Wednesday, August 31, 2005

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 51-55

Darren and Nelson find themselves at The Haunt, waiting for the meeting to start. Kat appears to tell them that the meeting has been cancelled, reason being that the Spooks have discovered their meeting place and are coming to arrest them.
The three then flee through the back door, meeting Mortie in the back alley. Nelson tells Mortie that he shall be joining their meeting, and even offers to hold the meeting in his place. Mortie agrees to that, tells Kat to inform the others, and they're off.
When they reach his place, Nelson begins asking Mortie about the previous escape attempt. Suspicious, Mortie finally figures out that Nelson was one of the three survivors.
Things get more complicated when Kat, Fletcher and Amelia walk in (Todd and Scarlet have been arrested) - Nelson recognises Fletcher and Amelia as Lucas and Andrea, albeit them having changed their names to hide from the authorities. Fletcher and Nelson then get into a minor argument over how Nelson left the group previously, and it boils over to a debate, invloving the others, about living again.
Suddenly, Kat speaks up on her reason of wanting to live again - simply, hate. This prompts her to begin the story of her death, leading us into Chapter 56.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Writer's Block: Eventhough

Eventhough your favouritism irks us so,
When scholarships, PRs, to the undeserving go.

Eventhough your drivers are reckless and mad,
They drive too fast, too slow, and just plain bad.

Eventhough to you corruption sticks like a flea,
We've all seen the cops and their duit kopi.

Eventhough your people are rude and thoughtless,
They litter and spit like it's nobody's business.

Eventhough your politicians hold less than your average ape,
Bickering about how tudungs decrease rape.

Eventhough your values are conservative and Asian,
Banning all under the sun but Siti Nurhaliza and Raihan.

Eventhough your education system is the work of harebrained fools,
Students forget all the moment they leave school.

Eventhough your streets are as safe as a loon with a dagger,
Everyone's just waiting for the next senseless murder.

Eventhough your prices go up high, high, higher still,
Petrol now costs more than the cars it fills.

Eventhough we are seen as Malay, Chinese, Indian, or Lain-lain,
Melayu babi, Cinakueh, Aneneh - all good-natured humour, no need to refrain.

But we love you still, flaws and all,
Land of Manglish and the mamak stall.
Let us not just use our mouths,
But our heads and hearts,
Till death do we part.

(Views expressed above are not neccessarily my own - Happy Merdeka Day to all!)

Ghostopia, Chapter 55: Love And Hate

"It doesn't?" Fletcher smirked. "So now killing a human doesn't matter? Then why are you stopping us?"
"That's not what I meant. You know what I'm trying to say."
"Nelson," quipped Darren. "Who was it that you murdered?"
His face reddened. "I SAID IT DOESN'T MATTER!"
Everyone hushed, taken aback by his sudden outburst. Nelson, slightly embarassed, continued in a lower voice, "All I'm saying is that there are bound to be consequences if you return to the living world. Let the ones who're alive live their lives in peace."
"I disagree," Mortie coughed. "Do we not deserve to be alive as well? Was it not by mere accidents, coincidences, and unfortunate circumstances that we're all gathered here today in this pitiful wreck of a world, instead of growing older with our loved ones?"
"All we're trying to do, Nelson, is to give ourselves a second chance," Amelia said. "Don't you want that too? Have you forgotten how unjustly you died?"
"Unlike you, I don't believe we died by chance. We all think we'll keep living forever, but just because you don't see your death coming, does that make yours a wasted life? Isn't the existence of Ghostopia itself a second chance? What're you gonna do if you go back, and die unjustly again? Keep going back until you manage to die grey and wrinkled?"
"Ahem," The strangely-quiet Kat cleared her throat, making everyone turn their heads. "The way I see it, there're two reasons why a Ghost would want to live again - love or hate."
"Love would be those instances which you've just heard; wanting to see your loved ones, wanting a death that didn't suck so badly, disliking the way things are done in Ghostopia - basically, love for your own life. Under those motivations, I would have no problem agreeing with your views." she said to Nelson. "But of course there's always another side to the story. Hate. I am one of those driven by hate to return."
One side of Nelson's lips twitched. "Really,"
She glanced uncertainly at Mortie, who responded with a comforting nod. "I am about to tell you all a story which I've never told anyone save for Mortie. Not a single other soul, I swear. The story of how I died."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Writer's Block

"My love for him is like the deep blue sea - veli deep, veli blue, and veli sea."

