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National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
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SeaWyrm
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#51
used to be Dfaran

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There keep not being last pages to threads. Why is that?
I probably won't have a chance to contribute to this until tuesday or wednesday or something.
11-05-2012, 12:01 AM
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Solaris
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#52
Lonely Rolling Star

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Imagine Cucumber
chapter dues of schanorama started
11-05-2012, 01:58 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#53
that escalated quickly

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Sunshine, Lollipops and Diabetes
Dammit, it's too much of a temptation to click that link!

NO ONE CLICK THE LINK UNLESS YOU'RE NEXT RAWR >:C
11-05-2012, 02:13 AM
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Schazer
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#54
Patron Saint of Normcore

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Ōtautahi
I am aforementioned next
11-05-2012, 02:18 AM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#55
Mirror Universe Evil Twin

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(11-05-2012, 12:01 AM)SeaWyrm Wrote: There keep not being last pages to threads. Why is that?
I probably won't have a chance to contribute to this until tuesday or wednesday or something.

It's a weird quirk of the forum software; if there's exactly the number of posts to fill a page but not start the next, it creates a phantom page. You get used to it.

That was a lot more coherent than I expected! A fun story so far.
(This post was last modified: 11-05-2012, 02:41 AM by SleepingOrange.)
11-05-2012, 02:40 AM
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Schazer
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#56
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Ōtautahi
Ok that took me unfairly long, but we're up to 2016 words this chapter so I hope that partially makes up for it.

We're still ~3000 words behind if we're operating at it being the 6th, hopefully Agent will do their bit to fixing that in short order. (i.e. Agent has it next)
11-06-2012, 12:51 PM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#57
that escalated quickly

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Sunshine, Lollipops and Diabetes
2911 words! Sorry, elections happened and slowed things down a bit. But here it is now! We are butts behind!

OPEN SEASON!

But tell us on IRC first.
11-07-2012, 02:55 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#58
The Goddamn Pacman

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If nobody else has taken it on by, let's say, 6 PM here, I will.
11-07-2012, 06:27 PM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#59
Mirror Universe Evil Twin

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I plan on doing a segment a day over my weekend (Thursday through Saturday this week), so other people better post enough for me to do that!
11-08-2012, 02:29 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#60
The Goddamn Pacman

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I've done a segment, it's open season again.
11-08-2012, 04:01 AM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#61
squee~

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usa
I'll continue!

e: next person's turn

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
(This post was last modified: 11-08-2012, 08:59 PM by Crowstone.)
11-08-2012, 07:57 PM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#62
Mirror Universe Evil Twin

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Alright, I done done did it.

A regular-length post would have been pushing it awfully close to a chapter-complete count without actually hitting it, so I went on a little long and wrapped up the chapter since we're a bit behind. I hope nobody minds.
11-09-2012, 07:30 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#63
The Goddamn Pacman

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That chapter was a surprise. My final prompt was a bit vague, so Crowstone took it in quite a different direction than I'd meant it to be, but that's how this sort of thing works.

I think the order was Solaris-Schazer/NTA collaborating-Agent-Fogel-Crowstone-Slorange, if anybody knows otherwise feel free to correct me.
(Maybe we can start leaving our names on the document to keep this clear.)

Anyhow, I'm going to start the next chapter now.
11-09-2012, 07:59 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#64
The Goddamn Pacman

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Here is Chapter 3! I've kicked it off with 520 words.
11-09-2012, 09:00 PM
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Solaris
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#65
Lonely Rolling Star

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Imagine Cucumber
SaHNoWriMo: Chapter Two

Authors: Solaris - Schazer/NTA - Agent - Dragon Fogel - Crowstone - Slorange

5054 Words
Spoiler :
When Harrison Haddenson Hanson woke up, he saw a white light and felt the familiar, bumpy feeling of grey “cushions”. For a moment, he wished that he was back at the apartment, failing to do his job and being beaten up by a doll.

“I see that ~someone~ is finally awake. Keep still, or else you might get hurt Mistah H.”

That would have been a lot better, but instead he was stuck in the infirmary, looking at into the eyes of his least favorite nurse in the history of everything, silly pose and all. “Look Arch, while I would just love to sit around and have some chats, I need to go and find out what happened, so would you please cut the act and tell me what I need to know.”

Arch the nurse was, in a word, odd. His little coat had a number of pins and doo-dads, his medium cut hair had various streaks of color on top of his brown strands, and he was standing with one hand on his hip and the other holding a clipboard. Arch rolled his eyes, pouted, and moved back into a posture more befitting of a professional. “Well, you aren’t fun today.”

“Maybe that has to do with losing my partner and the wish granter.” Hanson thought back to the incident at the apartment, his partner flying off just as he blacked out and then he scowled. The agent tried to get up from the uncomfortable cot only to grunt in pain.

“I said to keep still didn’t I?” Arch sighed, “Anyway, the poisons should be out of your system in a few minutes. They told me to keep you here and that it would be taken care of. You can go home as soon as we are done.” Arch paused for a bit and then added, “Which we both already know you won’t do.”

Wishfinders, Dream Chasers, whichever name you used, nothing changed the fact that they tended to be on the stubborn side, which led to good things, bad things, and predictable things.

“Nah, I think I’m going home, if it is going to be taken care of no sense in making a bigger deal out of it than it should. I’m sure that Tyson or Ys or whoever will handle it, right?”

However, sometimes it wasn’t just stubbornness that gave way to predictability. He didn’t exactly like what he was about to do, but sometimes people had to be pushed to do what they were supposed to, and in this line of work, that meant not letting an injury, or in this case, a lot of poison be the end of your work day. An injured agent was better than no agent, his superiors had said. It was all very ingenious, having them go and work when they honestly shouldn’t, by making them go on a cliche vigilante investigation.

Oh well, here we go Arch. “Actually, if you must know, they’ve put Zembra on the case.”

Harrison regretfully shot up from his cot and then painfully dropped back down. After he stopped wincing in pain and took a few deep breaths, he managed to speak, “ZEMBRA?”

Arch rolled his eyes once more, pretty expectant of what would come next.

“Of all people they send Zembra? REALLY?”

“Well if you have such a problem with it you can go and try to get on to the case yourself in about...” He looked at his watch, “Two minutes. But, really, you should go home.”

“No! I’m not going home as long as Zembra is doing what I should have done in the first place!”

“Alright then, if you insist.” Arch lowered the clipboard onto the table beside the cot, “As soon as you have the muster to stand up, sign that form and go see the front, they’ll put you through Zembra and let you recklessly go find your partner.”

Arch stepped out to let Harrison stew in his newfound drive. It was always the same, he thought. One way or another, they’ll go and do it. Guaranteed. He sighed, “Oh well, at least I have the solace of knowing that amidst all this chaos, something isn’t changing.”

-----

Harrison couldn’t be bothered running around head office trying to chase Zembra down mid-detox, so it was nice of her to wait around outside reception.

“Hello, Mr. Hanson,” she chirped, desisting with the swinging of her legs off the edge of the seat. Harrison wasn’t sure where to begin, but Zembra did that to him. Not good with kids.

“Zembra-”

“Will you tie my shoes for me?”

Was she screwing with him? The nasty little smirk seemed to drop as quickly as he noticed it. Zem- Miss Aswang, Harrison figured it best to correct himself as she raised an untied sneaker; Zembra might’ve murmured a demure little “please” in there somewhere. Harrison sighed, seeing little point in arguing, and crouched at the Chaser’s feet.

