Deleted Draft: Drelkensoul Story

This was started with the prompt, “As our story came to a close, I realized we were the villains all along.” Where I went became a bit of a mess. I created a species, the drelkensoul, for N’Zembe, but didn’t have a solid idea how the function. Not only that, but I didn’t have any sort of plan and my loose plot was a convoluted idea. This may get a rewrite/complete restart, but for now, here it is:

As our story came to a close, I realized that we were the villains all along. By then, though, it was too late. All was said and done, we had already faced our judgment, we were dead. I had always assumed that after death was nothing, but it seems I was wrong. Otherwise I would be unable to record our story. It is my hope that others will avoid our path to destruction, learn from our mistakes, be better than we were.

I don’t blame anyone who assumes this whole tale, including our deaths, is a hoax. But what does it matter? I lived it, so did they. I won’t try to convince anyone of the truth of my recollection by claiming to have been tasked to write my adventure by one of the gods. Yes, there is a multiplicity of deities. There are many, both benevolent and malevolent, in balance.

This is not a religious text, so I shall move on. Surely it is more important to know who we were and what we did that was so terrible. At least, terrible in retrospect. I never realized until after we had died that we had done anything wrong, inflicted pain upon so many. I didn’t know what we truly were until it was too late.

I had my suspicions that we were villainous, but never were they very great. Our people were not known for their kindness anyway, but rather our cruelty and ruthlessness. We were drelkensheath.

I’m not sure how old I was when I became aware of another entity within me. Yes, another entity. A literal separate being inhabiting my body.

We fought for quite some time over control of my being, the external portion of it, at least. Eventually, I was offered a compromise.

Share this vessel with me, and I will grant you unfathomable power–power that will free you from your dependence on the sea. I can still hear those words in my mind, even now that I’m dead.

Knowing the alternative was to continue fighting, as the spirit had made clear he was unwilling to leave, I readily agreed.

Peace brought a strange sense of cohabitation within my own body. I was no longer one person, but two in disguise, if this other creature was even to be considered a person. Are they even a creature? The gods are unwilling to entertain my questions, so I’ll likely never know.

When I rose upon the fertile land, I soon met others like me–drelkensheath who were now cohabiting their own bodies, vessels as the spirits called them. We decided to band together, the seven of us. Perhaps we’d survive better, figure ourselves out quicker, understand these new abilities.

“Hey, we need to leave! Everyone get up!” I yelled at the five still laying on their mats.

Adesola consistently woke up early enough for us to leave, but she had also been out of water the longest–she was the most at home on land.

On Hiatus: Shapeshifter Story

This is a new series featuring partial and incomplete drafts of stories that I hope to come back to sometime after I finish Mystical Warriors. The length and quality vary and the amount of work I would need to do to revive the story are debateable.

This is all of this particular story. I didn’t get very far along before abandoning it. I have some clue of the plot and where it is meant to go, though, so it’s still a story I could come back to.

The darkness pervaded the room as well as my thoughts. They had arrived early; I wasn’t ready for what lay ahead. I was different; they had sent that back after the rigorous tests had been analyzed in three stages. No one has ever known for certain what they’re testing for, just that they’re trying to separate something. Anyone who has it gets sent away to the somewhere that supposedly exists nowhere.

They rapped on the door again. I knew if I didn’t go out to them, they’d come in to me. Rolling off my bed, I opened the door. As I trudged across the room, I snatched up the heavily-packed bag containing my basic belongings.

“You take nothing with you into the Nowhere,” the leader-looking man dead-panned, though I sensed the capital n on nowhere nonetheless.

As my mind started to go into overload, I dropped the bag. I was allowed no personal belongings but the clothes on my back, and I was being forced from my home. I crossed the threshold of my bedroom, my personal space, my hand lingered on the door frame.

“We must leave immediately.”

“Can I at least say–”

“No,” the voice is firm and I recognized my inability to argue here; I had no rights.

