Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 21 (Second Draft)

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This chapter is filled with hateful dialog, uttered by the antagonist, Pinada. I believe writing such things is helpful to me, though. Yeah, you heard right. See, I get angry at people sometimes. People that have done horrible things. Or maybe they haven’t done anything much at all.

But every time I want to lash out at those people I reign it back. I think: “save it for the books.”

It’s another way for my writing to serve me: I’m able to channel my anger in a positive way, and I’m also able to make a believable villain. I can also observe how evil people are treated through the actions of my characters. It can serve as a reminder to what happens to people that decide to act out on their rage. If I’m in the real world and I ever feel that I’m starting to act like one of these villains, well, I know I need to shut up and walk away or else I’ll get a table dropped on my head.

 

DRAFT START

21 – Perfect Structure

 

Pinada descended to a clear space on the roof, watching the throngs gathered at the hex doors. Some were standing amid the six pillars that marked the boundary, some were pounding at the controls. Pinada spoke into his microphone.

“You aren’t leaving,” he said. “And King isn’t getting any more of your toll money. You might as well use it to go buy a snack.”

As others fought to get down the wide stairwell, Caldera fought the flow. He charged at Pinada, his domed hat bobbing and his fingers alight.

“Pinada!” he cried, the flame in his hands growing. “I’m taking you with me! I’m taking you with me!”

His teeth were clenched and the fire trailed in a long streak behind him. He leapt over Donzel’s body, nearing the case. Pinada dropped the microphone and directed both hands at Caldera. He clenched his fingers together.

Vornis squeezed his eyes shut as a muffled boom pounded the roof. A glass box was covering the spot where Caldera had been: black smoke swirling beneath the surface and hissing through cracks. Pinada gestured and the walls unfolded, releasing a plume of ash that rose into the sky. The glass walls vanished, leaving a charred, smoldering heap.

“Gracious!” Pinada exclaimed. “He was going to blow everyone up. Did you see that, King?” he asked, looking over. “It’s a good thing I’m here; I’m the most helpful person there is. I am the wonderful hero, Pinada.”

He twirled his case around and the hem of his coat spun with him. King looked away from the spectacle, kneeling to where Parlay was crying. His fingers were frantic on a remote control that he held.

“Parlay–you need to listen to me,” he began. “The only way to get the hex doors active again is a total reset of the system. It will rescind the toll; remove all restrictions. I think you’ll survive this. I need you to–hey!” He reached down and touched her by the shoulder. She stared at the floor, the whites of her eyes glossy and pink.

“But I caused this,” she sobbed. “I didn’t–I caused this–”

“You didn’t!” King assured her. “But I need you to listen–there isn’t much time–I need you to be strong.”

“I’m not,” she whined. “I’m really not.”

“You are,” King said. “You’ve been strong to endure so much. But I need you to be strong again. It looks like the Jesians aren’t affected by this; I need you to escape with them. Tell their kind to never come here. I have a lab in Teery Mine–the one from the Hellzoo attack–there’s something there that can help you reach their planet.”

Pinada approached them, and a square of reflected sunlight inched up King’s back. King turned. A streak of light shone across Pinada’s case.

“Yes, go to the Teery Mine,” Pinada said. “It was such a nice, quiet place to run all of my tests. After all–I was the one in charge of sealing it up, remember?”

King picked himself up and spread his hairy arms out. “Run, Parlay–get out of here! Take the others!”

“You don’t want her to hear your secrets, King?” Pinada chuckled. “How your ‘hall’ experiment was what lead the monster here in the first place?” He shifted the cube and the glint of sunlight was thrown to the jewels on the rory’s broken shell. King looked at the scattered fragments and then at the hex doors at the far end of the roof. With a flash the people standing inside the doors vanished.

A regretful smile crossed King’s face as he was torn out of sight; his velvety clothes imploding and his crown dropping in a whirl. Parlay’s face hit the floor and she screamed, drawing her legs and arms in, writhing. A few more soft ripples echoed over the roof and faded.

