Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 20 (Second Draft)

APHeader2D

 

DVD commentaries can be great for learning story-telling techniques. For instance, the other day I was watching the episode of Aeon Flux titled “The Purge.” On the commentary, Peter Chung was talking about how the character Trevor needed to have an incredibly philosophical conversation about the nature of conscience.

Mr. Chung realized that an abstract conversation would feel out of place if it just happened at a normal locale. So what did he do? He decided to have the entire scene play out on a stage with a studio audience!

The dream: to awaken our world.

Shoot–look at that! Now it makes perfect sense for Trevor to make numerous, long-winded remarks: he’s on TV! Even Aeon’s scant attire becomes appropriate!

Like Chung, I have used a similar method in this chapter–heck, I’ve used it in the whole book up until now. When Pinada talks about his plan and what he’s accomplished he does it in front of an audience. It seems natural to the reader that Pinada would speak as long as he had the crowd’s attention.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a cactus-flavored bunny drink and start reading! Everything that happens here is perfectly normal!

TrevorDrink

 

DRAFT START

20 – Time to Kill Everybody

 

“How are you, Mean?” Dark asked. His arms were still around her, and she peeked out over his elbow.

“I got cut a little, but not bad. I think.” He withdrew and she stepped between the knives laying still on the roof, watching her leg where blood trickled down from her knee.

“Is it done?” King wondered. He dabbed at his head. “Conneld, is it gone?”

Conneld used his hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun on the settled blades. “It’s gone. Parlay really did it.”

“Hey, people are cut over here!” Jelk shouted from the other side of the roof. King set his jaw, tipping his crown.

“Right. We need to clear all this away,” he insisted. “Pyramid roof: restructure command. Fair day one. Remove and store all extra material.”

A growing hum resonated, vibrating the blades where they lay. The debris from the vendors’ stands and pedestal were all taken with a series of flashes and loud ripples. Some knives slid into the empty spots left behind; others were whisked away by the hex door arrays that winked across the rooftop. Parlay knelt on the ring’s mat, treating Vornis and Donzel.

“So did you guys do it?” Darrow asked amid the noise. “Is that the thing that was going to kill everyone?”

“I do remember seeing some of this,” Mean said. “Hellzoo showed me knives stabbing King’s brother. Donzel was cut, too.”

Tome was checking his body for wounds. “That thing was getting stronger–I don’t know how big it could have gotten.”

The final knives were vanishing, and the holes in the roof were being filled in. The bleachers reformed, surrounding the ring on three sides again. Donzel and Vornis were on their feet. They thanked Parlay and she hopped down, heading over to where Jelk was beckoning.

“I’ve got Kay Kary over here: she’s bleeding pretty bad,” he told her. Parlay dashed past him. Kay Kary was leaning against the stairwell, her fingers pressed to her forehead. Her eye makeup was mixed with blood, running past her cheeks in a smear.

“Kary, it’s me,” Parlay said. “Do I have your permission to help?” Kay Kary nodded.

“Don’t care what you do outside the ring,” she told her. “I’m sorry I yelled at you before, though.”

Parlay smiled, her sliced hair hanging lop-sided across her brow.

The people were returning through the stairs and the hex doors at a slow trickle: walking, staring.

“Yes, come on back,” King told them. “The monster’s dead, and I’m not going to let that thing ruin the award ceremony!”

“Parlay killed it!” Jelk told the crowd. “I helped a little, but she finished it off!”

Parlay smiled, letting go of Kay Kary’s shoulder. She stood, and people began to flock to her.

“Please, let through anyone that’s hurt,” Parlay said. “I don’t want to hog all he attention; Mean beat the game, not me.”

“I really can’t be too proud of that,” Mean chuckled from nearby. “Templetine beat out all the others by cheating, after all.”

“Hi, Mean!” Parlay said. “Oh, you’re cut–let me get that.”

“Hey,” Mean replied. “No, I’m fine. Dark saved me from the worst. Go help the people that need it.”

Parlay’s grin widened and she took Mean by the hand. “Okay, I will. But I still need to see you later; I have a present that I need to give you! You know, for winning.”