I nodded, submitting, following them out to the government-issued van that would transport me. The blackness, seemingly no stars, the missing moon, encased me without hesitation. How fitting that on this night I was to be taken away to the Nowhere. As the spacious van rumbled away, the inside as black with the lights off as my bedroom and the night outside, I found myself tensing in anticipation of the worst.

The ride was long and dark as well as silent. I didn’t realize I was sleeping until I was shaken awake by rough hands. Once I was somewhat conscious, I was dragged from the dark van toward a large, poorly-lit building.

“You will be assigned a dorm in the morning. Tonight you will reside in this guest bedroom. You will also be assigned a gray uniform–once you are in your section you will receive a colored uniform.”

I was too tired to fully take in what was said as I collapsed on the twin bed, falling asleep once more.

~*~*~*~*~

Bright light passing through my eyelids woke me. I sat up, rubbed my eyes, and looked around at the cramped “guest bedroom” I had lodged in.

I’m still wearing my shoes, I thought suddenly.

I didn’t bother taking them off, but sat with my legs hanging off the edge of the bed while reading a list that was on the bedside table.

I had just finished reading this long list, seemingly of things I needed to to today, when the door opened.

“Follow me,” a black haired woman wearing a gray uniform quickly turned around without waiting for a response.

I quickly moved to obey. No reason to start my time in this new place punished. Without consideration, I abandoned the to-do list in the guest bedroom.

She guided me to an office-like room. The woman at the desk stood and came over with a measuring tape.

After measuring me, the woman led me through the next door. She handed me a gray uniform and then left. I quickly changed into it, not sure what to do with my clothes. I hoped to keep them, but realized that was unlikely.

“Leave those here and come. Classes are starting soon.”

I followed her through hallway after hallway, hopelessly confused about direction.

Finally, she stopped in front of a door. She opened it and gestured for me to enter.

“Good morning, Miss Reinback. Class, please welcome our newest student, Meran Fonshil.”

Everyone clapped, but they seemed quite bored.

The teacher, Miss Reinback gestured to the room’s only empty desk, “Please sit, Fonshil.”

I sat down and the black haired woman spoke, “Fonshil will be sharing a dorm with Crein. Twilth will move in with Gohn.”

I glanced around to see three girls nodding, knowing one of them was now my roommate.

The black haired woman left, and Miss Reinback finished the roll she had evidently been taking, scribbling my name at the end.

“As most of you already know, you have been brought to the Nowhere to unlock your full potential. The way to that will be different for each of you. Once you have accomplished this task, you will be sorted into a color category.”

Miss Reinback pulled down the white sheet in front of the board for the slide shows. She walked to the back of the room, turning on her computer.

“Blue, red, yellow, purple, orange, green, black, and white. You will be in one of these categories. You’ll be in classes with others of your color and will share a dorm with another of your color.”

A boy in the front raised his hand.

“Yes, Lenthris?”

“Will we ever get to see the color uniformed students before then? And anyway, what even is our ‘full potential’ that you harp on?”

“No, you will not. I can’t tell you what your full potential is because I don’t actually know.”

A number of students groaned.

Ignoring their protests, Miss Reinback droned on about what things would be like after we had colored uniforms.

Finally, she stopped and said, “It is time for you to all go to the gym.”

Everyone stood and filed one after another out the door. I followed in silence with everyone else. I tried to note how to get there, but found myself confused and lost again.

 

The Hunters and the Hunted (Short Story)

This was based on a prompt, which is the first two sentences.

“Should we let him know we’re on to him?”

“Now where’s the fun in that? The enjoyment is in the chase and capture, not the fear!”

Whispering voices are audible from my place deep in the alley. I hang in the darkness, watching, waiting. The two figures hover near the walls of the alley, looking out into the dimly lit street.

If I didn’t know better, I would assume they were speaking of someone else. But I do know better. Lucky for me, the speakers are oblivious to my location. They seem to think I am roaming the street, which I was, shortly prior to overhearing a small portion of their dialogue.

