Saturday Night Out #1

About this writing prompt

See: Character-Driven Fiction Writing Prompts

Saturday Night Out is a character development prompt for White Destiny. The prompt will feature characters from the novel in casual daily conversations that explore the personalities and world views of these characters. The prompt’s name is inspired by the following cheer between the Baron and the red helm knights from revision 2, chapter 4:

“…Ha’lly willy boos! Tonight is Saturday night. Who stays home on Saturday night?”

“Dead people!” the knights answered in unison and threw their fists in the air.

“What was that again? I can’t hear you”

“Only dead people stay home on Saturday night!” they shouted again.

These short prompts will consist of only dialogues.

~ ~ * ~ ~

The lazy master and a good friend

“Sir Richard is going to revoke my funding next week. That is, if I were to remain a lazy master.”

“A lazy master?”

“One that fails to meet his daily quota.”

“Which daily quota? Oh, you mean that daily quota. Isn’t it really simple though? It only took me two moons to finish mine.”

“I envy you.”

“Yup, I know I’m the best.”

“Clevandi finished his before getting the quarter though.”

“…”

“I have no idea he had a quarter…or that he had a daily quota.”

“He has neither.”

“That doesn’t count. I’m still the best.”

“Growing arrogant aren’t you?”

“Heck yes, I am a master now. I earned the right to brag…Don’t tell anyone I said that okay?”

“What is in it for me?”

“I’ll buy you ale.”

“These lips are sealed. So, what will you buy for my hands?”

“Your hands?”

“I can still write about this, you know?”

“…”

“Go work on your daily quota.”

“Touché.”

“Wait, I’ve just realized something. If Clevandi doesn’t have a quarter, he technically cannot finish his quota before getting his quarter.”

“Don’t sweat the details. It is the point that counts.”

“Sure, Leo. Don’t sweat the details. Remind me of the time you told me “chicks love Silverflow masters”. The only “chick” I have seen so far is an old rooster named Annabel and she is…I don’t know where to start….”

“Apologize to the whole rooster-kind now.”

“I kneel.”

“I kneel as well.”

“The worst part of this is…I think she actually fancies me…”

“You two will make a great pair, Sleeping Beauty.”

“You’re giving me goose bumps…”

“Weren’t you really popular before, though? I sometimes see you with that daughter of…eh, the butcher, I think?”

“Her father is a potter. A cutie except she thinks I’m one of her girlfriends crossed a mule. Unless…you were talking about the butcher’s wife, then it’s not me she wanted, it’s Alex.”

“Alex…”

“Yep. I’m just a “good friend” to them.”

“That’s luxury. I’m not even a friend with one.”

“What about Katherine? Weren’t you guys like…really chummy back then?”

“Is this jealousy am I sensing?”

“…”

“No.”

“Rest assured. She’s not my type. I like someone smart; preferably a master of Silverflow but not necessarily, a candidate or apprentice will do just fine. Being able to hold a logical argument is the prerequisite and, she must not be an old rooster named Annabel.”

“Apologize to all roosters now!”

“I kneel.”

“You’d better be. Although…isn’t that Princess Lilia you’re describing?”

“Too young. I’m turning forty next year and she’s turning twenty next week. Frankly, I feel old looking at her. Just imagine what she can achieve in twenty-year time. What right to I have to be a part of her destiny?”

“Ah…yeah…I can see your point.”

“Sometimes, it does feel like I’m holding her back more than anything. But, what can I do? I cannot quit. What price does Leonardo di Price have without his influences?”

“Is influence why you pushed for the secession?”

“…”

“No, I want that from the start. All else are means and justifications.”

 

Short story: “Rain”, “Bottle”, “Bookstore”

A mother and her young son sought refuge from a sudden rain in the bookstore I worked in. They were not the only ones pulled from the busy torrent of city life by the weather. Half a dozen others were standing at the porch, a few drenched to the sole of their feet; all looking miserable, eyes gazed at the darkened clouds and the slow-moving street of even more miserable humans, slopping through knee-deep water.

The young boy, about seven years of age, was exhilarated. His eyes sparkled. His head turned left and right to survey colorful rows of books. He left the mother at the entrance and dashed to the kid’s toys section.

His mother, looking exhausted from a day’s work, walked slowly between “Foreign literature” and “Politics and History” isles. She cast an empty gaze, fixated at shoulder-level, at the bookshelves. At times, she would pause to catch a quick glimpse at a rusty bike she parked in front of the store and then at the other end of the story where her son was supposed to be.

