Posts Tagged ‘The Story’

The Story Pt. 4

July 1, 2017

The felt cold against my temple and let out a distinctive click. I had seen enough movies to imagine a bullet entering the chamber, ready to pierce my skull and end any more of my thoughts. Imagination is a hell of a thing. The woman was as still as a statue, confident and used to holding a gun. That meant she was unlikely to give me an opening to escape but she was also not likely to make any fatal mistakes. A true professional. I had never been in trouble before. I did not deal with that kind of professional.

“Freeze!” She ordered. “Don’t move a muscle.”

“I’m frozen,” I said. I was almost afraid to talk.

“On your feet,” She said. “Slowly. And keep your hands visible.”

“Any other instructions?” I asked.

“Watch what you say,” She said. There was a small smirk showing just at the corner of her mouth.

“Can I ask what I did? Or actually what you think I did?” I had a hunch who she might be but the library had been shot up and several cars had been detonated. Who knew what alphabet soup organization could have shown up.

“You know what you did,” She said. “You’re one of them now.” Her voice was calm but her voice was clearly accusatory.

“So, you must be an editor,” I said as gently as possible.

“A derogatory term,” She replied. “But yes, that’s why I need to take you in.”

“I said no,” I looked her in the eye, looking past the gun in her hand. I needed her to believe me. “I turned down Wonderland’s offer. I’m still a free agent. I’m still normal.”

“I don’t believe you,” She said. I let out a defeated breath. “Nobody ever turns down real magic.” There was disgust in her voice.

“It seemed like they were using it irresponsibly,” I said. “If you don’t believe me, please at least tell me your name and rank? I need to know how to address you since I have no choice but to go with you.”

“That’s not how we do things,” She said with a smile. I thought for a moment that she would just execute me but she brought out a pair of handcuffs. They were machine-etched with what looked like Nordic runes and other symbols that I did not recognize. These people probably know exactly what they were dealing with when it came to magic. “If you don’t mind.” She gave a little smile and held the cuffs out. I had a feeling that if those handcuffs went on, I would never see the sun or the moon again. I had no choice. I held my wrists out.

That was when the black horse rode onto the scene. On the horse’s back was a man who looked more like a shadow of a man if it crawled off the ground and escaped its owner. There were no pleasantries, the man was immediately yelling in a voice that sounded like death.

“Die!” Was the simple message and I jumped to get out of the way of his swinging sword as he rode directly toward my captor. She rolled out of the way while I dove face first into the grass. She even kept a firm hold of her gun

The horse circled around and the man jumped down from the horse. He advanced on me with his sword while the horse walked menacingly toward the editor. I watched as the horse started to change into a dragon-like creature, snapping its jaws at its target but not catching her yet.

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The Story Pt. 3

December 24, 2016

the-story

I turned back to face Alice who was waiting, probably expecting me to sign on the dotted line. “Well, thanks for all of that exposition but I don’t think I’m a good fit here. In fact, I should get back to my place. I need to finish with these plays and I still have plenty of homework that you all interrupted,” I said. I was about done with the lunatic asylum. The whole concept of magic was astonishing but I knew if I let that idea take hold, I would never escape.

“Your answer is ‘no’? May I ask why?” Alice asked. She was completely thrown off.

“What you have here is potentially more powerful than nuclear arms. Power like that needs to be hidden away so it is never abused. It is too tempting to use once you know about it. If what you’re telling me about this Oncoming Storm is right, it has already fallen into the wrong hands,” I said. It was the only logical answer in my mind and the fact that it was not obvious to Alice further proved that point.

“Could you at least stay a bit so things can blow over on your campus? I can’t be sure of your safety right now. In fact, we cannot guarantee your safety for the rest of your life,” Alice said with a frown. She suddenly looked more tired. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

“Nobody could guarantee my safety before this happened either,” I responded.

“But the Editors and the Oncoming Storm will both be after you,” Alice said. “They won’t believe you said no. Nobody has ever said no before.”

“So I’ve heard. I’ll take my chances.”

“Don’t walk out of here out of stubbornness,” Alice said. She had her hands on her hips now, indignant at my behavior. I admit it was rude but these people were insane.

“I’m walking out of here because I don’t think I can handle magic. I don’t think the world can handle it either.”

