Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 28 (First Draft)

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Wow, a lot to talk about here! I can’t waste time with silly intros when there’re only two chapters left! Let’s go! Let’s go!

Draft Start

28 – You Make the World Beautiful

 

The webbed strands faded from Mean and Tecker’s skin; he rolled off her, landing on his back.

“Dark,” Mean said, pulling herself up. She sat on her knees beside him, looking from his face to his wound. Tecker forced a smile.

“You don’t have to call me that now––” he chuckled with a wheeze. Mean held her fingers to his lips, calling across the cavern to Tome.

“We need to get him to a hospital; Tome, I can’t fly––”

“We’ll have to carry him,” he replied, hobbling over. “You get one side; I’ll get the other.”

As the two knelt down beside Tecker a pop sounded from afar. All three flinched, staring across the wide cave.

“Hey! Guys!” Darrow called out, stepping from the hex door near the crack into the hall zone. Seeing Pinada’s corpse lying still in his box, he trotted over.

“You got it working,” Tome sighed. “Thank goodness.”

“Yeah,” Darrow said, taking Tecker’s legs. “Got an ambulance up there and everything. Man, those guys took one look at Vornis and about––” He cut off with a gasp, shoving Tecker’s legs into Tome’s hands and rushing away.

“Dark!” he cried out, falling to his knees beside the shattered armor. He picked up the two pieces of the helmet, turning them over in his hands and trying to fit them back together. “What happened to him!? Dark!”

“Darrow,” Mean said. He turned over to her. “This is him. We need to save him.”

“Oh,” Darrow said, coming back over. “Sorry man, I just thought you were some guy.”

Tecker smiled again, sweat thick on his brow. “I need that helmet anyway; I’ve having trouble breathing.”

Mean shifted, lowering him close to the floor. Darrow placed the helmet on his face and the to halves joined, the seam sealing itself.

“I promise I won’t keep it on,” he said through the shattered chin. Mean hefted him up again.

“Let’s just hurry,” she said. “Darrow, can you get this end? It’s too heavy for me.”

He nodded and a clatter came from the pile of armor: the breastplate pieces skimmed over the ground towards them.

“Whoa, what?” Mean exclaimed as the pieces shot over to them, one zipping beneath Tecker’s back while the other on locked into place over the rory. With a wince, the armor lifted him up.

“It’s the rory,” Tome said. “He’s helping out. I guess it’s the only thing with any magic down here.”

“Wonderful,” Tecker coughed, hovering over to the hex door with his feet dangling. “Mean, make sure it knows where to take me?”

“Right!” she called, catching up to him and taking him by the arm. She led him to the door, and they both vanished with a ripple. Darrow began to follow, but hung back: Tome was staring at the glass cube behind them. A high, long, hiss came from it. As they watched, the four walls tipped outward; Pinada’s upper body dropped from the corner it was wedged in and plopped to the floor. Dust was kicked up as the plates all fell; the top one bounced off Pinada and rested: the others shattered, the pieces all sliding in different directions.

“I had to be sure,” Tome said, wiping the blond stubble on his chin. “Had to be sure he was dead. There’s nothing left: no patterns. No way he escaped.”

“Sure doesn’t feel like we won, does it?” Darrow sighed. He pointed at the sword, now rolling away. “You guys stab him with that?” Tome turned, and the two walked away to the hex door.

“He did it,” he replied. “His back was the only one left to stab.”

 

—–

 

Tecker walked through the lobby of the empty hotel: dressed in a jeans and a buttoned-up shirt. No trace of the armor remained on him, yet his short hair was pressed firm to his head where the helmet had been. Darrow trailed behind him, taking sideways glances at the plush decor.

“Does she know you’re out?” he asked.

“She should,” Tecker said, leading the way to a row of numbered hex doors. “I said I’d meet her here after they let me go. Now where was it? Ah, here we are.”

He stopped next to a door labeled ‘6,’ and Darrow hung back as Tecker stepped in.

