As the characters in my story split up into groups I have one thing I need to keep in mind: Are they getting along? Now, I don’t mean “are they all happy pals having fun?” What I’m saying is “are their interactions with each other interesting?”
You said it, Genis from Tales of Symponia! Just because you think Zelos is shallow, rude, and wears a peach vest doesn’t mean he’s bad for the story! A character in the right place can spice up the dialog for everyone. Of course, here in Abandonment Party 3, every character isn’t quite where they need to be yet; I’m still trying out different groupings. Does Jelk work well with Tenny and Darrow? If he does––great! If he doesn’t, well, I’ll erase all his lines in the next draft. I’ll strike him from the story! POW!
Or I’ll just stick him somewhere else. Now is the time for experimentation. Matt, don’t wait for the draft to end! If you think something isn’t working, you’d better tell me now! Should Vornis be with the others? Should Eon take Tenny’s place? Does Pinada need to come back to life and hang out with everyone for no reason!? TELL ME!
9 – Distant Shore
Beebee exited her room with a resolute smile. She adjusted her dress made from acid-washed denim and gave her cowboy hat a light tap. “Hey down there!” she called out. Mackaba groaned and pulled himself up. “Great–another one,” he said. He swept his wavy hair back, peering up through the stair’s railing at her. “And what are you going to do to me?” “Oh, I just want to say hello!” Beebee said. “Hello!” She began to descend, yet retracted her foot from the top stair. “May I come down?” Mackaba wiped salty crust from his eye. “Go ahead. Just don’t try anything; I’ve had enough of you people trying to lock me up.” “I won’t try it–promise!” Beebee said. She started down to the foyer. “I’ll keep the gate open; you can leave whenever you want.” Mackaba turned to check the open doors. Beebee’s eyes widened, checking his back. “So which of the worlds are you from, then, mister–?” “I’m Mackaba,” he said. “And what do you mean? Which world are we on now? Or, orbiting, anyhow?” Beebee shook her head as she reached the bottom stair. She sat down upon it. “We’re not on a world: this is Arsiling. Each of us has a angle that leads to another world, though. We’re allowed to bring other people through sometimes.” “You’re kidding,” Mackaba groaned. “Three people came and got me. There I was–in, um, a place–when two giant blond men and a red-haired woman broke in and kidnapped me. Then I woke up in some gaudy casino. I must have been drugged.” Beebee slapped her thick knees. “They must have brought you from the redistribution mission! I thought they weren’t going to take anyone else!” Mackaba stepped closer, folding his arms. “So do you have some influence here? Can you get me back?” Beebee rose a finger into the air. “I don’t know if I can do that,” she said. “But I can try to cheer you up!” Mackaba choked back a laugh. “Cheer me up? I have been kidnapped, chased by wild hooligans–I have no idea where in the cosmos I am or if I can get back! How can you cheer me up!?” “All of my brothers and sisters here have one special power,” Beebee began. “And I can use my power to look into your heart to see the moments in life that you are most proud of. I can bring them to life so you can experience them again!” Mackaba scoffed with small chuckle. “Lady, even if you could do that you’d never find something like that in me.” Beebee brushed her long, brown hair over her shoulder and looked sideways with a small grin. “I already found one.” The stone walls, carvings, and gong vanished