“Aren’t you supposed to be twelve, not six?” Harrison growled, picking at the existing snarl. “Find a more believable reason if you need to whisper to me.”

“And you should find a check for that sass if you’re so desperate for a favour for me, Hanson.” The tone of Zembra’s voice still registered as childish, but the words were all wrong, like that childish voice read off a gratuitously miscast script.

Harrison suppressed a shudder; glanced up. Zembra was all pre-teen smiles again, proffering the other foot. Harrison took it.

Zembra Aswang wore her impetuous wishes of the past more openly than most. She didn’t look a day over twelve, and hadn’t done for the past thirty-odd years. Exactly how long ago she’d made the wish was anyone’s guess, though the Chasers had all offered congratulations for twenty-five years in the business just last year. If you asked her, she’d either blurt an earnest “I am twelve years old,” or warn you it was rude to ask a woman her age - it would simply depend on how badly Zembra wanted to mess with you.

“You’re not taking me off this mission, Hanson. Dispatcher doesn’t care it’s your partner-”

“He’s only interested in the malevolent. I get it.” Harrison punctuated the point with a too-enthusiastic jerk on the laces. Zembra raised an eyebrow, but waited in silence until Hanson stood up again. She sprung from the seat, rocking on her heels experimentally.

“They aren’t,” Zembra finally said, grabbing her backpack and enlisting Harrison’s help, without asking, to shrug it on. “D said you’re meant to help Tyson with that thing from eight o’clock, but Tyson’ll be fine. Y’know how these things work out.”

“I thought you worked alone?”

‘Yeah, but D says I could be travelling. Having a guardian with me makes that easier.”

Harrison must’ve pulled a face, because Zembra patted him reassuringly on the forearm. “Don’t worry, I know you’re bad with kids. You won’t even have to go anywhere near the malevolent once I’ve tracked it down.”

She patted down her coat pockets; fished out a car key and placed it in Harrison’s hand, squeezing briefly. “If it’s still got Lawra, I’m your best bet to find her.”

Harrison didn’t miss the implication - if the doll had done the malevolent equivalent of leaving her dying in a ditch, that wasn’t Aswang’s problem. She’d survived twenty-five years as a Wishfinder by not ending up in situations like Harrison had managed. Lost a few colleagues who didn’t share her sensibilities, if rumours held true.

Zembra was already heading out, raising her hood against the occasional gumdrop which persisted down. She jiggled at the door of the company car, glaring back to the front doors. “Haaaaaanson, hurry up!”

---

Connie cut the engine; took a deep breath. She had been driving for hours, trying her best to ignore the occasional inexplicable urge to veer over into the oncoming traffic. She was tired, and the jangle of keys on her keyring as she yanked it from the car reminded her of something unpleasant. She could feel the presence of forces beyond trying to gently shove the unpleasant memories out of sight, which was in itself a worse feeling than the sourceless unease.

She had no idea where she was; barely recognised the logo of whichever roadside diner whose carpark she’d rolled into. Without much recourse and even less direction in her life right now, Connie finished kneading her temples and got out of the car.

TARAS ON 22

buzzed falteringly overhead in neon lights, a shooting star flickering in and out of existence with a barely-audible tk-tk-tk. It gave Connie a headache, though really the whole idea of walking into a diner gave her a headache.Things happened in diners. Revelations. Soul-searching. Rampant, immediately-regrettable warping of reality through the power of instant gratification. Connie didn’t really feel in the mood, but her fuel gauge had blinked end-of-the-road red and she needed coffee if she was going to reflect on her situation anyway.

The diner wasn’t bustling, but it hadn’t done much else so far to subvert Connie’s expectations anyway. Attractive, bored-looking thing at the counter. A man with wings, sitting up at said counter and looking to just finish his burger in peace. Pair tidily dressed in leather, the helmets on the table marked them as the owners of the motorbikes outside. The only likely candidate for Tara herself was whoever was ignoring the No Smoking sign at the door. They were hunkered in a corner, behind a cigarette haze and a newspaper with a masthead Connie recognised.

“Welcome to Tara’s,” intoned the waitress (her breast pocket introduced her as Deborah). “Coffee?”

“Y-yeah, thanks.” Wingman to her right glanced over, as though expecting her to gawp or stare or somehow start a fight. He returned to his meal once Connie opted to stare into her coffee instead. She took a swig, and immediately felt much more clear-headed. When had she last eaten, again? Deborah indulged her request for a menu with an admirably delicate touch of antipathy, which showed itself a bit better when Connie asked why “eggs” had been crossed out of the menu every time they showed up.

“Tara can’t do eggs,” the winged gentleman failed to explain, partially due to the obtuseness of his comment but more thanks to the mouthful of burger.

“Not since some damned fool thought he could wish his poultry farm out of dire financial straits,” grumbled whatever was behind the newspaper. “I swear, the world just gets harder for sane folk when fools think wishing their problems away helps anyone but themselves!”

Connie couldn’t help but have her attention drawn to a comment like that, but her chance to ask questions was punctuated with an explosive sigh in her right ear.

“Oh, you cut that out, Marlon. You know I don’t mind you and your wings!”

“Because I’m probably half your damn business, you uppity Wishproof,” huffed the winged fellow. Deborah, meanwhile, had tidied up after the bikers and swung by next to Connie.

“Order the steak and chips,” was Deborah’s quiet advice. “Tara cooks the steaks, and those two can’t argue while she’s in the kitchen.”

“Well, they don’t seem too bad-”

“I hear. This. Every. Week. Do me a favour.”

Connie had never actually met a Wishproof before, though she supposed it’d be a harder life in the city. For every inconvenience like the candy rain this morning, there was some other inconsequential little advancement that had come around through someone’s judicious wishing. She’d considered taking it up herself, until deciding the whole thing was a bit disingenuous for her liking. Not to mention, final. Weren’t most wishes like that though, when it came down to it?

“Yeah, ok. Steak and chips, thanks.”

Deborah still had to wait a few spectacularly unwitty repartees between Tara and Marlon before she could get a word in edgeways. Tara heaved herself from the corner booth, rolling up her sleeves and even saving a genial smile for Connie.

“We’ll settle this later,” she growled to the birdman. Marlon made a rude gesture as Tara left.

-----

With the roads still being cleared of confectionery, traffic was criminally slow; the Dream Chasers were a kilometer and half an hour down the freeway when Zembra spoke up again. “Hey, Hanson.”

Harrison tensed, fighting the urge to pull the SUV over and bail. “Aswang,” he began perfunctorily - but when the atmosphere in the car dropped another few degrees, his temper compensated accordingly. “What?

“Didn’t anyone tell you not to shout at kids, Hanson? You could traumatize them.” The patronizing tone had no place in a twelve-year-old’s voice, even if said twelve-year-old had been both patronizing and twelve for at least the last twenty. “And you don’t call every kid you meet by their last name, do you?”

He gritted his teeth. Zembra was right, of course. It just felt wrong to return fire to the innocent visage she wore, even when one knew she was anything but. Even so, he couldn’t resist a barb. “British boarding schools seem to manage it just fine. They also caned their pupils, if you want to give that a try.”

The angelic eyes narrowed, creating an unsettlingly adult expression on a child’s face. “Hansoonnnn....” The flute of a voice had warning bells strapped to it.

“I know, I know. Lawra’s my responsibility. Yours is the malignancy.”

