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Monthly Archives: June 2010

A Ripple in the Mind of Her Eye (story #59)

Well, well, well and howdy, howdy.  Here we are for our first one-off story in over three months.  The excitement in the air is palpable!  Or maybe that’s just the humidity.  Let’s see if we actually remember how to do this one story at a time…  Just kidding, we have such a short attention span that it’s a major trick not to get distracted while eating a sandwich.  Anyway, since we are listening to music from “Back to the Future” (and also to piss off Geoffrey Strout) we’re going to write a story about time travel.  Now, remember, dear readers, that time travel is a tricky subject (as is science fiction in general) and can lend itself to many paradoxes and loopholes.  Also, we’re ridiculously enamored of our “creative license” clause here at the SotWC.  So, this should be fun.  Or really annoying, you be the judge.

A RIPPLE IN THE MIND OF HER EYE

Bert stood on the threshold.  In the back of his mind, he had a feeling that this had all happened sometime before.  He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something about the scene before him was dreadfully familiar.    Betsy was on the front lawn, screaming something about buttercups, and Rupert was running around in circles like a burning spastic.

Perhaps this had all happened in another life, but Bert didn’t believe in reincarnation.  Perhaps it had something to do with childhood trauma, but Bert didn’t believe in trauma.  Or children.  perhaps it was something he’d seen in an episode of “Doctor Who,” but Bert didn’t watch “Doctor Who.”  He was running out of options.  then he sudden;y realized that it didn’t matter where or when he had seen this before, he just really wanted a glass of grape juice.

Going inside, he found that they were out of grape juice.  “Consarn it all,” he said dejectedly.  “I bought that grape juice special for tonight.  Who could’ve drunk it all?”

At that moment, Betsy rushed inside.  “Bert!” she cried.  “Rupert has fallen into a ditch and can’t get up!  What will we do?”

With sudden inspiration, Bert grabbed Betsy by the shoulders.  “We’ll build a time machine,” he said, shaking her vigorously, “that’s what we’ll do.”

“How will that help?” she asked.

“We’ll go back in time and tell Rupert not to fall into the ditch, of course,” Bert replied evenly.  “Now, come and help me.  But make sure you’re wearing a shiny silver bikini when you do.”

“Well, obviously,” she said.

****

A mere six and a half days later, the time machine was complete.  Of course, Rupert was dead by then, but it didn’t matter to Bert.  He could go back in time and change all that.  He stood there on the threshold of a new dawn in scientific progress.  Coincidence?  I think not.

“Can I take this bikini off?” Betsy asked.

“By all means,” Bert replied with a sly grin.

“And put on some normal clothes, I mean,” she said exasperatedly.

“Oh, all right,” he said with an impatient flick of the wrist.  “But do hurry.  I’m standing on the threshold after all.”

Betsy quickly went and changed into a pretty cardigan sweater, stiletto heels and parachute pants.  “This will be all the rage in the future,” she told Bert upon seeing his quizzical stare.

“But we’re not going to the future,” he said.  “We’re going to the past.  Last Thursday, to be precise.”

“Consarn it all,” Betsy said.

With that, they climbed into the time machine (which, fortunately, I do not have to explain the creation of because the nature of science fiction writing is to present implausible events and not explain them properly unless you use terminology you hope no one will question because of its long and rambling bigness –  like “nanoquarkitudes” and “fallorhythms.”) and set the controls for “Last Thursday.”  Betsy sat down to do her nails, expecting the trip to take quite some time.  No sooner had she opened the bottle and gotten that smell everywhere than Bert said, “well, we’re here.”

“What?” she said.  “No flashing lights?  No lightning bolts?  No trails of fire?  No giant video-screen with a flight attendant telling the plot of the story?”

“How shocking,” Bert said into the dark.

As they exited the time machine, Bert and Betsy were stuck with the sheer magnitude of having actually traveled back in time.  Everything was just as they’d left it, yet somehow newer.  You know, like a week newer.  Fully blown away by the scientific, historical, and emotional impact of what they’d done, Betsy went, “golly.”