“Where is he? He should have passed this alley by now!”

“How should I know? Doesn’t he live near here?”

“Yes. Unless he ran away from home… At which point he’s unpredictable.”

I never had a home. Not that you could know that.

I bring a hand to my forehead as I notice one of the figures flinch. I sent that thought, albeit accidentally.

“He’s close by. He heard us,” the voice shivers, hardly a breath.

“How do you know?” Suspicion from his counterpart, though his voice lowers as well.

“He spoke to me…”

It was unintentional, I swear.

Both figures stiffen at my now purposeful invasion of their minds.

“Where are you?”

Not your business. Close enough to hear and see you without being seen.

They bolt from the alley, unsurprisingly. Once they are gone, I sigh, realizing I had been holding my breath. Had they heard me, found me… I hate to think what would have happened… What I would have been forced to do

I release the brick of the building I was perched on, dropping silently to the concrete below. My cloak fades, the fabric dissipating into the surrounding air from whence it came. I could not explain how I was able to accomplish this feat if I tried, I still do not know.

My fingertips graze the red-black brick as I lurk out of the alley. A filmy encasement materializes around me, invisibility of a sort, matching my movements.

I stand under the street lamp, deliberating. Do I go home, or do I leave entirely?

Home, as I call it somewhat jokingly, is barely a suitable shelter, and I am alone. Leaving entails forsaking all I have ever known, all I have assumed I would ever know.

But those people… I call them Hunters, and I have no clue what they could do to me. Not long ago, there were others like me, living with me, but they are gone. I do not know what happened to them or where they have been taken, only that it was the Hunters who took them. All the things I might be able to do to them, it might be futile if they are truly Hunters, like those who took my friends…

Leaving is the best option, in the morning I’ll gather my few things and disappear from this place.

Nothing more could be done. Later, perhaps it would be safe to return. Perhaps leaving would prove more disastrous than remaining, but I couldn’t know that until afterwards. I do not know what the world beyond this single city entails, but I will risk that discovery.

I slink home, thinking along the way about departing and what I will need for the journey. Even as short as the trip will be, it will be exhausting. Moving discreetly always is, especially as I will need to steal the provisions, using more energy.

I arrive at the building, lifting myself to the roof in a seemingly effortless manner. I quietly enter the dilapidated roof apartment, falling onto my heap of moth-eaten blankets.

“Good night, world,” I mumble as black overtakes me.

Morning light streaming through my dirt streaked windows wakes me. I roll over onto my back, rubbing my eyes with one of my dirty hands. I pull myself to my feet, looking out the dingy window closest to my bedding.

My thoughts jump back to the previous night and my determination to leave.

No, I can’t. My friends might still be here. If I had been taken, I wouldn’t want them to leave me. I have to find them, even if it puts my life on the line, or almost kills me.

I still need supplies, and I still need to avoid the Hunters from the alley.

~*~*~*~*~

“Hallan, be careful!”

“It’s okay, Analyn, I can do this.”

I clung to the side of our building, most of the way up, about to let go.

I released the building, and Analyn screamed. My feet gently touched the concrete before I immediately returned to stand by Analyn.

Tears streamed down her face and violent sobs choked her.

“Analyn, I’m okay,” she looked up, eyes already red.

“Hallan, you could have died! I thought I’d never see you again!”

I pulled her into my arms, struggling to console her, “Shh, I’m alright. I wasn’t going to get hurt.”

“Don’t do that to me again! I couldn’t bear to lose you, you’re like a brother to me!” She wrapped her arms tightly around my torso, tears beginning to soak my shirt.

“Okay, Ana.”

~*~*~*~*~

“Hallan! You’re back! Oh, I’m so glad you’re safe!”

“So am I. How was everything here at home, Colby?”

He smiled, “Analyn worried about you the whole time, saying things like, ‘He promised he wouldn’t do this to me!’ and ‘I can’t believe he’d do something so reckless!’”

I laughed, “That’s just like Ana! Worried even when I’ve done this a million times.”

