Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 26 (Second Draft)

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I thought I’d try something new and put the second draft up before the first one. This is the finale, after all! Why should you have to read the crappy version first? And believe me; the first draft of this chapter is bad. I’ll still put it up, but I didn’t want to diminish your enjoyment as you move from the previous section’s cliff-hanger to this THRILLING CONCLUSION!

DRAFT START

26 – In the Dark

 

Near the peak of the cavern a single floodlight pulsed on. A dim light fell upon Pinada, illuminating a pale circle around him. Dark’s abandoned armor lay in pieces on floor. Mean’s staggered breaths sounded somewhere in the darkness beyond. Pinada gazed out into the black cavern.

“So you finally take off that armor just to run?” he called out. A clank in the distance echoed.

“I couldn’t stand it,” Dark answered. “I couldn’t stand being like you any longer.”

Pinada rose his eyebrow above the rim of his glasses. “Ha! Like me?” He eyed the pulsing circle of light on the floor, sliding his case into the middle. A scuffling sounded from the shadow.

“I hate to say it–I enjoyed it as much as you did,” Dark said. “All those people cheering. So trusting”–he coughed–”so eager to go along with any whim. Any plan. It felt good.”

Pinada chuckled. “You’re letting the fame from the tournament go to your head.”

Dark whispered something, then rose his voice so Pinada could hear him: “We didn’t even encourage them; they just followed. And I know what it’s like, Pinada; you just want to see how far their blind devotion will go.” He let out a laugh. “We almost want to betray them just to see the shocked looks on their faces.”

“We didn’t do anything,” Pinada growled. “You are not my peer.”

A water drop fell into a puddle and he jerked his head at the noise.

“We both had a way out, too,” Dark said. “A way to step back from the spectacle. We caused it. Yet we got away.”

Pinada tapped at the empty sheath at his side. “Is this how you want to spend your last minutes? Speaking nonsense? You only ‘stepped back’ in time because I told you to.”

Dark coughed. “You aren’t the only one who’s done this. You need to look beyond your case, Pinada.”

Pinada tapped his glasses and turned, checking behind him. “You’re that Tecker person Mackaba was talking about. I’ve been to your world: nothing like this has happened; you aren’t that important.” He took a long breath, poking at his case with his finger. “You lived on Jesice, and the other continents are scattered; there’s no hex door to unite them like we had here. Your government is fragmented and no singular, eminent individual exists.” He pounded his chest. “I had my whole planet eating out of my hand–my whole world! No one else can ever say that!”

Dark murmured in agreement. “You only had one world,” he stated. “Maybe we aren’t so alike, then.”

Pinada scowled. “Only–” he uttered. He stared at the shattered armor. Dark resumed.

“You’ve been here in this cave;” he coughed, “you knew about Hellzoo and her kind. You knew enough to hide when one of them showed up at the tournament.”

He sniffled. Pinada shook his head, glancing across the floor.

“I think that’s the real reason you ended it,” Dark stated. “You knew this couldn’t last. They were coming and you couldn’t be the hero anymore. Things are changing–about to get bigger than either of us can handle. It’s alright. I ran away, too.”

“Shut up!” Pinada said, pounding the glass. “They’re just monsters–you’re just–” He paced in his cage. “You don’t know what happens; you’re lying!”

Dark laughed from somewhere in the shadows. “Gosh, Pinada, you sound confused. I think I can relate.”

Pinada grit his teeth and he stomped. He pointed a finger out, jabbing it. “You are not like me! No one is! I am not–I will not–”

“Alright, alright,” Dark teased, cutting him off. “Just go back–back to your safe little box in the past. But me: I’m going on ahead. I’m facing my future this time. Goodbye, The Hero Pinada.”

“No!” Pinada screamed, his hollow voice echoing. “I am not letting you stay here! You are a nobody! An empty suit at my feet! And I am not–I am not letting you stay here to spread these lies about me! Lights!”

The lights did not respond; the pale, flickering circle persisted. Pinada threw his hands out in a fury, spreading the glass plates in all directions and sending the single spire on top crashing to the floor.

“Lights! Lights! Lights! Lights!” he bellowed, over and over again as the cavern blazed bright. Every pillar and glistening wall shone as Pinada stood in the middle, twisting his head around; his hands shaking. He spotted a man leaning against one of the steel struts: Lord Ley Tecker, with tattered jeans and an empty holster strapped to his bare chest. His short hair was matted and his wound was covered; Cocoa clung to the spot. Blackened, dried blood trailed past a purple bruise that tinged Tecker’s skin. It was right where the gun had been pressed to his side by the armor; the weapon itself was in his hand and pointed at Pinada’s head.

“Conventional pistol–” Pinada uttered as a loud shot split the cavern. He threw his arms around his face and the plates rushed to shield him: clanging and bouncing into each other as they formed a square wall. Tecker fired again at the plates; flinching as the gun spat a casing past his ear.

“Mean, it’s behind that pillar next to you!” Tecker called out. The gun jammed; a bullet was caught in the ejection port. He lifted his other arm to free it and winced, dropping the pistol. Pinada looked down at his shirt and then over at where he had tossed the sword; it was still there and Mean was rounding the pillar to snatch it.

Pinada whipped his hand forward and back. The sword jerked up; Mean dove at it, catching the hilt. It bobbed and fought her grip, dipping and pulling her toward Pinada. With a growl she went with it: directing the tip at him and sprinting full speed.

“Crap–” Pinada said, reaching back for the glass plates. With a clatter they clapped flat to the floor.

“I can’t hold them; get him!” Tome urged, his body propped up with his elbows.

Pinada cursed and swept his arm. The plates ground over the floor as they slid free of Tome’s spell. They rose in an arc and shot up into the air; Tecker pounced on Pinada from behind.