“Come,” Bert said, motioning Betsy over the hill (they’d transported themselves outside the house to avoid inadvertently crushing anyone, forgetting that no one had attended their party on Thursday night, because no sane person goes to parties on Thursday nights).  As they crested the rise, they saw Rupert standing just beyond the threshold.  “Goodbye,” he was exclaiming to the people inside, “thanks for the swell party!”  (Yes, Rupert had gone to the party even though it was on a Thursday.  By using universal conversion of a proposition, you might logically deduce that he must therefore be insane.  You would be forgetting, however, that we, the storytellers, may just be big fat liars.)

Scarcely able to believe their own eyes, Bert and Betsy looked and saw themselves standing there in the doorway (often referred to colloquially as a threshold).  Opting for stealth, Bert started to creep around to the back of the house.  Betsy, however, was so mesmerized at seeing herself standing there that she walked dazedly forward and ran smack into Rupert as he approached his car.

“Well, bless my nanoquarkitudes,” Rupert said, smiling at her, “how did you get out here so fast?  And when did you change into that dreadful outfit?”

Before Betsy could say anything, the Other Betsy came out of the house.  “Oh, Rupert,” she called, “you forgot your cups!  You don’t want to leave all this nice butter behind, do you?”

“The butter cups!” Betsy exclaimed as the Other Betsy stopped short in surprise.  Rupert looked from one to the other and back again.  “Don’t…” Betsy began, but it was too late.  In her utter shock and horror, the Other Betsy dropped all the cups full of butter that Rupert had won playing party games onto the driveway with a hideous shattering of glass and splattering of salty dairy products.  One of the resulting shards of glass cut Rupert’s foot a little and, man, did he ever freak out about it.  Betsy took the opportunity to run away into the night as the Other Betsy loudly lamented the destruction of the party favors.

Bert missed all of this in his quest to enter the house unseen from the back.  Not sure exactly what he was going to do, he found himself suddenly in the kitchen.  Not sure exactly why, he opened the refrigerator door.

You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you?  You figure Bert’s going to find the grape juice and drink it before the Other Bert comes inside and it’ll be one big sci-fi geek circular storyline demonstrating a linear theory of time travel where everything happens the same way no matter how many times you try to change it, huh?  Well, you’re half right.  The incredible snap ending you’re about to witness does, indeed, support a linear theory of time travel, but Bert doesn’t get to drink the grape juice.  Remember how everything looked familiar to him at the beginning?  Well, it’s because he’d already done this all, like, seven times, so all he found in the fridge was a note that said, “Dear Bert, remember to buy some more grape juice, I finished it all on my third trip back here.  And, next time you invent a time machine, remember to properly calibrate the fallorhythms or else you’ll forget everything.  AGAIN.”

“Consarn it all,” Bert said.

THE END

Well, for all the creative leeway and silliness we were prepared to allow ourselves here here with a time travel story, it was surprisingly bereft of huge plot holes and continuity errors.  Thank God it was still silly, at least.  We’ll try harder next week.  Yeah, right.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

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Posted by on June 29, 2010 in Science Fiction

 

Deadlines, deadlines…

Hello, faithful readers.  Please don’t think that now that we’ve finished “Kingdom Found” we’re just slacking off.  We’re actually editing a BIG music video project; it’s a tribute to men and women in the military by Jierra Clark, and the big premiere event is this coming Saturday, June 26th.  Sorry to leave you story-less for another week, but this is really important and there’s still LOTS of work to do, so the tribute must take precedence.  Looking forward to writing something short and silly next Monday night!  Thanks for your patience, and hope you’ll check out the video when it’s released online!

See you soon,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2010 in Announcements

 

Kingdom Found part 15 (story #58)

Hey, look at me, writing this installment one week after that last installment.  It’s like I’m on a schedule or something.  I’ve got the orchestral shuffle ready to play my creative muse back to life again, and I don’t wanna waste anymore time trying to think of clever introductory things to say.  Let’s do this.