“I was wondering if you would survive it,” Pinada told Parlay. She convulsed and gasped, tiny veins bulging at her brow. Her sliced hair was slick with sweat, sticking to her head in uneven strands.

“It’s curious,” he said, watching her. “Your body can’t truly be static or else you wouldn’t move through time at all. Yet you resist this abrupt shift.” He shrugged with a long grin. “As fascinating as it sounds, I think I’m more curious to see if you can survive a drop from the roof now that your power’s drained.”

He lingered there as Parlay sniveled and wept on the ground. Her eyes were open and she struggled to breathe in between gasps. Behind Pinada, back by the bleachers, she saw Mean and the rest watching.

“Tome, let me go out there,” Mean pleaded. “I can’t let him do this to her. I thought I’d be able to watch, but–”

“It’s only for a little more,” Tome stated, standing between her and the scene. “It’s almost four-thirty.”

“But he’ll still be here!” Mean shot back. “He could find her–kill her!”

“And then we’d be dead too!” Tome barked. “Mean, don’t you think I want to be out there!? I tried to kill Pinada before I even had a good reason! I know he can’t be fought now; we need to go back and plan out how to stop him.”

“But what if Vornis is right?” Darrow squeaked. “What if Pinada set this up? And if it wasn’t King’s hex doors that change time; then it would be that virus. It would be in all of us right now.”

Tome grew silent. Dark put his hand on Mean’s shoulder while Trisk kept staring ahead. One of the few people remaining on the rooftop was rushing over to where Pinada and Parlay were.

“Oh, you’re still here,” Pinada groaned. In a flash of yellow, Eon thundered up and tackled the case.

“Parlay, get up and run!” he boomed. His massive arms gripped the corners of the glass cube, and he planted his huge feet on the ground. Parlay fought to rise, staggering away from the two.

“Remember what I said,” Eon shouted back to her. “You’ll need to be that person. The one I saw in the ring. If you want to survive, be that person again!”

Pinada peered around Eon’s head. “If you leave now I’m not coming after you, Parlay!” he laughed. “If you want to die you’ll have to do it yourself!”

She slipped and looked over her shoulder as she ran to the hex door, turning away the moment she saw Mean staring back. With a pop she departed and Pinada cackled louder.

“What a waste of a person,” he said, giving the cube a sharp twist to fling Eon away. “And stop touching my case; you’ll put fingerprints on it.”

Eon thudded to the floor, rolled, and came to rest. He glanced over at the hex door that Parlay had left though. “Sing be with you,” he muttered. Pinada snickered.

“Oh, you’ve got to be joking,” he said. He touched his glasses, peering down at him. “You’re still pulling that act? I was there; I saw him die.”

“He lives on,” Eon said. “We all witnessed his magic.” Pinada toyed with his scarf.

“So let’s say he’s here,” he began. “I knew Sing; he doesn’t care what happens to you. He’d watch you die without lifting a finger.”

Pinada backed off, his glass case sliding to the dead center of the roof. He lifted his arm and a thick, tall glass plate arose: It was one of the walls used to surround the ring during the matches. It lifted to full hight, towering over Eon.

“How about this:” Pinada offered as he spoke into the mic, “Renounce Sing and I’ll let you go. You didn’t arrive here via hex door and you avoid magic; there’s a very good chance that you didn’t catch the virus.” He pushed his palm forward and a crackling noise came from the glass wall’s base. “You’re the only one that never called me a hero. I just want to hear you say it. ‘Please let me go, Pinada the hero.’ Just utter those words and you can leave.”

Eon sniffed, wiping his face with his yellow sleeve. “I won’t. He was right to attack you all those times. Your power is unnatural–you are the most evil thing in this world!”

With a snap the wall broke loose from the floor; with a heavy, slow whoosh it fell forward. Eon crawled a few frantic feet before the plate flattened him: sending out plumes of dust from its edges. The roof resounded with a massive clang; piles of clothes jumped and Caldera’s ashes were tossed about. As the others covered their faces Tome stared though the haze: his eyes fixed on Pinada, who laughed.

