex door company?”

“Yes, miss, and I’m sorry my intrusive brother is bothering you,” King replied, hurrying over. He glared at Conneld. “You are tracking them.”

“Observing,” Conneld corrected. “I noticed that their room keys had a tracer. Now who do you suppose gave them keys like that?”

King rubbed his bare, hairy forearms. “Well, I did,” he admitted. “But it’s for safety! The pyramid is a military base the rest of the year; I can’t have keys to the floors unaccounted for if they get lost.”

Conneld pulled out a device from his cloak. It had a concave dish on the end, with a monitor and buttons displayed over a steel panel. The attendant watched the two men as she used a lighter to re-ignite the extinguished lamp’s wick.

“What are you doing?” King asked.

“My job,” Conneld said. He pressed a few buttons and the monitor emitted a glow. A mess of colored lines appeared in a jumble, and he walked over to the end of the hangar. Beyond, all was dark: save for a patch of far-off twinkling lights. He pointed the dish toward the city and the screen went black.

“They really saved me quite a bit of trouble,” Conneld said, adjusting a knob. “Their residual magic will light them right up–ah, there they are.”

Five wobbling patterns came into focus. One was much smaller than the others.

“That armor is making his mind difficult to see,” Conneld muttered.

“Well good,” King shot back. “I don’t approve of reading thought patterns. Not unless they’re suspected criminals.”

“So are you going to leave?” Conneld asked. King stayed where he was, rubbing his hairy arms as the cold breeze wafted in.




Flurries of snow fell on the unloading platform as Vornis, Mean, and the rest unbuckled their seatbelts. A man in a leather uniform greeted them as they climbed out of the coaster, his face flickering into view as gas lamps blazed overhead.

“Welcome to the D.Z.,” he began. “The area you are entering contains dormant biohazards. While there is no risk of infection, I am required to warn you of their presence.”

“Are you sure it can’t get us?” Darrow asked, stepping onto the wooden planks. “We’re aliens, so it might be different.”

“The Slate virus can only reproduce within a few days of host bonding,” the man answered. “Every infected guest here has been screened and isolated until the contagious cycle has ended. You are absolutely safe.”

“Okay, cool,” Darrow said. “Thanks.”

The uniformed man nodded and readied his glove on a lever. As the group passed him, he gave it a tug. There was a click and a line pulled the coaster away: taking it further down the track until it vanished into a brick building.

“This is a nice place,” Mean said, walking with the rest down the concrete road. Shops with illuminated windows lined the sidewalks, with pots, furniture, and pieces of art on display. “It’s the closest thing that I’ve ever seen to a city on this world.” Ahead, a carriage waited. A large, shaggy animal harnessed to it.

“Yeah,” Vornis agreed. “With no magic people can tolerate living in a close space. It feels kind of nice. I don’t feel too bad about Zenny having to live here.”

“And she probably has a job, right?” Tome chimed in. “Non-magical goods are always in demand on the outside.”

Darrow pointed at a window with wooden crossbows and revolver pistols propped up behind a locked case. “Check out those old guns! I didn’t know you guys had stuff like that. Dark, can I have some money real quick?”

“You just gave all your money away!” Dark said.

“And besides,” Mean chimed in, “Dark spent all his money buying guns first.”

“This is one reason why goods here are so popular;” Tome explained, “weapons without patterns are more difficult to stop.”

Vornis snorted. “No kidding. And you haven’t even seen the guns they have on their world: I’d take a bullet over a lightning death cannon any day. It took weeks for those scales to grow back.”


Conneld kept a watch on the patterns. “It took weeks for those parts to grow back,” he relayed to King.

“Ouch,” King winced. “Wait–weeks? But he recovered in one day when Donzel Veinsmith cut him up.”

“The Beast is acting as if the other world isn’t his own,” Conneld said. “He’s been lying to us. And who is Zenny?”

King’s rubbed at his reddening cheeks. “He has to be from that world; nobody here looks like that. Not anywhere on the planet. And I should know; I’ve been everywhere! Are you sure you’re reading those patterns right?”