from sight. A blue sky dazzled Mackaba’s eyes, along with a bright, sandy beach at his feet. A tide swept foamy sea water past him. The small wave splashed into a moat: carved from the beach to surround a large castle of sand. A young wavy-haired boy stood among the towers and parapets, holding aloft a large trophy shaped like a conch shell. Children and their parents looked on, cheering or taking pictures. Makaba watched the boy. “This is me. This is back on the islands. I made that! I won first place.” He looked down at Beebee. She smiled up at him. “I like castles,” she said. They were on top of a long pier now, and a tanned teenager stood with them. He had his wavy hair cropped short this time, and he was reeling in something from the water with a fishing pole. A petite teen with blond pigtails watched him along with a hairy young man in swimming trunks. “You got it, Alvy!” the girl cried. Something thrashed beneath the water’s surface, sending up spray. “Woo! It’s huge!” “Keep reeling, man! Keep reeling!” the hairy boy cheered. He readied a net at the pier’s edge as Mackaba braced his body and worked the pole. “What do you think I’m doing?” he said with grit teeth. “Is it him?” “It’s him; it’s Grumpy!” the pigtailed girl cheered. She pointed at the fish as it was wrested free from the water: it bore a curved mark above one of its round eyes. Beebee clapped her hands. “Ol’ Grumpy! You got him!” Mackaba laughed. “He got away from us once; I couldn’t believe we actually found the same fish again.” The other youth leaned out over the pier, positioning the net beneath the struggling fish. The younger Mackaba dipped the line and dropped Grumpy in. “You catch fish just as well as any bear, ‘Alvy,’” Beebee said. Mackaba watched with glossy eyes as the three friends collapsed on the pier. “I did used to have fun,” he admitted. “But that was such a long time ago. That was back before I joined the police.” “What happened?” Beebee asked. Several gulls touched down on the pier; one ventured toward the wriggling net. “I hurt some people,” Mackaba said. “I moved to Jesice, thinking I’d get away from it. It didn’t work out there either, so they transferred me to an abandoned post on the other world.” He sighed as his other self shooed birds away. “I don’t think anything has gone right since then.” Beebee slapped her knees and stood up. “Let’s stop watching these memories then!” she announced. “We can go have fun right now! Come on! I’ll take you to my world!” “I can’t do that,” Mackaba said. Beebee fought back a grin. “Don’t you remember what you promised to your friends?” Beebee asked. On the pier the girl in pigtails spoke up. “Alvy, if you ever meet a cute girl in a cowboy hat you should probably agree to do whatever she says.” “Sound advice!” the younger Mackaba agreed. “I swear on this fish that I will, my childhood friends!” “That didn’t happen,” Mackaba said. Beebee looked up at the rim of her hat. “Okay, so maybe I’m fiddling around with it a bit.” Two paws splashed out of the water, clinging to the pier. A shaggy, wet bear pulled himself out of the sea. “I hear they even have a lake on Beebee’s world!” he said. “Lots of choice fish this time of year.” “Bears don’t live in the ocean!” Mackaba laughed. “Wait–do you really have a lake?” Beebee nodded and the pier, sky, people, ocean, and bear vanished. The foyer with the carved stone sconces returned. “I’ll go up and get your some clothes to wear,” Beebee said. “Unless you’d rather stay in a thong all day–?” Mackaba rose an eyebrow at her. “Right,” Beebe said, climbing the stairs. “I won’t push my luck.”