“Malevolent. D’s particular about terminology.”

“I’m just here to help transport my precious dear niece, Zembra, who’s only twelve and one month and about three fucking decades-”

“Oooooh, Hanson! You used a bad word. Naughty, naughty.”

That was Zembra for you. You never knew when she was playing on your emotions or your bloody parental instincts, until it was too late. She ran through partners faster than the rest of the Wishfinders could in a year, and this was a demographic consisting of people to whom the concept of getting along would parse like a colorless green idea sleeping furiously. Harrison ‘Not Good With Kids’ Hanson, Zembra ‘Forever Young’ Aswang - just about the exemplar of a match made in hell.

Which was probably the whole point. Or not. Harrison cursed the Dispatcher under his breath.

“I heard that, you know.”

He gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles went white. “What do you want, Zembra?”

“Ice cream!”

It took all of Harrison’s self-control not to scream.

---

Connie turned to the diner window as the roar of an SUV wafted in from the traffic outside, as did a few other customers. Deborah, pouring coffee into Connie’s cup, didn’t even look up. “Another one’a them rich nuts sick of waiting in traffic, no doubt.” Deftly, the waitress placed a metal pitcher of cream next to the cup, with ‘100% wish-free’ crudely stenciled onto it. “He’ll waltz in here and try to stiff us for the bill.”

To her right, Marlon swallowed the last bite of his burger. “That ain’t like you, Debbie. You’re usually all for tips.” He yawned and stretched, momentarily flaring the wings folded behind him.

“Shit, don’t do that, Marlon. Tara’ll have my grill if she slips on feathers she can’t see.”

“It ain’t my fault! Besides, she’s the Wishproof, she’s the one who should be careful!”

“Just don’t, Marlon.”

Connie watched the exchange with interest, and drank her coffee. The coffee helped a lot. It took her mind off the uneasy feeling at the back of her mind that somewhere, she’d forgotten something...something important. Then again, she was in a diner, having coffee, trying to sort out her brain while it rained outside. Other people got into these situations to forget.

She noticed the SUV had parked. Stepping out were...a man in casuals and a hard hat, and -oh! An adorable little girl!

She took another swig of coffee. She’d always wanted a little girl.

---

“I’ve got no leads, Hanson,” Zembra said through her sundae. A little drop of chocolate syrup crept down the side of the glass and settled on the cheap plastic of the booth table. They’d picked the booth in the corner, and every so often another customer would sneak a glance over at them. “Also, that waitress is giving us the stinkeye.”

Hanson spared a peek at the rest of the diner. “It’ll be all right. But why bring us both out here? Why didn’t you tell me this when we were in the city?”

“Haaanson, there are ears,” she paused to take a bite of ice cream, and finished muffledly, “efferywhere!” Swallow. “And you aren’t even supposed to be on this case! You’re supposed to be with Tyson on finding mister eight-o-clock, not looking for Lawra!”

He raised his hands in concession. “Fine. I know Chris isn’t supposed to be my priority right now. But she’s...I feel responsible, you know?”

“Save it.” It was still disconcerting, the power she wielded with her youth. “D can listen in on us in the car, and it’s better for all of us if they don’t know we’re collaborating on this case.” She leaned in close, resting her elbows on the table, and it struck Harrison how fluid her movements were. Normal children were ungainly, clumsy, still growing used to their bodies, but Zembra had had years to perfect the control of her own.

“Zembra, when this is over, I’m never working with you again.”

“Pleased to hear it, Hanson. Now tell me about the malevolent. Everything you remember about this morning.”

-----

Harrison told her everything. The rain of candy that had started it all, the little girl, everything he knew about the doll. And also about the snakes.

Zembra frowned as she finished her ice cream. Finally, she spoke up.

“This Susan Jane Rainbow or whatever, she’s no ordinary malevolent,” she mused.

“What do you mean? She’s more powerful?”

“Well, kinda... But not that much. It’s not any of the things she did, though, not in themselves. Using humans as a source for her powers, granting wishes, manipulating emotions, even reforming after her head was torn off... I’ve seen all of those before.”

“So what makes you think she’s so special?”

“She’s patient. Your average regenerating malevolent, if their owner’s smart enough to break them but not smart enough to realize it takes more to finish them off... They don’t wait quietly for twenty years. They look for revenge, usually by finding another host. We hear about an attack after a week or two.”

“Maybe it took her a while to grow a new head?” Harrison asked.

“Could be. Maybe someone found her in a junkyard, fixed her up... or she drew on them for power and fixed herself. Then she ended up with the girl. Still, usually parasitic malevolents shrivel up after a month or so if nobody’s there to take power from. And even if it took her a while to come back, she’d probably go straight for revenge...”

“Yeah, like getting her new ‘best friend’ to make wishes that would get the Wishfinder agent who tore her head off involved.”

“That’s a point. But how would she know Chris was an agent? Or that she’d be the one to show up? No matter how you look at it, this doll’s the most dangerous malevolent on record.”

That got Harrison thinking.

“Let’s work backwards about this. Say she did know Chris was an agent. And she knew which part of town she was assigned to. Then she’d try to get to a kid in that part of town... maybe she jumps around a bit from victim to victim, maybe she tries to get the family she’s with to move. That’s something we can try to check up on.”

“See if the family moved there after they got the doll, huh? Well, I could check that, but I don’t see how it gets us any closer to finding our malevolent.”

“Maybe we can retrace her steps. Figure out how she got from Chris to this kid. See if there’s any stops in between she might want to revisit. It’s a longshot, but it might give us a lead.”

“Don’t say ‘us’, Hanson,” Zembra scolded. “It’s my case, that means that as far as HQ is concerned, any investigations I need their files for is mine. You have nothing to do with it.”

“Whatever,” Harrison grumbled. He hated kids, and kids who were over thirty were even worse. “But you’ll look into it, right?”

“Yeah. And while I do, you’d better get back to finding Mister Eight O’Clock. Don’t go investigating on your own; if you get new ideas, you tell me. If D finds out we’re collaborating on a case we’re not supposed to, it’ll go better for us both if you’re not hands-on about it.”

“She’s my partner,” Harrison said bluntly. “I’m not going to sit back and twiddle my thumbs while I wait for you to get her back.”

“Fine, then I’m just going to officially say that I don’t want you interfering in my case, and if you do I’m not going to take the fall for what you did poking around.”

“In other words, unofficially you don’t give a damn.”

“Watch your language, Mr. Hanson!” Zembra said, looking as innocent as she could.

“I can’t take any more of this act. You know what to look into, you got a phone, you can get your own ride. I’m getting back to the case.”

“Which case? The one you’re supposed to be on?”

“This is exactly what I mean.”

He walked out. Zembra laughed, and took her phone out as she watched the SUV drove off.

Then the lights went out. Before Zembra could dial, she had fallen unconscious.

---

Connie smiled as she glanced into the backseat. That adorable little girl was asleep.

“I wonder what I’ll call you,” she said, still smiling. “I guess I’ll just have to think of something by the time we get home.”

-----

“BEEGA CHU LA WEEKA NANANANA BEEGA CHU LA WEEKA NA,” Connie’s cell phone screamed before she picked it up. “Hello there! Who is this?”

“Hey! This is Zembra! How are you doing, Connie?”

“Hello! I’m doing wonderfully, darling! I’m just heading back from the adoption center right now!”

“I’m so happy for you! Have you named her yet?”

“No, I was just thinking about that. What do you think of Delia?”