Conneld sighed. “There is literally no better condition for reading patterns than there is right now, King,” he stated. “And why is that Tome person so knowledgeable all of a sudden? Something stinks like manure. And that Darrow kid said that last part, not me. They’re getting on a carriage, I think.”


A man in a long coat called out from atop the wheeled vehicle. “Welcome travelers!” He twisted around in his seat, pointing at the group with a cane. “My coach can take you where you need to go: come in from the cold–and the smell!”

“Might as well, right?” Dark said to Mean. “This is probably the only place in any world that we can ride in a carriage pulled by whatever that is.”

“That’s the spirt!” the driver remarked. “Where to, where to?”

“The corner of Light and Hurst will be fine,” Vornis said, pulling open the door to the coach and maneuvering in. Seats and cushions lined three sides of the car, with Mean and Dark taking one side; Darrow and Tome on the other; and Vornis with his wide spikes left by the window. Tome shut the door.

“So what was the story you gave that girl back there, Dark?” he asked.

Dark took a folded blanket on the seat nearby, offering it to Mean. “I told her that we wanted to be in a place without magic, like our world. It wasn’t exactly lying. It’s fascinating to see how far along their conventional technology is.”

“Quite right!” Darrow piped up. He lurched in his seat as heavy steps thumped outside and the car rocked forward.

“I think it would be fun to show them our world,” Mean said, pulling the blanket up to her neck. “The cities, the cars, the cliff–I think they’d be blown away by it all.”

Vornis laughed. “Are you going to give Parlay the grand tour? She’ll probably get to go before I do.”

“That would be nice,” Mean admitted. “She’s done so much for me; I’d love to be able to do something in return.”

Darrow leaned as the coach swerved. “Assuming we can fix everything. And I’m still not sure how much things will change, even if we do. Will Hardpan City still be there, then? Will Hellzoo?”

Mean stretched her short legs out, knocking her shoes together. “I’ll just whop her again. I mean, geez; we’ve done it twice.”

The animal’s clomping slowed and the cart rolled to a halt.

“Corner of Light and Hurst!” the driver called out. “That’ll be eight for the ride.”


Conneld rubbed at his eye. “Hellzoo,” he repeated. “How do they know about that!?”

King coughed. “Ah–well–it’s a story they’ve–they’ve probably just heard about it from someone.” Conneld stared back at him, mouth ajar.

“They act like they’ve seen it! And what do they mean, ‘fix things!?’ Fix their city?”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s what they meant,” King said, checking behind him. The coaster attendant was still at her desk, reading a fashion magazine. “They probably have to fix up the city: you know, get it clean before any of us come over. I would like to see it.”

Conneld lingered a moment on King’s hopeful eyes before turning back to his pattern-viewing device. The lights flickered off.

“Well that’s it,” he said. “The magic they brought in with them is gone.”


“You folks have a good night, now!” said the driver, steering the shaggy animal away from the road’s curb. Darrow waved goodbye and Dark checked on Cocoa, who was wrapped in his cape.

“So where’s her place?” Mean asked. “We can wait here if you want to go alone.”

“I think she came out to meet us,” Vornis replied. “Over there.”

A woman stood beneath a lamp light, her back to the group. Vornis smiled, walking across the street to meet her. At the middle of the road, he jerked still. He frowned, and a low growl came from his throat.

“Wait. That isn’t her,” he said.

“Huh?” Mean uttered, swirling around. The gas lamps cast a shadow as a large, metallic object rolled past the intersection of road. The coach driver yelped as a massive metallic ball rolled into a brick building, shaking the street and kicking up dust.

“You cheaters,” the hooded woman accused. The metal sphere backed away from the building, and bits of loose brick clattered to the pavement. With a bounce, it flew over toward where Mean stood.

“I’ll just–” she cried out, reaching for it.

“You don’t have magic!” Dark shouted, shoving her out of the way. The ball struck him: rolling over his armor as it rumbled past. Darrow was running away as Vornis bounded toward it; the beast intercepted the orb and slapped against the smooth sphere with his arms outstretched. With a squeal the orb slowed; the air became thick with the haze of gas lamps and dust.

