This chapter was fun to write. It features a certain character, and I think it’s finally time to give him the FIRST PERSON treatment. Have I talked about writing in first person yet? Well if I have then it’s time to do it again.
I’ll admit that I’m not really a fan of the style. I mean who wants to read someone’s innermost thoughts all the time? You hear all the little things they whine about; all the observations about life and the world they live in. I’m excluding blog entries of course. Reading those are always thrilling. But novels? Please!
I’ll use The Hunger Games as an example. I was following along with the series on Mark Reads, and of course I whined about the narrative style non-stop. Why do I need to hear every depressing thought Katniss has? How many times do I need to hear her describe soup dishes and desserts in meticulous detail!? The third person style seemed so wrong. But then!!
The story, after stalling for countless pages with fashion shows, eventually arrived at the titular games! It was here that I saw the advantage to writing in first person. In the setting of the arena, Katniss was alone. She was constantly hiding, scavenging, and plotting. With very few characters to speak with the voice in her head was almost welcome. And lo: the meanderings of her mind were actually important to the story at this point!
It seemed then that I was forced to re-think my views on first-person writing; indeed, it could even be preferable to third-person in certain situations. That is why I have decided to use the style when I believe it to be most advantageous to the story.
Do you agree? Did I make the correct choice about this chapter? Or would it be better off written some other way? DECIDE.
22 – Floe
It worked; she was right. The current is carrying both of us. Away from that girl, that little scallop. I turn to see where we’re headed: a massive, ivory ear. There’s no time to stop; I stretch the path of odd water around the lobe. We’re swept in a wide arc but we stay in the stream, never leaving it as we’re pushed down the other side of the statue’s wreckage.
The odd water has pooled on the ground by the time we reach bottom. I collapse the stream behind us as we splash down. Beebee is safe. There’s more of the cave over on this side. I think I see the place where she sang that concert. I’m not sure where those other buildings came from, though. They’re brightly-lit, like daytime. I can see the rest of that tower from this side: those chains lowered it all the way down.
“That’s where you want to go, right?” I ask Beebee. The poor woman really hasn’t been in the water before, has she? I help her stand as the water she’s paddling in rolls out over the glass.
“Thank you,” she says, almost singing it. “I knew you could do it. I knew you could, Alvy.”
How can she still be like that? After what she saw in my head? She finds her hat and shakes it dry.
“I see those little gears turning in your head, Alvy,” she says. “Thinking those bad thinks.” She looks right at me as she puts the hat back in place. “I don’t have to have mind-reading to know. And we both saw each others’ guilty parts so let’s just leave it at that.” She looks back up the way we had come; that scallop girl was skipping down the slope of rubble.
“Calm is still after us,” she said. “And it looks like my fans spotted us, too.”
From the direction of the concert arena I see them: shouting her name and starting after us. I bring the water around us again.
“Hold on to your hat,” I tell her. Ugh. That sounded so cheesy. Well, she really should hang on to it, I suppose. Whatever. This one should be easier: a straight shot to the base of that tower. We glide along the current and I take her hand. So she doesn’t trip or fall out of the water, of course.
We pass beneath the curve of the ring. I see that it’s made of many smaller, ropy threads. Part of the tower branches over to the ring and connects right above us. When it appeared Beebee called it the chandelier. She said it was where she came from. I have no idea what that means. Was it hanging around on a ceiling somewhere? I don’t have time to ponder it; the current has taken us to the base of the tower. Man, this is fast. I always wanted a surfboard. I bet I could make some pretty nice waves with this stuff.
“Alvy, you’re so silly,” Beebee says. “You always look so serious, though.”
I slow the water as we approach the—what is this? A hex door? There’s treaded metal beneath the tower, marked off with yellow paint. Large arrows are drawn on the ground pointing inward. Sloppy handwriting spells out ‘They’re in here.’
“I’ve seen this hex door before,” I tell her. “Back when I was guarding Hardpan City. It was inside the Dhaston office building.
The odd water spills out as I release the boundary. Beebee lets go of my hand and sloshes over to the door.
“Shirka’s power is the opposite of mine; she can only make things that people felt guilty about. Oh, Alvy! Look! More are on their way here!”
