Friday, April 29, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 14: There She Goes!

As she hit the last note, the so far deadpan crowd popped loudly, much to Darren's surprise.
"Thank you very much. Have a good night." smiled the girl meekly.
"Wow." Darren thought, seeing her leave the stage to another round of applause. Her heartfelt performance reminded him of the prom where he saw Emily sing for the first time. Simply beautiful.
"Hey hey hey," Nelson nudged him. "Another one coming right up."
Strains of a melody which Darren recognised as Selena's Dreaming Of You flitted through the place. Another dressed-up girl, though less elaborately this time, made her way onstage with mic in hand.
And that was how the night mostly wore on, rapid successions of singers crooning slow numbers he had never heard of, apart from a few Elvis and John Lennon tunes. Some carried their own guitars and keyboards, while a good number even had gimmicks like heads rolling off midsong going on. Though he found it bland most times, the partisan crowd lapped up every moment of it.
Nelson, too, appeared to be enjoying himself thoroughly. Halfway through a ballad by some young black girl whose name he'd forgot, Darren turned his gaze round the room. There were now much more Ghosts than when they first came in, all with a silly smile plastered across their faces. Boring.
Then suddenly he chanced upon a familiar face. A young girl standing near the stage with her dark lips pursed. Kat!
"Pst!" Darren tapped Nelson's shoulder furiously. "Look that way!"
Nelson turned around, almost falling off his chair. "Whoa! What are the chances?"
"Let's go confront her."
"Uhh...dude, I don't think that would be such a good idea."
"Why not? She stole my papers, and I want them back!"
"I mean...what if she screams, or something? We would be seen as harassing her, you know."
"Oh, come on. That's ridiculous."
Darren took another glance at where she was. Unfortunately, she chose the same moment to look his way. With a mildly alarmed look on her face, she hurriedly made for the exit.
"She's leaving!" He tugged at Nelson's shirt. "Let's go after her!"

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 13: Bygones

"At your very own graduation? No way!"
"Yeah, and you know the worst part? I still don't know what I died of!"
"Hey, that's not so bad," Nelson sipped his drink. "You have no idea how horrible it feels right before knowing you're going to die."
"Wow. Must've been scary."
"You bet it was. I was one of those street types, and I got involved in one gang fight too many."
"You mean, you were murdered?"
"Stabbed six times, bled to death."
Darren nibbled slowly on his Clairvoyance Casserole, letting Nelson's words sink into his head. Being murdered was surely a far more traumatising experience than dying suddenly like him. How did it feel to look into the eyes of one determined to take your life, begging in vain for mercy?
"I remember lying on the ground feeling the blood gush out of me," Nelson's eyes grew cold. "It's like leaving on a train and taking one last look at your home as it gets further and further. I didn't even get to see my family."
Darren nodded grimly.
Suddenly an inconspicuous stage in front lit up with a glittery hue of orange, contrasting their moods. An overly-made up girl dressed in a twirling robe stood onstage ready to sing for all to hear.

Fell in love with the world
When I was a little girl
It seems so long ago
The day I became cold

Now I am no more
Another name on the wall
Every year just one day
A memory so far away

Do you still remember me?
Am I gone cos you can't see?

This bygone
Still cries, she still mourns
This bygone
Wishes she is
Not forgotten
This bygone
Doesn't want to be one

Writer's Block

I had an interesting thought today (as always, in the bathroom) - imagine if you could go back in time and meet yourself. Yes, yourself. Not back too far, perhaps 2, 3, or 4 years.
Then picture the two of you (Lol, is that a pun? Unintended, anyway) sitting down at a long table with two glasses of water inside some conference hall. Now, the two of you start yapping away on issues you feel strongly about. Oh, I dunno - politics, the economy, religion, careers, and the like. Or possibly something less mind-boggling - opinions on your friends, family, favourite celebrities, TV shows, etc.
And here comes the whole point of it: would you have a pleasant, amicable chat with "yourself"? Or would you start barking at each other? Methinks it should be either one of these two scenarios, no? Come on, you know you can be perfectly honest with "yourself"...
So what would it mean if you disagree with the old you each time he/she opens his/her mouth? Well, interestingly I think I would fit into this category; meaning that my viewpoints on various issues have changed considerably in these few years.
Again, this isn't a psychology test where you're a better or worse person because of the outcome of that given scenario. Just pondering on how it'd feel like to talk to your past self...hmm, maybe I should write a story on that...
Speaking of stories, as I artfully segue into my discussion of Ghostopia, are things moving too slowly? From where I stand right now, it seems okie-dokie. Again, I remain deadset on "novellising" this story. Instead of doing mere storylines, let us delve into "arcs", "split plots", "character development" and those fancy stuff I always hear about. So, like I've mentioned before, it's simply ridiculous to expect a freakin' plot twist every chapter.
Was continuing Les Miserables today, in a futile attempt to appear well-read. And you know what? Suddenly I realised I could fashion a lot of my later Ghostopia chapters after it. Nothing much to give away yet, but a play on revolutions-cum-politics stuff could give me an easy way into the "human nature" angle I vowed to include this time round. Here's a draft: Darren, Nelson, and Kat will be involved in some protest against some Ghostopia policy, leading to them forming political parties, taking different sides and climaxing in some...uh, climax. And you know what? All this brainstorming occurred in the only-place-in-the-house-filthier-than-the-bathroom. Guess I do think best when I'm ridding myself of impurities!
And speaking of impurities, here comes my wave of goodbye to you. SEGUE~! Do remember to check back as often as humanly possible for fresh spices in the bubbling, toiling cauldron of Ghostopia goodness!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 12: The Haunt

