Monday, May 30, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 26: Living Out Eternity

"You mean...this is all illegal?"
"Illegal is such an ugly word. I prefer to call ourselves underground."
"That aside, Darren," Kat interrupted. "I think we all want to know your motivations for joining a cause like this."
"Yup," added Mortie. "And if you're uninterested, no point in you being here."
Darren pondered for a while. Was he interested? These Ghosts were offering him a chance to no longer be dead - to start again from graduation day, go on being friends with Emily, and carry out all those great plans he'd had for the future. All that in exchange for the small con of being on the wrong side of the law - not that he held any regard for the Ghostopia law anyway.
"I...should. I will. I'll join your group."
"Wonderful news! A round of applause, everyone!"
They started clapping for him, making him feel all the more awkward.
"Let me ask," Mortie smiled at him. "Are you satisfied at the way your life ended?"
"Heck, I don't even know how I died!"
"Whoa!" The Ghost called Scarlet gasped. "How is that possible?"
"That's why it's even harder to accept. I was happily at my graduation ceremony, and suddenly I died. Just like that."
"That's not all bad," Kat said. "You could never imagine the agony most of us went through before our deaths."
"Hey, that's strange. Nelson told me the same thing too."
"Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
Darren couldn't help thinking if she was murdered, like Nelson was. He dared not pop the question, however.
"I'm not concerned with my death, but my present existence," Todd, another so far anonymous Ghost, spoke up. "This whole idea of Ghostopia is a travesty, it's utterly WRONG! We're all being trapped in a bubble, and they'll trap us till they figure out where this blasted place is supposed to be headed!"
"W-what do you mean by that?" Darren asked, stunned.
"You're still new here," he replied. "You haven't experienced the hopelessness that comes from living with nothing to look forward to."
Kat leaned towards Darren. "There's a lot of politicking going on amongst the authorities. Everyone's having their own opinions on how this world should run - issues on second Deaths, suicides, aging...too many to mention."
"So about last year, the authorities decided to freeze all our ages until they've sorted it all out." added Fletcher.
"You mean..."
"Nobody in Ghostopia grows older by the day. We're all just living out eternity."

Saturday, May 28, 2005

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 21-25

Darren persuades Nelson to go to The Haunt again, where the girl from yesterday delivers another breathtaking performance. Unfortunately, the rest of the John Denver-themed night bores Darren to tears.
Fast forward to the end of the night, and as they are about to leave, Kat appears from the other end of the cafe where she'd been all night. She invites Darren to join her for a mysterious meeting being held at the back of the cafe, but Nelson insists on going home. At last Darren decides to not stay with him for the night and follows Kat to the meeting.
Inside the meeting room he finds Kat, four other Ghosts, and surprisingly, Mortie the gatekeeper. Mortie then reveals the agenda of their secret group called the Ezisa - to bring all of them back to the world of the living. As a baffled Darren listens on, Mortie explains that they're not on good terms with the Ghostopia authorities, leading us to Chapter 26.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 25: Ezisa

"Who amongst you wants to live again?"
Every face in the room lit up as the other Ghosts affirmed with much excitement. Darren didn't know how to react.
Seeing his uncertainty, Mortie pointed at him. "You...David, right?"
"Beg your pardon, Darren. Now, as I was asking the room, do you not want to live again?"
"I-I don't quite get what you mean."
"Sheesh, it's amazing how young people these days know how to speak but not listen," Mortie clicked his tongue. "Wasn't my question straightforward enough - do you want to live again?"
Hmm. Wasn't this the same guy who told him that he would remain dead "till the skies part"? Surely he didn't mean "live again" in the literal sense.
"Ha ha, he probably thinks you're selling him some beauty product." Kat cracked.
As if on cue everyone burst out laughing. Darren played along sheepishly.
"All right - let me totally, absolutely, utterly clue you in," Mortie wiped away some tears. "Our group here, which I assume you're now part of, is called-"
"Hey, what-"
"Shhh," Kat hushed Darren. "Let him finish."
"We call ourselves the Ezisa, a low-profile group made up of Ghosts with a single mission: to get a second chance at life."
"WHAT? You mean all of you are going to bring yourselves back to life?"
"Now you're talking my language."
"But how? You said to me yourself it would be impossible."
"Why...have you forgotten that I guard the gates of Ghostopia?"
"So we're just going to waltz through the gates, back into the world of the living?"
"That," Mortie pursed his lips. "Would be the ultimate objective. But before that happens, we've got a heck lot of corners to bend."
"Really? Explain." Darren found himself drawn in.
"Good. You're interested. But you have to understand that we cannot give away too much to everyone who walks through that door. We are, after all, not exactly in the good books."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Writer's Block Presents...Loopholes

It's scary what a sleepless mind can do to you...finally decided to take time to read through all the previous chapters of Ghostopia. Sure hope it isn't a case of the Extra Fondness In Your Own Work Syndrome (refer to previous Writer's Block), but the story does seem interesting so far.
However, you aren't spending your precious time to read about me praising my own stories, so let's happy-ise ourselves with a little...


