Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 36: We're Going In!

"That's what those guys in Unprotected Ghostopia thought too," snorted Mortie. "Listen, you, these guys aren't like any of those amateur lawbreakers you've seen. Eleven Spooks in that other Office, and not a single one saw them."
Lester cocked an eyebrow. "Eleven Spooks?"
"Eleven Spooks."
"Where the heck did they get eleven Spooks?"
"That, Mr. Lester, is beside the point." Mortie said with a mildly irritated tone. "We're running out of time here. In less than half an hour, the records will be gone if you don't let us in."
Lester puffed his cheeks and checked his watch. "I'm gonna need some identification here. Your GIC Cards, please."
Darren and the rest looked at each other unsurely.
"You heard the man, guys," Mortie calmly told them. "Your GIC Cards, please."
Oh well, Darren shrugged. Mortie knows best. He duly dug out his six-pointed card and handed it to him. The others followed suit.
"There you go," Mortie dumped all the cards on his desk, then gestured to the stairs. "May we?"
Lester, furiously studying their cards, grunted something inaudible.

"Third floor, third floor, let's get moving," Mortie motioned them to follow him. "Curses, that guy took up too much of our time. We've only got less than 30 minutes before the stuff we drank stops working."
"What do we do if we come across any Spooks?" Kat asked.
"Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me," he suddenly stopped, bringing the entire group to a halt. "Guys, let's split into groups of twos and threes - the Spooks will grow suspicious if they see too many of us at once. Kat, you go with Darren; Fletcher, Scarlet, and Todd, you three together. I'll go with Amelia."
"You two," he pointed at Kat and Darren. "Go to the fourth floor. The other three - second floor. Amelia and I will come up a minute later to the third floor, and we'll tell the Spooks that the fourth floor and second floor need their help. Once they come, I leave it to you to keep them there as long as you can while Amelia and I handle the records. Got it?"
Everyone nodded their heads firmly. Darren got the plan in bits and parts, but he figured Kat should be able to cover up for him.
"Just a reminder - stay cool, stay steady. Those Spooks will see you as Spooks - and Spooks are always in control. Never betray that fact."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Writer's Block Presents...I Interviews Myself

To commemorate the recent 100th Chapter posted on Twisted Tales, we had our ever-eager journalist I sit down for a talk over some buttered bread and tea with esteemed Twisted Tales founder, Myself. Some textbook formalities and complimentary chitter-chatter later, here we are:

I: First off, Mr. Myself, what do you think makes Twisted Tales different from the multitude of blogs we have out there?

M: Different? Of course my blog is different! You dont' see any other blog where the blogger talks to himself via a fictional interview, do you? (chuckles to self) But seriously though, I wouldn't call my blog totally one-of-a-kind. True, you don't see many other guys posting continued stories as 90% of their blog's content, but this sort of thing has certainly been done before in other formats. To answer your question then, I'd say my blog is more marketable than regular blogs. Marketable not in the sense of ripping off cash, but it's less personal and more accessible to both people who know me and those who don't.

I:'re not earning any money from this, are you?

M: On good months, I can get up to fifteen thousand bucks, but June was pretty poor - less than six thousand. OF COURSE I'M NOT EARNING ANYTHING, BOZO.

I: Where did you get the idea to start Twisted Tales from?

M: Now that's tough to say. I became aware of the blogging culture only a few months before my blog started, mostly from friends who pestered me to visit theirs. Few months later, and I was half-torn between starting one myself, but I quote a collegemate: "Oh no, you're starting one too? I swear, 80 percent of the blogs of our friends are all about 'Stress/ Exams/ Backstabbing'. That's when I knew I had to do something different. Couple that with my recently-surfaced intention to start writing stories again, and you had this "slog" (story log) thing coming up. As for the "random stories with characters that appear out of nowhere, with everyone adding in their two cents' worth" element, I credit that to my friend Tommy who related much about his D&D (Dungeons and Dragons, a pencil and paper role-playing game) endeavours to me.

I: How much time do you spend on your blog? It does seem like you spend most of your online time blogging.

M: Can't deny that, I do spend a lot of my online time blogging. Maybe it's unfair to say most, but a lot is true. A good Chapter usually takes at least 45 minutes, depending on inspiration and how much effort I'm willing to put in. However, sometimes I get away with less than 20 minutes for dialogue-heavy Chapters - which are much easier to write and fill up the "Space Quota" faster. On the other hand, some writings stretch out over a period of days - for example the recent "Tammy And The Mirror". Just between you and me, those darned reCAPPENINGS are becoming quite a nuisance too.

I: Wow! 45 minutes for a Chapter? How do you go about writing it anyway?

