Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 28 (Second Draft)


I just realized something: This might be a good time to talk about story endings! Or rather, MY story endings! Sorry, Animal Farm.

But George Orwell knows I’ve been disappointed by endings before. I wanted to make an ending that’s engaging. But how? I was concerned about this when I wrote the ending for the first book. I mean, the climax is done; the best part is over, right? What’s left to do? Have everyone talk about what they’ve learned? End with a line of pure and utter wisdom?

Yeah, some of that happened. But that doesn’t mean I have to leave all the conflict out. Why not make the aftermath a struggle? So that’s what I did: I had Mean and Dark struggle with the idea of his hidden identity. It was intense; I think they even spilled a soda.

I thought the scene worked so well I actually planned for it this time. Amazing stuff, this “experience.” Now THIS ending has struggles everywhere: King blames Mean for what happened to Parlay; Tome is suspicious about Dark; Darrow has a bit of a rivalry with Tenny.

But every conflict is quickly resolved or smoothed over with humor. I can’t leave the reader with an ominous feeling.

Not yet, anyway.


28 – For the Lost


King placed his palms on the desk, his eyes lost in the glossy surface.

“She can’t be dead–” he uttered. “She survived it. I saw her. I just saw–I just saw her.”

The group said nothing, watching him mumble over the desk. With a sigh, Vornis stepped through the wide double doors.

“Parlay did survive it,” he said. “But something else happened to her after that.”

“How would you know?” Conneld asked.

“Because I knew her;” the beast said, “I’m her friend, Vornis.”

King looked up from the table. “Vornis? She did mention–but you don’t look–”

“Sometimes people change,” he said, baring white teeth. “We lose something; someone. Maybe a whole lot of someones. When you’ve lost that much, sometimes the only way to cope is to lose yourself, too.”

“Lose yourself?” King repeated, searching the eyes of those around him. “But she was here? She was alive?”

Vornis sniffed. He nodded at Mean, Darrow, Tecker, and Tome. “Parlay found them. Before Pinada did. Before their trip to the past. Any memory of them had been buried, though. She was someone new; someone that could deal with the tragedy Pinada put her through. Someone that could do whatever it took to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

Mean took Dark’s arm, pushing her face into his sleeve. King glared at her.

“What did you do to her!?” he demanded. “If Pinada wasn’t involved, and you were the only ones on the planet–!” He slammed his fist on the desk, and she broke out in a sob.

“She feels bad enough about it!” Tecker shouted. “Back off!”

“About what?” King shouted, his hands shaking. Vornis stepped past Conneld, putting his claw on the desk.

“Parlay wanted to spread magic to their world,” he began. “She used a little something called a ‘hall.'”

“A what?” Conneld asked. King slinked back, scratching his wild beard.

“It’s a kind of hex door,” Vornis explained. “A large one. One that’s open permanently.”

Conneld shook his head. “There’s nothing like that.” His glanced over at his brother, who was avoiding his gaze. “Oh, you’re kidding me.”

“You want to tell him about it, King?” Vornis questioned. “About your little project down in the mine? You want to explain what happens when a pattern that large is formed?”

“Mine?” Conneld asked. “The Droldragia one? That’s where that Hellzoo monster came from; don’t tell me–”

“I told her about the lab,” King said, his voice cracking. “I told her to go to the other world. It was the last thing I said–so help me, it was the last thing–”

“Oh, she tried to go, all right,” Vornis cut in. “That’s when your little chain-tentacle friend decided to come along for the ride through your hall. She died trying to stop it.”

King frowned, wiping his eyes with his robe’s sleeve. “I killed her,” he said. “I should have dismantled it. I should have had it destroyed!” He pressed his hands on his head, seething through his teeth. “But I covered it up. I had Pinada seal it away. I didn’t want to go down there; not after what happened.”

He hung his head over the desk and Mean made her way over, pulling away from Dark.