“Well, good luck man,” he stated, giving a curt nod.

“Good luck?” Tecker repeated. “For what?”

“Oh, well, come on––” Darrow started, “you two are like a thing now right? I mean, she was there when you were having your operations and by your bed every day. I just figured––you know––”

Tecker put one hand on one of the six poles marking the door. “Darrow, you can come up with me; you don’t have to leave just because––”

“No, no!” Darrow pleaded. “I know you guys probably want to be alone now.” He cleared his throat. “You had that helmet on the entire time at the hospital, right? It must have been tough, not even being able to kiss her. Well, I guess you might have been able to: sideways through that crack by your chin. Like maybe half. It would be dangerous with those jagged edges, though.”

Tecker sighed. “Yes, I must ask Eon to punch my face harder next time. Have a good night, then, Darrow.”

Darrow waved, winked, and trotted away.

“Honestly,” Tecker said. The lobby vanished and a long hallway lined with doors took its place. Most were ajar as he walked out and past: leading to rooms with luggage cases sitting on beds. Tecker strolled to the end, where a room labeled ‘Penthouse’ awaited him. He knocked on the closed door.

“Sideways through the crack,” he muttered. He brushed his cheek, feeling the sides of his lips. Shaking his head, he continued to wait as a sharp clank sounded from beyond the door.

“Coming!” Mean said, and the door flew inward, banging as it hit a wall. She jumped up from her seat at a table, running over.

“Hey!” she said, wrapping her arms around his torso. “They let you out!”

“Yeah,” Tecker said, squeezing her back. “Though I might have been sent back if that door had swung outward.”

She rolled her eyes, pulling back to look at his face. “And you took the helmet back off, too!”

Tecker smiled. “Yep. Never putting it back on––promise.”

She touched him on the arm, dragging her fingers past his wrist and grasping his hand. Tugging it down, she stood on her toes as he dipped his head to hers.

“Ah––so!” she blurted out, pulling back. “You want to pick a movie to watch or something?” She broke away, looking over into the next room. “I’ve got stuff from our world in there too, so––”

“Mean, is something wrong?” Tecker asked, straightening up to full height.

“No, no,” she assured, tipping to the side. “I just need to clean up in here a bit first.”

Tecker put his hands in his pockets. He sighed, leaning against the wall.

“It’s about what I said to Pinada, isn’t it?” he began. “About how I’m two people. About all of the things I said I’ve done.”

Mean held out her hand. “Dark, no, it’s not that.”

“But you heard everything I said back there,” Tecker went on, “You must have so many doubts in your mind––and questions! You must have a million. There’s another guy out there that looks just like me; I’ve had to hide for some reason that I’ve never explained––”

The door next to him slammed closed, silencing him.

“Dark, I said it wasn’t any of that,” Mean assured him, stepping closer. “I wasn’t even thinking about any of that just now.”

Tecker looked at her. “Then what?” Mean nodded back at the table.

“I was eating before you came,” she admitted. “I just didn’t want you to smell it on my breath.”

Tecker’s eyebrows went up. “Oh,” he uttered. “So you were just going to brush your teeth then.”

“Yeah,” Mean said, swiping hair over her ear. “I wasn’t really thinking about any of that at all. It was pretty amazing back when you said it all, though. Pinada freaked out.”

Tecker gave a weak smile. “I guess he’s not the only one, heh.”

Mean wandered closer and took him by the hand again.

“If you’re not worried about it, then I won’t worry either,” he whispered down at her.

“Alright,” Mean said, grinning up at him. “So you don’t mind?”

He tipped his head down and kissed her lips; she closed her eyes, holding him close.

 

—–

 

A small boy pulled his pajama legs on, kicking his feet over the side of the large bed. Pulling them snug, he hopped down.

“Mom?” he called out, stepping from the bedroom into the lit hall. The living room beyond was dim, yet he padded over, sniffing. A monitor’s blank glow illuminated the couch and the two figures sleeping there: Tecker slumped over the end arm, with Mean snuggled against his stomach. The boy stepped closer, blocking the light. Mean mumbled, and her eyes slipped open. The shadowy boy smiled at her.

