Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Pact and A Plan

“I wouldn’t say that if I were you, Violet. Look around,” said the Clearing Man. Violet suddenly realized that while she had been so immersed in asking the Clearing Man questions she had failed to realize that they had walked into a circular clearing, surrounded by trees, deep in the forest, and that there were monkey-like beings were perched on branches, glaring at her. Violet jerked back and gasped. She stopped trying to pull away from the Clearing Man and instead inched closer to him.

“These are pillowbeaks, Violet. According to Billy, you’ve seen them before, but I’m guessing the ones you saw were not quite so large,” the Clearing Man whispered to Violet. “It’s alright, my furry friends. She’s on our side,” he shouted to the pillowbeaks who immediately relaxed. Violet wondered what “on our side meant.” She wasn’t sure she trusted any of these strange beings. The only person she trusted here was Sven, and where was he? Violet felt a lump form in her throat but pushed it down.

"What are we doing here? What are these pillowbeak creatures? Where’s Sven?” Violet asked.

“My dear, Violet, these are the exact questions we wish to address. Please take a seat.” The Clearing Man pointed to a rock, and slowly Violet sat down.

“Right now you have been brought to a secret meeting." Violets brow was furrowed as she listened to the Clearing Man talk. "These nobel pillowbeaks have left the league of Dr. Octopi, a mad scientist who wishes to destroy planet Earth, and are now are on our side. But there are some pillowbeaks who remain loyal to him, unable to see him for what he really is." At the mention of Dr. Octopi the pillowbeaks jumped up and down, angrily beating their hairy chests and screeching. “But destroying your world is not all Dr. Octopi plans to do. We have reason to believe that once Dr. Octopi destroys Earth he will proceed to destroy this world as well. Indeed, the man will keep destroying worlds until he has found the perfect universe where all the creatures in it are loyal to him and believe in his ‘mutations.’” Upon this last word, the Clearing Man spread his arms and bowed. “Being half man half monkey is no way to live,” whispered the Clearing Man as he stared off into the distance. “These honorable pillowbeaks were once in the service of Dr. Octopi, for he created them, but they have since realized the dark intent of Dr. Octopi and have joined me and Billy in forming a plan to stop him.” Violet heard a rustle in the leaves, and saw the boy, Billy, emerging from the low-hanging branches of a tree.

“But why did you bring me here, and where is Sven?” she asked.

“Patience. At this moment, we believe that your brother has been summoned by Dr. Octopi to aid him in his endeavors to destroy the world.”

“But Sven would never do that,” Violet shouted, her face turning red.

“One can only hope, but there is no telling what lies Dr. Octopi has fed him. Your brother is extremely passionate about science, is he not? He has been known to forsake people on behalf of his research, correct?”

Violet’s mind suddenly shot back to a hospital room, a place that she did not want it to go. She was sitting in a chair between two beds; one had an older man in it, the other an older woman. She was talking in a soft voice to their motionless faces, holding one of each of their hands in hers. Her face did not match her soothing tone. Suddenly, her cell rang, and she got up to answer it.
“Sven, where the hell are you? I’ve been at the hospital for two days by myself. You were supposed to get here last night. The doctors say they don’t think, they don’t think . . .” Violet saw herself start to cry on the phone. “The doctors don’t think Mom and Dad will last much longer. There are too many internal injuries from the car crash. “
“Violet, I’m getting there as fast as I can,” came Sven’s voice from the other end. “It’s not my fault that my phone was off when you tried to call me. The International Convention of Scientists is not the place for a phone to ring. It’s like you think I don’t want to be there.”
“Well, you didn’t want to be here, did you? You knew Mom and Dad were driving all the way from Main to see us for Christmas, but you weren’t going to take the time to fly back from your conference and see them, were you? Now look what happened. You might never see them alive again! It’s all you fault.” Violet saw herself snapping the phone shut and throwing it on the floor. This memory made her cringe. Oh, how she wished she hadn’t said those words to Sven.

When Violet came out of her daydream she noticed the Clearing Man looking hard at her, his eyes penetrating into her mind. “Ill take that as a yes then,” he said, but his voice was quieter than it had been, and his eyes were softer.

“So what do you want with me,” Violet demanded, collecting herself.

“We want you to help us destroy Dr. Octopi and consequently his Hadron Collider. You have heard of that haven’t you? Violet nodded. Sven had mentioned more than once.

“We need an inside man (or woman) who can shut it off,” the Clearing Man continued.

“I’m still not understanding.”

“Listen,” the Clearing Man said as he squatted down in front of Violet, “we have days, maybe only hours, before Sven finishes the collider and unknowingly destroys Earth. Dr. Octopi opened the vortex specifically to bring Sven to himself to help him make the finishing touches on the collider, knowing Sven’s extensive understanding of it. He used the patrol wave to separate you two, and to bring Sven to himself. Dr. Octopi has probably told Sven that he will save Earth by fixing the collider and that the collider is the way to stop the vortex from sucking more innocent people into it. In reality, the collider will first destroy Earth and then this world, along with you, Sven, me, and all the others beings here as soon as Dr. Octopi leaves. Our theory is that Dr. Octopi has created doppelgangers for you and Sven who live back on Earth so that your absence goes unnoticed while you are here to avoid CERN workers from exploring the vortex more thoroughly."

“How do you know all this?” Violet asked.

“Like I said; these pillowbeaks are on our side, and they happen to make good spies,” he said motioning towards the furry creatures.

“And what exactly am I supposed to do about all this?” Violet asked, her voice shaking.

“We want you to sneak into Dr. Octopi’s lab and destroy the collider before it is too late."

“How?” Violet screamed, shaking her head, “I don’t know anything about sciencey stuff, and I don’t even know where this Dr. Octopi is.”

For the first time the Clearing Man smiled. “The one mistake Dr. Octopi made then summoning Sven was that you came along too. You can hear Sven’s voice in your head when you really try, can you not?

“Well, yes sometimes, but I cannot control it.”

“You will learn, and once you tell Sven the truth about Dr. Octopi he will telepathically tell you how to shut the collider down.”

“But, how will I get there?”

The Clearing Man stood up, clapped his hands twice, and shouted “Chip, Chip.” All of a sudden a pillowbeak stood before Violet. “Violet, meet Shawty, our secret agent.”


“Doppelgangers! Really, what an interesting idea. I must remember to make a note of it,” Sven mumbled to himself before Dr. Octopi.
“So you meant to tell me, Doctor, that you want me to finish the collider by working on this beam charged quark particle in it so that the Earth will not be sucked away into this alternate universe? And in doing so I can save my planet while bringing back the most unique data concerning vortexes that the world has ever seen!” Sven said, his voice rising, temporarily forgetting Violet.

“That is correct, Sven. I chose you specifically for this job, knowing how fine your research has been. Truly, you are dedicated to a degree most other scientists are not. I dare say you remind me of myself when I was young,” the doctor replied.

At this Sven blushed. “And the doppelgangers? How do they fit into this?”

“Well let’s just say we didn’t want too many people back at CERN to miss your presence.”

“You have thought of everything, Doctor. Let’s get to work! Where is the collider?”

Dr. Octopi grinned, his eyes narrowing into dark slits, and lips curling upon yellowing teeth. “Right, this way.”

Sven practically floated down the hall. He could just see it now, the President of the United States handing him an award in front of the entire world. Everyone would be there. Everyone. Sven thought of his parents, and the daydream was ruined. The he thought of Violet.

“Say, Dr. Octopi, where is my sister, Violet?”

“No need to worry about her, Sven. The sooner you finish the collider, the sooner you can find her and you can go home to your safe planet. First things first!”

Sven started to protest. Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to be here with him? He felt a sudden desire to see Violet; only she could make this moment complete. Saving the world with Violet by his side would surely make her forgive him for missing her phone call. “Doctor, maybe I should find her first, just to make sure she’s okay.”

Dr. Octopi’s voice strained, “Sven, what did I say!” Then Dr. Octopi regained his composure. “I mean, I will send out someone to find her if it would make you feel any better. She will be perfectly fine. You trust me don’t you, Sven?”

Sven hesitated then said, “Yes. Yes, Your Scientific Greatness, I do.”


  1. Hello!

    I have tried to further clear up the messiness of the plot. I had to create more of a clear mission for Violet and Sven so that the action of the story can continue.

    I have tried to set this up so that Shawty can help Violet break into the the lab and begin either to destroy the collider herself or to convince Sven to do it.

    I also tried to give Sven and Violet a central moment of confrontation (the time when their parents die and Sven doesn't make it to the hospital to see them) from which all their conflict stems.

    Sven will have to make a decision to trust Violet and to destroy the collider rather than to impress Octopi and consequently to destroy the earth.

    I realize that I set up some pretty firm plot lines and I hope that they work with everyone. I just felt like that was the best way to clairify things. Hopefully I have left enough room for things to change if someone wants to do so. If there is something that is unclear please let me know, and Ill try to explain it.

    The doppelgangers can be expanded on by someone else, and we can always bring Billy or someone else back into it.


  2. I think this is fantastic. I feel like you really cleared up a lot of confusing points, and I think you've got the plot moving in a more solid direction, now. I also think that the flashback to the hospital really gives us a good reason for the tension between Violet and Sven.

    I also think that you've solidified where the loyalties should be with the explanation of the pillowbeaks.

    I also think you left a lot of creative room for whoever is next.
    Great job!

  3. You've maintained the course well, and your writing is fluid and engaging. However, I'm concerned that characterizing The Clearing Man and Dr. Octopi as binarily good and evil will cause the reader to get ahead of the plot and cost the story its mystery, intrigue, and suspense (e.g. Harry Potter would be boring if Snape was the straight up bad guy).

    Also, characters that haven't been seen need to get pulled back in before the story gets much further or they're going to seem vestigial (Robert Nickel, Sylvia, Vanderslice, Billy, Junior Mint, and doppelgangers). Perhaps not all of these characters have significance to the plot, but Robert Nickel especially is a big 'gun on the mantel' right now.

    More world-building would be helpful. The character bits are very good, but I think we should continue to develop the setting with equal fervor.

    Also, are these vortexes related to time and space or just space? I think it would be really cool if a wizened old man with one hand popped up (In Narnia, time passed at a different rate than in Earth). I'd love to see some more reality-bending, and I hope things don't get too tidy just yet. Moving towards the conclusion is good, but I think the larger plot questions should remain ambiguous and flexible until the last lap.

    "Being half man half monkey is no way to live."

  4. Great job April! The flow of this chapter is clear and logical (and good). The idea of secret agent pillowbeaks is super fun.
    I think the plot clearing up is very helpful. It is nice to have an idea of where we are going. Besides, we have about 13 more chapters to add in events to thwart the objective, give depth to the Clearing Man and Dr. Octopi, bring back some characters, and develop the alternate world.

    "meet Shawty, our secret agent"

    p.s. I think your writing style is perfect for the Children/ YA audience!

  5. Great job! I like that you took risks and focused the plot. I like where this is going, but I agree with Trent that we do need to pace ourselves and we don't need to make things strictly black and white. I feel like I still can't trust the Clearing Man, and I like that. Haha.

  6. April, fantastic job! I definitely feel better having at least some of the plot questions answered (or at least recognized). I love, love that Shawty is a spy! Great idea! I also agree that adding in the flashback was very smart, and I think that that central event will act as a springboard for more flashbacks in further chapters. I can't wait to see what the dopplegangers will be up to on Earth! For the next few chapters, I think we need to focus on maybe that or Billy or the Clearing Man's character... giving background detail to one aspect and also developing the setting. I think this would be very helpful and also help to regulate our pace.

    Be proud... this is a wonderful chapter!

  7. You really went for it with this chapter. I like it a lot. You brought some clarity to some things that might have been confusing, which is much appreciated.

    Great job with the hospital flashback. It certainly explains more about the relationship of Sven & Violet.

    Thanks so much for the pillowbeak explanation. I steered clear of that one :)

    There's plenty of room still for the writers to come.

  8. Wonderful chapter! I loved all the solutions to all the questions and the flashback was awesome! I think your chapter is taking our novel in an awesome direction and like everyone else said, you've left plenty of room for anything to happen! Thanks!

  9. This was fun. I like seeing the sides develop. The flashback to the hospital explains the animosity between them, and shows how violet has felt let down by Sven from early in her childhood continuing to her adulthood. I wonder how long ago this happened?

  10. Sorry for the lateness...

    I loved what you did here in cementing the plot lines. Everything has a very focused direction and it was nicely done. However, I also agree with Trent in that they may be TOO focused. Oh well, just something to think about. I hope to see more of the pillowbeaks (especially Shawty) in later chapters, and I'm so glad we can at least trust some of them lol.

    Great job with the flashback too. Even though it feels a bit sudden, it really adds to the source of conflict between Violet and Sven.

  11. I love what you did with your chapter. It was very involved and interesting, i loved the dream sequence/daydream and how you still incorporated the clearing man's gift of reading minds. I also really like how you added in the telepathic aspect of sven and violet. Very creative!