I follow her gaze to the casino area, where groups of figures are creeping from between those run-down fair buildings. I hadn’t noticed before, but there’s more to the south now. Clouds of dust being thrown up by vehicles with absurdly large cannons. There’s still nothing to the east but the swirling clouds below and cliff walls. There’s a droning noise of engines to the north: balloon-looking things coming out of that curtain of gas. Wonderful.
“Alvy, I want you to do something,” Beebee says. “I saw that you could hold things still in your water.”
“I can make it denser. Why?”
Beebee rubs at the bruise on her cheek. “I’m going up to check on my siblings. I want you to put as much water as you can around the ‘hex door’ after I go; I don’t want anyone else getting in.”
“I can’t let you go in there alone,” I tell her. She wrings out her hair and smiles at me.
“Shirka didn’t hurt me before; I’ll be okay,” she assures me. “I’ll come back if it’s too dangerous, I promise.”
She stepped into the hex door. I muddled back through the spilled water as she reached out with a timid wave.
“Good luck,” I tell her. She vanishes. I bring up the grid from the floor to the bottom of the hanging tower. The water sprays out, filling the area and sealing it off.
I take a look at the approaching vehicles and various peoples. I just now realize it: I’ve been asked to protect something again. It’s just me, alone, again. That scallop girl is the closest; she’s using that trick where she skates across the ground. I’m not going to let her through. And it’s not like before. Not like Hardpan. There’s actually someone to protect this time. One person. And, if I’m lucky, maybe I can find out where the other one is.
“Hey!” I shout over to her. Maybe she’s calmed down. “Where did you see that ‘small lady?’ Was her name Mean?”
“She was mean,” the little scallop says. She skates up to the wall of odd water, slowing before she smacked into it this time. “Always mean to me.” She presses her hand on the boundary, her wiry arm strains against it. “You put this here. You put up walls!” She snaps her hand back and glares at me. “You put up walls! You’re just like she is!”
Great. Of course I say something else to set her off. She’s rocking her head to and fro like a fish out of water now. “Look,” I tell her, “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I’m just trying to keep Beebee safe. Isn’t she your sister? You want her safe, right?”
“I don’t want to be safe; not between the walls,” she cries out. “You put them away!” She starts over, shaking that chain in her hand. I bring up the boundary around me and odd water fills in. Poor girl is demented or something. She’s testing the odd water with her fingers. No way she’s getting through this stuff either. If I can’t calm her down I’ll just protect myself, I suppose. Huh, isn’t that what Beebee said her name was? ‘Calm?’ Who in the world came up with such bizarre names for these people anyway? Wait, what’s that? Little things are coming out of her fingers. Like little knives? No, they’re–!
I blast myself out of the water, falling hard on my tailbone. The barrier I had made stands above me: frozen as a solid mass. The side of my hurried exit is a wall of jagged ice.
“You don’t want to be in the walls either,” she says to me, peering around it. “Get inside; I’ll make you safe.”
I don’t think so! I’m outta here! I groan and scramble to my feet: they get me running in the opposite direction as that horrible girl. Ice! So that’s how she skates around like that and sticks to things. She must freeze the traces of moisture in the air and on the ground or—shoot, I don’t know. It’s not as if I had any science books to read in that prison. Wait! Maybe she can’t actually produce water like I can. So as long as I don’t make any water she can’t freeze me. Which is the only defense I have, of course. Crap.
I can hear her behind me over the pounding of my feet and the air rushing by my face. It’s just that chain swinging and her feet sliding over the plain. Why did it have to be ice? Where’s the fire guy? When do I get to fight him? You’d think one of these magic types would try that—but no! Let’s all be ice or flying or making your guilty memories become real. For crying out loud. Is that a wall of gas I’m racing towards? I can’t go this way; what am I doing?
Well I can’t just go left—she’ll catch up because that clouded area is too wide for me to make it around. I’ll have to risk making a wall of odd water. That’s it—I’ll head straight for the gas and put the wall up behind me. With that on one side of me and the water on the other there’s no way she’ll get me.