"Cool!" Darren quipped. "So this is how you guys travel in Ghostopia?"
They were standing inside an invisible force field generated by Nelson's "Personal Shifter". It felt like being in a bus that wasn't really there.
"Yeah, they're sort of like cars from our previous world, just much cheaper."
The nighttime life in Ghostopia was no different from the marketplace he'd first found himself in - multi-coloured and buzzing with life. Or afterlife, whichever way you chose to look at it. City folk trickled in and out the dazzling array of shops with bright neon signs screaming everything from "SPIRITUALITY" to "DEATH CAFE", animatedly chattering inside their Shifters.
"So, where do you wanna go for dinner?"
"Hey, I'm the new one here - you tell me!"
"Hmm...okay," Nelson peered around. "There's this pretty cool place further downtown which holds live performances at dinnertime."

Darren stepped apprehensively behind Nelson into a dimly-lit cafe simply called "The Haunt". Clusters of solemn-looking Ghosts gathered at long tables arranged in a criss-cross pattern, tucking into their food without much exchange of words.
They seated themselves on a table at the far end and began contemplating the menu. Good thing there wasn't an impatient waiter clicking his tongue away while they were deciding what to order, Darren always hated that.
So far so good, the food seemed perfectly normal. Fish and chips, soup of the day, regular stuff you'd expect at any other diner. However, there weren't any prices noted. Funny.
"Psst...hey, where're the prices?"
Nelson looked up from his menu. "Oh, heh, guess you'd ask. In Ghostopia, everything's paid for. They only send you the bill right before your second death."
"Wow! That's neat! But what happens if you don't pay up?"
"Then you don't get to die."
"Hmm." It all sounded very weird to Darren, like most of the inner workings of this new-found world. But hey, he wasn't complaining. He had a life-long credit card!
"So," Nelson spoke after they sent the waiter away with their orders. "Guess we haven't had a proper introduction to each other yet."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 11: Nelson's House

"Here we are," They stopped in front of a metallic squarish house. "My humble home."
It sure wasn't the kind of house Darren had grown used to seeing. It was a fifteen-foot-tall block of shimmering metal hovering slightly above the ground, with no opening in sight. Tiny similar blocks dotted the landscape from a distance.
"Quite different from the house you used to stay in, eh? Wait till you get inside."
" do you get inside?"
"Simple, just follow my lead." Nelson whipped out a six-sided card. He stroked it against the wall, muttering repeatedly a string of numbers. Before long, a section of the wall disappeared.
"That's how you get in." he grinned. "You have your GIC, don't you?"
His GIC! He'd almost forgotten about that. Mortie said that if it was lost, he would lose his identity as a Ghost. Darren dug into his pockets, relieved to find it still there.

Nelson was right - it was even weirder once they got inside. Disjointed staircases spiralled downwards with no end in sight, leading to separate chambers of varying sizes. Some chambers were too small to even enter, while some were so big that the stairs continued into them. At random intersections the stairway would break off into two or three, at times even ending abruptly with a 90 degree slope.
"Whoa!" said Darren. "How do you find your place around here? It's even more confusing than Hogwarts, man."
"You'll learn to adjust. Anyway, if you fall all the way to the bottom you just end up back outside the house. It's a quick way to get out, hurts a bit though."
Darren looked down into the never-ending void. "I'll take the door, thank you."
"Ho, ho, ho," Nelson guffawed, leading him to an easier-to-reach chamber. "Anyway, this is where you'll be sleeping. I'll show you the rest of the house later when we have the time."
"Okay, cool. So what're we gonna do for the rest of the night?"
"Come, I'll show you around the city. We can grab a bite there."