Pardon that quotable quote people, still hung over my first impulsive theater viewing yesterday. It was a surprisingly entertaining piece entitled "Romi and Joo Lee dan Lain-lain" and as you might guess, is a farce on Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. Not too heavy for a first-timer, hillarious beyond words, and very much Malaysian (or Manglish!). Well, what can I say? Suddenly a new alternative of entertainment has popped up for me, one that wallops TGV in edge-of-the-seat-ness. And it doesn't hurt that it makes you feel CULTURED~!
sEe, iM sO cUlTuReD i WrItE iN aLtErNaTiNg CaPs AnD sMaLl LeTtErS~!

"Oi fei chai, you want culture ah? Go eat yoghurt lah - faster effect."

Okok, back to non-theatericality. Ghostopia is again at a juncture of sorts, but aiyah, I dunno if we still care or not. I'll give everyone, myself included, the benefit of the doubt and assume that nails are still being bitten and breath is still bated for the finale.
So there you go, Fletcher and Amelia have been given the roles of Lucas and Andrea's alter egos. Another self-applaudingly "killing two birds with one stone" decision on the part of moi, as I get to elevate them both and give Nelson that depth, that past, that zing he needs. If I might even say, his feud with Mortie would've gotten quite ridiculous had those two not shown up. But of course now Nelson bears a grudge against him for creating false illusions for his buddies (Darren included).
Hey, wait! You should be figuring these stuff for yourself.
And since we're going much into their botched first escape, Nelson's insistence that "the dead should stay dead" etc etc, this presents a perfect chance to dish out those "underlying themes" of...second chances lah, death lah, life lah...that's what seperates the men from the boys, bay-beh.
Currently in my mind, a perfect scenario leading to the climax would be everyone having their individual motivations for the escape - of course, some of these ideologies would clash and ultimately it all comes blazing into a fiery finish. Still contemplating on making it fiery, but it'll have to be tragic in some way, I guess. I mean, what's the point of making and nurturing characters if you don't murder them senselessly in the end? Die, Darren, DIE!
August's drawing to an end, and I figure I'll just manage to squeeze in the mimum quota of 15 posts per month, partly thanks to the 31st day. Haha. And boy oh boy, you better stick around for October, which marks both the birthdays of Twisted Tales and myself. Cos I've got a neat-o complete-o idea lined up for the entire month - a birthday bash of sorts. Brace yourself for a torrid time, I'm gonna be plugging this for the whole of September.
So sit back, puff up your seat real nice, and prop up your feet - cos there really isn't any excuse not to soak it all in! See you in the very-immediate future. =^)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 54: So That's Who They Are!

"You have no idea what a pleasure it is for me to meet you, Mr. Nelson," Mortie grinned so gleefully it was almost frightening. "I've been searching high and low for you, and now here you are sitting in front of me. This is so the trio is complete."
Nelson frowned. "What trio?"
"Acting dumb, eh? Have you forgotten the other two who came back with you?"
A knock sounded on the door. Darren got up to open it.
"You mean Lucas and Andrea are with you?" Nelson asked.
A soaked Kat walked through the door, impolitely wringing the water from her clothes to the floor. "Bad news, Mortie. Todd and Scarlet have been arrested. I only managed to get Fletcher and Amelia to come."
Fletcher and Amelia stepped through behind Kat. Nelson glanced at them, and gasped in utter disbelief.
"LUCAS? ANDREA? What the heck are you guys doing here?"
The two stared at him, shell-shocked themselves. "Nelson?"
Mortie eyed the three of them over and over. "Oh, now I get it - Fletcher and Amelia, you changed your names!"
A faint gasp escaped Darren's lips too. He couldn't help it - it was quite a relevation for him. So Fletcher and Andrea were actually the two survivors Nelson spoke of!
"Yeah," Amelia bowed her head. "We couldn't go on as Lucas and Andrea - the authorities were hot on our heels after the ExorPrism incident. I'm surprised you didn't change your name as well, Nelson."
"I tried to," Nelson said. "But it was just too much trouble. In the end I settled for laying low as a peddler in the marketplace."
"Well, I'm glad you've finally decided to do the right thing for a change," Fletcher snorted. "Because if I remember clearly, you were the one who botched our second escape. We could've done it with that last ExorPrism you had, but you had to walk out on us."
Nelson laughed. "I beg to differ. In case I didn't make myself clear, I'm not here to help you guys. I'm here to put a stop to your plans."
Darren grimaced, not sure what the reaction of the room would be.
"Very good," Mortie chuckled, clapping his hands mockingly. "So the infamous Nelson is going to make life difficult for us. Ha ha ha ha."
Fletcher gritted his teeth. "You're not doing this again, you imbecile. I've waited so long, worked so hard for this chance to live again, and I'll be darned if you're gonna be in my way."
Nelson and him locked eyes intensely. "You're still as naive as you were back then. Haven't you gotten it into your head already that we're supposed to be dead? Trying to undo that is only going to hurt ourselves, and those who're still alive." said Nelson.
"Still harping on that one you killed, eh?"
"Don't you start on that," he inhaled deeply. "It doesn't matter any more."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 53: Three Glasses