Mean clasped her small hand, returned the smile, and then let it go. King swished his fingers and a massive hex door took the knife-scarred ring away. He led Parlay to the center of the roof, where Jelk, Caldera, and the other players were meeting up.

“So what do we do now?” Darrow asked. Mean looked at him, then up at the sky. A cube of glass was descending. Pinada was standing inside. Others turned their heads up at him, pointing as they made their way back into the bleachers. Pinada landed where the ring used to be, his heavy, black coat open. When the spectators noticed him, they began to clap.

“Oh, don’t cheer for me, folks–” Pinada told them. He held a microphone in his hand. “Parlay and King are the real stars today. Come on, everyone–applaud for them both! They deserve it!”

The people in the stands cried out louder at his plea: stomping on the metal and calling out their names.

“Pinada, where were you?” King asked, clapping along. “You were supposed to be at the final match. We were attacked! We needed you here.”

Pinada ignored him and slid over to where Parlay was. She was blushing, attempting to hide her smile.

“You don’t need to be modest,” Pinada went on. “You’re the one that gave me the idea–the idea that’s going to kill you all today.”

The spectators sank into their seats and the applause dwindled.

Pinada chuckled. “You may not all know this, but Parlay was banned from a particular Dead Zone. A place that holds the slate virus and its infected hosts. A virus that Parlay planned to cultivate and release.”

Parlay’s face fell and she seized up. Pinada tossed the mic; flipping it; catching it by the handle.

“Oh, but it wasn’t going to be fatal kind:” he continued, tapping his glasses, “the slate virus learns–replicates a singular, imprinted pattern. She was going to teach it the one thing she knows: static.” He traced a circle on the glass with his finger: looping around Parlay’s head. Her eyes were watering and she covered her mouth.

“A world where everyone is like you:” Pinada hummed, “Static. Unchanging. That is disgusting. You should apologize to all these people. Right now.”

Vornis growled, watching along with Mean and the rest.

“No, not him,” Tome muttered. “Anyone but him. It can’t be, it can’t.”

“He sure seems like the one,” Trisk sighed. Tenny eyed her.

“What do you mean?” he asked. “This is some kind of trick he’s doing, right? Parlay would never do that–I know her!”

In the center, King spoke up again. “Pinada, I don’t know what you’re getting at, but these are serious accusations. I’m not sure what the joke is–”

“The joke is that you think this is a joke,” Pinada told him.

King staggered back. He looked up at the corners of Pinada’s case, where the four ornamental spires were perched. He swished his finger at him. Nothing happened.

Pinada glared at King before turning back to the stands with a pleasant grin. “I think Parlay realized that her plan wouldn’t work; even the fatal strain of slate would have been stopped. The hex doors are programmed to search for abnormal symptoms; any people with those dark lines on their face would have been denied travel and the area locked down.”

He shrugged his arms. “So what was I to do?” he asked the audience. “Killing everyone in the world seemed so incredibly hard.”

“Everyone–!” King gasped. Pinada toyed with his scarf.

“But all I needed was the right piece,” he said. “The pattern of time.” He let go of the sheer fabric and tapped on the glass plate. “Moving an object or changing its composition is easy; the real challenge comes from telling something what time it needs to be at. That pattern is tricky; a departure and destination must be set. I was able to program a chair to leave at two o’clock, for example, but since I couldn’t figure out the destination code it just never came back.”

His case swiveled around at Parlay’s side. She was still motionless. Kay Kary put her arm around her, watching Pinada.

“But that isn’t really a failure if I put it to good use;” he went on, “that is, to say, it was the perfect killing code for your slate virus. I could program you to leave and never come back.” He pulled back his coat sleeve, peeking at a large, silver watch.

“And I realized I could set the moment of death at any time I wanted. With an instant result I could infect people undetected. No symptoms–no clues.”

He turned to the audience: people questioning each other in their rows; looking to King, to Pinada, Parlay.

“And I have a world that trusts me, of course,” Pinada chuckled. “So much that they’d let me stand here and talk about how I’m about to commit genocide.” He looked at them through the glass.

“It’s only going to be a few more seconds now.”

It took only one, leaping out of his seat before the rest followed: rising in a panic and surging sideways. The bleachers rumbled with footfalls and then a great noise drowned it out: a rippling boom trembling throughout the pyramid roof. Many people in mid-stride vanished: their clothes and belongings swirling in all directions and falling in heaps. Those unaffected shrieked and exclaimed.