Monday, April 25, 2005

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 6-10

Darren accepts Kat's offer to help him sell his papers, and they go seperate ways with the agreement to meet back in an hour. He then wanders off and chances upon a hall where many people are gathered. They are apparently standing in line to use Shifters, magical stands which enable the Ghosts to transport themselves to the many different levels of Ghostopia.
Seeing that his appointment with Kat is up soon, he transports himself back to the marketplace. However, Kat is nowhere in sight, not even after an hour's wait. , Nelson, a young trader who notices Darren waiting reveals that Kat is in fact a consperson and she has likely ran off with his papers.
Seeing that Darren is new to Ghostopia and has no place to stay, Nelson offers him lodging in his house. Though reluctant at first, Darren soon accepts his offer upon learning that night time in Ghostopia is unsafe. After the sun sets, nasty Ghosts from the other section of Ghostopia - reserved for those who committed suicide when they were alive - cross over to "Protected Ghostopia" with shoddy intentions.
The two shake hands to seal the deal, leading us into Chapter 11.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 10: A Done Deal

"Oh, come on," Nelson saw through his doubts. "What could I cheat you out of?"
He did have a point, Darren thought. Money was certainly out of the question, and it didn't seem like Nelson would have any "ulterior motives" towards him, so to speak.
"So what's the worst that could happen if I stay out here at night? I mean, you can't die again, can you?"
"Well, actually you can. It's happened to a number of people I knew, and though I've no idea what it's like, it can't be pleasant."
Oh, wow. It never crossed his mind that his live was still in any remote danger. He was still very much in the stage of adjusting to his first death.
"All right, wise guy, define 'it gets pretty nasty here at night'."quipped Darren.
"You do know that there are two Ghostopias, don't you?"
"Two Ghostopias? Never heard of that."
"Oh, you really are new here." Nelson remarked. "Do you know that it's considered a major crime to have come here by commiting suicide?"
"Erm...I think I did come across that in the papers I was selling this morning."
"So since neither one of us killed ourselves, we're in what is called the Protected Ghostopia. That simply means that you can't kill another Ghost during daytime, or they'll punish you severely."
"So what happens at night, then?"
"That's what I was warning you of," his eyes suddenly grew round. "Try as they might, the powers that be just can't establish authority during the night. Though most of the folks in the Protected Ghostopia are harmless, you get plenty of hooligans from the other side coming over here up to no good."
Darren bit his lip and thought again. It did seem an offer too good to be true, one he didn't seem to have the option of turning down. Maybe that was the problem to begin with.
"Why would you be so eager to take me in? You don't even know me."
"Hohoho, you are a difficult one, aren't you? Fact of the matter is, I've been looking for a housemate quite some time now, and I need someone to take care of the chores as well."
"Well, I guess I could live with that. It's a deal, then!"
"Deal!" Nelson beamed and shook his hand firmly.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Writer's Block

Yes-siree, dust off your glasses and stare at the clock's ticking hands no more, cos Twisted Tales is back up and running full steam ahead!
Anyway, do I really have anything to say? Let us spare ourself camp anecdotes, those always sound better to the one telling them than the one listening. I had imagined myself doing lots of exploration of possibilities for the story during the camp, but...nahhh. There's a time for work, a time for play, and a time for blogging. ;^)
It doesn't really help that I'm a little out of sync with Ghostopia now, need to write a Chapter or two before it all starts coming back. So no story analysis for you today, not unless you want a half-baked one. =p
But meanwhile, here's a nice little feature I've been holding back for quite a while:


a) Zhi Yong - A friend from church whom I've got to know a lot better over the last year. Went through Form 6, working in a bakery and is currently studying in IMU to be a doctor, so that makes him...uh, older than me. Seems like a quiet and "wooden" guy, but is in my opinion actually more emotional and sensitive than given credit for. Our friend here is also, ahem, the president of the Youth Training Union in my church.

b) Karu - No, she's not Japanese or African, though she's an anime fan. Her real name is Weng Cheng (hope I spelt that right), and she's another friend from church. Most popular for her exceptional talent in music and arts, though I sometimes suspect there's a whole lot more. Currently doing her thang in NS (that's National Service for you, buster).

c) Estee - Should Estee stand next to Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls, she'd make Bubbles seem like a lumbering, savage brute. Yeah, Estee really is that cute, sweet, and child-like. I'll stop short of calling her innocent, cos that'll make me seem innocent, if you catch my drift. Knew her in my first year of college, and boy oh boy does she draw amazingly well. She was, sadly, led astray into the Ragnarok Online Cult and till this day can be seen online at 4am in the morning. Coincidentially, she happens to be a high school friend of my church friend Joyce.