"Here, have a seat," Nelson ushered Mortie and Darren to some plastic chairs which he just brought out. "Coffee or tea?"
"Water'll do."
"Same here. Get some for the others as well."

"Here you go," Nelson reappeared with a tray. He set it on the table, handed each one of them a glass of water and sat down.
The three drew long sips.
"So," Mortie broke the silence. "How did you meet Darren?"
"I found him pretty much lost in the marketplace right after he came. So I let him stay over at my place."
"I you're his godfather of sorts?"
"Heh, heh, heh." Nelson let out a weak laugh, and Darren followed suit.
"But, jokes aside," Mortie's face turned serious. "Why the keen interest in our group all of a sudden, Nelson?"
"I couldn't help noticing, not after that piece you guys did on the Lower Level Office. It was splashed all across the papers. Nice work."
"Mm hmm. Anything else?"
"Just curious," smiled Nelson. "Have you heard of the escape attempt by Ezisa four years back?"
"Of course I have."
Nelson pantomimed an applause. Mortie smirked.
"You know what happened to them in the end?"
"Yup. All of them died, except for three."
"Impressive," he said. "You know why they died?"
"It's called Exorcism," Mortie leaned forward. "They didn't manage to become human enough."
"So of course, I must ask you this - how do you plan on overcoming that this time around?"
For a moment Mortie didn't say anything, seemingly shocked that Nelson would dare ask something like that. "Excuse me - is that any of your business?"
"Whoops, sorry," he grinned sheepishly. "Got a little carried away."
But Mortie continued glaring at him. "Wait a suddenly seem very familiar." Then he slapped his forehead. "Why, of course! Nelson 61295, am I right?"
Nelson nodded.
"Of course, of course," Mortie kept muttering. "You're one of the three survivors."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 52: Nelson, Meet Mortie

"They're here!"
Kat froze in place, eyes darting around for somewhere to hide.
"If you're thinking of hiding, I advise against that. Those darned Spooks will search the place inside-out." said Nelson. "Is there another exit?"
Kat nodded. "There's one at the back, next to the meeting room."
"Let's get out first before talking."
She hurriedly led them past the gyrating dancers to the back of the cafe. Sure enough, an inconspicuous steel door stood just on the left of the meeting room. She opened it for them, revealing behind a damp back alley. It was starting to drizzle outside. The three stepped outside and Kat closed the door behind them, careful not too make too much noise.
"Hey, look." quipped Darren. "There he is."
Mortie leaned against the wall half-drenched, a weird scowl plastered on his face. "Oh," he flicked his cigarette to the ground. "You came."
His eyes darted over Darren, Kat, then stopped at Nelson. "And you would be?"
"Nelson. Mortie?"
"Mortie's the name all right." They shook hands.
"I was about to attend your meeting tonight, actually."
Mortie frowned for a moment, then grinned. "You're Darren's friend, right?"
"Then sure, why not? Only problem now - we've got nowhere to meet."
"I'm willing to lend you guys my house."
Mortie wiped his wet forehead. "Excellent! Kat, tell the others that we'll be meeting in Nelson's house. Where's it at, Nelson?"
"Level 20 - 1 below the marketplace."
"I see...why the keen interest in our little group all of a sudden, may I ask?"
"Hohoho. There'll be a time for talking - shouldn't we be getting ourselves somewhere dry now?"
"Yup. I guess we should," Mortie chuckled. "Kat, I'll be seeing you with the rest at Nelson's house."
She nodded. "Sure thing."
Darren nervously checked out both the faces of Nelson and Mortie. There seemed to be an unsettling calmness in their expressions, one that threatened to boil over to a gentlemanly debate or a fistfight at any moment.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 51: They're Coming For Us!