1) The first time Darren meets Kat, she tries to trick him out of his papers. In fact, she makes a living out of cheating people of their things - presumably to sell them off for cash. However, in Chapter 12: The Haunt, Nelson tells Darren that everything in Ghostopia is paid for - you only need to pay the bill right before your second Death. Maybe Kat just likes the smell of fresh bank notes?

2) Big boo-boo here: if you notice, Darren tells Nelson how he died twice - first in Chapter 9: Meeting Nelson ( "Uhh...I was at this 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." ), then another time in 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!" ). Maybe Nelson wanted to be extra sure?

3) In Chapter 24: The Meeting Starts, when Darren knocks on the door, a "gruff voice" answers him. But it is Kat who answers the door, and the other Ghosts inside appear timid even when greeting Darren. Maybe the magical door answered itself?

4) In Chapter 20: Time Passes, Darren hears the bell signalling time in Ghostopia while talking to Kat. He then curiously wonders why there are fourteen chimes, making it obvious that it is his first time hearing the bell. Later on, at, 6 o' clock, he hears the bell again at Nelson's stall. If so, why didn't he hear the bell at 6 o' clock on the first day, when he was most likely at Nelson's stall as well? Maybe I'm just being a jerk?

That's all I could muster with a supposedly conscious effort...let's see if you can make me look dumber! Anyways, going through the whole story has reminded me of several "spare plot devices" I'd cleverly (self-praise IS praise!) planted at the start. And you know what? The best thing about these spare plot devices is that nobody's gonna notice if you don't use them. =^p
Expect a teeny-weeny break as I try to fashion all the swirling bits into something cool. I can truly sense that we're on the verge of it here, let's pray I don't turn it into "Suddenly, Darren wakes up from a dream".
Speaking of which, I could use a piece of sleep myself.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Writer's Block

Before we proceed with today's very-appealing edition of Writer's Block, I must first direct your attention to this Flash file which I've been crazy over the past few days. I know I'm always recommending Flash files, lol, but this one's just super man...awe-inspiring (not to mention troop-inspiring) track, witty lyrics, and as an added bonus for all you cow-lovers (*coughcoughJillcoughcough*) ...

And now.
The story. That's what we came here for, didn't we?
Yeah, so...the story.
It doesn't take a genius to see that Chapter 24 is gonna be the start of the point where we "go somewhere". Remember all that hoo-hah I made earlier in the story about suicides and mercy killings? That was actually done in foresight, and hopefully it'll give me a useful plot device now. Stir in a generous helping of Kat's mist-te-rioos past, more on Nelson's, and Darren's yet-to-be-mentioned cause of death, and you've got one heck of a thing coming.
Last week I was telling O Liang (not his real name) that I've now totally immersed myself into being the writer, and not the reader. This leads to the threat of me focusing too much on the details that I'm unable to get a grasp on the big picture. Sort of like how an artist always finds his work different when he looks at it from far. Plus, there's this syndrome which nobody has coined a term for yet - the Extra Fondness In Your Own Work Syndrome. The artist analogy for this would be Mr. Artist finding his masterpiece the most beautiful thing to grace God's green earth, while an onlooker says, "Oh, okay. Not bad." (cue artist saying through gritted teeth, "That's it?")
So that's why I need you guys to regularly critique me from where you're standing, and I'm not! Remember, YOU can make a difference. And remember, if I say it enough times, you might start buying it.
Not sure if I've griped about this previously, but 24 Chapters to reach the break-out premise does make for a terribly slow story. Though it was done in the name of character development, I still wish I'd slotted in more ideas from the start along with all that melodrama. Well, here's hoping everything turns out well, and that the hands justify the chins. Or something like that. Btw, this puts me in a bit of a spot, as I can't possibly spend 24 Chapters on "Getting To The Premise", then 30 Chapters on "The Premise Itself". 100 Chapters is so staring me in the face.
Anyone keen to talk about Mortie's return? Somehow, I sense that I'm entertaining myself - hey, it is my blog anyway. Eh-nee-hoo, casting Mortie as the "leader of the cause" came only at the point of writing. I had envisioned a charismatic yet ultimately tragicised (?) guy for the role, with Mortie as a Spook authority. To cut a long story short, I didn't want to buy a new pair of socks while another pair were lying to waste - so there you have it - Mortie, Ghostopia Gatekeeper by day, Leader Of The Cause by night.