“You don’t want to think about it?” Alice asked.

“No,” I said bluntly. “Show me the way out now.”

“Booker will show you the way out then,” Alice said.

Booker seemed to appear out of thin air. “Aww, really? Please stay, won’t you?”

I nearly jumped out of my shoes and I clutched my chest. “How did you do that?” I yelled at her. I felt a little bad about yelling despite the whole kidnapping and dangerous situation.

“Magic,” Booker said with that big grin. “Most of our spells come from our favorite pieces of literature. Alice and I like the Wonderland books a lot so we get a lot of our spells from there. Just now I harnessed the power of the legendary Cheshire Cat.”

“His power of plot convenience?” I asked. I smiled at my own bad joke. Nobody else did.

“Very funny. Everybody’s a critic.” Booker said.

“I kind of am a professional critic. So how does this harnessing work?” I asked. I could not help my curiosity.

“You just think of the right piece of fiction and you take on one of their aspects or powers. Sometimes focusing the power into an object or totem can help,” Alice said.

“Like this one,” Booker said. She was holding up the little rabbit she had been holding outside of the library. “Obviously, it is based on the White Rabbit and it stores the magic needed to make an instant entrance to Wonderland. Interesting, right?”

“And frightening. Now, could you stop harnessing the power of the Mad Hatter and get me out of here?” I asked.

“This is very serious to us. We have studied for quite a while to discover new aspects to magic,” Alice said. She was getting angry and it helped dispell the air of authority she had had when I first entered. She was a normal human being after all.

“Don’t go, we can teach you all of this and you can help us be good,” Booker said.

“Let him go. We do not force anyone to stay here and we are not going to start today. Try to send him back to a safe area,” Alice said.

“So, definitely not back to the library,” Booker said.

“That would be a no. Good luck, William. If you ever reconsider, we will be able to contact you again. If you are still alive, of course,” Alice said.

“That’s intimidating,” I said and walked away back down the hallway.

Pretty soon Booker had caught up, sighing several times dramatically. “I guess there’s not need for this anymore.” She waved her hand over her face and her hair turned dirty blonde and her eyes became a soft brown.

“Wait, that wasn’t real? Why?” I asked. This just got weirder and weirder.

“It’s a little cliche but I use it on recruitment runs. In a lot of bad fiction, the heroine had red hair and green eyes. Plus, I really like putting on my ‘game face’. It helps me find my confidence,” She said.

“You didn’t have to lie to me, Booker,” I said.

“Aww thanks, William.”

“Putting me in danger and kidnapping me worked just fine,” I said with a smile.

“You’re horrible,” she said but she was still smiling. “Just go through that door and William?”

“Yes?”

“Be careful.” She said.

I nodded and opened the door in front of us and walked through. I could instantly feel a difference in the atmosphere. I was behind a building on campus and, in the distance, I could see smoke drifting up from what was probably the line of cars in front of the library. Suddenly, I heard a loud click from right next to my head. It was a gun.

“Freeze. Don’t move a muscle.” A voice said.

The Story Pt. 2

December 10, 2016

the-story

I suddenly fell face first onto what felt like a futon. If you have ever been on a futon, you will know that this was not an altogether pleasant thing to land on but it beat many alternatives. I moved my hands and felt what definitely seemed very much like a futon. I lifted my head and let out the breath I guess I had been holding. The futon was blue and very futon-like and I was happy to land on something familiar and grounded after my trip through the abyss. I slowly pushed up onto my hands and feet and tried not to throw up my student center cheese fries. I stayed still for what felt like a long time. My stomach settled and I realized there were people standing around me. I started to stand and Booker moved to help me up.

“You should have been here when we didn’t have the futon,” She said with a chuckle and that same goofy grin from back in the library.

“I can’t imagine it was pretty. Where the Hell are we?” I asked, cutting to the chase. My head was still pretty much spinning. I did not realize I was still carrying my messenger bag until it bumped into my ribs. It made me flinch, much to Booker’s amusement.