M: Hohoho, I bet you're thinking I plan it out nicely on paper, do bits of research from books and the Internet, write it once, then tidy up a draft. Neh-heh! That's what professional writers do, and yours truly's not even sure how to spell "professional" correctly. I take so long because I have a terribly short attention span, what with MSN, checking mail, surfing, homework, and the phone. I know, I know, I should lock myself in a room and get into "the zone" if I'm serious about writing, but we can't all be that disciplined. I do, however, run through my drafts at least once before posting them.

I: A reader recently asked where you get your ideas from, and you said the bathroom. Do elaborate.

M: Wasn't it clear enough already? You can't do much but think while you're bathing, can you? Singing's not really my thing, unless there's no one at home.

I: Maybe I should change the question to "Where do you get your ideas from?".

M: (clicks tongue) A predicatable question like that deserves a predictable answer: Ideas aren't things which pop into your mind when you snap your fingers, they require a step-by-step thought process, coupled with a clear intention to get ideas in the first place from stuff you read and see. This process is what many people just refuse to call creativity. The more often you engage in this mindset, the more creative you become. In my humble opinion, of course.

I: Interesting. Now, what's this about you thinking Ghostopia has flopped? You're not going to just ditch the whole story, are you?

M: Good gosh, no, I never said anything like that. Maybe I did imply in some Writer's Blocks that some parts of Ghostopia were flawed or lacked something, but in no ways it has flopped. It still, I'm sure, will turn out the strongest story I've written yet. It's just that we're now at the middle part of the story where the novelty is lost, and the end is nowhere to be seen yet. It's kind of like Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, it ain't too good or too bad, but you just need it to pull through. If there's one mistake I've made with Ghostopia, it's making the story too big for it's own good. Not enough character development to go round for everyone.

I: It has been observed that the language used in your stories is excruciatingly "clean". What say you about this?

M: Just shows how creative I am for using clean words to do dirty jobs, huh?

I: All right, we're gonna have to do a last question here. You're not going to stop writing so soon, are you? Where do you hope to go with Twisted Tales?

M: That's two questions, isn't it? You lousy interviewer. I can't make lofty claims of running Twisted Tales forever, seeing that there's nothing at the moment preventing me from stopping. I mean, I could just end Ghostopia in the next Chapter, leave the site idle, spend the rest of my life playing online games, and there wouldn't be much of a squeak.
There was this recent article in The Star on famous blogs, and surely there's this hollow in my heart that wishes I get featured in one of those someday. But nahh...if you do it for fame, then you're not passionate. And if you're not passionate, you don't deserve to earn fame. Hmm..I'm talking in circles again, am I not?
Perhaps Twisted Tales is to me what a sketchbook is for an artist - he sketches pictures of beautiful things he comes across, then brings it home to refine on canvas. The stories on Twisted Tales are mightily ripe for improvement, seeing how the format of a Chapter per few paragraphs isn't at all conducive to continuous writing. So yah, sometime in the future those 43 Chapters of Blogspot and 25 Chapters of The Secret Room might end up being refined into an actual story. Who knows?

I: So you mean Twisted Tales might not make it big, but the ideas that result from it could?

M: In a springboard sort of way, yes. My, my, amazing what talking to me has done for your intelligence. You should hang out with people like me more often.

I: Will try to, Mr.Myself. Well, thanks lots for your time, I'll get this written and posted up in no time. Now let's do the Handshake Of Mutual Respect thing they always do after interviews.

M: Beh, get lost. No way I'm shaking hands with myself.

Isn't it sad what happens when you run out of ideas for your blog?

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 31-35

(Whoa...the longest reCAPPENING yet, I'm sure of it. Good, shows that the story is gaining more flesh.)

After the night's performances end, Darren finally spots Kat. She is curiously more dressed up than usually, with the reason given "A sign of celebration". The meeting starts soon, and Nelson refuses to join them even after being persuaded by Darren.
Fast forward to the meeting, where Mortie informs them that the team in Unprotected Ghostopia was successful in destroying their Lower Level Office's records - the cause of the "celebration". To the shock of everyone in the room, he then proposes that they go for their Lower Level Office that very night.
According to his research, the Office - located in Level 94 - is carrying out some rearranging work for the night, making it their best chance of going about unnoticed. The rest disagree with Mortie's plan, saying that the eight Spooks on guard there might be too dangerous for them.
It is then Darren finds out that all Spooks are selected from Ghosts who have committed suicide in their past life. Each Spook possesses a power - called a Supernatural - that comes from how they killed themselves.
Mortie continues presenting his findings - the weaknesses of a Spook. Firstly, it becomes less wary when around its own kind. Secondly, it can see all things only as a Spook or a Ghost - nothing in between. He then produces some vials containing liquid which he claims will turn their bodily structures into Spooks for an hour.
After Darren and the rest drink it, they make their way to the Lower Level Office. Mortie claims to the guard that they're there as extra security for the records which are about to be stolen. However, the guard still has a hard time buying it, stating that the Spooks on duty are enough, leading us into Chapter 36.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 35: Deception

Madness! Madness! Madness! Madness! Madness!
Here they were, seven of them in total, standing in front of the Level 94 Office. The lights inside were still on and voices could be heard. Every now and then the scrapy creak of furniture being dragged rang out loud, evidence of the rearranging Mortie said was going on.
"Now, remember," Mortie lowered his voice. "Those Ghosts in there can see that we're Ghosts just like them, but we'll have to play smart - everyone follow my lead. As for the Spooks, they'll think we're Spooks as well. The trick here is not let both the Spooks and Ghosts catch us at the same time. Understood?"
Heads nodded.

"Extra security? I don't think we called for any of that. We already have enough Spooks here." The Ghost in charge, a burly moustached guy, eyed them charily.
"No sir, you did not call for us. We were sent by the Level 121 Office." Mortie replied with a poker face.
"Level 121? Which one is that?"
"Um, I'd rather that remain confidential."
"Then that's too bad, pal. No way I'm letting you in without knowing who you are, or where you're from."
Mortie frowned and looked down, arms folded, as though making a difficult decision.
"All right, I'll tell you, but make sure not a single soul hears about this. If my boss finds out I'm leaking such information, I'm dead."
"Heh. You got my word."
"You heard about what happened to the Lower Level Office in Unprotected Ghostopia?" His tone grew deadly serious.
"The break-in?"
"Uh-huh. And we have a lead that says this place could be next."
"Here? Why?"
"You do have a copy of the newcomer entry records here, don't you?"
"Um, yes."
"That's the same thing they broke into the other Office for. Someone wants to get their hands on all the records."
"I see," the Ghost scratched his chin smugly. "No worries, that guy's gonna get his with our Spooks guarding the place."
"You're wrong, Mister..."
"Mr. Lester. Those guys, whoever they are, can't be handled by Spooks alone. They've got some sort of weapon that makes Spooks unable to detect them."
"Rubbish. Sixteen years here, and I've never seen any common criminal a good Spook can't handle."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Writer's Block

Three whole weeks without a proper Writer's Block detailing the progress of the story! How did you make it through, ppl?!
An apology to kickstart things, for updating noticably much less in the past weeks. Yeah, face facts, all you dudes and dudettes, I'm BEEZEE! Woohoo! BEEZEE! Which makes me unable to blog twice a day! BEEZEE~!
But you sure as anything didn't come here to be entertained by THIS~!, so let's talk about Ghostopia:
It sends a shiver down my spine, the thought that this story is possibly going downhill fast. Sure, updating less regularly tends to make the story more stale and plodding, but I believe the lack of planning is starting to show. Sometimes it seems like we're drifting towards something memorable, but other times I just feel like I'm stuck with a messy bunch of characters held together in contrived situations.
You might say it boils down to the lack of an "Arc", a "Theme", a giant umbrella unifying all the characters and the story as a whole. Or maybe I'm really trying to do too much with too little a space. Let's face it - a few paragraphs per chapter, 30+ Chapters, you're not gonna get much more length than 3 or 4 Chapters of an actual novel. But yet, I'm compressing everything to make it look as though we're into Chpater 8-10 of said actual novel.
So, lack of planning and lack of space is ruining my story. What's new?!
But all hope ain't lost yet, we still might salvage something from the remaining bits. The break-in to the Lower Level Office we're getting next could somesort be Darren's "point of no return". Him and the Ezisa. Meaning: we're moving out of the secret underground meetings to a full-fledged "strike against the authorities". It was nowhere in my plans to make this happen so fast, but we're seriously stuck in a rut here, and I'm so not taking my trump cards with me to the grave.
Nelson and Kat are also gonna have to be more 3-dimensional than the sparse "Darren's friend" and "mysterious, rebellious girl" roles they're currently having. Of course, with all this development, someone might get pushed to the background. Either Mortie or Fletcher, I'm guessing. Wink, wink - don't say you weren't warned.
Of course, the big finale is a long way off still, and manymany roads have to be straightened before we get there. Admitedly, I'm pretty much adjusting them as I go with the stories - not a good thing, not a bad thing either. And I'm telling you, we WILL get to 100 Chapters. We most certainly could.
Not the best way to wrap things up, but I'm having a thing for Martina McBride! And JEM And The Holograms songs! (Though I'm betting nobody has a clue what the latter is)

Till we meet again, Music Is Magic! ;^)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 34: To Overcome A Spook,...