“Dark!” she yelped. Her fingers dug into Tecker’s leg and he groaned awake.

“Oh, is it over?” he asked. He rubbed his eyes, coughed, and stared at the figure in front of them.

“I lost my clothes and my mom,” the boy said.

“Dark, who is this?” Mean said. Tecker chuckled, squeezing her shoulder. He leaned over, flipping a nearby lamp on.

“It’s not over,” he told her. Far down the hall, a shriek sounded out. There was a thump and a muttering and then a bang of a door opening.

“James!?” a woman’s voice called.

“I’m in here, Mom,” the boy hollered back. “In here with the girl from your show.”

A woman wearing only a bathrobe rushed into the room, taking the boy by the head and hugging him close. Her cheeks were wet with tears and her eyes were reddened. She faltered, spying Mean and Tecker on the couch.

“What are you doing in our room?” she demanded. “Hold up––you’re Me-anne, aren’t you?”

Mean looked over at Tecker and he smiled back, nodding.

“It’s exactly what you think it is;” he told her, “Pinada didn’t do what he thought he did.”

The woman pointed at him. “That’s right: I was watching the final Two Lives to Play match.” She pointed to Mean. “You had just won. Then some mud woman shows up––one of King’s publicity stunts, I thought––and then Pinada tells everyone on live TV that he’s going to kay-eye-el-el us!”

She checked her son, raising his arm and looking him over. “Are you all right? You disappeared and I––I didn’t know what to do.”

“We’ll leave you two alone,” Tecker said. He buttoned his shirt all the way up, then rose from the couch. “We should probably go to the pyramid to tell everyone what happened.”

Mean tossed off the blanket that was draped over her legs. The two hurried out to the hall, and Mean broke into giggles half-way; the rooms with open doors now bustled with noise: half-naked people questioned each other and poked their heads out.

“They’re really back!” she exclaimed, taking his arm and shaking it. “Dark, did you know about this?”

Tecker laughed. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up if I was wrong,” he explained, dragging her along into the hex door. “I’m not quite sure about everything yet.” He cleared his throat and stated, “King’s Imperial Pyramid: rooftop.”

“THERE IS A QUEUE;” a monotone voice told them, “PLEASE WAIT.”

“A queue!” Mean repeated, swinging his arm around. “People! We’re waiting on people!”

 

—–

 

The roof was abuzz with a monstrous crowd: those who were clothed were all wearing the same thing––a plush, blue robe embroidered with King’s logo. King himself stood on one of the glass cases Pinada had left for Mean and the rest, dressed in a blue robe as well. He waved his finger and another stack of the robes appeared; those that were naked rushed to them, covering themselves.

“I’ll fly us over,” Mean said. “Hang on.”

Tecker wrapped his arms around her neck and she lifted them both off the ground. His feet dangled far past hers as they hovered over the top of everyone’s heads.

“Mean!” someone shouted, and many of those on the roof turned to look. Tenny, with Charlie and Smatter, called out. Tecker nodded, seeing Jelk beneath them as well. His four puppets were out again, this time carrying Eon over to one of the doors. A robe was hanging across him and he rose a bloodied hand to the sky.

“No, get a robe on and get home to your families,” King boomed, holding his microphone to his mouth. Beneath him, people gathered, bombarding him with questions. Mean and Tecker alighted on a pod next to his.

“King, we know what happened,” Mean shouted over. “Hand me the mic.”

King gestured at her. “Everyone, hold on––give Miss Mean your attention; she seems to have some idea about what’s going on.”

He tossed her the microphone and she snapped it into her palm.

“Thanks,” she said, and her voice resounded over the roof. The crowds quieted.

“Okay, don’t freak out, but you’ve all been warped forward in time,” she explained. Exclamations burst out from every direction, and she glared down at them.