The rain outside intensified.

A coworker adjusted the air conditioner and turned on the light. It was only five in the afternoon and the storm cloud already made it seemed like seven. In the store, we always kept the air dry and cold. The fluorescent white light was replaced with natural lighting at night; though not as pleasant to the reading eyes as daylight, it gave a modern, almost sanitary feel that was, supposedly, attractive to young adults.

And on that dark-blue-and-white, sharp-edged canvas smacked dab the smeared and soaked wet passersby who were not here for the literature, but here for the roof. Rich people had cars, middle income rode motorbikes home wearing composite ponchos, only those whose shabby nylon ponchos could not protect them from heavy rain and those who forgot to bring ponchos gathered here.

“Books sell like hotcakes in this weather, don’t they?” an office lady remarked as she put a few cookbooks and two desktop ornaments on the cashier. She was among those who forgot. Not quite. While there were more people in the store when it rained than when it didn’t, not all were potential customers, only a small portion was.

I smiled out of courtesy and made no comment, quietly scanning the bar codes of her purchase.

“They are presents”, she said holding up the ornaments side-by-side. The ornaments, two ceramic, pawn-sized statues of a boy and a girl hold two halves of the word “LOVE” were a matching pair. “Aren’t they cute?” she cheerfully asked.

“Is that so? Do you want me to wrap them, ma’am?” I asked.

“Do you take credit card?”

“Yes, here”, I answered and showed her the card reader. I assumed that was a no for gift wrapping so I started putting the items in common plastic bags. It was then that I took note of loud scolding at the end of kid’s toys section.

It was the boy from before and his mother. She smacked his hands repetitively and hurled curses at him. The boy began to sob and then cried aloud. She hit him even harder, ordering him to stop crying. She slapped his face several times, making loud smacks every time, and with that she finally stopped his cry.

My coworker came near with a dustpan and a broomstick. The woman bowed her head apologetically and asked for the dustpan and broomstick from my colleague. She insisted, forcefully taking the broom and then starting to sweep shards of glasses in the dustpan. I caught glimpse of the outline of a broken glass bottle as the coworker picked up the largest fragment and took a look at the price tag.

With just that one glimpse, I could already imagine what was going on.

“Where do I sign?” the office lady urged. I was sure she also saw the scene but chose to mind her own business.

“Sign here, ma’am. Thank you for your patron. Please come again.”

Though, she would not be going anywhere in this weather.

The coworker brought the price tag to the cashier. The broken ornament was a miniature ship-in-a-bottle, an expensive one at that.

“I’m scared. I’m…so scared. I have never seen a mother like her before”, she confessed in shaking tone.

“I have but it is beyond my jurisdiction to obstruct their right”, I said.

Truth is, I would like to. But, all of us lived in a culture where parents owned the exclusive right to educate their children in however manner they wanted; however cruel they might seem to Westerners. It was also in this culture that we grew numb to the suffering of those around us.

The boy nervously approached the cashier, weeping in suppressed hiccups. His mother loomed behind him. She had this angry and worrisome expression as she drew a small nylon wrapped roll of crumpled cash from her pocket.

“Pardon me, madam, sir. But…this is all I have…for today”, she said.

From her hesitation, I realized it must have been difficult for her to lay the little money she had on her in front of us. That realization brought great awkwardness to both me and my coworker.

“I’ll bring the rest of the money tomorrow…and the day after”, she pleaded.

My coworker winced.

The young boy froze, his breaths hastened and so did his hiccups. He understood what was happening, didn’t he? He must have.

“Excuse me, I would like to pay for these too”, the office lady from before returned to the cashier with more books. Language learning and art books for the young man who was then with her.

From her conversations with this young man in his twenty, he must have been the office lady’s son. They indulged in idle chatters, about Franz Kafka’s memoir, about the magnum opus “No Longer Human” of Dazai Osamu on display at the highlight section near the entrance.

The weeping boy looked at the office lady and his son. His hiccups got louder and faster.

“Shut up”, his mother gave him a slap. He clammed up and shriveled.

This time, I was sure the office lady had noticed this woman who was so cruel to a kid. The lady’s expression barely changed, her gaze paused on the boy for a moment, but soon broke off and resumed the chatter with her son. The young man paid no attention to other people, seemingly in deep debate whether to purchase yet another classic book–Shouwa Anthology–now or order it later for online retail discount.

“I can’t watch this anymore”, my coworker said, discreetly gesturing toward the abusive mother, “You deal with her, okay?”