Colby nodded, “She wasn’t the only one worried when you didn’t come home on time, though. Leynard and Shelly were too, as was I.”

My face hardened, “I had to take a longer route because there were Hunters.”

His voice shook, “Hunters? You almost got caught?”

I shook my head no, “Of course not. I noticed them, heard their thoughts, and moved away from where they were posted.”

He sighed, “Thank goodness! Were they close to Garter’s?”

“No. They were halfway between his grocery and here.”

He nodded, “Good. I’m glad you’re safe, and the others will be too.”

~*~*~*~*~

“Hey, Leynard! Wake up!”

A grunt escaped the sleeping boy, “No!”

“It’s morning. We have food!”

He sat up sleepily, but with sparkling eyes, “Food?”

“Mhm, food. Want some?” I knew he did, we all did.

“Duh!”

Analyn and Colby laughed. Of all of us, Leynard was the most obsessed with food, eating as much as we would let him and asking for more if there was any.

“I made a cake!” Shelly exclaimed excitedly, having used her powers for one of the first times.

“Mmm, cake!” Leynard practically drooled as Shelly handed him a chunk of icingless chocolate cake.

Each of us received a chunk, leaving only a piece for Shelly to eat.

“This is so good!”

“Leynard, stop spewing cake in the house! Keep your mouth closed!” Analyn scolded him.

~*~*~*~*~

“Shelly!” Analyn screamed as Shelly fell off the roof, reaching an arm over the edge desperately.

I jumped over the side, quickly hovering just below the youngest of our group.

My feet hit the concrete and I bounded back to the roof. Shelly clung tightly to my neck, eyes  squeezed shut.

Safely on the roof once again, I set the girl down.

Tears streamed down their faces, sobs cracking their throats. I understood the fear they had experienced, adrenaline was pumping through my veins too.

“Are you alright?” I fought to keep my voice steady, to be strong for them.

She nodded, shaking, “I-I think so. Th-thank you, Hallan!”

“You’re welcome. Are you okay, Ana?” I placed a hand on her shoulder reassuringly, concern laced through my gaze.

She nodded, and I engulfed both of them into my arms, glad everyone was alive.

~*~*~*~*~

I have to save them! If they’re still alive, I must save them! I just… don’t know how.

I left my small shack, soaring from rooftop to rooftop for about fifteen blocks. Garter’s small grocery store was still in business, thankfully.

Garter’s Family Grocery was the one place I was unafraid of showing my face, unafraid of the regular human population. Mr. Garter was a kind old man and often gave me food, so long as I helped him out a bit in the grocery and washed my hands and face.

Hello, Mr. Garter.

The old man looked at the door, startled. He saw my dirt-covered face and smiled.

“Hello again, Hallan. How can I help you?”

“I came to help you in exchange for more food.”

His smile continued, “Wash your face and hands in the bathroom first. I could really use some help today, a new order came in recently.”

I nodded, walking to the back corner of the somewhat small grocery.

An hour later, I left Mr. Garter’s grocery behind, carrying two paper sacks with supplies. Some things were perishable, and some needed cooked, but nothing required refrigeration.

I walked a distance down the sidewalk before pulling my invisibility fog into existence. Several pedestrians’ eyes widened, looking at where I had just stood.

You’re not as crazy as you think.

The pedestrians quickly turned to face forward, unhinged by my invasion of their minds. They would definitely think they were crazy, after watching me disappear and then hearing my voice in their heads. Luckily, I would not be sending them more thoughts any time soon, if ever.

I quickly bounded home in the same way I left.

Upon closing the door, I simply deposited both bags on the floor.

How can I save them? How can I even find them? The only people who know of their location are the Hunters… Obviously the Hunters won’t help me rescue them… But they could lead me to them!

I began pacing the small front room, finger to my chin, elbow resting against the arm crossed over my chest.