“Just give up. You can’t win,” Kay Kary said, peering out from her hood. Her dark eyeshadow was stark in the lamplight. Vornis growled as the ball pressed against him; his clawed feet scraped across the road. At his back, the brick wall of a building loomed. A female voice rang out from somewhere.

“Vornis, help!” she called out. “You’re the only one that can save me!” The beast grit his white teeth and his eyes were wild.

“How is he doing that?” Kary shrieked. “What’s going wrong?” Vornis planted his feet, butted his forehead against the steely surface of the orb, and drove forward.

The coach animals howled and the sound of a coaster rushed through Vornis’ ears. He kept on pressing, each step taking him further.

“He’s going to break it!” someone yelled. With a final shove the giant ball was launched from the beast’s hands: flying across the road and into a shop window, spraying glass as it shattered the side of the building.

“That’s impossible!” Kary said, her body splayed on the ground near the shop. “It worked before!” Vornis marched forward, the hem of his coat swinging under his spikes.

“I won’t let you hurt Zenny,” he said. “Not her or anyone.”

Kay Kary crawled backwards as he advanced, over the street and broken shards of glass. “Who? Who is that? What are you talking about? Get away from me! Gamemaster! Call it! He lost!”

“Gamemaster?” Vornis repeated. He tipped sideways, righting himself with a stagger. The dust kicked up by the orb grew thick, and Vornis caught glimpses of figures through the haze. Rubbing his eyes with his clawed fingers yielded many more people: all staring at him and talking in murmurs.

“What–” he spat out and he fell to his knees; the concrete road wobbled. The sound of coasters rushed through his ears once again, and the mist flickered as the gas lamps brightened like day. He rose his eyes and saw a broken throne before him: sitting in pieces against a glass wall. Beyond it, crowds seated in bleachers were watching him with quizzical stares. Templetine lay on the ring nearby, breathing through a wide-open mouth. Vornis twisted in place, seeing Pinada past the edge of the ring. His eyebrow was arched up over his glasses.

“The Beast is disqualified,” Kello announced. “He has destroyed the throne; Templetine wins by default.”


Choice Edits:

Taking out all the aurons he had, he handed them in a noisy clatter to the attendant. She yelped at her overflowing mittens.

See that, Matt? Your help with naming the money paid off! You’ve made her mittens overflow with aurons!

“This is one reason why goods here are so popular;” Tome explained, “weapons without patterns are more difficult to stop.”

Alright! Nice job, Tome. Get your message across WITHout sounding like you’re preaching gun control. Stating your opinion on hot-button issues is how many arguments begin.

Although I will keep this in mind the next time my story requires two characters to get into an irrational squabble while posting on Facebook.

Conneld lingered a moment on King’s hopeful eyes before turning back to his pattern-viewing device. The lights flickered off.

“Well that’s it,” he said. “The magic they brought in with them is gone.”

I just now realized that some of the things Vornis and his group says after that point would be information that King and Conneld shouldn’t hear. So–whoops! Looks like the magic dissipated! Darn, they can’t spy on them anymore!

“Just give up. You can’t win,” Kay Kary said, peering out from her hood. Her dark eyeshadow was stark in the lamplight. Vornis growled as the ball pressed against him; his clawed feet scraped across the road. At his back, the brick wall of a building loomed. A female voice rang out from somewhere.

I have to be careful here. I want this part at the end to seem almost dream-like, but that doesn’t mean I should be lazy with the description. I need to keep the action clean, even as reality begins to unravel.


So what did happen at the end anyway? Prepare for everything to be explained by the most unlikely of people!

And what’s this!? It’s almost time for Mean’s match with Dark!? Zounds! Does our slug-loving pal stand a chance against someone who can manipulate the very armor he wears!? Or will he pull an unbelievable upset out of his cape!? Holy crap, this is getting so exciting! Even characters from old Gamecube games can’t contain themselves!


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