Then, she turned to the office lady and moved her books to another counter, informing: “This way, madam. Sorry for the wait. Do you have a coupon?…”

And so, I was left alone with the penniless mother and her weeping son.

“Dis-discount! Can you give me a discount?”

“This is a bookstore, not a flea market. We don’t bargain here”, I said.

She let out a long sigh.

Hesitantly, I looked through the coupons in my drawer. There was a glimmer of hope, expectant daze in her eyes for a moment as I did so. But, I found nothing of such natures. I shook my head and she let out another sigh. After that, she turned to her son.

“Look at what you have done, you son of a bitch. You’re just like your useless father”, she screeched and started beating her son again in front of everyone.

I noticed the office lady was watching in great discomfort. Her son had left to buy a cheap rain poncho from a nearby store. When he returned, the lady urged him to go home despite the rain continuing to pellet the windshield of cars on the street. They left in haste as though running away from a natural disaster.

My coworker also retreated to the end of toys section. No one wanted to have anything to do with this terrible woman. At this point, I too could stop pretending to be sympathetic. I was getting tired of her treatment toward her own son.

“Is that your bike?” I asked, pointing to the bike parked at the porch; the only one that was there, possibly because she did not want to pay the parking fee. “I’m afraid we’ll have to seize it until this–I motioned to the broken item–is fully compensated”, so I said.

Indeed this didn’t feel right. It felt terrible taking money from this woman. But, it was either her day’s worth of work, perhaps many days’ worth of work, or my shift’s worth of work.

“No!”

She snatched the money on the cashier and burst out onto the porch.

“Stop her!” I shouted.

But, despite the flood and the traffic, the woman was gone as soon as I got to the door. She disappeared into the rain like a phantom, leaving only the young boy behind as proof of her existence.

The boy waited alone till the bookstore’s closing hours. His mother did not return for him and his cry drew attention from passersby. As expected, these people were aware of the situation. After the woman ran away, they began to discuss openly about her abusive behavior. They comforted the boy, they gave him food and talked to him.

We turned the boy to the police along with the security footage of his deserted mother. I thought that would be the end of it. Yet, early in the morning of the next day that I received a phone call from the bookstore. It was not on the clock that day.

“Hello? There’s a crazy woman here asking about her son. Do you know anything about her?”

“…”

I was speechless.

“Tell her she doesn’t deserve to be a parent.”

“Wait! I have the money here. All of it. The money…”

“That is not the problem, is it?” I said.

“My baby girl…she was starving last night. I needed to get home and feed her. I couldn’t afford to walk. I know I don’t deserve to be a mother but…Look, I sold my bike, I have the money now. I want my son back. My children are all I have left…”

I could not speak. The words did not come out.

“Hello?”

“Stay right there, I’m coming”, I told her and hang up.

At the porch, she was waiting. In her arms was a baby wrapped in rags. She held the money in her hand, the same hand that pressed her daughter into a tender embrace. Her body swayed in the chilling morning breeze, her head rocked up and down as her bagged eyes fought off drowsiness.

“Hey!” I tapped her shoulder to wake her up.

“My son! Where is he? Here’s the money, take it! Take it!”

“Calm down. Listen to me. Listen…”

“How can I calm down? Where’s my son? I want him back”, she cried.

The baby was waken up and started crying loudly.

“Shut up, shut up, you little bitch!” she shouted at the baby, shaking up and down violently.

“Stop it!” I gripped her arms and forcefully stopped the shaking, “They are your flesh and blood! Why are you treating your children like that?”

“That’s none of your business!” she snapped.

I gritted my teeth, “Then you have no right to know where your son is”, I said.

She gasps for air, then a few mournful hics and finally lowered her head.

I let out a long sigh.

Her husband was a big better on cockfighting. Whenever his cock lost a fight, he would go home and beat her up out of spite. Whenever his cock won a fight, he would go out drinking with his buddies till he ran out of money and then he would go home at three in the morning to beat her up. When he was drunk, he would try to kill his own children as well.

“I prefer him losing…if so, he would spare my son and daughter”, she confided.

“You should call the police when that happens…”

“I don’t have money to bribe the police”, she cracked a bitter smile, “I tried that”, she added.

I sighed again. Then, I took from my wallet a large sum of money and a business card.

“You have money now, and a lawyer”, I extended the items to her.

“I can’t take your money. You worked hard for it.”