KINGDOM FOUND part 15

The doctor stood slack-jawed for a moment as Amanda waited for him to engage in combat.  “But,” he said finally, “you were…  You forgot them.  You forgot everything!  The cat, the boy…  Everything!”

“Well, now I remembered everything,” she replied evenly.  “The years you were enemy to my father.  The friends and family you turned into trolls.  The part you played in my mother’s death.  I remember it all.  But most of all, I remember thirty seconds ago when you were beating on an unarmed prince.”  The doctor stole a glance down at me and then nervously returned his gaze to her as she finished.  “The past is the past and I can’t do anything about it.  But I can do something about the present.  Now, are you going to fight me or not?”

I took the opportunity to crab-walk out from between them and stand up.  The doctor continued to stare at Amanda and, I must say, I was inclined to do the same.  I recalled how radiant she had looked that morning as we rode on Bibble-Kins’ back through the forest and across the field.  The light that was in her then was a pale comparison to what I saw in her now.  She looked at me sideways through the visor slit in her helmet, and I somehow knew she was smiling at me.  I tried vainly to stop a small, surprised laugh from escaping my lips.  She wasn’t afraid.  She wasn’t tense or angry.

She was having a good time.

"She was having a good time." Art by Eric Jansen

The rivalry of years past, the pain of the morning’s revelations, the fear of forgetting everything – all were gone.  She really wasn’t trying to goad the doctor into a fight because of anything he’d done in the past.  She was just defending me.  She had only come back for me.

“Well?” she said, returning her gaze to Doctor Desnipes.

“No,” he said finally.  “No, I’m not going to fight you.”  He dropped my sword to the ground and his shoulders sagged.  “I would die,” he said.  “I’ve already died once today.”

“Smart man,” Amanda said and took a step back from him.  She remained on her guard, but made no more move to engage him.  Knowing that I didn’t even need to watch my back to do it, I bent to retrieve my sword.  As I lifted it, I remembered how heavy it had felt when I’d first tried to enter a battle with it this morning.  It didn’t necessarily feel lighter now, just easier to manage.

As I stood, I saw the doctor looking at me.  Still crazy, I thought.  He might try anything.  Then he spoke, and I realized how frightened he truly was.

“You’re going to kill me anyway, aren’t you?” he said.  “After everything I’ve done, I guess you think I deserve it.  And what can I do?  I don’t have my army.  I don’t have a witch on my side anymore.  I don’t even have a house, thanks to you and your wishing.”

Well, that was the answer, wasn’t it?  I shook my head and internally reprimanded myself for what I was about to do.  Why should I help my enemy?  The great enemy of my new kingdom?  The answer was pretty simple, really; if I succeeded, he wouldn’t be my enemy anymore.  And, as far as he would know, he never would have been at all.

“Amanda, ” I said, keeping my eyes on the doctor, “I assume Amelia still lives, or else you wouldn’t have come.”

“Yes,” she replied, “time is short.  But she lives for now.”

“Good,” I said.  “Then there is time for you to tell the doctor why you forgot us for a time.  I think he needs to hear it.”

She looked at me and raised her visor.  I saw a sadness steal across her face.  “You know why I forgot?” she asked.

“I’ve guessed,” I said.  “It’s the only thing that makes sense.  And no one can blame you.  In a moment of sorrow that deep, I might have wished for the same thing.”

“Wished?” asked the doctor, still looking like he expected either one of us to run him through at any moment.

“Yes, wished,” Amanda said.  “After you left the castle this morning, King Mountainlost told me what had happened to my mother.”

“Ah,” Desnipes interjected, some of his evil nature returning to the surface, “so, he told you that he himself killed her, eh?”

“He told me that he killed the monster you created,” she spat back.  The doctor’s shoulders slumped again and he waited for her to go on.  “When he’d finished his story, I didn’t know what to do.  But I knew I couldn’t stay there right then.  I needed to get away.  To think things through, or maybe just to be alone.  I didn’t really care right then.  So I said my words and found myself back here in this world.”  She turned to me.  “That was surprising,” she said, “but I was grateful that I didn’t disappear, anyway.”