(Whew! Over a week since the story was last updated. Well anyways, better late than never.)

"Aha, hip-hop night," said Nelson, patting the ExorPrism in his pocket. "Good thing I'm not here for the entertainment."
Head-thumping beats filled the air as scores of Ghosts in oversized or undersized clothes grooved in The Haunt. Nelson, however, was sharply eyeing every face in all four corners of the place.
"You looking for Mortie?" Darren asked.
"Nope. Just trying to familiarise myself with the faces here. As a matter of fact, I've never even seen Mortie before."
"You haven't?" It came somewhat as a surprise to him.
"Nahh...just word of mouth. He's making quite a name for himself among the authorities, you know. It's remarkable how he rose from being a nobody to becoming the Gatekeeper in just three years."
"And now, the leader of the Ezisa."
Nelson paused and shook his head slowly. "I don't think it's as simple as that. There's something very strange about him - I can't figure it out, but I know he has a secret plan up his sleeve. Believe me, there's more to this escape plan of his than meets the eye."
A wannabe rapper decked in full street gear went onstage spewing some generic lines. Darren couldn't help looking.
"And I've figured the ExorPrism issue out," continued Nelson. "Lucas and Andrea must have resurfaced and be helping Mortie in some capacity. Perhaps they're in the Ezisa team from Unprotected Ghostopia."
Darren was about to say something when he saw a familiar figure walk through the door. It was Kat, back in her usual black top, black jeans, black boots, and ridiculously large earrings. She seemed to be rather flustered, as if she was late for something.
"Hey Kat! Over here!"
"Oh, there you are," she came to their table. "Bad news - tonight's meeting will have to be cancelled."
"Cancelled? Why?"
"The authorities got wind that we've been holding meetings here. A team of Spooks are on their way here now to search the place."
Nelson cocked an eyebrow. "That can't be good."
Darren peered out the window and to his horror, a line of Spooks were already marching towards the entrance.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

reCAPPENING: Ghostopia, Chapters 46-50

News of the break-in is reported in the papers, with the authorities saying that security will be tightened around both the Main Offices. Nelson suddenly becomes angry with Darren, warning him that trying to escape from Ghostopia, like what he did with the Ezisa years back, is a folly.
His story: after he arrived in Ghostopia, he made friends with two guys named Lucas and Greg. The three wanted to set up their own stall in the marketplace, but were denied licences for being "too young". Finally, they discovered the Ezisa. Led by the leader of the organisation, James, they easily managed to steal all four records and re-enter the living world.
However, Nelson ends his story there with the revelation that they killed a human in the living world. (Writer's Note: You should know that almost the whole group ends up getting Exorcised, leaving only a few survivors.) Then to Darren's shock, Nelson brings out an ExorPrism which he has hid for three years.
Apparently, Mortie, Lucas, and Andrea, the only survivors of the escape, were the ones who invented the prism. Nelson is puzzled at how Mortie could've gotten his hands on one, seeing that the authorities destroyed all the original prisms and recipes, and that it would be near impossible to make one from memory.
Nelson finally decides to follow Darren to the night's Ezisa meeting to confront Mortie, leading us into Chapter 51.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Writer's Block

And here comes your regular Writer's Block, where I once again assume the persona of some bloke posting stories on the net. issue crept to my mind, one which I should bring up before someone else does. I've noticed that my stories have all so far been VERY Western-influenced, and that can't be altogether a good thing. Blame it on a steady diet of Enid Blyton and R. L. Stine, but all of a sudden I feel ashamed that my definition of a good story this far has been how close it imitates the works of both authors. At certain points of "Ghostopia" I even cringed at how blatantly I was fashioning Darren's life after your run-of-the-mill all-American high school drama.
So what the heck, I will throw in some Malaysian-isque elements in my next story. (Hopefully this won't equate into the odd bunga raya here and there, baju kebaya, wau, congkak, and the like.) 'Cos I sure don't fancy myself as one of those who sees our homeland as a conservative Third World country festering with greedy Chinese, lazy Malays, and Indian thugs. Nope. I might be a naive kid sheltered from the "real world", but I don't ever believe in hating something without understanding it completely. Of course, you'll never understand something completely, which is precisely why you shouldn't hate! HAH!
Brakes, please. We're supposed to be talking about the story, aren't we?
Again, Chapter 51 sees a new scene starting, with Nelson confronting Mortie. There's potential here for a ton of mysteries to unravel, and lots of light shed on characters. Kat's background should be looming near, possibly Mortie as well. Just figuring avenues of making that happen, rather than them getting faraway looks in their eyes and blurring into flashback mode. Without giving too much away, I've already woven some twists here and there to make things "fit". Nothing too spectacular however, don't expect a Sixth Sense bang.
Allow me to dish out a line I haven't used in ages: We're inching towards the climax. I haven't figured out the ending yet, but already there're plenty of paths leading there I can see. The character settings are still a teensy-weensy vague, but we'll soon find out who the good guys and bad guys are. Ooh, EXCITING~! And the sooner the better, I say. This story's been hogging my blog for near six months now and it isn't gonna stop anytime soon. As a result, readership has dropped - reCAPPENINGs or not, no way anyone new's gonna stay tuned to a story already 50 Chapters in progress.
No worries on a ham-handed ending though, it ain't happening. Even if by some chance it does, I've already planned on re-writing this story WHILE the next one is in progress. Many times I've run through the backbone of the story on my head, and it does impress me. Like I've said, the stories posted serve as drafts for better stories, and I'm gonna take this one and shine it up reeeeal nice.
Of course, some little flaws that'll have to be fixed:

a) Not having Darren die so quickly at the start. It was quite a waste, really, seeing that it could've served as an introduction to him of sorts. As a result, he limped all the way in the race of character development, and we're still having a hard time buying him and his thing for Emily.

b) Another option would be to switch back and forth between Darren's, Nelson's, and Kat's lives, eventually leading to their respective deaths. Downside: a lot of the intrigue of the new characters would be gone.

c) Doing away with the story told solely from Darren's point of view. Stiffling, monotonous, and makes it seem more like a narrative than a story. Not a major mistake, but I don't quite like it.

d) Something feels weird about the Ezisa so easily accepting Darren into their ranks, seeing that they're a secret organisation. Again, not a logic loophole, but things would be much better if it was made clear.

e) And, uh...still not really sure what this is about, but Nelson's too wimpy a name for a gangster. Maybe Francesco? Valentino? Giordano? Hahahahha.

And...we're done. Term breaks are here for me, technically, so stick around as I attempt to spend my time constructively! By rambling on with the exploits of Darren, of course. ;^)
Have a nice day!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Whiner's Block a brilliant idea this is. I shall try regular blogging for once, in a brand-new column called the "Whiner's Block".

Regular blogging.

Right. Where you complain about the haze, exams, homework, parents, and friends.

First off: this month has been so unlucky for me that it's getting a little creepy. I mean, it's not just regular unlucky, but unlucky supersized with extra toppings and a cherry on top.
This tale starts two Thursdays ago when I was in Friend A's house using his computer to finish an assignment for Billboard Design. So blahblahblahblah, after several weird computer mishaps which left me in the grip of The Last Minute yet again, I was ready to save the work into my pendrive.
And then it happened.
"This file cannot be saved because the path is too deep."
File, Save As, Save...once again, "This file cannot be saved because the path is too deep."
Oh, man.
So never mind, I burned it into a CD. Then later on in class, more freaky computer mishaps happened, but we needn't elaborate on that...'cos the best is yet to come.
Suddenly! For no comprehensible reason! My pendrive dies! Yeah, dies. None of the computers could detect it. Though I anxiously go around sticking it into every laptop I could find, the results came out the same every time: My Pendrive Had Ceased To Exist Functionally.
And you thought that was the "best yet to come"? Nuh-uh. Later on that very same night, My Pendrive Ceased To Exist Physically as well! It disappeared, I swear! One minute it was in my pocket, the next it wasn't.
So kind Friend B lent me his spare pendrive as a temporary stand-by, which I accepted gratefully. I went home, drained to say the least, and proceeded to take off my glasses to wash my face.
Out of a random improbable chance, the frame of my glasses broke. Sigh. Thank God I wouldn't be needing them while sleeping.
But wait, that's just Day One.
Day Two (Sunday) kicks off with me shifting my whole computer to Friend A's house to finish up my a website project. So I slip Friend B's pendrive into my pocket, complete with all the neccessary files. Fast forward to said house, and voila! Now you see pendrive, now you don't.
*curses* This is beyond unreal MAN. Who in the history of humankind has ever lost 2 pendrives in 4 days? I should be in the record books or something. Oh well, the silver lining would be that Friend A's computer had my files too. In an unrelated incident, I bumped my car slightly into his gate as I was reversing. No damages done, which is why it's unrelated.
Moving on.
Monday, and fortunately my portfolio website didn't screw up or anything. Things went well classes-wise, apart from the fact that the exasperated Visual Studies lecturer claimed that our 80% empty class was the "worst Advertising class he had ever taught".
But here comes the unlucky-ish part. I was supposed to go straight home after class at 4.30 and start work on my assignment due Wednesday. However, as "luck" would have it, I ended up fetching a sick Friend C home in nearby Subang. Quite an innocent lil' trip, you might think.