Well hey, you know I'm out of material when a strange two-line break pops out. So have a tolerable week ahead, live each day as though you're not a Ghost, and don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 24: The Meeting Starts

Curious, Darren wandered to where Kat and the others had went. There didn't seem to be any voices or sounds.
He knocked twice, timidly, on the wooden door.
"Yes?" A gruff voice barked from inside.
"Uhh...Kat asked me to come here."
A few seconds later the door swung open. "Cliched as it may sound," Kat grinned. "I knew you would come."
She led him into a tiny room bathed in red. Four other Ghosts, all apparently workers of the cafe, sat in a circle.
"Hi?" Darren waved nervously upon seeing every pair of eyes trained on him.
"Oh, loosen up," Kat said. "Everyone, meet Darren. Darren, this is Todd, Amelia, Scarlet, and Fletcher."
"Okay. Cool." He nodded repeatedly. Not to mention idiotically.
The others just waved and smiled back meekly.
Suddenly two hard knocks pounded against the door. "Ah, that must be him!" Kat beamed. "Hang on guys, we're starting real soon!"
She opened the door, welcoming in a short plus-sized man. "Sorry I'm late, had some stuff to sort out with the Commissioner." He hung his coat and proceeded to their small circle.
"Hey, it's you!" Darren cried out when the lone light shone on the man's face.
"'s me - have we met before?"
It was Mortie, the gatekeeper of Ghostopia! Darren hadn't expected to meet him again so soon, more so here of all places.
"Yup, I believe you're the one who entered me into Ghostopia when I first came."
"Heh, I've entered tons of you dudes, I can't recall all of them. But you do ring a bell...yesterday, cause of death unknown?"
"Bingo! That's me!"
"Should've known, you were slightly difficult," he chuckled. "Al'right now, people, let's get on with today's agenda, shall we?"
"Pst," Darren whispered to Kat. "You haven't told me what's going on yet."
"Don't worry, he'll be getting to that."
"And now, for the benefit of the new ones," Mortie stood up, nostrils flaring. "Who amongst you, I ask - who amongst you wants to live again?"

Friday, May 20, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 23: To Meet, Or Not To Meet

"Kat!" Darren jumped. "And when did you get here?"
"Haha, now that's what I call answering a question with a question," she laughed. "I was here all night - maybe you missed me, what with the flashing lights and all."
"Uh-huh...yeah, guess I did." he shrugged.
She shrugged back.
"Oh hey, there you are," Nelson came over, then glanced at Kat. "You too."
She uttered a barely audible "hi" to him. "So, you guys headed home?"
"Y...eah," Darren looked at Nelson. "It's...uh, getting late."
"Okay. Bye."
Nelson turned to leave, visibly tired. Darren trudged reluctantly behind him, but there just was a niggling feeling inside, as if Kat was witholding from him the answer to some riddle.
"Hey, er..."
She looked at him. "Yeah?"
"Where're you going?"
"The meeting."
"Huh? What meeting?"
"Come join me if you wanna find out."
She walked off hurriedly to the back of the cafe, followed by three of the waiters. What meeting did she mean? Was it one for the cafe workers? But if so, why did she ask him to come along as well? Somehow, she always found a way to pique his curiousity every time they met.
"Dude, you coming or not?" Nelson called out from the entrance.
"Wait," he said. "They're having some sort of meeting back there, and she invited me to come along."
"Oh, can't be serious. It's probably for the workers or something."
"But then why would she invite me?"
"I don't know! Listen...I'm really beat now, either you follow me home with me now, or I'll see you tomorrow at the stall."
He knew it would be plain foolish to risk sleeping on the streets just for finding out what the meeting was about. But yet, he wasn't in any way sleepy - maybe due to him having half-slept through all the performances - and, and...and something.
"All right then, I'll see you at the stall tomorrow."
"Cool. Good night."
Seeing Nelson vanish down the street, Darren couldn't help wondering if he'd made a dumb choice.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 22: So Went The Night