Very interesting indeed. Darren seemed to be discovering a new quirk of this world every turn he took.
"I say we forget those Spooks," Fletcher said. "Amelia said there're only two of them on each floor at one time. We've got quite a number of us ourselves, no reason to feel outnumbered."
"Excuse me, have you been caught by a Spook before?" Kat retorted mockingly.
Fletcher glared back at her.
"Well, I have," she said in a low voice. "I'll spare you the details, but it wasn't a pleasing experience. At all."
Did she mean the time they tailed her to the back alley? That wasn't such a traumatising experience - even the prison cell had been fairly comfortable. Either she was lying, or it wasn't her first time getting caught by Spooks.
"Listen, listen," said Mortie with the tone of a wearied father. "I never said anything about fighting those Spooks headon. We're breaking in under false pretense."
"Again, doing your homework counts," Mortie grinned, pointing to his head. "To overcome an enemy, you must first discover the enemy's weaknesses."
"And a Spook's first weakness is that it becomes less suspicious of other Spooks. So simple enough, we enter as Spooks."
Huh? Enter as what?
"Well, Mr. Mortie," Kat seemed a little taken aback by his idea. "How the heck are we going to become Spooks?"
"You should've let me continue. The Spook's second weakness - it can see all beings only as a Ghost or a Spook. So if we stop being Ghosts for those few minutes, they'll think we're Spooks."
This was getting even more mind-boggling than high school chemistry to Darren. However, he chose to shut up and let Mortie finish his piece.
"I won't waste everyone's time detailing how I got these," he continued, reaching for a wooden box at his feet. "But this'll turn our bodily structures into Spooks for an hour."
He flipped open the lid, revealing a row of vials filled with some bubbling liquid.
"Drink this, all of you."
Everyone grabbed a vial each, uncorked it, and downed the liquid without blinking an eye. Everyone but Darren. He wasn't so sure if this was the right thing to do.
He peered around to check the others. Everything stayed the same - no green skin, no overgrown heads, no screams of agony. They could've well been drinking Coke.
"C'mon, Darren, get it over with quick." Mortie urged him.
Oh well, he thought. He was already dead. Gulp, gulp, gulp. It tasted like plain water with a sourish aftertaste.
Of course, nothing happened.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 33: Spooks, Spooks, Spooks

A collective You Can't Be Serious rose around the room. Even Kat had both eyebrows raised.
"Right after this meeting, I hear you ask?" Mortie said, a sly smile creeping up his face. "Exactly."
Everyone listened intently. "Go on."
"I've done my homework, you see, and I know for a fact that our Lower Level Office is at Level 94. I've also found out that they're rearranging the place tonight for some weekend conference. Tonight's our best chance - those fools are asking for it, with the mess that place is in."
Fletcher flicked his coloured fingernails, frowning. "Don't you have a floorplan or something?"
"Like I said," Mortie coolly fished out a tattered piece of paper. "I've done my homework. Pass it round for all to see."
It was a blueprint sketch of the office. There were four floors in total, and the records were kept in the third. It looked pretty unremarkale for a place that was supposed to be holding one of the only four things that would prevent them from escaping.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Amelia said. "I've worked there before. Though they don't have any built-in security features, they've Spooks guarding the place."
"Spooks, eh? How many?"
"Two on each floor - eight, usually. But there could always be more, if they're rearranging like you said."
"Or less."
"I'm not sure if we want to do this right away, if there're as many as eight Spooks there."
A short pause lingered.
"Question, please," Darren suddenly raised his hand, surprising the rest. "How powerful are those Spooks?"
Kat squinted. "Is that a trick question?"
"No, seriously. What's so scary about those Spooks?"
"So you have yet to feel the wrath of a Spook," Mortie smiled in a way that made Darren feel uncomfortable. "Spooks, apart from being the henchmen of the authorities, are in fact all Ghosts who came here through suicide. Each year, a hundred Ghosts from Unprotected Ghostopia are drafted to become Spooks, irregardless of age, gender, health, or anything else."
"These new Spooks are then given a Supernatural - powers that enables them to kill others the way they killed themselves. For instance, a Spook who poisoned himself to death would have the ability to poison others."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 32: Tonight

"Come on, Nelson! What do you have to lose?"
"Let's beauty sleep?" he chuckled. "Nah, seriously pal, I'm not getting myself into this.
"But why? It's too dangerous?"
"You could say that. Or maybe I'm just skeptical."
"Skeptical," Darren repeated to himself. "You think we're gonna fail?"
"Ah, don't you worry so much what people like me say. I'll see you tomorrow at the stall again, bye."
Darren eyed Nelson all the way out. Now he was starting to get mysterious. Though it could very well be a baseless intuition, Darren couldn't shake off the feeling that Nelson had more lnowledge of the Ezisa than he'd shared.
But that would have to wait till tomorrow morning. Seeing the cafe nearing emptiness, he trodded quickly to the meeting room.