“The words were meant to make us pass between worlds,” I said.  “It didn’t matter whether the wall was intact or not.  That’s how I knew they would send you back to Gold Legend from the town hall.”

“I know that now,” she said, smiling at me.  “But not this morning.  I was so sad. And, when I returned here, my grief made me forget the most important thing I could have remembered at that moment.”

“Are you saying that grief turned you into an amnesiac?” the doctor scoffed.  “That’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever–“

“That’s not what I’m saying,” Amanda interrupted with a flick of her sword in his direction.  He flinched impressively and said no more.  “What I forgot was that the worlds were breached.  And that meant that wishes could come true here.”

“You wished you could forget everything about Gold Legend, didn’t you?” I said.

“It was an idle, foolish wish,” she said, nodding.  “But it was granted.  I found myself standing in the middle of a street wearing armor for no reason.  I had no idea how I’d gotten there, so I took off the armor and decided to go home.  No one was there of course, so I went to the school.  I guess you were both there for the rest.”

“Then, how did you remember everything?” the doctor asked.  “Why have you come back?”

“You knew, didn’t you?” she said to me.  “You knew what I’d do.”

“Of course I did,” I said.  “I could see it in your eyes, behind the wish that had destroyed your memories.  When you said you trusted me but didn’t know why, I knew it would work.  Because part of you wanted to remember.  So, I figured if you went back to Gold Legend, that part of you would be so strong that it would wish to be free.  Or at least that you would wish to know what was going on.  And I hoped that was all it would take.”

“It was,” she said.  “And by the time I’d gone to the armory and gotten another suit of armor, everyone was returning.  I saw what had happened to Amelia, and I knew what it meant.”

“Now your memory’s even better than mine,” I said a little shamefully.

“But you…” she said, pointing at the doctor.  “No one knew what had happened to you.  I saw what happened to my earth-father.  I saw many people from school and from town.  But, after the transformation, no one knew what had happened to you.”

“I hid,” he said smugly.  “I’d been through a lot.”

“We’ve all been through a lot,” Amanda said.

“And it’s enough,” I added.  They both looked at me.  I stepped forward and looked hard at the doctor.  “I told you,” I said, “if you didn’t stay away from her, I’d kill you twice.  And I mean to see that my enemy is truly gone this time.”

“I knew it,” he muttered.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to stab you again,” I said.  “I’m just going to make a suggestion.  The rest is up to you.”  He knitted his brow but said nothing, so I continued.  “Amanda and I are going to leave now.  And we’re going to leave you here.  You won’t have your army.  You won’t have your witch.  You won’t even have your enemies.  You’ll be a nobody.  You’ll be a missing person.”  The words stung, but he waited for me to finish.  So I did.

“But if you can believe in magic for five more minutes, you don’t have to remember any of that.”

The doctor looked up into my eyes, startled.  It only took a moment for my implication to sink in.  “You want me to… wish away my memories?” he asked.

“Your memories of Gold Legend, yes.”

He kept staring at me.  A war of indecision played across his face in a cycle of anger, sadness, disbelief and resignation.

“Amelia never gave you your own words,” I said.  “Once we leave, you will have no way to return to Gold Legend.  And as soon as Amelia dies, time there will leap ahead of this world.  All you’ll have left is bad memories.  Unless you wish them away.”

Amanda took off her helmet and stared at me.  Her eyes were wide, but not with shock or disbelief.  It was wonder I saw on her face.  I guess she hadn’t thought of this.

For a moment it looked like anger was going to win in the doctor’s eyes.  Then his shoulders slumped and he looked away from me and down the street.  “Can I at least have my house back?” he said pitifully.

“I will not rebuild that house,” I replied.  “But I will never set foot on this world again, either.  There is precious little time left before that breach across town closes forever.  Use your wishes wisely.”

I stepped away from him and over to Amanda.  Our eyes locked.  “Spoken like a true prince,” she said softly.

“Let’s go,” I said and took her hand.