“This is not my money”, I paused to consider my wording a bit, “This is your son’s money”.

“Eh?”

“After you ran away yesterday, some people in the bookstore donated food and money to help him. They already paid the compensation in full and this is merely the surplus. Your son is at the police station. You can have this money on one condition: that you will take good care of your children from now on.”

“I-I will. Of course, of course I will!”

I shoved the money into her hand, wrapped her fingers around it and parted ways with these last words:

“I know you will.”

 

Short story: “Swimming pool”, “Cicada”, “Airplane”

N.Jon woke up with a broken rib and a mouth full of sand. The sun was burning atop the cloudless blue sky. His throat felt dry, so dry that he could drink his own blood, had it still been flowing out from the seashell cuts on his limbs, to quench this thirst. He cried. He wept his own misery as he lay on that empty beach, wishing dehydration would take him out quicker.

Then, he picked himself up, shed a life jacket that seemed to weigh a thousand pound, and dragged his wet feet on the hot sand to the nearest shade.

Oh how he missed the luxuries of F.City! Air conditioners blew in every corridor from subway to high rise. The outdoor then seemed torturous and a shade, this shade, his former self would deem hell on Earth.

Every summer, his father would take him on a long road trip across the county to the less grey town in A.K. His father’s favorite spot was at a stone bench next to a crepe stand overlooking a large swimming pool where he said he had come every day in summer break to watch the girls in their swimsuits.

N.Jon came in and out of consciousness several times.

“Find a shade, stay out of direct sunlight.

Be patient on the hunt.

Be bold, be fearless.

And, more importantly, never relent.”

The words of his father echoed in his mind; funny how these were his most endearing memories and it took him an air crash, a day drifting in the ocean and the onset of dehydration to realize the fact. These were the words of a man who could spend summers in ambush with only a bottle of water and brought home the girl of his life.

These wandering, gibberish and chuckle-worthy thoughts ceased to creak in by sunset. What was left was depression, hopelessness and hunger.

In his first night, N.Jon walked for many miles under the silver moon. Past the sandy beaches and up the standing cliffs laid the vast dark ocean stretching to the horizons in all directions. His worst fear was confirmed; he survived an air crash only to be stranded on a deserted island. And all he got with him was a life jacket, a whistle and a few strands of seaweeds stuck in his hair.

On the day he consumed these seaweeds, he vomited and lost more water than the stagnated rain water he could find in pools formed by crevices in the rocks.

He sometimes wished he had gone down with the airplane.

There was no sign of any mammal but himself, no body of fresh water, no boiling hot volcano, and no convenient cave to speak of. But, there was a small patch of green shrubbery at the shoreline onto which he was washed, and also from which he hauled enough driftwood to build a camp fire. A tall rock wall shielded his back from the ocean wind, an overhang put a roof on his head, all he had to do was clearing the floor of debris and getting a fire going.

He could not start a fire.

His fingers blistered and swelled red like tomatoes. Flints, drills, bows; he tried them all but to no avail. No ember, no smoke, nothing.

He would try again, and again, and again for two more days. His strength was slipping away. He found it more and more painful to lie down and rest. His chest ached; it ached much worse than he could feel the day before. He could feel his own rib bone impaling his chest every time he inhaled. Adrenaline had long worn off. Exhaustion, thirst and hunger kicked in.

His second day sleeping on a deserted island, a life jacket, tinder and some driftwood were all that kept him above the sand. He slept at day and worked at night and in early morning. With a pointy wooden stick, he dug up small clams hiding beneath the sand and carved out oysters from rock faces during low tides. He left them on a flat boulder to dry under the sun for half a day, then washed them in a bowl-shaped driftwood bark of sea water.

Food and shelter asides, on this barren island, water preservation took the utmost highest priority.

In F.City, fresh water was in abundance and he would empty an entire water bottle on his hair in summer. Outdoor activities were never his favorite, but he was willing to; or more precisely, had to; make an exception for the girl next door, R.Lina. She was flamboyant and full of energy, and she was an unlikely owner of a bug collection.

That one summer, his father’s red pickup truck carried an extra passenger.

The road trip to A.K seemed twice as long outside of the cab. But halved to a half by a smile whose brilliance put that of the summer’s sun to shame. Waving a bug net and a clear plastic pin as they were heading back to the motel, R.Lina spoke fondly about the emerald cicada she caught in the forest.