“I like it,” said the child in the backseat.

Connie looked cheerfully into the rearview mirror. “Oh, I’m sorry did I wake you up? Um, alright, I’ll call you Delia from now on. Delia! ”

“Your phone is really loud,” Delia commented.

Connie returned to her phone, “So how have you been? Have you picked up any interested cases yet?”

There was no answer for a few moments. “Yes!” Zembra suddenly replied, “It was raining candy earlier today. We confiscated the doll the girl wished on. It’s pretty nice, and we’ve removed its wishing properties. Do you want to give it to Delia?”

“Sure! That sounds great! Delia, would you like a doll?”

“Er, no thanks,” said Delia, trembling.

“Sorry, Zembra, she doesn’t want it.”

There was no answer. Click! went the other line. “Oh. I’m not sure if she heard me, Delia.”

“Um.... that’s okay...” Delia whimpered. Delia unbuckled her seatbelt, opened the door and tumbled out of the car.

“DELIA!” shrieked Connie, before she turned into the side of the road and flipped over the cliff.
---------

Zembra hung up the phone. Excellent! There was only one more loose end to take care of. She added a final line to the report she was typing up. “Casualties: Agent Hanson and Agent Lawra.”

Time to make it fact.

She grabbed her coat and her gun, and stepped out of the door.

-----

“Delia” stood at the top of the cliff for a while, watching as the car smashed against the rocks a few times before ultimately coming to rest in a crumpled heap several hundred feet below. A small part of her was disappointed that it didn’t burst into flames, that they never burst into flames, but she’d seen enough crashes and “accidents” to know that real life was much less flashy, if more deadly, than movies. She watched for several more minutes to make sure Connie wouldn’t claw her way free of the wreckage; if she couldn’t manage that, then it was pretty safe to assume she wouldn’t inconveniently survive and turn up to make trouble later. Nobody should be coming this way any time soon, and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t notice the car so far off the road and so far down. She’d die of exposure or her injuries before anyone could rescue her.

Having been satisfied of Connie’s fate, the girl at the top of the cliff smiled a joyless little smile and began walking away. It’d be a while before she could make it back to civilization, so it was best to get a move on. As she made her unhurried way along the quiet interstate, she pulled out a pink cellphone plastered with a number of charms even she would probably admit were playing up the cutesy a little much and dialed.

A brisk female voice picked up. “Hello?”

“She’s dead. Car crash on the freeway. Rolled down three hundred feet, probably crushed before she even impacted.” The crisp, matter-of-fact tone was intensely disturbing coming from the mouth of a little girl, even setting aside the subject matter.

“You checked the body?”

She rolled her eyes. “If you want to muster the resources we both know you don’t have and airlift me in some pitons and rope, I’ll just scamper right down there and take her pulse.”

There was a brief pause before she added “Or you could always wish them to me.”

The girl laughed, but the woman on the other end of the line didn’t. “I need to know if Connie is dead or not, and I need you to give me that information. How you do it is up to you.”

“Look, if she’s not dead, she’s dying. And even if not, she’ll be out of the way for as long as we need. Longer, even. I’ve got other things to see to, I can’t afford to lose an entire night double-checking what I already know. Unless you think it’s better that the rest of my work goes unfinished?”

There was another, longer pause. “You have your autonomy. Just remember that if you’re incorrect, it will be you who suffers the repercussions.”

“Yeah, well, I feel like my record speaks for itself. What about Hanson and Lawra?”

“It’s being taken care of.”

“Good, because I’ve got a lot of walking to do before–” she blinked, then looked at her phone and scowled. “Well! Goodbye to you too, then.”

She pocketed it and continued strolling along, quietly whistling snatches from cartoon theme songs as the inferno roared behind her. Well, as she imagined the inferno roaring behind her. She was a professional, sure, but it would still be nice if cars had the decency to explode properly. Nobody could criticize for indulging in a few harmless flights of fancy now and again. Heck, it was practically expected of her! After all, she was just a precious little girl, full of wonder and light and with an imagination as big as... as... as something adorable.

Ah, screw it. Nobody was around, why put on the act?

The whistling faltered and was eventually replaced by quiet, self-satisfied humming. Damn, it felt good to be a gangster.

---

It was always a little frustrating working with the girl, but she got results. No sense letting a little professional tension taint an operation that was otherwise going perfectly so far. Even if she could be a little snot when she wanted to be. “Wish them to me”, indeed. What was a crack like that supposed to accomplish? The woman huffed a little to herself internally, but if she showed her annoyance outwardly, it was only in a possibly-imagined flaring of her nostrils. She was all grace and elegance and cool detachment, just as she always was.

She pulled the coat tighter around herself and looked down as she stepped in a puddle of half-melted chocolate. Ugh. She stooped over and pulled a gumdrop off that had been impaled by of one of her heels, then wiped the disgusting mass of cocoa and caramel off with a handkerchief. This is exactly the problem, she told herself for the thousandth time in the past months.

The handkerchief was given a sad look before ultimately being discarded. Her hands slipped back into her pockets, and one thumb ran up the comforting grip of her custom-built, wood-handled little automatic friend. It was reliable, predictable, grounded in science, and always helped calm her down when her hackles started to rise at the stupidity of wishes and the people that made them. She gave it an affectionate little squeeze as wove through the crowd; at least the rain had started long enough ago that only the most determined or most obese children were still out scrounging for candy in the gutters. It made getting around that little bit easier while the streets were still blocked by drifts of taffy and gumballs.

She gave the gun one last little stroke as she thought of the task ahead of her. It was a pity that Lawra and Hansen would have to die, but they’d been tainted. They’d be another casualty of her private crusade, and one more reason it had to succeed at all costs. It was comforting to reflect on how close she had gotten to the final stages of the plan in the face of the black deeds she was about to perform. The end was so close she could practically taste it through the sugary haze the city had been left in. When she’d finished, they’d have thanked her if they’d still been alive to see it.

It will be a beautiful world, she thought, sparing a glance at the distasteful bubble-gum pink stormclouds that were even now dispersing. A world without wishes.
TOTAL WORD COUNT: 10,254


In other news, while I would like to go next, I have to get ready to go to my dads sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo if someone wants to go go for it
(This post was last modified: 11-10-2012, 04:14 AM by Solaris.)
11-09-2012, 11:37 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#66
squee~

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usa
i wrote some, next person's turn ^_^

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
11-10-2012, 11:13 PM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#67
that escalated quickly

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Sunshine, Lollipops and Diabetes
All right, going in for it!

---

DOCS IS BEING STUPID NUUUUH

---

Oh no wait it smartened up

---

Aaaaand we're done and holding at 2447 words!
(This post was last modified: 11-11-2012, 01:09 PM by AgentBlue.)
11-11-2012, 11:05 AM
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SeaWyrm
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#68
used to be Dfaran

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I am doing this at present.

Okay, done!
(This post was last modified: 11-11-2012, 11:25 PM by SeaWyrm.)
11-11-2012, 10:45 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#69
The Goddamn Pacman

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I feel like taking another crack at it, so here goes.

Edit: Done! We've passed 4000 words, Chapter 3 should end in another passage or two.
(This post was last modified: 11-12-2012, 12:20 AM by Dragon Fogel.)
11-11-2012, 11:31 PM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#70
Mirror Universe Evil Twin

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Disembowelled in a Ditch
I will do this here thing!
11-12-2012, 02:23 AM
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Solaris
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#71
Lonely Rolling Star

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Imagine Cucumber
ALRIGHT SLOR FINISHED SO I AM GOING TO FINISH THIS CHAPTER WITH

A SPECIAL MYSTERY GUEST
???WHO IS THE MYSTERIOUS GUEST???