As I turned towards the door again, an arm wrapped around me from behind and a hand pressed a cloth forcefully against my mouth and nose. I shoved the hand away quickly, a dizziness pulsing through me. A strong hand clenched over my wrist, and the cloth again smothered me.

~*~*~*~*~

I groaned, rolling onto my side, my head throbbing. The surface beneath my skin was searingly cold, and I shivered as my cheek rested against it.

“Hallan,” a soft voice whispered, “are you awake?”

I cracked my eyes open, Is that you, Ana?

Yes, she responded calmly.

How long have I been here?

I’m not sure. The Hunters brought you in unconscious and locked you in with us.

All of you are here?! I start to sit up, but groan and quickly lay down again.

Yes, but Colby was taken out not long ago. Shelly and Leynard are resting.

Where did they take Colby?

A sadness seeped into Ana’s thoughts, We don’t know. Whenever they take us out, they blindfold us.

I wanted to save you all, but it seems I was too late.

I don’t know that you’d have been able to. They know how to fight back. How to resist our powers.

Life Is What You Make It (2)

I frequently think about my life, what I want to accomplish, what I’ve done so far, and how long I have to do everything I dream of. This is a series featuring things I’ve written about such things, both poetry and prose.

 

Whether the earth is only a few thousand years old or several billion, we live for only a few fleeting moments in the grand scheme of things. What we choose to do with that time, those moments, is up to us. For some, it is directed by religion, for others it isn’t. In either case we are each in the driver’s seat of our own life, we are in control of where we go and what we do. We only have so long, so we should make the most of it and live the best life we can, whatever that is for us on an individual level. For some that means marriage, parenting, for others singleness, creative pursuits, generosity, showing love and kindness to those who are lacking in some way. There isn’t just one way to live a full life, to feel your life wasn’t wasted, to have as few regrets as possible before you die, if your life is not cut short by some tragic accident. Knowing we are in control of our lives, our direction, our purpose is both freeing and frightening. You can choose to live directed by religion or not as well as so many other things. Life is what you make it. You have one life. Make it count.

Mystical Warriors: My Novel-in-Progress

Disclaimer: This project is on a temporary haitus as I adjust to my workload with Praxis, running this blog, running Over the Invisible Wall, and working more hours at Walmart. I will be finishing it. I will come back to it.

I mentioned Mystical Warriors in a post last month. I shared how far I was into writing this to-be novel. Since then I have shared two backstory pieces, Thief!, and Befriending Vinny (parts one and two).

What I neglected to do, however, was share a bit about the novel and what the story even is. Today, I am going to fix that.

Mystical Warriors is the working title of the project and is the same name as a video game in the story world. One half of the setting is a fictional version of the real world. The other half is inside the video game.

Mara Williamson, James Richards, Drake Meltzin, and Vinny Kituma are four long time friends who live in the same neighborhood and go to the same school. It was a normal Friday afternoon comprised of homework and video games at Mara’s house after school. Until it wasn’t. Unexpectedly, the four friends find themselves inside the video game, Mystical Warriors. How will they return to the real world and their lives?

When I started this story, I knew it bore basic similarities to the manga and anime Sword Art Online. At the same time, I had the idea that led to this story long before I knew anything about anime.

About ten to twelve years ago, my aunt and uncle went on vacation to France. During that time, my two cousins stayed at my family’s house for the week. I invented a LARP-like game, as is common for children to do, with almost the same premise as Mystical Warriors. My cousins had to beat the video game to return to the real world, but they were brought into the video game to help out the people and various creatures solve some problem. For Mystical Warriors, being in the video game is the problem.

That is the gist of the project. If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll answer as best I can so long as it will not spoil the story to do so.

Befriending Vinny (Short Story P2)

Be sure to read part one!

This is a backstory piece I wrote for Mystical Warriors. The main characters, Mara, James, Vinny, and Drake, are probably about seven. This takes place after “Thief!”

It was almost time for the Kitumas to come over. The Williamsons had finished making their food, and James’ family had come over after preparing theirs, and Drake’s family was on their way over.