“We call this Wonderland. It’s kind of our underground base of operations. Don’t worry, it’s more animated Disney Wonderland than it is live action Disney Underland. You’re safe here,” Booker said as she started walking. I took my cue to follow her, I guessed we were ignoring the other people who were slowly filtering away but they were eyeing me hard as they did. We were in some sort of tunnel. “Specifically, I call this section The Burrows.”

“An obvious name. Why am I here?” I asked. The word ‘why’ had been a question I felt still needed answering starting back in the library. However, we had barely stopped moving so far and I was getting worried nobody was going to explain.

“We’re going to meet with my boss,” Booker said. “She’ll explain everything.” She acted like that was sufficient enough of a statement.

“Who is your boss? What is this? What is going on?” I asked loudly. I had had enough.

We turned into a huge dome-shaped room. There was a woman in a red and blue dress. She had an easy smile on her face determination in her eyes. One eye was green and the other was black and it was both unsettling and captivating.

“I am the boss here. My name is Alice,” She said. “Welcome to Wonderland, William.” Oh great, another stranger who knew my name.

“Oh, I get it. I fell through a hole into Wonderland and now I am meeting Alice Very original,” I said, fighting not to laugh nervously. “What’s next? The Red Queen?” It was all too much. I admit now that this was a lot of sarcasm to lay at the feet of a woman I didn’t know. She knew my name, though.

“I guess you could call me the Red Queen too if you wanted to but it is a bit formal. I can be both the inquisitive Alice and the ruthless Red Queen. I am what I need to be,” She said. “And yes, this is our Wonderland but not the Wonderland, of course. We have fashioned a strange but safe haven here.”

“It has definitely been strange. Why am I here?” I asked. It felt like I was getting a headache but I also felt like we were making headway towards an actual explanation.

“I can answer that by explaining who we are. We are formally known as the Danali but we have been known by many names throughout our history. Currently, we move under the banner of Wonderland which is both a place and a movement,” She said. This much made some sense. “We are an ancient order of magic users devoted to making the world better. We want to bring magic back to the world for the benefit of mankind.”

“And the editors obviously don’t want that,” I said. The guns seemed to be proof of that but I wanted Alice to confirm.

“No. They definitely do not,” Alice said with the briefest of nods. “They are the Order of St. Francis de Sales but the term ‘editors’ is a cute name that is both shorter and very descriptive of their motives. They are trying to control the story.”

“And the world is the story. Booker told me,” I said. I noticed that Booker had left the room at some point.

“Yes, that’s how we see things. The story has grown cold and we want to heat it up again. Bring warmth to the world again,” Alice said. “That’s where you come in.”

“Wait, that’s where I come in? I have nothing to do with magic.”

“We often tap artists, writers and dreamers to join us here.”

“I’m a researcher,” I said. “I am an editor. I am kind of the enemy.” I smiled weakly.

“You understand the flow of a story. You understand what makes things tick. I believe yo could be a dynamic ally,” Alice explained.

“Against the editors?” I asked.

“Yes and the Oncoming Storm.”

“The what?”

“They are a what and a who. They are our true opposite number. They seek to use magic to dominate. They want to cleanse the Earth through destruction.”

“So, basically the evil army?” I asked.

“In the simplest terms. Our main task these days has been to keep them in check.”

I took a deep breath and I turned away from Queen Alice. This was a lot to take in. When I woke up I did not believe that magic was real. In fact, I had not believed in magic since I was very little. While I had a very strong suspension of disbelief, that was not the same as buying into all the great fiction I had seen in my life. Now I was being told that this was not just fiction and that some elements may have been real this whole time. I would have doubted that more but, barring heavy drugs, I was pretty sure that I had already experienced magical feats.

Alice was standing there and waiting for a very important answer to a very heavy question. Magic was real and there was a three-way battle over how to deal with that fact. Alice had said that Wonderland was ancient and that meant the battle was probably an old one. Long campaigns with no definitive answer were misery. The question was whether or not to enlist in that campaign. If the answer was yes, there was the promise of learning how to harness magic. This was attractive but it was attractive like a campfire was. If these people though they were in complete control of something like magic, they were insane.

The Story Pt 1

November 26, 2016

the-storyShe sat across from me as I studied in the library. I was leaning toward getting some Chinese takeout but besides those potentially dangerous thoughts, I was keeping to my work. I had three major papers due in the next two weeks and I was trying to focus on those. Of course, I had plenty of normal deadlines in the meantime. Sleep was slipping away from me as I slowly receded into the world of the mind. On top of all of that, I was trying to wrap my head around some new works by some colleagues in Ireland.

