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Alyce in Dystopia

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#271 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:10 PM

Mhmm. Chapta time.

Some notes:

The beginning of this chapter... I don't even know. I sat down to write the other night, was drinking soda and eating hot dogs and watching TV, and I was like, "What the heck am I even going to write?" So I just wrote the first thing that came to mind, and that was it. It's okay to think it's strange. It's an Artemis thing. (I parody ever possible thing a person can parody.)

This chapter was written in three different segments, so I apologize if it's choppy. It gave me a lot of problems, so I hope it isn't too bad. :P (Why must I hate all of my chapters?)

To warn you, something kind of shocking will happen in the next chapter. Like, the first big plot twist of the whole novel. :D

Oh, and Orchid should just go away. Yup. (I don't know if I'll keep her around, but I'll definitely be using Matt and Westin. LOL. Westin...)

Song for this chapter is the song that always calms me down. Very special song to me. Whenever I get sad, I put on that song. 'Cause when you're a sad fourteen-year-old girl prone to random emotional breakdowns, you listen to Passion Pit. Let's face it.

You should be happy I updated. I didn't plan on updating until Saturday, but I made myself write. BE THANKFUL.




Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 35 — The Escape Plan
“It feels the way you told me how it'd always feel.”
-“To Kingdom Come,” Passion Pit

'Twas the crisp afternoon before the greatest breakout known to man, when all though the Confinement Camp,

People were starving and trying not to die from the incurable disease that would kill their brains;

The bodies were hung from the rooftops above,

In hopes that the people would get the message and the rebellion may finally end;

The victims were sprawled all hopeless in their shelters,

While visions of a better tomorrow danced in their heads,

And Cato in his bloodstained suit, and I in my jacket,

Had just finished a day of recruiting in the Camp.

Too dramatic?


Either way, it was a crisp afternoon before the greatest breakout known to man. Cato and I had finished a day of recruiting (I didn’t complain even once, as I had promised in our little deal), and we had gone out to the infamous “fields” that I had periodically heard people talk about.

Here’s the thing with the fields: They aren’t really what you think they are. It’s not a pretty meadow or an escape from the dreariness of the Camp. There’s the same haze from the most recent gassing in the fields as there is in the other parts of the Confinement Camp, and it smells equally as bad. There’s really nothing nice about the place. It’s mostly overgrown grass similar to the stuff Ariadne burned on the hillside and the occasional hill (which, as Cato informed me, are burial mounds and not formed naturally). It’s an ugly place—even worse when you know what happened there.

You see, Cato told me that the fields—which is just a euphemistic version of the real name, “The Execution Fields”—are where they performed the mass executions of the disease victims. He said that the fields are the place everyone in the Camp dreads most, because it’s a reminder of the terrible things done over the course of the last four years, and there’s also a pretty good chance that if you’re there, you’re about to die. It’s generally avoided as much as possible.

For him, it means even more, as he was the one who killed the victims. The sadness in his eyes as we walked through the tall grass broke my heart.

“I never come here, not if I can help it,” he explained, hands outstretched in the middle of the grassy field. “But I figured I should take you out here now, because you can’t fully understand everything until you’re experienced this.”

The grass parted around me as I walked. I took a strand of it and plucked it from the earth. “What am I supposed to be experiencing?” I asked.

He sighed. “Really, Alyce?”

“Yes, really.”

“Maybe you don’t remember everything I told you on the way out here.”

“It would be sort of hard to forget.” I scratched my head and let out a sigh of my own. “I mean, you went on for, like, half an hour…”

He rolled his eyes. “Ten minutes at most.”

“It was may more than ten,” I argued.

“Fine, have it your way—fifteen. Whichever it is, I’m still disappointed. Don’t you get it?”

“It looks like a big field. That’s all I get out of it.”

I could see him clench his fists and narrow his eyes. I must’ve said something wrong, because he turned toward me with pursed lips and a look of anger on his face.

“It’s more than a field. It’s the deathbed of hundreds of people who yours truly killed. Please, a little respect for the innocent dead?”

I backed off, my hands out in front of me. “Okay, sorry. I just…don’t always…pick up on that kind of stuff. Sorry.”

“You should be. Now think—you are standing where a blameless man, woman, girl, or boy died. What do you think about that?”


He sighed again. “You’re still missing the point.”

“No, I get it—it’s just sorta gross, if you ask me.”

“Well, at least I tried showing you while we still have time,” Cato muttered under his breath, trudging in the direction we had already come from. His black hair blew in the breeze, revealing his bruised face. He looked sad that I hadn’t given him the response he wanted.

“What do you mean—‘while we still have time’?” There was something very ominous about those words that I didn’t like at all. I hoped it meant something different than what it sounded like.

“I mean that it isn’t likely we’ll be in the Camp much longer,” he said, eyebrows raised. “In fact, if things go well in the next hour or so, we will be leaving tomorrow.”


That same afternoon, Cato addressed the four of us, not to mention Westin (who looked a little out of it and kept staring at the ceiling with tired eyes after a second dosage of the pills), Orchid, and Matt, proposing his plan that he had been working out in his head.

“I think it’s evident that the Corporation certainly means business now,” Cato said. He stood at the edge of the overlook tunnel, and we sat with our backs toward the exit. To emphasize his point, he held up the bottle of pills, looking directly at Westin now. “As you should all know—”

“There are only seven of us. Stop talking like it’s a big crowd,” Ariadne interrupted.

“Seven is indeed a crowd, just a small one. Anyway, to continue my point that was so rudely interrupted by Miss Stark—”

“Stop calling me that,” she ordered.

“I will call you whatever I like.”

“I’ll beat the crap out of you like Westin did if you keep calling me that.” Westin stared up at the ceiling some more, not even realizing the mention of his own name. I had a feeling it was strange behavior for him, since Matt and Orchid were getting such a kick out of it.

“No you will not,” he replied, straightening his suit. “Now, please tell me that you realize what Phoenix and Alyce’s discovery of the samples that Westin is, um…testing for us means?”

“Does it mean he’s gonna be stoned all the time?” Orchid asked, giggling.

“That—or he’ll die,” Cato said. She stopped laughing after that. “Either way, we needed a way to know what the drug does. Know your enemy, correct? That’s essentially what we’re doing. Westin happened to be our test subject—not as a punishment for anything, but because he was willing to make a small sacrifice for the greater good, or whatever it is you Saint people are so fixated with.”

“So you use one of our valuable soldiers for some dumb thing like that?” Orchid questioned.

Phoenix nodded and said, “He was willing. Armando only pressured him a little bit.”

“Way to throw me under the bus right away!” Armando replied, looking aggravated.

“What bus?” I asked.

“There is no bus, Alyce,” Ariadne explained. “It’s a figure of speech. Jeez.”

“Now,” Cato continued, “I think we have all fully realized the gravity of the situation and how close we really are to annihilation. We need to take action, something bigger tha—”

“If you’re proposing we try another one of your dumb revolt things, stop,” Orchid butted in. She didn’t look very enthusiastic—in fact, she looked bored out of his mind. “That’s not working. All we do is kill our own people. We’re not making any progress by doing that, are we?”

“No, exactly. Maybe if you’d let me finish my thoughts you would know that I was going to say that we should—”

“Matt is right,” Matt said. “Your plans suck.”

“Guys, he has to finish,” Armando told them. I wasn’t sure who he was more irritated with—us or them. I hoped I wouldn’t have to spend much time with the Saints, or at least not Matt or Orchid or Westin.

“I don’t care what he has to say.” Orchid was turned toward Armando, disregarding Cato entirely. Cato stood with a blank look on his face, shocked that no one would pay attention to him for once. I felt bad. He had my attention, and Phoenix’s and Ariadne’s, too.

“I think we should probably go,” Matt said, grabbing Westin’s arm. He looked at him with wide eyes and smiled drowsily at him.

“We are going to blow up the MGMT Corporation’s headquarters!” Cato finally yelled. Everyone turned toward him instead of Orchid and Matt. We all looked at him and wondered if he’s gone completely insane.

“You’re joking, right?” Ariadne asked cautiously.

“Not at all,” he replied, grinning. “We’re going to leave the Camp and blow up their headquarters, because what better way to cut the head off the beast than to destroy what they rely on most?”

“You’re insane,” Matt said.

“Exactly,” Orchid said.

“THIS SOUNDS AWESOME,” was all Armando could say.

“Are you crazy, too?” Orchid asked him, wrinkling her nose.

“Of course I am,” he bragged.

“And just how do you plan on doing that?” Orchid asked him skeptically.

“I am no moron. I know that you Saint people have your hands on plenty of explosives. We could arrange to work together—the four of us and the Saints of the Mojave—and together we could destroy the place where everything happens. Their headquarters. It would be the ultimate revenge.”

Armando looked at Matt and Orchid with pleading eyes, disregarding Westin completely. There was nothing Armando liked more than blowing stuff up, and this was his biggest opportunity yet. “C’mon, guys.”

“How do you plan on getting us all to Los Angeles?” Orchid asked. “It’s not like we’re going to walk three-hundred-fifty miles.”

“We could take the van,” Ariadne offered. Orchid gave her a questioning look. “We drove from here to San Francisco in it. Last time I checked, it was still here.”

“You left the Camp and came back? Why would you do something like that?” she snorted.

“We had crap to get done,” she replied spitefully. Ariadne’s and Orchid’s personalities didn’t mix well together. Both were a little too fiery for each other’s good. “Couldn’t let you poor bastards rot here, could we?”

“Excuse me, but we were off having the time of our lives before your idiots screwed us over by starting a damn rebellion in the Camp. Next thing you know, we’re being hunted down by the Corporation. They left us alone before you came back to ‘save us.’”

“Fight, fight, fight…” Armando muttered.

“My money’s on Orchid,” Matt whispered to him.

“Please. Ariadne would pound her face in.”

“You’re getting off topic!” Cato reminded them. We all turned back toward him and he smiled. “I have everything worked out perfectly. Ariadne and Westin, who is entirely high and useless at this point, are going to get this van you keep talking about and drive it up to Gate 3, which is the one we will use to escape. Orchid will be there with a second vehicle that Matt and Westin will take later so we’re not all stuck in the same van. Just imagine the smell…

“Phoenix and Alyce will take out any workers at the gate. I’ll be waiting about two rows of shelters behind. Normally I’d go with, but as you can see, I’m not in the best of conditions at the moment, but I’m sure you will be able to handle things fine on your own.

“We won’t just take the tunnels exit. Things are different than they were, say, two months ago. It’s our job to do dangerous stunts like this now. It keeps the people entertained, the Corporation frustrated, and the rebellion alive.”

“We’d be wimping out if we just took the tunnels exit,” Armando added, smirking.

“Yes, we would be ‘wimping out.’ Armando is right. We’ll do what we’d normally do in an attack situation and take the van straight to LA. It should be about a five and a half hour drive from here. Sound good?”

“When did you take time to come up with all of that?” Armando asked him.