“King, she died saving my dad and me,” Mean said. “I didn’t know why she did it at first; she was, like Vornis said, a lot different than the Parlay you knew. She was hard and jaded; a bit annoying, really.” She looked back at Dark. “But now that I know how she used to be, I think that Parlay came back at the end. She saved us, just like she wanted––”

Mean choked, dipping her head as tears dripped down her face. Tome cleared his throat.

“And then there’s what she did for me,” he announced. “Parlay gave me the form she had taken.”

Conneld looked him over. “What does that even mean?” he asked. Tome braced himself.

“It means I roamed the world as a spirit; I had left my body the night Pinada stopped my comet.” He paused. “Parlay let me possess, ah, him, as he died.”

Conneld stepped back, bumping into the window. King froze in his seat.

“So Eon was right,” Conneld said. “Sing was there. You’re Sing.”

King swallowed, nodding at Tome. “So. She knew who you were?”

“She did,” Tome replied. “Parlay knew my past, and she saved me anyway.”

“It sounds like something she’d do,” King told him. “I’m glad–I’m glad someone was with her. I’m sorry I snapped at you, Miss Mean.”

He dabbed at his eyes as the room was silent. After a moment, he tugged on his robe, nodding.

“Well,” he said. “There’s only one last thing I wish to know: What happened to Pinada?”

“It’s a bit confusing,” Dark stated. “But I think we figured most of it out. You heard him say that he wanted to complete his time pattern, right?” King nodded. “Well, he used it on himself after he tested it on us. He went back.”

“And he used a trick he learned from me,” Tome added. “It was his mind that went back, and he possessed his own body. It’s where he got all that extra power from.”

“You’re kidding,” Conneld blurted out. “I knew he was a genius, but that’s why? There were two of him?”

“Just one that kind of overlapped,” Dark pointed out. “Think of it like this: one younger and one older. ‘Younger’ Pinada goes through life with the older one merging with him at some point. He infects everyone at the fair; he goes on to infect us five years later. When we get back we confront him down in the mine. That’s when Cocoa, the rory we saved from Eon, drains all of the magic out of him.”

“So that was it, then?” Conneld asked. “That’s how you killed him?”

Tome shook his head. “No. That’s when the older Pinada came out. He had been dormant; unaffected by the rory’s spell. He took control of the body.”

“And I think I know what happened to the younger one after that,” Darrow broke in. “The slate virus activated, sending him back in time like he planned. But that younger one was the one that took the virus. Since he wasn’t in control of the body it was only his mind that got sent back.”

“He made a mistake testing it out on you then,” King told Darrow. “Pinada had a special condition that you didn’t share.”

Conneld pulled at the points on his manicured beard. “So that’s when he goes back in time and possesses himself, becoming the ‘older’ one?”

“Yes,” Dark said. “He goes through the timeline again: all the way up to the fight in the mine; swapping out with the younger one when his magic is drained by the rory.”

“And then what?” Conneld asked. “That rory would have gotten you too. You all just overpowered him?”

“He got careless,” Tome said. “When we figured out that the younger Pinada had left it made sense. Without the other mind he grew frantic; unstable.”

“He stabbed himself with Donzel’s sword,” Mean finished.

“So the body’s still down there,” Conneld said. “King, we should go check to see–”

“We will; we will,” King replied, slumping down into the chair at the desk. “I’ll see to it that it’s recovered; I’ll dismantle every blasted machine down there, too.”

Conneld rose an eyebrow. “Everything?” he asked.

“Yes,” King replied with a sigh, “you can go down with me if you want. But first we need to take care of the mess Pinada left us. The hex doors are all open, the power grid is a mess, and there are still so many injured–or dead. Before I vanished I saw both Caldera and Mr. Veinsmith killed by him before their viruses activated.” He exhaled again, smoothing his wild beard. “I supposed I’ll petition for monuments–I just–there’s so much to do. I think I’ve had enough talking for today.”




Several weeks later those monuments graced the roof of the pyramid. They were set in the spots where Caldera and Donzel had died. A flag bearing a rising wave fluttered over Caldera’s; a banner with the branching sword blade emblem marked Donzel’s. Arrangements of flowers and wreaths decorated them both, and Tenny bowed his head at them as he walked past. Ahead, Darrow stood next to a third monument: one carved out of onyx and fitted with a bronze plaque. It read: “For Trisk Henning, who was afflicted with slate on the day of Pinada’s attack. She did not return with the rest. May she find her way home.”