Sadly, her directions for a shortcut back to Sunway were misunderstood by me, and I spent the next 2 hours wandering around in remote places like Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam, Subang Airport and the like. Heck, I even watched the sun set with Friend A and D (who happened to be dragged along by me for the ride). Oh, and did you know that there IS a place called "Kampung Subang" and "Bukit Subang"? Now you kow. Suffice to say, I reached home extremely late and tired, giving way to an almighty rush on Tuesday and Wednesday.
And then came the killer blow just last night (Saturday). Penniless ol' me withdrew RM50 to pay for printing, and I clearly remember the guy at the shop giving me back RM42 change. Logically speaking, I would've put it back into my wallet. I'm pretty sure I did.
But if logic was the theme of this post, then the RM42 would still be in my wallet. Instead of me opening it to pay for a drink and discovering to my horror that it disappeared.
Take your pick, but that was the final confirms the black halo floating above me that says "BAD LUCK". Did you watch Final Destination? Well, that happened to several people. This time, I'm taking all the shots. Curiously, this month coincides with the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival, and I had a giant Chinese character of "Ghost" splashed on my desktop last week.
Grrr...on a brighter note, today's Fundraising For Graduation Campaign Flea Market At Amcorp Mall went off quite well for a first time. Raked in RM400, and a jumbo-sized THANK YOU to the 3 caricature artists who worked their butts off the whole day long. Not forgetting the Henna tattoo people, birthday girl-cum-president Xin and everyone else who helped out in one way or another (the category of choice for yours truly, hohoho). But the caricature artists were the ones who really made me go wow.
If things go well, we'll probably get to double that amount of earnings for the Sunway Lagoon activities next week or future rounds in Amcorp Mall. But all that aside, it was good to see Batch 26 working together, each contributing with their individual strengths. Everyone felt to me like a part of a massively talented and creative team, not students whom the committee had to "take care of". Good times, good times, I wouldn't mind seconds. =^) Just wish I didn't have to skip church for the next two Saturdays.
And ya lah, I'm studying in The One Academy, the draw-draw one ah. Art, you know? Next to Sunway Pyramid? No, not Sunway College. No, not Limkokwing.

So hehe yeah, it's been a pretty long post, but that's what you call value for money. Not that you're paying, catch my drift. Will likely be posting a Writer's Block tomorrow, where we drown away all our sorrows and down ourselves with Ghostopia...
Till then, bye!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 50: Lucas And Andrea

"WHAT?" Darren squawked. "You have an ExorPrism too?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. What's with the big reaction, pal?"
"Erm, well...Mortie has one too. He used it to Exorcise those Spooks in the Lower Level Office."
Nelson's eyes widened. "Mortie has an ExorPrism? The very same as this?" He twirled the prism in his hand for Darren to see.
Darren nodded.
"Did it turn white when he Exorcised the Spook?"
"Umm...yes it did."
"Holy cow," Nelson frowned. "This can't be good. Someone must have figured out how to make them again. This was the only one we managed to save from destruction."
Darren started putting two and two together. "So you and Lucas survived the trip to living world, then you cam back, and both of you were the ones who created the ExorPrism?"
"Correction. There was another girl too - Andrea."
"Andrea...and Lucas. Where are they now?"
"I don't know. After the authorities cracked down on us, we just parted ways. They were devastated, to say the least, that there would be no second chance at escape. I, on the other hand, was resigned to the fact that the dead should stay dead."
"Wait," Darren said. "That figures. Isn't it likely one of them is the one making new ExorPrisms?"
"Impossible. The authorities destroyed all the recipes as well."
"But what if they rediscovered the recipe, or made them from memory?"
Nelson muttered something inaudible. "I doubt it. There is just no way you can make an ExorPrism from memory."
"Well, maybe they somehow got luc-"
"There's only one thing for me to do," he cut him off. "Darren, when is the next meeting?"
"Good. Count me in. I'm going to confront Mortie - and hopefully talk some sense into him."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 49: Skeletons In The Closet