“Well?” Pinada asked, lifting his palm. The massive plate uncovered Eon, bringing in a swirl of dust as it rose into the air. Eon’s body was shivering, and he turned his eyes up.

“Sing, I saw you,” he gasped. “Why won’t you come? I saw you.”

Mean looked over at Tome: his teeth were clenched and his eyes wet. Pinada slammed the glass wall down again. Another boom rang out, sending more dust into their faces. The plate lifted, and Eon was panting in short breaths: his yellow clothes stained with dark, slick splotches.

“Sing, help,” he whispered. “Help me.”

Pinada gestured, grinning, and the glass wall rose higher into the sky. The flat surface glimmered in the sunlight as it swiveled in place: stopping as the sharp edge that had cracked off from the ring faced straight down.

“What’s that?” Pinada cried. “You said you want to be chopped in half!?”

“Tome!” Mean said, her words reaching his back; he was already on his way over: his eyes yellow and wild. The glass wall fell. Tome tipped his head at it: it bounced sideways as if struck, flipping end-over-end. It swooshed through the sky and fell below the pyramid’s roof with a glimmer.

“What?” Pinada uttered, following it with his eyes as it dropped out of sight. He looked back to Eon and Tome was there, standing between them. Tome thrust out his arm and Pinada’s case was knocked backwards; Pinada’s face met the glass, bounced off, and he staggered as the case came to rest. A shockwave rippled over the floor from the bottom of the cube, Pinada’s knees gave out and he dropped. The glasses he wore fell from his face and clattered still against the lower plate; his scarf hung past his neck as his arms wobbled, straining to keep his body up.

“My, my,” he gasped as shadows closed in: the three sections of bleachers lifted up and gravitated together. Vornis ducked as the steel flew over him; he held his ears as the metal collided, converging at Pinada’s location. With a shriek the bleachers clashed and compressed, folding upon Pinada’s cube. The metal warped and compacted; it glowed–then blazed. The rooftop flared with brilliant light as Tome swished his hand: the mass rocketed away with a deafening whoosh. The railing at the far edge broke, bursting outward as the fireball was launched from the roof. It streaked above the barren fairgrounds, crashing into a forested hill and igniting the foliage with a flash as it exploded. Trees were torn up from their roots and flung out in a circle; debris spread from the impact in a cloud. Mean, Dark, Vornis, and Darrows shielded their faces as twigs, dirt, and pieces of metal rained back upon the roof. The pyramid trembled, tilting to the side. Loose rubble rolled across the floor as the valley echoed with noise.

“Holy crap,” Mean spat out, touching her chest as the shockwave resonated through.

“Geez, Tome blew him away!” Darrow said, staring off at the hill. A haze-filled crater yawned back at him: ringed by smoldering trees stripped of their leaves.

Tome turned to Eon as the pyramid hummed, tipping level again.

“You’re him,” Eon said, gazing up at his face. “You’re Sing. You came. You heard me. I knew you’d save us.”

Tome let out a weak chuckle. “I don’t know where you got all those strange ideas,” he admitted. “I’ve never saved anyone before.”

Eon grinned back, pushing himself up with one arm, wincing.

“Here: let me help,” Tome said, leaning over and taking Eon’s hand. He clasped it and it was torn away with the rest of his body; Eon vanished and the large, yellow jumpsuit was sucked into the void he left.

Tome swore as the clothing settled out of his reach. He clutched at his hair, shaking his head. Mean walked over to him, taking careful steps around the fallen debris.

“He’s gone. They all are,” Tome said. Dark followed Mean along with Trisk and Darrow. They stood on the roof and the sky grew blacker as the dust from the blast rose to cover the sun. Hollow laugher rang out.

The center of the roof was bulging upward. It split, slid apart, and the top of Pinada’s cube emerged. He was slouched inside it as it lifted him back up, his glasses held in one hand and the microphone in the other. He brushed his bruised cheek with the back of his palm.

“Can’t even save one person, can you?” he chuckled. “Just face it, Sing: Some of us aren’t cut out to be heroes.”