Darrow saw Tenny approach and lifted his hand. Tenny nodded back. They both stood beside each other, staring at the scenery beyond the hard edge of the roof. One of the hills was still marred by Tome’s crater: the dead logs inside it overgrown with new foliage.

After a while, Tenny eyed the box in Darrow’s hands. “What’s that?”

Darrow coughed, and set the box down at the foot of the marker. “I just got some clothes for her. You know–when she comes back.”

“Ah,” Tenny said. “My friends keep telling me not to get my hopes up. It’s good to see that I’m not the only one who has faith she’ll come back.”

“Yeah, it could take a while though,” Darrow said. “Weeks. Years.”

“I’m going to wait here as long as it takes,” Tenny replied. He plunked down on the roof, crossing his legs. “Well, as soon as I get off work every afternoon.”

“Work?” Darrow chuckled. “You have work?”

“I took the week of the tournament off,” Tenny explained, folding his arms. “It’ll be a while before I can take off another.”

Darrow grinned. “Don’t worry about it, man–when she gets back, I’ll tell her you tried.”

Tenny cocked his head. “Really. And what makes you so sure you’ll be the one to see her first?”

With a snap of his fingers, a magnificent lounge chair clattered to the rooftop next to Darrow. A tray holding a pitcher and mug settled into place at the chair’s side. Darrow plopped down into it, flipping on a rotary fan: basking in the breeze that it provided.

“Tenny,” he said, “you may have me beat in just about every way.” He took a long sip from his mug, savoring the taste. “But when it comes to sitting around waiting for stuff to happen–I’m king.”




Tome slipped in through the carved archway, where rows of pews faced a pulpit and a flower-laden coffin. Scanning the backs of the seated congregation’s heads, he spied the large thorns on Vornis’ neck sticking up a few rows from the front.

“Sing,” Conneld whispered, stepping out from behind the arch.

“Oh, good, I was hoping I’d see you again,” Tome greeted. “Have they assigned you to me or are you just here to pay your respects?”

Conneld lifted his chin, tugging his uniform. “I may not have liked her, but she was a friend to my brother. As for you: no, your crimes were absolved when you were pronounced dead. There’s no procedure for people who come back to life.”

“I didn’t really die; I wouldn’t resist it if charges were brought against me, you know that, right?” Tome asked. Conneld slanted his eyes.

“That’s the most infuriating part,” he muttered. “Now are you ever going to find your seat, or are you just going to stand here and taunt me?”

Tome swiped a hand over his clean-shaven jaw. “I want to work for you,” he said after a moment. “As a detective.”

Conneld tittered. “You must be joking,” he said. Several people turned in their seats.

“I learned to see patterns as clearly as physical objects,” Tome said. “Minds, thoughts: they’re all I had when I was just a spirt. I can help you.”

“You just want to show me up,” Conneld said. “I know you’re good–you made me look like a fool during the fair.”

“I just want to get some use out of this life I’ve been given;” Tome assured him, “this body should be in that casket over there. And Pinada may be gone, but there’s still the mystery of the intruders: Templetine, the creature of knives.” He paused, letting a passer-by through before speaking again. “We’ve fought them before. And I think more might be coming.”

“And how would you know about that,” Conneld said, struggling to keep his face calm.

“It was something Dark said to Pinada in the mine,” Tome replied. “It made him furious.” He glanced over at the front rows of the church, where Dark had his arm around Mean as she dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. “He knows something more about it. His taunts were enough to worry Pinada, and I think that bears watching.”

Conneld peered over at the two. “I don’t sense anything strange,” he said. “Just concern for the girl.”

“He doesn’t think about what he said to Pinada,” Tome admitted. “And we can’t sense it if even he doesn’t want to. He just wants to be happy with her, and I don’t aim to ruin it by dredging painful memories up. I’d just advise that we be careful.”