N.Jon had the same dream every day, seeing R.Lina chase after a colorful butterfly with a bug net, listening to the reel of his father’s carbon fiber fishing rod, and wrinkling as sun glares caught his eyes through the forest’s canopy. He stood on the sideline as a silent observer, a prisoner in his own dream.

His health deteriorated. His sleep hours spilled over to night time. Three days, five days, one week; he could no longer tell for how long he had been stranded. The first time he broke into high fever, he was scared. For the first time in the real world, he could not move. He was a prisoner of his own body.

The end drew near.

Early morning on the day his fever was the highest, he was woken up by loud rumbles. In his eyes, he saw emerald cicadas, a swarm of emerald cicadas, singing in the sky, circling above him, and darkening the sun. A cold hand gently touched his forehead. Oh R.Lina, her bright smile faded…

It started to rain.

Digging his fingers in the sand, he crawled out of the shelter. Lying on his back and opening his mouth, he drank from the rain; and when he saw that more water was dripping down the edge of the overhang, he began to drink from the rock face directly.

The fever rapidly subsided as soon as there was water in his system, but the rain intensified.

The storm raged on for two days. Sea water flooded his camp in the middle of the night while he was still sleepy and feverish. The sky, the sea and the ground shared one uniformed color: pitch black. The horizon and the shoreline blurred by the rain. Thunder and lightning streaked the heaven; and, between the flashes he saw tidal waves two hundred feet high.

The waves thrashed the rock wall. Ferocious, unforgiving and relentless, they eroded the shoreline and claimed the beachfront for the goddess of sea.

N.Jon quickly realized he had been trapped between the old and the new shoreline. He had to make a break for the new shore before the gap grows wider. Putting on his life jacket, he prepared himself for the dive. He waited for another flash of lightning to show him the destination. The wind and the rain battered his exposed skins. His heart pounded harder in his chest. Adrenaline surged through his veins. And then…

Pzzt…

The flash came. He heard the reel of a fishing rod in his mind.

“Be bold, be fearless.”

His father whispered these words into his ears. In a split second, he saw his father with the brand new navy blue carbon fiber rod standing by his side, posing to cast the line.

Brrabroommm!

“And, more importantly, never relent.”

His father cast the line. He dived into the murky waves…

One stroke, two strokes, three strokes…

He began counting the number of strokes he made and surfaced to take a breath every third stroke. He had learned this from his father one summer, at the swimming pool where his parents first met. His eyes were sore. He could not see in the water without goggles. Worse, every six strokes he made, the torrent pushed him back by four.

Then, it happened. Debris in the water punctured his life jacket. He began to sink beneath the roaring waves, sinking closer and closer to Davy Jones’s locker every time.

“And, more importantly, never relent.”

His father’s voice continued to echo in his mind. Almost there! He was so close to shore, he could feel his feet touching the bottom before the torrent pushed him into the sea again.

He took a deep breath for one final home stretch.

But, he was immediately pulled under by an unseen whirlpool. His arms and legs tangled in a nylon net. Calm, emerald currents rushed to his location. The raging black water became tranquil and crystal clear. The sun shone down from the surface and time seemed to have slowed down.

N.Jon saw R.Lina at the bottom, her chestnut hair fluttered in the water. Her brown eyes locked his eyes and he was reminded that he was in the river in A.K.

Her lips curled. These silent words, he understood so well.

This is retribution.

It was him who jumped into the river first. But it was the girl next door who left her body at the bottom of the river that summer. The bug net that steered him to shallow waters became the trap that sealed her faith.

Brrabroommm!

A deafening thunderclap shattered the scene from his memories. The storm returned and so did the roaring tidal waves. But, there was a new glow of fire, a flickering yellow at the peak of the rock wall.

Thank to the light, N.Jon saw his left foot tangled in driftwood and like a yellow-fin tuna the block of wood dragged him away from shore with the speed of a javelin. Though he could see the danger, panic got the better of him and he was unable to shake free. There was nothing for him to grab on. He could barely stay afloat with a punctured life jacket.

Oh R.Lina, she got him good…

A heavy object fell from the cliff and made a splash ten feet away from him. Standing on the burning log starting to drift in parallel to him, his father shouted.

Take me, R.Lina. Leave my son alone!

There dark semicircles under his father’s eyes and untrimmed beard he had seen so frequently since the day R.Lina died. Both his father’s arms charred dark like coal and steam was coming out of his body. Those fierce eyes fixated on the block of wood that was dragging N.Jon to his watery grave.

