(based on the feedback, I’ve touched up the first paragraph to anchor it better)
Where do you hide a world? In a room full of doors full of rooms full of… you get the idea. I was being sent back, but at least this time I’d been given a pair of pants. And a whole lot more. I resisted the urge to look in the backpack again; bigger on the inside gave me a headache.
“So there are people there now?”
The old man/god/whatever-he-was chuckled. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
“Elves, dwarves, goblins, dragons, Demon Lords?”
“That last one’s a bit comic-book for my tastes, but it could happen; you spent a few years looking for one, after all, thanks to her interference. Unfinished worlds are shaped by desire and expectation, which is why I’d left you in stasis. Mortal desire can change even finished worlds, though few ever try, and as the only one there, waking, sleeping, expecting, you shaped this one quite a bit.”
“Are we, then? Mortal, I mean, the three of us.”
“They weren’t, until you named them. They didn’t age because they weren’t finished yet, and you didn’t age because your world wasn’t; you were all missing pieces. It was your mutual desire for completion that reshaped the door to let them in and lock her out.”
“So you’re saying that deep down, I just wanted a loli and a catgirl?”
His eyes twinkled, and I mean that literally. “Is that really what you got?”
He finished making changes to the door, and it opened to reveal a familiar rock, with two even more familiar shapes curled up together on top of it, stirring softly.
“Go home, son, they’re waiting for you. You won’t need to wake them with a kiss, but I recommend it.”
There were still a lot of questions I wanted to ask, for Angel and Ariel as well as for me, but I knew he wouldn’t give me the answers, at least not today. A new one popped into my head as I stepped through the door, though.
“Hey, how did I end up on that rock in the first place?”
“You were run over by a truck.”
(second story, from her point of view…)
Chapter 3 was, of course, titled “Sex (I’m A)”. 😁
As I said, this was real seat-of-the-pants stuff. It started as a punchline that I reverse-engineered into a joke, and then I just kept going, working on my long-standing problem of mixing dialogue and narrative, until a character walked onto the set and forced an ending. Or at least a pause.
It ended up just over 6,500 words, and most of it’s pretty damn sparse. That’s actually pretty similar to the sort of light novel that inspired it, where he-said/she-said dialogue can go on for pages without so much as a “he said”, and then you get a burst of purple prose, followed by more dialogue. I think I filled in enough to make it coherent if not fully anchored.
Then I started thinking about what came next, and she stepped in. Not literally, or I’d be tired, sore, and much less stressed out than usual. Unless she tried to cook.
I have no idea how long it’s going to run, but she’s up to 9,600 words and a cast of 5+1/2+1/2, and that’s pretty much just one day, not counting the brief overlap with this story. There’s one snippet I deliberately skipped over, and I want to leave it that way if I can convince myself it makes sense, and doesn’t leave someone wondering if I just forgot to post a scene. That’s one of the 1/2-characters, and I’m more interested in the aftermath of it than the details of what happens.
The other 1/2-character is the Old Man, who did not force an ending this time (quite the opposite, in fact). I rather like how that bit turned out, especially when she has to explain it to someone.
Revisiting Jack, Angel, and Ariel will require real world-building, because they’re no longer in an empty world. It’s definitely a cliché fantasy world, but which tropes should I abuse to keep myself amused and them on their toes?
One thing that popped into my head, as I was doing one final pass before posting the last few snippets, was that the Old Man says that with Jack being alone on this unfinished world, his desires and expectations shaped it. But he wasn’t the first one to spend time there. She used it as her secret refuge for decades, and “desire” is her specialty…
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