Breathtaking, even more so than the night before. Every single note, each word, the mood, all was perfect. Not a Ghost was seen seated or not joining in the raptous applause.
She clutched her mic tightly, seemingly overwhelmed by the crowd. "Thank you, all of you. Enjoy your meal."
"Great, isn't she?" Nelson said to a fazed Darren.
Darren plonked himself back on his seat, taking a bite out of the Salad du Occulte which he hadn't even notice arriving at their table. The more he saw her, the more this girl reminded him of Emily. They both had such charming vibes which one could easily fall for without words or overly noticable mannerisms. However, Darren thought, he wasn't one to fall in love at first sight.
"Hoa yeah," Nelson grinned broadly. "Here comes another one."
A goofy-faced bloke dressed up cowboy-style took to the stage, guitar in hand. "Howdy, y'all," he drawled in a very fake accent. "Y'all ready for more?"
The cafe rang loud with hoots and cheers. Darren groaned, albeit to himself.
"Lets'all riiiiide down the ol' country road! Yee-haw!"
Amidst a cheesy track of desert-themed sounds playing softly in the background, he started belting out John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads. It wasn't particularly great or bad, just ho-hum, dum-dee-dum.
As Darren had feared, it was only the first of a thoroughly uninspiring night. There were only so many country tunes he could take before being on the verge of throwing up. And yet nobody else seemed to feel the same way he did. Not even Nelson.
"This one's called...Take Me To Tomorrow." said the umpteenth John Denver wannabe. Darren stifled a yawn. He'd never even heard of that song before.
Another sleep-inducing few hours passed before the show finally ended. Chattering excitedly amongst themselves, the Ghosts started filing out of the cafe. It was every bit as packed as when Darren and Nelson came in earlier.
"Well, I did ask you twice about coming here," Nelson smirked at seeing Darren's bored face.
"Oh, it's all right. Come, let's go."
Just when Darren was feeling mightily disappointed for being subjected to a tepid night and not seeing Kat, it happened. It had to happen. Kat came out of nowhere and slapped him on the back.
"Hey, what's up! Now, when did you two get here?"

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 21: The Haunt, Again

"Um, well," Darren half-pondered. "I dunno, why not the same place as last night?"
"You mean The Haunt?"
"The Haunt? Yeah, yeah! That's the place."
"Hmm...sure you don't wanna check out somewhere new?"
"Some other time, maybe? Kat said she would be there."
"Haha, yeah, she seems like a girl of many tales."
Nelson gave him a weird look. "Ohh-kay."

The two made their way across a row of tables, squinting to see where Kat was. It was difficult to make out faces in the ghostly lighting The Haunt chose to go with tonight.
"Sure is crowded here tonight, isn't it?" Darren quipped.
"Yeah. Must be something special going on."
Nudging past the crowd, they finally managed to spot an empty table at an extended corner. "Where's that Kat? I sure hope she didn't stand you up again." Nelson smirked.
Hmm. She did say she would be here most nights, didn't she? "Ehh...don't worry. She's probably somewhere around."
"But of course, it's no big deal if she doesn't show up." He quickly added.
"Point taken, dude."
Then just as they were preparing to order, the stage lit up in a flash of colours. The same girl from yesterday stepped out, adorned in similar flowing robes and inch-thick makeup.

If I were taken away
This very time and day
None beside
Alone for the ride
I'll just go
Where fate takes me to
Life and death, all the same

If he asked me once more
I still would have said no
Faces I knew
Matter not still
There I'll be
Sleeping souls beside me
Warmth and cold, all the same

Taken away
Down the road of eternity
Past the tunnels
Slowly I lose my sanity
It's all taken away
From me

Sunday, May 15, 2005

reCAPENNING: Ghostopia, Chapters 16-20

After hearing Darren and Kat bicker about each other's 'crimes' (Kat stealing Darren's papers, Darren tailing Kat), the Spooks arrest them both, along with Nelson, and imprison them for the night.
Inside the prison cell, Kat snaps at them both for judging her the way everyone else does: a conniving consperson. Though Darren and Nelson soften their stance after hearing that she has nowhere to stay, she rejects their sympathy. Nelson tells Darren that the circumstances surrounding her death might relate to her bitter attitude.
The next morning, after they get released, Darren invites her to stay with them once again. Following another cold refusal, he tells her off, calling her 'self-pitying'. This strikes a chord, opening her up more to him. However, she still turns down the offer of staying at their place, apparently not telling the truth about being homeless. Before walking off, she invites him to drop by The Haunt at nights, where she rents a room to live in.
Darren then tags along with Nelson to work at the marketplace. Following an uneventful day, Nelson again decides to take Darren out to the city, leading us into Chapter 21.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Writer's Block

