Monday, 23 September 2013

CHAPTERS 20 and 21

Chapter 20: Changes

Arnold and Lucidia get into the elevator as dizzy trombones blast from Arnold’s pocket. The elevator stops suddenly and the emergency exit on the ceiling slams open. The woman with thoughts streaming out of her head jumps down from the ceiling door and grabs Arnold from behind. The man in shadows jumps and holds onto Lucidia.
‘You fools!’ The woman says. ‘We have you now!’
The man in shadows behind Lucidia grabs Arnold’s shoulder and throws him against the wall.
A lightening flash crashes from the ceiling and freezes them.
‘Up here!’ Vialba reaches down for them. Arnold tears free from the woman’s frozen grip and they climb out of the emergency exit. Ice cracks below them.
‘You need to get out of here!’ Vialba says. ‘I’ll hold them off.’ She shoots another lightning bolt down into the elevator.
Arnold takes the elephant out of his pocket and they dive into the ground. After a few minutes, they rise up into the library near Jed and Lance.
‘Arnold! Lucidia! How did it go?’ Jed asks. Him and Lance sit at the conference table.
‘Tina has her voice back,’ Arnold says.
‘And the two sides of Two-Way Town need a few days to talk,’ Lucidia adds.
‘Great to hear!” Jed says.
‘Good job, guys!’ Lance pats Arnold on the back.
‘Thanks,’ Arnold says, ‘but it ended with a close call.’
‘What happened?’ Jed asks.
‘An evil witch found us! Vialba kept them off long enough so we could get away, but I’m worried she may be in danger.’
‘Who are they?’ Lucidia asks.
‘There’s nothing in the books about them, which tells me that they are relatively new mutations in this world.’ Jed leafs through a book on the desk as he speaks.
Lance stands up and hands Arnold and Lucidia a mask each.
‘What are these for?’ Lucidia asks.
‘This is to conceal your identity. The way that this next task is undertaken is very important, Lucidia, so I have educated Lance and have given him the instructions.’
‘Okay.’ Lucidia nods.
‘You can use these masks twice to look different, but then after that it makes you invisible. Lucidia, you can’t be invisible for this, so make sure you only put the mask on before you go. And don’t take it off and put it back on. Arnold and Lance, you need to be invisible, so please put your masks on a few times.
Arnold puts his mask on and turns into a flock of seagulls. He takes it off and becomes himself, puts it on and turns into a bicycle and then back to himself again. When he puts in on again, he disappears.
‘Perfect!’ Jed says.
Lance puts his mask on a few times and turns into a woman and then an ant hill before becoming invisible.
‘Alright,’ Jed says. ‘Lance will explain some things on the way. Make sure to listen to his instructions, Lucidia. He’ll tell you what to say if you need to speak. You and Arnold will be the only ones who can hear his voice.’
‘Okay.’ Lucidia’s voice is shaky. She puts her mask on and shrinks slightly, morphing into an elderly woman with dyed auburn hair. Her clothes make her appear to be a banker.
An invisible Arnold pulls the elephant out of his pocket.
‘To Tirinodo,’ Lance says.
Lucidia sinks into the ground, seemingly alone on the elephant’s back.

Chapter 21: Museum

In Tirinodo, hover cars rush between gold-plated sky-scrapers. Sap clouds droop like molasses down the tallest buildings, while metallic ragtime provides a mechanical heartbeat of the city. Arnold, Lucidia, and Lance arrive outside of a museum beside a hot-air yacht club.
‘We need to go into that museum,’ an invisible Lance says from Lucidia’s right.
They climb a staircase that resembles the entrance to an amphitheatre and open a door made of glass. Natural sunlight pours through the windows of the main entrance and a plaque is mounted on the wall.
‘Donated by the Banker Family.’
‘Where to, Lance?’ Lucidia asks.
‘The museum’s connected to the old Banker family’s house. We need to find it.’
Lucidia nods and makes her way through the glass hallway, catching her 70 year- old banker disguise’s reflection in the glass. At the end of the hallway are two doors. The left one says ‘Artifacts’ and the wooden door on the right says, ‘Banker Family Home’. Below it reads:
Donated by the city after The Banker Family passed on. Let the Banker family teach us the value of our financial goals and remind us that straying from the Tirinodo ideal will bring tragedy to those around us.’
‘That’s kind of eerie,’ Lucidia says.
‘Once we get in the house,’ Lance says, ‘pretend you’re alone, Lucidia, and repeat what I say if we encounter anyone.’
‘Okay,’ Lucidia pushes the door open and they enter.
‘We need to find the basement.’ Lance says.
The smell of mothballs fills the air and Lucidia breaks through cobwebs as she enters. Splinters of light shine through wooden boards that cover the windows. The house creeks as she explores the front living room. Her breathing is loud and shallow. She makes her way through the living room and spots a door next to the kitchen entrance. She opens it to reveal a staircase leading to a basement.
Feeling for a light switch, she finds one beside the bottom of the staircase and flicks it on as she walks down. A dim light appears in the far corner and she begins to explore the basement. The metallic ragtime music crashes and thuds out from the furnace at the back of the room.
A cloaked woman emerges from behind the old furnace. A loose hood conceals her face, but she appears old and frail. ‘Who goes there?’ Her weak voice says from under her hood.
‘A curious tourist,’ Lance whispers to Lucidia.
‘A curious tourist,’ Lucidia says aloud with her voice trembling.
‘Hmm,’ the lady in the shadows says. ‘I ‘m obligated to answer any questions you may have.’ She speaks as though a slave to this remark, absent of kindness.
‘Who are you?’ Lucidia asks with a voice that matches her old-lady disguise.
‘Mrs. Banker!’ The lady says from the darkness. Her face catches a brief beam of light from a window and Lucidia can see that she is no more than a skeleton with patches of hair on top of her head. Her face retreats back into the shadows.
‘Why are you here?’ Lance whispers to Lucidia.
‘Why are you here?’ Lucidia keeps her distance from the cloaked Mrs. Banker.
‘I won’t leave this world until I know she can’t undo what we’ve done!’
‘Who?’ Lucidia asks before Lance’s instruction.
‘My nasty daughter,’ Mrs. Banker says. ‘She ran away and shamed our family! They say she’s dead, but I won’t believe it until I see her corpse!’ Mrs. Banker gets closer to Lucidia. ‘I must guard the crank and if she comes to turn it, I can kill her myself.’
‘What’s the crank?’ Lance whispers.
‘What’s the crank?’ Lucidia asks.
Mrs. Banker pulls a dusty blanket off of a circular metal crank. It’s handle is connected to a large wheel of gears.
‘This is the crank that our family turned to make the three levels of this city. It can only be turned by us, so when we’re gone, Tirinodo will remain how it is. But if she were to come and crank it, all would be lost!’ Mrs. Banker pulls out a rusty scythe. ‘Silly little thing would probably think she could come alone!’ She laugh and leaves the shadows.
The ragtime storms inside the furnace, pulsating the deep ground of Tirinodo and rising. Mrs. Banker gives a slow and long whiff through her nose, picking up Lucidia’s scent.
Lucidia’s teeth begin to chatter and Mrs. Banker strikes at her with the scythe. Lance’s unseen arm blocks the attack and Mrs. Banker bursts into dust and falls to the floor. Lance becomes visible as he screams and bursts into dust as well.
Arnold takes his mask off and becomes visible. He and Lucidia stare at the ground where Lance just was, stunned by the tragedy. The Elephant comes out of Arnold’s pocket and blows a trombone blues song from a New Orleans funeral march.
But the furnace is too loud. It shakes and commands their attention, ready to blow.
‘The crank!’ Lucidia yells. They run to the crank and Lucidia begins to turn it. The walls catch fire as she gains momentum. As it passes one full rotation, the crank breaks and an earthquake erupts.
‘Let’s get out of here!’ Arnold yells as he coughs in the smoke.
They run up the stairs and find a side door in a hurry. The earthquake knocks them off their feet and they fall onto the ground. Looking up, they see the sap clouds dripping down from the sky and becoming more transparent. The furnace explodes from the basement, and then there’s silence.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Chapters 18 and 19!