He held the glasses’ lens to his eyes to peer at the group, standing at full height again. “So. Here we are–you’re the only ones left.” He squinted over at Vornis, lowering his glasses and wiping them with his scarf. “I suppose you think I’ve been ignoring you all.”

Vornis growled, pulling his leg free from the floor with a jerk. Pinada set his glasses on his nose and swept his fingers through his disheveled black hair. Tome glared at him, his hands shaking and his lips drawn tight.

“Well, let me take this time to bid you welcome:” Pinada went on, “I am Pinada. This is my world.”

The cube rested on the roof as the floor below him sealed up again.

“Sing. How are you? That isn’t a disguise this time; you found a new body. I didn’t think your possession trick could take hold with the owner’s mind in the way. What did you do, kill somebody?”

“It was given to him!” Darrow defended. Tome hushed him with his palm.

“A soul that isn’t my own will force me out of the body,” Tome said. “But I met someone who gave it freely. Someone a thousand times better than either me or you.”

“Or another delusional mess like Eon,” Pinada hummed. “But these others with you really are from the other planet, aren’t they? How many years did it take? For you to find a body, friends”–he paused, placing two fingers on the glass and walking them up the side–”for me to find you again and send you back here.”

Tome hissed through his teeth. “That’s what you wanted. You wanted me to see you do it. You–”

“I imagine I did,” Pinada said. “I never doubted that I’d finish the time pattern, but I’ll need live subjects before I try it myself. I was going to hunt down that brat Parlay, but it seems you all will be so eager to volunteer in her place.”

Vornis stomped his clawed foot. “Can’t believe it. Can’t believe I fell for it.”

“You all must be incredibly stupid,” Pinada laughed. “What did I tell you? ‘Go save the world?’ Because it looked like you’ve just been playing games this whole time.”

He cackled and spun around in his case. Darrow looked at his watch and whispered to Mean, Dark, and Trisk.

“It’s almost time. We just need to keep him busy until we go back.”

“Yeah,” Mean said. “Then we stop this sicko.”

Pinada stopped twirling. “And you all whisper so loud!” he exclaimed. “I’m in a glass case and I can hear you! Are you really going back? Did I really construct a pattern that complex? Ooh-this is exciting. I can’t wait to see if it works.”

“Darrow, listen,” Trisk said. “Just get back. Stop him.” She put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. “I won’t be coming with you guys, so you’ll need to do it without me.”

“What?” Darrow gasped, keeping his eyes on Pinada. Mean rushed over.

“Trisk, don’t,” she said, standing in front of her. Trisk smiled.

“I don’t think I have a choice in this,” she said in a soft voice. “I checked the hex door pictures in the cave–you were on the phone and Darrow was talking to Dark–you only checked one but I checked the rest. I wasn’t there.”

“Pictures?” Pinada repeated, looking past Tome at the others.

“It doesn’t mean anything!” Darrow argued, taking her hand. “You’re not going to die.”

Trisk shook her head. “I think it’s already happened,” she said. “When Parlay healed me. She told me she changed my body back to how it was over a month ago.”

“Oh deary dear dear,” Pinada drawled. “That might have reverted you to pre-infection. Naughty Parlay, always messing with people.”

Trisk sniffled, smiling. “And if that’s the case, then I would be wide open. I could have caught one of the viruses after that.”

“Trisk, shut up!” Darrow pleaded, “The virus already passed; you’re fine!”

“Actually, no,” Pinada said, sliding to the side with his hand on his waist. “Only four waves have occurred. And I said there were five. Now, she could have caught your version of the virus again, but gosh–hasn’t she been around Tenny this whole time?”

“I’m sorry,” Trisk said, still smiling at Darrow. “I wanted to make it easy for you all. I tried to stay away as much as I could.” She sniffed and looked up for a second. “It’s why I sort of had a fling with him. I mean, I wouldn’t be hurting him since we’d die–you know–at about the same time.”

“You selfish idiot,” Mean spat, shaking her head. “You selfish, selfish–”

“I really am,” Trisk agreed, her eyes tearing up. “But I wanted it. Even for a short time.”