Dark sat at a desk before the great, unlit hearth. Jelk was placing small, glowing orbs around the temple hall. Darrow and Tenny came in from one of the many side rooms. “I think you’re right about this being Templetine’s place,” Darrow said. He went to the desk and plopped down several sheets of paper. The top one had a crude drawing of a man on it. His hair was black with white tips, and his body was wrapped in red chains. Masked men held the ends of the chains, and the fireplace was ablaze behind them. “That does look like him,” Dark said. “Do you think he drew this? The background looks like this hall.” “I don’t know but it’s freaking me out,” Darrow replied. Tenny put a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry; I’ll tell you if I sense anyone coming.” Darrow wrinkled his thick eyebrows. “Okay. Thanks?” “What are these other pictures?” Dark asked. He flipped through the other papers. One had large squares drawn on it and the other a circular pattern. The shapes were scribbled over with wild marks of varying colors that stretched to the ends of the pages. “I have no idea,” Darrow said. “There are a lot more like them, though. How’s the map?” Dark sat up in the plush chair. “I think I have everything down that we saw on the way. I put the sun over here on the left for reference. We’ll call that ‘west’ for now.” He pointed at the top of the sheet of paper he had been drawing on. “This is the first thing we saw when we arrived on the ship: the house. That’s furthest north. Then we passed a factory, an arena, and then came to rest directly south of all of those.” He slid his fingers past symbols depicted the buildings, coming to rest on a drawing of the Nameless. Beneath it he had written ‘Cougo.’ “So this is where we are now,” Dark said. “North-east of the ship. When we got here it looked as though we were about the same distance away from both it and that arena.” He wrote ‘Templetine??’ beneath the temple symbol. “Then to the far west of the ship and arena I saw lights and a Ferris wheel. Somewhere north of that is the castle Darrow saw, and north of here is the metallic field.” “If Mean is flying around she could be at any of these places,” Tenny said. Dark sighed. “I know. We’re going to need to search each one until we find her.” Dark studied the room. “We need to make some sort of vehicle; Cocoa could move something with wheels.” Jelk placed the last of his glowing orbs in a corner. The floor and walls were well-lit now, while the high rafters were still cast in shadow. He tapped an open door with his foot: the lock and handle had burst outward and now hung from the metal by a strand. Dusty footprints lead out of the black room. “Looks like something important was in here,” Jelk said. “Did anyone check it?” “I’ll go in if you do,” Darrow said. Jelk tugged on the tuft of hair below his lip. “Fine, fine,” he said, scooping up the glowing orb from the corner. The room past the broken lock had shelves lining the walls. Everything on them was incomplete: the orb cast light to reveal parts of keys, weapons, and machinery. The center of the room was caked with a sooty dust that hung in the air. “What is all this stuff?” Darrow asked, stepping right on top of the grimy spot on the floor. The corners of the room twisted together and a dull light split out from the spaces in between. The glowing cracks spread and the shelves and walls of the room compressed into points; as they winked out of sight Darrow found himself standing on a barren plateau. Darrow sneezed as a fine dust arose with the wind: blowing across a cracked road and the shattered remains of toppled pillars. He staggered back and wiped at his nose. One of Jelk’s glowing orbs appeared, hung still a moment, and flew at him. It thumped off his chest and dropped to the dirt. Darrow kicked it back. It bounced away, froze in mid-flight, and vanished. With the same delayed movement, Jelk himself stepped out. “Hey man,” Darrow greeted. “Oh, yeah, hey,” Jelk said. “Fancy meeting you in–sheeze, where is this? Some dusty ruin?” Darrow checked behind him, seeing a blackened vehicle and a stone fountain split in half. “This must be the way to Templetine’s planet,” he said. Jelk kicked one of the pieces of downed pillar. It fragmented and slid apart. “Back during the tournament he was always whining about how broken everything was. Guess he wasn’t joking.” “Maybe we can use some of this stuff,” Darrow suggested. Jelk stroked his beard. “I suppose I could piece some of this stuff together,” he said. “I had to use old junk for my props when I first started out at the tourneys, after all.” He set his glowing orb down to mark the space where they had entered the world. “So let’s round some up!”