Though poorly-lit as always, an air of festivity hung over the little room tonight. The others came dressed in un-sombre colours unlike those he'd grown used to in Ghostopia. Even some of the furniture was draped in some lavish-looking fabric. And were those balloons hidden in a dark corner?
"There you are, Darren!" Mortie showed him a chair. "Just in time for my grand announcement!"
Kat and the rest shifted nervously.
"Most of you should have heard that our Ezisa team in Unprotected Ghostopia was, I'm glad to say, very successful. Their Lower Level Office records have already been taken care of."
Everyone clapped and cheered mildly, telegraphing the fact that Darren was the only one not in the know. So that explained the celebratory tones.
"Which brings us to the obvious question," he continued. "When do we get to action ourselves? What do you think?"
Everyone looked around in an unsure manner. "Question, Mortie," Kat raised her hand. "Do we have all the information we need about our Lower Level Office?"
"Of course."
"Then why not tomorrow night?"
Mortie's eyes glinted in the red light. "Why not tonight?"

Monday, June 13, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 31: Shall We Meet?

As before, there was no sight of Kat all night long. It didn't matter though, as Darren found himself for once enjoying the music being performed. Phew. Another dreary night of oldies would've plain killed him.
But amidst the ever-changing lights and messy hair, Darren couldn't seem to keep his mind on the performances. He was carefully charting out questions for the meeting later, even envisioning how it might turn out. Maybe Mortie would have to postpone their plan, assuming that the other team failed. Or what if they were successful? Would they be breaking into high-tech offices a la Mission Impossible under this very moonlight?
A couple more hours of head-banging songs wore on. Darren tried his best to keep up with the ecstatic crowd, but eventually gave up midway through I Hate Myself And Want To Die.
A thunderous drumroll, bada-bing, bada-bang, followed by an applause of the like snapped him back to his senses. "Thank you!" The breathless Ghost onstage yelled out, then brought down his guitar on the floor, smashing it to pieces. Huh. The performances were over, apparently. And he didn't even quite notice.
Yes, thought Darren with a mixture of nervousness and relief. Now here comes the main event.
"Well, well, well," Nelson exclaimed as the cafe began to grow empty. "Guess there's gonna be a meeting tonight after all."
Darren whirled around and it was Kat, sporting a tight pink jacket and matching heels, curiously breaking away from her usual black ensemble.
"Hi," he blurted curtly. "There you are."
"Aren't you going to ask me about the outfit?" she giggled in a way quite unlike her.
"Uhh...okay. What about the outfit?"
"It's a sign of celebration, actually," Kat puffed up her chest. "I'm proud to announce that the second team is...wait, wait."
She narrowed her eyes at the aloof Nelson. "I bet he told you about our meeting."
"Yup, sure did."
"And you do know that our group is highly secretive."
"Yeah. So?"
"I'm not saying a word more unless I see you in the meeting room. Darren, meeting starts in five minutes. See you there."

Saturday, June 11, 2005

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 26-30

In the meeting, Fletcher, one of the attendees, goes on to reveal that nobody grows older in Ghostopia - all because of the age freeze policy enforced by the bickering authorities.
Mortie then states their plan of escape: get rid of the four newcomer records that are kept by the authorities - two in Protected Ghostopia and two in Unprotected Ghostopia. He hopes to receive a report from the Ezisa team in Unprotected Ghostopia in time for their Friday meeting.
The meeting then ends, and we fast forward to the next morning where Darren is telling Nelson about the Ezisa. Nelson cautions him, saying that some Ghosts have previously managed to escape Ghostopia, but failed to enter the living world. They ended up being Exorcised - totally removed from existence.
After some pondering and realisation that the Ghosts were a depressed lot since the age freeze policy came about, Friday night comes at last for Darren. He eagerly goes to The Haunt with Nelson and keeps a look out for the Ezisa members, leading us into Chapter 31.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Writer's Block: Tammy And The Mirror

(Why, hey! This must be the first forcefully-rhymed "story poem" I've written in years - methinks that genre wasn't touched after 'The Boy Who Was Too Smart'. The beauty of such writings is that everyone secretly prefers them over "deep" stuff, and you needn't read the same line three times to understand what it means ;^). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 'Tammy And The Mirror'.)

Mirror, mirror, oh so new,
How I wish I could see you.
What are you like? Who's inside?
Oh do come down, sit beside.

To the fields went little Tammy,
She skipped and played with little Dee.
Along came Scott, they laughed in glee,
Running as far as their eyes could see.

