Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 16 (First Draft)

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I forgot almost everything that occurred in this chapter. Well, not the plot; I remembered the events. The dialog is what slipped my mind. And it wasn’t even bad dialog! I think it’s great! So what happened? Sure, I usually forget details in other books and shows–but I was the one that created this, so shouldn’t I remember it all?

Hm. I suppose that could be good in a way. I was worried that I would be bored reading my own books since I assumed I would never be surprised by anything. But guess what? I was! Read the notes at the end if you want; I wrote them in real time as I re-read the first draft.

Except the comment about the guns. That amazing joke took me a day to think up.

DRAFT START

16 – Dead Zone

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

“Ah, good; you’re back!” Vornis greeted. A wool coat like Tome’s hung at his sides, with his long spines protruding through two 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. “Your girlfriend!” she stated. “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 over 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 is hardly the time to go off on dates.”

Mean sighed as she put the coat on. “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? 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 chided. “Don’t make us take another trip back through time to stop you, too!”

“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 turned to 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 ancient,” 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 a bag, he handed it to the attendant. She peeked inside, gasping.

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

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

The attendant giggled, setting the bag down 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 so 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. Once past the hanger door the track curved down: taking the cars with it into the night with a whoosh. A few startled shouts came back at her though the breeze, and she stayed, listening, until the clatter of wheels upon tracks could no longer be heard. Breathless, she picked up the bag and walked back through the gate. A man in a plain cloak was walking toward her from the hex door.

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

“Oh––yeah,” the girl squeaked. “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 darkened. “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.”

“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,” he replied, walking 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 made them like that?”

King rubbed his bare 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. I value my relationship with the Jesians.”

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 lamp’s wick.

“What are you doing?” King asked.

“My job,” Conneld said. He pressed a few buttons and the monitor began to 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 at it 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 difficult,” 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 belts. A man in a leather uniform greeted them as they climbed out of the coaster, his face flickering 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 one day of host bonding,” the man answered. “Every infected guest here has been screened and isolated until that particular 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 path. Shops with illuminated windows lined the sidewalks, with pots, furniture, and pieces of art on display. Ahead, a carriage waited at the road’s side: with a large, shaggy animal harnessed to it. “It’s the closest thing that I’ve ever seen to a city on this world.” “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. “Oh man, 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 chided.

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

“I wish they wouldn’t sell those,” Tome expressed. “Weapons without patterns are too difficult to stop. If they were to be used on someone––”

Vornis snorted. “No kidding. And you haven’t even seen the guns they have on their world: I’d take a wooden stake 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 repeated.

“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; there’s nobody that looks like he does. 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, but I think it fits.”

 

“Ah, welcome travelers!” a man in a long coat called out from atop the wheeled vehicle. 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. And, honestly, I don’t believe it was a lie. 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 open.

“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.

 

“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 the rory wrapped in his cape. A woman with glasses and curly hair approached, tackled Vornis from behind, put their feet on his spikes, and covered his eyes.

“Guess who it is,” she challenged.

“My best friend King!” Vornis replied, grinning under two fingerless mittens.

“I think that’s Zenny, man,” Darrow said.

“Well,” the woman chuckled, hopping down. “It looks like your new friends are glad to see me, at least.”

“I am, I am!” Vornis said, stepping away and turning around. “I just wasn’t sure how you’d react to, well, this.”

Zenny bared teeth glinting with silver. “What, did you think I called you out here just to call you ugly?”

“As a best-case scenario,” Vornis said.

“Nah, I think it’s hot,” Zenny told him. “You’re running around calling yourself the Beast. What girl wouldn’t love that?”

“Ah, well, yes,” Vornis stuttered. His dipped his head. “Did I introduce you to everyone? This is Tome.”

Tome held out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“We really don’t got to go through this;” Zenny said, “I saw all of you in the papers. And look at you”––she thumped Vornis’ bumpy chest––”being all polite. I guess those nobles have rubbed off. But if you want––” She pulled at the sides of her coat in a curtsy. “I’m Zennifer Baquet, pleased to meet you all or some such.”

“It is nice to finally meet you,” Mean said. “Vornis talks about you all the time.”

Zennifer’s sliver teeth flashed as she let out a loud cackle. “And here I thought the smell of bull left with the stagecoach! Vee doesn’t talk about anyone unless they’re dead and gone. Though seeing as where we are, I might as well be to some. Nice to meet you, though. Heard you smashed that Kary girl’s face in and some other chick. Now let’s see, what was her name?”

Vornis looked sideways at a gas lamppost. “You know Parlay. She’s actually the one that changed me.”

Zenny sat on a bench, looking him over. “No fooling. What for?”

“To get you out of here,” Vornis explained. “We were going to––we were going to cure you by force.”

“Uh-huh,” Zenny said. “And how did that go?” She folded her arms, peering at him over her specs.

“We couldn’t do it,” he admitted. “It wouldn’t be right.”

“Wow, there’s my knight in shining armor,” Zenny said, looking at Mean and the rest and tipping her head to Vornis. “So you decided to hide with Parlay. That’s your big, ethical decision: To leave me here. You don’t know if I can accept what you are, so you alienate me.”

They all stood silent as several people walked by: stealing looks at Vornis’ dour face as they passed. Another cart, pulled by two of the shaggy animals, rounded the corner of Light and Hurst.

“Guys, could you leave us alone for a bit?” Vornis asked.

“Yeah,” Dark replied. He sniffled under his helmet, leading the others away. As they walked past, the animals let out a let out a low growl. One of them reared back on its legs, howling with steam on its breath.