The sixty-year old cracked a smile, gritted his teeth and leaped toward the block. The branch that was holding N.Jon’s feet snapped, his father’s body and the block vanished into the torrent. By the time the clouds cleared and the sun rose again, his fever had gone and his muscles were aching all over.

He lived off raw shellfish and rain water for another eighteen days before a patrol plane spotted his distress signal written in the sand and rescued him. He survived for a total of twenty three days on a deserted island without ever starting a fire. It took him two more months to be released from the hospital, during which he learned of the passing of his father.

They found his body in the swimming pool in A.K the night one of the strongest hurricane in history hit the west coast. His father’s carbon fiber fishing rod was struck by lightning. Both arms were burned to charcoal. The body suffered extensive third degree burn.

But his father was smiling. He was smiling in the end.

 

Short story: “Cat”, “Pumpkin”, “Headphone”

A man was run over by a truck while rescuing a cat from a tree.

Another man was charged with manslaughter. People saw the driver leaving the cabin wearing a headphone. He confirmed the testimony to the police when they asked, and added how he had not slept for thirty two hours at the time and he needed the music.

The music was the only thing keeping him awake.

But he fell asleep anyways, the police concluded, and thus he stayed in prison for several years. When he came out, his life was in ruins. His wife sold the house and moved elsewhere. She did not tell the neighbors where she would move to.

In the next two months, he was rejected over a hundred times. He couldn’t find a job with a criminal record and the allowance he earned in prison was running low. He managed to rent a shabby apartment but was coerced into buying an expensive insurance package for the renter.

“An insurance package?”

“Your-tenant-is-a-murderer insurance package. Ever heard of it?”

“Why didn’t you walk away?”

He stirred a glass of ice coffee slightly and took a sip, then, he answered with a strange calmness in his voice:

“I can’t afford skipping town, inspector. I’m making less money out here than in there. Truly–”

He intended to make a joke out of his own misery but he couldn’t. He had not been able to laugh or smile for years. At the realization, as though showered by a bucket of cold water, his expression turned sour and his voice dampened as he uttered…

“–pathetic I am.”

His eyes gazed at the ring of water on the table where his coffee had been. No witty remark or a courteous “I see” from the inspector; only a pitying silence he didn’t need.

“You know what they said in there? They said prison and heroin are two demons of a kind. You try them once and you will never be free from them. And sometimes, you try one and you get both…”

A hand reached out and interrupted his vision. The inspector placed a glass of coffee on top of the water ring on the table that the man thought was his.

~~ * ~~

One week before, the inspector was visited by a journalist in his office. The journalist, none other than the talented editor-in-chief of a renowned newspaper publisher, offered information for a recent suicide case whose report had remained untouched on the inspector’s desk for days.

A businessman had jumped from the roof of a twenty-one stories office building. The man was identified as the owner of a logistic company that had finally gone bankrupted after years of struggles. The police found anti-depressant and a duplicate key to the rooftop in his pocket. Security camera footage in the stairwell implied a suicide and a report was filed merely out of protocols.

At the time of the meeting, the inspector was unsure what there was to investigate. But, after a glance at the victim’s profile, he found a reason why the editor-in-chief went out of her way to discuss the case with him.

“So, what is this about? Feeling guilty for causing a suicide?”

The journalist cracked a reluctant smile and quietly nodded.

“There’s a church down the street–”

“I’m here to turn myself in, inspector. I am a criminal.”

The inspector put away the document and said after a long sigh.

“Okay, look. As far as I can tell, the guy was running a slave camp and you busted his ass, which caused his slave camp to go down the drain, which led to…this. I wouldn’t call myself a criminal if I were you. I would call myself a whistle blower.”

“It’s not that simple…”

“While guilt is common among whistle blowers, no one has ever been charged for being a whistle blower. Since you’re not losing your job or getting death threat–he chuckled–considering the guy has bitten the literal dirt, your worries are nothing more than paranoia. Well, I can recommend a psychiatrist, if you wish to, but I can’t arrest you just because you feel guilty for a crime you didn’t commit.”

“It’s really not that simple, inspector. You see, the truth is…”

~~ * ~~

Her husband used to be a driver for the same logistic company. He had a sleep disorder that caused his sleep hours to vary unpredictably. He could only sleep for six hours a day and, as a result, his bed time was pushed back by two hours every day. It was not as extreme as narcolepsy but it remained problematic.

When she heard her husband had caused an accident, she was a relatively new associate columnist at a small news agency. She wrote an article about the accident under an alias, pinning the blame on her husband’s company policies and not her own husband. Despite her best efforts, the judge took the argument as only a minor reduction to his jail time.