As we walked away so the doctor would not hear our words, we heard him cry out behind us.

“What if I don’t do it?” he yelled.  “What will you do then?”

“I will still be the leader foretold,” I yelled back.  “I will still be the one who saved two worlds.  Who will you be?”  He said nothing, and I turned to Amanda.

“All by yourself, did you?” she said with a sly smile.

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” I responded.  “I couldn’t have done anything without you.”

“Well, it was you who saved my life,” she conceded.

“And it was you who saved mine,” I returned.

“Yeah, well,” she said.  “You tell it your way and I’ll tell it mine.”

And, with that, we kissed.  And I somehow knew everything was going to be all right.  We would make it back to Gold Legend before Amelia died.  The doctor would not follow.  The trolls would leave us alone.  And Amanda and I would live in Mountainlost and Nestra’s castle for the rest of our days.  I knew these things in that moment.  How did I know them?  Call it a vision.  They run in my family.  Sort of.

When we finished our kiss, she kept her face very close to mine and said, “Bibble-Kins gave me your message.”

“Good,” I said without a moment’s hesitation.

“Would it surprise you to know that I love you, too?” she asked.

“Of course not,” I said and kissed her again.  “After all, aren’t I your chosen mate?”

She smiled and grabbed my hand tightly.  “Since we were eight years old,” she said.

“Wait, you’ve known this whole time?” I asked, remembering all the time we’d spent not talking to each other throughout school.

“Of course I have,” she replied simply.  “Haven’t you?”

I guess I couldn’t argue with that.  There was no point wondering why we hadn’t spoken to each other before today.  It was just the way things were.  Everything had happened just as it was supposed to, and when it was supposed to.  Does that mean it was fate or destiny?  Maybe just some kind of magic?  I would have said I wish I knew, but that sort of language was dangerous where I was going.

“Let’s go home,” she said, “our kingdom awaits.”

“A kingdom is nice,” I said.  “But what I need is a family.  Mountainlost, Nestra, even Bibble-kins–  They’re my family now. And, you…”  I kissed her on both cheeks.  “You’re the best kingdom I’ve ever found.”

She nodded and kissed me and then turned and opened her mouth to say her words.  Before any sound came out, she stopped and said, “oh no.  Morty, my love, I’ve forgotten.  You don’t have any words to say to cross over!”

I squeezed her hand tighter still.  “Trust me,” I said.

She smiled.  I think she knew right away what I was going to say.  And, as she said her words and crossed over the barrier between worlds for the last time, I said my own words.

“Amanda’s heart beats in me strong.  Amanda’s heart lives in me long.”

And, with that, we were gone.  Gone home.

THE END

Whew!  Well, it’s been a ride, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  Next week, we’ll all have to shift gears back into one-offs for a while, filled with goofiness, “fourth wall whimsy” and dooftopodes.

Anybody got any suggestions about what you’d like to see in future stories?  Bring ’em on!  Maybe I’ll try to include some next week, maybe I’ll just stockpile suggestions for a rainy day…  You never can tell what’s gonna happen around here.  Anyway, thanks a million if you’ve read the whole “Kingdom Found” saga.  I’ve really enjoyed writing it.  Now, onward and upward!  Or something like that.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Kingdom Found part 14 (story #57)

Well, well, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  Sorry for the delay and here’s hoping it’ll be worth the wait by the time I finish with this week’s installment.  I just spent two hours re-reading the whole saga to get back into the flow, so I’m all caught up (on my own story!) and ready to go.  Hopefully you’ve all done some re-reading yourselves, or perhaps you remember everything already.  Either way, let’s go back to the point where “everything was lost in the moment I drove that troll blade into Amelia’s heart.”

KINGDOM FOUND part 14

As soon as the blade was buried in Amelia’s chest, I heard a sound like the loudest thunderclap ever struck in heaven echoing from the other side of town.