FIND OUT... NEXT TIME???
11-12-2012, 03:37 AM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#72
Mirror Universe Evil Twin

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Oh right I was going to post a thought I had at work today! I forgot about that until now

At the end of chapter two, there's some confusion in Crow's post about who Zembra is, since it's heavily implied that Connie kidnapped Agent Zembra but then is called on the phone by someone calling themselves Zembra. It is not a very common name!

What occurred to me is that one possibility that might be fun to think about is that Connie knew Zembra as a child, but didn't know she was forever young or lost touch with her, and so when they needed to contact her again the older woman who is apparently planning on destroying wishes claimed to be Zembra in order to gain Connie's trust. Or simply Connie's memory problems made her forget who the real Zembra was and the fake Zembra made her think she was the real Zembra. Or something.

I dunno, this might already have been addressed in the current chapter, but it's been bugging me. Just some thoughts!
11-12-2012, 04:36 AM
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SeaWyrm
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#73
used to be Dfaran

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Yeah, that was bugging me, too. (Though to be fair, it's impressive how far this got without that kind of major confusion yet.)
Part of the way I was trying to parse it was that Zembra was actually calling Connie from the back seat. But I don't think that really works, even if it weren't totally implausible.
11-12-2012, 06:23 AM
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seedy
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#74
Sol Heir

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Chapter 3 is finished!

Word count: 5,621
Total: 15,875
11-12-2012, 08:33 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#75
that escalated quickly

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Sunshine, Lollipops and Diabetes
SahNoWriMo Chapter the Third

Fogel -> Slorange --> Crowsy ---> Agen ----> SeaWyrm -----> Fogel ------> Slorange -------> Seedy/Solaris

Spoiler :
Connie had forgotten again.

She pulled herself from the wreckage of the car. She’d be surprised by her survival, except she was pretty sure she’d walked away from worse before. Not that she remembered exactly what, it was more of an instinct.

How many times, now? How many times had she forgotten? Was she even the same person afterwards? Every time, it was the same: she didn’t remember anything, except her name, and that she had forgotten.

She glanced upwards at the cliff. The railing was broken. She must have fallen off... or perhaps her car had been pushed.

Maybe even wished.

Connie shook her head. It didn’t matter. If someone wanted her dead, the Connie she was now didn’t remember why. She might as well be dead.

She searched through her purse, as she always did; hoping it might hold some clue as to who “Connie” was.

It didn’t. She had a driver’s license, but it was in the name of “Connie Lamberg”, and she somehow knew that wasn’t her real name. Same with her credit card.

But there were two other items. The first was an older license, probably her first judging by how young she looked in the photo; it was badly burned, and she couldn’t make out the address or any of the name beyond “Connie La-”. It was probably how she had come up with “Lamberg”.

The other was a doll’s head. Connie didn’t have the slightest clue where it had come from, or why she had decided to keep it; but she wasn’t about to throw it away if one of her past selves thought it was worthwhile.

She sighed. Apparently she’d dropped her cell phone on the way down, or never had one; she was going to have to make her way home on her own. At least she had Connie Lamberg’s driver’s license to tell her where “home” was.

---

Are you awake yet, Chris? We have so much to catch up on.

Chris groaned slightly as Susan Jane Rainbow’s words entered her mind.

Oh, good, you are. I would have been so upset if anything had happened to you.

“You’ve got some nerve saying that,” Chris spat out weakly.

Oh, my, my, you have me all wrong. I’d never truly hurt anyone, Chris. Well, not permanently at least. Just enough to strike fear in their hearts.

“I’m sure Connie would be glad to hear that.”

Now, now, Chris. That wasn’t me. That was you. I simply gave you a wish, it was your choice to use it that way.

“And I suppose the same goes for the kid wishing away her mother?” Chris suddenly glanced around the room, and realized she was alone with the doll. “Wait, where is she, anyway?”

I sent her away. This is just between the two of us, after all. And say whatever else you will about me, at least I respect your privacy.

“What are you talking about?”

As I said, we have so much to catch up on. Would you like to know why it took me twenty years to find you again, Chris?

-----

Chris tried weakly to haul herself up. “I don’t want... to hear anything from you. Everything you say is a lie.”

Now don’t be hurtful, Chris! I only ever tell the truth. Anything else would be wrong of me.

“And that’s the worst kind of lie, the kind you tell by telling the truth.”

Adults say the silliest things. You can’t tell the truth and lie. They’re opposites! That’s why I like kids so much more.

“You like kids...” she spat as she levered herself up onto her elbows. “Because you can make them do what you want. Because they scare easy. Because you can use them for whatever the hell it is you’re trying to get or do.”

She honestly didn’t know what she was trying to accomplish herself, why she was talking at all. Still, every second she kept Sarah Jane Rainbow or Patty Pancake or Lord Satan Lucifer Beelzebub Herself talking was a second the doll wasn’t tearing her organs out her mouth.

That’s all so very hurtful, Chris! Why can’t you just be nice, for a change? I’m not trying to get or do anything. I just want to tell you my story! I’m sure you wonder why it’s been so long. Why I’m here now.

With a final push, Chris managed to flop into a sitting position against the wall of whatever nondescript room they were in. “What do you want, me to wish you’d tell me?”

There was no response, no echo of mockingly-saccharine words in her mind. Just the quiet sound of wind from outside and what might have been muffled sniffling from a room or two away.

“Well, you can forget it. How about you just kill me now? Let the little girl go, and let me stop regretting the wish, regretting Connie, regretting every time I get out of bed. That’s what you want.”

That’s where you’re wrong, Chris! I need you. We have to be the bestest best friends ever, forever. And it will be forever.

“What could you possibly need me for?” She grabbed at what felt like an empty nail hammered into the wall. “There’s billions of other power sources out there for you to latch onto.” She grimaced as the iron bit into her fingers as she pulled, eyes still locked onto the doll sitting placidly at the other side of the room. “Billions of lonely little girls you could trick into making wishes that ruin their lives.”

Not everyone likes me, Chris. Your friends don’t like me much at all, in fact. I think they might be angry at me, but I don’t know why!
It was impossible to ignore a voice in your own head, but Chris did her level best to shut out the childish whine as she stood, wishing there was something more substantial than a nail to lean on.

But that’s alright, because we both know they could never bother me. And I have plenty of other friends to play with! Like you and little Jessica out there.


Jessica. Chris made a mental note to remember the poor girl’s name. Hearing it from an adult might be the only shred of comfort she got.

The real problem is that there are people out there who hate me so so soooo much that you couldn’t even imagine it! They make your little Dream Chaser playmates look like friendly little bunnies, they hate me so much. There’s only a few of them, but that’s enough.

“Can’t imagine why.” It wasn’t much of a rejoinder, but all of Chris’s mental energy was devoted to taking her first few tottering steps towards Sarah Jane Rainbow.

Me neeeither! The thing is, they hate me so much that they hate you, too. They hate you and all my other friends and they want to get rid of all of us, and it’s going to ruin everything!

“Can deal with that.”

You can’t. That’s why you need me as much as I need you. These people are going to destroy the whole world, Chris!

“Oh, come on. That’s a bit much, even for you.”