The first notes of a pipe organ’s song resonated, and two said no more. They walked to the pews and sat down with the rest of the mourners as the hymn played.




Tecker and Mean found a balcony door after the service concluded. They walked out into a view of a bright sky with their other world hanging faint past the clouds. They could hear the light chattering at their backs from inside the cathedral, and Tecker held Mean close as they looked out from the rail.

“I’m sorry I can’t stop crying,” Mean said, sniffing. “Just when I think I have it under control it starts up again.”

Tecker brushed her shoulder. “Well it’s her funeral,” he said. “I don’t think anyone will blame you.”

Mean gave a weak laugh. “Vornis just told me something,” she said. She fished around in the folds of her dress, bringing the lens with leather straps out. “This is the bracelet he gave me when we first met.” Holding it out, she flipped the metallic lens over in her hands. Tecker bent his head down as she traced a line around the smooth curve. A tiny engraving on the bottom read “For my friend, Mean.”

“Vornis told me that Parlay wanted to give me a present for winning the tournament,” Mean said. “He thinks this is what it was. He didn’t know that when he found it, though. He only gave it to me because he saw my name on it.” She wiped at her cheek and laughed. “I was so silly; back then I thought it was because we were the same race. But–”

She sobbed again, and Tecker’s eyes were wet now, too.

“I think I know what you mean about this crying being hard to stop,” he said, forcing a smile. “Quite a nuisance, now that I don’t have the helmet to hide it.”

She reached up and wiped one of his tears, touched his lips, then stretched up to kiss him. They lingered together a moment, kissed again, and parted. She pulled the bracelet on over her wrist.

“I’ll wear it. And I’ll miss her,” she said. “But I won’t be sad.”

She turned, setting her elbows up on the rail. With the sky at her back, she gazed past Dark–at the people inside the cathedral. Far through the balcony doors a buffet bar could be seen, with Jelk at the front piling his plate high. King and his brother Conneld were next, then Vornis with Eon and Kay Kary giving him a wide berth in the line. Smatter and Charlie flanked Tenny, with Smatter helping himself to Tenny’s crackers and cheese. Tome was picking out pieces of dried fruit from a bowl, while Darrow stood next to him, frowning, with an empty platter. Kello came up behind him with a plate of her own, and she began talking to him.

“Parlay got what she wanted;” Mean said with a smile, “her dream came true, Dark.” She tightened the strap on her wrist, took his hand, and walked in with him. “The world is alive again.”



Choice Edits:

“That’s when your little chain-tentacle friend decided to come along for the ride through your hall. She died trying to stop it.”

In the first draft it was “chain-link.” That didn’t really sound threatening so I changed it to “tentacle.” Matt also told me that if I wanted to make it big in Japan I had to mention them as much as possible. As a bonus I’ll score points with the millions of Maniac Mansion fans!

“He got careless,” Tome said. “When we figured out that the younger Pinada had left it made sense. Without the other mind he grew frantic; unstable.”

“He stabbed himself with Donzel’s sword,” Mean finished.

I think I did a better job at explaining the whole Pinada paradox this time around. But man. If there weren’t vital details that were new to the reader I’d be tempted to cheat here. Y’know, be all like “And then Dark began to explain everything.”

But I hate it when that happens! And I want to SEE the characters react to all this crazy crap, right? Conneld bumps into a window and you NEVER get to see him do that. Good thing it wasn’t open. That would be pretty funny if he survived everything just to die in the final chapter.

Also, Tome and Mean are covering for Dark here. Tome has no problem ratting him out later, but still. And I guess Dark’s leggings, boots, and gauntlets are still down in the mine! Too bad King can’t fit into them or he’d really be pimped out in the next book.

Dark brushed her shoulder. “Well it’s her funeral,” he said. “I don’t think anyone will blame you.”

I had to change every instance of “Tecker” to “Dark” after I decided to keep the name. You’ll tell me if I missed one right, Matt?


Oh dear, it seems one thing hasn’t been resolved yet.

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