It did not matter; her husband was at fault to begin with and her defeat only meant justice had been rightly served. But, what came next was unlike anything she had imagined.

The article she wrote received national acclaims. She received job offers and promotions she could not refuse. Per a suggestion of the editor-in-chief at the time, she cut off all ties with her husband and moved to the town where her current agency was situated. She had achieved so much from an outrageous lie she made years ago.

“Am I a criminal now, inspector? Now that you know the truth,” she asked.

~~ * ~~

“Did you arrest her, inspector?”

The inspector shrugged.

“The victim’s family decided not to press charge and agreed on a settlement. So no, I did not arrest her.”

“I see.”

“But I didn’t come here for small talks. You see, your wife hired me to look for you and oh boy, oh boy, you didn’t make my job easy. Long story short, she promises to settle your debts and take you in. Good for you.”

“Is this alright? There must be a reason she cut ties with me, right? I mean, I can understand if she doesn’t want me…”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t ask too many questions. But, to tell the truth, she’s a big shot now. She can do whatever she wants, including looking at police reports before they even get on my desk. Oh and, about this side job, don’t tell anyone. I want to keep my badge for…bragging rights at year’s end party.”

Finally, the man laughed for the first time in years.

“I’ll give you a lift but we’ll have to do something about your appearance.”

“Life is surely stranger than fiction sometimes. May I ask you one last question, inspector?”

“What is it?”

“Before, you said in front of the judge that the investigation was not over until you found the culprit who pushed the poor fellow into traffic. Did you find him? The culprit, I mean?”

The inspector tipped his hat, hiding his eyes in shame, as he answered.

“No, I’m sorry. I haven’t been working on your case for a long time.”

“No, no, it’s alright. Thank you for having faith in me even though I myself cannot tell if it was real or illusion. Perhaps, I was really dreaming after all.”

“You are a good man. Just…find a flextime job and I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

In reality, the inspector knew exactly what transpired that fateful night. He feared had the judge learned of the truth, he would face criminal negligence or even second degree murder charges for his undeniable involvement in the incident.

~~ * ~~

On the tree was the inspector’s mischievous cat.

The victim was the owner of a nearby veggie stand. Because he was taller than anyone else, the kind man volunteered to rescue the cat. But, even standing on a chair, he still lacked a bit of reach. And so, in order to compensate, he stacked a large green pumpkin on the chair and stood on top of it. It was the inspector’s idea.

Unfortunately, the cat jumped causing the man to fumble. His fumbling led to the pumpkin’s collapse. The pumpkin’s collapse threw him into traffic. Seeing the man falling into traffic, the inspector tried to catch him and failed. Wearing a headphone, the truck driver couldn’t hear the fanatic shouting and ran over the man. Not believing in her husband’s innocence, the journalist tried to pin the blame on another man and she obscured the truth. Because the truth was obscured, the businessman went out of business and committed suicide.

Now that the truth is known. Who was the real criminal in the end?

Virtual write-in prompts 7/14/16

Put your character in a situation or scene that is patently ridiculous, whether that’s a quirky bookstore, an upside down desert or a humiliating situation. (95 words)

The world had gone mad, it truly had. She stood helplessly as trucks after trucks ran over the poor pedestrian. She knew a deliberate murder attempt when she saw one and this was seemingly a collaboration of the mass.

“Anyone who breaks the laws of the road will be run over. It is against the laws to let the law breakers live.” And hence, the world had gone mad, she told herself another time. There was no mercy; everyone was trying to kill the first person who dared to leave the border of social acceptability.

People have different kinds of insanity in their lives. What is the weirdest thing that your character’s friends have to get used to? (115 words)

Whenever he walked outside and she did as well, God would make it rain relentlessly for no reason.

“It’s fine. I’m used to it,” he said and brought an umbrella over her head. It was sunny when he left the house. He knew it would undoubtedly look dumb to bring along an umbrella; not a speck of cloud in the sky, the sun was shining strong; and he was still walking ahead with a folded umbrella in his hand nevertheless.

“It’s not a curse, don’t cry,” he told her softly, “Whenever I come prepared, the weather is clear again. Look, Sasaki, it’s a blessing. I can always find you at the foot of the rainbow.”

One of the fun things about fiction is that anything can happen. Anything at all. Take advantage of that. (164 words)

“Are you serious? You pitched Darth Vader against Voldemort? What happened to copyright?”