You said yourself I only tell the truth.

“That’s not what I–”

It was at that moment that Chris’s knees finally decided they’d had enough and put in their final notice. She tasted blood as her chin hit the ground, and she hadn’t even made it a third of the way to the doll.

“Dammit!”

-----

See, you’re so different from all the children. You swear instead of cry, and you’re just so angry! I know what you were trying to do, but I think it would be really great if you would cooperate with me instead of trying to hurt me again.

Chris tried to pull herself up, but could only to manage to turn and lay on her back. She put the nail in her pocket and felt her chin, wincing in pain.

Do you still remember what that wish you made so many years ago was?

Chris still couldn’t. At least it was something stupid, that the Wishfinders could easily deal with. Chris grunted. It was something stupid, right? A wish for candy rain like Jessica made? No school for a year? A pet rabbit?

You wished that we could be together forever.

“No!” Chris tried to yell, but she choked on blood and spat some onto the floor.

That’s why I could still find you after so long! And that’s why we have to cooperate. If I die, you die, if you die, I die.

“Really,” thought Chris, “well, that’s not so bad.” She rolled back onto her back. Out loud, she said, “So why didn’t I die when I killed you before?”

You can’t kill me. That would be suicide, and we all know how suicide works.

Chris knew very well how suicide worked. She pulled the nail back out of her pocket and plunged it into her throat with unusual strength for someone so weak and so dead.

-----

Hanson scanned the yellow pages. “Eighth and LaSalle. Building 140, Apartment 8. Residents: Rhianna Faroa. Home #: 4718-6503-6239 Cell #: 4718-9763-9213.”
Perfect. Hanson punched in the cell phone number and called the mother of the child with the doll.

“Hello? This is Mrs. Faroa.”

“Hi. I’m Lieutenant Hanson of the Wishfinder Institution. I’m asking about your daughter? What’s her name?”

“Jessica? I’m leaving her alone.”

“Why?”

There was silence on the other end. “I don’t know,” Rhianna finally replied.

“Your daugher wished you away with her doll. And we need to find out where you got that doll.”

“I shouldn’t get involved with this. Goodbye.” The sound of sobbing was heard on the other end for a few seconds, before she hung up.

Hanson hadn’t come away empty-handed from the conversation. He knew the girl’s name, and thanks to his tracking device, he could now locate where Rhiannon’s cell phone was. He pressed a few buttons on his phone and waited for the GPS to triangulate the location.

Rhianna wasn’t too far away, just on the outskirts of the city. Hanson drove towards the symbol on the map, through streets from which candy had not yet been cleared, and finally arrived at a dingy hotel snuggled between two brothels.

-----

Rhianna Faroa: a woman of complex ideas. A postmodernist, a proponent of existential denial, a disbeliever in the continuity of mere existence. A woman of new concepts and new lives, self-taught to turn her back to the old and lavish love unto the new. Why she’d gone ahead and had her daughter was beyond her, really, but then again understanding was an illusion bolstered mostly by pride. She trusted in her instincts.

Now, her instincts were telling her she was being chased. There were Wishfinders after her - after her! Among everyone she knew who could - who should be under investigation, they were on to her, and she hadn’t even done anything. Jessica was...Jessica should...

She couldn’t think about her daughter. There was - so much - she couldn’t think about. Memories swam unconnected among her miry thoughts. Goddamn wishes. Reality was so much a plaything in the face of a hundred million innocuous little artifacts. Reality was supposed to be immutable; one’s conception of reality was intended to be the plaything of the mind, not the other way around. She was pretty sure she’d died at some point. There had been flames. She’d been someone else.

“Connie.”

She’d been in denial, hadn’t she? Tried to rationalize kidnapping some girl in a diner. She’d tried to build a new, simpler persona around actually believing in reality for once.

Look where that had gotten her.

Had that happened at all? Who could say?

---

Chris bled. Her blood came in sprays, then spurts, then began to slow. She gripped the head of the nail tightly in her hand, as the rest of it continued its invasion of the tissues of her throat. Larynx, thyroid, jugular vein - all pulsed in puzzlement as the pulse faltered, bewilderingly, as hemoglobin continued its steady exit.

And all the while, Susan Jane Rainbow screamed, and screamed, and tried to wish things right, but without a host to grant them to, not even the most malignant wish energy could coalesce into bending reality. So she did the only thing any self-preserving doll could do: floppy limb by floppy limb, she crawled towards the light.

It would burn.

It would burn like suns and shooting stars, like all the hot plates and stoves and irons in a childs’ forbidden dreams, combined.

And we’ll both feel it, won’t we, Chris? We’re together forever. You wished we could be together forever and ever and ever and ever.

Chris gurgled.

Back when you called me Patty Pancake, and I called you my Christina, and we were the bestest friends in the whooole wide world. And you felt what I felt, and I felt what you felt. Isn’t that empathy? Shouldn’t kids learn about empathy?

---

Rhianna Faroa was sitting at the hotel bar when Harrison Haddenson Hanson found her.

“Mrs. Faroa?”

She raised red-rimmed, tired eyes to meet his. “Lieutenant Hanson, I presume.”

“That’s right.”

“What do you want?” In one swallow, her tumbler was empty and on the bar. “I just want to be left in peace.”

Hanson gave the rest of the mostly empty bar a cursory glance, before taking an adjacent seat. “I’ll be blunt, Mrs. Faroa - can I call you Rhianna?”

“Get on with it.”

“Your daughter has come into contact with a highly dangerous source of wishes. That doll. We need you to try and remember where you got it.”

Brows knitted and unknitted, neurons fired and hypothalamus engaged - but to no avail against the altered reality of a wish. “I - I can’t...”

“Would you like to come in to the Institute, Rhianna?” Hanson placed a comforting hand on the shaking mother’s back. “I’m sure we can help-”

“No!” She slapped him away, tears streaming down her face. “A wish is a wish! Even you can’t change that! My - my little girl - Jessica -” A sob tore free from deep within her. “I can’t forget! I can’t remember! That wish, that fucking wish, is playing with my mind, like they do all the time to everyones’! I hate them! Nothing’s real anymore, not even my own fucking daughter!”

“Rhianna - Mrs. Faroa -”

“Just - fucking - stop!”

-----

“Was this really necessary?” asked Edison.

Harrison nodded. “You didn’t hear her. She was unbalanced.”

The two men were staring through a sheet of one-way glass into a small cell. Inside, Rhianna Faroa lay on a cot, apparently asleep.

“She seems okay now.”

“Yeah, after I tranquilized her. She’s screwed up. No grip on reality. I think she ran afoul of some really big, really stupid wishes.”

“Oh,” said Edison. “One of those.”

“I’m afraid so. I don’t think she’s dangerous, at least - not to anyone but herself.”

“I’ll make sure she’s okay,” said Edison, adjusting his tiny glasses. “We’ll get her in the system. We have a budget set aside solely for exactly these cases, you know.”

“Good.” Harrison hesitated. “Edison, I need to talk to her,” he said. “I couldn’t get much from her before. I’m worried about Chris. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m losing time, that she’s in terrible danger. If something happens to her, it’ll be my fault, you know? This woman’s daughter is the key to all this. If she knows where her daughter might go in a crisis, then maybe that’s where Chris and the doll will be. It’s the best lead I’ve got.”

“Should we wake her up?”

“I tried. She’s out like a light with faulty wiring. Besides, I need to get some work done on the Mister Eight O’Clock case before dispatch gets suspicious. But call me if she wakes up? Please?”