d) Magdalene - No one talks about Magdalene without mentioning how she looks much older than she really is. Of course, that comes across as a compliment, seeing that she really is a First Former. Yet another friend from church, though she's now gone to another church. Someday, she shall rule the world. And just for laughs, she looks somewhat like a cross between Milan Baros and Avril Lavigne. Hahahaha.

e) Zhi Zheng - Here's the confirmation for you: she is the younger sister of Zhi Yong, and a close friend of Magdalene's. Has been blogging for quite a while, and I guess going through her blog back then was what finally made me want to hop on the blogwagon. Has a passion for design and all things artsy, here's to you entering The One Academy where We Don't Believe In Promises, Just World-Class Results, gal!

f) Michelle - Michelle Lye, Numero Uno of the Fab Four. Also one of the members of the "Car Gang", meaning we went to college together in the same car during our first year. Actually I didn't quite like her the first time we met, tee hee hee, but thankfully time drew us closer. Another plus would be that she stays relatively close to my house compared to other collegemates. And for no reason, I'm gonna throw this in: she has a dog named Cherrie and she knows Su Ann through Pre-U in Taylor's.

g) June - June Loh, Numero Dos of the Fab Four. Cool, funky, sas-say, never fails to crack me up with her wit and sarcasm, blog-wise and real life-wise. I know I'm not giving the best description here, but she's very much into these Jap cosplay/anime/manga stuffies? And Gothic? Argh, just wish I knew her better. Like the rest of the Fab Four, she's now studying Multimedia Design in The One Academy. Yeah, I said that just to make it seem longer. Sue me!

h) Jill - Jill Low, Numero Tres of the Fab Four. You know, Jill strikes me as an evil-ler version of my aforementioned friend Joyce. They're both neat, organised girls who swear by Files and Folders, probably read tons of literature, and you know...giggletalk a lot. Another stickler for wit and sarcasm, Japanesey stuff and...and...oh yeah! She does dance as well, ballet if I'm not mistaken. So that's why she whooped my derriere in Twister!

i) U Liang - Trivia Of The Day: Guess whose brother U Liang is? The answer would be...Zhi Yong and Zhi Zheng! Elder, that is. U Liang is studying, I think, Maths in Singapore. I met him in church a few times when I first came, though I didn't know then he was related to ZY and ZZ. However, through the wonders of the blog community, I've come to know and admire this guy through his writings. Very, very thought-provoking and enlightening at times, can't wait to sit down and talk to him face-to-face when he comes back.

j) Mei - Mei is actually a close friend of Zhi Yong (all roads lead to Zhi Yong??), and I only started hearing about her after becoming close to ZY. She's helped me a number of times with those funny blog Javascripts, and even sent me an e-mail worth pondering upon, which naughty ol' me has yet to reply. She's currently working in...erm, Sony Malaysia? Do check out her site for promised working life anecdotes. Like U Liang, I would be rather eager to meet her in person, though unlike him I've never seen her even once before!

k) Jack - This dude here is, you guessed it, yet another friend from church. Sad to say, he's the one I know least from among my links. But let me try my very best here to give him at least four lines of info - from his blog entries and the little sessions I've shared with him, Jack comes across as a tall lanky "duuuude" sorta person bursting with energy in more ways than you can imagine. Though still in secondary school, he's impressed me with his spiritual insights on one certain night on MSN. All rite! Six lines!

l) Cherie - Ah, Cherie, Cherie. She's probably the friend at this point whom I see the most often. That's because she stays a five minutes' walking distance from my house, follows my car to college most days, studies in the same class as me, and attends Faith Station (college Christian Fellowship) with me. Sometimes, people say I would be her if I was female, but heheheh...let's not meddle with nature, shall we? Always there to make me feel better when I've been slacking off in assignments, wink wink.

m) Sue Ann - Church/cloese friend of Cherie, shares a connection with Michelle as well (please refer to section (f) ). Hmm...first met her when Cherie asked me to fetch her to college, I think. Either that, or during one of the church events Cherie brought me to. However, there is no denying that our first meeting went something along the lines of:

Me: Hi.
Su Ann: Hi.
Me: Nice to "meet" you. (pinches her) (Note: "meet" means "pinch" in Cantonese )
Su Ann: (incessant, uncontrollable laughter)

And she's been laughing ever since. Anyways, hope to have that long-talked-about lunch with you someday yah, before you graduate from Taylors! (Or me, for that matter)