What? We're due for a Recappening AGAIN? Sheesh, somebody seems to be blogging too regularly again...
Anyway, let's leave that summarising exercise for tomorrow, nobody reads it anyway. A lookback at where this tale of Ghostopia is at now, Chapter 20, brought to you in comparative perspective.
At the Chapter 20 stage of my first story, "Blogspot", we're already through with Toby/Melly, Moby/Telly, Archiver, The Most Confusing Fight Scene Of All Time, and nearing the end of the fight scene with U.
And as for "The Secret Room", hahahahaha. By Chapter 20, we have Will, Jimmy, and Jan excited about the Secret Room, a whole lot of (mis)adventures with Mrs. Banks, Stella, Stella's past, Stella disappearing, and Jimmy disappearing.
How does Ghostopia fare at the same stage, then? Let's see...Darren's dead, he meets Mortie, then Kat, gets conned by Kat, meets Nelson, stays with Nelson, goes to The Haunt, re-runs into Kat, goes after her, encounters the Spooks, gets imprisoned, talks with Kat, blah blah, and here we are on the verge of Day 2, Nightime.
Huh. I was thinking Ghostopia would be the draggy long-winded one, especially seeing how dialogue-centric the past few Chapters have been. But surprise, surprise, it's coming out pretty tight. Held up against the previous two stories, I prefer the "blending of scenes" here more - and that, IMHO, is due to a clearer grasp on the overall story. Roughly translated as REFRAIN, lol.

Some random points in ya face:
What, you can't read them?
Boo hoo hoo.
  • I kid you not, this story could go up to 70 Chapters if we go by the masterplan I have. As mentioned in a previous Writer's Block, we're starting on establishing The Haunt as a meeting place of some sort.
  • I was actually thinking of not making Kat all buddy-buddy with Darren yet, but then we just wouldn't have anything left for Day Two. And there would be difficulty bringing her up again. Some dishes are best served hot, no?
  • Oh lookie, poor Nelson is back to the bottom of the "character development" chart. Hope he doesn't turn into some wise-cracking sidekick a la Disney. Nah. Don't worry, I've great things planned for him.
  • Where's that Emily girl? Funny I keep mentioning Emily, seeing that see only got in a grand total of ONE (1) line. She'll figure in the later parts of the story in a BIG way - shhh!
  • I'm still complaining that I haven't splashed more colour/details on the world of Ghostopia. Instead, the characters are getting it all. Well, whaddaya expect from Mr. Form 5 Essay? Ohoho.
  • When should I drop the bomb on Kat's death? I don't know, you tell me.
  • Haha, just kidding. I do know.
  • Moving away from the story: I was engrossed with this site for most of Wednesday afternoon, and last night: . It's basically a series of Flash animations done in storyline format by this "normal" guy, now up to Chapter 5 (b). Though my worst fears that everyone in the Flash world has already heard of it have been confrimed, do check it out if you haven't done so. Simply the story I wish I'd thought of.
  • Last But Not Lea...whoops, I mean, In A Nutshel...sorry, In Conclusi...agh, no escaping them darned cliches. Anyway, signing off with this: today happens to be Friday, May the 13th. Sincerely hope you understand the significance of it other than Bad Luck Day.
  • That was all, In A Nutshell.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 20: Time Passes

"You're not disappointed, are you?" Kat laughed.
"Nah," Darren quickly tried to sound as normal as he could. "Well...guess I'll be seeing you around."
"Stop it, you're cracking me up with the dramatics," she sniggered. "If you've got nothing going on, come meet me up at The Haunt. I'm there most nights."
"Sure, sure."
A bell went off with a resounding dong, startling Darren. Another dong, followed by another, then more. He was sure of counting fourteen chimes at least.
"Would you just look at the time!" Kat cried. "Fourteen hours of the day left, and I'm here still loafing around with you!"
"Oh," Darren thought to himself, understanding now. He mentally calculated the time to be 10 o' clock.
"Well," Kat extended her hand to shake his. "Goodbye!"
Seeing her walk off, he had a feeling she would turn around and smile or wave back at him. But she did nothing of that sort.