“No!” Nestra screamed and rushed over to where I knelt with Amelia sagging on top of me.  Blood rushed over my hand and I drew it away in disgust, leaving the blade in her heart.  Amelia fell to the ground, clutched weakly at her heart for a moment and then went limp.  All around us the fighting died down, and I knew it would be the last time.  As life left her, the fealty spell weakened.  It was finally the true end to the fighting.  I couldn’t understand what Nestra was so upset about.

“What have you done?” she cried as she bent over Amelia.  To my great shock, she began to whisper words over our fallen enemy.  She was trying to heal her.

“What have I done?” I returned.  “I have taken down our enemy!  I have undone the fealty spell that makes our own people fight against us!  I have fulfilled my destiny!”

Nestra looked up at me with utter panic in her eyes.  “‘As long as I live!'” she said through panicked breaths.  “That’s what she said, Prince Morty!  ‘As long as I live!'”  I shook my head in bewilderment.  I really think I was making an effort not to remember at that point.  The enormity of what I’d done was too much to accept right away.

“Oh no,” I heard the king mutter behind me.  He rushed forward and lifted Amelia’s head.  There was no response.  “Is she..?”

“She lives,” Nestra replied.  “But barely.”

As they spoke, I forced myself to remember.  And my panic immediately matched theirs.  I took care of myself, Amelia had told us.  I cast an enchantment in Gold Legend so that, as long as I live, time in Gold Legend would move as time here does.  If she died, time would leap forward in Gold Legend while we, pretty much the entire population of the kingdom, remained here.  The entire population save one.

Amanda would wither and die and be hundreds of year’s worth of dust before we returned to her, if we ever even could.

Someone pushed past me.  It was the Man at Arms.  He looked down at Nestra holding the witch who had been my mother.  Not knowing how weakened the fealty spell might be, I tensed myself for a fight.  Finally, he spoke.  “My queen,” he said, “tell us what to do and we shall do it.”  She looked up gratefully but, not having any idea of how to proceed, she returned her gaze to Amelia and continued whispering over her.

“Can’t we just wish her back alive?” I asked.

“Some things are beyond wishing,” Nestra said sadly from the ground.

The king stood and looked at me sternly.  “We must get her back,” he said.

“Back to Gold Legend,” I replied.

“Yes,” he said.  “We must get everyone back.  Before she dies.”

“All right,” I said.  “I will give the order for everyone to wish themselves back across the border.  We’ll be home in no time.”

“Oh, Prince,” Nestra said, taking a quick break from her healing words, “you have used the magic, but you do not understand it.  It will take all the magical energy around me to keep her alive, even for a short time.  There will be no wishing in her presence now,  not as long as she lives.”

A perfect paradox.  We couldn’t wish ourselves home as long as she lived, but if she died we may not have had a home to return to.  There was only one thing to do.

“Get her to the breach,” I said to Mountainlost.  Turning to the Man at Arms, I continued.  “See that they move swift and sure.  I fear the thunderclap we heard was the magic failing.  The breach may not be open much longer.  If it remains open at all.”

“What if it is closed to us?” he asked.

“Then God help us all,” I replied.

Mountainlost looked at me quizzically.  “You’re not coming with us, are you?”

I shook my head.  “This world may not be my true home, but I cannot leave it like this,” I said.  “If no magic will work while Nestra is keeping my moth–  Amelia alive, then I will wait here until you have all gone from this place.  Then I will use what wishing time remains in this world to rebuild.”

“Even if we make it back to Gold Legend,” the king said, “if she dies before you can return, you will be lost to us forever.”

“Once I’m through wishing things right here, I will cross the border.  I swear it.”

“And if the breach closes?”  Mountainlost asked.

“I won’t need the breach,” I said.  “It is a noble, a sentimental theory of magic that makes the words work, remember?  I know what to say.”

After a moment, the king smiled.  “I believe you do,” he replied.  “Just see that you say it in good time. We’d hate to lose you, even to a noble end.”  He then turned to survey the assembled throng of humans.  Here and there a few trolls still stood but, with no army to back them up, they were in no mood to fight.