“Wait,” Vornis called out. A loud crash echoed from a nearby street. Howls and whispers were carried to Vornis’ ears on the wind.

“What is that?” A passerby cried. “What is he doing?”

“It’s her,” Vornis said, as a rolling sound gathered from beyond the concrete corner. “It’s Kay Kary.”

“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 the ball hit a brick building: shaking the street and kicking up dust.

“You cheaters,” a voice sang from around the corner. 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––”

“No, you don’t have any magic!” Dark said. He took her in his arms and the ball struck them both: flinging them to the ground as it rumbled past. Darrow was running as Vornis bounded over him; the beast slapped against the smooth sphere with his arms outstretched. With a squeal the orb ceased it’s spin; the air became thick with the haze of gas lamps and dust.

“Just give up. You can’t win,” Kay Kary said, stepping through the shadow. Vornis growled as the ball pressed forward; his clawed feet scraped over the road in protest. Behind him, the wall of a building loomed. A voice rang out behind him.

“Vornis, help!” she called out. “You’re the only one!” The beast grit his white teeth. The ball froze.

“How are you doing that?” Kary shrieked. “You shouldn’t be able to!” Vornis planted his feet, butted his forehead against the steely surface, and drove forward.

“She got your friends, it’s just us three!” Zenny said. The coach animals howled and the sound of a coaster rushed through Vornis’ ears. He kept on pressing, each step taking him further.

“What is he doing that for?” someone asked. With a final shove the ball flew from the beast’s hands: flying up and into a closed shop window; spraying glass as it hit.

“That’s impossible!” Kary said, her form 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 harm 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!”

A man sitting on a bench pointed. “He broke it. Shouldn’t it be over now?”

Vornis looked at the man and saw many others: all sitting on benches though the fog. Rubbing his eyes with his fingers yielded many more people: all staring at him and talking in murmurs.

“What––” he spat out and he fell to his knees, and the concrete road wobbled. The sound of coasters rushed through his ears once again, and the hazy mist flickered and brightened. He rose his eyes and saw a shattered throne before him: sitting in pieces against a glass wall. Beyond it, crowds seated in bleachers were watching him with quizzical stares. A man in sloppy clothes lay on the ground nearby, breathing through a wide-open mouth. Vornis shuffled around, 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.”

DRAFT END

Summary: Vornis takes everyone to go meet his girlfriend. As the group takes a roller coaster into the magic-less area, King and his brother arrive to spy on them.

After meeting Zenny, some weird stuff happens. The next chapter explains it so I’m not going to put it here. Feel free to guess, Matt. You commented here once! I KNOW you can do it again!

Choice Edits:

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

Oh boy everyone’s all ready to go right from the start! It’s a good thing I moved Vornis’ letter from his girlfriend to the previous chapter–otherwise this whole beginning here wouldn’t make any sense!

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

So Dark went first to form a cover story? I have no recollection of what it could be. Oh, this is fun.

“Yeah,” Darrow chided. “Don’t make us take another trip back through time to stop you, too!”

Ha,ha,ha, they’ll go through time again to stop Mean from blowing up the world? Why don’t I remember these amazing gags? I guess I should stop being so hard on writers when they repeat the same material over and over again. 😛

Your friend Dark told me all about the strange feelings you’ve been having.

Strange feelings!? Just what kind of place is this!?!

Taking out a bag, he handed it to the attendant. She peeked inside, gasping.

I’m assuming Darrow gave her a tip here. I should probably show the money just so the reader doesn’t think he gave her something weird. Or maybe that’s exactly why I SHOULDN’T show what he gave her.

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

“I wish they wouldn’t sell those,” Tome expressed. “Weapons without patterns are too difficult to stop. If they were to be used on someone––”

Tome would like to remind you to vote “yes” on prop 13 for gun control this November. Firearms have killed 100% more people than magical comets, after all.

Kidding aside, I do need to adjust Tome’s line a bit. I don’t like it when I feel as though I’m being preached at, and that line sounds like a lecture. It doesn’t matter if I believe it or not; I don’t like obvious “lessons” in stories.

I do need a scene like this for a reason, though: I need to show that basic pistols exist in this world. I also need to get the idea across that objects made in the Dead Zone won’t have patterns, even if they’re taken outside the area.

And of course I MUST preserve Vornis’ joke about being blasted with Tyle’s staccato in the previous book. Obviously.

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.

HA,ha,ha. Yeah, that’s what they’re talking about, King. They need to fix their snack machines before you come visit their world. Oh man I really thought this whole part would be kinda boring but these jokes are awesome.

Zenny bared teeth glinting with silver. “What, did you think I called you out here just to call you ugly?”

Oh, whoops. I showed what Zenny looked like? I was just going to have her be one of those characters you never see. Just forget everything about her, and I’ll erase this part in the next draft.

“So you decided to hide with Parlay. That’s your big, ethical decision: To leave me here. You don’t know if I can accept what you are, so you alienate me.”

Well, wait, hold on: I do kind of like this part. If there’s a good discussion exploring Vornis’ character than I should probably leave it in, don’t you think? No one else could get away with saying this to Vornis, after all.

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

Oh, that’s right. Some weird event always interrupts my ethical conversations. Darn!

So what do you think? Should I keep the part with Zenny? Or should I do what Cheers did with Norm’s wife and never show her?

Zenny doesn’t appear in the book after this point. So it’s either a glimpse of an endearing character or a pointless waste of time. Guess which view I’m leaning toward. 😛

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