“Someone needs to do the thinking for us, and I’d rather it be me than any of you, since I’d be terrified to try anything any of you would come up with.”

“I’m insulted,” Ariadne said.

“Knowing you, you would be,” he said. Phoenix snickered with me at that. “Orchid, Matt, what do you think?”

Matt shrugged. “I guess it might be worth a shot. I can’t see what harm could come out of it.”

“Um, we could die,” Orchid pointed out.

“You’re right, Captain Obvious!” Matt replied. I was glad he was starting to take sides with us. One was better than none. “But we could also die doing half of the stuff we do, you know. How’s this any different?”

“It’s a suicide mission. That’s way different than raiding a warehouse or taking out a worker or two. I’m not ready to throw away my life like that.”

“It’s our job to do this,” Armando said. “You should be honored.”

“Am I the only sane one here?” she asked, looking at the rest of us with extended hands. “Aren’t any of you a little pissed off that this self-centered son of a *%^## is expecting us to go on a suicide mission so he can get a little revenge because he has daddy issues?”

“It’s not about me, Orchid. It’s about the good of the people. The revenge scheme is much bigger than something between me and my father—it’s for the imprisoned people who have been victimized by the Corporation for all these years.”

“You’re delusional, and I am not here to entertain you. I’m done,” she spat, storming off in a very Ariadne-esque manner.

Ariadne rolled her eyes. “God, what a piece of work.”

I tried not to laugh.

“She’ll come around,” Matt said, sighing. “I’m sure of it.

“Matt, my man, you in even if she isn’t?” Armando asked.

“Yeah, I think so. I don’t see why not.”

“We can drag West along with us,” he said and Matt laughed. I wondered how much time they had spent together over all that time. Were they close like he and Cato were? Part of me wondered if he preferred Matt over Cato.

“When do you plan on doing this whole escape thing?” Matt asked.

Cato shrugged. “Tomorrow night.”
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#272 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:16 PM



(Also, why does this thing change "sh.it" to "crap"? What if I didn't want Ariadne to say "crap"? Haha, I get why, but still. Now I have to do extra editing when I copy and paste into my document...)

Edited by Pretty.Odd., 13 December 2012 - 10:16 PM.

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#273 24moon100


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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:23 PM


And, not just that, but happy chapter 35! That is a big number by my standards, my friend. I have never reached that far in a story. So, props to you. :)

Oh...you just know what's coming....


I think I need help... :P
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#274 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:43 PM

You KNOW it's a celebration when the Confetti! It's A Parade! video comes out! :D

I can't see that EVER getting old. I had to watch it about ten times there, and it would've been more if my iPod wouldn't have stopped loading it...

And I really can't believe that I've kept writing this for so long! This will be the second novel I ever complete, not to mention the longest (by a LOT). It feels good to be so close to the end. I think only about ten more chapters and an epilogue left...


Thanks for celebrating with me, lol. My dad doesn't seem nearly as enthusiastic about the 35 chapters thing, but I don't blame him. I don't think he gets the whole writing-is-kind-of-my-whole-life thing sometimes.

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#275 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:04 PM



Now, for the rest of my message:

START SAVORING THE CHAPTERS. I estimate ten chapters left, and I have decided that once I finish AiD, I will abandon this world completely (except for rewriting, obviously). I just want to be done with it all. :P

Other than that, not much else to say. Hope to update by Wednesday. :D Started working on the next chapter; beginning is making me laugh. I get so off-topic. LOL. But it's fun, so why not?

All right. Back to writing.

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#276 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:25 PM

You're gonna want to read this one ASAP.

I should really be getting some more sleep right now, but I couldn't go to bed until I finished this sucker up.

Go ahead and hate me. I do not care. I also do not plan on giving you much information regarding what is in this chapter.

(Also, I know I've already used this song, but I needed to use it again. Bear with me.)

Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 36 — Exodus
“We'll carry on, we'll carry on. And though you're dead and gone, believe me; your memory will carry on. We’ll carry on.”
-“Welcome to the Black Parade,” My Chemical Romance

“You’re probably just going to end up with a repeat of what happened last time we tried a breakout if you let Alyce do the hard stuff instead of me,” Ariadne scoffed as we prepared out bags. It was half-an-hour before we were set to leave, and the tension was relentless.

All in all, I was beginning to freak out a bit. Ariadne wasn’t helping me calm down at all. I could barely figure out how to use a gun, and now I was being expected to use one to help get us out of the Camp for one of Cato’s dramatic presentations of rebellion? If he wanted to get it done, he could do it himself. I didn’t want to go risk my life again, especially when I wasn’t confident with my weapon or my skills.

All I wanted to do was sit in our happy little tunnel and eat peanut butter, but it’s always Alyce vs. the World, isn’t it?

“You know how much better I’ve gotten,” I said to her, licking the last of the peanut butter off my fingers. “I’m like that Indian guy you were talking about before, remember?”

“Indian guy?” Phoenix looked bewildered. I felt his pain. I didn’t know who the Indian guy was either.

“Indiana Jones,” she explained to him. He nodded and smiled to himself, as if there was something funny about what she was saying.

“Alyce? Indiana Jones? Is this some kind of sick joke?” Armando butted in, walking over to the three of us with an intricately folded piece of yellowed newspaper in his hand. Earlier he had tried to show me how to fold one—a “paper airplane,” he called it—but I was pretty awful at it. “Indy was my childhood hero and still it toda—”

“Told you you’d be the hero of every twelve-year-old,” she said, pointing at me with a knowing grin.

“Excuse me, but Indy is still my hero, and I’m not twelve anymore.”

“You’ve got the brain of one,” she muttered under her breath.

“He isn’t just every twelve-year-old’s hero—he’s mine, too. The way he ran from that boulder in Raiders, or when he went all badass on those religious cult guys in Temple of Doom! Or when he got through the three trial things in Crusade! Or how he survived the nuclear bomb in the crappy new one with Shia in it. Man, Indy’s my god…”

Cato shrugged from across the tunnel. “I was always a Han Solo kind of guy.”

“Batman!” Ariadne interjected. Armando snorted and she added, “But only when he’s Christian Bale.”

“What are you—?” I tried to ask what they meant about the Indian guy named Jones or the man who may or may not have also been a bat, but they talked over me. I took a deep breath. Patience, I reminded myself. You need it around these people.

“I always preferred Iron Man over Batman,” Cato said in response to her comment.

“DC and Marvel are completely different things,” she shot back, offended.

“But they’re both billionaire businessmen who make themselves society’s definition of a ‘superhero,’ regardless of their comic origins.” Cato stuck his hands in the pockets of his suit jacket and gave her a look of superiority, smirking smugly.

“WOLVERINE!” Armando yelled, stretching his hands out in front of him.

Wolverine?” Phoenix asked critically. “Wolverine is hardly an action hero.”

“You’re right—he’s more than just an action hero! He’s a superhero!”

“What is—?”

They cut me off again. “How did we get from Indiana Jones to Wolverine?” Phoenix asked, running a hand through his hair, which had grown a considerable amount over time. I wondered if he planned to “cut his hair,” like Ariadne had talked about doing to her hair although she never did it. To be honest, I liked his longer hair better.

“They’re both my idols,” Armando announced proudly.

“You’re twenty years old,” Ariadne said, skeptical. “Get a life, Armando, won’t you?”

Tony Stark was a nerd at the age of twenty. Do you think people told him to get a life?” he argued.


“Of course not! Because they knew what a valuable contribution he was making toward society. You should treat me the same way, since I’m making a valuable contribution to society by saving your butts day after day.”

“You’re comparing yourself to Iron Man?” Cato asked.

“No—Tony Stark. Not Iron Man. Get your facts straight, Cato.”

“WHO THE HELL IS IRON MAN?” I finally yelled, frustrated by my lack of understanding on the subject. All I could do was sit and listen to their gibberish, which wasn’t helping take my mind off of what I was referring to as our “imminent doom” in my head. I wanted to do some talking and get some questions answered.

“You don’t even deserve to be living right now if you don’t know who Iron Man is,” Armando said, shaking his head at me. I shook my head right back at him, with extra vigor for effective mockery.

Ariadne patted me on the back. “It’s okay, Alyce. I bet that before the coma, you were a huge Robert Downey Jr. fan and had a shrine to Iron Man in your room because you’d be creepy like that.”

“What is Robert Downey Jr.?” I asked. So much nonsense.

“Hot, that’s what,” she said, sighing.

“His name sounds vaguely pirate-like,” I mused. “Robert Downey Jr.—pirate.”

“No, he’s Iron Man.”

“Or Sherlock Holmes,” Cato offered. “He made a very good Sherlock Holmes.”

“Yeah, he’s about a million other different people, too,” Phoenix said. I got the feeling he was irritated by this conversation.

“Like a pirate?” I asked hopefully.

No, not a pirate.” She took a deep breath. “Do you ever wonder where all these celebrity people go? Like, what happened to them after the epidemic?”

Cato spoke up and said, “I made good friends with Morgan Freeman when I worked with the Corporation.”

Morgan Freeman?” Phoenix—and Ariadne and Armando, too—looked shocked to hear that. I was more confused than shocked.

“Is he a pirate, too?”

“Alyce, shut up,” Ariadne said. “I’m trying to listen to Cato talk about how he made friends with Morgan-freaking-Freeman.”

My last half an hour spent in the West Confinement Camp of America was spent talking about people I’d never heard of, people who meant a big deal to them but were no one to me. It didn’t matter that the things they were discussing were insignificant to me. It didn’t matter that the last jar of peanut butter was completely gone. It didn’t matter that all I did was stand there all awkwardly and marvel at how much Phoenix’s hair had grown and how nice he looked like that. It didn’t matter that Ariadne decided to repeatedly whip me in the face with the belt of her trench coat “like Indiana Jones.”

None of it mattered at all.

It was a pretty damn good last half an hour in the Camp.


It all went so quickly, no one knew it happened at first.

Cato and Phoenix and I marched down to Gate 3, which was similar to the gate we had taken on our previous great escape. Another gun had shown up somehow—I never knew where half of our supplies came from, but they were always there. Sometimes it was food, clothes, or random objects with various purposes (some of which I didn’t even recognize). That day it was a gun.

“Take care of this,” Cato said when he gave it to me. He scowled—an ugly expression on his bruised face. “And guard it with your life, because I am not getting you another one of those. If you lose it or ruin it or whatever, you will be the one getting yourself a new one.” He placed it in my hands and I held it tightly.

“Okay, sounds good, I guess.” I scratched my head of black hair and narrowed my eyes. “Are you sure I should have this, though?”

“I think you’re ready. After all, what do you expect to do without it—use your knives? Have you ever heard the expression regarding ‘bringing a knife to a gunfight,’ Alyce?”

I groaned, remembering the “running with scissors” argument. “Yeah, I’ve heard plenty about it.”