So it was possible. Hearing Nelson talk about how he once escaped from Ghostopia made Mortie's cause seem less far-fetched now. More so when Nelson was the one who'd planted the most doubt in him.
"Once we had all four records, it was just a matter of taking care of the gatekeeper. Good thing he was smart and joined us at last. Otherwise James would've had him killed."
"After we went through the other side of the bookcase, we could each see the places where we died. It was like being in a dream; you can just see it, but you're not really there. The final thing to do then was to look for fear."
"Fear? Why fear?" Darren asked.
"That's how Ghosts come back to the living world - it's a gateway of sorts. Once someone in the group comes across fear, everyone focuses on it and boom! Welcome back to life."
Nelson stopped, nodding his head repeatedly. Something was troubling him.
"You know how the rest of the story goes, don't you?"
"Uh-huh," Darren nodded. "You couldn't make yourselves human again, and almost everyone got Exorcised."
"That's right," he murmured. "Just three of us. Lucas, me, and another girl. But there's something else you don't know."
He paused again, as though for dramatic effect.
"We killed someone."
Darren frowned, trying to fathom the impact of the sentence. "You mean, in the living world?"
Nelson stared at the ceiling for several seconds. "Yes. In the living world."
" Weren't you powerless as Ghosts?"
"Come," he stood up. "Let me show you something."
Darren followed him out of the room to some attic downstairs. He rummaged through a few neatly-stacked boxes, finally stopping at one which was heavily taped up. He carefully removed the sealing and opened the lid. It was filled with blank papers.
"Ah, still there sitting pretty," He smiled, peering into the box after he took out the papers. "I don't think I've seen it once in three years."
"What's it?"
Nelson carefully held up a glowing green prism. "Say hello to my ExorPrism."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 48: The First Escape

"Lucas was all worked up, jumping and yelling, telling me how he couldn't believe he had found something so amazing. So I decided to follow him there the next day to see what the big deal was. Of course, we dragged that reluctant Greg along as well."
"Before I continue, let me ask you something," Nelson stopped suddenly. "How was your first Ezisa meeting like?"
"I told you about it, didn't I?"
"Not in detail. How did you feel?"
" was totally weird. I had no idea what was going on, and then boom! I was part of a secret society."
"That's it? No sense of joy, relief, or maybe even accomplishment?"
"Not at that moment."
"Well, maybe that's because you haven't been dead long enough. You don't want to go back to the living world badly enough yet."
"You're wrong," Darren snapped back. "I didn't at first, but last night I had a dream. I was at my graduation ceremony all over again, hanging out with my friends, about to ask Emily for a photograph. You know, moments before I died."
"Ah, flashbacks to your final scenes of life," nodded Nelson. "That's what usually happens after the novelty of being dead dies down."
"You can imagine what great hope discovering Ezisa brought to me," he continued. "You see, just like you my life was taken away from me at the worst possible moment - my mother had become sick and I'd found myself a job to pay for her bills. Too bad the gangster life caught up with me before I got out of it."
"And there we were - me, Lucas, Greg, a few others, and the Ezisa leader, talking about how being dead sucked enough without the discriminating policies in Ghostopia. This leader was a tremendously bright lad, the sort you could see becoming famous in the future. This guy, James, had enough connections to know where exactly the four records were and how and when to steal them. Incredibly, we carried out all four operations in the same night. All four were successful - the Spooks were really lousy back then. By the following night, we were ready to make the big jump."
"And you did it?" Darren asked disbelievingly.
"We did it. We re-entered the living world."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Writer's Block: Starless Nights (A Very Strange Poem Indeed)

One day I went back
Under a starless sky black
Where we sat before
But she was there no more

I called out, sobbing
All was dark
All was still

What a terrible thing to happen

The angry men marched, marched, and marched
They shouted, shouted, and shouted
Terrified, she
Vanished into the night

We made too much noise, the men became angry men
They wanted us to be quiet
Somehow, she found them adorable
And laughed so hard that
I laughed too

I remember that night

When dawn broke she would disappear
Till the sky turned black
I knew I would be lonely

Under the gleaming moon we danced
Through the wet grass we pranced

She winked at me
I smiled back
She stuck out her tongue
And we laughed happily

A starless sky black
That was when I met Lullabelle
She was a long floppy bunny
Sometimes green, sometimes blue,
Sometimes pink
But never white.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 47: It Happened A Long Time Ago

"She told me you've been dead for more than four years, even before her."
Nelson didn't say anything.
"Is that true?"
He just kept staring at Darren with unblinking eyes.
"So it's true. You've been here longer than both of us."
"Both of us?" he laughed. "So now you're gonna marry her?"
Darren could feel his face flush with both anger and embarassment. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you've gone nuts. Or jealous. Or something."
"Jealous? What piece of you do I have to be jealous of?"
"You're jealous...because you can't get back to the living world like I can."
"You seriously think you'll live again?" Nelson scowled mockingly. "Just because you and your playmates had a good time taking candy from a baby yesterday?"
"Take a good look," he continued, pointing to a line in the article. "Security around the Main Offices in Protected and Unprotected Ghostopia has been beefed up. I know what you guys are planning next, and they know it too. No way you're getting in and out so easily this time - believe me, I've been there."
"You've been there?"
Nelson pondered for a moment, then sighed deeply. "Like it or not, I can't keep hiding this from you. Darren, what Kat told you was true. I was a member of the Ezisa four and a half years back, and I was involved in that infamous escape attempt."
Darren felt a lump grow in his throat. That escape had been orchestrated by the Ezisa? And Nelson was one of the survivors?
"I'm telling you this because I don't want you to do what I've done in the past."

"I had just arrived in Ghostopia and was feeling bitter over the way I died, like you. Mortie wasn't the Gatekeeper then, and that other guy wasn't as nice. He sent me straight out there without any idea what to do next - get a job, meet people, and all that. So I wandered in the marketplace for my first week, living off scraps like a common tramp. Unlike Kat, I wasn't blessed with her charm and quick wit to turn to full-time crime."
"However, it wasn't long before I got to know some of the other homeless guys at the marketplace. Eventually, three of us - what were their names again - myself, Greg, and Lucas, came up with the idea of setting up our own stall in the marketplace."
"That's where all the trouble began. The authorities refused to give us permission, closing down our stall time after time on the grounds that we were "too young". With the whole place being run by old hags, there was no way we the minority could do anything but live on the streets."
"And then, one night," He nodded proudly like a scientist about to reveal his latest invention. "Lucas told us about an organisation named Ezisa."

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ghostopia, Chapter 46: Stirring Up Trouble

"Huh? What morning news?"
"This morning news." Nelson flipped the Ghost Times to a page with a screaming headline: "SECOND BREAK-IN!"
Darren read on, much more awake now.

"Second Lower Level Office breach in three days, Spook Exorcised"
"The Level 94 Office was broken into late last night by a group of intruders who managed to destroy the copy of Records Of New Ghosts stored in the quarters. This comes a day after a similar attempt in the Lower Level Office of Unprotected Ghostopia.
The decapitated corpse of a Spook was recovered, also believed to be the work of the intruders. Authorities have yet to gain a lead on the identity of the group responsible.
Lester 61330, the head of security of the Level 94 Office said the group, consisting of seven members, had left their GIC cards with him.
"I refused to give them back till their leader filed a full report detailing their organisation. Which of course, he didn't do. However, all checks on their GICs have brought nothing up. It appears the cards have been blocked."
Sketches of the suspects are to be released soon, he added.
Meanwhile, security around the Main Offices in Protected and Unprotected Ghostopia has been beefed up, as they are rumoured to be the next targets."

Darren put down the paper, not sure what to say. Twenty years in the living world and he never made it further than the campus journal, and now he was in the news after a week in Ghostopia? "Hats off to you guys," Nelson smiled. Or was he smirking? "I never imagined you would pull it off so quickly. And kill a Spook in the process."
" was a team effort."
Suddenly Nelson slapped his hand on the paper in anger. "You're feeling pretty good about this, aren't you? Two down, two more to go, is that it?"
His sudden change in emotion surprised Darren. "Hey...what's wrong?"
"You have no idea." he shook his head . "NO idea. You just got yourself in a whole lot of trouble, pal."
"What, the authorities are gonna imprison me now?"
"It gets much more complicated than that. Trust me, you have no idea."
A short pause ensued.
"Speaking of no idea, Nelson - I had no idea that you had a past with the Ezisa."
Nelson widened his eyes. "Me? Ezisa? Who told you that?"
"Kat did."
"Kat, that girl who conned you the moment you came here?" he rolled his eyes. "Sure."