Whoa, that sure took a whole lot longer than I expected. As a result, I don't feel like posting a Chapter today, bleeargh. Maybe tomorrow.
Sure feels nice to read about yourself in print, doesn't it? Well, hope this doesn't sound scripted, but it was refreshing to write about a good number of my friends too. Some of you I know very well in real life, some of you are acquaintances, some hi-bye friends, and some, like in the case of Mei, are total strangers to me in real life, lol.
OH-KAY, OH-kay, I shan't venture into lovey-dovey "Friends Forever" territory. Instead, I shall close with this:
Ever noticed how I've never formally introduced myself in my blog? I don't just mean in that little box entitled "the one who brought you here", but in all my posts, there have not been any mention of what I do for a living or anything like that. Strange, huh?
I guess this hails back to my days of masquerading as the vixen-like Lady Sarabeth Dak Viana while playing Utopia (an online game). Yes, I hang my head in shame when I say that I have answered "yes" to questions of whether I really am a girl, and have even engaged in mild seduction. Hey, it was mild, SERIOUS!
So here we go, my first-ever full-length self-introduction to those who don't know me at all. *hopes none of his former Utopia kingdom mates are reading this*

Daniel Mok Choon Hooi - Approaching 20 this year, on the 25th of October to be precise. I'm in my 7th semester, or 3rd year of my studies in The One Academy, where I currently am majoring in Graphic Design And Advertising. And NO, my course does not make me a future artist in Central Market. And YES, it does highly irk me when people say that Graphic Design = Drawing.
I've traced my friends to come from three main circles - secondary school (SMK Taman Desa), college, and church. Oh yes, I serve in this wonderful, wonderful church called Canaan Baptist Church in Seri Petaling. The past three years have been a very enrichening experience for me in so many ways, but you can read all about that when my autobiography is released. For now, you'll just have to make do with me thanking God for all the multi-faceted people He's put in my life, each one revealing another truth of life to me.
Ouch. I sense a whole lotta rolling going on, either Shakespeare in his grave or your eyes out of their sockets.
The End.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Writer's Block

Hello! Progressing quite well the story is, you don't think? Heheh, enough of the Yoda talk, let's wrap this up real quick...
I'd actually planned on writing this after Friday, 'cos I'll be away for a camp till then. So too bad, no updates till then! Guess y'all'll've to entertain yourself with a dig into the archives... (WOW! What was THAT?! Y'all'll've??)
The way things are going now, it seems that Ghostopia could be a far longer story than the previous two. The difference here, I think, is that I haven't established my "character objectives" right at the start of the story. It'll come, it'll come, but not till I'm done toying around with these pawn-like characters, MUAHAHAHA!
But in case you're worrying that I'll start going overboard and introduce a new character every two chapters, be assured that Darren, Nelson, and Kat SHOULD be your focal "Harry Potter trio" for this tale. I have this hazy long-term plotline for Nelson and Darren, but Kat still doesn't seem very utilisable yet. I'll come up with something, probably related to her rocker chick persona and "died at young age" past.
Mmm...flashbacks. That sounds good.
And you know what else sounds good? Me enjoying my sorry butt at a camp while y'all'll've to not enjoy your sorry butts at camps! Toodly-loo, y'all! :D

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 9: Meeting Nelson

"Conperson? You mean, as in conman?"
"Yup. Matter of fact, I got tricked myself first time I met her."
"B-but, HOW?" Darren felt the blood draining from his face. "What did she con me of?"
"She must've offered to help you sell whatever you were selling, didn't she?"
Darren slapped his face in dismay. Why hadn't that crossed his mind? She could very well be in some distant level selling off his papers for money.
"She does this quite often?"
"Made quite a name for herself, I've heard," smirked the guy. "By the way, I'm Nelson."
Darren studied the guy for a moment. He was one of those seemingly street-wise types, reminding him of his friend Robin. However, Darren did not dare put too much trust in him - not after the Kat incident.
"I'm Darren. Nice to meet you."
"So how did a young guy like you end up here?"
"Uhh...I was at my graduation, when suddenly everyone started screaming and running away from me. I felt this terrible pain all over me, and next time I knew, I was here."
"But what did you die of?"
"I don't know. You're only the third person I've met here."
"Let's see...the other two would be Kat, and Mortie?"
"So you found any place to stay yet?"
Whoops. Now that was something that'd slipped his mind completely. " Not yet."
"You'd better. It gets pretty nasty here at night."
Suddenly it dawned upon Darren that he was a homeless, jobless, penniless, and friend-less guy. And if what this Nelson said was true, he had better change all of that by nightfall.
"Um, well, the thing is, I've got no job, and no money right now. Do they provide any free lodgings for newcomers here?" Darren asked somewhat in false hope.
"Heh, of course not. Nothing's ever free anywhere, not even after you're dead," Nelson laughed. "But if you're that desperate, I can fix you up a place in my house."
For a moment Darren was delighted to hear that, but soon his rational mind tuned in. Was this again too good to be true? If even Kat could cheat him, what would this Nelson do to him?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 8: The Truth Behind Kat