Lance yelled at the top of his lung, watching helplessly as his sparkly pink Gundam was pinned between two lords of darkness. He was so through with this game. Calling forth creatures from the depth of fiction was one thing, copyright infringement was another story. And who was he to talk about copyright? Let’s not talk copyright when the Cthulhu over there was still bickering to Qin Shi Huangdi about the best flavor of fried squid ball.

“It’s cheating, Daisuke, you cannot summon Shini, she’s your own, real, and living sister. I know she’s overpowered as Jesus but she’s not fiction. Neither is Huangdi! Oh come on, one Shini is enough already, which Shini is the real Shini?”

“I am—” one of the blue-haired princesses pointed at herself as it started raining popcorn on top of the fake one. Guess the fictional Shini didn’t inherit any of that maddening luck.

The most entertaining and memorable characters tend to be very quirky. What are some of your character’s quirks, and how do they affect them? (161 words)

Even a princess had her pride too. Ain’t any dragon would be keeping her locked in any tower and ain’t any prince whom she had only meet would have her hand in marriage.

“To hell with the marriage, start a war if you want. See if I care,” Lilia defiantly shouted and cast the darkest magic she learned from a forbidden book. And so, the headline of the day after would be: “The princess turned the prince into a frog.”

There was a slight twist though, the news had never reached public ears and she couldn’t scratch the back of her own head in the morning after. That itch was killing her. “I demand to be tied to a cleaner rock. Cut it out! I might not know how to lift the curse but me kissing a frog is definitely the wrong answer!”

They persisted and half an hour later, the frog was paddling in a puddle of the princess’s vomit.

Story by the campfire: The worst possible ending

First week of Camp NaNoWriMo went by and I got about 3-day-worth of writing. Not bad, I supposed, but it could be better. The serious writing starts next Monday when I’m done with the surprise Microwave engineering re-exam. But first, some quick progress updates on White Destiny’s revision:

The bishop and the Witch

There’s been yet another revision to chapter 3 scenario. I can’t say I’m happy with the current scenario so I’ll hold on to the update for further reviews before I push it to this blog. I have decided to omit a few things in the chapter and hold them back for later revelation. And by that, I mean the whole “corrupted church members burning women behind the bishop’s back” exposition.

In the latest revision, the Witch was in love with the bishop but she decided to kill him anyways. This new scenario leads to two things. First, the Witch now has a reason to hang around and stay on the Priestess’s side according to the bishop’s last request. And second, she’s now guilty of murder; unlike before where she was framed for the murder. This means, she’s even more of an anti-hero than before and the motivation driving her action is going to be something less noble than sympathy for prostitutes in West Rufus.

Shhh, I’m not telling her reason now.

Magic in Ashlora

Along with the changes done to chapter 3; chapter 5 and 6 will receive some fixes as well. In a spark of drunken ingenuity, I have come up with the last missing piece for a magic system in Ashlora which will be reflected first in chapter 5 and 6.

In Ashlora, magicians cast spells by channeling ambient magic into their focus (staff, wand, broomstick, crystal ball, etc.). They are allowed to channel as much magic as their focus can handle. The amount of magic they can use is limited by the “saturation” point of their focus or the amount of ambient magic available. This means, one cannot use magic if his staff saturated or if the ambient no longer has any free magic.

This is why magic cannot be conjured in the Dark Forest. The ambient magic was tainted by the blight and channeling this corrupted power would ruin the caster’s mind. Additionally, binding to a new focus takes as much time as letting the current focus fully recharged several times over. This prevents multiple wands exploit.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. The so-called “domain wizards” (for a lack of better naming) can use their own magic, which would be infinitesimally small for normal magicians,  instead of ambient magic. They can resupply the ambient with their own self-contained magic and manipulate the land to their power.

In the story of White Destiny, there are four domain wizards representing Fa’el (?), Ironheart (the Witch), Merlock (the Necromancer) and Azeth (the Archbishop).

The worst possible ending prompt

I attended a virtual write-in last Thursday under the alias Lightning ray. One of the writing prompts was “Write the worst possible ending for your story”. My reply was picked and read aloud by the streamer. This means a lot to me. Not only it is a special achievement but it is also a confirmation that the ending I have in mind for Black Existence was interesting enough to grab professional authors’ attention.

Without further ado, the ending I wrote was:

“When they finally beat Satan, God decided that he wanted a rematch. He’s a high-score hunter. The score this time wasn’t high enough for him”