Darrow held her hand tight and Dark stood still, watching them. Pinada pretended to cry.

“Shut up!” Mean barked, “It’s because of you–you’re the one killing everyone!”

Pinada gazed over the top of Mean’s head, to Trisk. “I think you’re to blame. If you had worked to overcome that fainting weakness you could be smashing my face in right now. But since you obviously thought it was more important to go on dates, we’re left with this: a weak lump. Another waste of a person.”

“She’s the strongest person I know,” Mean argued. “She’s the most reliable individual, along with Dark–”

“Individual!?” Pinada broke in. “Individual doesn’t cut it. I realized that in order to get what I wanted I had to be more.” He pointed one finger at Trisk and the other at Mean. “I had to be unique.”

Trisk placed her hands on Mean’s shoulders and moved her out of the way. She marched forward, up to the glass. Pinada’s case backed away, keeping pace with her.

“I saw you fight,” Pinada told her, his voice hollow through the case. “There are several things you can try: You could teleport in, but you’d have to finish me off fast. You could shift to static–try to survive the virus when it hits–but you’d have to time it within a few seconds.” Trisk kept advancing, driving him back. “So what will it be? Which of your spectacular, one-shot failures do I get to experience?”

Trisk halted and Pinada slid a few more inches before stopping. “None of them,” Trisk said. “My friends are going to stop you–I’m not doing anything.”

Pinada kept his hand poised near the glass. “You’re not going to try anything,” he stated. “Why wouldn’t you?”

Trisk held her head up, and her dark eyes stared forward. “I don’t think I know why,” she said.

Pinada rose his eyebrow over the rim of his glasses. “What?”

Her body vanished with a loud snap, sending the clothes that she wore spiraling down.

“Trisk,” Darrow whispered. “Trisk, you’re gone.” He held his hand to his mouth, crying as he watched her sweater land.

“We’ll all–we’ll bring you back, Trisk,” Mean said. “We’ll stop this–we have to–”

Pinada dropped his hand. He blinked, chuckled, and gliding forward. His bottom plate flattened Trisk’s clothes as he moved over them. “You aren’t stopping me. I know where you’re going. I’ll know when you’ll come back. You’re all mine–I know where everything is. I don’t have people around me–patterns that are always present; always pressing in. Patterns that I can’t change: that strangle me and suffocate. This world is my structure now. Now you’re the one in the box.”

Mean stepped back, next to Dark. Vornis looked over at Tome, who met him with a grim stare. Darrow kept sobbing. With a rippling noise, the five vanished: all but Dark leaving their trappings behind. Pinada smiled. He checked behind him, then forward. With a precise movement from his fingertips, the sides of his glass case parted and swung out to the floor. A thin vapor fell from his coat and he stretched his arms out. He relaxed with a deep breath.

The debris, dirt, and piles of clothing sat silent on the roof. Smoke still rose from the far-off hill, and the surrounding forests stood with their trees wavering in the breeze. The fairground below was empty, and the shadow of the Imperial Pyramid was cast over it. Pinada hummed out a happy sigh.

“Now, what was that about pictures?” he wondered. With an absent gesture he caused a sharp piece of rory shell to hover over to where Dark had been standing. “Did they check the hex door travel logs to see if they’d made the trip?” He scratched an “X” on the roof, then moved the shard over to where Mean had been. “I suppose I could tell them that King made ‘time’ hex doors.” He snorted, carving another mark. “His junk is down in the mine, after all–shouldn’t be too hard to whip something up.”

He kept humming and muttering to himself, carving marks on the spots where Mean’s group had been standing. When he was done he discarded the fragment and it clanged to the ground with the rest. He put his hands in his coat pockets, walked to the stairwell, and headed down. A gentle breeze nipped at the items that remained on the roof, where they would all lay for the next five years.

DRAFT END 

 

Choice Edits:

“You aren’t leaving,” he said. “And King isn’t getting any more of your toll money. You might as well use it to go buy a snack.”

Ooh! I remember now! In the first draft I had Pinada re-activate the hex doors so that Parlay would be able to escape later! Since it makes no sense for him to do that, I changed the line and had King figure out a way.