Chapter 18: Two-way Town

Arnold and Lucidia get underground and then stop.
‘What’s up?’ Lucidia asks, moving her arms around feeling the pressure around her from being underground.
‘I saw this guy when I was escaping from the three half-wizards.’ They rise into a damp room with cages all around and Arnold walks to a cage that imprisons the elephant with unicorns as feet. The unicorns face upwards and run on the spot. Arnold unlatches the cage door and the creature leaps into the air, letting out a ‘vvroooom!’ with his trunk. The elephant inside of the platform bursts out and grows into her regular size and the two elephants lift Arnold and Lucidia onto their backs. The female’s unicorn horns connect and she spirals into the ground. The other dives head first into the ground, and together they raced underground to Two-way Town blasting their trombone trunks.
They spring out of the ground and fly into the sky. In the air, the elephants transform into small versions of themselves and land in Arnold and Lucidia’s pockets.
‘I can’t believe that just happened!’ Lucidia dances to the trombone sounds that come from their pockets. A fenced- in city lies ahead. They hear a train approaching, so they jog towards the city. Far in the distance is an open field with buildings to the far right and the far left of it. Bombs shake the land in the middle. A fenced-in walkway leads to a man in a brown military suit. His badge says ‘Toby’.
            ‘Toby or Zack?’ The soldier asks in a firm tone.
‘Toby!’ Lucidia says as the train screeches into a stop behind them.  
‘Right over here, please.’ The military man now speaks in a friendly tone to his supporters.
‘Do you think I could get a quick picture of you two together? It’s our first visit to Two-way Town and we’re very excited to see a real soldier from the Toby side.’ Lucidia holds her camera out. The soldier puts his arm around Arnold and puffs out his chest as she takes a picture. The picture pops out of the camera and Lucidia places it in her bag.
‘Thanks!’ She says as the soldier walks away.
Arnold and Lucidia watch as the passengers leave the train.  
‘There they are!’ Arnold says as he spots Tina, The Journalist, and Sgt. Pepper stepping off the train. They’re shuffled into a line and eventually come to where Arnold and Lucidia are. A small crowd leaves the train and goes to the Zach side. A few others follow Tina and the others to Toby.
Arnold!’ Sgt Pepper and The Journalist yell. Tina smiles and hugs him.
‘Nice to meet you,’ Lucidia says to them. She looks at Tina, who recognizes her from her dreams. They hug as well.
A soldier comes over to them and the other Toby supporters.
‘Welcome to Toby camp!’ He says. ‘You will have a three day rest before training camp. A bus should be here shortly to pick you up and take you to the rest area.’ He salutes the group.
Two busses race towards them from a distance. They arrive at the fence and park on either side of the train station.
‘Team Toby! Bus is here!’ The soldier yells. He leads them onto the bus. ‘No talking on the bus!’ He yells. The bus takes off and speeds through an open field to a hotel to the far left side of the battle field.
‘In three days you go to war!’ The soldier gets off the bus and the rest follow. They enter the hotel and approach a woman at the front desk.
 ‘Every visitor must contribute 100 days or 100 kills to their side before they’re allowed to leave!’ She hands them their room keys.
Lucidia walks over to her. ‘Can I get a picture of you? I’m trying to convince a friend of mine to come to Two-Way Town’
‘Of course.’ She says.
Lucidia takes a picture, places the developed picture in her bag, and then walks back to the group.
‘Did you guys notice?’ Lucidia asks.
‘Notice what?’ Sgt. Pepper says.
‘They’re wearing ‘Zack’ nametags now. We’ve changed sides once already!’

Chapter 19: Cured Cadence

They take the elevator up to the 3rd floor and enter room 301.
The walls are blood red, with a double bed, a night-table, and a large window. The far walls are filled with propaganda posters that say ‘Toby is Sub-Human’ and ‘Zack is our Hero’ on them. Patches of fire can be seen and smelt from outside of the window. Bombs shake the buildings as war cries swam around the battle-field.
‘De-sensitization training,’ The Journalist says aloud.
 ‘How have you been, Arnold?’ Sgt. Pepper asks. ‘We were worried after you disappeared from the train. We went looking for you, but no one would tell us anything!’
‘It’s been quite the adventure!’ Arnold says. ‘And I found this!’ He reaches into his satchel and their faces light up as he pulls out the bag of sand.
‘It’s a miracle!’ The Journalist says.
‘Way to go, Arnold! I knew you’d find it!’ Sgt. Pepper looks it over and peeks inside.
‘Lucidia has instructions on how we can bring your voice out!’ Arnold says to Tina, who nods excitedly.  
‘I do,’ Lucidia says, ‘but apparently we need to be careful. If Glenda cursed the voice, we’ll all be killed the second it touches our ears. Jed said that it has most likely worn off by now.’
‘So what do we do?’ Sgt. Pepper asks.
‘For starters, do any of you three remember the word that Glenda said right before she stole Tina’s voice?’
Tina, Sgt. Pepper, and The Journalist looked at each other shaking their heads.
‘There was a lot going on,’ The Journalist says.
‘It’s okay,’ Lucidia says. ‘There’s a back up plan.’ She takes a white sheet out of the closet and hangs it using the tops of two poster frames on the wall. ‘Come sit here and face the sheet.’ She says to the Journalist.
The Journalist trades spots with Tina and sits facing the sheet.
Lucidia places her hand into her pocket and pulls out a small amount of powder. She holds it in her open palm and blows it in The Journalist’s face. His head jolts back and makes a clicking sound.
‘Alright,’ Lucidia says, ‘relax and listen to my voice. Think back to the day that Tina’s voice was stolen.’
The Journalist’s head shoots out a projection onto the white sheet. The rest of them watch as the image on the screen re-winds back to that day in Circus City. They see Tina, Sgt. Pepper shielding themselves from Glenda, who is swaying back and forth waving her arms in a trance. She yells ‘Vanashoored!’ while sucking Tina’s voice into her hand, revealing a sandbag. Tina collapses as Glenda grunts and throws the bag into the sky where it vanishes into the clouds of Circus City. Glenda vanishes sending a piercing laugh into the sky.
 ‘Okay,’ Lucidia says, ‘when I count down from three you’ll come back to us. Three…two…one…’ She claps and The Journalist’s head jolts awake.
‘Wow!’ He says. ‘I never knew that was possible!’
‘Very interesting!’ Sgt. Pepper looks at Lucidia with admiration.
‘We have the word we need! When you get your voice back Tina, Jed thought it would be best if you told the people of Two-way Town what we came to tell them?’
Tina nods.
‘Could you pass me the sandbag please?’
Sgt. Pepper hands it to her.
Lucidia walks over to a night-table table and pours the sand onto it. She places the bag down and holds her palms above the thin pile of sparkling sand, saying ‘Oohnaraya! Deroohsanar!’ and taking a step back.
Pink smoke emits from the sand, bubbling, thickening, and rising into Tina’s throat. When she swallows, the smoke disappears into her mouth. She smiles, but stands silent. A sense of euphoria sweeps across the room.
‘Thank you!’ Tina says to all of them. Her voice soothes the air.
There’s a knock at the door.
‘Who is it?’ Arnold says.
‘Toby!’ A man says from the other side of the door.
‘Just a minute,’ Arnold yells.
Lucidia takes the birth certificates and pictures out her bag and hands them to Tina. ‘Just tell them that the founders were brothers, and show them these. Then show them the pictures.’
Tina takes the birth certificates and pictures, opens the door, and greets a soldier. She closes the door behind her. The rest of them hear muffled voices for a few minutes, and then Tina comes back in.
‘It’s done,’ she says.
‘What happened?’ Lucidia asks.
‘The man said he would have to let his superiors know. They’ll call me here once they’ve discussed it.’
The phone rings. Tina walks over to the phone and answers it. ‘Hello. Yes. Yes. Okay. Goodbye.’ She hangs up.
‘What did they say?’ The Journalist asks.
‘They need a few days to talk about it,’ Tina says. She turns to Arnold and Lucidia. ‘You two go back to Light City and find out what you need to do next. We can take care of this.’  
‘Are you sure?’ Arnold asks.  
‘Very sure. We need to move as quickly as we can!’
Lucidia takes the elephant out of her pocket and puts it in Tina’s hand. ‘When you’re ready to get out of here, just hop onto this guy and think about where you want to go’
‘We’ll be in Circus City after this,’ Tina says. ‘It needs us the most.’

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Chapters 16 and 17!

Chapter 16: The Underground

            They travel for a few minutes and then start to rise up.  

            ‘Kneel down so we can just pop our heads up and see if it’s safe.’ Lance kneels down and Arnold follows his lead.

The platform rises up a little. Lance stands up and his head vanishes from Arnold’s sight. He motions with his hand for Arnold to stand up too. Arnold stands up and is in a dark forest surrounded by trees that creak as they sway with the wind.

‘I’ll go grab the bark,’ Lance says. Arnold pulls out the medallion and shines it into the forest for Lance. He hears a crunch and rip and then Lance runs back to the platform with a piece of bark in his hand.

They both kneel down and Arnold breaks the piece of bark in half.

‘How do we know where the survivors of Sysmiosis are hiding?’

To Arnold’s surprise, Lance pulls out a gadget. He places a part of it in his ear and slides the other part on the wall around them.

‘This way,’ he says.

They move through the underground and arrive at the top of a staircase. They follow the staircase down until they get to a steel door at the bottom.

Arnold knocks.

‘Who is it?’ A voice asks from behind.

‘It’s Arnold and Lance,’ Arnold says. ‘We’ve brought an antidote for the people of Sysmiosis.’

Voices can be heard from behind the door, and then the door unlocks and begins to open.

Behind the door, five people stand with white tattered clothing draped over their bodies.

‘Come in,’ the one in the front says. They enter a room with limestone walls. The people are thin, with sunken eyes. They look at Arnold and Lance suspiciously. Four of them sit on benches along the walls, but the man in front remains standing and shakes hands with Arnold and Lance.

‘Welcome,’ he says. ‘My name is Suni and these are my brothers and sisters of the underground.’

‘Nice to meet you all,’ Arnold says, smiling. They don’t smile in return.  

‘We’ve been expecting you,’ Suni says. Arnold looks at the others, who don’t seem happy to see him.

‘Forgive them,’ Suni says. ‘They have been through a lot and their souls have nearly given up. If you were any later, we wouldn’t have made it. Please, tell us how you intend to cure our people.’

‘We have an antidote,’ Arnold says. He awaits cheers, but is disappointed.  

 ‘That’s fine,’ Suni says, ‘but the problem lies in our poisoned soil. It would be great to cure them, but without having clean soil to grow food, we are destined to be poisoned again.’

‘I understand your concerns,’ Arnold says, ‘but you must have faith that this is only part of the process. I need to do this here and then head back to Light City to find out what to do next. Your soil will become fruitful again, and this is the first step.’

‘Okay then,’ Suni says, letting out a smile. ‘We will do what you ask.’

‘This is such great news,’ a woman sitting on the bench says, ‘it fulfils the omen.’

‘An omen?’ Lance says.

‘Yes,’ the woman says, ‘the other day while I was out searching for food, I found a beautifully crafted bag of sand. In our culture, sand represents rebirth, so we saw it as a sign that good things were coming.’

‘May I see this bag of sand?’ Arnold asks.

‘Certainly, but why?’ Suni asks.

‘I believe that it may contain something that I’m looking for.’

‘What is it that you seek?’ The woman asks, now standing beside Suni.

‘If that bag of sand is the one I’m looking for, it holds a woman’s voice. She used to heal people with it, but it was stolen from her and thrown into the sky.’

‘Well,’ Suni says, ‘let’s make sure that your potion works. If it does, we’ll give you the sand as your reward.’

Arnold nods in agreement. He pulls out of the bottles of glowing pink liquid, puts a piece of the bark into one of them, and reads the word that Vialba wrote on a piece of paper. ‘Tarooooo.’

The bottle bubbles and releases smoke, shining a bright light that causes everyone to shield their eyes. When they look back, the bottle has thousands of little pebbles inside of it. Arnold then repeats the process with the other bottle and hands one of them to Suni.

‘What now?’ Lance asks.

‘I guess we should go up to the city to see if it works.’ Arnold says confidently. He isn’t used to being the one to lead.

‘I would advise against that,’ Suni says. ‘It’s too risky to go up there until we know for sure.’

‘Why don’t we try it on Ray?’ The woman asks.

‘Good idea,’ Suni says.

‘Who’s Ray?’ Arnold asks.

‘Ray is a Pig-man that we captured. He’s nearly dead because we haven’t been feeding him sludge. Follow me.’ Suni leads them though an ivory white room and they arrive at a small jail cell. The jail cell holds a half pig, half man inside of it. He peers up and oinks as they file in.

Suni retrieves a pebble from the vial and holds it out for him to take. Ray approaches, smells the pebble, and then moves away.

Suni tosses it at Ray and when it hits his skin he morphs back into human form immediately.

Everyone cheers while Ray gains his posture back and stands up slowly. Suni unlocks the cage and Ray walks out, still attempting to focus his eyes on them all.

‘It’s over, Ray’ Suni says. ‘This man has brought us our freedom.’ Suni motions to Arnold.

‘Thank you,’ Ray hugs Arnold and then turns to Suni and the others. ‘We must help the others! It’s torture- you see what you’ve become yet have no control over it!’

            ‘We should have enough for the entire city in these two bottles,’ Suni says. He turns to Arnold with teary eyes. ‘You’ve brought hope back into our hearts. Now we can begin to re-build our great city! Mona, give him the sandbag.’

            Mona reaches into her small sack and pulls out a delicate sandbag with embroidery and beads sewn on it. She presents it to Arnold with both hands.

Arnold stands with pride as he’s handed Tina’s voice in a sandbag. He places it carefully into his satchel. ‘This will help us rebuild this broken world,’ he says. 

‘You must continue your journey, Arnold. We’ll take this task upon ourselves and await your return.’ Suni shakes hands with Arnold and Lance.

            ‘We’ll continue our mission and be back as soon as we can.’ Arnold follows the underground people through the limestone room and up the stairs. They open the concrete door and are inside an abandoned pawn shop. Arnold hears an army of pig-people all around, stomping on the ground and polluting the air with foul war cries.  

Suni distributes piles of pebbles and nods to the others as they run outside. Lance takes out the platform and he and Arnold stepped onto it. They dip into the ground and Arnold takes out his map. ‘This is where Light City is,’ he points, ‘hold onto the medallion with me and we’ll try to rise up on the main street of the city.’

They hold onto the medallion and travel for a few minutes under the ground.


Chapter 17: Debrief

Lance and Arnold rise up on the main street of Light City. The streets of the city are nearly empty, but a few wanderers populate the streets.  

Arnold and Lance walk by the third door, which now has four people drumming outside of it.

 Arnold hears his name echo from an alley street near-by. He turns to see Lucidia and Jed jogging over to them.

‘Welcome back!’ Lucidia says as she gets closer. She hugs him and gives him a

peck on his cheek.

Arnold blushes. ‘It’s all thanks to Vialba, that silver ball, and Lance! This is Lance. Lance, this is Lucidia and Jed.’

‘Great to have you back, Arnold!’ Jed says, placing a hand on Arnold’s shoulder and looking like a proud father. ‘We should get back to the library.’

As they walk, Jed talks to Lance while Arnold and Lucidia walk behind them holding hands.

‘I think I found Tina’s voice!’ Arnold suddenly says, realizing that he hadn’t told Lucidia yet.

‘That’s fantastic!’ Jed yells from up ahead.

‘How did it happen?’ Lucidia asks as they continue walking.

‘It was a fluke- the underground people of Sysmiosis found it and gave it to me as a reward for the antidote!’

‘That’s exciting! Jed told me all about Tina and what to do if we find her voice! And I read a book about her!’

There’s a book about her?’ Arnold asks.

‘Yeah! I remember you said that she came from another planet, which is true, but she’s hardly an alien. She was born on another planet because her mother was stolen and hidden by an evil witch while she was pregnant. Apparently there was a prophecy that  Tina would be a healer, so they hid her pregnant mother in the farthest edge of the universe. Her mother died giving birth, but a universal traveler found her and brought her (unknowingly) back home. It took her 40 years for her to get back here!’

‘Wow!’ Arnold says. ‘Have you seen her in your dreams at all lately?’

‘I have!’ They walk up the stairs to the library and go inside. ‘Let’s get in here and we’ll explain the plan.’ Jed and Lance are already sitting at the desk, so Arnold and Lucidia join them and they began to discuss the next steps to the plan.

Jed pulls out the list of the four tasks and puts a line over Sysmiosis Sludge. ‘That feels good, but we’re only at the beginning, unfortunately.’

‘What do we do next?’ Arnold asks, feeling a rush.

‘First,’ Jed says, ‘I need to tell you about Two-Way Town. There’s a true origin that only I know, and an origin that has plagued the people there since the bomb. The people of Two-Way Town think the town was founded by two enemies who fought and killed each other over the land many years ago. Each side’s people are descendants of their side’s founder, and so each side avenges their side’s hero. The town is at war constantly, and their tourism industry is booming!

‘The true origin, though, is that Two-Way Town was founded by two brothers (Zack Two and Toby Two) who got along fine. But with this mirage origin, everyone’s at war with their relatives and they don’t even know it.’

Jed pulls out two laminated birth certificates and places them on the table. ‘You need to get these to the right people to prove to them that the founders were brothers. I have instructed Lucidia on what to do.’

Lucidia nods. Jed hands her a camera.

‘Another interesting and sad thing about Two-Way Town,’ Jed says, ‘is that every hour the sides are swapped, so they defend both sides as their own, back and forth inevitably.’

‘What do we do about Tina’s voice?’ Arnold asks.

‘I’ve been communicating with her in my dreams,’ Lucidia says. ‘She’s heading to Two-Way Town, but we just missed the last train.’

‘Why don’t you take this?’ Lance says, pointing to his traveling platform.’ She’s fast and she’ll get you anywhere.’

            ‘She?’ Arnold says with a garbled expression.

‘Yeah. Let me show you.’ Lance places the platform onto the ground and unlatches a small door on the back. They all bend down and look inside to see a small elephant with unicorns as legs. The unicorns are upside down so the elephant walks on the four horns.

Arnold, Lucidia, and Jed look with amazement at the small creature.  

‘I’m sure she’d love to help!’ Lance says.

‘We’ll take good care of her, Lance.’ Arnold says.

‘What an amazing little creature!’ Jed stares with wide eyes.

‘Thanks Lance,’ Lucidia says. ‘We should go now then!’

‘Yes,’ Jed says. ‘Good idea!’ He hands her a back-pack.

 ‘Just stand on the platform and think of where you need to go,’ Lance says. ‘She’ll take care of the rest.’

Arnold and Lucidia step onto the platform and drop into the ground.




Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Chapter 14 and 15

Chapter 14: Help


            Liquid fireworks drizzle down from the tent-castle as Arnold creeps along the floor of the market square. He spots the train ticket salesman and makes his way over to him, placing the silver ball back into his satchel.

            ‘Could I talk to you for a minute?’ Arnold smiles to hide his anxiety.

            ‘What’s it concerning?’ The man asks, somewhat startled by Arnold’s sudden appearance.

            ‘I’d prefer talking about it in private if you don’t mind.’ Arnold gives a nervous smile again as he glances over the ticket salesman’s shoulder and then behind him.  

            The man counts his tickets and receipts and looks around. ‘Alright, hop on,’ he says, pointing to the hovering platform.

Arnold steps onto the platform and they sink into the ground. The warm pressure presses on his body again as they travel to a hollow cave. They stop and both step into the cave.

            ‘Is this private enough?’ The man asks.

            ‘This is perfect!’ Arnold lets out a sigh of relief as the man laughs.

            ‘Nobody else can get down here, so you can talk to me about whatever you need to.’ The man’s voice echoes slightly in the cave. He looks with concern at Arnold.  

            ‘I need to find a bearded witch. Do you know of her?’

‘Yeah I know of a bearded witch! I went into her tent one time and threw out my back. I can show you where her tent is. Is that it?’

            ‘Well, I need to get to Sysmiosis after that.’

            ‘Sysmiosis is surrounded by the Willo forest, so you’ll need someone to take you underground.’ He stands up and sticks out his hand in an official manner.

Arnold stands for a moment in disbelief, ecstatic to have the help. ‘I’m Arnold.’

He shakes his hand.

‘Let’s go find that witch!’ Lance steps onto the platform and Arnold follows. They’re whisked forward and then rise up above ground on an alley street outside of a red and white striped tent.

‘That’s where you’ll find her. I’ll stay out here and keep a look out!’  


Chapter 15: Potion


Arnold steps into Vialba’s tent without slipping this time. The room appears the same, except she’s not at her desk.

‘You again?’ Arnold hears Vialba’s voice as she appears from behind the back wall. ‘Why are you still here with that medallion?’ She asks. A crystal globe to Arnold’s right begins to glow purple.

‘I came back!’ He says. ‘You were right about the medallion!’

            ‘Of course,’ she says, laughing as her hair blows in an absent wind.

‘But you didn’t tell me the whole truth.’ He says, looking at her.

‘Yes, well, it was the only way to get it out of here! I can’t leave this ice shack. And besides, it was fate that brought you here. So, what now?’ She waits.

            ‘I have ingredients for a potion!’ Arnold says.

‘What for?’ She perks up like a cat.

‘An antidote.’ He pulls the list out and hands it to her.

            ‘Follow me.’ She looks over the list while walking through the back wall. Arnold follows, nearly slipping a few times on the ice on his way.

            The back room is a mix between a science lab and a kitchen, with wooden shelves and fire-stove tops. Vialba lights a fire-stove as Arnold enters. He takes in dizzying steams of smoke laced with spices and coughs as he gets closer to Vialba.  

‘Some of these ingredients are rare.’ Vialba says as she looks at the list. ‘I definitely have a supply of ginkgo leaves.’ She opens a cabinet drawer, grabs a glass bottle, and places it on the counter. ‘Chopped lizard skin and fairy blood too, but I’m not sure if I can help you with the tooth of a pink ostrich ant and fresh bark from a tree. I’ve never heard of a pink ostrich ant and I don’t know where to find one. As for the bark, I haven’t seen or heard of a tree for a long time.’

‘I know of a forest!’ Arnold says.


‘Yeah. It surrounds Sysmiosis! I need to go there after this, so if we can get everything else, I can try to get bark when I go there.’

‘It would be risky but it’s up to you. What about the pink ostrich ant?’

Arnold thinks for a moment. ‘Didn’t you say that’s a creation dress?’ He says, pointing at her red dress.

‘Yes.’ She looks intrigued by his suggestion.

‘Do you have any control over it?’

‘I usually don’t, but when I held that medallion it did act very differently. I noticed afterwards that it produced a book that I had been thinking about at the time.’ She leads him back out to her front room, sits at the desk, and holds her hand out.

Arnold hands her the medallion.

‘Okay, let’s try this.’ She hums quietly while clenching the medallion.

An ostrich slides out, then a big pink ant.

‘You’re on the right track,’ Arnold says.

‘Summa,’ she hisses.

A creature slips out with the body of a pink ostrich and the head and legs of an ant. Two sharp white teeth jut out from the mouth. Arnold tries to grab the creature, but it nips at him and slides away.

‘Zaraka!’ Vialba opens her eyes and they shoot bolts of light out. The ostrich ant freezes in its tracks. Vialba walks to the back room and returns with a jar and a hammer. She places the jar below a tooth and taps it two times before it falls in. She whispers into its ear and it unfreezes and enters the scatter of the alley-street. ‘Good idea!’ She tosses the medallion back to him and they walk through the wall to the kitchen lab. Vialba attends to a thick stew brewing on the fire-stove. Arnold watches.   

‘What are you making?’ He asks.

‘I’m making some tea.’ She pours a cup and slides it to him.

‘Thanks,’ he says.

‘I’m also making sticky stew goo!’ She shows Arnold the list. ‘Number 5!’

            Arnold nods.

‘And we have an eternal flashlight for number 4!’ She laughs.

‘Apparently,’ Arnold says. ‘What do you need it for?’

 ‘We need it for a flash bulb grain mixture.

‘Oh!’ Arnold laughs, still confused. ‘What’s that?’ He asks.

Vialba pulls a few containers from the shelves above the stove and makes a flash bulb grain mixture in front of him while explaining it. ‘You mix grains with mountain honey and spirited rock chalk.’ She tosses a few clumps of hay into a bowl and adds a pure brown honey ball. She crushes a few pieces of white rocks and the bowl contents change into a liquid that thickens as she stirs. ‘Once you’ve got a nice soup mixing, you need a spark on it.’

‘That’s quite the process.’ Arnold says

‘I’m surprised I remember how to do it to be honest!’ She laughs.

‘Hello.’ A man’s voice comes from the other room. Arnold and Vialba go to the front room and Lance is there.

‘Vialba, this is Lance,’ Arnold says. ‘He’s helping me out.’

Vialba extends her arm out. ‘My name is Vialba’

‘It’s great to meet you, Vialba. How are things going in here?’

‘Very well,’ Arnold says. ‘We have most of the ingredients here, and a few are being made as we speak!’

‘I’d better check on that,’ Vialba hurries to the back room.

‘We might have to find some bark from the forest outside of Sysmiosis, Lance. Is that possible?’ Arnold asks.

‘Should be. We’ll just have to be quick and careful.’ He pauses. ‘I hate to tell you this Arnold, but I have some disturbing news.’

‘What is it?’ Arnold asks.

‘The half-wizards are putting up wanted signs around town with your face on them. The signs say you’re wanted dead or alive. The reward is 500 coins.’

Arnold turns white.

Vialba appears from the other room. ‘I’ll need the Eternal Flashlight now Arnold. Are you okay?’ She notices his worried face.

‘I’d better go keep watch,’ Lance says as he walks out of the tent.

‘I’ll be alright,’ Anrold says to Vialba. She turns the lights out when they enter the back room. A small candle wavers on the counter, dimly lighting the room.   

Arnold pulls the medallion and opens it. It shines a bright beam of light. 

‘Okay,’ Vialba says, ‘slowly move the beam towards the soup bowl. You don’t want to touch the soup with the entire beam. Just let the edge of the light touch it.’

Arnold moves the beam towards the bowl. The edge of the light touches the soup and a blue and yellow flame erupts on its surface. The flame lights up the entire room and the soup hardens and crumbles until the flame dies down. 

Vialba turns the lights back on and Arnold puts the medallion away.

The bowl is empty except for a small key resting in the middle. Vialba takes it and places it in a pot of dirt, sweeping some dirt on top and pouring water onto it. Within seconds, two chives rise out from underneath the dirt. She pulls a single strand out and breaks it in half. A multi-colored mist sparks out from the break. She takes a mouthful of tea and spits a mist onto the chive. An arch of white fire erupts, forming into a white bowl that lands on the far counter. Arnold watches in stunned silence. 

Vialba’s face is glowing. ‘We’re nearly there! Remain silent now until you see I’m done.’ She reaches over, grabs some ginkgo leaves, and crushes them up in her hands. ‘Larayeechee,’ she hums. She rubs her hands together while pieces of the Ginkgo leaves fall into the white bowl. She grabs a cup of chopped lizard skin and sprinkles it onto the leaves. The bowl begins to shake and then melts into a mushed blob that stretches into a living lizard. The creature opens its mouth and licks the air. Vialba takes a vial of fairy blood and pours it into the lizard’s mouth.

The lizard licks its lips and morphs into a hovering balloon that floats upwards until Vialba pokes it with a pin, releasing a tiny hummingbird-fairy from its suffocating drift.

The fairy flies over to the ostrich-ant tooth, packs it into a small green sack, and dives into the sticky stew goo. A glowing shockwave spreads through the room, creating a thick smoke. Two bottles of glowing pink liquid remain after the smoke clears. Arnold coughs as he watches in amazement.

‘Okay,’ Vialba says. ‘It’s done.’ She walks over the counter, picks up the final mixtures and hands them to Arnold. ‘All you need now is the bark,’ she says. ‘You’ll need to add a small piece to this mixture within a few hours or we’ll have to restart the process.’

‘We’ll get there as soon as we can,’ Arnold says.

‘When you get the bark, place it in one of these bottles and say the word on this paper.’ She hands Arnold a piece of paper. ‘That should complete the antidote.’ The urgency in her tone makes Arnold nervous. Is he up for the challenge? What if he should fail? He shutters at this thought, but summons up courage while pushing doubt to the far corners of his mind.

‘I wish I had something to thank you with,’ he says.

‘To be honest,’ Vialba says, ‘you have given me more than I would ever have imagined.’ She smiles at Arnold.


‘Yes,’ she says, ‘this process has given me some of my power back and somehow freed me from this ice prison! Things are starting to change, Arnold, and it’s because of you!’

Arnold feels the ice melting slowly below his feet. ‘Will you join us?’ He asks.

‘I have some urgent matters to attend to first, but I’ll come find you along the way!’ Vialba struts proudly out of the tent and vanishes into the alley-street.

            Lance comes in just after. ‘Is it done?’ He asks.

            ‘Yep,’ Arnold says.

            ‘Great news!’ Lance says. ‘We should get out of here quickly before someone recognizes you. Arnold nods in agreement as Lance places his platform down.

            But it’s too late. A giant pirate grabs ahold of Arnold and carries him down the street.

            ‘Yaaarrr,’ he says, ‘them wizerds be lookin’ for ya! I’m gonna get me some coin!

            Lance looks up to see Arnold in the tight grip of a giant pirate. He runs behind them, attempting to keep up, watching as they enter the freak show tent. He creeps inside and follows the chatter that echoes from the end of a long hall-way.

            As he gets closer, he hears the wizards screeching and the pirate grunting in an argument.

            ‘Whatever he’s got plus the reward’s my only offer!’ The pirate yells as he grips Arnold tighter.

            ‘You better watch it!’ One of the wizards hisses back.

            Lance takes a quick glance inside the room. The grizzly cheetah hops around the far corner, while the pirate swats at it with one hand and holds Arnold in the other.   

            ‘Yar not getting him at all, ya half wits,’ the pirate begins to walk towards where Lance was peeking from outside of the room but the grizzly cheetah shoots a bug dart and stings his arm. The pirate growls in pain, throws Arnold near the edge of the room, and turns around to face the wizards.

            Lance takes the opportunity to grab Arnold and pull him out of the room. They step onto Lance’s platform and vanish before anyone notices.

            ‘Thanks, Lance! I thought they were going kill each other and that id be caught in the middle.’ Arnold rubs his waist and pulls out his map.

‘Yeah, I’d like to see their faces.’ Lance laughs.

‘I wouldn’t,’ Arnold says, still shaken up.

            They look at the map.

            ‘Sysmiosis is here.’ Arnold points, ‘and there’s the forest surrounding it. Can you get us there?’ He asks.

            ‘No problem at all,’ Lance says, ‘we’ll have to get pretty deep to avoid the water, but we’ll manage.’

            As they drop down diagonally, Arnold’s ears pop. Strange cracking sounds erupt around them. Fossilized eggs and bones lay inside the dense layers that surround them.




Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Chapters 12 and 13 - See below for 1-11

Chapter 12: The Librarian


With jaws dropped, Arnold and Lucidia enter the library. Colored bits of light dance between cathedral book-shelves. Glowing books lie in mounds; others sit in rows of shelves surrounding a conference desk. They hear a door open near the back of the room and a man appears from behind one of the book shelves.

‘Welcome.’ His empty glasses wobble as he shakes Arnold’s hand. ‘My name’s Jed!’

‘My name’s Arnold and this is Lucidia.’ Arnold nods as Lucidia shakes Jed’s hand.

‘It’s so nice to have visitors!’ Jed’s eyes beam. ‘We have a lot to discuss. Please, join me at my desk.’ He leads them past rows wooden shelves holding glowing books. They arrive at the desk in the middle of the room. Arnold and Lucidia sit as Jed grabs a tea pot and two mugs from his office. The back left of the room is dark and has empty book-shelves. Jed comes back from his office and pours them tea.

‘You must understand, Arnold and Lucidia, the world hasn’t always been like this.’ He sits with wide eyes, speaking as though reading out of a book. ‘Everything changed when a black magic super bomb went off- it wiped out everyone’s memories and cracked the world in two. People have been living out their lives like clockwork clowns in a mirage world ever since.’

‘That’s awful, ‘Arnold says.

‘The ironic thing is that the bomb separated Light City from the rest of the world, so everything I know about how to fix it would get erased from my mind if I left.’

‘Why’s that?’ Lucidia asks.

‘When you come to Light City and when you leave Light City, your memory is erased!’ Jed spoke with passion. ‘There’s only one key that allows you to move between worlds and not forget. It’s called the Eternal Flashlight, and you two must have it or you wouldn’t be here!’

Arnold and Lucidia look at each other with puzzled faces. 

‘A witch named Vialba has been safeguarding it. She’s stuck in an ice tent in Circus City, so she can’t take it anywhere!’

‘How do you know all this?’ Lucidia asks with excitement.

‘Books appear out of nowhere and explain these things to me!’

‘Wow, that’s remarkable!’ Lucidia says.

Arnold is still focused on Vialba. ‘I met Vialba,’ he says to Jed, ‘but she didn’t give me anything.’

 ‘Did she take something from you?’ Jed asks.

‘Yeah,’ Arnold thinks of the pocket-watch.

 ‘And did she give it back?’

‘Yeah.’ Arnold pulls the pocket-watch out from his satchel. When he opens it up, a bright beam shines out and the other lights fly towards it and weave in and out of it.

‘You’re the chosen one, Arnold! You’re the one who needs to carry out the deeds to bring the world back to a balance.’ Jed pulls a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. ‘I’ve been compiling a list of things that need to be fixed,’ he hands Arnold the paper. ‘We should focus on the first one and then go from there.’


Arnold looks at the paper.


1.      Sysmiosis sludge
2.      Two-way Town
3.      Tirinodo
4.      Con-Mind


‘What does ‘Sysmiosis sludge’ mean?’ He asks Jed, ignoring the nagging self-doubt in the back of his mind. He takes a deep breath and meets eyes with Lucidia. His stomach flutters as they smile at one another.

Jed speaks as though reading from a book again. ‘The soil in Sysmiosis turned into a glowing poison sludge after the bomb. When ingested, it turns you into a grotesque pig-human. You become addicted to the soil and spread it across the land.’

‘Yuck!’ Lucidia’s face scrunches up.

‘Arnold, you need to brew an antidote and find a small group of humans remaining underground in Sysmiosis.’ Jed points to the office. ‘They’ve been communicating to me through mores’ code. Time’s running out so this needs to be done first’

Jed takes out another piece of paper and hands it to Arnold. ‘These are the ingredients for the antidote. You’ll need to find Vialba to help you with this.’ He pauses and frowns slightly. ‘Circus City is the most dangerous place for you to go, but I’m afraid it’s the only place you’ll find what you need.’

‘I understand,’ Arnold says. ‘I’ll do it. But only if Lucidia can stay here with you.’  

‘No, I wanna go with you, Arnold!’ Lucidia says.

‘It may be best if you do stay, Lucidia,’ Jed says, ‘in fact, I can educate you for the next task and we’ll be ready when Arnold gets back!’ Jed pulls out a pocket watch connected to his pants with a small chain. ‘There’s a train that leaves from the second circle in twenty minutes’, he says. ‘I’ll get you some tickets at the train station. Light City will be your only safe haven, Arnold, so be as quick as you can and come back between each task.

‘Okay,’ he says.

‘It’s likely that word has gotten out, and if the wrong people find you, I’m afraid it’ll be too late. The Eternal Flashlight won’t work for anyone else now unless you give it to them willingly, or if you’re killed. I’ll be right back.’ Arnold’s face loses colour as Jed walks away.

Lucidia grabs a hold of Arnold’s hand. ‘You’re brave Arnold,’ she says. Her voice calms him. 

‘It’s moving so fast,’ Arnold says, ‘I can’t stop now.’ He gives a nervous laugh, feeling like a fraud committing to the challenge.

Jed returns to the table and hands Arnold a silver ball and a map.

‘What’s this?’ Arnold asks, examining the strange object.

‘Just keep it as a last resort. When the time comes, you’ll know what to do’ Jed smiles and winks.

Arnold stands up and places the ball, medallion, and map into his bag.

Jed gets up from the table. ‘Try to rally as many good wizards and witches as you can. We’ll need all the help we can get!’

Lucidia gets up from the table and the three of them make their way out of the library.




Chapter 13: Departure


Arnold, Lucidia, and Jed arrive at the Light City train station right as the train’s pulling in. A line-up has formed, so Arnold slides in while Jed jogs over to the ticket booth.

Lucidia kisses Arnold on the cheek. ‘Good luck,’ she says. They both blush. The line begins to move and Arnold shuffles towards the train. Jed manages to hand him some tickets right before he’s ushered up the steps.   

‘Bye Arnold!’ Lucidia yells and blows a kiss.

The door closes behind Arnold and the train begins to roll out of town. A wheel man in a blue suit rolls up to Arnold. His hair is greasy and his eyes look sinister.  

 He checks Arnold’s ticket stub. ‘Cabin 10,’ he sneers.

Arnold makes his way down the narrow hallway. This train is bumpier than the last. The paint is chipped and instead of the colorful free-jazz music, Arnold hears stuttered trombones, saxophones, and clarinets blowing out of the speakers.

He passes each cabin door (20, 5, 2, 31, 11, 8…) eventually coming to the end. The back door is marked ‘cabin 10’. Arnold puts his ear to the door, but all he can hear are the train’s wheels rolling over the old wooden track. He opens the door and a shriek of laughter pierces his ears. He pushes at the door, but it blows open with a gust of wind that sucks him out of the train. He spins up into the sky, accelerating through a bizarre tunnel of lights before falling hard onto a cold steel floor.

He gazes up from his fall to see that he’s in a cage. Beyond the bars is the grizzly cheetah and four half-wizards. His heart sinks. The wizards screech with laughter at him while the cheetah pounces and bites at the cage. A brief dizzy spell overtakes Arnold as he collapses to the floor. He hears more laughter as he falls out of consciousness.



The dampness in the room suffocates him as he gains his consciousness back. It’s dark and cold around him and his fearful body shakes. A thin light shines from under the door to his left, but there are no signs of life. 

He feels around for his satchel and pulls out the silver ball and medallion.

The door creaks open suddenly and the half-wizards lunge into the room and shine a spotlight onto him. He sneaks the ball and medallion back into his bag before they see and retreats to the back of the cage with his eyes closed.

            ‘We have some questions for you, worm,’ the owl-lizard screams.

            Trembling, Arnold doesn’t say anything.

            ‘There’s word around town that someone may have recovered an important device.’ He coughs green slime as he speaks.

            Arnold trembles silently.

            ‘We’ve got all the time in world, maggot!’ They erupt with laughter as the grizzly cheetah hisses and leaps out of the room. The light bulb shatters when the door slams.

            Arnold’s breath runs short as he struggles to collect his thoughts in the darkness. Visions of maggots and worms flash before his eyes as he feels the wizards trying to break his mind from outside of the room.  He flinches, struggling to maintain his strength in the face of these images. He brings his focus to an image of Lucidia and concentrates on her serene presence. His mind calms slowly.

            Allowing some time to pass, he pulls out the medallion. A bright beam of light shines out when he opens it. He flashes it around the room. He sees books, plants, strange creatures in bottles, tangled roots, and a mirror. He catches his reflection behind the steel bars. He looks pale and thin. A plate beside him holds mashed-potatoes and chopped up lizards. Despite the unappetizing appearing, Arnold’s hunger compels him to try it. He eats some potatoes with an occasional crunch and spit.

            After a snack, he pulls the silver ball out of his bag and holds it tightly in his hand. He opens his eyes and looks around with the medallion’s light. Nothing has changed.

He sits and waits, shakes the ball, but still nothing. When he looks over at the mirror, he notices that his reflection is gone. He puts the ball down and looks up and he’s visible again. He picks the ball back up and tries to touch the bars, but his hands go right through them.

Taking a deep breath, he grabs his satchel and jumps off the cage and onto the ply-wood floor. Right when he lands, a loud alarm sounds and the walls fly up around him like drapes.

            He sees the four half-wizards come out of a door farther back, so he runs to the corner of the room and keeps quiet.

            ‘Where is he?’ The second wizard screams as the cheetah hisses out fire. Smoke flares out of his nostrils as it leaps over to the cage trying to pick up Arnold’s scent.

            Arnold sneaks along the wall and runs out of the door. He reaches a long hallway and goes through another door that leads to a circus tent with caged creatures in it. There are lizard-clowns sobbing in some cages and elves with melting snowman heads in others. One cage holds an elephant with unicorns as feet. Arnold meets eyes with it, but sounds approach from behind and he runs through the exit and enters into an alley of Circus City. The frenzied jazz in the atmosphere seems to match Arnold’s urgency as he attempts to find something familiar. He’s knocked around like a balloon in a whirlwind, quickly gaining distance from the evil wizards.

Just as exhaustion sets in, he spots the top of the castle-tent in the distance and makes his way there.