Mirror, mirror, hanging tall,
How I wish I could see more.
Show someone else, it's always me!
How about us? Tee hee hee.

To high school went older Tammy,
Studying next class to Scott and Dee.
The three were best friends still,
Sitting together for breaks and meals.

Soon Scott and Dee became a pair,
Everyone assumed it was fair.
Dee seemed to like it a lot,
But otherwise Scott thought.

He called Tammy, spilling it out,
Suppressed feelings, all said loud.
She tried hard to make him feel better,
Counsellor, comforter, listener.

Mirror, mirror, all asmear,
How I wish you were more clear.
Why is there so much out of sight,
When the reflection looks just right?

It had to happen sooner or later,
The calls started becoming regular.
No one had a clue, not even Dee,
They fell for each other gradually.

Months passed - the prom was near,
Dee still had no idea.
The secret was kept safe still,
Though a few already knew.

Tammy urged Scott to let Dee know,
She wanted no more of this show.
He too wanted to do what was right,
The three would meet up that very night.

Eight o' clock, their favourite cafe,
Tammy came first, unsure what to say.
Dee came hand in hand with Scott,
Would she take it well or not?

"Dee," went Tammy. "It's so hard to say,
But something must be settled today.
Scott and I are in love secretly,
It just happened - please understand me."

Dee stared at the floor, lips pursed tight.
She didn't cry, scream, scowl, nor fight.
"It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.
If you're happy, there's nothing I'll say."

Tammy and Scott were both delighted,
At how easily she'd accepted.
Everything cleared - no more charade,
The two of them could publicly date.

Mirror, mirror, shimmering bright,
How I love your colours and sights.
All's perfect looking into you,
Turning lovelier with every view.

Get a job did adult Tammy,
Scott and her kept in touch with Dee.
They hung out still, but things had changed,
Being with her, Tammy felt strange.

Whenever they asked, Dee wouldn't tell,
If this was making her go through hell.
She smiled and shrugged it all away,
"I feel fine, we're best friends anyway."

Soon they both were getting engaged,
Tammy feared Dee might be enraged.
But no, the same reaction stuck.
She simply beamed and wished them luck.

Mirror, mirror, now hazy,
How I wish I'm just crazy.
You seem so smooth and so all right,
But is there a crack deep inside?

Tammy wanted them three to meet,
And get to the bottom of it.
Eight o' clock, same cafe as always,
It sure felt a lot like the old days.

"Dee," she said. "I've been worried sick,
You always act like it's nothing big.
Surely it hurt you in some manner,
When Scott and I got together."

As always, she kept quiet only,
A few moments passed quite awkwardly.
"Come on, Dee, don't be so mysterious,
You know you can be honest with us."

Dee did not reply, she shook her head,
Tammy then felt her patience fade.
"You're lying to me - I can see it!
Stop it, you cheat!"

Still no answer, she sipped her drink,
Calm, collected, not even a blink.
"Settle down, Tammy," chided Scott.
"Let's not be so nosy with her thoughts."

Suddenly a wild thought struck Tammy,
Why was her boyfriend siding with Dee?
She stared at them, heart beating fast,
They were a couple in the past.

The movies they'd been to together,
Popcorn they'd shared with one another.
Those sweet nothings he always told her,
Dee probably heard them much earlier.

"YOU!" Tammy was losing control,
"So you think I really don't know?
How you made me think you were my friend,
Backstabbing me and stealing my man!"

Dee stood up, shaking her head,
"You've lost it," was all she said.
Scott was saying sorry to Dee,
That was the last straw for Tammy.

Fists clenched tightly, she got up to her feet,
"I've lost it, huh? YOU THINK I'VE LOST IT?"
She reached out for Dee's throat, choking her,
Harder still, till her face changed colour.

Blinded by rage, her fingers tightened,
The other diners became frightened.
Scott rushed forward to pull them apart,
But she pushed him aside really hard.

Dee's face turned pale, she gasped for air,
Thrashing wildly to grab Tammy's hair.
Tammy's grip tightened still further,
Till Scott at last could restrain her.

Everything next happened so quickly,
No one knew what came over Tammy.
She was found guilty, for the record,
Though Dee did not want to go to court.

Twenty years for attempted murder,
Tammy broke down - too much for her.
Day by day, engulfed by self-pity,
She lost her own mind, her sanity.

Mirror, mirror, there you are,
Now you don't seem so far.
You're all I have, my life, my world,
In you I see...a boy and two girls.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 30: Friday Night

A familiar guitar riff tuned up as Darren stepped through the doors of The Haunt. But unlike those from the previous nights, this one didn't fill him with a sense of dread. For lack of a better phrase, it rocked the joint to the walls!