I tried to salvage the same joke, but ehhhhhhhh.

“The only way to get the hex doors active again is a total reset of the system….

In the first book, which takes place in the future, all of the hex doors are free to use. In this chapter King lifts all the restrictions, explaining why everything was like that. In the first draft he only did it so–I don’t know–Parlay could have a convenient time getting around. But now I’m making another connection I should have made WAY earlier: King needs to do it so that Parlay can escape from Pinada.

Not only does it make King a bit more heroic at the end, but it also solves my plot problem I mentioned above.

“I suppose you thought something like this would never happen to you,” he said, watching her. “Just because you found some trick to control cells doesn’t mean you’re the only one that can handle viruses without risk. Containment is my specialty, after all.”

I’ve changed these lines that Pinada says to Parlay many times, and I think this is what I’m going with. There are a few issues that I want to work to address, and I want to make it clear that Pinada has a different way of dealing with the virus than Paraly did.

You know, I had lines like this thought up for some of the other characters, too. I believe TV Tropes calls it “The Reason You Suck” speech. I was going to have Pinada tell Kello off, for instance.

I guess there’s still time for that, but geez–going around to EVERY character and telling them how stupid they are just seemed tedious.

Here’s one rejected line meant for Parlay that wasn’t in any draft: “It’s curious,” he said, watching her. “Your body can’t truly be static or else you wouldn’t move through time at all. Yet you resist this abrupt shift.”

I didn’t keep it because it addresses a question that I’m sure no reader would even consider: If Parlay’s body goes along the normal flow of time, why would her body’s magic resist this temporal attack?

Yeah, absolutely no one was wondering that. And what I wrote didn’t explain it anyway. So DON’T think about it.

“Remember what I said,” Eon shouted back to her. “You’ll need to be that person. The one I saw in the ring. If you want to survive, be that person again!”

Eon apologized for some vague thing before, but now he inadvertently urges Parlay down her dark path. Was it the right thing to do, if it meant her survival? Was Parlay’s path ever dark at all, if the alternative was madness?

You see, morality isn’t always–

Oh! Wait! Here comes the revised version of Tome’s big attack!

“My, my,” he gasped as shadows closed in: the three sections of bleachers lifted up and gravitated together. Vornis ducked as the steel flew over him; he held his ears as the metal collided, converging at Pinada’s location. With a shriek the bleachers clashed and compressed, folding upon Pinada’s cube. The metal warped and compacted; it glowed–then blazed. The rooftop flared with brilliant light as Tome swished his hand: the mass rocketed away with a deafening whoosh. The railing at the far edge broke, bursting outward as the fireball was launched from the roof. It streaked above the barren fairgrounds, crashing into a forested hill and igniting the foliage with a flash as it exploded. Trees were torn up from their roots and flung out in a circle; debris spread from the impact in a cloud. Mean, Dark, Vornis, and Darrows shielded their faces as twigs, dirt, and pieces of metal rained upon the roof. The pyramid trembled, tilting to the side. Loose rubble rolled across the floor as the valley echoed with noise.

Now that’s more like it!

“You aren’t stopping me. I know where you’re going. I’ll know when you’ll come back. You’re all mine–I know where everything is. Now that I don’t have people around me–patterns that are always present; always pressing in. Patterns that I can’t change: that strangle me and suffocate. This world is my structure now. Now you’re the one in the box.”

I was worried I wouldn’t get Pinada’s main motivation in, but here it is. This is an example of what I was explaining in the blog intro: Sometimes I WANT to blame the entire population of the world for my problems, but I don’t. I save it for my story. Perfectly healthy and normal. What. WHAT?

Next time–!

Trisk is gone, and the fate of Mean’s group is uncertain. Will they return to the present? And if they do, what awaits them? Do they have any chance of changing the past? Or will Pinada be ready to torment them with a deadly new game?

Or maybe they’ll get back and Pinada just forgets they were coming. He’ll be all like “Aw, shoot, was that today?” It would suck for an ending but it would be pretty funny.

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