Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo '09, Chapter Thirty: Peer Pressure

The below is a section of the novel that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month. It isn't a stand-alone story, and it's probably not worth your time to read. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month so wordcount is valued above quality. This is a good thing, as it encourages people to actually finish a project. Nobody expects that the result will be ready for public consumption without heavy editing. If you want to read it for some reason you can view the whole thing in one place HERE although that's still totally unedited and terrible. You have been warned.

There's a field somewhere in Southern California where the body of Darryl Holst appears like magic. Abracadabra. His heart beats once, twice, and then is still. A moment ago I was in a pirate's cave, staring at an older version of myself. It got me thinking.

When Black - I'll have to keep thinking of him as Black to prevent confusion - said that agent Ferris was wrong, he didn't see the truth. It was right there in front of him. When I looked at Darryl I could see millions of threads streaming away from him, and some were going... elsewhere. Not in any real direction. That's where I am now.

"You're not supposed to be here. This doesn't happen."
It's hard to say where that voice is coming from. It's not even a real sound, I don't think. It's Darryl's voice, but that hardly narrows it down - I'm surrounded by a sea of Darryls, all frozen in looks of shock, despair, pain. Some are covered in scars, some look like old men. A million different variations.
"It's happening now, Darryl." They're not happy with this. I'm not exactly thrilled myself - I was expecting to find two at the most.

"David dies."
"He comes back with us, and fights us."
"No, he comes back and helps."
"Shut up."
"He was already dead, Extracted."
"He is alive when we leave him."
"Shut up."
"Dave and the others were all killed, they got dumped in the park two blocks down from the Squid."
"Dave is right here, in front of us."
"Shut up, shut up, shut up."

The voices are echoing all around me. My god, they've gone insane. How long have they been arguing like this?
"How have you been doing it? How have you been forcing things to happen the same way every time?"
There's a long pause, and some murmuring, and then a single but somehow disjointed voice answers me.
"We can influence things. Small things. A nudge, a push. We can see probable outcomes, sometimes. Recently... we can talk to ourselves. To Darryl."

It looks like a swirling purple cloud all around me, with frozen versions of Darryl bobbing gently in the fog. My original surprise has colored my judgment; there are maybe as few as thirty or forty of him. For all the good that does. "You've been destroying Disney on purpose, haven't you? You've been forcing that to happen."
As before, it takes a moment for the consensus voice to answer. "Yes. Traveling back links us to... to the true source of these abilities. The power is amazing. We cannot control him when he first awakens, and people die. If at first you don't succeed, manipulate events and guarantee that the timeline will provide you with the ability to try, try again. We only need to get it right once. We have all the time in the world."
They're just going to make it worse. Ferris was right for all the wrong reasons; Darryl really was being manipulated by someone. Black was right too - it has to stop somehow.

I reach out a hand, and the closest Darryl unfreezes, crumples to the fog, and expires. A scream of rage echoes through the cloud.

I'm in the Drowned Spider, with Emily at my side. She's offering to buy me a shot because she thinks it's funny when I get drunk and try to explain physics to her. I take her up on the offer, and as soon as she turns her back I press my palm against the back of her head. She looks like Darryl again, with a long beard and torn clothes. He drops like a marionette with its strings cut, and the bar vanishes.

I'm sixteen, in the lab. Doctor Toht is asking me to help someone whose only ability seems to be making iron oxidize - just a thin layer on the outside. I remember that I was having a dream, something about a girl named Emily and a place with purple fog. It doesn't seem to matter now. I show the man how to reach inside iron and weaken it, and when doctor Toht congratulates me I seize his hand and squeeze it until a young, tattoo-covered Darryl falls down dead.

I'm back in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm in my mother's kitchen. I'm sleeping on a couch at an old friend's apartment. Over and over.

Finally it stops, and I'm facing a single frozen Darryl. He's maybe seventeen, with a long scar across the middle of his face. He's frozen with his features contorted in agony, tears running down his cheeks.
"I need to fix everything. You can't do it, you don't know how it happens. It needs to happen all the same, all but the final step. You can't do this without me. You need me. The first time, my time, it wasn't me. Disneyland was destroyed much, much later with the rest of Anaheim. If you stop me now, that is the reality that will assert itself. This will all start over. You need me here to stop that." I place my hand on his head, gently.
"No. It's time for you to sleep. Let me try this one for a while. Subtle manipulation is kind of my thing."
And at that, he collapses with a sigh.

There's a field somewhere in Southern California where forty-two bodies of Darryl Holst appear like magic. Abracadabra. When construction begins there in a year, the obvious pile of bodies goes somehow unnoticed even as it is bulldozed and covered over by the foundation of a new block of condominiums.

There's a group home somewhere nearby where a boy named David is dreaming. They're dreams about super powers, and ways to make the world a better place, and a girl named Emily.

When he wakes up he thinks about what might be, and what might have been, and he sits down to write a story. Just fiction. "Once upon a time, there was a magical kingdom where everyone was happy."

It's a start.