I put out a block of water behind me; I hear her startled yelp. It gives me enough time to make it to the brink of the gas. Below I see glowing edges of rooftops and blinking lights, blurred. It’s a good thing I spent time in St. Tra or I’d be just a little bit terrified of being so high up.
Whatever. I start around the edge, stretching out the odd water on my left side, closing it off behind me and letting it lead ahead of me a bit so she can’t sneak around that way. I hear a crackling noise behind me. Multitudes of overlapping crystals shoot through my wall, solidifying it.
Ha! Thanks, Calm! Now you’ll never get through. Now I just need to figure out where it is I’m running to. The ice wall is crackling beside me; I can’t see through it and the mist is thick on my right. My foot skids to the side. Little scallop! She froze the ground!
I reach out but there’s nothing to catch: I slip off right into the mist. I catch a lung-full of it and reflexively snort it out. Yep, I can’t breathe it. Well, crap. Now I’m pretty terrified. I make a cushion of odd water below me—also a reflex—and I feel it envelop me as I splash down. Once I’m in I risk another breath.
Oh! Wonderful! The water has pushed all the gas away! Take that, foul gas; I can breathe again!
There’s a clear space around me—my foot dips out of the boundary for a moment and I’m quick to yank it back in—past that there’s just that blurry mess of vague shapes and movement.
Well. I guess I could stay down here. That scallop Calm can’t get me. Maybe I could even swim down and see what this world is all about. Yeah, I could do that. Just put a little bubble around my head.
There’s a loud slap and my pool of odd water begins moving upward. I’m rising with it: there’s a glowing tarp or something beneath me. I recognize the droning hum of the zeppelin’s engine and realize that’s where I am. The lights from the tall building nearby are zipping by: I’m on my way back up!
“You stupid thing!” I shout at it. It may seem strange to yell at something that can’t hear me, but it seems my anger is justified: that Calm girl has just landed on the top of the zeppelin as well. She appears unhurt; worse, it appears she can actually breathe in this stuff. And of course she just heard me complaining so she knows where I am. I see her thin silhouette sprinting over, swinging that chain. What in the world am I supposed to do now!? I can’t leave this bubble or I’ll suffocate. If I stay in it she’ll freeze me to death!
“I can see you through the fog,” she says. “You’re just like her; you’re in the little window. Get out of there—get out!”
She starts at me. I have no choice. I release the boundary and the odd water spills out. I leave a small film around my face, praying it will be enough. I see the water rolling down the curved sides of the blimp’s inflated tarp. She’s on me; I can’t see the chain clearly; it swats me in my bicep as I try to dodge. I drop, rolling along the wet tarp. Probably not the best idea, but it beats getting pummeled. I can always catch myself again if I fall off, right? But then I suppose she’ll just jump after me again. Wait. Could that work? I see bright lights above.
“This is corporal Fide of the Luminous Gale Principality,” I hear from the lights. “All non-military aircraft has been restricted. Reduce altitude immediately.”
I jerk to a stop. That little scallop has me by the leg; that chain is wrapped clear around my shin. Can’t pry it off. Of course the chain links are frozen together.
“Come on back up,” Calm is saying as she reels me in like an unruly carp. I can see the edge of that Arsiling place above her and the clear air past it.
“Cease your ascent or you will be fired upon,” the voice from above commands.
“Did you hear that?” I shout over at Calm. “We’re going to get blasted to bits!”
Something that looks like lighting curves over the zeppelin in a neat arc, splitting that blue mist and sending Calm into hysterics when it cracks. I hear her end of the chain thump to the tarp. The zeppelin’s engines whine louder and my legs give out from the sudden burst upward. From my back I see long antennas unfurling from the blimp’s frame. We’re passing through into Arsiling now. Another one of those bolts flash in front of me; one of the antennas catch it. Calm shrieks again. I kick at the coiled chain with my foot; it just slips over the metal. Time to make a run for it while she’s freaking out, I suppose. Yep. I’ll just run past her on this slick balloon while some OTHER balloon fires lightning bolts at us, all while dragging a length of metal around.
I scoop up the chain, pick myself up, and hobble around her. Where am I headed? I should probably just jump off this thing. I’d go for the sides but that’s where those lightning rods are. Nothing at the bow; guess I’ll head there.