The rest of the day passed very uneventfully for a second day of afterlife. Darren followed Nelson to the marketplace which appeared every bit the same as it did yesterday. Most times he was polishing silverware, or smiling forcefully at stuck-up customers. The two didn't talk much, apart from a twenty minute lunch break. And even that was spent mostly on trivial stuff about Nelson's stall.
"Thank you; do come again, madam," Nelson said for the umpteenth time today at another customer who wasn't interested in "cheap metals".
"Cheap metals? Look who's talking." Darren whispered to Nelson, annoyed.
"Heh, just grin and bear with it, pal."
Dong! Dong! Dong! Dong! Dong! Dong!
"It', six o' clock?"
"Yup, that's what they called it when we were alive. Time to pack up - market's closed!"
Wiping his hands dry, Darren stuffed some brass teapots into a crate. He couldn't help yawning a little.
"That tiring, huh?" Nelson grinned and put an arm round his shoulder.
He almost shot back, "More like boring", but held his tongue just in time. "Nah, I'm okay."
"Care to dine out again tonight? My treat."
"Sure. What do you have in mind?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 19: Kat's Reply

"You know what, Kat? I guess you're right." Darren shrugged his shoulders. "I'm probably doing this so that I can make you feel sorry sorry yourself, though you don't seem to need help with that. After all, my death was a joyride compared to yours."
Having said that, he walked away from her. "Bye, Kat. Have fun."
She stood still.
"You're not the first person to have called me that."
He turned around. "Called you what?"
"Well, are you self-pitying?"
"Am I? I have every right to be."
"Kat, I know many bad things must've happened to you in the past, both while you were living and after that. But if you keep at the way you are now, the bad will make way for even more bad."
She laughed sneeringly. "You sure are one for motivational talk. Though I didn't buy an inch of that crap you just spewed, but...yeah, thanks."
For no reason Darren found his ears growing hot. "Uh...well, welcome."
She flicked back a loose hair and continued smiling.
"So, ah...where were we?"
"You were about to invite me to stay at your place, I believe."
"Uh, yeah. I mean, no, it's not actually my place. Though I think Nelson did seem okay with it last night. Did he? He did, right?"
Kat's eyes narrowed. "Come again?"
"I mean," he swallowed. "You can come over. If you want to, that is."
"If I want to...if I want to..."
"Yup. If you want to."
Darren coughed, a little somewhat nervously.
"You know what," At last she replied. "I was just exaggerating when I said I lived out in the streets. Most nights, I rent a little room inside that cafe you saw me in last night."
"You mean you work there?"
"Can't say I'm working there - more like leaching off them for a little something in return."
"So...guess that means a 'no' to staying with us?"
"Right. That's a no."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 18: Second Day

"So you mean she's probably bitter about the way she died?"
"Heck, most of us younger ones are. Just seems weird that she hasn't gotten over it after so long."
"Exactly how long has she been in Ghostopia?"
"I don't know, she was here even before I set up my stall."
"And how long have you been here?"
"Um," Nelson scratched his chin. "It's hard to tell, I don't keep track of time here. But it can't be less than a year."
"So she's been at it at this while - this consperson thing?"
"Yeap. Each and every day."
Suddenly an intoxicating humming sound filled the cell. "Huh," yawned Nelson. "That sound. It's so..."
"Sleepy..." Darren's head drooped. "Sleepeee..."
Without even realising it, they both dozed off.

"Up, up, all three of you!" A loud voice barked, jolting them awake.
Darren stirred first, followed by the other two. Already rays of morning sunlight were casting shadows on the wall.
"Who's that?" mumbled Kat dreamily.
"I SAID UP!" The voice repeated itself, raised this time. "Go home - you, you, and you!"
They staggered to their feet, still unsure of what was going on. Unlocking their cell door was, as anyone could guess, a Spook.
" charges?" Darren grinned.
The Spook only grunted.
"Heh...I'll take that as a no."
Quietly they filed out, grabbed their belongings from the counter in front, and stepped out of the station. It was a bright breezy morning, not unlike when Darren first found himself in Ghostopia.
"Man, it's getting late. Let's go home and wash up, then I'm off to the marketplace." quipped Nelson.
Kat didn't say a word. She just walked off, hands in pockets.
"Where's she headed to?"
"How would I know?"
"Hey!" Darren caught up with her. "Why don't you come stay with us till you find somewhere better?"
Kat turned around with that "leave me alone, pal" look on her. "You're still at it, aren't you? What are you trying to get out of me, Darren? What exactly do you want, huh?"

