Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fabi: Um... Do You Have Any Antacids?

((I don't even know what this is. Sorry. Figured I may as well post it, though.))

Fabi blinked and tried not to fall over. She was standing under a large, faded wooden sign that said "Welcome to Eastwest."
She looked around. A homeless man was hiding behind a newspaper. It would have been a better hiding spot if he'd unrolled the newspaper first.
Fabi may have ever-so-slightly panicked and ran off into the forest.
Another thing to beat herself up over later. As if it wasn't bad enough that she was stuck in another dimension, when she'd had the information she'd needed to stop the whole thing from happening. She wondered who else had been shunted. It had been a huge demonstration, and so many of her friends had probably been there. She pulled out her cellphone as an experiment, but there was no signal. Well, it had been a bit of a long shot anyway.
Fabi moved quietly through the woods, around the perimeter of the town. She didn't want to see people, didn't want to talk to them. Part of her was irrationally afraid that she would stand out like an elephant among flies, that something about her was so obviously not from around here, the townsfolk wouldn't accept it. And even if they did, would she get to stay here? Would she want to stay here?
She curled into a ball under a tree, covering her head with her hands. This had to be a nightmare.
She didn't wake from it.
Okay, Fabi. Snap out of it.
She stood, and went to look for something she could eat.
She was usually vegetarian, but she couldn't be, not here. It was a lot safer to eat unknown animals than unknown plants, and even though she recognized a few leaves as edible, she wasn't sure if they were edible here. Maybe she was panicking about this whole new-dimension thing too much, but she didn't want to risk it.
A few hours and a roasted rabbit later, she remembered why she didn't eat meat. Her stomach was so queasy. She had made sure the rabbit was cooked thoroughly, at least she thought she had. It wasn't like she cooked rabbits regularly.
Of course, she didn't have any antacid tablets.
Fabi stood shakily. Hopefully the people in this dimension still got indigestion. She couldn't avoid talking to people forever.
The homeless man was still under the Eastwest sign, and he took several steps back when he saw her. She sighed, and hoped he wouldn't start spreading rumors or something. She could teleport away if she needed to, but she doubted the locations would line up right, so she was reluctant to try.
There were a few people around in the little town, and they all stared at her. She grimaced. How was she supposed to ask where the drugstore was? If there was one... She was beginning to doubt it.
Her stomach ache wasn't worth this feeling of not belonging. She turned to go back to the forest... And saw a tiny door marked 'Pharmacy.' It was in the corner of a closed grocery store, and the door was dusty.
Fabi quickly unstuck the lock and pushed the door open. A quick look around the place told her that everything there had probably expired long ago. Still, though, it was a shelter somewhere a bit away from all the stares. But someone had probably seen her come in. She couldn't stay. She turned around and went back the way she came.
"Are you lost, ma'am?" There was an old couple standing behind her. The man who had spoken looked nice enough, but what was Fabi supposed to say? 'I accidentally came here from another dimension, and by the way, magic is real?'
She settled for a stammered apology. "I-I'm sorry. I'm not supposed to be here. I'll go now."
The couple exchanged a glance, then the woman asked, "Do you have a headache?"
"Most of the town has been complaining of headaches for awhile now," the man explained.
"Well... I don't have a headache. I'm not from around here, though. Sorry?" Fabi winced at the man's glare.
"Don't worry, hon," the woman said comfortingly, reaching out to give Fabi a reassuring pat on the shoulder. Fabi stepped back. "None of us would press charges against someone as young as you. If you can just tell us what it is you used, and how you distributed it, we can..."