I am a dramaturg by trade or at least that is what I was studying to be. A dramaturg researches plays and writes about the dramatic arts. While I was working on my degree, I was critiquing and editing plays written by my friends and the friends of my friends. I love getting into the guts of other people’s stories. There was an upcoming festival in Dublin that had an approaching submission deadline. A friend of mine had sent a play for me to look at. Several of her friends had followed suit and I have trouble saying no.

She was moving. I realized that she had been silently watching me this whole time. She was sliding her hand across the table to get my attention. I tried to ignore her. I had no time for random women in libraries, even if they were redheads. She was persisting, leaning over farther and farther to get into my field of vision. It was starting to get annoying. Could she not just get a librarian? I did not have enough sleep under my belt to deal with this.

“William Park?” She asked in a tiny library voice. My name is William Park. Wait, how did she know my name? I looked up at her sharply.

“How do you know my name?” I asked. Her eyes were very green. The green of a healthy field of grass. I once had a collection of Marlowe plays bound in that exact color.

“I know it because I am supposed to know it at this point in the story.” The woman said.

“Okay,” I said. “Am I supposed to know your name?” I asked. Her answer was weird but also kind of funny to my sleep deprived mind. I smiled in spite of myself.

“No, but I tell it you right now. My name is Helen Booker,” She said. I found myself shaking her hand when she offered it.

“‘Booker’. Funny, you keep talking about a story,” I said. “That’s weird. I’m not sure what you’re talking about or what you want from me. Thoughts?”

“The story is the world and the world is the story. A lot of it is not written yet. We want to make the rest of it more interesting,” She said with a flip of her hair and a big grin. I noticed there were thick goggles pushed up on her head and tangled in her hair.

“Did you say Booker or Bonkers? Please leave me out of whatever you’re planning to do,” I said. With no small amount of drama, I looked back down at my work. Of course, it was hard to concentrate but I hoped the act would convince her to move on. I glanced up a few moments later. I could not help it. She was now less delightful and more impatient.

“We do not have time for this. Now that I have made a move, they will be trying to prevent this from happening.” She said. Her eyes darted around the room nervously.

“What exactly would they be preventing?” I asked. I started shoving myself into my bag. I had a feeling it might be better to work back at my place.

“I made contact,” She said as if that meant more than I thought it did. “I am here to recruit you.”

“You’re going to fail. Whatever you’re recruiting me for, it is not going to happen. That saves them the trouble of preventing anything,” I said.

“Nobody has ever said no before,” She said with a frown.

“Read my lips-” I began saying before Booker covered my mouth with her hand. Her frown quickly turned into a silly grin again.

“You haven’t gotten the whole sales pitch yet. Now come with me, I think the editors are coming.”

“Editors?” I asked.

As if on cue, there was a popping sound coming from the stacks. Booker reached out and yelled something I couldn’t understand. Some objects that moved very fast hit the tables behind me.

“What the hell was that?!” I yelled. There were holes in the table directly behind me. Booker held up her hand dramatically and opened it and a piece of metal fell to the floor.

“Bullets. Run!” She said and ran. I ran after her. I looked over my shoulder and saw a clean cut man exit the stacks with a determined look on his face. I turned and nearly ran into the front doors. We pushed them open and started down the marble steps. I nearly fell twice but I managed to barely keep up with Booker’s long strides. Three was a whole line of cars parked at the bottom of the steps. In unison, all of those cars detonated, forming a wall of intense flame. Booker hung a sharp right and I managed to keep up with her in the staggering heat coming from the cars. We squeezed through a gap between the cars and the fence and ran toward some trees.

Booker held up some sort of emblem that looked like a white rabbit. It shone brightly for a moment and then a hole opened up in the ground a couple of yards ahead. She performed a perfect baseball slide into the hole to my astonishment.  I hesitated for a moment and heard a bullet hit a nearby tree trunk. I dove headfirst into the hole and found myself tumbling through an immense empty space. I tried to look up but I could no longer see the hole I had come through.


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