Writer's Block: The Funeral

Your feet are cold
the heart is still
Your lids are shut
the face is pale

She's in a better place, they say
but still tears flow
The sombre procession march
Nothing said, nothing told
Glances of sorrow
One glance
Till the last look

Serenely she lies
The woman they love
and care for
The woman they loved
and cared for

The ignorant call it blind hope
Something said to heal hurts
But we too, look forward
to the day
We walked the face of this earth

(Dedicated to Auntie Angela, who passed away at the dawn of Sunday. This comes after a week of many deaths, including Krishen Jit whom I never got to meet. Rather death-heavy writings we've been getting these past months - which goes to show how real death is)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Writer's Block

5 Chapters and 1 Recappening, and we're back to refresh ourselves at another Writer's Block!
I've finally pinpointed the root cause of the "cliffhanger at every end of chapter"'s because of how I go about updating my story.
Step One, start off with a few lines.
Step Two, continue with more lines till I almost max out the page (before a scroll bar appears)
Step Three, press Enter till the scroll bar becomes roughly half the length of the box where I write my stuff.
Step Four, estimate how many lines I have left to write before the post of the day is of passable length, then FILL IT UP.
Shame on you, Step Four! And shame on myself as well, for giving life to Step Four. That is so not the way to write, looking forward to constantly wrap things up by hitting word-count milestones. It usually ends up with me either plodding on with meaningless dialogue just to complete a post, or rushing through an entire scene with just a few lines of dialogue. Take for example, that scene where the three get arrested by the Spooks. It had sounded, crisp when I wrote it, but reading back now it seems like it could've used more meat.
Another drawback of such short chapters - they make me short-sighted to the "big picture". Yeah, storyline arcs, whatever. If this is going to be a long-drawn story, methinks the dialogues, descriptions and everything-under-the-sun CANNOT always be confined to the length of a single chapter. Like you can see in Chapter 17, I'm experimenting with dialogue which spans across chapters. Of course, such long-drawn-ness could lead to a potentially boring read where two guys talk for 3 chapters. Or, you know, we gotta wait till Chapter 50 before something happens. Let's see how it works.
And I still haven't touched on anything about the plot yet? Mannn...let's get this over and done with.
You smarter ones will probably pick up that the Spooks aren't a one-time attraction; they'll basically end up as your not-so-nice authority figures whom our protagonists will battle. More will have to be added to their characters later on, lest they become mixed up with those yucky Dementors from Harry Potter. Yeah, sue me!
Wasn't expecting to pull the trigger on Kat's background so soon, but it could happen in the next few chapters, or it may not. Again, I'm getting afraid that this story could turn out too lengthy. I mean, it's already Chapter 17, and we've barely skimmed the introductions. Lately I've been having recurring nightmares of The Bold And The Beautiful. Eew. Anyway, gonna love coming up with Kat's "cause of death" and background!
And Nelson's background!
And Darren!
And Emily!
Nitey nitey! =)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 17: Cause Of Death

Once more she shot them 'the look'. "Oh, so now you're gonna take pity on me just because I asked you to?"
"Uh, hey-"
"Well, you can just take it and shove it! I've never lived by the pity of others, never needed it; and if you think you're so special, you've got another thing coming, buster!"
"Look here, little girl," Darren gritted his teeth. "I haven't had the best day of my life so far, and you sure didn't make it better by betraying my trust and running off with my stuff. So if you'd just put a lid on that me-me-me act there, I'm sure the world would be a much better place."
"Guys, guys-"
"Oh, and I suppose I'm having the time of my life stuck with you two nimrods?" Kat cut off Nelson's vain attempt at quelling the arguement. "Hey, actually I am having a swinging time! This so totally beats wandering out on the streets figuring out who to cheat the next morning so that I can stay alive!"
"Whoa, you actually don't have a place to stay?" asked Nelson in shock.
Darren tried to come up with a snide reply, but saw that it was pointless. "That', sad. What happened?"
"None of your business." she scowled.
"Hey, come on," Darren sighed. "Who knows, maybe we can help. I'm sure Nelson here has got some extra rooms in his house."
She pretended to be asleep.
"Leave her alone," Nelson said. "We should be getting some sleep too."
"Okay," he shrugged. "Any idea what her problem is?"
"We've been guessing for some time. Most likely related to her cause of death, they say."
"Why? What do you mean?"
"Every Ghost feels differently when they find themselves here. Some die with no regrets, some die bitterly, some tragically. Since your death is the last experience you had in the previous world, the emotions usually carry on to shape your personality in Ghostopia."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 16: Doing Time