“Well, you’d be an idiot to bring knives to a gunfight. Here you go. There’s your gun. I know it’s cliché and all, but treat it like the weapon it is. Remember your practice, respect the weapon, be careful, and don’t be stupid. If you do those four things, you will be fine.”

I wasn’t fine at all. I couldn’t remember half of my practice with Phoenix over the last month—I was barely paying attention during all of it anyway. (Why concentrate on boring things like learning how to properly use a gun when you could stare at Phoenix or watch Ariadne and Armando dance ballet in the distance?) How the hell could I respect the weapon if I didn’t understand it? Being careful was out of the question; I was more concerned about not dying, no matter what happened. And I don’t think it’s possible for me not to be stupid—it’s just how I am. Telling me not to be stupid is like telling a lame man to walk.

It simply doesn’t happen.

Phoenix fired the first shot at the gate. One guard was down, but plenty more were going to be coming in a matter of minutes. We had to move quickly or we’d be dead.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t move at all, let alone move quickly. My mouth was dry and my hands were shaking to the point where I could barely hold the gun I still wasn’t sure how to use. Adrenaline seemed to abandon me entirely, because all I felt was terror.

“Alyce, turn around!” Phoenix yelled, shooting another worker. I turned before I could see the worker collapse. Just a few feet in front of me stood a worker with a cudgel raised above his head, right about to swing it down on my head.

I screamed and jumped out of the way. Instead of doing the thing where you take a deep breath and slowly go through all the steps of shooting a gun, I took the thing and chucked it at the guy and drew my knives instead. It hit him in the stomach, and he fell backward, tripping over his own feet.

I came down on him with my knife, silently apologizing as I dug it into the flesh of his stomach. Cato’s words from his little speech he delivered came to me as the man struggled to fight back, grabbing my hair and pulling. Your death can be a statement if you won’t make one.

I cursed and brought down the knife again. The worker gasped , blood in his mouth. Your death is going to help end the oppression of the innocent. He was helpless now, my victim.

I took my knife to his throat, closed my eyes, and tore through his throat. You are dying for a better cause than the one you lived for, and I will gladly be your executioner

Once I had finished, I slung the gun I had thrown instead of fired over my back, took the cudgel in one hand and held my knife in the other, and hid behind the shelter. I could see Cato emerging from his hiding place. That meant I could sit back for a second, catch my breath and compose myself.

More gunshots went off. I covered my ears with my hands, shutting my eyes as tightly as I could. I wanted it all to end. Something was so wrong about this. The wind kept rushing at me, blowing my hair and the dust of the ground. Shouting, guns, the sound of the electric fence—all of it was too much.

I gritted my teeth and shook my head. What was I doing? Why couldn’t I get up and face what was in front of me? I was supposed to be able to overcome challenges and fight for the cause. It was my job as part of the rebellion.

And yet I couldn’t make myself stand up and shoot the gun for the life of me.

The thing that made me stand up was ceasing of the fence’s powerful hum and Armando’s familiar whooping that followed. I opened my eyes to see things exactly the same as they were before—the worker I had killed lying a few feet away from me, a red crescent marking the place where I had ripped his throat apart, the back of another shelter facing me, and dust blowing in the wind.

Next there was a siren no doubt set off by Armando to put the people into a greater panic. I got up off the ground, gun over my back, knife and cudgel in either hand, and began sprinting toward the gate like Cato had told me to.

Keep running, I thought. Run like hell.

“Alyce!” Cato yelled to my left. I turned to see him running toward me. “Alyce! The van isn’t here yet!”

“Where is Ariadne and her stupid van?!” I said, gasping for air once I had reached the gate. Both of us turned to face the Camp. No more workers had shown up, but we had to be ready for the possibility of another attack. “And where’s Phoenix?”

“God knows,” he said, also short of breath.

“Well, what do you think we should do—just stand here?” I shouted, pointing toward the place I had last seen Phoenix.

“Says the one who sat there like a coward only a moment ago,” he shot back. “Look, Alyce, we don’t have time. When the van shows up, we need to go. We don’t have time to wait for—oh, God, is that him?!”

Sure enough, there was Phoenix—flanked by two workers, being dragged with his knees on the ground. He hung his head and I let out a scream.

“Phoenix!” I called out to him. I noticed blood dripping from his mouth and onto the ground. He was too far away—I couldn’t do anything but stare at his lifeless body as the workers dragged him forward.

Two more emerged from behind a shelter, guns and all. Cato pulled me forward, farther away from the Camp. On the horizon was the white van, driven by a determined Ariadne with Westin passed out in the passenger’s seat. Armando and Matt were already making a run for the van, getting as far away from the Camp as fast as they possibly could.

“We can’t just leave him there!” I screamed at Cato.

He grabbed my arm and shook his head, breaking out into a run. “We have to, Alyce. We don’t have a choice! For all we know, he could be dead! Did he look very alive to you?”

I let out a sob and pushed myself forward. Phoenix—completely powerless and at the hands of the MGMT Corporation, possibly dead already. One of the four people in the world I actually cared about was being taken from me, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

I let Cato lead; I couldn’t see anything from behind the tears that blurred my vision. He took my hand and pulled me forward. It was a comforting gesture, but it didn’t change a thing.

I couldn’t think. My mind had gone entirely blank.

Eventually, the van reached us. Armando and Matt piled into the back. Cato got in first, pulling me in behind him. He held me close to him on the floor of the van.

“What the—Alyce, what’s your deal?” Ariadne shouted over her music, staring at me in the mirror. I covered my face into my hands and let out another hysterical sob. “Where’s Phoenix?” No one responded. “Where’s Phoenix?” she growled.

“Dead, presumably,” Cato spoke up.

She was speechless. “Did you say…dead?”

“That’s exactly what I said,” he said in a clear voice.

“God damn you all.” She braked the car, turned down the music until it was just a whisper, and turned around in her seat so she could face the rest of us. “You are kidding me, right?”

Cato shook his head. “We saw him.”

She shook her head. “He can’t be. It’s not possible.”

“We saw him, Ariadne. He was being dragged off by two workers and clearly wasn’t conscious—looked pretty dead to me,” Cato replied.

“That doesn’t mean he’s dead,” she cried. “He could still be alive. They could still have him. He could still be alive…”

“It really isn’t likely,” Cato argued.

Ariadne turned back around and blared her classic rock and roll as loudly as it would go, drowning out the world around her for just a moment. I closed my eyes, letting the world around me disappear.
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#277 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 18 December 2012 - 07:40 PM

I don't have anything very interesting to say; it's really just an observation. I just noticed that my two longest chapters are the ones where they leave the Camp. Do I have extreme wordiness disorder in those chapters, or is that exciting that it requires 500+ more words than one of my usual chapters?

I know I should post less on this thread, but it is beginning to bother me A LOT. Why is it that those two are the longest? Whyyy?

Once I start thinking about these dumb things, I can't stop. It's going to bother me FOREVER now. The last words before I die will be, "And why were the two longest chapters of that awful Alyce in Dystopia thing I wrote when I was an emo teenager the ones where they left the Camp? *dies*"

Now I'm going to attempt to write Ch. 37 (whoa, 37 already?) and not get distracted by Pinterwst and Twitter and stuff.


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#278 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 21 December 2012 - 04:59 PM

Cliché came and vomited all over my chapter.


Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 37 — Middle of Nowhere
Hold on, hold on; the stars are bound to change. Hold on, hold on; wait for another day. Hold on, hold on; the future’s not that far away.”
-“Stars (Hold On),” Youngblood Hawke

It probably wasn’t my best move when I ignored Phoenix during the time he tried to teach me how to use a gun. Maybe if I had paid better attention and tried to focus a little harder, we wouldn’t have been in the same situation we were in on the trip to Los Angeles.

It’s just that it was incredibly hot outside that day. Phoenix had taken off his coat, and that never happened because he loved that stupid leather thing a little too much. (For the record, Ariadne refused to take off her black trench coat, even in the heat. She loved it even more than Phoenix loved his leather jacket.) We went outside the Camp a ways, walking (or running, in Cato and Armando’s case) over the hills and through the overgrown weeds. Ariadne was singing again, this time something about a “wayward son.”

We reached a place where the tall grass started to lessen and the houses we could see from the overlook tunnel grew close as the electric fence faded in the heat wave. Phoenix started showing me the basic parts of the gun while Cato climbed up onto one of the roofs of the houses and laid there (I’d given up questioning what he did anymore). As if Ariadne’s singing wasn’t distracting enough, she came in with a poor imitation of guitar and Armando started dancing ballet.

Now you tell me how you’re supposed to concentrate with the usual distractions (like Phoenix’s hair, the temptation to see how long I could stare at the sun, headaches, hunger, and the weird noises my stomach was making due to hunger, etc.) and the pathetic imitation of guitar and Armando dancing ballet.

The lesson went on for about half an hour. He let me hold the gun and go through the steps of firing, but the gun was never loaded. He said I wasn’t ready to actually fire it yet.

Well, I thought grimly, maybe if he’d have let me fire it and practice using it a little more, I’d have been more confident and could have done something to save him.

It’s not that I couldn’t shoot a gun—it’s just that I was scared to death of the thing and couldn’t bring myself to fire it. I could barely get the courage to stab someone. Something about the gun seemed so much scarier than my preferred weapon, my knives.

If I had been such a coward, I could’ve saved him like he saved me so many times before.

It was the guilt that kept me awake on our trip out to the MGMT Corporation’s headquarters. It was that nagging voice that wouldn’t leave me alone, reminding me that had I not been such a gutless coward, I could’ve done something to save him.


I woke up and it was nighttime. Before us was a desert road that led into the distance and disappeared in the dust. A bright white moon and the stars, scattered and tossed in beautiful patterns across the black, blue, and purple canvas of the sky, lit up the night. All of us got out of the van to look up at the sight, forgetting about it all for a moment. It was just us out there in the middle of nowhere—a helplessly stoned kid and his leather-clad partner in crime from the Mojave Desert, a previously comatose girl with the mind of a six-year-old, an ex-Resistance soldier, a serial killer, and an executioner. No Corporation, no rebellion, no constant fear of death—there was nothing to worry about, and it felt so good.

“Where the hell are we?” Armando asked, rubbing his eyes. “This doesn’t look like LA to me.”

She shrugged, glancing over at him. “Who cares?”

“Well, what are we doing then?” Matt asked. “We should be driving, not stopping to smell the roses.”

“We’re not smelling the roses if we’re hopelessly lost,” she argued.

“We shouldn’t be ‘hopelessly lost’ in the first place.” The air-quotes were a nice touch on Matt’s part.

“I know we’re lost and all, but would you take a look at that?” Ariadne pointed up at the sky, a small grin on her face. I wondered how she could possibly be smiling after the death of her best friend.

Oh, wait—she had convinced herself that he wasn’t actually dead; the Corporation was simply holding him hostage instead.