Whittler and Mean stepped into the foyer, where the bear carvings and gong were set. The mallet lifted from the floor at Whittler’s glance and crashed against the instrument. “Beebs, it’s me,” Whittler said. “Get down here; we need to talk.” “I’m really sorry I hit you!” Mean added. The two stood, listening for a reply. “She could be in her world,” Whittler said. “But I didn’t think she had a concert today.” She paced to the stairs, where an orange thong was laid out on the railing. “We’ll have to make do with leaving a message; I can’t go back to that world and you’ll never find her alone.” “If you say so,” Mean said. “What do you mean, ‘back there?’ Is that where you’re from?” Whittler squinted up the stairs, scratching at the scar that wound through her gray hair. “Yeah, I’m from there.” “Did everyone here come from one of these worlds?” Mean asked. “No,” Whittler said. “Beebee brought me here. She and her siblings have been here in Arsiling, meddling with my world, your world–everyone’s. That man Pladomir is one of them. There are seven in all.” “But how did they get here?” Mean went on. “It’s just them living on this flat piece of glass floating in space? That doesn’t make any sense.” “You kids,” Whittler groaned. “See this castle? These carvings? Who put all this here? Do you know?” Mean shrugged. Whittler sat down on the steps. “I did. I carved all this and put it together with my magic. And what would you have done if I wasn’t here to tell you? Hm? Would you be wondering about that, too? ‘There shouldn’t be a castle here; that doesn’t make sense!’” Whittler cocked her head at Mean, and the scar on her neck stretched smooth. “Wherever there is a creation, there is also a creator. Wherever this is a story, there is also a teller. I have lived my life as an artist: leaving my work displayed everywhere on my world. I’m no longer there, but they’d better remember who pained to carve those masterpieces in the first place. Creators don’t like being forgotten.” “Alright, I was just asking,” Mean said. She let a grin slip out. “You remind me of my mother, talking like that.” Whittler dipped her head, laughing.
Dark, Tenny, Darrow, and Jelk all stood in the shadow of the long temple. Statues were set in reliefs along the building: all of their faces were concealed with black tar. “I think it’s done,” Dark said. He wiped his hands on his poncho. “We’ve created something wonderful,” Darrow said, looking upon their masterpiece. The throne from the hall had been set flat, with the axles from the melted car affixed to its front and back. There were no tires; just empty hubs. A wheelbarrow was attached as a sidecar. Tenny knelt there and hooked his fingers. He swept his hand through the bases of the wheelbarrow’s struts. Jelk picked them up after they had fallen off. “We’ll need something to hold on to,” he said. He stuck one strut on the chair and held it there. With a flash it fused to the material. He placed the other strut on the wheelbarrow’s side, fusing it in place as well. “How fast can Cocoa take this thing?” Dark grinned. “Fifteen miles per hour, I’ll bet!” Jelk’s face drooped. “What breakneck speeds. Want me to spend another thirty minutes making a roll cage?” Dark went to the back and began to push the back of the vehicle, which was the bottom of the large chair. “Well there’s no way to steer so we shouldn’t tip over. We’ll just have to point it at where we want to go and head in a straight path.” “And you people from the Eye always travel like this?” Jelk asked. “I’ll never complain about King’s tolls again.” The vehicle’s bare hub wheels scraped over the surface of Arsiling as it was pushed by the four. Once out of the temple’s shadow, they lifted the front of the cart, aiming it at the arena. The Nameless was still parked to the far left. The statue with the dented forehead faced them. In between the two places, and much further away, the sun’s streak of gasses fell upon the casino and shone through the spokes of the large Ferris wheel. “Alright, let’s get going!” Jelk said, taking a seat on the plush backing of the sideways chair. “Shotgun!” Darrow called out, bouncing into the wheelbarrow sidecar. “I’ll sit with Jelk,” Tenny said. He slid into place in front of Jelk, gripping the end of the chair. “Let’s get going,” Dark said. He levitated into the air, touched the back of the cart, and with a horrible creaking they all rolled forward.