“I said don’t freak out!” she thundered, “Pinada tried to kill you, but he messed up! You weren’t supposed to come back at all! Be thankful!”

“Pinada!” someone cried from the gutted helicopter. “Where is he!?”

“Pinada,” Tecker started, leaning in to the mic, “is dead. You don’t have to be scared.”

“The hero is dead!?” a woman called out.

“He’s no hero!” someone else answered. “I saw him kill Donzel! We need to get out of here!”

King frowned as the bickering escalated, and he spoke to Mean.

“Things seem a bit more complex than I thought. I activated that hex door; think of a secluded place and I will follow.”

Mean nodded and tossed the microphone back. She and Tecker vanished and King addressed the rumbling masses.

“Don’t worry, don’t worry; I’m going to get this sorted out. And I don’t want to hear about any riots when I get back––we all just dodged a very large bullet; so stay calm and let your families know you’re okay.”

 

Tecker and Mean appeared under a canopy of translucent leaves. Blue light filtered through to the grass-covered floor: past branches, tree trunks that did not touch the ground, and the roof of a circular building. Darrow looked up from his lounge chair.

“Hey guys,” he greeted. “So, Dark, how’d it––”

King burst into view behind them; Darrow choked short and his chipped mug fell into the grass.

“Darrow!” King cried, “I’m so glad you’re safe!” He rushed around Mean, holding the hem of his robe tight. Darrow gawked up at him, swiping and missing at his cup in the brush. “I’m glad to see you survived this terrible business with Pinada; I lost sight of you during the chaos; how are you?”

“Me!?” Darrow cried. “You were killed! How did––what––you’re back?”

“It’s not just him––everyone!” Mean cheered, sending birds fluttering out of the branches. Darrow gasped up at them, and Tecker smiled.

“Remember? I told you that something exciting might happen tonight,” he said.

Darrow monobrow crinkled up. “That’s what you meant!? I thought––never mind. So Trisk’s back?” He swung his feet out and rose from the chair. “What happened?”

“Eh, we didn’t see her, did we?” Mean asked.

“The whole roof is full of people,” King said. “I’m sure she’s fine. We just came to a quiet place so that you could, ah, explain things?”

“Mm, of course,” Darrow said, nodding. “I’ll explain all.”

King sat down on the grass as Mean rolled her eyes. The six torches behind the rippled, and Conneld stepped out.

“There you are,” he said. He studied the grass at his bare feet before treading over. “You’re not getting an explanation without me.”

King groaned, dipping his head. “That’s right, I disabled all of the hex door safeties, didn’t I?” He jerked back up. “Wait, so they were all open all this time?”

“Yeah,” Darrow said. “But it was good for us. Our people came here in ships to start out with, but then we just used the doors once we discovered them.”

“Seriously!?” King gasped. “I always wanted to go interplanetary!”

“It was very convenient,” Mean added. “We were even able to build a city here.”

“Are we in Blue Forest?” Conneld said, squinting up at the filmy canopy. “We don’t have permission to be here.”

“Conneld, stop interrupting the story!” King chided, tugging the sleeve of his brother’s robe before turning back to Darrow. “Where did you build it? Can we go there?”

“Well, we had some problems after that;” Darrow said, “we built it on the plain where Hellzoo was locked up.”

“Droldragia?” Conneld uttered. “You’re kidding.”

“Oh dear,” King said. Darrow swished his hand.

“Dark and Mean took care of it; don’t worry.”

On a tray near the lounge chair, Darrow’s laptop buzzed.

“Darrow,” Tome’s voice called, “are you there? Something miraculous has––I can’t––I can’t even speak. It’s just––”

“Yeah, I know,” Darrow shouted over. “Everyone’s back. King’s over here and we’re telling him what went down.”

“Tome has a computer?” Tecker whispered to Mean.

“Darrow’s been teaching him while you were in the hospital,” she whispered back.

“So anyway,” Darrow went on, “Pinada showed up about two months later while we were at a café on our world. That would be a few weeks ago now. He told us about how he’d discovered a time machine and that he needed our help to go back and save everyone.”