For the umpteenth time today Darren folded his arms, clicked his tongue, and tried his best to remain patient. He looked left, right, then left again, but there were only crowds of unfamiliar faces.
Where could she be anyway? He'd been here for at least fifteen minutes, which wasn't a short span of time when you were standing on two tired legs. Oh well, he wasn't in a rush to be anywhere either way. After all, he had all the time in the world. Literally.
As the day wore on, the crowds appeared to swell along with the number of stalls being set up. This was sheer madness, Darren thought. There were either so many Ghosts that they had to shop at different times of the day, or they really had nothing better to do but shop the whole day long. Didn't these guys work or anything?
"All right, that's it," he said in exasperation, after an hour's wait. She probably had just come earlier, found him not there and left. But he was positive he had been on time! What right on earth did she have to not be here? She couldn't have gotten lost as well, since she claimed to have been living in Ghostopia for so long.
"Hey, you," a young man's voice called out. "You've been standing here for a long time, is there anyone you're looking for?"
"Oh, uh, hi," Darren found himself tongue-tied again. It was a squared-jawed guy peddling silverware, also seemingly the same age as Kat and him. Strangely, there weren't many youngsters in Ghostopia, making him quite noticable. "Yeah, i was waiting for this girl, but she never showed up."
"Now that's unusual," he remarked. "She can't have lost her way with all those Shifters around, can she?"
"Beats me, I just came here today. She told me she would help me sell my papers, and meet me back here in an hour. But so far, no sign of her yet."
" did she look like?"
"Short black hair...these big eyes with black eyeliner beneath...dressed in all of those gothic-looking types."
"OH! You must have been looking for Kat."
"Why, yes! How did you know her?"
"Heh, heh," he sniggered. "Most of us in the marketplace know her quite well, pal. She's an excellent conperson."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 7: Back To The Marketplace

Darren twiddled his fingers impatiently. The queue was progressing much slower than he'd expected, mainly due to the displeasing amount of old folks up ahead.
Okay, so that wasn't a very nice thought, but he just couldn't help worrying that Kat would grow tired of waiting and go away.
"Oh, for crying out loud." he muttered under his breath watching an elderly man place his trembling hands on the stand. He was now standing close enough to see that there was actually a map engraved on the stand. Multi-coloured dots flickered and moved all across, making him suspect that they represented the Ghosts.
After another ten minutes or so of observation, Darren figured out how the whole Shifter system worked. You wrote down a the code of your level by referring to a list on the wall, and a bird's-eye-view of the chosen level would appear on the stand. Then you chose which part of the level you wanted to go to. Astoundingly, the codes erased and changed themselves after each person.
"Hey, move it!" a voice shot out from behind.
Darren scurried over, realising suddenly it was his turn. "Let's see..." His eyes ran through the entire list of codes.
"LEVEL 1 - 42A39"
"LEVEL 2 - 80G04"
"LEVEL 3 - 77U24"
Uh-oh. What was the name of this level? He turned around to ask, and a long line of unfriendly faces scowled back at him.
"Erm...what level is this?"
"Hey you there! Hurry up!"
"Quit holding up the line!"
"It's Level 21, you moron!"
"Okay, okay," He went back to the Shifter, checked out the code for Level 21, and scribbled it down. An aerial view of the floor appeared, complete with swarms of blinking dots.
Apparently, he could only choose to shift himself to areas marked with an orange box. Not wanting to risk another ranting from the queue, he pointed at an area which looked the most like the marketplace.
Before he even knew it, the whole hall turned a flat orange, blinked twice, and became a familiar marketplace. The exact place where he'd met Kat! How fortunate.
Now, if only he had a watch. Darren estimated his time spent and came to the conclusion that he was well within an hour. Kat should return anytime now, hopefully having no newspapers with her.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Writer's Block: "Death"

Have you ever died before?
Have you ever tasted Death or more?
Never again feel the sun so warm
Never again behold a magnificent storm
Never again hear the birds sing
Never again see anyone or anything
Trapped in darkness, cold as can be
Isolated from all for eternity
It shall come to you someday
Somehow, someway.
I know it shall, I can tell.
I know it shall.

(Writer's Note: Fascinatingly, I wrote this typed-from-memory poem for my friend for his 15th birthday. Fascinating indeed. Wherever you are now, Chern Lye, I'll always remember our crazy times together.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 6: The Shifter

Darren couldn't help beaming. Now that Kat was here, he didn't quite feel so lost.
"Let's not stay here," she said. "This isn't a very good place for business."
"Huh? Why so?"
"Most of the newcomers sell their stuff here, if you notice. Everyone prefers to get their stuff elsewhere."
Darren looked around and true enough, none of the Ghosts seemed to be buying anything from the sellers near him. No wonder the kid had given him the job so easily. Sheesh.
"I'll go to that end of the street," Kat pointed to a far-off corner. "Meet me back here in an hour's time."
She heaved up the entire stack of papers.
"Uhh...want me to come along with you? You'll probably need help with that."
"Nah," she replied, steadying herself. "Let's go by shifts instead. Run along now, and come back in an hour."

Darren spent the next hour wandering around aimlessly, not daring to talk to anyone. There seemed to be hawkers in every nook and cranny of the place, screaming their weird promotions at the top of their lungs. Not exactly the sort of place he'd want to spent eternity in.
He kept walking and walking, but the marketplace never seemed to end. It didn't help that the afternoon sun was already on its way up. Wasn't there any place he could shut out the blistering heat and noise?
He plodded on for ten minutes before finally coming to a quieter hall. "Phew! I never knew silence could sound so sweet."
Interestingly, queues could be seen leading to a stand of some sort. His curiousity got the better of him when he tapped a well-dressed lady on the shoulder. "Pardon me, but what exactly are all of you lining up for?"
"What? You don't know what these are?" she squawked, making him go red. "Must be new here, tsk, tsk. See those stands over there? They're called Shifters, and they allow you to go to the different levels and places of Ghostopia."
"Different levels?"
"My, you're even more ignorant than I thought," she rolled her eyes. "This marketplace is just one of the hundreds of levels in this world."
Darren nodded in amazement. It all became clearer now. Little wonder the marketplace appeared never-ending.
" which floor are you going to now?"
She shot him an utterly dirty look.
Whoops. What was that for? He checked out the queue. A dark man at the head laid a few fingers on the stand, and presto! He vanished before Darren's eyes. No one else even batted an eyelid. This Shifter thing was probably all the rage in Ghostopia, Darren deduced.
Going by his estimations, he would be able to reach that Shifter just in time to meet Kat. He felt like double-confirming with the lady whether it would really enable him to get back to the marketplace, but stopped just short. He sure sure didn't need a tight slap in the face.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Writer's Block

I just hate having to keep rubbing it in your faces, but...


And in case you missed that...


How did I manage to recover this template of templates, you ask? Aha, let me de-mystify you...

And here comes the incredible secret which your mortal mind would've never crossed paths with...

The super-duperly cleverly hidden site by the name of...!

All together now...

"Where the HECK did THAT come from?!"

Tch, tch, tch, how the riches of the world have clouded your eyes...

Follow the trail of words on the left...

Starting from "the one who brought you here"...

Moving on to "in case you're curious, little cats"...

All the way past that treasure trove of your words...

To the final piece...

"desserts, anyone?"...

And if only you had had that insatiable craving...

You would have clicked it...

But NO...

It's all new to you...

Precisely why you would've never discovered...

The cleverly-hidden site of...

This has been the story of...


Came back to life...

Thanks to

Hey, typing this way is fun...

I think I should do this more often...

By the way, if you've been patient enough to reach this final line...

Here's your reward...

My MSN and email contact:! (spam all you like, it'd be like dirtying a public toilet in Malaysia)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Writer's Block