“Stab him, Mean!” he shouted past Pinada’s ear, squishing Cocoa in between them as he grabbed his arms.

“Don’t you touch me!” Pinada cried out. He struggled as the plates buzzed in circles around them; Mean’s sandals pattered as she charged.

“I know what it’s like to be two people too,” Tecker breathed in Pinada’s right ear. “Let’s both find out what it’s like to be stabbed through the chest.”

“I’m not like you!” Pinada cried. Mean closed in. One of the plates slammed between them; the tip of the sword pierced it through the middle; Mean’s momentum drove it all the way through and the hilt clanged against glass. The tip wobbled inches from Pinada’s face.

“No, no, no!” Pinada shrieked, shaking his head as Mean pressed to drive the needle forward. Tecker pushed at Pinada’s back, panting. With a wild swing of his arm Pinada broke loose from Dark’s grip and sent the glass plate cartwheeling sideways, taking the stuck sword with it and out of Mean’s hands. Her arms were whipped to the side and she caught herself, stumbling; Pinada flung Tecker into her and his weight brought both of them down.

Tecker rolled on his side and Mean stared back at him. Pinada flicked his hands and thousands of fibrous strands spread over the floor. They spanned the room, covering Dark, Mean, and Tome; intermeshing together and holding them down.

“This is the spell I used to hold the comet back,” Pinada cackled, spreading his fingers. “Nothing can break it–no force in the world!” He wiped at his mouth with his shoulder, his eyes frantic.

“Thought we had him,” Tecker chuckled. The strands flexed taut, digging into their skin. Mean shifted next to him, held flat.

“Yeah,” she said with a weak laugh. “At least he’ll be gone soon.”

One of the glass plates lowered flush to the floor and Pinada stepped onto it. He kept his eyes flicking between Mean and Dark.

“You won’t be safe,” he told them. He drew his arms in, gathering the plates around him. “I’m going back and I’ll make sure to find you–I’ll murder you along with the rest!”

One plate hovered over his head and the remaining four positioned themselves at his front, sides, and back.

“I’ll torment you all forever;” he spat, “again and again. Living in a world where they cheer my name–dying as they shower me with their worship.”

He chewed the end of his tongue, grinning though the glass at Dark.

“And your future will never come,” he cried. “You will never be like me; I am unique! I am the wonderful hero Pinada!”

He gestured and the glass plates snapped together. A gurgling gasp choked out of his mouth; his lips curled apart. He slapped at his heart, his palm slipping down his shirt as his arms slackened. His knees gave out and his body sagged; his head dipped with eyes frozen open. He slid forward: off the end of the sword still stuck through the glass plate at his back. His body dropped into one of the cube’s corners, clunking still. The blade wobbled with a hum, flecking blood onto the top of the case.

DRAFT END

Summary:

What you didn’t read it!?

Choice Edits:

26 – In the Dark

Oooo, get it? The lights are out but Pinada is also “in the dark” about Dark’s true identity. You’re lucky I’m here to explain this to you.

Near the peak of the cavern a single floodlight pulsed on. A dim light fell upon Pinada, illuminating a pale circle around him. Dark’s abandoned armor lay in pieces on floor. Mean’s staggered breaths sounded somewhere in the darkness beyond. Pinada gazed out into the black cavern.

It took me FOREVER to get this right. I love writing action but for some reason simple descriptions always confound me. All Pinada is doing is standing here as a light bulb turns on. And it took like fifteen re-writes to get that paragraph up there!

He spotted a man leaning against one of the steel struts: Lord Ley Tecker, with tattered jeans and an empty holster strapped to his bare chest.

He had to be shirtless under there so that you could see the bruise under his holster. It’s totally not fan-service so that Kim will keep reading.

But hey–Tecker is revealed at last! Let me give you a little insider info: When I first came up with Dark I didn’t know for sure who would be in the armor. So check out some possible ideas that I had:

1 – It would be Tecker’s sister. He was going to say something about how his sister got to stay on the other world, and that would explain how Dark always knew about things that Tecker knew about. I couldn’t think of any good story ideas, though; it would just be a shock to find out that a man was actually a girl the whole time. And I would never pull a cheap stunt like that! Ha! Ha-ha!

2 – It would be Mackaba’s partner. Somewhere in the first Abandonment Party it’s mentioned that there are three officers stationed at Hardpan City: Captain Ecks, Mackaba, and an unnamed policeman. This third person would have wandered off and found the armor. I don’t know. When I decided that Dark would be Tecker I was going to change the number of officers back to two, but I left it in as a red herring to fool–

You didn’t even notice, did you? >:(

3 – It would be Pinada. Yes, Pinada. In the years after the genocide he would begin to feel guilty. Hoping for redemption he would use the time virus, update his glass cube to black armor, and travel to the past to atone for his terrible acts. It sounded like an interesting idea, but it just didn’t work. What would he do? Kill himself? I mean, he DID end up killing himself but THIS way he would create a paradox.

Besides, I already had Parlay as the “tragic atoning villain” in the first book. This time I wanted an all-out evil fiend.

“Conventional pistol–” Pinada uttered as a loud shot split the cavern.

Back in chapter fifteen I had everyone walk past a weapon shop with guns displayed in the window. I wanted to show that the inhabitants of the Dead Zone crafted non-magical goods, and also that pistols existed on this planet.

Otherwise Pinada wouldn’t know what a gun was, and he’d just stand there like a dope and get shot. It would be a cool ending. Just not cool enough.

A gurgling gasp choked out of his mouth; his lips curled apart.

I couldn’t decide if Pinada’s death would be a gurgle, gasp, or a choke. So I just went with all three! ::thumbs up::

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