“People,” Mountainlost said in a commanding voice, “this war is over.  If you are of earth, return to your homes and remake your lives as best you can.  If you are trolls, return to Gold Legend and bother us no more on pain of death.  If you are my people, we march.  Now and swiftly.”

“Pick her up,” Nestra said to the Man at Arms.  Several others rushed forward and helped him lift Amelia while Nestra continued to move her hands over the wound and whisper words of healing.

The army of Gold Legend moved out.  I stood in the burned out ruin of the town hall and watched them go.  Many people from my home town watched in bewilderment as well, and then began to slowly head for their homes.  As the army filed past me, many of them waved or shook my hand or cried and called me “highness,” but one stopped.  It was Bibble-kins.  “Don’t be long, now,” he said.

“I’m right behind you,” I replied, and found suddenly that I had to choke back tears.  He looked at me sadly a moment longer, then nodded and turned to leave.  “Bibble-kins,” I said, and he turned back to face me.  “If you see Amanda–” I said, and then stopped myself.  “When you see Amanda,” I corrected, “tell her…  Tell her that I love her.  That I’ve always loved her.”

Tears stood out in his eyes.  “What if she still doesn’t remember you, my prince?” he said.

“Tell her anyway,” I replied.

He hesitated a moment longer.  “What if she doesn’t remember me?” he said through tears that finally fell.

“Remind her,” I said.  “Now go, you big, beautiful fuzzball.”

He smiled and nodded and turned away.  I watched him leave knowing that it would be his fluffy black tail that would disappear last, telling me when to start wishing the town back in order.

****

I rebuilt the town hall first.  I thought about making a huge wish to cover all the destruction that had been made, but I realized that “normal” people from earth need some sort of order to hang onto.  The town had been destroyed and almost everyone knew it.  So just snapping everything back to normal would probably be as much of a brain scramble as anything else that had happened this day.  So I wished things up one at a time, and got creative with things like scaffolding and partially built top floors.  Hopefully, by the next morning, everyone would be part of the rebuilding of the town and it would all work itself out in the end.  By then, I hoped to be long gone.  They could sort out what was left.

Eventually, I got around to the street where I grew up.  There wasn’t too much destruction there, but I walked down the street anyway.  Some of my old neighbors watched me from the safety of their windows.  I waved at the first few I saw, but when they scuttled back from the windows in fear, I kind of gave up on being friendly.  These weren’t my people anymore, and I guess they knew it as well as I did.

When I got to my old house I just stood there for a moment.  This was where I had grown up.  This was where I had loved a woman who turned out to be the enemy of everything that was true in my life.  This was where I was lied to for years, where my real life was stolen from me.  I had wished the rest of the town back up.  This house I wished down.

When nothing was left, not a stick, not a brick, I turned and walked back up the street.  I would give the town a quick once over and then make my way to my real home.  I could only hope that the army had made it to the breach, and that Nestra was still managing to keep Amelia clinging to life.  I could only hope.  But as I reached the end of the street and turned, I saw what was waiting for me just past the corner and I stopped hoping.

It was Dr. Desnipes.

He was leaning against a tree just watching me.  There was still a hideous gash in his clothes where I had stabbed him earlier, but apparently the transformation of turning into a troll had sealed the wound even when he was returned to human form.  He smiled at me and I saw in his eyes that he was quite literally insane.  I guess dying and turning into a troll and then turning back into a human will do that to you.  Especially when you were at least halfway there to begin with.  He stepped forward and pointed a bony finger in my face, all the while holding his other hand behind his back.

“What have you done with my house?” he said.

“I destroyed it,” I said evenly.  “It destroyed me, so I destroyed it.”

He laughed.  “How melodramatic,” he said, stepping closer still.  “Tell me, little prince, are you done rebuilding this wretched town?  Because we have unfinished business, you and I.  And, as you may recall, it’s not really your town after all.  It’s mine.  So, are you done playing savior?  I find the role very ironic, considering that all of this is your fault.”

“My fault?” I said.  “You’re the one who broke down the wall.”

