Monday, 26 August 2013

My Novella - Gonna post a few chapters at a time!


One-Way To Two-Way Town

By Richard Tyo




Chapter 1: The Letter


Arnold arrives home from work ready to leave his world behind. His thinning face droops below a tangled nest of hair and he slumps onto his couch as his mind races.  ‘How could they fire me after all I’ve been through?’ With a sigh, he dawdles into his room and starts reading his new adventure novel in bed.

His focus wanes as sleepless nights taunt him and a tired gaze shifts over to a picture on the wall of him and Linda. Thoughts wander to their last morning together. ‘Could I have done anything different?’ He catches himself ruminating through the questions that have taunted him for two years now.

He had laughed off an idea that his counselor had the other day, but now feels it may be worthwhile to write down what’s on his mind. He grabs a paper and pen from his night-table and begins to write.  

I’m at the end and I don’t know what to do. How do I go on living and forget? Laura died for a stupid war that we didn’t even understand! I need something to get me out of this slump…something to take me away from here.

            After writing he folds the paper, places it on his night-table, and drifts off to sleep.

Chapter 2: Ticket to Ride


Arnold awakes with dreamy images floating in his head. He glances over to his night table and is shocked to see that his letter’s gone. In its place is an envelope that has A.L. written on it. He springs out of bed and tears it open to find a small silver ticket inside. As he holds it, his hand begins to shake. Then the whole house rumbles and the sound of thunder passes by outside his bedroom door. He runs and opens it to see a train with blue metal siding and a green tin roof passing through his house. It comes to a stop and a door swings open. Mechanical stairs unfold down to Arnold’s slippers.

‘It must be a dream’ he thinks as he steps onto the bottom step. A man in a blue tuxedo appears from inside of the train. He has a grey beard and a train wheel instead of feet.

            ‘Welcome!’ the man says. ‘Do you have your ticket?’

            Arnold shows the silver ticket to the man.

The man looks at Arnold’s pajamas. ‘Come on in!’ He shakes Arnold’s hand. ‘My name’s Vernon. You’re in Cabin 4.’ He rolls off making a train noise with his harmonica. Arnold enters a red felt hallway as an orchestra-engine whistles and the train begins to pick up speed. He arrives at CABIN #4, opens the door, and goes inside.

            The room’s bigger than would be expected on a train. It’s a large rectangle with a bed in the far left corner, an empty bookshelf to the right, and a table in the middle that’s filled with post-cards, snacks, and strange gadgets. He takes his slippers off and feels the soft carpet under his feet. Folded clothes appear on the bed, so Arnold goes over and changes into a blue shirt, some beige shorts, socks, and sneakers. He takes a toasted tomato sandwich off the table and eats it as he walks towards the window. Open green fields pass outside the window.

            Strange jazz music pours out of the speakers above his head. He looks up to see swarms of colorful lights floating out. The lights bend and jolt with the rhythm of the free-jazz. Swirls chase swirls, stretching to tunnels of colors shifting and dancing with themselves. Green yellows mix with purple brown neon. The colors throw themselves around Arnold, at times passing through his limbs.

The colors mesh together into a spinning wheel of light that picks up speed, flies out window, and explodes into the morning sky. The trickles of debris scatter onto the land up ahead and form into a mirage-like image in the distance. The image begins to grow into a large circus.

            An announcement comes through the speakers:

            Next stop, Circus City...’

There’s a knock on the door.

            ‘Come in!’ Arnold yells, still watching out the window.  

He turns around to see Vernon wheeling in. ‘I hope your stay has been good so far, but I must inform you that everyone must get off for an unscheduled safety check.’ He hands Arnold a pocket-watch. ‘The alarm will go off when you need to get back on the train.’

‘Thanks!’ Arnold says. The train stops.

Vernon wheels off in a hurry.

Arnold makes his way through the train to the mechanical stairs.     








Chapter 3: Circus City


            The free-jazz that swarmed Arnold earlier now manifests in the atmosphere of Circus City. The city is congested, with narrow alley-streets in between multi-sized circus tents of differing patterns and colors. The clouds reflect back distorted images like fun house mirrors.

Wizards and half lion men bet on dice while clowns in business suits preach religion. Arnold gets knocked around like a bumper car and ends up at a fight between a glowing gnome and lizard-acrobat. When a fire-breathing falcon appears, he pushes his way through the crowd and accidentally enters a tent. The tent’s floor is ice and he slips on his way in, falling hard onto his back.

He hears the pocket-watch land on the ice, and before he can reach for it, a blue turtle grabs it with its mouth. Arnold tries to catch the turtle, but it’s pulled away by a string and slides under a red material. Looking up, Arnold sees that it’s a red dress worn by a bearded witch sitting at a desk. She wears a thin snake-necklace and her hair is floating as though caught in the wind. She smirks at Arnold as he gets up from his fall. Her red dress is draped among scattered books on the floor and her desk holds a crystal ball, a few books, and lava candles.

‘Who are you and what are you doing here?’ She asks. Her tone is friendlier than he was expecting.

Arnold gets up like an amateur trapeze artist, trying not to slip on the ice again. ‘I’m sorry for intruding,’ he says. ‘I was just trying to get away from the crowd.’

The woman reaches down and brings up the pocket watch. A light glows around it in her hands. ‘Do you know the history of this medallion?’ She asks.

            ‘No,’ Arnold replies. ‘I thought it was a pocket watch.’