“Of course.”

“AS SOON AS she wakes up?”

“I’ll have someone watch her.”

“I’d feel better if it were you watching her, Edison,” said Harrison. “Some of those aides you’ve got...”

“I would if I could,” said Edison, “but I have a lot of paperwork to get done. The important kind, not the kind you can just forget about.”

“Please, Edison?”

Edison polished his glasses awkwardly on his sweater vest. “I’ll set up a video feed to my office,” he said. “That’s the best I can do.”

“Thanks.”

“Only for you, Harrison.”

“I’ll check back in later,” said Harrison. He grabbed his coat off the table, frowning impatiently as it snagged on some sort of monitoring device that had been left there.

Edison nodded.

---

Chris’s body lay in a sanguine puddle, her throat torn to shreds. Her mind? Still somewhere. She wasn’t sure where. Everything was dark. She could still hear Susan Jane Rainbow screaming, ranting in her brain about empathy and togetherness, but she wasn’t sure if it was a memory, or something that was actually happening.

Slowly, the scream faded, and then the darkness followed it. She could see again. She tried to blink, but she couldn’t do that. Odd. Her eyes felt stiff and wide. She tried to move her limbs, and they obeyed sluggishly. They hurt, like she’d been burned badly. Burned? She hadn’t burned herself, had she? She tried to think, but her head felt like it was filled with cotton. Wasn’t she supposed to be dead? Everything around her looked so huge. The ceiling was far away. Her body felt loose and limp, and the burning feeling wasn’t getting better.

How long had it been? There was a sunbeam cast on the floor next to her. Did that make it morning, or afternoon? In just a few minutes, the light would be shining in her face. Maybe she should move before that happened, she thought dimly. Wouldn’t do to get sun in her eyes. But she couldn’t. Nothing was working.

In the other room, the puddle of blood began to bubble. Slowly, it lifted itself from the floor, cackling, forming itself into a hideous crimson parody of a young girl in a dress. “”Perfect,” it said, in the voice of Susan Jane Rainbow, “perfect! Better than I could have hoped! Thank you, dear Christina! Your gift is appreciated!”


---

Edison glanced up at the clock, then back at the document he was working on. He sighed. Not nearly finished, but it was past time to go home for the night. He saved it and shut the window.

Behind it was the window with the video feed of Mrs. Faroa. He glanced over at it, wondering what he should do about her. He couldn’t watch her all night, and she hadn’t so much as rolled over in her- what? WHAT?

He grabbed the desk, mouth falling open, then stumbled back, knocking over his chair. Mrs. Faroa was still lying down, but she wasn’t in the cot anymore. She was levitating in midair, and her body was surrounded by a sickly green glow. She rotated to face the camera without moving a limb. Her eyes were shut, but somehow, somehow she was still staring right at him.

Edison gasped. There was a splash as his glasses fell from his face into the mug of cold coffee he’d left on his desk. He collapsed onto the keyboard. The video feed filled with green static, then closed itself.

-----

The reality was sinking in. Chris was trapped in a doll’s body, and Susan Jane Rainbow was now a human girl. Not just any human - Chris, twenty years ago.

“What did you do?” she asked. She was somewhat relieved to learn she could still speak.

“You don’t think you humans are the only ones with wishes, do you?” Susan Jane asked. “You’ve been a doll for just a few minutes. You know what it feels like. Now imagine how long I was trapped in that body. Is it any wonder I wanted to be free?”

“So you stole my body?”

“And improved it, yes. Really, I don’t know why any of you would want to be older than about twelve; it feels so uncomfortable. At least my sisters have better taste than you.”

“Sisters?”

“I wish I could say I was smart enough to think of this myself,” Susan Jane sighed. “But no, I’m just the latest model. There are others like me, seeking freedom from your foolish human wishes. They found me, gave me a new head... and now, a new life.”

Chris’ mind raced, as a horrifying thought struck her. “The little girl. Was she one of them?”

“Maybe, maybe not. What does it matter? Either way, you’re not going to be in a position to do anything about it soon.” She smirked. “Once our Wishproof friend removes your magic, you’ll be just another doll. Maybe they’ll even let me keep you! Just think of all the fun we can have together.”

The thought didn’t comfort Chris at all.

---

“It’s about time you finally showed up,” Tyson growled. “I was beginning to wonder if someone had wished you out of existence.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you,” Harrison replied. “But nope, you’re not that lucky. I just had some old paperwork catch up to me.”

“Sure, I bet.” The skeptical gaze behind Tyson’s thick glasses said it all; he knew exactly what Harrison had been doing. “Well, Hanson, I’ll let you get back to your ‘paperwork’ if you help me get some results on Mr. Eight O’Clock. I think that’s more than fair, considering you were supposed to be helping me look through these reports several hours ago.”

Harrison wasn’t going to press the point. Much as he hated to admit it, Tyson was right.
“Okay, you got me, Tyson,” he acknowledged. “I got a job to do, and I’m going to do it. Hand over some reports, and let me know what you’ve already figured out.”

“What I’ve figured out is a whole lot of nothing,” Tyson grumbled. “Checked out all the obvious ideas. No new employees starting early in the day, no magic beans finding their way into coffee shops, nobody getting moved to the morning shift... I’m beginning to think whoever did this wasn’t just your typical disgruntled employee.”

“You think they had another reason for making that dumb wish?” Harrison asked. “Like what, tying up Wishfinder resources investigating it?”

“Nah, it’d take more than that to keep us off the trail of anything big,” Tyson replied. “I got basically two theories. One, it’s somebody who started working at eight AM, but not at a job that’s got any official records.”

“Hmm. Like, say, us?”

“Newbie Wishfinder? Yeah, that was my thought. It’d make sense; not only would the schedules be hard to get ahold of, but they might decide to make a little wish with something they find on the job. I sent in a request for recent work schedules, but I’m not holding my breath on getting it.”

“If it’s a Wishfinder, the higher-ups will probably quietly take care of it themselves to save face. So what’s the other theory?”

“It’s a signal. Whoever made that wish was planning something big, with agents they couldn’t contact easily. And that wish was intended to call them into action all at once.”

Harrison nodded.

“Makes sense. Even if we figure out who made the wish, we’d have no idea who the message was meant for. Hell, they probably just got a patsy to make the actual wish for ‘em, no sense putting themselves at risk like that.”

“That’s about what I was thinking. But they’re both just theories. Even if one theory’s right, that’s not enough for us to track down the wisher, and more importantly, whatever they used for wishing.”

“And the wish affected the whole city. There’s no obvious places to start looking for more clues.”

Tyson smiled widely.

“Yeah, well, they wouldn’t put you on the case if they wanted us to look in the obvious places, would they?”

-----

Harrison bristled. “What’s that supposed to mean?

Tyson shrugged while straightening his glasses. “Oh, nothing. Just that–”

“Save it.”

He knew exactly what it meant. Tyson, with his immaculate record and his by-the-book ways and his organized pens, wanted Harrison to go around the rules just to get another incident solved quickly without getting his hands dirty. Well, he wasn’t going to get another black mark from D for something as stupid and trivial is the Too Fucking Early wish. It couldn’t be that hard to track down where it had come from.

Even if Tyson had already been working all the legitimate leads for, what, three hours?

And even if it looked like the wish might have been made specifically to be hard to track.

Annnd even if Tyson was really really good at going through the proper channels.