As I run the mist parts and I see the clear sky. We’re passing the giant ring that was surrounding the tower, with one of the supports leading to the building running alongside the balloon. Alright. This is good. We’re out of that weird gas, at least.
Another crack sounds behind me and the blimp’s tarp is lit up with a flash. I hear a new noise this time: a crackling that lingers after the initial strike. I look back. Flames. Two of the rods are glowing; smoking red-hot. The curved tarp between them is burning red against the blue wall of gas behind us. I see the other blimp, just emerging from the cloud. Its cockpit, tethered beneath the long balloon, is smoldering near the front. Their silly lightning weapon ignited their own vessel!
Wait. Of course—we’re out of their bizarre atmosphere now. There was no oxygen on that world so of course there wouldn’t be fire until now. The people driving this ship probably don’t even know what ‘fire’ is. The ship takes a sharp dive and I see the fabric of the balloon tear near the back. With the wind rushing past the flames whip in every direction, spreading further along. Calm is jogging toward my end.
“I guess I get my wish after all!” I shout over to her. Oh, yes. This is my moment. I don’t need a boundary for this: I let the odd water flow from my outstretched hand in a massive stream. It knocks Calm down and carries her along with the wave, gushing across the tarp and meeting the wall of fire.
The flames in its path die, leaving the two lightning rods burning. The odd water deposits Calm near the back of the balloon as it washes off the curved tarp. I can see her struggling beneath the orange lights, coughing and grasping at the veil on her face. I almost turn away—to leave, but I see something. The fire is creeping back down.
It’s spreading along the wet tarp somehow. From each end it creeps on the surface: a glowing film that leaps up into full flame. Of course—what was I thinking!? If I can breathe in odd water than of course fire can burn in it. And there was a water park full of this stuff!?
I don’t know why, but I run back down the length of the tarp. Well, I do know why: Beebee wouldn’t want Calm to die up here. She cares for these maniacs, the same way she cared about me. I slog through the shallow pools over to her. She’s screaming about being trapped and dying or something. I guess it’s not her fault she’s crazy. I grab her by the waist—it’s not as if anything would make her less hysterical at this point—and just keep on chugging through the water. She’s thrashing in my grip and I feel my arm freeze where I’ve grabbed her. That’s probably good, since I feel the flames encroaching on us with a pressing heat. There’s a snap and the rod on the right falls from the ship; there’s a sudden sucking of air as a hole is torn out of the tarp. The fire is pulled toward it and I shut my eyes as it licks my face. The balloon tilts and we tumble from it.
Super-Quick First Draft Notes –
Calm’s ice power is revealed –
I’ll be honest with ya here: I had no idea what Calm’s power was. I had her skating around earlier in the story and sticking to things without any clue about how she was doing it. Then I got to this chapter and realized I needed to explain. I also needed to challenge Mackaba somehow. But I was stuck about how to write it all out. So what did I do? I asked God for help.
What!? Don’t look at the screen like that! The Bible was completely inspired by God. Inspiration through writing is what he’s good at. Why wouldn’t I ask? And it’s not like I know Stephen King’s phone number.
I’m not saying Abandonment Party is divine scripture, but even God has to be bored with all the vampire/zombie/romance novels out there.
A zeppelin appears when Mackaba falls into Pladomir’s world –
Who’s driving this thing? What is it doing? This is the sort of event that I can either leave as-is or expand on later. And if Matt gets his wish for more characters then this can be some wacky side story relating to that. Like a brother can be looking for his sister that was taken by Pladomir. BUT! The brother’s memories were stolen by Cougo and put into Jelk! Now Jelk thinks he has a glowing sister that breathes fluorine! Only the father of the sister can steal the company zeppelin to bring the family back together.
The zeppelin is fired upon with lightning blasts and Mackaba rides on the back of it as it goes up in flames –
I’ve always wondered whether odd water would burn or not. I’m sure you’ve been thinking about it as well. And while I’m sure ol’ Hilo wouldn’t have made a water park filled with flammable liquid, maybe Mackaba’s version of the stuff is a bit different.
Now if you’ll excuse me I must go make Hearthstone cards based on characters from my story. Until next time.