"I didn't do anything! I just got here earlier this afternoon." Fabi was sure her face was bright red. She hoped they'd believe her, though of course, they had no reason to.
The man narrowed his eyes. "Lying is a sin, young lady. I'll have my eye on you."
The woman reached her hand out again, then thought better of it. "Just please, stop now, okay?"
They hustled off, but the scene had attracted so much attention already. Fabi felt like she could sink into the ground and disappear. Her stomach was still queasy, but that was hardly important now.
"Don't mind them," a voice said. "Leroy and Ursula are both extremely paranoid. The headaches are probably from nothing more than pollen, or potentially dehydration. Now, what did you need medicine for? I may be able to help."
Fabi turned to see a woman in her thirties with a blouse that actually looked like it had been white once. She was about to say something, but a man in plaid cut her off.
"Ms. Quinn, you can't seriously be trusting this stranger!"
"Who said anything about trusting her? I'm just offering to help with her..." Ms. Quinn looked closely at Fabi, analyzing. "Stomach ache, correct?"
Fabi nodded slowly. "I'll be fine, though."
The man in plaid frowned. "I think you should leave this town now."
"Mr. Fitzgerald, if we continue to treat strangers in this manner, we will have no one to run to if something happens to this place."
"What are you suggesting? We don't need another mouth to feed around here! And what could happen to this place, anyway?"
Ms. Quinn turned to fully face Mr. Fitzgerald, and paced around him in a circle, pounding her fist into her hand. "There could be a forest fire--" Pound. "The river could flood--" Pound. "We could all turn on each other and end up tearing the town apart--" She took a moment to glare at him before pounding her fist again. "We could have trouble with bears or cougars. Just because no one's seen them in years doesn't mean they're not out there--" Pound. "If we don't treat people with common courtesy, they will have no reason to do so for us."
Mr. Fitzgerald looked around at the other townsfolk, who all shook their heads at him.
"When I was a boy, we actually had to respect the people I'm charge," one man muttered.
Mr. Fitzgerald stormed off in a huff.
"Well, then." Ms. Quinn looked around, then gestured to a teenager who was leaning against the wall of a nearby building. "Daniel, run down to my place and grab the blue jar on the third shelf of the medicine cabinet. Don't take anything else, I'll notice." Daniel didn't move, so Ms. Quinn held out a five-dollar bill and waved it. That got him moving. "Quickly now."
"It's alright," Fabi said as the townsfolk began to disperse. "I don't want to be a bother..." Her stomach was still queasy, but nerves always made it worse, so maybe it'd go away once she wasn't in the spotlight.
"You can't go until Daniel brings back the medicine. I didn't argue with Fitzgerald so I could let you just leave like that."
"Oh..." Fabi was silent until the teenager returned with a jar of antacid tablets. After Ms. Quinn gave him his money, Daniel handed Fabi the jar.
"You probably don't want to stick around," he muttered. "Eastwest isn't the most open-hearted place you could find."
"Thanks for the warning," Fabi said, taking a tablet from the jar and popping it into her mouth. After all this fuss,she couldn't stop here and not have the antacid.
"No problem." Daniel went back to leaning against the wall and looking bored.
Fabi stood there awkwardly, then offered the jar to Ms. Quinn. "Thank you..."
Ms. Quinn waved her off. "Keep it. I'll get Anna to make more if anyone needs it. You need anything else? Socks? Water? A place to stay the night? There's a bed in the loft of the barn. No one uses it. Might be a bit cold, though."
"I'll be fine." Fabi turned to go back the way she'd come.
"Suit yourself." Ms. Quinn shrugged and walked off in the opposite direction.

Fabi slowed as she reached the woods again. The further she walked, the more she felt like she'd explode. Finally, she collapsed in a heap under a tree, silent tears flowing from her eyes. She didn't usually get homesick, maybe because before Blogland, she hadn't had any one place to grow attached to. Now, though... She was farther from home than she'd imagined she could be, and she didn't know if she'd ever be back. She didn't want to admit how much that scared her.

((Heh... Aretha portrayed the feel of my dimension better than I did. I got completely diverted by an antacid tablet. Oops.))

((Hopefully I'll have a more relevant chapter soon.))

((Happy New Year, y'all!))

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Aretha Tesla: Dimension One

I might post this before I'm finished with it, just so that if anyone else wrote themselves in the same time and place as me, I can either change it or collaborate or something, for consistency. Also, if you made up any details about the dimension that don't match mine, you can tell me and I'll change that. Consistency is very important to me, and can be slightly difficult in a story with loose boundaries that we're all writing together. :p

"Oh," Aretha said, not pleased or irritated, just surprised, and maybe a little amused.

"It would appear that we've left the demonstration," Niccolo added, in a similar tone.

"Yes, it certainly would. So..."

"We've been shunted. There were a few mages tampering with the machine recently; it is safe to assume they are the cause of our current situation. It is also safe to assume that they have ill intentions. They succeeded in gathering many high-ranking government officials in one place at one time, so it is also likely that there are others from our dimension who have been stranded here, and that this dimension is meant to compromise us in some fashion." He paused for a moment, closing his eyes, and I could feel him searching for a way to shunt back. He shook his head. "Its energy is too unbalanced. I'm more likely to shunt us into oblivion than back to the demonstration."

I took a deep breath. "Then I guess we just survive." He nodded.

I think it best that we communicate mentally from this point forward, he thought, his voice just as rich in my mind as it was out loud, if this dimension is meant to harm us, there may be any number of surveillance methods employed against us.

Right, I replied with a curt nod, and looked around a bit. Of course, from the moment his feet touched foreign ground Niccolo had been absorbing all sorts of information about our surroundings. There were squirrels in the half-dead trees- they'd appeared in some kind of forest- and a few rodents and raccoons scurried across the ground. There were a few deer, too, but it seemed as though the whole planet was half dead, so it was probably best not to kill those. If we were there long enough to need to eat, we'd take a squirrel.

The trees grew healthier in one direction, so we followed it until we came to a river. Niccolo gave the water a glance and tasted it before I had a chance to warn him. Of course, he knew it might be poisoned, and I knew he could handle poison, but I didn't want him to use too much of his energy early on, since we'd probably need it later. Luckily, he determined that while it wasn't perfectly fresh, the worst it would give me would be a headache, so it should be safe to drink.

Well, I started, we should probably-

Don't let your guard down, he cut me off, because as much as I knew I shouldn't I had started to let my guard down, and I'd probably continue to do so without some source of stress, but yes, I believe we ought to create some form of shelter for ourselves here. And for a moment I marveled at the fact that suddenly being thrown into a new dimension didn't constitute a source of stress in my mind. It isn't that you've changed, he commented, explaining, only that you've lost so much. Everything you might have longed to return to in your dimension is gone. Your duties are not, but as you've been stranded here in the line of duty, you need not concern yourself with those for the time being. He was right, of course. And we headed off in search of a place to make camp.

Soon enough we came across the shambled remains of an old factory, and took shelter beneath a large fallen concrete slab. We returned to the forest to catch two squirrels, and Niccolo cooked them over a small fire. He kept the flames hot and put the fire out quickly, unwilling to allow too much smoke to betray our location. I went to retrieve some water, and we teleported back to the overhang so that if anyone had seen the smoke, they still wouldn't have any tracks to follow, and I struggled to fall asleep as the sun fell over the rusted sky.

It's beautiful... And actually very steampunk, in a way. Dying forests, dilapidated factories, and red skies... The twins would have loved it. To the mortal world, I was dead. And a murderer. My life there was over, and of course that meant I could never see my mortal friends again, no matter how much I wanted to. Six sisters, gone.

You say that as though they've died. One of them has, I know, but the rest are alive and well, despite your absence.

Well is a relative term, I replied, a few tears slipping out. They were never really happy, and I-

Aretha, listen. They may not have spent their whole lives happy, but neither have they spent all their lives suffering. They are moving on, and you need to as well.

I took a deep breath, and nodded, letting the tears dry on my face. He was right. Again.

And now you must rest, he reminded me, tossing his heavy (and surprisingly soft, for a garment full of knives) jacket over me. He shifted into a cat and curled up beside me, purring softly, and even though I knew he wouldn't sleep, he stayed there long after I was calm enough to slip into dreams.

I woke before sunrise, but wasn't especially tired, so I decided not to try to fall back asleep. You're still here, I commented, surprised to find the black cat still at my side.

Of course, he replied smoothly, where else might I have gone?

I don't- oh! A quick glance at his memories gave me my answer. You kept the nightmares away.


You know they don't really bother me, though. I mean, I know it's just a dream...

I am fully aware of that. He kept them from me anyway.

Ok then. Do you want to sleep? He politely declined, having already slept for exactly two hours, and after splitting another squirrel for breakfast we headed off to explore. Teleporting wouldn't be wise, Niccolo explained, because the places we remember from our world were probably drastically different and potentially dangerous here, so we went on foot. Well, hoof. We were sitting ducks if we kept still, and we wanted to find whatever traps the strangers had set before they found us. We needed a way to move swiftly with minimal fear of recognition, so Niccolo shifted into a black horse, making certain the bottoms of his hooves were soft so they wouldn't clack against the ground, and I wore his coat, the hood that he made in it covering my face. We raced out of wherever we had been, flying past a sleeping stranger beneath a sign, and kept just outside of the road.

We determined it unsafe to talk to any locals. Or anyone at all, really. If we saw someone we knew, we would make sure they were really who we thought they were, and then follow at a distance. The safest thing was to make sure that no one knew where we were. I imagined we looked like some sort of specter, tearing down the edge of the street with the long black coat flying out in the breeze, my face shrouded in shadow, and although Niccolo's hooves pounded in quick succession against the ground we remained completely silent.

Wait, slow down a bit, I asked him as we entered an old city. Let's look around. He slowed to a walk so I could glance about the broken buildings, occasionally picking up his pace to jump over bits of rubble blocking our path. The air was laden down with eerie silence and stagnation. Dust was everywhere, as if the buildings had just collapsed one day and no one ever touched them again. I found a hand sticking out from under a large piece of cement, put it was already old and decaying.

It doesn't look like anyone's been here for years. Like, even the dust is perfectly intact, save for where we just stepped. If this is a trap, it's a really overly elaborate one. I pointed out, beginning to doubt that we had anything to fear from the city. Where we first appeared was a different story, but here- it would take so much effort for one group of people to construct and age a whole city entirely from scratch, and just as hard to turn an existing one into a death trap without leaving so much as a footprint, and on top of that the people who sent us here had no guarantee we would come to this city. They made their adjustments to the shunting machine last minute, so it wasn't likely they would have created something so detailed, and if they had, they wouldn't have left so many variables.

Excellent observation, he agreed, I've been considering this as well. It seems unlikely that anything about this dimension we've observed thus far was specifically designed to harm us in any way. While that possibility still exists, it is more probable that they intended to trap us here indefinitely, or even that sending us to this particular dimension was unintentional. Either way, for the moment, we were trapped, and all we could do was just keep living until we found a way out.

We kept our pace at a walk as we made our way through the city, conserving our energy in case we might need it later. "Stop!" I suddenly yelled aloud, our agreement to refrain from speaking forgotten.

What is it? He came to a halt immediately, and I could feel the concern radiating off of him. Too struck to respond, I slipped lightly off his back and ran towards a nearby building, quickly slowing down as I approached. When I was only a few feet away, I knelt down and reached out a hand. "Hey, little kitty," I cooed softly, "What are you doing here?"

Niccolo breathed deeply, relieved, and I felt his amusement. If silence weren't valuable he would have laughed. You care too much, he suggested fondly.

You care too little, I replied in the same tone, but we both knew that wasn't true. "Come here, little kitty," I kept spoke softly as I slowly approached the yellow kitten huddled in a crevice of crumbling brick, "I promise I'm softer than those bricks." Eventually the tiny cat pricked up his ears, and I stopped a few inches away, waiting to see if he'd come to me. He did. "Aww, look at you," I murmured, scooping him up, "You are so small." He fit easily in my hands. I moved a thick knife from Niccolo's coat to my pocket, and tucked the shivering kitten into my pocket, which had become quite warm, and headed back towards Niccolo.

Aretha, he warned gently, Much as I know you wish to, we cannot keep the cat. Before you refuse, consider how difficult it may become to keep him alive, should any dangers emerge. I thought for a moment, then sighed with resignation. He was right. I kept the cat in his coat anyway, waiting to put it back until it stopped shivering. After a few minutes, I heard a meow stronger than one any kitten was capable of producing, and I set the kitten gently on the ground before running back towards Niccolo. The second cat was a fully grown calico, who quickly lifted the yellow kitten by the scruff of his neck and ran off again. I smiled, and we kept walking.

This is not yet finished- I have to write the rest of the second day and then the third, which is when we'll be shunted again. If you guys have any notes or want to collaborate or anything, let me know, otherwise I'll just keep writing on my own.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fabi: Dimension One

The dimension:

It’s post-apocalyptic, I suppose. Houses are still houses, and there are some rebuilt cars (mostly vans and buses for transporting large numbers of people). (Also, they no longer run on gas, but a combination of common kitchen oils) There’s still a water system, faucets, etc. No TV or internet, though. There’s radio, but it’s mostly used to communicate, and there’s no music or anything. Electricity has been rediscovered, but complicated machines and things like that are mysteries. The magical community was completely destroyed, but there are a few solo mages around the edge of things. Where once there were major cities, you will find abandoned urban wastelands, though a few people still live at the edges and scavenge. Also, most factories either were exploded or abandoned, so store products are limited. And there are no airplanes.

Magical abilities—Teleporting is probably a bad idea. You would appear in the same location on the earth, but the stuff there will likely be different, (i.e. the Irish Sanctuary collapsed into rubble) so you might end up in an unpleasant situation.

The dimensional balance is off, making it hard to focus on the dimension you want to shunt to, meaning that if you tried, you’d probably end up stuck between universes and cease to exist. Unless you got lucky, and then you would flicker back to where you started in about seven minutes.

Other disciplines should be unaffected, I believe.

I’m highlighting a village called Eastwest, which corresponds geographically with the theater, though you may have your character appear elsewhere, as there is an element of chaos involved.

Eastwest is surrounded by forest. There’s a river running through on the north side, which is filtered down to drinking water by a process that only the Water Manager (by default), a Mr. Rutger, understands. There's a River Road that runs past the town and follows the river. There’s a creepy homeless guy who sleeps under the Welcome to Eastwest sign, and he will be extremely surprised at any form of kindness.

There are these buildings and some others.

· An abandoned library
· A Lighthouse with no clear purpose, as there is no sea nearby, and the river isn’t especially treacherous. Lighthouse interior is equipped like any ordinary lighthouse, but the bulb burnt out.
· A Water Plant
· Police/Fire Station [With one vehicle that is a lot less sophisticated than a firetruck, but has a ladder and a hose]
The house of the mayor at the edge of town
· A school
· Other things. I don’t care.

Also, you can invent your own inhabitants of this dimension as desired.

Oh, btw, the water's poisoned. It won't really affect you unless you've been drinking it for a long time,  though. The townspeople will generally complain of headaches, but besides that, you'd have absolutely no reason to expect the water to be poisoned unless you saw it happening or read minds or something.

Let me know if you have any questions, or want to collab (I have Fabi, the homeless guy and a few other locals I have ideas for).

I'm hoping the next dimension will be posted in two weeks. If you finish a chapter for this one late, though, that's okay, just make sure it's labeled so readers know where it fits in.

Any volunteers to write the next dimension are welcome, and just do whatever you and your characters like with this one.