“And you’re the one who wished her across it,” he returned.  My heart sank.  I guess he could see it on my face.  “Oh, yes,” he continued, “I wished the wall down this morning, and I knew I’d let people in.  But I still didn’t know I could get out.  I thought I might die if I crossed the breach, you see?  I was still so frightened this morning.  So I was making trolls left and right in that forest, avoiding the hole in the world.  And then I saw her.  Your little princess just appeared at the top of a hill and she was dancing, dancing.  She danced right out of Gold Legend and into your arms.  And I knew then that the barrier could be crossed.  You see, silly little prince?  You were my key to finally getting out.”

“You were there?” I said.

“I saw you dancing,” he said, stepping closer.  “I saw you kissing.”  He sneered as though the act disgusted him.  “I would have crossed worlds right then, but her awful cat-monster showed up.  So I ran.  And I determined to gather my army, so I could cross worlds in triumph and finally come home!”

“So, what do you want now?” I asked.  “All these years, you’ve been trying to get back here, and now you’re here.  What do you want from me?”

“I want my army!” he screeched, losing his composure entirely.  “I spent ten years building an army to come back and take this stupid little town!  This state, this country, this world!  Do you think I want to be here as a nobody?  As a missing person?  I want my army!  I want my power!  And I WANT MY HOUSE!”

With that, he pulled the sword he had taken from me earlier out from behind his back and thrust it at me.  I leaped out of the way and lost my balance on the curb.  Falling into the street, I tried to roll and gain my feet again, but he brought the sword crashing down on my back.  My armor caved a little and the sound was deafening.  He struck me repeatedly, not even trying to pierce my armor or stab me, but just thrashing me to keep me off my feet.

“You took everything from me!” he cried while beating me with my own sword.  “Everything I’ve been working for, everything I’ve thought about and wanted for the last ten years!  You took her away from me!  I did it all for her, and now she’s gone!  She’s gone!  I loved her, and she’s gone!”

“It was just a spell!” I shouted, trying to roll over and face him.  “She put a spell on you to make her love you!”

“It doesn’t matter why!  After ten years, it doesn’t matter!  You took my hopes!  You took my dreams!”

I managed to roll over onto my back and look up at him.  He was out of breath and staring down at me with wide eyes.

“And you tried to kill me,” he finished.

All I could think of was the breach closing across town, and Amelia slowly dying, and my chance of returning to Gold Legend while my friends still lived fading further away with each moment I stayed here in this world.  I saw him raising the sword above his head for a fatal strike, and made my peace with the fact that, if they were safe, it might just have to be good enough for me.

That didn’t mean I couldn’t get in one last jab.

“I didn’t try to kill you,” I said.  “I did kill you, you crazy bastard.”

He brought the sword down with all his might, and it stopped a foot away from my face with the loudest clash of metal I have ever heard.  I looked to see what had stopped his blade and there standing over me, shining brilliantly in the afternoon sun, stood Amanda in full battle armor.

Art by Holly Knevelbaard

“Trying to kill an unarmed man, Doctor?” she said.  “And here I thought we were fighting civilized warfare.”

The doctor backed away, fear etched across his face.  Amanda lowered the visor on her helmet and raised her sword in challenge.

“My father, the king, sends his regards,” she said.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, that was fun.  Hope it was worth waiting for.  Next week should be a capper.

See you in seven (for real),

the SotWC

 
 

What is this, the Story of the MONTH Club?!?

No, dear readers!  I tell you, no!  The Story of the Week Club is not now, nor will be in the foreseeable future, retreating to “monthly” status.  But between getting a new job, getting a new house, and touring the east coast for two weeks, May has been a crazy month!  Things are calming down a bit now (finally!) and I assure you that next Monday night, the “Kingdom Found” saga will be renewed.  You (like me!) may want to take the days in between to brush up on where we’ve come from, where we’ve been, and where we left things.  I’m excited to get back to the ongoing climax of the story.  Thanks for you patience and understanding.  Or at least for not flaming the crap out of me in the past month.  🙂

See you on Monday,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Announcements