“Mara,” Mrs. Williamson called from the kitchen.

“Yes, mom!” Mara said, running downstairs.

“You can go with James to take the Kitumas that the food is almost ready,” Mrs. Williamson said.

“How did you react when Dellie told you you were having a potluck for the new neighbors?” Mr. Richards, James’ dad asked Mr. Williamson.

“I wasn’t surprised, really. Think about what we did when the Meltzins moved in!” Mr. Williamson said. “It could have been way more of a hassle.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Mrs. Richards said laughing. “Lara, why don’t you go with James and Mara.”

“I don’t wanna. I want to wait for Patty to come,” Lara said.

“Okay,” Mrs. Richards said. “She thinks she’s–”

Mara and James ran out the door, oblivious to the adult’s conversation happening as they left.

“Mr. Kituma! Mrs. Kituma! Vinny!” James yelled when they reached the door, and before Mara had rung the bell.

Ding, dong!

“Yes?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“The food’s almost ready!” Mara said.

“And you can meet my family and Drake’s!” James said.

Mrs. Kituma was shocked. “So it’s a party now?” she asked.

“Kind of. It’s to welcome you to the neighborhood!” Mara said.

She softened. “Well thank you very much. We’ll be right over.”

“okay! See you soon!” Mara and James said.

**Mara and James ran back to Mara’s house.

“They’ll be here soon!” They cried, interrupting the adult’s conversation mercilessly.

“Thanks. Why don’t you play for a few minutes until they and Drake’s family come over?” Mr. Richards asked.

“But!” James said. “They’ll be here in just a minute!” Mara said.

“Okay, okay.” Mr. Richards conceded.

“Mara, it was rude of you to interrupt our conversation,” Mrs. Williamson chided.

“I’m sorry,” Mara hung her head.

“Thank you.” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Anyways–” Mara and James tuned out the conversation and talked about whatever came to mind, from toys, to the new neighbors, to what was taking everyone so long, to being hungry, to school, to the new neighbors, to Vinny specifically, to siblings, back to the neighbors, and did they mention they were hungry?

It was, in reality, only about five minutes before The Meltzins arrived, and two minutes after that for the Kitumas, but Mara and James were excited enough that time passed in milliseconds that they could perceive. Forget minutes, they experience milliseconds.

Lara scoffed. “Why do you care so much?” she asked.

“They’re the new neighbors and they have a girl our age!” Mara exclaimed.

“That means new friends!” James said.

“So what?” Patty, Drake’s older sister asked.

“Why are you so rude?” Drake asked. “We just like to have fun!”

Patty stuck her tongue out at her younger brother.

“Mom! Patty stuck her tongue out at me!” he said.

Patty glared at him. “Did not!” she said before Mrs. Meltzin could respond.

“Patty, don’t stick your tongue out at people, it’s rude,” Mrs. Meltzin said.

“Okay,” she said, sulking.

Ding, dong!

Mara, James, and Drake sprint for the door.

“Hi!” Zmara said. “Come on in!”

“Hello!” James said.

“Hi, we’re so glad you’re here!” Drake said.

Mr. and Mrs. Kituma smile.

“Thanks,” Mr. Kituma said.

“We’re glad to be here,” Mrs. Kituma said.

Vinny hides behind her parents, silently watching the others.

“Vinny, why don’t you say hi,” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“Hi,” Vinny mumbled.

“Hi, Vinny!” Mara said. “Everyone’s in the kitchen,” she continued, gesturing and leading them into that part of the house.

Mrs. Williamson stood up from her seat. “Hello, I’m Dellie,” she said. “You must be the Kitumas.”

Mr. and Mrs. Kituma smiled.

“Yes,” he said. “You can call me Bill. This is my wife, Lou.”

Lou waved.

Everyone introduced themselves.

Mr. and Mrs. Williamson or Dellie and Erik were Mara’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richards or Lloyd and Margie were James’ parents, and Mr. and Mrs. Meltzin or Gregory and Kalen were Drake’s parents.