“Being lost sucks, but you can see the Milky Way out here, and that’s pretty cool.” I assumed the Milky Way was what the mass of stars above us was named. “When was the last time you got to see this, anyway?” she asked, spreading her arms and breathing in the fresh midnight air.

“Never,” I replied in complete awe—of the sky, and of her ability to block out the things that had happened to us earlier.

“It’s been months,” Armando said. “Reminds me of my times in the desert with the Saints. Better days, man, better days…”

“The last time I remember seeing the Milky Way,” Cato recalled, “was on a road trip with my father on spring break of 2009. So it was quite a while ago. We were in Nebraska, and it wasn’t nearly as spectacular as this.”

“Mother of God,” was all Westin could say.

“It was better on Wednesday last week,” Matt said, bringing down the mood. Ariadne glared at him and he backtracked, saying, “Well, when you’re out here all the time, away from the more industrial ways of the Confinement Camp, you get to see stuff like this more. Perks of being a Saint, I guess.”

“I hate that name,” she shot back. “The ‘Saints.’ Makes you sound holy, and you’re all pretty much the complete opposite of holy.”

“It’s irony,” Matt pointed out.

“I get it—but I still hate it.”

“Can we please stop bickering for a moment?” Cato interrupted before the argument went anywhere. For once, he was the peacemaker instead of the one causing the trouble.

“Cato’s right,” she said. “Let’s soak it all in. It doesn’t get much better than this, folks.”

It would be better if Phoenix was here, I though. I didn’t say it out loud because I’d remembered what he told me at the scene of Ellie’s death. Sometimes being quiet was better than talking. I’d learned that from him.

“Too bad no one has any clue where we are or what direction we should be heading,” Cato muttered next to me. I couldn’t help but agree; Ariadne’s navigating skills needed some work. Thankfully, she didn’t hear him ripping her or me laughing at it.

“Maybe we should just wait here until morning,” I mused.

“That’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Ariadne said. With Phoenix gone, she seemed to be stepping up a little more than usual. Regardless of what we’d seen, she refused to believe he was dead. It brought out a new side in her—a determined side. At least one of us was making a positive change due to the incident.

I stared up at the sky and wondered how something so stunningly beautiful could exist and dare to show its face when we lived in such an ugly world, when something tragic had happened to us all. I wondered how the rest of the world was holding up out there, if there was any way we could come back from what the world had become, if what we were planning to do was as useless as it seemed.


“What are you thinking about?”

Ariadne was passed out inside the van, Westin with his face in his hands after his most recent dose of the pills next to her. Armando and Matt were in the back of the car, figuring out where we were with a map Ariadne had salvaged in the city but neglected using earlier. Cato and I sat on the hood of the van, watching the world in silence until he had asked that question.

“Not a lot. I can’t think about too much right now or I’ll start freaking out again. I’m done with all this ‘feeling’ business. I don’t want to feel anything anymore.”

“You do want to feel,” he corrected me. I rolled my eyes. He really did think he knew everything. “You want to feel plenty of things, just not the pain and grief and sorrow that you’re used to. It’s not a matter of not wanting to ‘feel’—you’re just stuck on this idea of idealism that’s captured your mind and given you a deluded idea of what life is supposed to be like.”

I raised my eyebrows at him. “Since when did you become my freaking psychiatrist?”

“How would you even know what a psychiatrist is?”

“Don’t be so skeptical. I’m not a moron.”

“Double points to you for the proper use of ‘skeptical.’ Appears like you’re on a roll.” He laughed a little, folding his hands on his lap. Looking over at me, he asked, “Really, though, how are you?”

Shitty,” I admitted.

“I can relate.”

I fought back tears again. I knew why he wanted to talk about it—that’s what you’re “supposed to do” after experiencing traumatic events or something. As far as I was concerned, what you’re “supposed to do” was the worst possible thing for the other person 99.9% of the time.

I didn’t want to talk about it. Unlike Ariadne and her little messed up fantasy, I didn’t still think Phoenix was alive—I knew he was dead. I wasn’t going to waste my time and energy on pointless delusions like that. Cato was wrong; I wasn’t the one “stuck on the idea of idealism.” That was Ariadne and her ridiculous proposition that Phoenix was somehow still alive and well. If anything, I was the realist.

“You don’t get it,” I said to Cato, shaking my head again and again. My throat felt like it was closing up on me, and my mouth got all dry. It would only be a moment before the tears came, too.

“Just what don’t you think I ‘get’?”

“Cato, have you ever really loved someone? Not necessarily in the romantic sense or whatever, but loved them like you couldn’t imagine life without them being there for you? That kind of love?”

He nodded.

“I think that’s how I feel about Phoenix. I can’t picture our future without his stupid smirking face there with the rest of us. Even if he was an a--h---- a lot, I loved him just like that. ‘Cause our group won’t be the same without him being all practical, or without him keeping our heads out of the clouds, or playing along with Armando’s dumb schemes, or making Ariadne a little less bitter and a little more tolerable.”

He nodded again.

“Like, everything that happened to me—okay, a large part of it—was because of him and Ariadne. No way would I still be here if it wasn’t for him. He was always there to save my ass.”

“I think he frequently saved all of our asses,” he chimed in.

“Then there’s the whole thing where he saved me twice—in the warehouse, which you still owe me for big time, and then when we left for San Francisco, not to mention all the times in between. I feel so guilty that he did that for me, but I couldn’t step up to the plate and do something for him just once. That’s easily the worst part.”

“You’re really blaming yourself for this?”

“Who else is to blame?”

“Excuse me, but his death was a team effort. Who was the fool who stuck arguably our greatest asset in the least useful position—getting the van? Who stepped back because he thought he was too weak to fight when he was clearly fine? Both of those were me. Also, the van was supposed to be there two minutes earlier. A lot can happen in two minutes. Armando and Matt also did nothing for us. If either of them had any grasp of common sense, they’d have come dome down from the control tower to help out below. But no, of course not—they had to stay and mutilate a corpse, because ‘a mutilated corpse is the best corpse.’ Leave it to Armando…”

“Yeah, but none of you hid from everything and pretended nothing was going on because you’re a coward and a useless piece of crap.”

“You are not a useless piece of crap,” he assured me.

“But I sure am a coward, aren’t I?”

“No, you aren’t a coward, either.”

“I don’t really care whether you think I am or not. I know that I am a useless coward, and there’s no way I’m getting over this, no matter what you say about it.”

“No one said you had to get over it. Not yet, at least.”

“Why do you have to be so calm and good with words?” I pouted, my fists clenched. “It would be so much better if you could just…be normal and be all frustrated with me.”

“Why do you want me to say? All sorts of that overused garbage that no one wants to hear? ‘Phoenix’s death happened for a reason’? Or, ‘You have to take a minute to appreciate all the good things you do have’? Look, Alyce. I’m socially educated enough to know that no one wants to hear that. Mostly they want someone who will listen to them. When my turn to speak comes, I don’t intend to use it on all that ‘appreciate the good things’ or ‘it happens for a reason’ stuff. Frankly, that’s all bullsh.it. Because it’s not for any reason I can explain, and nobody wants to hear about what they ‘should’ be doing when they just experienced something awful.”

“God. You are so lucky.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you actually sound intelligent when you talk, unlike anyone else I know.”

“Words come naturally to me. It runs in the family.” He sighed. “Many things I was not blessed with—for instance: good looks, athleticism, the ability to keep my mouth shut, et cetera. But I did get the gift of words. So if I ever wanted to lead an evil, genocidal organization from hell, I’d do just fine.”

“You can do good things with words, too.”

“Historically, people who are good with words are evil. And most of them are dictators. Hitler, for example.”

“Who’s that?”

“Only the vilest creature to ever walk the earth.”

“Worse than your dad?”


I took another silent minute to stare up at the heavens in all their nighttime glory, losing myself in the silence of the desert. Even from my sleep-deprived, upset state, I couldn’t get enough of the sky.

“You think we’ll make it through all of this…or…or do you think…?” I couldn’t bring myself to finish my own thought.

“Do you mean our mission? Will we make it through the mission?”

“Yeah. I mean, Orchid was pretty positive the outcome wasn’t going to be so good, and I guess I’m nervous about it. It sounds kind of…suicidal to me.”

Cato took a deep breath, no longer making eye contact with me. Instead, he stared at the road ahead of us.

“We’re probably going to die, to be honest with you.” I looked at him with wide eyes. Die? “As long as I get my final revenge, I’m all right with it. Go down fighting, right?”

I’m not okay with it,” I argued.

“I’ve screwed up enough lives already. Best I die and stop myself from screwing up some more.”

“I still have potential! My future happens to be bright, as a matter of fact. I haven’t screwed up anyone’s life, with the exception of Phoenix’s—they’ve screwed up mine. Once this is done, I’ll finally get a shot at a normal life—and now you’re telling me that I’m ‘probably going to die’?”

“What do you plan on doing with your life, Alyce? You hardly know what this ‘normal’ you’re talking about is, because this—this terrible mistake—is your idea of normal. There’s no way you could make it in the anarchy that will follow the bombing. No way.”

“Thanks, Cato. Good to know you feel that way.”

I opened up the door of the van and slammed it from the inside. That would be enough for one night.
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#279 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 25 December 2012 - 08:18 PM

Pardon me--this rant is going to be all over the place, so I apologize now for the incoherent nature of it all. :P

The Part That’s Related to AiD

I've had half of the next chapter written for a few days now (since Saturday), but I haven't gotten around to typing it or writing the second half. I've been doing a lot more art lately; I discovered the lost serial numbers for Photoshop that came with my tablet, and so I've been screwing around with that.

I would've liked to update yesterday, but I didn't get around to it because I was fairly busy with company and such. I'm hoping to update tomorrow or Thursday. We'll have to see.

The Part That’s Sort of Related to AiD But Not Really

In semi-related news, I have an official plotline and most of my characters except for some minor ones worked out for the next project! It's going to be a fun one, folks. Judging by all the work I've been doing on it with plotting and how much I think about it, I have a special feeling that it will turn out well and that I will be able to actually finish it.

I know I'm being annoying with not saying much about it yet. It's just that I don't have enough detail worked out on it yet, so it would be foolish of me to give you too much info when I barely know anything. I could give you a little more info than what I am giving, but...I don't think so. I like that it's mysterious.

What I will say as of now:

-It will still be dealing with an apocalypse.

-It won't be set in post-apocalyptic America this time--it will be written while the apocalypse is taking place.

-It's not original in the least, but I'm okay with that.

-It will be written from the first-person POV of a girl named Piper.

-There are many ways the story could go, and there are practically infinite possibilities with it.

-I'm going to need to do actual research this time.

-It will involve many more characters than the small set I've used in AiD.

-I'm not sure what I'd say for the genre of the thing. Once again, it could go in many different directions. Think dystopian/apocalyptic meets paranormal meets horror meets Artemis humor meets drama meets God knows what. To give an example of what I have a feeling it will be similar to: "Zombieland" (AKA one of my favorite movies ever)

-No zombies, though.