Load up on guns
Bring your friends
It's fun to lose
And to pretend
She's overboard
Myself assured
I know I know
A dirty word

"Yo!" Darren yelled to Nelson, trying to make himself heard over the blaring speakers. "I didn't know you boring ol' Ghosts were into Nirvana!"
"Oh, you'll be surprised!" Nelson cupped his hands over his mouth. "Even the old dudes love this sort of stuff."
Darren strained his eyes, trying to make out faces through the swarm of wannabe throbbing heads. Nope. Nope. Nope. None of the Ezisa members registered.

With the lights out
It's less dangerous
Here we are now
Entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now
Entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido

The crowd promptly went wild as the guitar riff sounded again, playing over and over. An infectious tune lingered in the air like a sweet siren calling out to her intoxicated listeners. Wild, thought Darren. It was like his one of his college binge parties all over again, though he usually skipped those unless there was no other choice.
"Here!" Nelson waved at him, having found an empty table. "At last!"
Oh well, no sight yet of Kat and the rest. Darren sat down and ordered a drink.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 29: Questions About Ghostopia

Darren didn't see Kat or visit The Haunt for the next two days. He kept himself occupied helping Nelson out and venturing around Ghostopia whenever he had the chance to. Most of the extremely low Levels (1 to 20) were unspectacular, to say the least, housing administrative buildings and offices. Meanwhile, Levels 21 onwards to the 50s range were slums and villages dwelled by poor folk - save for Level 21 where the marketplace was, of course. It appeared that the higher levels meant a higher standard of living, but Darren couldn't be sure till he explored more.
One thing that struck him was how devoid of smiles the entire Ghostopia was. Everyone seemed oblivious to other Ghosts around them, tending only to their own businesses. Not that it was very much different from the city he'd once lived in, but there was a very heavy vibe of just-getting-through-the-day.
Could it be because of the age freeze policy? No, said Nelson. "Ghosts have always been like this. The age freeze was simply a physical implementation of what was already in our minds. To most Ghosts, this idea of not growing, of each day not making a difference, exists from Day One of your death."
"But you seem fine to me," Darren retorted.
"It hits the longer-staying ones like Kat harder. You and me, we haven't felt so drained out by the daily grind yet. I must admit though, already it's getting to me a little - partly why I'm not interested in doing more than peddling wares in the marketplace."
As much as he denied the thought, Darren knew that he too would someday end up hopeless like the rest. How does one fulfill oneself for eternity? More so in a world where you not only foresaw eternity, but became stuck literally in it. And none of the Ghosts were willing to make a change. Who was truly behing Ghostopia? Who were these Angels and Demons Mortie spoke of?
Not even Nelson could answer his questions.

Friday night - the end of a long weekend for some, but a night of getting his queries replied for Darren. And he couldn't be more excited about it.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 28: Exorcism

"Ezisa, huh? Nope, no bells ringing."
It was the morning after the meeting, and Darren was relating to Nelson what transpired last night. Even after everyone went home and he lay staring at the ceiling, there was this sense of incredulity at the daring scheme. It was something he simply couldn't keep to himself.
"Oh well, just a shot in the dark. They did mention they were underground."
"I see. And Kat and Mortie's in it too?"
"Uh huh."
"Let me tell you something, kid," Nelson half-sighed, straightening the cloth on the display rack. "When I first came, there also was some hoo-hah about a bunch of Ghosts trying to enter the living world. Of course, they didn't take into account that it's not only a matter of leaving this world - you've got to enter the other world as well. know how it ends for them. Bad."
"Uh...the authorities caught them?"
"If you're talking the Ghostopia authorities, that's not it. See, they did escape from Ghostopia but they got stuck somewhat in between. How should I put it...too ghostly for the human world, and too human for the Ghostopia world? In the end nearly all of them got Exorcised by humans."
"Exorcised?" That didn't sound good for Darren.
"That means they were simply destroyed; removed from existence forever. Not in the living world nor the afterlife."
Darren gulped as Nelson went on. "It's hardly new, this idea of escaping Ghostopia. I could name you a hundred and one reasons everyone wants to return to life, more so young ones like us, and the age freeze policy makes being a Ghost even worse. I just have to warn you of the dangers, both from being Exorcised and getting caught by the Ghostopia authorities. They're becoming extremely cautious over this, after last year's escape."
"What happens if you get caught?"
"For us Protected Ghosts, it usually means being transferred to Unprotected Ghostopia."
"That's it?" Darren expected him to continue. "How bad can it be?"
"Hohoho, you have no idea," A throaty laugh replied. "I once got sent there a day for involving myself in a fight, and till this day I've stayed clean. Which is pretty remarkable, if you know how I was."
Suddenly Darren didn't feel so excited about the whole idea. Did going back matter so much that he was willing to take this insane risk? Was he actually interested in going back, or merely the idea of belonging to a clique in this unfamiliar world? But then how could well-versed people like Mortie and Kat become a part of Ezisa if it was going to be so dangerous? Surely there was more to their plan than just stealing the records and leaving.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Writer's Block

Bleh...believe it or not, Chapter 27 took me a full three days to write. Not so much that I'm much busier these days, but perhaps I'm just too afraid of spoiling the good part of the story that I'm taking it slooowly.
Alas, I'm not in the mood for a well-structured post, so let's just dig in to the recesses of my mind and see what pops out to say hello:

- Yay, point forms are good. They make the disorganised seem organised.

