Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 27 (First Draft)

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My friend Matt is watching Catching Fire instead of reading these awesome final chapters! Can you believe that? Hey! Matt! Did you enjoy the film? Did you like seeing the same frickin’ plot twice in a row? Hunger Games: this time with tridents! And clocks! The clock was a pretty cool idea, though.

DRAFT START

27 – The Dark

 

A single shaft of light clicked on high overhead. Its beam shone on the abandoned armor, touching the curves of nearby pillars before yielding to shadow. Pinada looked over at where Mean had been laying; staggered breaths came from her silhouette. He swung his gaze around, calling out.

“So you finally take off that armor to run. How funny.”

“That isn’t why,” a voice answered. A clank in the distance echoed. “I just couldn’t stand being like you one second longer.”

“Ha! Like me?” Pinada scoffed. He eyed the edges of the light, sliding his case into the middle. “No one has even come close.”

“I thought it would be fun, too,” Dark said as a scuffling sounded somewhere. “All those people cheering for you. So trusting”––he coughed––”so eager to obey any whim that you have.”

Pinada laughed into the darkness. “You’re letting the fame from the tournament go to your head; you weren’t that loved.”

“And you see their devotion,” Dark went on. “And the power you have over them. You see how ridiculous it is for one person to be so idolized; you can’t help it; you want to show them. Betray them.” He gave a chuckle. “You almost just want to do it to see the looks on their faces.”

Pinada growled. “Stop talking to me as a peer.”

Water dripped during a brief silence.

“But we both had a way out, didn’t we?” Dark said. “A way to step back from the chaos we caused. But time won’t let us cheat forever, now will it? The future will find us.”

Pinada tapped at the empty hilt at his side. “Is this how you want to spend your last minutes? Speaking nonsense? No one has used the time virus but me; you and your friends were test subjects.”

Dark coughed. “You need to look beyond your world, Pinada.”

He tapped his glasses and turned, checking behind him. “Oh, so you were known on Jesice? I’ve been to your world: no one there is as trusted as me. The continents are scattered; there’s no hex door to unite them. Your government is fragmented and no singular, eminent individual exists.” He pounded his chest with a finger. “I had my whole planet eating out of my hand––my whole world! No one else can ever say that!”

“Oh,” Dark said. “Only one world. That’s right. Well,” he coughed, “maybe we aren’t so alike then, if you only had one.”

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

“You’ve been here in this cave; you know about them. You knew enough to hide when one showed up at the tournament, right?”

He gave a wet cough as Pinada shook his head.

“I think that’s the real reason you ended it,” Dark stated. “You know this can’t last. Our two little planets: floating, unnoticed. Things are about to get bigger than either of us, so why not escape back to a simpler time?”

“Shut up!” Pinada said, pounding the glass. “They’re just monsters––you’re just––” He paced in his cage. “You’re lying!”

Dark laughed from somewhere in the shadows. “You sound like my other self, now,” he said. He paused. “Oh, did I tell you that I’m two people too?”

Pinada grit his teeth and he stomped in his cage. 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 place. But me: I’m going on ahead. Goodbye, Pinada. Goodbye.”

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

The lights did not respond, and Pinada threw his hands out in a fury, spreading the glass plates in all directions and shattering the four spires into dust around him.

“Lights! Lights! Lights! Lights!” he bellowed, over and over again as the cavern blazed bright. Every pillar and wall shone as Pinada stood in the middle, twisting his head around; his hands shaking. His eyes fell upon a man leaning against one of the pillars: Tecker Ponce, with tattered jeans and an empty holster strapped to his bare chest. The rory clung to him and covered the wound. A purple bruise tinged Tecker’s skin where a gun had been pressed to his side; the weapon itself was in his hand and pointed at Pinada’s head.

“Conventional pistol––” Pinada uttered as a loud pop 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 in between him and Tecker. Pinada flinched each time he fired, staggering back as the gun was emptied.

“Mean, it’s behind that pillar next to you!” Tecker called out, tossing the gun away. Pinada looked down at his body and then over at where he had tossed the sword; Mean was running over, rounding the pillar closest to the stalactite formation.

“Pest!” Pinada cried, drawing his hand forward and back. The sword jerked from where it lay; Mean dove at it, catching the hilt. It bobbed and fought her grip, dipping and pulling her over to 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 behind him. With a clamor they clapped the the floor, away from him.

“I can’t hold it; get him!” Tome shouted, flat on his back and bleeding.

“Sing––!” Pinada said, sweeping his arm. The plates ground over the floor and shot up into the air; Tecker pounced on Pinada from behind.

“Stab him, Mean!” he shouted past Pinada’s ear, wrapping his arms around his chest and squishing the rory in between them.

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

“Hey, let’s both be stabbed through the chest, too,” Tecker breathed.

“I’m not like you!” Pinada cried, and a plate clanged in the way. The tip of the sword pierced it through the middle; Mean’s momentum drove it all the way through and the hilt clanged to the glass.

“No, no, no!” Pinada shrieked, shaking his head as the blade wobbled inches from his head. Tecker pushed forward, panting, his face pale save for a tanned spot on his chin. With a wild swing of his arm the plate cartwheeled sideways, taking the sword with it and out of Mean’s hands. Her arms were whipped to the side and she caught herself, stumbling; Pinada swung Tecker into her and they both fell, collapsing in a heap. Thousands of strands sprouted over their bodies, intermeshing together and holding them down.

“This is the spell I used to hold the comet back,” Pinada cackled, spreading his fingers as he looked down at them. “Nothing can break it––no force in the world!” He wiped at his mouth, his eyes wild.

“I’m sorry; thought we had him,” Tecker chuckled. The strands flexed taut as he checked over at where Tome was held too. Mean shifted under him.

“Yeah,” she laughed. “At least he’ll be gone in a few seconds.”

Pinada stepped onto a glass plate, keeping his eyes on the two.

“It doesn’t matter: even if you stay here,” he told them. He pulled his arms in, gathering the plates to him again. “Once I go back I’ll make sure to find you––I’ll murder you along with the rest!”

One plate hovered over him and the remaining four converged on him from his front, sides, and back.

“I’ll torment you all forever,” he spat at them, “you will always know a world where they cheer my name. Parlay, King––they will always call me ‘savior;’ they will always shower me with their worship.”

He bit his lower lip, grinning as the plates dropped into formation around him. He looked though the approaching glass at the two.

“Because I am better than you,” he cried. “I am the most unique person there is! I am the wonderful hero Pinada!”

And Pinada shrieked as the glass plates locked him into the cube; he slapped at his heart and his eyes froze in place. His legs gave way and his body hung; his head and arms drooped. After a moment he slid forward, from the tip of the sword stuck in the glass plate at his back. With a clunk he fell, bouncing into the case and dropping. He clunked into a corner, still: his mouth open and his eyes staring past crooked glasses.

The sword wobbled over him, flecking blood onto the top of the case.

DRAFT END

Choice Edits:

A single shaft of light clicked on high overhead. Its beam shone on the abandoned armor, touching the curves of nearby pillars before yielding to shadow. Pinada looked over at where Mean had been laying; staggered breaths came from her silhouette. He swung his gaze around, calling out.

This is the paragraph that I re-wrote fifteen times; it’s so bad. Look out! He’s swinging his gaze! And shouldn’t that ‘laying’ be ‘lying?’ I couldn’t remember what the proper tense was so I cut the word out completely, ha,ha. They don’t teach you these top-secret literary tricks in school, kids.

“You sound like my other self, now,” he said. He paused. “Oh, did I tell you that I’m two people too?”

I made a mistake here and had Dark say that he’s two people before it’s revealed that he’s Tecker. And no one would have ever, EVER guessed that on their own. I put that line later, where it works better AND makes sense. Making sense is a bonus.

I’ve been to your world: no one there is as trusted as me.

I had Pinada elaborate on this in the second draft and he outright names Dark as Tecker. Now it’s all based on Mackaba’s theory, but he’s still right. And I wanted to do this for one reason: I did not want Dark’s identity to come as a surprise. Mackaba knows it, Pinada knows it, Zorak knows it.

And the reader has realized by now that his identity isn’t the real surprise anyway. And if Dark’s identity WAS still in question at this point that would almost be TOO many surprises. And if the reader is too busy trying to digest all of that, then they can’t appreciate all the elaborate action sequences! It’s a precarious balance!

His eyes fell upon a man leaning against one of the pillars: Tecker Ponce, with tattered jeans and an empty holster strapped to his bare chest.

Oh I use Tecker’s last name here? Weird.

Anyway let me tell you a story: This is one of the first Abandonment Party scenes I ever came up with in my head. Dark and Mean would be in danger, and Pinada would be ready to kill them. Then Dark takes off his armor and something amazing happens. That’s it. That’s all I had. I didn’t have any clue who the characters were yet; just that this needed to happen.

It’s almost as if the entire story that I’ve written up until this point was working toward this ONE idea that I had.

“Mean, it’s behind that pillar next to you!” Tecker called out, tossing the gun away.

Why would he willingly drop a weapon, even if it was empty? He could still smack Pinada with it. In the second draft Dark lets it go from the extreme pain of reaching up to clear a bullet from the ejection port. I’ve never been stabbed in the chest, but I’m pretty sure your arms would hurt for some reason.

Now I HAVE been to the firing range with some pistols so I know how often those little suckers can jam.

With a clunk he fell, bouncing into the case and dropping. He clunked into a corner, still: his mouth open and his eyes staring past crooked glasses.

Whole lotta clunkin’ going on.

NEXT TIME–!

Is the story really over? Is Pinada truly dead? What does this mean for everyone that survived? Will their lives be the same!? Will the dreadful future that Tecker mentioned come to pass!? More importantly: now that Dark is out of his armor, will he and Mean finally GET IT ON!?

Yeah, that got your attention didn’t it?

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