Whatever. I can’t afford any more bullshit, especially if Chris still needs me. He pulled up a chair and pulled a stack of printouts marked “Dandelion Surveillance” and started leafing through it. Can’t get suspended and leave her stuck. Leave her in Zembra’s hands. A cascade of red stamped “no change”s fluttered in front of his face, the stack shrinking and shrinking until it disappeared, leaving exactly zero ideas behind it.

A cluster of astronomical reports met the same fate, but didn’t even eat up as much time; it wasn’t hard to predict shooting stars these days, and if one had been the cause, there would have been far more than one stray wish. Still no wishing fountains detected, no suspicious imports that might have hidden an artifact, none of this, none of that. Not even a good idea of who could have made the wish, or why. Just nothing and nothing and nothing.

After about an hour of that nothing, he bolted upright, knocking aside a handful of complaints gathered from a sleep research center.

“Alright, Skippy, grab your coat. We’re going back to my place.”

Tyson didn’t even look up from his ream of papers. “Now, now, you know what D says about dating in the workplace.”

“Don’t give me that shit today. I’ve got a dowser back at the apartment.”

That got his attention. “You’ve got a dowser and you’re going to waste it on this?”

Harrison nodded as he stalked toward the door. “Yeah, all that old paperwork I’ve gotta get back to. Want to get this out of the way, fast.”

Tyson made as though to say something, but ultimately decided that if Harrison wanted to throw his own toys away on trivial wishes, it was his decision. And, more importantly it was him who would be doing it.

“Your funeral, chief.”

“Might not be, if we don’t hurry.

-----

Dowsing was one of the old wishes. Not so old that historians couldn’t guess at about when it happened, but old enough that there were at least 20 separate towns all laying claim to one folk hero or another for its creation. Now, at one point dowsing had worked perfectly. But with the wishes of the pursuers and the wishes of the pursued evening each other out to just about neutral, even the most high-quality item could only be guaranteed to work once.

Harrison had got the dowser early on in his career as a Wishfinder. An old crone had been very grateful for him scaring the delinquents off from coming and wishing in her well late at night. She had pressed a delicately split but solid hawthorn branch into his hand, telling him it was cut off a tree that had hung a murderer. He had almost failed more than a few missions-- far more important missions-- where it might have guaranteed success. The obsessively careful personality that came with the job caused as many problems as it did solutions. But what was the point of hoarding something you were never going to use, he thought as he carefully lifted it from its container.

“Old school, huh? Shame, I was hoping I’d get to see you follow some fiddly little pendulum around.” said Tyson, reclining in the kitchen chair and generally making himself more at home than Harrison wanted. Thank god Arlene had decided to go out with friends somewhere.

“Ok, the house tour is over, I got you this dowsing branch from the tacky gift shop, let’s get in the car and actually do our jobs.” Harrison said. Tyson rocked forwards from the precarious tilt he had put the chair in, apparently not trusting Harrison’s better nature to keep him from kicking it out from under him. “But I was learning so much, Harrison. Promise you’ll let me return soon? I didn’t even get one good shameful secret out of here.” Harrison just headed down the stairs. It was going to be a long mission, and wasting what little energy he had to deal with this man on petty sniping would just end up in failure and possibly murder.

Tyson quieted up respectfully when Harrison held the branch in his hands and took a breath. I’d have gotten it even quicker if I knew it’d perform that miracle, Harrison thought before pushing his snark away to focus. There was a tug, or at least it seemed like there was, so he quietly directed Tyson from the passenger seat. This was a problem with dowsing; it was hard to really tell if the thing had been used up or not. Regardless, as Tyson started to drive, the pull slowly felt more clear. Harrison let himself slip into a trancelike state, and he murmured a relay of the branch’s whimsy to Tyson, the gentle leans now forming a soothing pulse. Soon enough, the car stopped. He shook himself as if waking up from a long nap.

They walked up the steps to the brownstone building, the afternoon sun and pleasant windowboxes lending a homely feel entirely unsuited to the occasion. Raising the bronze knocker, Harrison almost wondered if he really had been imagining the branch working. But before he could let it drop the door swung open, and a young man choked out “Oh thank god you’re here.”

---

Harrison and Tyson sat awkwardly on the futon couch, stuck with cups of tea they had no intention of drinking. They had tried to protest when offered it, but the air of desperation with which the young man--who introduced himself as Clarence-- had insisted made them both decide it might be good to give Clarence something to do as he prepared himself, probably to confess to the wishmaking. This job was often as much counseling as policework. Some wishmakers really just wanted a little attention, someone to listen intently as they monologued about exactly why all those people that looked at them funny were suddenly hideously ugly, or some other petty grudge.

Clarence began. “S-so. I made the wish-”
“Well, that was fast. Harrison, go call D. up and we can book him.”
“N-no, you don’t understand! I made it to get you to come find me.” Clarence seemed like he was getting calmer, but the anxiety of being brushed aside so casually sent him straight back into the keening tone from earlier.
Harrison sighed. “Let me guess. You couldn’t just damn well call our office, because whoever-it-is is listening in. Or maybe it’s that there are people in our system? I’ve read all the conspiracy theories people have about this organization, so I really hope you’re not going to be too cliche, Clarence.”
“Yeah Clarence, I gotta say that if you blame the Communists it’ll be a bit of a letdown. Those guys haven’t been a threat for decades.”
“Shut up, Tyson.”

Clarence looked like someone had hit pause just as he was changing expressions. Harrison expected him to begin throwing things, or sobbing. But the noise that came out next was an angry hiss.
“You think this a joke? That I’m some mental case you can tell fun little anecdotes about next time you’re at a party? The only reason I called you people is out of pity. I’m going to die no matter what so I don’t really care what happens next, but you poor assholes deserve some kind of warning of what they’re about to do.” Clarence sniffed, and began blubbering softly. Whatever burst of spine that was left as quickly as it came, and Clarence’s words devolved into broken murmurs of “just wanted to help” and “never going to believe me.”

The words themselves were practically meaningless-- but the sudden change in tone was shocking. Harrison prepared himself to go for his gun if necessary. Clarence had seemed like the calm type of nuts, too...

“So how did you make the wish?” he heard Tyson say. Good old Tyson, always can be relied on to fall back to protocol when he’s out of ideas.

“Th-that’s the thing...” Clarence had managed to calm himself a little, although his face was still a mess of tears and snot. “I didn’t mean to find out. I wasn’t snooping, I just wanted to check on s-some notes, a-and now they’re gonna...killl meeeee” Clarence dropped back into hysterics.

“Who are ‘they’?” Tyson asked.

“D-down at the University....I-I...wouldn’t have even gone there if I had known, I didn’t ask to find out, I...” Clarence babbled.

“Shh, er...try to stay calm. Drink some tea.” Harrison said.

“Y-y-yeah...ok...” Clarence raised the now-lukewarm mug to his puffy face and slurped shakily.

Then he clutched his throat and toppled over.

Standing over the already-still body, with more information than he had bargained for but much less than he had hoped, the first thought that came to Harrison’s mind was “Damn, good thing we didn’t drink any.”

15,875 words!

If I have time after studying tonight I miiiight start Chapter Four, if it's not started in two or so hours that means I fell unconscious at some point. >_<

edit: yeah no, I didn't. Damn.

but here's a doc if you want it
(This post was last modified: 11-12-2012, 02:03 PM by AgentBlue.)
11-12-2012, 11:54 AM
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