Patty and Lara introduced themselves to Vinny, after being asked to do so.

Vinny forced a wave and said, “Hi,” after her parents told her to because she was being rude.

“Can we eat now?” James asked.

“Yeah, I’m hungry!” Drake said.

“We’ve been smelling the food for hours!” Mara said.

The Kitumas laughed, but the other parents chided their children.

“It’s fine, really. You all worked hard to make all this for us, and they were very excited to meet us and invite us here,” Mr. Kituma said.

“Yes, it is all quite a lot, and we really appreciate it,” Lou said.

“I’m hungry too,” Vinny mumbled.

“Okay, then we can start!” Dellie said. She passed out plates to the children, first, and the parents helped them with what they couldn’t reach so they wouldn’t make a mess.

After they went through the potluck choices, the kids were made to sit at the kitchen table, while the adults would sit in the living room for lack of space.

~~~

Time passed, and mara, James, and Drake repeatedly tried to convince Vinny to come out and play with them. Each time, they were soundly rejected.

“Vinny, why won’t you play with them at least once?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“I don’t wanna,” she said.

“Please, today if they come to the door, go out and play with them,” Mrs. Kituma said.

“Fine,” she mumbled.

“Thank you.”

Sure enough, later that day, the doorbell rang, and it was Mara.

“Hey, is Vinny home?” she asked.

Mrs. Kituma smiled. “Yes. Vinny, Mara’s here to see you!”

Vinny came to the door. “Hi.”

“Do you want to come play at my house?” she asked.

“Um… I guess so,” she said.

“Cool!” Mara said.

Vinny put on her shoes and a jacket and followed Mara over to her house. “Is it just us?” she asked.

“Yeah, James is sick and Drake had a birthday party to go to,” Mara said. “We can play whatever you want. I have dolls.”

“Okay,” Vinny said. She thought about it. She hadn’t played with anyone since she moved in, not even at school. She played by herself or read a book, even outside on the playground. Was she lonely? She would never say so if she was.

“And my mom said we could have a snack if you want,” Mara said.

“Okay,” she said. “What kind of snack?”

“Whatever is fine. We have lots of choices. Fruit snacks, cookies, real fruit,” Mara said, listing a few things off the top of her head.

“Okay.”

They walked into Mara’s house.

“I’m back!” Mara called. “Vinny’s with me, we’ll be in my room!”

Mrs. Williamson peaked out of the kitchen. “Okay. Hello, Vinny, it’s nice to see you.”

**”Thanks,” she said. She followed Mara upstairs to her room.

The walls were a muted pink, and there were a variety of toys, from dolls and action figures to stuffed animals to books to electronics.

“What do you want to do?” Mara asked.

“Um… I don’t know… Dolls?” Vinny said.

“Okay. I have loads to choose from, but I don’t have any houses or anything. We can use this shoebox structure I made, though,” Mara said. She pulled out a bin from a shelf against the wall. It was overflowing with dolls and what would be called action figures, really just “boy dolls,” but they were all the same to Mara.

“Wow, that is a lot,” Vinny said. “What are these?” she asked, pulling out some of the more oddly shaped ones, which were army men or superheroes or other figurines that sold more to boys than girls.

“They’re dolls too,” Mara said. “I think they’re supposed to be boy dolls, but they’re cool.”

“Oh, okay. I want to be this one,” Vinny said, pulling out a doll with braided blond hair.

“Okay. I’ll be this one,” Mara pulled out a doll with short cropped, jagged hair that was a ghastly shade of green.

“What happened to her hair?” Vinny asked, astonished.

“I tried to give her the same haircut as my mom, but it didn’t work out. Then I wanted to dye her hair green with fruit juice mix, which my mom has done to y hair once, but it didn’t work either,” Mara explained.

“Oh.” Vinny looked at the doll kind of sideways. “It doesn’t look too bad,” she said.

“You don’t have to say that, it’s bad,” Mara said, grinning. “I don’t care though, she’s still my favorite.”

They played dolls for a while until Mrs. Williamson knocked on the door.

Mara jumped up to open it. “hey, Mom. We’re playing dolls.”

“That’s wonderful. Would you like to come downstairs for a few minutes and have a snack?” she asked.

Mara looked to Vinny. “Do you want to?” she asked.

“Sure,” Vinny said.

“Okay. Thanks, mom.”

They went downstairs and Mrs. Williamson helped them get their snack.

“Vinny, I’m glad you decided to come over and play with Mara. Are you having fun?” Mrs. Williamson asked.

“Yeah,” Vinny said. She smiled.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “That’s good. Do you think you’ll play with Mara some other time?”

Vinny nodded.