            A Viking appears in the far left corner holding an accordion. He lets out a hardy laugh and then disappears back into the shadows.

            The bearded woman laughs. ‘This is far more than a watch!’ A pile of papers slide out from under her dress, then some leaves, a hippo-badger, a book, and a black dog with a human face. The dog says ‘hi’ as he slides out of the tent and into the hysterical scatter of Circus City.

‘What is it then?’ Arnold had never seen real magic before.

            She stands up, pulls her dress back, and tosses the medallion back to Arnold. It turns into a snowball on fire in the air and then lands in Arnold’s hands as the pocket-watch. ‘It acts wildly in this environment. Be careful with it!’

            ‘Shouldn’t you take it if it’s so important?’ Arnold asks, feeling he may be a bad candidate for this responsibility.

            ‘I’m frozen to the ground in here. I can’t take it anywhere! You need to get it out of Circus City as soon as possible!’

‘I’m on the next train out of here,’ Arnold reports like a field soldier.

            ‘Make sure that you get on it!’

            Arnold nods. A brief sense of importance comes over him for the first time in a while, but fear mixes with it.

‘Try to find Light City if you can.’ She nudges Arnold with a cane and he slides out of the tent and enters back into the mad mass of Circus City.

Like a rubber duck on the crook of a wave, Arnold moves with the crowd. He ducks through freaks and bounces off steroid-clowns and 10 foot tin-men. ‘Do you know where the train is?’ he asks every few seconds. No one answers. 

A giraffe kicks Arnold and he flies into a bustling market square. Fast-talking merchants sell never-ending fruit plants and tickets to the freak show.

Towering behind the market is a circus-tent castle. Glowing fire-works explode from the castle, drizzling liquid streamers onto the market. Arnold strolls around attempting at fitting in while the sounds of the market overwhelm him.



                        ‘Freak Magazine!’

            ‘Get your tickets to the Medicine Show!

                        ‘Fresh Chicken!’

                                                ‘Get your train tickets here!’


A boy in rags approaches Arnold.

            ‘Hey,’ the boy says, startling Arnold, ‘you wanna trade my magic nickel for that watch in your pocket?’ Arnold politely says no and walks on, uncertain how he’d seen the medallion in his pocket. As he walks, he becomes more paranoid of how the freaks, wizards, and vaudevillian phoenixes with assorted masks look at him.

            His stomach growls as he walks by the food stands. He reaches into his pant pockets, finds a nickel, and walks over to the chili-dish stand.

            ‘Excuse me,’ Arnold says, ‘I was wondering what I could get for this?’

            The man is about to answer, but Arnold’s arms are gripped firmly and he gets swept away by a growling creature. Claws scratch at his face from behind and he closes his eyes. He opens them in the air as he’s thrown onto the hard ground inside a tent. He sees a grizzly cheetah with four half-wizard’s torsos sewn onto its back growling at him.

            ‘Swine!’ The first half-wizard hisses as he speaks. He’s an owl-lizard wearing a worm necklace. ‘You can’t trade in the market circle-square without a permit!’ He grinds his teeth. Arnold covers his ears in agony from the sound.

The second half-wizard locks eyes with him next. He’s poorly sewn onto the grizzly cheetah’s back and cockroaches crawl along the torso’s edge. The third half-wizard remains silent with hollow eye sockets sunk into his dead-king half-wizard face. He sends telepathic shock-waves to Arnold’s mind and then spits a fire-beetle at his neck, but Arnold swats it down.   

            ‘2000 days in the dark cage!’ The white vampire-clown half-wizard yells form the back. His make-up drips like blood down his face and he sucks it into his mouth. Arnold’s eyes start to sting from tears.

The cheetah draws closer and the half-wizards grab at Arnold.

At that moment, Arnold’s pocket-watch alarm goes off. It shakes its way out of Arnold’s pocket and vibrates while pouring out beams of white light. The cheetah hisses and jumps back while the four half-wizards turn away.

            Arnold pivots and runs, slipping on slime as he passes them. He breaks through the door and escapes into an alley-street. After a quick right-left-right turn down alley-streets, he looks for the train. He remembers someone selling train tickets, so he looks in the sky for the castle-tent, spots it, and runs towards the market.  

            He enters the market square and spots the train ticket salesman behind a set of dragon jugglers.  The ticket man wears a conductor’s hat and overalls.  He stands on a small platform and yells into the crowd while Arnold makes his way to him.

‘I need to get to the train,’ he says to him when he gets close. His eyes dart over the man’s shoulder like the fugitive tourist he is.  

The man smiles. ‘Hop on,’ he points to the platform he’s standing on. The platform is hovering slightly over the ground and makes a buzzing sound. Arnold takes a step onto the platform and they drop into the ground as though they’re on an invisible elevator. The platform sounds like a drill as it pushes underground, and Arnold feels warm pressure on his body like they’re sinking into tar. Once underground, they accelerate ahead and then stop. Arnold spots the train as they rise up to ground level. He yells ‘thank-you’ and runs to the train.

Vernon paces beside the train watching the crowd. ‘Last call for North County train 4731! Last call for North County train 4731!’ When he sees Arnold approaching, relief washes over his face. ‘We almost left without you!’ He says.

Arnold climbs up the steps and gets in as Vernon closes the door behind him. ‘We’ll be serving lunch shortly in the Common Room.’ Vernon rolls away down the hallway.
















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