- In the past week, I find myself having to do more than "think in the bathroom" for ways to further my story. This translates into (boy, am I ashamed to admit this) actually sitting down and making a list of where the plot and characters are now at, and where I hope to bring them to. Can't say that it all cleared up after this exercise (conveniently carried out in front of the idiot box), but at least now we'll have some memorabilia to auction off after I'm ...I' know. ;^)

- If you really must ask: the more headache-arousing issues are Kat's background and the entire direction of this Ezisa thing. It's difficult when what you originally plan just won't fit in, and you end up trying to modify everything else so that that fits in. Then you think, "Wait, that's wrong. I can't be so deadset on one single idea that everything else loses continuity." B-b-but...that idea is just so darned cool! Hey, let's throw in an irrelevant analogy for good measure: you're a master pianist, but because of an ancient family curse, you are only allowed to play the guitar in public. (questionmarkquestionmarkquestionmark???)

- Yesterday in the Graduation Campaign class, a survey was done to see how many students were interested to pursue a course in Copywriting and Storytelling after graduating. And all I could say was: Whoa. Copywriting I understand, but Storytelling? I never imagined there was such a high level of interest in that in my college, and apparently, most of the responses were positive. I think. Oh, yummy. It would be good to finally be able to see what real professionals have to say about this - though I suspect it'll be catered more for Digital Animation purposes, as opposed to the Twisted Tales variety.

- Should I rechange my template to the old one? I still haven't figured out how to include comments with this new one, and it does include one scroll bar too many. But...wait! If I change my template again, it'll show that I'm indecisive! And weak! NOOOO~!

- Honey Stars. DO NOT BUY THEM. You'll be munching and chomping at them the whole night till your teeth hurt. Like I was yesterday.

- Resorting to talking about artificially flavoured cereals, that's a sure sign my time's up. Before I leave you to fulfill your quota for Days Left In Bodily Existence, here's a thought to munch on:
"How is it possible to love someone the most all your life?"

Ghostopia, Chapter 27: The Plan, First Revealed

"What do you mean nobody grows older? I'm gonna stay twenty for the rest of my life?" A horrified Darren exclaimed.
"At least till the authorities put a stop to this policy." Mortie explained.
Fletcher banged his fist against the chair. "Or we do."
"Can't the Ghosts protest or something? Surely there're others who object to this." said Darren.
"Phooey,"Fletcher barely tried to hide his disdain. "What makes you think high-up people like them want to have anything to do with crap like us?"
"Puh-lease, Fletcher," Kat sneered at him. "Spare us the act. We've heard that tripe enough times before."
He stared back daggers at her. Uh-oh, Darren thought. Fletcher was the token self-proclaimed 'smarter than the rest' sort Kat disliked. This was subtly degenerating into a clash.
"I've got enough on my hands already without you two bickering," Mortie played the peacemaker. "Shall we proceed to more pressing matters?"
Fletcher and Kat gave each other a mild scowl. "Let's,"
"Thank you. First of all, Darren, let me educate you on the basics of our plan."
"Now, the reason we can't 'waltz out of the gates' is because the authorities have a record of all new entries. You might've heard that Ghostopia is divided into a Protected and Unprotected side - sort of like the idea of heaven and hell the living world has. Protected Ghostopia, which we're now in, is governed by a body of Angels; likewise, a body of Demons for Unprotected Ghostopia."
"In each of the two realms, two copies of the records are kept - one in the Main Office, another in a Lower Level Office. It goes without saying that we have to destroy all four copies before we can escape. Currently, another Ezisa team in Unprotected Ghostopia is making an attempt on their Lower Level Office - I hope to recieve their report by Friday."
Everyone nodded in deep thought. "So when are we starting our side of the plan?" Kat asked.
"If all goes well on their side, I'll brief you all in Friday's meeting and there we go. If not, which I pray doesn't happen, we'll have to assemble a second team there."
Heart racing fast, Darren just couldn't believe what he had stumbled upon. Here, in this dingy room at the back of a cafe, the seeds of a rebellion were being planted.