"Yeah, Spooks. They're the enforcers of authority in Ghostopia, always going round at night to weed out troublemakers. Trust me, you don't want to run into them without a terribly valid excuse."
"You, hiding there! I hear you!"
To their horror one of the Spooks just whizzed itself beside them and grabbed a collar in each hand. In a blink it whizzed them back to the other Spooks before Darren could even catch his breath.
"Explain yourself, eavesdropper." The Spook standing nearest to them snarled.
Kat's mouth fell open. "You! I thought I lost you!"
Then cunningly she turned to the Spooks. "Sirs, these two were the ones following me! I want them arrested at once."
"How dare you!" Darren spat back. "She conned me and stole my papers this morning! I want her arrested as well!"
"I've never seen this guy in my life ever! He's mad! Arrest him!"
"Oh, would you believe it! Now she's tricking you Spooks as well! Arrest her!"

"It's all your stupid fault."
"Shut up, moron."
Darren, Nelson, and Kat found themselves in - surprise, surprise - a dingy prison cell. They would most likely be detained for the night till supposed "investigations" were completed.
An unbearable stillness hung in the air before Nelson decide to play peacemaker.
"So, Kat, how and when did you come to Ghostopia? You've made quite a name for yourself, you know."
She stared daggers at Nelson. "Oh, I've made a name, huh? Kat The Consperson? Is that it?"
"You know, everyone thinks I'm evil," she said. "They look at me and think how much I like cheating newcomers out of their possessions. But no one ever cares about the rest of me!"
For a lengthy period no one said a word. Then Darren spoke up.
"Okay, lady, we're hearing you now. What about the rest of you?"

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 11-15

After showing Darren his house, Nelson takes him to the city for some sightseeing and dinner. They end up in a cafe called "The Haunt", where Darren learns another quirk of Ghostopia - you need not pay for any expenses till right before your second death!
In an ensuing conversation, Nelson reveals that he was murdered in a gang fight in the previous world. Before they can continue, a girl comes onstage to sing as part of the joint's entertainment. Her song "Bygones" wows the crowd and Darren as well. However, the other performances make the night pass dully for him.
Out of the blue, he spots Kat on the other side of the room. After alerting Nelson, they decide to go after her. Kat notices them as well and leads the two on a chase down the busy streets. Eventually they manage to catch up with her, after she thinks they aren't on her heels anymore.
Then three huge outlined forms show up to intimidate Kat, though she counters smartly by saying she was just using this route home to escape from some stalkers. From their hiding place, Nelson silently reveals to Darren that those beings are called Spooks, leading us into Chapter 16.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 15: Something Spook-y

The two found themselves tailing Kat down the street, constantly making sure she didn't notice them. It was a good thing the streets were still filled, making her lose sight of them soon enough. "Think she knows we're still following her?" Darren asked Nelson as they hid themselves behind an unused Shifter.
"Guess not, she doesn't seem in a hurry."
"Good. So when do you reckon we catch up with her?"
"There's a stretch upfront with many bends. Once she goes in there, we can catch up with her without her knowing."
They shadowed her for a couple more minutes before arriving at the said bend. Though Kat didn't notice them on her heels, she continued at a steady pace without making any stops. As soon as she disappeared behind the wall Nelson motioned to Darren to speed up.
The street became dimmer and narrower, eventually resembling more a back alley. They kept track of Kat's distance by following her more and more frantic-sounding footsteps, also at the same time trying hard to not give themselves away.
Suddenly, the footsteps stopped. Had she realised that they were there? Darren and Nelson held their breaths and halted, knowing she might be listening for clues.
Then some voices boomed from where Kat likely was, perking their curiousity.
"Ain't it past your bedtime yet, missy?"
"You're one of those rascals from the other side, aren't you?"
"I believe there's a picture of you up somewhere in the chief's office."
Darren quietly inched his head above the wall to see what was going on. Three hulking forms with only outlines for bodies surrounded Kat, who was trying her best to look unperturbed.
"You got it all wrong, sirs. Some suspicious-looking guys were following me back home just now, and I had to use this shortcut to shake them off."
"Suspicious-looking men? How did they look like?"
"Umm..let's see. There were two of them. One had this pair of nerdy spectacles on, and the other was pretty buffed up."
"Hey, she's describing us!" Darren whispered to Nelson who was listening intently behind the wall. "But who are those people anyway?"
"They're big, and have no bodies?"
"Shoot," Nelson wiped his brow. "This can't be good. They're Spooks."