Parlay flinched as Kay Kary’s round bracelets dropped to the ground next to her feet. “This can’t be happening,” Parlay said. “It has to be a trick. Hex doors–”

“He blocked them,” King squeaked, watching men and women trip over each other in their race to get out. “It’s real. They’re gone.”

“But it can’t spread that fast!” Parlay said. “It can’t be worldwide!”

Pinada turned to them both. “You don’t think hex doors alone can spread it that far?” He set his palm on his cheek. “If only there was some giant event taking place!” he laughed. “Where every nation of the world was invited!”

He gestured at the glass plate on his left and it displayed a colored image on the surface: multiple locations were shown in turn. Some had nothing but clothes littering empty floors and resting upon furniture. In others people ran through blank streets or only stood, staring. The image blinked off and the glass became clear again.

“No,” King whispered. “Not me. Not my fair.”

“Every country!” Pinada shouted, raising the microphone to his mouth. “Every race, King! Every place a hex door can reach! You and Parlay did it! Let’s hear it for them, everyone!” He clapped, still holding the mic in his hand. King took off his crown and looked skyward; his rory was flying in wild circles above.

“I spread five strains,” Pinada explained, twirling to the people fleeing from him. “The times are spaced out: increments of five minutes. If you’re having trouble keeping track, perhaps Gamemaster Kello can count for you.” He looked over, seeing her parasol wobbling on the floor. “Oh, she’s dead–never mind.”

“That’s what it was,” Vornis said, gathered with Mean and the others near the far bleachers. “Every few minutes. Every few minutes I felt people disappear.”

“This is awful,” Mean said. “Let’s go back. Let’s go back and beat the crap out of this guy.”

“What are you guys talking about!?” Tenny shouted. “How can you all be so calm!? He’s killing everyone–I just saw Jelk disappear! Conneld was right there–he was fine–but now there’s just clothes–”

“Tenny, please,” Trisk said, grasping his bare shoulder with her fingers. “We came here to stop this.”

“You came–you what?” Tenny stammered. “You knew this would happen? You knew!?”

Donzel dashed over to King. “The hex doors aren’t working!” he cried. “You need to send me back home! I have a sword that can get through his armor!”

“Are you talking about this?” Pinada asked. He held the left side of his coat away from his body; hanging at his hip was a long, thin scabbard. “‘The sword that slides through patterns,'” Pinada recited, dropping his coat back into place. “I saw it in your case earlier. You know, I think I’m the type to claim trophies from my victims.” He dropped his voice to whisper that echoed through his cube. “That’s where I just was, King, since you were so curious.”

“You stole it?” Donzel shouted, beating on Pinada’s case with his fist. “That sword belongs to my family!”

Pinada laughed. “I didn’t steal anything! I walked right in and asked for it. They handed it over. I wonder why they did that.”

“People trust you;” Donzel said, beating against the case again, “you’re supposed to protect them!”

“I never asked to be trusted,” Pinada said, touching his glass plate where Donzel pressed his fist. The glass oozed around Donzel’s hand, encasing it.

“He’s got Donzel,” Tenny said, pleading with Trisk and the others. “Are you just going to let Pinada kill him!?”

Vornis began to step forward; Tome pulled him back by the shirt.

“Don’t!” he called out, “We can’t draw his attention! If we’re caught now, it will all be for nothing!”

“We already have his attention,” Vornis growled. “Did you forget? He’s the one that sent us back in the first place. We’ve all been conned and I’m not going to just sit here and wait while my friends are all killed.”

Tome looked up into the beast’s face with his yellow eyes. “I’ll hold you back–you know I can.”

“I don’t think you will,” Vornis said. “Tenny, you with me?”

Tenny nodded, glaring at the others. “Distract him while I break through his glass.”

“Right,” the beast answered, and he bolted forward with Tenny racing behind him. Pinada frowned, watching them approach.

“Oh no. Help,” he droned in fake alarm. “I wasn’t expecting you to attack. Please demonstrate your abilities in a week-long tournament so I can get ready.”