-I'm 75% sure it won't work out like this, but I'm going to make a goal. As a character-focused writer, I'm going more for a plot-focused story on this one. I don't think that will happen, but hey. It's worth a shot, since this one, unlike AiD, started with a plot in my head instead of characters.

-The working title is "The Apocalypse Game," which I doubt I will use because, as I realized a few days after coming up with it, it's too similar to the popular "Hunger Games." I mean, they're completely different--waaaay different. But it's so similar, and I don't want anyone drawing conclusions or pointing fingers or anything.

-As usual, it's very musically inspired (the Black Keys & Florence + The Machine this time)

-As far as posting goes: I'm going to finish AiD before I even start a prologue/first chapter. I'd like to get two or three chapters done before I post, just so I can work out the little things and make sure I really do want to write it. I'd like to be posting by March. Prepare yourselves. :P

The Conclusion Part

Well, that's all I will say for now. I'm going to get to work on Ch. 38 and hopefully get a large portion of it done. G'day, then.

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#280 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:46 AM

Not a whole lot to say on this sucker. Character stuff and the final destination for our little characters--Suburbia. Wooo.

I was writing this one downstairs, listening to a random playlist on shuffle, and the song I used for this chapter came up right as I was describing Suburbia. I sat there in awe, because it was perfect. Great song, too. Makes me think of car rides from a long time ago.

Other than that song, I basically listened to various movie/TV scores while writing this chapter--"Inception," "Doctor Who," "Contagion," "Sherlock Holmes," etc. The "Sherlock Holmes" one is my favorite as of now.

I got lost while writing this one. I was trying to figure out what I was doing, and I had no plan. For a few hours, I sat back and plotted my next novel because nothing would come to me. Eventually I realized I had to write my current novel and set the plotting aside for a little, but I still didn't know what to write. I picked it up with them in the house and let the characters write themselves. (Right now, Ariadne is the easiest character to write, and--surprisingly--Cato and Alyce are the hardest, probably because I just gave them their own chapter.)

I did some evaluating, and with my current plan (yes, I still don't have a solid plan and we're less than ten chapters to the end), there will be five/six chapters and an epilogue left. I'm also getting back into writing this and want to be done so badly that I hope to be updating two more times before break is done. YAY.

Chapter title for this is kind of a joke that I couldn't resist. Alt/rock humor. Sorry. I doubt I'll keep it, but for now, why not? :D

I found most of this to be all over the place and sloppy, so bear with me. Try not to hate it. :P


You know, the usual.


Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 38 — The Not-So Jesus of Suburbia
“When you look with your eyes, everything seems nice. But if you look twice, you can it’s all lies.”
-“Ldn,” Lilly Allen

Ariadne reluctantly let Matt drive. He claimed to know where he was going, and although she clearly didn’t trust him with the van (did she trust anyone besides herself with anything?), she let him take a shot at it.

The few hours of sleep I got the night before were the best I’d had in ages. No nightmares, no waking up in bursts of fear, no sounds other than the breathing of the people around me. The carpeted floor of the back of the van was also much more comfortable than the concrete of the overlook tunnel that I’d been forced to sleep on for so long.

Just the thought of the overlook tunnel made me nauseous. Outside of the Camp in the unfamiliar desert, I felt almost homesick.

Don’t get me wrong—I hated the Camp just as much as the next guy. But there was something special about the hidden hideaway in the tunnels that made it my immediate idea of home. Not the apartment in the city that I had stayed at with Ariadne during sniper duty, not the van, not the Resistance headquarters, not the hospital. The overlook tunnel with its graffiti and its dirty floor and its view of distant San Francisco—that was the closest thing to home I had, and I missed it horribly though I hadn’t been gone very long at all.

The trip we were taking to Los Angeles felt like running away from home. Either we’d run into a lot of trouble that could’ve been avoided if we would’ve done as we were supposed to, or we’d end up right where we started—home.

I realized, sitting in the back of the van as Matt drove us down lonely side-streets and dusty highways, that all I was, no matter how I looked at it, was a runaway. I was constantly running from the place I’d always end back up at. There was no way Cato’s idea was going to work; anyone with half a brain knew that. We’d die or end up right back at Camp. We were like runaways—hopeless and still homebound despite what we’d made up in our heads.

Except, unlike your average runaways, we were heavily armed, out to overthrow the government and personally assassinate their leader.

Either way, you have to admit: It’s a pretty good metaphor.


Within three hours, we made our way to Los Angeles.

“It’s like a huge sea of houses,” Armando commented as we drove down street after street of tightly packed houses that all looked exactly the same: brown shingled roof, black door, white picket fence, small porch, and a small balcony on the second floor. “And they’re all so boring.”

“The white picket fences are a nice touch, don’t you think?” Ariadne said. “Makes it look all cute and friendly and nice.”

“And boring,” Armando muttered.

“Well, what were you expecting, Armando?” Cato asked, looking even more sleep-deprived then he did last night. I wondered if he had gotten any sleep at all. I hoped the guilt over what he said to me kept him awake.

“I thought it would be more…fancy-schmancy,” he said, narrowing his eyes.

“There are ‘fancy-schmancy’ houses, too, just not so much in the Quarantine Zone, which is where we are now,” he told Armando.

“Is this Suburbia?” I asked Ariadne, who was sitting next to me and eating the food we’d taken on our last raid of Warehouse 7.

“Yeah. Pretty awful, isn’t it?”

“You were right. It’s not magical at all.”

“Matt, where are you going, anyway?” Cato asked. He seemed annoyed that he wasn’t the one in control of the situation and driving the car. It was worse for him when Matt was driving than Ariadne.

“I don’t know,” he replied, sighing. He scratched his head of blonde hair and looked over at Westin, who was out of the window like the boring, cookie-cutter houses were the craziest thing he’d seen in his whole like. “How ya doing, West?”

Great,” he replied. That was all.

“Do you see what the drug’s done to him?” Matt said to Cato, looking at him in one of the van’s many mirrors. “It turned him into a mindless little freak.”

“I’m pretty sure he was a mindless little freak before the drug got to him, too,” Cato muttered. Armando elbowed him and he rolled his eyes. Louder, he said, “Better him than us, right?”

“Well, I miss normal West. I always thought it’d be better if he’d keep his mouth shut, and now that he won’t ever say a word, I kinda miss it. I guess I’d way rather it be me than him.”

“I’d rather it be you and Westin than me,” Ariadne said as we turned down yet another street full of the same boring old houses. The sky scrapers of the city seemed so far away from here.

“That’s because you hate both of us,” Matt replied.

“It’s Armando I hate, not you two. In fact, I could probably put up with you if it weren’t for the fact that you’re probably completely psycho and obsessed with death and torture like Armando is.”

“No, no, we’re not all like that. Armando’s just extra special, aren’t you, ‘Mando?” Armando shook his head, annoyed. “I’m not like that. Really.”

“Yes you are!” Armando cried out. Was it just me, or did he seem jealous that Ariadne and Matt seemed to be getting along? I was sure shocked by it. Ariadne doesn’t get along with just anyone—she barely tolerated Phoenix most of the time, and she claimed to love him so much.

“Not really. I’m not the one who goes around torturing workers with the son of the goddamn CEO.”

“I didn’t come up with that idea—that was all Cato! And you’re part of the Saint of the Mojave, so it’s your job to be psycho.”

“Maybe I’m the exception, then,” he replied.

“I’m pretty sure you’re just as psycho as the rest of the Saints,” Cato butted in. “It would be pretty hard for you not to be.”

Trying to end the uncomfortable conversation as quickly as possible, Matt swerved into the nearest driveway. He parked the car and said, “You all ready to stop for the day?”

“We’re here already?” I asked sleepily. Car rides made me unusually tired. “Wow, Matt. You should drive us around more often. Ariadne is an awful navigator…”

“Consider me your chauffeur,” Matt said. I wasn’t sure how to take that one.

“Shut up, you two,” Ariadne ordered. “Matt, do you seriously think we should stop all the way out here? I mean, the Corporation’s all the way in the city. We’d have to—”

“Actually, it’s best that we stay out here,” Cato informed us in his authoritative voice that he used mostly around Armando. For the time, he’d be our go-to man for information. We were in a place only he knew, and it would be his job to help us make it.

“All right, why’s that?” she asked, sighing at the way he’d proved her wrong again.

“If we go in too far, we’ll be in the same section as the non-working, immune families of the Corporation. It’s best we keep out distance as far as housing is concerned. We shouldn’t risk it if we don’t have to.”

“Makes enough sense,” Matt said. “Good to have you around to tell us all this stuff.”

“It’s good to have me around no matter what the circumstance,” Cato corrected him.

Armando high-fived him and we climbed out of the van, our bags in hand. On the way to the front door, Ariadne asked me to help her knock down the “stupid” picket fence for “good measure.” I didn’t protest. The thing bothered me to.


The inside of the house looked almost untouched, aside from the fact that it was incredibly dirty and smelled terrible.

The first thing Ariadne did upon entering was plop down onto one of the couches in the entry way. Tons of dust flew up into the air. “Ew,” she said, coughing like she had in San Francisco. “That’s disgusting.”

“Definitely a disease victim’s house,” Cato noted, sniffing the air.

“No crap, Sherlock,” Ariadne said between guttural coughs.

“Isn’t this part of Suburbia the part that the Corporation doesn’t go into?” Armando asked, sitting a little too close next to Ariadne on the dusty couch. She pushed him away from her and he laughed.

“We already established that, but, yes, it is the Quarantine Zone,” he replied.

I sat down on the grimy brown rug that covered the hardwood floor. The air was musty and the whole place reeked of mold and disease and God knows what else. It was worse near the floor, like something was rotting there. I tried not to gag.

My hands were covered in dust when I picked them up off the rug. I brushed them off on my black pants. It left huge marks that wouldn’t rub off, no matter how hard I tried. Chagrined, I slumped my shoulders in disgust.

“So are we going to get sick and die ‘cause we’re exposed to the disease like this?” I asked Cato, looking at him instead of my newly stained pants.

No,” Ariadne responded. “We’ve been in the freaking Confinement Camp for years. You think this deserted little house is going to be the death of me? If I can survive the most revolting, unsanitary thing known to man, I can survive this.”

“Well, the smell is different here. Maybe it’s a different strain of the disease or it’s worse here? Plus there’s a lot less breathing room here than the open Camp,” I offered. It was a valid argument, even if it wasn’t a strong one.

“How would you know anything like that?” she said, narrowing her eyes. “Did you get smart or something?”

I pointed to Cato and he smirked. “I learned all sorts of crap from him. And what do you mean, did I ‘get smart’? I’ve always been smart.”

“No, Alyce, you’re the very definition of a dumbass.”

“A little respect for each other, please,” Cato interjected. “We’ve been here for all of three minutes and you’re already bickering…”

“Aw,” Armando said. “It’s fun watching you guys insult each other like you’re five-year-olds.”

She turned to Armando, not in the mood for his teasing. “It’s fun watching you shut the hell up.”

He rolled his eyes. “If I had a nickel for every time you told me that…”

“Maybe you should suck it up and try taking my advice for once.”

I tried to block out the terrible sound of their arguing, but there was nothing else to concentrate on; the whole house was silent except for Armando and Ariadne squabbling like an old married couple. I clasped my hands over my ears and groaned, wondering if it was that annoying when I was the one arguing with Ariadne.

“I’m not that stupid,” he shot back at her. “Taking your advice would be nothing but ridiculous of me.”

“Whoa, ‘ridiculous’? Isn’t that a little too big of a word for your nonexistent brain, Armando? Do you know how dumb you sound when you try using words outside of your vocabulary that you obviously learned from Cato?”

I couldn’t tell if she was ripping Armando or me now.

“‘Ridiculous’ isn’t that big of a word,” he argued.

“For you it is!”

“Do you really want to insult my vocabulary of all things? We aren’t fifth graders, you know.”

“I don’t see why not, since you have the mental age of one.”

“Stop!” Cato yelled, waving his hands in the air. I wanted to join him—anything to make them stop.

“No, keep going,” Matt said, laughing as he took off his black leather boots. He set them by the front door, next to my Chuck Taylors. “This is the best entertainment I’ve had in ages.”

“You’ll be seeing plenty of it in the next few days,” Cato said as Ariadne and Armando bickered some more. He sighed, rubbing his eyes and lying down on the couch opposite the one the others sat on. “It never ends…”

“YOU’RE THE ONE WHO HAD TO COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU WEREN’T EVEN INVOLVED WITH!” Ariadne’s eyes were bulging out of her head, her face a bright red.

“YOU STARTED IT!” he shot back, not smiling anymore. In fact, he looked tortured by it all.

“Excuse me, you two—I’m trying to get some rest,” Cato said as calmly as he could manage from his state of irritation.

“STAY OUT OF IT!” they yelled at the same time.

Stop that,” she said, clenching her fists.

“Stop what?”

“Saying the same thing as me at the same time—what else?”

“I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“Doesn’t make it any less creepy.”

“It was a coincidence.”

“It’s creepy!”

Fed up with the pointless arguing, I looked up from the floor, ready to give them a piece of my mind—only to see Armando lean in and kiss Ariadne.

She looked furious when he pulled away from her. I felt sorry for him; he was going to have to face the wrath of Ariadne for that one. They had everyone’s attention now.

Slowly, she asked, “What the hell was that?”

“I know it was spontaneous and everything, but it felt right.” That didn’t sound like anything Armando would say. It really was a different side of him we were getting to see.

Ariadne took a deep breath, slapping his across the face with all her energy. He bit his lip in pain, and Matt laughed from across the room.

“Screw you, Armando,” was all she could say.

“Well, screw you, too, I guess.”

“Look at their chemistry,” Cato whispered from his couch, turning away from the scene again.


“No, thank you,” he replied. Snarky, as usual.

She stormed off into the adjacent room—the kitchen—saying as she left: “I think I’m just going to go check out the rest of the house. I’ll be back later.”

After a moment of silence outside of Ariadne’s violent stomping up the stairs, Armando said, “That really did the trick, huh?” He laid across the empty couch.

What do you mean?” I asked. I still wasn’t sure whether to laugh of keep out of everything.

“Do you still see us arguing?”

No, but…”

“Did you think I really wanted to kiss her?” I nodded halfheartedly and he laughed quietly. “No way would I ever do that for real. I only wanted to get her to be quiet, and that worked pretty well, if I do say so myself.”

“Well done,” Cato congratulated him. “You’re a brave one, soldier.”

“I am pretty brave, aren’t I?” he bragged with a slight grin, closing his eyes. “It was a job well done.”

As Cato and Armando began falling asleep, I silently snuck up the stairs to find Ariadne, wherever she was. Matt was nowhere in sight.
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#281 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 28 December 2012 - 11:01 AM


He's so quiet and stuff that I don't remember he's there all the time, and for the second half of that chapter, he doesn't exist. I will have to rewrite that. LOL. I'm writing the next chapter and remembered he was there, and I went, "Wait..."

So he is there, but I didn't mention him, all right? He didn't die in the car and they left him there or anything. I'll rewrite that ASAP. :P

Ah. Rough drafts...

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#282 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 28 December 2012 - 12:37 PM

I wrote this in one long shot, so it's probably pretty crazy. I had the opening scene in my head for this chapter, and the whole someone's-at-the-door thing was planned for a while. So it was an easy one to write.

Ariadne is, like, my favorite character right now. I dunno. She's just kind of awesome. It's a shame she and Cato don't get along better. The more time Alyce and Ariadne spend together, the more fun it is to write them. They're so fun to write. :P

I didn't want to keep them in the house too long and I need to move the plot along, so this chapter is pretty important. It's going to be pretty fast-moving from here on out, because we are approaching the climax. Duhn, duhn, DUHNNNN.

I know it's ironic that THIS chapter gets the "Jesus of Suburbia" quote and not the last one which is named after the song, but the other one fitted that chapter so much that I couldn't help but use it. :P

Not much else to say. Go read and gimme CC and and stuff.

All right. Enjoy.


Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 39 — Caravan of Idiots
"City of the dead, at the end of another lost highway. Signs misleading to nowhere."
-"Jesus of Suburbia (City of the Damned)," Green Day

Upstairs, Ariadne was staring into the bathroom mirror, scowling at herself and muttering something too quiet for me to hear. I didn’t want to scare her, so I announced that I was there. “Hey, Ariadne.”

She jumped anyway, startled. “What are you doing up here?”

“Why’s it weird that I’d be here?” I asked in response. Did she think I was never going to go into any part of the house besides the entry room?

“I dunno,” she said, pushing strands of her messy brown hair out of her face. Though she still looked much younger than her age, I noticed that she had begun to look older after everything that happened. Stress had done it to her.

“Are you, um…okay?”

It was the best I could do to show that I kind of cared about her. I needed to be nice, even if she wasn’t going to most of the time.

“What does it matter to you if I’m ‘okay’ or not?” She picked up a container of some sort off the stained counter of the bathroom. Uninterestedly reading the label, she glanced up at me, waiting for a response.

“I guess it’s my job to care about you,” I offered. I didn’t know why I was bothering; there wasn’t a point in trying with her. She’d made up her mind about all of us, and that was that.

“Sounds like you’re recycling one of Cato’s lines again.” Ariadne laughed to herself and set down the bottle. She looked back up at me, saying, “He’s so obsessed with being the fearless leader and making sure we don’t all murder each other in our sleep. He tries so hard to make us like each other, but it’s really no use. I will always hate Armando, because he’s a pain in the ass. Cato and his stupid care-for-one-another crap can’t change that.”

It took me a minute to process all of that. I remembered Cato telling me that I mattered to him—mattered deeply to him. But never once could I recall him saying anything like what Ariadne was claiming he said to all of us. I had a feeling she was exaggerating his actions again. She had a tendency to make things so much worse than they really were. I’d known that from the beginning, and it was showing here again.

“I don’t know why I’m trying anymore,” I said out loud, frustrated with her again. All she ever did was frustrate me.

She gave me a funny look. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that if anyone’s the pain in the ass, it’s you.”

Ariadne bit her lip, looking angry like she had downstairs only a few minutes ago. I figured it would’ve been better of me to wait an hour or so and let her cool off before I tried to talk to her, but it was too late now. I was committed, and I had made my biggest mistake yet by saying that.

“Excuse me?” she said, gripping the countertop. Instead of looking directly at her, I looked at her reflection in the cracked mirror.

“I…I don’t know,” I replied, trying to cover myself as best as I could. “I really don’t know. I shouldn’t have said that out loud. Jeez. Um, I…” She was pushing past me into the hallway now, heading back toward the stairs. “Ariadne, I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry.

She paused on the second stair, glaring at me chasing after her. “Really, Alyce? Way to make things ten times worse than they already were. A little ‘I’m sorry’ will never change a thing. Go make yourself useful and leave me the hell alone.”

She stomped down the stairs, cursing to herself.


The rest of the week went by just like that, with everyone in a constant state of tension. Between Phoenix’s death hanging over us and the sudden brokenness between the members of our group, we weren’t in the best shape people who were going to join together and try to blow up the Corporation’s headquarters could be. In fact, we were in the worst shape we could be in. If we couldn’t so much as say a single word to each other, how were we supposed to complete our mission?

Cato and I hung around in the entry way most of the time. There was always at least one person in the entry room who would keep an eye on things outside of the house. Most of the time it was Cato and me. He was always writing things down—strategies, I assumed—in a black notebook he’d found in the office of the house. I threw knives at one of the pictures of a bowl of fruit, much like I’d thrown knives at the recreation of the Mona Lisa in San Francisco.

Ariadne wandered the house like a silent ghost, bothering no one but always there. She would often stand at the top of the stairs, hands in the pockets of her trench coat, and just stare down with a look of hurt in her eyes. I wondered if Phoenix being gone hurt her as much as it hurt me, but I never got the courage to ask her.

Armando and Matt and Westin set up a game where they’d go scrounge the surrounding houses for supplies or random things to keep around the house. The other day they brought back a massive plastic zebra from a toddler’s room and insisted that it would be our “pet.” They named it Obi-Wan, after some guy from a “movie.”

Another day they retrieved a huge stash of CDs that weren’t Led Zeppelin. Even Ariadne joined us as we dug through them, looking for the good ones. Armando and Matt insisted on blasting rap music through the house, which was entertaining since they both tried to rap along with the “classics.” Neither of them was very good.

Other than the night with the excruciatingly loud rap music, the house was pretty quiet. That’s why it scared us to death when they knocked on the door.

I was in the kitchen with Armando. He was lying on the counter because Matt betted him that if he could fall asleep in five unusual places, he could keep Obi-Wan for himself. So far he’d fallen asleep in the bathtub, on the stairs, and the concrete of the front porch. Each time he’d made me stay by him and make sure no one “disturbed his slumber.” I think he was just paranoid that Ariadne would come and slit his throat while he slept, since that what she frequently threatened to do to him.

Everyone else was upstairs in the bedrooms, trying to sleep for the night. I was supposed to be on guard duty, but I thought that because no one ever came around here in the week we’d been there, no one would come that night. Armando also insisted that guard duty wasn’t important at all, and that his bet with Matt should be a high priority of mine, too.

“Just sit right there,” he said, pulling out one of the wobbly wood chairs. “Look out the window. If anyone comes, wake me up and I’ll beat the crap out of them.”

I was contemplating zebras and wondering where Armando planned to fall asleep next, half asleep and actually kind of happy. The house was silent, so I figured I was safe to try and get some sleep. I closed my eyes and let the world drift away.

That’s when they started knocking on the door.

“Come out with your hands up!” an unfamiliar female voice pierced the night. “You’re under investigation by the Corporation!”

I sprung awake immediately. Armando fell of the counter when he woke. I ran over and helped him up, my hands trembling.

“Who is it?” he whispered groggily.

“Didn’t you hear what they said?” I whispered back, my eyes wild. “It’s the Corporation. Come on. We have to get the others, fast.”

He nodded, rubbing his eyes. “I’ll stay down here. Run as fast as you can and get Cato and Matt and them down here. Do you know how many are outside?”

I shrugged anxiously. “No clue. Only one talked, but it sounded like more than one pounding on the door.”

“All right. Prepare for lots. Go get ‘em.”

I nodded, taking a deep breath. I raced up the stairs and ignored the urge to hide in the basement of the house, which felt like the safest place I could be. There wasn’t much time, and I couldn’t waste it on myself. I needed to wake the others, and we needed to move.

I woke Ariadne first; her room was the first one on the right. I charged in and she grasped at her rifle tiredly. “Ariadne!” I whispered loudly. “Ariadne, did you hear any of that?”

“No, I’ve gotten into a habit of deep sleeping because you snore so much,” she shot back. “What is it?”

“Workers at the door. Get down there ASAP.”

“Oh, this’ll be fun,” she said with a little smile as she pulled on her trench coat. She pulled at the collar and gave me the thumbs up.

I ran into Matt and Westin’s room next. “Matt!” I called, shaking his shoulder. I ignored Westin; he’d be no use to us anyway.

He woke up in a startled burst of fear. “What the hell—it’s, like, three in the morning, Alyce!”

“I know, but workers just knocked on the door and are telling us to come up with our hands up, so get going, won’t you?”

He tried to say something but I was already onto the next room.

“Cato!” I called out as I ran in. “Cato, Cato, Ca—”

To my surprise, he was standing next to his bed already, pulling on his suit jacket, gun in hand. “I’m already up. Heard it right away. Get down there. I’ll be down in a moment.”

I nodded and took another deep breath. They were pounding on the door again, yelling the same phrase again and again. The sound of the worker’s voice gave me the chills. We’d been discovered, and now we were supposed to pay.

“See you down there, then,” I said.

I charged out of the room and down the stairs, almost tripping on the bottom few. Ariadne, Matt, and Armando were in the kitchen, their weapons pointed at the door. In the dark, the door was barely visible from the kitchen. I hoped hiding in the kitchen would be enough cover for now.

“When the door comes down,” Ariadne told me, “you hide behind the counter and pretend you’re not here. We won’t risk you if we don’t have to.”

“Wh-what about you guys?” I asked her. I wasn’t sure whether to be hurt or thankful that she was making sure I wasn’t involved in this one.

“I think we’ve got it covered, Alyce.” She gave me an understanding look and pointed to the counter. I half-smiled gratefully. “Keep your head down and don’t interfere. Let us take this one.”

“Okay,” I agreed.

As I was ducking behind the counter, out of harm’s way, the door flew open. “Come out with your hands up!” a male worker demanded. “We know you’re in here. We don’t want to hurt you—we just want to get you out of the harmful Quarantine Zone.”

“Well, that’s a load of crap,” Cato said in a gruff voice, firing the first shot. One of the workers—I still had no clue how many there actually were—fell to the ground with a howl, and more shots rang out.

“These aren’t our people!” one of them said in shock. “Those look like the Saints or the Resistance or—”

“Who else would we be?” Matt shouted.

“Man, I hate it when they think we’re the Resistance,” Armando muttered.

“Get down!” a worker yelled. “We’re outnumbered!”

Another one yelled, “Scratch that, soldier. Retreat!”

I wondered how many there were if we hadn’t taken them down yet. Were they heavily armed? Were they armed at all, if they were expecting us to be members of the MGMT Corporation?

“No one leaves alive!” Ariadne said to Matt, Armando, and Cato. “Let’s get them before they’re gone.”

The thirty seconds that followed was nothing but gunshots. I sat behind the counter and tried my hardest not to think about our escape from the Camp or about what a coward I was or about how Phoenix was dead because of me. All I could think of when I heard gunshots was that, and it made me feel sick.

Something else. I needed to think about something else or I’d break down, and that couldn’t happen again.

To distract myself, I closed my eyes and focused on the current situation instead of the one from over a week ago. I realized how much attention we must’ve been drawing to ourselves with this. Anyone could hear the shots in the silence of the city. They were probably echoing off the houses and painting a target on our backs. That meant more would be coming and that we needed to get out.

Someone ran back into the house, panting harder than ever. I drew my knives in case it was an unwanted visitor. Their footsteps slowed way down as they approached the kitchen. I peeked around the corner, my knives ready.

I recognized Ariadne’s black boots and the bottom of her long coat and let out a sigh. Thank God I didn’t have to fight back from my weak state.

“Alyce, are you okay?” she said, kneeling next to me.

What does it matter to you if I’m ‘okay’ or not?” I quoted from our conversation in the bathroom last week.

She tensed up. “Stop that.”

“I thought we weren’t supposed to care about each other or something,” I said to her. I probably should’ve stayed quiet, but I couldn’t help myself. That conversation had been eating away at me. I felt guilty about it.

She rolled her eyes, pushing hair out of her face. It really had gotten longer. “Yeah, well, this is different. We were just ambushed by our enemies. I think I’ve got the right to ask you if you’re okay.”

“Okay, you have a point,” I admitted. I sat up straighter. “Where are the others?”

“They’re outside getting rid of the bodies and transferring our stuff into the Corporation’s van so we blend in better. The other van stood out too much.”

“Oh, okay. Is anyone hurt?” I asked.

“Are you kidding me? There were, like, five of them. Cato and Matt and Armando can’t shoot for the life of them, so it was a lot harder than it should’ve been.” She stood up and extended her hand to me. “Now c’mon. We’ve got stuff to get done.”

I took it and she pulled me up. “Where are we going?”

“Well, we can’t stay here, can we?” Her tone indicated that I was being dumb again. I held in a sigh.

“So are we going farther in?” I asked as we walked toward the entry room and the door. Armando rushed past us, muttering something about Obi-Wan. We watched him run up the stairs and come back down in a few seconds, holding the giant plastic zebra tightly to his chest.

“He’s like a five-year-old.” She shook her head and held the door open for me. “I’m guessing we’ll go into the populated section now. We can’t stay out here forever. Soon we’re going to have to do the dirty work, you know.”

“I know.”

We walked down the sidewalk and toward the black van parked at the edge of the driveway. Cato and Matt were loading our bags while Westin held Obi-Wan for Armando, who was standing at the side of the van with a can of red spray paint.

“What do you think you’re doing, Armando?” Cato asked him after he slammed the trunk.

“We hafta be able to tell the difference between our van and their vans somehow,” he explained. “So I’m making it so we’ll be able to tell the difference.”

He looked at the spray paint in disgust. “Isn’t there a more discreet way you could do it than vandalizing it?”

“Sure, but this is more fun.”

Cato let out an exaggerated sigh, his hands in the air. “I give up.” He walked past us and climbed into the driver’s seat. We’d need him to navigate us carefully.

“What should I write?” he asked Matt eagerly.

“How about ‘Caravan of Idiots’?” Ariadne suggested from behind me.

Armando paused, letting that sink in. Soon he was nodding, smiling to himself. “I like it.”

With the words “CARAVAN OF IDIOTS” written on the side of our new black van, we climbed in. Cato looked horrified when Armando told him what it was, but I think he secretly couldn’t agree more with our new label.
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#283 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 29 December 2012 - 11:29 AM

HUGE CHAPTER. This one took longer and is about 3,000 words long. Whoooa.

SO. CLOSE. TO. DONE. Really, I'm getting so excited that I'm doing a chapter every morning. I must be in a good writing mood right now...

Not much to say, really. Excited for the next one, which I'd had planned for a long time. I'm going to have to edit my plan a bit, since (*cough cough*) someone was there in my head for the longest time but is not anymore.



EDIT: And happy Ch. 40 to me!

Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 40 — 7-Eleven
“Oh, you tell me to hold on, but innocence is gone and what was right is wrong.”
-“Bleeding Out,” Imagine Dragons

“Look over there!” Armando cried out. I sat between him and Cato, who was driving, in the long front seat. “That looks likepeople!”

“That’s because it is people,” Cato said, swerving around a corner to avoid having to go near the group of four people standing in the middle of the street.

“Do you think they’re part of the Corporation?” I asked.

“Duh,” Armando said. I ignored him.

“Well, who else would they be?” Cato pointed out to me. We were traveling down a road of populated houses now—we’d made it out of the Quarantine Zone and were now in the part of Suburbia that the Corporation inhabited. The whole van was tense and quiet outside of our little discussion.

“I don’t know,” I admitted.

No one talked after that had finished up, except for some disjointed cursing under Cato’s breath as he maneuvered us at a dangerously fast pace through the streets. A few times Ariadne told him to slow down, but he never listened. He kept up the steady pace and disregarded everything but the road.

The sun was beginning to rise in the east, bathing the houses in brightness. A few times I saw people staring out of their front windows at our van barreling down the street, confused at what they were seeing. I hoped we weren’t making too big of a scene.

Again, Ariadne told him to slow down. “You really think the Corporation just goes on joyrides around Suburbia when they’re bored? We need to look convincing.”

“It’s a lot more convincing if we’re going fast!” he argued, gunning it toward the corner and squealing as he turned. “It looks like we’re going somewhere, not taking a ‘joyride,’ as you put it.”

“I don’t want to die,” Westin said from the back, his hands on his head in terror.

You’re not going to die!” he yelled and pounded his hands on the steering wheel.

“Do they have a radio in here?” Matt asked.

“Music will just be distracting. You people are already distracting enough.”

“It won’t be distracting if it’s Led Zeppelin!” Ariadne yelled. She rummaged in her bag for a bit. “Where are my CDs? If one of you got rid of them…”

In a moment, she pulled one of them out and said, “There you go. Put this in and all your troubles will disappear. It’s magic for your ears.”

Armando ripped it out of her hands and stuck it in the contraption in front of me, allegedly called a radio. In a moment, the sounds of what I’d grown so used to—the sounds of blissful classic rock—emanated from the speakers and filled the van.

“Alyce, give us some volume,” Ariadne complained sourly. For her, it was always too quiet. Whenever we she was driving, the music was turned close to all the way up—if not to its max.

“How much?” I asked, gingerly spinning the dial labeled “VOLUME.” The more I turned it, the louder the music became. I was awed at how it worked and kept turning it more and more, louder and louder, until it could be turned no more.

“CHRIST, THAT IS LOUD!” Cato yelled over the sound. “CAN YOU TURN IT DOWN A LITTLE?!”

“NO, IT’S PERFECT!” Ariadne said, giving me the thumbs up. “Alyce, you’ve learned from the best. You know how it’s supposed to sound.”