“Harumph!” King scoffed, “Lies!” He tipped his head back as Tome came walking through the grass to the group. “Ah, hello! Sit down; we were just hearing your story!”

“Wait,” Conneld said. “Why would you all just believe Pinada? You didn’t know he was a hero. And why would you risk your lives, anyway?”

Tome pressed his hand to his chest, taking a deep breath. “Well, I suppose we should get it out of the way––”

Mean slapped the ground. “It’s because I’m from this world!” she interjected. “I’m from here, and I wanted to try saving my––my people!”

“I knew it!” Conneld shot back with a smug grin.

“Yeah, you got me,” Mean confessed. “I flew to the other world in one of their probes before any of this happened. I just wanted to believe everything Pinada said so bad.”

“Geez, Mean, stop hijacking my tale,” Darrow groused. He sat up straight. “So this time machine wasn’t far from the city we’d made. We were supposed to meet Pinada down in this mine, but he didn’t show up.”

King coughed. “Ah––you went down there?” he sputtered. “Say, maybe we shouldn’t be here after all; let’s all go back to the pyramid; I need to check on something.”

He bounced up and waved everyone toward the hex door; as he did so, Vornis appeared in the center.

“Guys!” he exclaimed. “Everyone’s––uh––oh, you know already I guess.”

 

The growing party made its way through one of the pyramid’s halls: the slanted windows displayed the ruined fairgrounds and the people picking through them.

“So where were we?” King said. He frowned at a dark splotch on the carpet, stepping over. “You used the machine? How far back did you go?”

“Not long before you saw us,” Mean said. “Right when your fair started.”

They reached wide-open double doors and King lead them through to an office. Vornis jerked to a halt outside.

“Well this is upsetting,” King said. He put his hands on his hips, gazing at the empty water bottles scattered on the desk and bare floor. A closet was open, with a rack of clothing pulled out. On it hung slacks, silk shirts, and vests. “Someone’s been in Parlay’s room––trashed it! And these clothes”––he pulled on the hem of a garment––”they’re her style but they’re far too big.”

“Ah, King,” Tecker said. Mean turned her face back out to the hall. “Not everyone made it through this.”

Draft End

Summary:

Pinada’s final spell fades and Dark, Tome, and Mean are released from their bonds. Darrow arrives through the repaired hex door, and–with help from Cocoa–they help Dark out of the cave. Tome stays behind to confirm Pinada’s death.

Time passes and Dark is released from the hospital. He and Mean are now a couple, and he goes to see her at the empty hotel she lives in. They have some awkward conversations that I really need to make better, and the two end up falling asleep on the couch watching movies. That night a boy appears in the room with them, and then his mother appears after that. I don’t explain this in the first draft for some reason, but everyone affected by Pinada’s virus jumped forward in time instead of being killed. Mean and Dark rush to the Imperial Pyramid to find King and the whole cast of lovable characters from the tournament naked and confused.

Mean and Dark take King to meet Darrow, where they begin to make sense out of what happened. And since this first draft chapter sucks so bad I’ll have to explain a bit here: Pinada was too good. Even his “failed” time pattern worked. It just didn’t work the way he thought it did. He thought the time pattern sent them away with no return date; but it really just sent the victim further into the future than he was able to check. Since Pinada doesn’t exist at this point in time, there was no way for him to know.

Choice Edits:

28 – You Make the World Beautiful

Wow that’s the sappiest title in the entire universe. I wonder what I should change it to. I don’t want to give away the surprise by naming it “Revival” or something equally sappy. Ha,ha,ha, I should call it “The Special Night.” And put a winking smily face after it.

“Dark!” he cried out, falling to his knees beside the shattered armor. He picked up the two pieces of the helmet, turning them over in his hands and trying to fit them back together. “What happened to him!? Dark!”

Ha! I love finding these stupid gags again when I haven’t looked at the chapter in a while. I’m happy with this first section, I think. There’s some humor, tenderness–y’know, the stuff that aftermaths of hopeless fights are supposed to have.