“I can’t believe I had to make her focus on letting me go,” Pladomir said. He entered the factory by a small door, followed by the woman in the containment suit. “I already had to halt production to trap her; woe, indeed, my investors will not be pleased by today’s events.” The turbines that lined the side of the factory could be glimpsed through the hall windows. They were all silent, and the thick fog still obscured the sky. Pladomir sniffed at the air. “What is that smell? Has some of the gas leaked into the building?” He continued on and took a turn into a larger area. Large pipes extended from every wall, converging at a pedestal encased in glass. Monitors and gauges at numerous consoles displayed pressure, volume, and speed. Pladomir staggered, and his face dimmed. Beads of sweat glistened at the orange lines on his brow. “What is this heat?” Pladomir asked. The slave shook her head. “I feel nothing strange, sir.” “I feel nothing strange either,” a voice mocked. Shirka leaned against the wall next to the entry. She was toying with the brim of her hat. Pladomir coughed. “Shirka! Why are you here? That girl you brought–she’s been running loose!” Shirka’s red lips parted in an exaggerated grin. “I’m not here. I’m an illusion. Everything you’re seeing now is fake too.” “What?” Pladomir asked. Sweat trickled past his eye. He scanned the room: a faint hum came from the pipes. “I was in this room, though,” Shirka said. “And look what I did–“ A snap came from her fingers and Pladomir shielded his eyes; a bright fire leapt up and thick smoke layered the ceiling. The machines clustered around the pedestal were ablaze. A rippling flame spurted from one of the pipes. Pladomir and the slave backpedaled straight into the door: it was sealed and locked. “I suggest you go find a suit, Pladie, ol’ boy,” Shirka said. The slave stood and watched as Pladomir ducked his head and ran to the pedestal. The fire engulfed it; he circled around to the far wall. “You risk breaking our laws!?” he cried. He reached a sliding glass door that was shattered, with the pieces scattered on the floor. A panel read ‘AIRLOCK: TENEMENTS.’ Pladomir scurried through. Blue mist roiled out through the opposite door: through the jagged edges of the remaining glass splinters. Pladomir kicked through the remains and into the next area. “Where are they?” he asked. The features of the room glowed through the light fog: every edge of every object was trimmed with luminescent paint. Pladomir’s glowing eyes flicked across the empty tables and racks lining the walls. The only other exit was barred. “The suits aren’t here!” Shirka’s image appeared next to him, a shadow in the smoke. “I left you one. Look–it’s there on the floor.” Pladomir squinted at a darkness on the ground. It was humanoid-shaped, with hollow limbs, helmet, and chest splayed wide. “That can’t be it,” Pladomir muttered. “No, Shirka, this is a trick!” He checked back the way he had came. The fires were spreading and his slave was laying flat against the floor. The image of Shirka blocked his view. “I went all the way back for it,” she said. “It was sad that you left it behind. Now put it on.” Pladomir shook his head and whimpered, shrinking down into the blank shell of the suit.
Quick Notes: – Alright, time to discuss the groups. Do they work? Are they the most boring thing ever? It’s time to take a look.
“Mackaba and Beebee” – They just met, but I feel this pairing fits. Beebee is someone that tries so hard to find the best in people. And Mackaba, well, he’s a challenge for her; after all, I’ve spent the past two books making him look like a pig-headed, hateful idiot. If ol’ Beebee can pull it off, this can really work in her favor. Mackaba might even become––zounds!––THREE DIMENSIONAL!
“Dark, Tenny, Jelk, and Darrow make a go kart” – I get the feeling that this part of the story isn’t quite as thrilling as the others’. I was hoping the humor would make up for it but this is just getting pathetic. Even the Stooges would be shaking their heads. I’ll be watching these guys.
“Whittler and Mean” – I wasn’t sure if this was going to work. I think it can, but I’m not quite there yet. And I did screw up their first meeting. I still have some ideas for these two, but I haven’t implemented my plan yet. I guess this first draft will just have to suck a little bit more in the meantime!
“Shirka gives Pladomir the suit” – Shirka is interesting with everyone––as long as she can find guilty memories in their minds to expose. I didn’t get to that in this chapter, but it’ll be fun watching her mess with people that deserve it. There was only one problem I had here: I wasn’t sure how Pladomir could be tricked into putting on the armor. I was going to have toxic gas flood the place but then I remembered he can breathe almost anything. (I should probably explain that sometime.) Then I was going to have Shirka suck ALL the air out of the zone with the turbines but that seemed a bit too convoluted.
So I just had her set everything on fire! Dang, I must be a genius!