~~~

It took a long time, but Mara, James, and Drake didn’t give up on befriending Vinny. They kept trying, and eventually, she decided to be friends with them.

Deleted Drafts “The Etaloniy Story” 3

Five years ago I began writing a story about a girl named Etaloniy Whitlock. The result was quite the disaster of a story. Because it is rather long, I have split what I have of her story into three parts. Part one went up two weeks ago and part two went up last Wednesday.

5: MOM TO THE “RESCUE”!

After assessing the situation, she walked right up to the police officer pinning Clamal to the building. I stand there in complete shock, with my mouth open as I watch her. I force myself to move closer so I can hear her.

“…So you can’t let me take custody over her unless her mother doesn’t show up within twelve hours?”

“Lady, I told you — as soon as her mother shows up, you can transfer responsibility for the offense over to yourself.”

“What happens if any other family members come and admit the family relation?”

What was she trying to do?! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Mom! Mom, can we go to the mall?” I hurry over before she can ask any more questions.

“No, we can’t. If you like you can find an outfit in one of the shops here in the square.”

“Please! Please! I told you — they don’t have the new shirt that I want!” I have to get her away from this police officer!

“FIne, you can go to the mall, but you have to pay with your own money.”

As I walk away I say some things in a language my teacher at school said is called English.

~~~~~

I go home after spending fifteen minutes at the mall, not actually having wanted to go when I remember my cake!

I don’t expect to find the piece I had first cut for myself — Bran probably ate that one. I’ll cut a new piece, eat it, and go back to the square to make sure Mom didn’t get arrested.

~~~~~

After rushing to the square, I look over and see Mom — chained on the police rack next to Preana! I facepalm myself, but resist the urge to go over to her, not wanting to get arrested myself.

6: JAILBREAK!

I call our home with my cell and quickly fill in Bran on what’s happened. I say it in a language I made up several years ago that only my siblings and I know. He knew my message was important as soon as I started using it.

He promised to hurry over to help me get them away from the police.

~~~~~

They showed up thirty minutes (thirty minutes!!) later and asked me in Fintalarkan if I had a plan.

I said I did, but wasn’t sure if it’d work.

“What’s it?”

“Well…”

“Out with it!”

“We get arrested and then pick the locks to escape. Or we can go home, get the rubies that belong to use cause they’re on our property, and after selling them, pay the fees to get Preana, Mom, and Clamal released from jail tomorrow.”

“…Tomorrow! Why not today!” Bran asked.

“Cause on a case like this, meaning one involving Rubies, they’re tried, or taken to court, before put in jail. We have to wait till tomorrow after they’ve had their appearance in court.”

“Oh… Why does it work that way?” Bran hadn’t been to school long enough to figure that out on his own, it seems, even in third grade.

“Because of Wheenman… The monster hates when his precious rubies are tampered with…”

“Oh… I guess let’s go home, then…”

We go home quickly and when we get there revert back to the native language of M’lenkaa, Lenkaan.

When we get there after a long walk, we’re not quite sure what to do… It’s almost dinner time and only Clamal and Mom know how to actually cook… Then I think about the frozen meals that only require being put in the oven at around 350 degrees or 400 degrees.

“I got it! Frozen pizza!”