“He did it,” he replied. “His back was the only one left to stab.”

Tome says this after he confirms Pinada’s death from the puncture wound in his heart. Maybe I shouldn’t have him say it and just leave you with the imagery. What do you say, Matt? Do you mind if Pinada’s ironic DOOM is spoon-fed to you? C’mon! Tome needs more cool lines!

Tecker walked through the lobby of the empty hotel: dressed in a jeans and a buttoned-up shirt.

Dressed in “a” jeans!? Holy shamoly if it isn’t an action scene with flying glass plates and magic slugs I just can’t seem to get it right. He’s WALKING DOWN A HALL, BRAD! Seriously! Why is it so hard?

“Oh, well, come on––” Darrow started, “you two are like a thing now right? I mean, she was there when you were having your operations and by your bed every day. I just figured––you know––”

Oh man it’s been so long since I’ve seen this part. I’m almost afraid to look at how these romantic bits go.

“No, no!” Darrow pleaded.

Ha,ha,ha he doesn’t want to see it either!

She touched him on the arm, dragging her fingers past his wrist and grasping his hand. Tugging it down, she stood on her toes as he dipped his head to hers.

Hm, I need to make it clear that he’s trying to kiss her here. And why is she standing on her toes if she isn’t going to do it? I should probably build up to it more too. They can talk about Cocoa. Where is he, anyway? I hope he’s still not under his shirt.

“Yeah,” Mean said, swiping hair over her ear. “I wasn’t really thinking about any of that at all. It was pretty amazing back when you said it all, though. Pinada freaked out.”

Ugh, this is so awkward. The writing, that is. The conversation NEEDS to be awkward, but it’s just a jumble now. This will be a challenge to fix. Don’t worry; if there’s anything I know how do it’s how to have a bumbling conversation with a girl that doesn’t go anywhere. Have I used that joke before? I’m sorry.

He tipped his head down and kissed her lips; she closed her eyes, holding him close.

::drops dead::

A small boy pulled his pajama legs on, kicking his feet over the side of the large bed.

Aw sweet! I bet you weren’t expecting a Little Nemo crossover! Let’s go, Nemo! Find Flip the clown and defeat the Nightmare King!

“It’s exactly what you think it is;” he told her, “Pinada didn’t do what he thought he did.”

What kind of vague nonsense is this!? I need to just copy/paste my explanation from the summary into this chapter. Just say that everyone affected by the virus is coming back! Say it!

“They’re really back!” she exclaimed, taking his arm and shaking it. “Dark, did you know about this?”

Mean! Not you! You are accepting this too quickly! Act more confused!

“Okay, don’t freak out, but you’ve all been warped forward in time,” she explained.

Explaining the situation is NOT acting confused, Mean. But–! I can’t have Dark explain things here because nobody knows who he is with the armor. I need to have Mean and Dark discuss this while they’re still in the hotel room I guess.

“Me!?” Darrow cried. “You were killed! How did––what––you’re back?”

Well, Darrow, I can always count on YOU to act all confused and sputtery.

“Yeah,” Darrow said. “But it was good for us. Our people came here in ships to start out with, but then we just used the doors once we discovered them.”

Uh, I think the explanations are a tad out of order, here. Shouldn’t we be telling everyone that they’ve been gone for five years first? And that the Jesians landed in the meantime? Most of this is information the reader should know anyway, so I need to be careful I don’t bore anyone to death.

“Ah, King,” Tecker said. Mean turned her face back out to the hall. “Not everyone made it through this.”

King still doesn’t know who you are, dude! I suppose he could recognize him from his voice. And Mean continues to call him “Dark” in this chapter so I probably shouldn’t call him Tecker in the narrative.

This is a lot of work to fix but IT’S ALMOST THE END! I wonder if I can get it all done before Christmas? It will be my present to the world. Or at least a present to the thousands of hackers that constantly pester me with spam.

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