Curse you,! CURSE YOU!!
No, I didn't make a lousy decision and ditch my nifty lil' template for this not-so-nice one, in case some of you are wondering. To understand the story, you have to go back to where it all began...(isn't that some movie quote?)
The day, today. The time, sometime around 11am. And there I was, still foolishly blogging eventhough I was waaay waaay behind time. Blame it all on that reCAPPENING idea I got.
So I finish typing it out, admire my sheer rhymes-with-hideous, and dutifully click "Publish Post".
Like the old lady in Titanic says, "It was the last time Titanic ever saw the light of day." Just that in this case, it was my beeyootifoo blog.
As always I entered my blog site to see how the new post looked. Click. Some repititive gibberish with those ugly words "searchmiracle" in it.
"Okay," I thought. "Let's refresh."
Still it stayed there, and now both eyebrows were raised. However, there wasn't any panic yet, since my computer isn't exactly the most sane piece of machinery out there. I calmly reconnected, restarted, and still no difference. Ooh hoo hoo.
Frantically I message Yhi Zong (not his real name) to see if he can access to my blog. Yeah rite, says he, as though I'm at home waiting for you to ask me to check whether your blog still works. Or in his exact words "I'm not at home...I'm in class trying my best to stay awake."
Fast forward to afternoon, where I'm in the college library. Now, in the time span between, something remarkably remarkable happened, but this just isn't the time and place. So anyway, I eagerly log on to the hottest site on the net, www.hotbab - oops, I mean, (do visit it if you have the time to). Loading...loading...then no more. A few more rounds yielded the same results.
Only one thing left to do: check the template script itself. And wouldjabelievit, there was NOTHING there. Absolutely NOTHING but the script for the blog entrance special effects. And of course, the beloved gobbleydook.
Crap, I didn't mean to rant about it for so long. There wasn't really much damage done anyway, save for the links and other sidebars which I'll have to redo. It's just that it's rather...urgh, it'll take time for sure - time which I won't have till my term break. A sign that I should be changing templates to go with the new story anyway?
Was looking through where I source for templates, and somehow most just didn't catch my eye. I never realised it, but that previous "Storyteller" template was really perfect. Perfect in every sense: praticality, aesthetically, clarity, etc. However, I've come across one which looks pretty good, not to mention going well with the Ghostopia story too. Coincidentially (or maybe not), it's from the same author as "Storyteller", Savannah a.k.a up_in_lights. =^) Here's to you, gal!
So, do bear with this Plain Jane template for the time being. Now, if you'ld excuse me, I have to try coughing up my Chatterbox password...
(On a totally unrelated note, some of you old-timers might remember this as the template the story "Blogspot" was written on.) %^]

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 1-5

(Note: As I mentioned in the chatterbox, this newly-introduced feature will be extremely useful for any of you who haven't been following the story lately, and yet are aghast at the thought of subjecting your eyes to TONS of words. Do note, however, that some of the "subtle details" in the story might be left out here. Will be tentatively doing one every 5 chapters, but that could change depending on the story.)

This guy Darren is at his graduation ceremony when he suddenly drops dead. Upon waking up, he finds himself in an odd room with only a bookcase. He finds out from a book in the case that he is dead, and is now in a new world called "Ghostopia".
In a state of shock, he "falls" through the bookcase into another room. There he meets Mortie, the gatekeeper of Ghostopia. After some banter and assigning Darren his GIC (Ghost Identification Code), Mortie sends him on his way to look for a job.
Darren then ends up in a marketplace. He approaches a boy selling newspapers for a job and surprisingly, the boy gives him the job instead. Cluelessly Darren takes up the job, and his first customer would be a girl called Katrina. (Kat for short)
Kat reveals that she died at an early age and has been in Ghostopia for a long time. In fact, her first job was similar to Darren's, paving the way for her current one: writing for the Ghost Times.
She then offers to help him sell some papers, leading us into Chapter 6.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 5: Meeting Kat

At last! Someone who actually wanted to buy a paper from him.
"Here you go," Darren put on his best sales smile and gave her a copy of Ghost Times.
She browsed through it quickly. "My, my, news these days is so depressing."
"It was just as bad when I was still alive. Somehow, I'd always imagined this place to be more pleasant."
"You mean you're new here?" She raised an eyebrow.
"Mm hmm...I see. And your name would be...?"
He paused for a moment, mind whirling quick to think what to say next. "So, how about your name?" It came out sounding quite dumb.
"Katrina," she smiled broadly, offering a handshake. "Most call me Kat."
"Kat," he nodded in return. "Cool."
Now came the out-of-pleasantries part of conversations he hated so much. He'd always been terrible at that, especially with girls.
"So, erm..."
"You know, you seem pretty tongue-tied," she laughed. "I'm guessing this is your first job?"
"Sold any yet?"
"Haha, that's how it was when I was selling papers too. Didn't sell a single one for the first two days."
"Wow, you sold papers as well? Then what're you doing now?"
"Well, would you believe me if I told you that I write the newspaper you're holding in your hands?"
"No kidding!"
"No kidding. But it wasn't easy, I had to work many years to get there."
"Whoa," Darren's eyes grew wide. "You're like...what, eighteen?"
"And you've been here for many years?"
"Yup. Not everyone dies at the ripe old age of seventy, you know. You just learn to live with it."
He pursed his lips. "H-hey, sorry, I didn't mean to bring that up. You know, I'm still finding it hard to come to terms with my death."
"Heh, don't you worry about any offense taken, I've pretty much forgotten about my previous life."
She said this with no hint of sadness in her voice, making him wonder how young she really had died. At least he felt better being around one who shared something in common with him. Not a bad start at all.
"That's a big pile of papers, if I must say so," she pointed out. "Want me to help you out?"
"Sure! That'd be nice."