He knelt to the foot of his case and the entire thing lifted straight up from the roof. Donzel screamed as he was carried along, hanging from his arm, still caught in the glass. Vornis bent his knees to prepare for a leap; his feet sank into the roof, stuck. Tenny tried to backpedal away; the floor beneath him swallowed his legs up to the knees.

“I was a bit startled when you penetrated my glass case the other day, Tenny,” Pinada shouted down. Donzel writhed beside him, his feet dangling while he struggled to pull himself up. “And I know why you keep coming back to this tournament: you want to make sure that no one else is killed like your friend was. That must have been horrible to watch. Well, let’s see what you think about this.”

He touched the spot on his case where Donzel’s hand was caught. The glass unwrapped from around his fist. Donzel fell backwards, and Vornis and Tenny both reached out. Donzel bounced against the floor beyond their reach. There was a crack and his body was still.

Tenny screamed. He cupped his hand and swiped at the floor near his encased shin. A piece of the roof was carved out; he rose his arm to strike again and another rippling boom resounded.

Vornis shielded his face as Tenny vanished, his sweater flung up in a whirl. It landed on Donzel’s body and a well of shrieks rose up across the roof again.

Pinada looked down past his feet at those panicking. The jeweled rory’s shell plummeted from the sky, empty, shattering against the roof with a crash.

“Three waves left,” he announced.

DRAFT END

Choice Edits:

Tome was checking his body for wounds. “That thing was getting stronger–I don’t know how big it could have gotten.”

I need to downplay Whittler a bit. She’s not the main threat here–Pinada is, so I can’t have Tome saying “THE POWER! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WORLDWIDE! SUCH IMPOSSIBLE STRENGTH!”

Or whatever he said in the first draft.

“Kary, it’s me,” Parlay said. “Do I have your permission to help?” Kay Kary nodded.

In the first draft Parlay helped some random woman. I changed it because I want to use the existing characters as much as I can. I always want to be looking for ways to develop relationships.

Yes, even in chapters where everyone is dying. That’s one of the best times.

He gestured at the glass plate on his left and it displayed a colored image on the surface: multiple locations were shown in turn. Some had nothing but clothes littering empty floors and resting upon furniture. In others people ran through blank streets or only stood, staring.

I wanted to show that Pinada’s attack was, indeed, worldwide. But should I cut from the action here? Should I shift to different areas like Cot’s Bar to display the scope of the event?

Right now I’m thinking I shouldn’t. Not only would it interrupt the hectic pace of the finale, but the reader already knows the outcome. Well, readers of the first book anyway. Pinada’s quick show is adequate. Yeah, you didn’t know he got cable channels in his cube did you?

“The times are spaced out: increments of five minutes. If you’re having trouble keeping track, perhaps Gamemaster Kello can count for you.”

I changed the time between death waves from ten to five minutes. Ten minutes just seemed to long, now that I read this all at once. When I’m writing it feels like an hour between paragraphs, ha,ha,ha.

“Oh no. Help,” he droned in fake alarm. “I wasn’t expecting you to attack. Please demonstrate your abilities in a week-long tournament so I can get ready.”

Sarcastic lines like this make all the first draft crap I had to change worth it. And I love jokes that convey plot points. This is so much better than just having Pinada say “I know all your moves, Goku! And that is why you can’t beat me!”

“I know why you keep coming back to this tournament: you want to make sure that no one else is killed like your friend was. That must have been horrible to watch. Well, let’s see what you think about this.”

 In a previous blog post I stated that I wanted to reveal why Tenny kept competing in the tournament every year. I also wanted Pinada to do something to get BACK at Tenny for breaking his case earlier. Here at the end I sensed an opportunity: When Pinada murders Donzel that event can fulfill two loose ends at once. I probably shouldn’t sound so excited about that, but I’m looking at this from an author’s point of view. I must be subjective, even when my characters are being splattered all over the place.

I had to cut out some dialog about Pinada’s personal motives, but I’m sure I can just shove that in somewhere later. The cast of characters is rapidly dwindling so he’s gonna have PLENTY of time to talk.

NEXT TIME–!

The remaining survivors battle against Pinada in the most thrilling struggle ever conceived! It all happens: on the next episode of Abandonment Party Z!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *