“You’re not explaining this very well,” Marie said, finishing the rest of her sangria.
“I’m sorry,” Alice huffed, “I’m drunk and it’s complicated.” They both held their glances out to Galen at the same time, glaring at each other. Galen hesitantly filled Alice’s first, and Marie scowled.
“In the beginning, there was one planet,” Hershel said in a voice straight off a nature special, and Marie jumped almost guilty. Galen leaned back in his chair and folded his hands over his stomach, and Elsy looked up for the first time and met Marie’s gaze briefly.
“One planet, called Aarth, which started with a big bang and evolved over billions of years,” Hershel continued. His voice, Marie thought, was a curious mix of Morgan Freeman and Stephan Fry.
“Aarth’s population grew to the point of overcrowding. And so, to solve the overpopulation problem, Aarth created a second planet, called Barth” – Marie swallowed a cough and turned in into an unconvincing sneeze – “from the beginning, bang and all, and stimulated the same time conditions and gravity fields and weather patterns the Aarththons had long since invented.”
“Soon enough, Barth had the same problem. And they created two planets – Carth, and Darth, from scratch, and repeated the whole process, and so on and so forth.”
“But you said this planet was a copy of a planet,” Marie said, confused and definitely tipsy. She braced herself against the table and tried to pay attention.
“Exactly. The Carthigians discovered how to copy planets and move them to different dimensions, which is how Carth 2A and Carth 3A got started, because it’s way faster to copy a planet then birth a planet and wait around for it to mature.”
Marie sat back and ran her fingers through her hair, trying to flex life back into them. They’d inexplicably started to tingle, and she felt like her head was coming loose and floating away. She subtly tried to push it back onto her neck.
“What about Earth?” Marie asked.
“Darth created Earth. And Farth and Garth and Harth, while they were at it, which frankly seems like a giant waste of time.”
Marie closed her eyes tightly and reopened them. She was still sitting in a dingy blue plastered room around a dining room table with four insane strangers in an unknown town.
“You assholes are crazy, and I want to go home,” she said firmly.
“I’m afraid we can’t send you back yet, Marie,” Alice replied, interlacing her hands on the table. “You see, we need you here.”
Marie started to laugh manically.
“You assholes are crazy,” she repeated, standing up from the table, taking a step backwards, and promptly keeling over.
Word Count – 15843
“No, seriously,” Galen said, his mouth full of wing.
Marie wrinkled her nose and looked away.
“I don’t eat meat. It’s a common lifestyle choice. What, you guys don’t have any vegetarians here?”
“We like to stay alive. It’s a common lifestyle choice,” Galen shot back at her. “You gonna eat it or what?”
Marie made a face, and he shrugged and pulled her plate towards himself.
“So, Marie,” Elsy started, as Hershel motioned for her other foot. “You still haven’t told us who you are and how you got here.”
“No, I’m not playing that game,” Marie replied through gritted teeth as Hershel poked at a particularly deep cut. “You guys are telling me where I am first.”
Galen and Alice exchanged glances, then Alice shrugged.
“Fine, but you’re not going to believe us,” Alice said. She shifted back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest, drink still in hand.
“I told you before that you were on a different planet,” Alice started, locking her blue eyes onto Marie’s brown ones. “I wasn’t fucking with you, you’re actually on a different planet. But it’s worse than that. You’re also in a different dimension, and the rules here are not the same as on the planet where you’re from.”
“Okay, sure, and I bet there’s magic and you all have magic winged bunny rabbits you fly around on to get from place to place.”
“Fine. We’re on a different planet, in a magical otherworldly dimension.”
Alice sighed heavily. Marie pursed her lips and closed her eyes tightly for a second, as if she was trying very hard to bite back all the other things she had to say.
“Okay, okay. I’ll bite. What do you mean, the rules are different?” Marie asked, pulling her foot away from Hershel and leaning forward in her chair.
“The planet you’re on now is the personal property of a very rich man named Xionsyes Zelo. So rich, they probably don’t even have the unit of wealth that he’s got on your planet yet, and for whatever reason, he’s been running experiments, pulling people here from other planets, and fucking around with time.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Marie said loudly. “You can’t fuck around with time. Time just is.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it?” Galen laughed.
“How can someone just own a planet? I’d like a planet.”
“Carth 3-A is just a copy of the original planet, Carth,” Alice remarked, idly swirling the remains of her drink in her left hand.
“We just happened to be here when Xionyses bought it and started dicking around with it,” Galen added.
“What do you mean, a copy of a planet? You can’t just copy and paste a planet, can you?” Marie said incredulously. “What is this, the Matrix?”
Alice blinked. Clearly movie references were a waste of time with her.
“Oh, you can do a lot of things if you have enough money and power,” Alice replied vaguely. “Carth-2A was created a long time ago ago when the citizens of Carth decided they didn’t have enough elbow-room. Carth-3A was created for the same reason. When Xionyses bought it, a lot of the people who moved here went back to Carth-2A.”
“Why didn’t you?” Marie asked.
“I’m stubborn,” Alice said through gritted teeth.
“Gee, I hadn’t noticed.”
“Don’t be a dick.”
Word count – 14214
It’s definitely starting to sink in exactly how many words 50,000 words is. I just hit 14,018 after banging out about 2,000 today, and apparently to stay on target I need to hit about 20,000 on Saturday, unless I want to end up doing a few 10,000 word days near the end.
Thankfully, I still have plenty of plot to get through. Surprisingly, the hardest part for me has been writing this story in order, but in a way it’s good, because I have to write through the tedious explainy bits.
Ah well. We shall see, I suppose. It is only Day 4.
Marie slid into the shower after waiting what seemed an eternity for hot water. Although the water pressure left something to be desired, there was soap like smelled like eucalyptus and something citrusy she couldn’t place. Grapefruit, maybe.
She leaned against the smooth, colorfully tiled wall and slid down to sit on the floor, picking up her right foot in her hands and pulling it close to inspect the bottom. Despite being hopelessly dirty, it was painfully blistered, and Marie caught her breath when the hot water hit her damaged skin.
“Shit!” she swore, as she gingerly began to wash off the dirt.
“Ow. Shit ow. Shit.”
It was a full hour later when she finally stepped out of the shower, scrubbed pink and flushed with warmth. Marie thoroughly inspected the clothes that Elsy, the woman in overalls, had given her and smelled them. They were clean, mercifully, and smelled almost floral.
The white linen pants were generously baggy, although lucky they had a drawstring closure, so that if Marie tied them tightly and folded them over several times, she wasn’t tripping over them. The bright blue shirt was heinously ugly, but was at least a closer match to her size. She’d saved her own underwear and bra, much to Elsy’s protests, washed them in the sink and left them to hang dry. They were still somewhat damp, but at least they were hers.
She gingerly put on a pair of too big flip-flops Elsy had leant her and emerged into a narrow hallway painted a fading, medicinal pink. The walls, like the rest of the small house, were constructed of some sort of plaster, smooth and cold to the touch. At the end of the hall, she turned through an open doorway into what apparently passed as a dining room, a sort of dark, low ceilinged affair with a small rectangular table and a mismatched assortment of chairs. The four weirdos she’d met that morning were clustered around it – Elsy, the fat one, Galen, the tall skinny guy, Hershel, the old man, and Alice, the wild woman.
“About time,” Alice grunted, taking a sip of what was evidently one of a series of drinks. Marie took the empty chair between Hershel and Elsy and inspected the meal that had been laid out for her.
“Some freshly fried chicken, a nice rice pilaf with some toasted nuts, and a little fresh fruit,” said Elsy with pride. Marie nodded her thanks, turned the plate so that the chicken was as far away as possible, and picked up what looked to be a slice of mango.
“You want a drink?” Galen asked. He had his right hand firmly gripping the handle of a pitcher of something.
“What is it?” Marie asked, suspicious.
“Red wine sangria. Freshly poisoned,” Galen said dryly.
Marie stared at him.
“Don’t mind Galen, he’s just an ass,” Alice said, shooting the tall guy a vicious glance across the table. He shrugged, poured her about a pint of sangria and slid it across the table.
She nodded her thanks and attacked another piece of fruit, realizing she was starving. Marie took a generous slug of sangria.
“This is fabulous,” she sighed, taking a second sip.
“It’s also real fucking strong, lady,” Galen replied, reaching across the table and refilling her glass.
Hershel turned to Marie and held up a small medic case.
“Alice mentioned you were running around in the forest barefoot last night,” he said. “Can I see your feet?”
“Right now?” she asked, a forkful of rice almost to her mouth.
“No time like the present,” Hershel replied firmly, and patted his knee. Marie shifted awkwardly in her chair, kicked off a sandal, and gingerly perched her foot where he indicated. He pulled out a few antibiotic pads and got to work. Marie tried her best to ignore him and continue eating, although the ointment stung.
“Not a chicken fan?” Galen asked when she pushed her plate away.
“I’m a vegetarian,” Marie explained.
The four of them stared at her.
“What the hell is a vegetarian?” Galen asked, picking up a piece of her chicken.
“Very funny,” Marie spat.
Word count – 14018
How Milo had managed to join her at some point during the night was not, in her hazy state, a particular point of concern, rather, Marie had thrown an arm around the dog and used him as a somewhat squirmier replacement for her state-of-the-art sensor controlled heating pad, and hadn’t even minded when he licked her face a few times before settling in.
Now that she was awake, Marie tried to will herself to get out of bed and cleanup.
“Get up,” she growled quietly to herself.
“Now,” Marie added.
“Please,” said the wild woman from the doorway, where she stood with a small gathering of people ranging from a large woman in overalls to an elderly man in a very odd hat.
Marie sat up, surprised, and reflexively pulled the covers up to her chin. The four people standing in the doorway stared back at her, unmoved. The wild woman from the night before looked like she hadn’t bothered showering she they’d gotten in either, although she’d changed into a long skirt of some green gauzy material and a white sleeve-less shirt.
The other three were clean, but wearing the strangest combination of clothing imaginable. The large woman, who was built like an ox and was about as attractive, had a grandma cowboy look going on with a lace trimmed pastel pink shirt on under her no-nonsense overalls. A pair of oddly shaped glasses – somewhere between octagonal and nonagonal, but slightly curved as well – were perched on her surprisingly dainty nose.
The old man had a blindingly colorful pair of pants on that looked straight out of the nineties and a hat that looked like a bowler hat got into an argument with a hammer and a pair of scissors.
There was a fourth person in the doorway, a tall man dressed all in black, but mismatched and patched together, so one of his sleeves was a bluish black, and one was a graying black, and his torso, in comparison, was a true black.
Marie took all of this in, blinked, and, never having been woken by four disheveled looking strangers, promptly started to cry.
“Oh my god,” the man dressed all in black said with disgust, “this is the anomaly?”
“She’s been doing that since I found her,” replied the wild woman.
“God, that’s sad,” said the woman in the overalls.
“Shut up,” Marie sniffled.
“She talks!” the man in black cried sarcastically, clapping his hands together.
“Her name is Marie,” Marie replied, wiping her face on the ruined sleeve of her silk blouse. “Where the hell am I and who are you people? Take me back home, right now!”
Milo chose this moment to jump back onto the bed and snuggle himself into Marie’s side, grunting softly.
“You’re in the town of Perto-Roco,” the elderly man answered, moving forward and sitting on the edge of the bed. Marie scooted away from him and pulled her knees into her chest.
“Where is that, Florida?” Marie asked.
“Florida?” the woman in overalls asked, “Do we have Florida in our dimension?”
“Marie, tell me, what planet are you from?” asked the elderly man.
“That’s not funny,” Marie replied icily. “Tell me where we are. If this is a kidnapping, my dad will pay whatever you want. Just tell me where we are.”
“Marie, what’s the last thing you remember before you were in the forest?” the wild woman piped up.
“I was in the elevator at work,” Marie replied sullenly.
“And then what?” the wild woman probed, “A light flickered or flashed, the elevator opened, and dumped you out in the middle of the woods?”
Marie was silent.
“What if I told you that you were on another planet?” the wild woman continued.
“I’d tell you to go fuck yourself,” Marie spat.
“Atta girl,” the man in black chimed in.
The wild woman sighed and pinched her forehead with her fingers.
“Okay. Let’s approach this another way,” the woman in overalls piped up. “If you come with us, you can have a nice hot shower, a change of clothes, and a big lunch.”
“Is there alcohol at this lunch?” Marie asked.
“Seconded,” said the man in black. Marie caught his gaze and he smiled good-naturedly.
“As long as I’m here,” she sighed.
Word count – 12003
Hey internet. I’m starting my NaNoWriMo journey by attending a local write-in, which is essentially like a study hall for non-school-related purposes. It’s in a local café, I’m wearing my Doctor Who shirt, and someone’s already mentioned Nerdfighters and caffeine overdoses.
I think I found my people.
Marie stood, trembling like a newborn lamb.
“My feet are cut up on the bottom, and I don’t have shoes,” she sniffed.
The stranger just turned and started walking. Marie, desperate, overheated, and a little pissed, followed.
They walked without stopping for almost two hours. Milo waddled and bounded around them and through their legs the entire time, occasionally letting out a low pitched snuffling grunt of approval if he was enjoying himself or a sigh, if he didn’t think Marie was moving fast enough. The woman, who had not offered her name or even asked for Marie’s, said nothing at all the entire time, save one apathetic grunt when Marie asked her, fifteen minutes in, how long the walk would take.
Marie zoned out the silence after a while, occasionally stumbling over the odd tree root and wincing theatrically for anyone who cared to look. No one was nearby as far as she could tell, but it made her feel slightly better about the whole situation. Both her feet were cracked and blistering badly, the right foot leaving behind a bloody smear on the leaf-covered forest floor, and she was sweating profusely through her very expensive silk floral blouse and her immaculately tailored dark wash jeans.
To while away the time, Marie thought of a Katy Perry song she’d heard on the radio the other day and replayed the chorus over and over in her head. It was a shame, she thought, that she’d dropped her iPhone, else she could look up the rest of the song and get it out of her head.
That thought made her start crying again, and she sniffled the entire rest of the walk, privately determined to be absolutely miserable.
Marie slept until noon of the following day and rose still half-hoping to be home in bed, wrapped in her 5,000 dollar Egyptian sheets. Milo, the dog, was waiting for her at the foot of the scratchy and pitiful excuse for a bed they’d allotted her the night before, clutching her Louboutin heel delicately between his teeth. When she sat up, he promptly dropped the heel, picked it up again, wagged his tail, ran around in a circle, and jumped on and off the bed six times before dashing out of the room.
Marie lay back down and stared up at the ceiling. Last night they’d arrived just as the sun was going down and the wild psychopath woman hadn’t done anything but shove her into one of the dilapated looking building and pointed towards the bed.
“The water in the pipes is clean,” she had remarked almost begrudgingly, before closing the door and locking it from the outside. Marie, on the point of collapse, had merely nodded, peed, and jumped right into bed without even bothering to undress.
Word Count – 11514
I can’t hold your weight all on my own
you’re like the sand
you’re like water
and I won’t let your heaviness drag us both
I cupped my fingertips but like a sieve
you found the cracks
and slipped between
and cleverly you fell away
Where you pooled the trench was deep
when the tide came it knocked me off my feet
and so I had no choice I let myself be swept astray
If you come back with the waves
from the deepest places where the currents hide
I’ll let the water salt the earth
but I’ll stay far afield so that we don’t collide
I’ll fly above and greet the sun
for where the ocean ends another day sings
and I won’t let you pull me down
I won’t let you clip my wings
I couldn’t hold your weight all on my own
you drift away
you drift away
Marie pulled up in front of a brick building with weeds growing around the broken stones in the walkway. It was an Earth-seventies style design with bright yellow trim and a flat, angular roof. The fence, a rusty chain-link that towered over her head, bent slightly inwards towards the building, shying away from the street. Marie pushed open the corroded gate with hesitation, nearly tiptoeing up the walk.
The list of residents was water-stained and yellowed, adding to the neglected charm of the place. A lone spider dangled mournfully from it’s silken thread. Written in the slot for 2-C was Williams, Claire, in messy print.
Marie hit the buzzer somewhat nervously, half praying she wouldn’t be home. Her nerves doubled when Claire’s voice came through over the buzzer.
“Hello?” Claire said, voice fuzzy over the connection.
“It’s Marie. Everard.” Marie said back.
There was a long pause before the door lock clicked open.
Shit, Marie thought. She hadn’t expected that.
She took the stairs to the second floor and knocked on 2-C. Claire opened the door almost immediately. She wore striped pajamas and square framed glasses, and her dark hair was frizzy and somewhat greasy. She looked unapologetically disheveled.
“I didn’t fire you,” Marie blurted out.
“You did order me to ‘Get Out”,” Claire said flatly.
“Yeah, of my office,” Marie said in defense. “Not of the company.”
“Wait, what the fuck?” Claire said, running her fingers through her hair. “You chased me down in a different dimension on a different planet to tell me I wasn’t fired. Do you not have better things to do?”
“Listen, it’s been a weird day, but the bottom line is that you’re an awesome secretary and you’re not fired.”
“Don’t start sucking up to me.”
“I’m not sucking up.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Look, we both said things that were hurtful. Yours just happened to be the truth, and I needed to hear it. Badly. If bettering myself means having someone around willing to kick me in the ass when I deserve it, then so be it. Especially on a different dimension with weird-ass shit happening. Like, I so don’t want to be dealing with this shit alone anymore.
Claire stared at her.
“I have. Inter-dimensional travel does that to a girl.
Claire sighed, and rolled her head in a long, languid circle. Marie looked down at her worn slippers, which at one point might have been fuzzy and pink, but were now matted and had holes in the toes. Her pajama bottoms were clean but neatly patched on the knees and lower legs. They showed about three inches too much ankle.
“Shit, what does a secretary even do here?” Claire asked. “Do you even have meetings to manage?”
“You’d be surprised, Claire.”