I gave her the thumbs up back, and we drove just like that: classic rock and roll as loud as the radio would allow us, Ariadne singing along, Armando doing bad imitations of the guitar for the songs he knew (which were, surprisingly enough, most of them), Cato pouting about it being too loud, Matt laughing at Armando and Ariadne and especially Cato’s bitterness, Westin curled up on the seat farthest away and muttering about not wanting to die, and me taking in the Caravan of Idiot’s latest and greatest journey. For driving into the lion’s den, it was a pretty good car ride.


Cato parked the van outside an abandoned gas station in the actual city of Los Angeles. The white roof overhead the gas pumps shaded us from the sun. There was a calm breeze that day, and it cooled us off immensely.

“It’s been so long since I’ve even seen a 7-Eleven,” Cato said, staring at the door to the inside part of the station.

“Last time I saw one was San Francisco,” Ariadne said, leaning against the gas pump. “You don’t suppose they have food inside?”

“Ariadne, all of that garbage would have expired years ago. If you’d like to eat it and die, be my guest. I will not be joining you.” At least Cato had some common sense, even if Ariadne didn’t.

Westin was struggling with his bag, sitting inside the open trunk of the Corporation’s black van. He was shaking as he pulled at the zipper, trying to access his bottle of pills, I assumed. I walked over to him and he moaned.

“Are you okay?” I asked. Those words had a whole new meaning after my talks with Ariadne. Before, they felt so generic and insincere, but now I felt like they meant something when I said them.

“Pills,” he cried, shaking harder. He couldn’t for the life of him open the bag and get out his little canister of pills, so I helped him and did it for him. I didn’t know Westin that much—in fact, I knew close to nothing about him—and I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I felt so sorry for him. The Westin that beat Cato up, the snarky Westin who was quick with words yet so easily offended, was no longer present. The drug he was testing for us had screwed with his head. He barely talked anymore. He was always so weak and shaky. I didn’t know him, but I missed him.

“Here.” I retrieved them from the bag. He snatched the bottle from my hand as if I had stolen it and stuffed it in his pocket for later use. It would be much more accessible for him there than in his bag.

He curled up in the back seat and stayed there.

I looked back at the others to see Armando and Matt running toward the door of the 7-Eleven with their guns. Cato and Ariadne were watching and smiling. I guessed they’d organized their latest escapade and wondered what it was this time.

“What are they doing?” I asked.

“They’re going to raid the gas station,” Cato informed me. He pointed toward the door, which wasn’t locked like I had anticipated it would be. “I don’t know what they’ll find, but it’s bound to be amusing, what they bring back.”

Sure enough, it was very amusing. Matt came out dressed in a red polo shirt and a baseball cap with “7-Eleven” written on it in red and green and orange, holding ten rolls of toilet paper in his hands. Armando followed—in his normal clothes—with a handful of cigarette boxes.

“We’ll never run out of toilet paper again!” Matt yelled, tossing it into the back of the van.

“What’s with the, um, uniform?” I asked him.

He smiled. “I don’t know. They had it lying around, and I thought, why not? So here I am, dressed as a 7-Eleven worker.”

“It’s even weirder than your other outfit,” Cato commented in disgust about the leather he still wore beneath the new clothes.

“Look, at least I don’t go around in a suit,” he replied, rolling his eyes at Cato. I wished those two would get along better.

“Hey!” Armando shouted, offended. “I wear one of those, too, Matt. Don’t this the suit.”

“At least you wear it with the jacket off most of the time. It looks way weirder with the jacket on.”

“Offense has been taken!” Ariadne announced as Cato gave Matt the universal Stop-Talking-Now look. I laughed with her as their spat continued.

“It’s symbolic,” he told Matt. “For me, at least. I don’t know why Armando does it—to look uniform, maybe? You see, it symbolizes my—”

“We’re not in school anymore, so no more of this ‘symbolism’ crap. If I wanted symbolism, I’d read poetry.”

“Poetry is actually—”

Matt sighed and cut him off again. I hoped their pointless arguing would end soon. “Look at it like this: You’re stranded in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, basically, and you could wear pretty much any clothes you want. And you chose a suit? See what I mean? It’s kind of stupid.”

“It’s not stupid—it’s symbolic!”

“Enough!” Ariadne finally intervened. I gave her a thankful smile, and she nodded back at me. “This is dumb. We’re supposed to be joining together, not falling apart. I know you’re kind of kidding because it’s over clothes and you’re men, but come on. Let’s put our wardrobe choices behind us and unite.”

I was impressed with her sudden maturity, since she was usually the most immature person (except Armando, who obsessed over big toy zebras) in our group. It was a nice change, one that I’m sure was brought on by Phoenix’s death. Someone had to be rational with him gone, and I’m sure she felt that it was her responsibility.

“You sound so much like Phoenix that it’s scary,” Armando said. “Ugh.”

“Well, with him, um…gone, someone has to step up,” I said in her defense.

“He’s not gone, Alyce. He’s just…lost.”

“Not really,” I shot back, feeling my temper rising at just the mention of his death. I felt sick again. I held the gas pump tightly.

“Let’s not discuss this, please,” Cato said. “Like Ariadne so wonderfully put it, we need to join together, not fall apart. Let’s focus on better things, like what we’re doing next.”

I cleared my throat. “Cato’s right.”

“I’m always right,” he whispered to Armando, and they nodded in agreement. It was good to see them getting along better. After Westin beat Cato up and Armando didn’t defend him, there had been a bit of a separation between the two. Matt hadn’t helped at all. At the house in Suburbia, they’d barely talked at all. It made me happy to see them interacting like they used to.

“No, you are not always right,” Ariadne said, irritated again. If Armando got to be the Most Immature, she got to be the Most Irritable. “99.9% of the time you’re wrong.”

“Are you jealous of my tendency to be right?” he asked.

“I’m sure of it,” Armando chimed in.

“At least he’s a better navigator than you,” Matt added.

I didn’t say anything because I wanted to stay on her good side.

“Oh, look, it’s Ariadne vs. The World again…” She sighed and put her hands in her pockets, disgruntled. “As usual.”

“You’re so woe-is-me all the time,” Armando complained. “It makes it hard to be around you.”

“You’re twice as hard to be around as me, Armando. If I’m hard to be around, you’re impossible to be around.”

“STOP!” I was the one to intervene this time. I’d had enough of the arguing, and I was ready to make it end. I hoped Phoenix would be proud of me. “What happened to everything you just said, Ariadne? Hypocritical, aren’t you?”

“Ariadne sounds like Phoenix and you sound like Cato,” Armando said.

“And there’s nothing wrong with it,” Cato said. “We need more me’s in the world.”

“Here’s an idea,” Matt spoke up, taking off his 7-Eleven hat. His blonde hair was tousled beneath it. “Why don’t we get to where we’re going and then duke it out.”

“Smart man!” Cato said, patting Matt on the shoulder. I don’t think he liked it much, judging by the awkward smile on his face.

“We could just stay here,” Armando said, still holding the packs of cigarettes that were undoubtedly for Cato, since he and Ariadne were the only ones who smoked, and there was no way he would ever do anything nice for Ariadne. “I mean, where else would we go, man? There’s no point in going back to the Quarantine Zone since they know we were out there now.”

“You think it’s a safe spot?” Ariadne asked. “What’s it like on the inside?”

“It smells better than the house did, and there’s lots of space. We could wait here until Friday.”

Friday—that was when it was all supposed to go down. The idea of it made me cringe. I only had four days before the Big Day. Better start using them wisely.

“We should probably scout the place first, don’t you think? So we know exactly what we’ll be doing on the day of,” Cato proposed. “I haven’t been there in a few years, so I’d like to get a feel for it in case things have changed, which I am sure they have. It’s been years.”

“How do you assume we do that, Mr. Man Without the Plan?” Ariadne asked. “There’s a difference between wanting to do something, knowing how to do something, and actually doing something, and it’s a big difference. So far you only want to. I’d love to hear your plan, if you’ve got one.”

“Oh, do I have a plan,” Cato said with a smirk.


“This dress is itchy,” Ariadne groaned, tugging at the bottom of the black dress we’d found on our trip around the Quarantine Zone houses that afternoon. “Are you sure I can’t wear my trench coat and my boots and all my normal clothes?”

Cato said that if his plan would work, we needed to look nice and dress well. That meant pouring water over our heads and attempting to “shower,” wearing expensive clothes we’d found on our ventures around Suburbia, doing something with our hair, and in the case of Ariadne and I, makeup.

For the first time in my whole post-coma life, I didn’t look like a homeless ragamuffin. Ariadne found a black dress she “sort of kind of but not really” liked and wore that, and I found a white one that looked better on the hanger than on me. Still, it was the one thing I actually liked. And then I brushed through my hair (and lost a lot of it to the brush in the process, due to the tangles and knots), and Ariadne showed me this thing called shampoo, and that was really cool. Soap and conditioner are also really cool.

Ariadne trimmed my hair, and hers, too. Then this makeup thing—that’s just weird. I guess I didn’t see the point in it, but Cato insisted that we must look nice and blend in with the other people. For him and Matt and Armando and Westin, it meant wearing suits—Cato had to replace his entirely but kept the other one in his bag—and not looking like depressed street kids covered head to toe in grime.

So after that, we all got into the Corporation’s van and drove to the headquarters, which was basically a big fancy building with lots of staircases, lofty rooms, and glass everywhere. The whole front of the building was thick glass with the word “MGMT” on it. It was a daunting building, but a very attractive building at the same time.

As we approached the headquarters in our van, Cato explained to us as he drove, “It’s considered rude to come in street clothes to the headquarters. Don’t ask me why—my father’s a psycho, and that’s his way of doing things: the psycho way. So in order to blend in with the people, we have to look nice.”

“I look like the angel of death,” Ariadne commented on her dark attire and makeup. “Or like hell came and threw up on me.” I noticed that the phrase about hell throwing up on people was one of her favorites, as she’d used it numerous times now.

“Yeah, if the angel of death was hot,” Matt said.

Ariadne blushed and looked at the floor.

“Here’s the plan,” Cato told us as he parked the car. He turned around to face the rest of us. “We’re going to go in there, scope things out, and get out as fast as we can. I don’t want to spend any more time in there than we have to.

“Our cover story is that we’re visiting Ariadne’s father, who is a worker. Alyce and Matt and Westin, you’re her siblings, so he’s your father, too, I guess. Armando and I are your friends who are coming along with you. Ariadne, you will tell the guard that we’ll only be visiting for a few minutes, and that will be all. Take your roles seriously, as this is a serious matter.

“We will then split up into pairs—me and Armando will take the lower floor; Alyce and Ariadne can get the second floor; Matt and Westin, you two can take the third and final floor. In half an hour exactly—there should be clocks around to help you keep track of time—we will meet back at the entrance and leave.

“If any trouble comes up, use the knives you have with you that Alyce has so generously shared with us and get out. There will be fire alarms on the wall—pull one of those and all of us will know what happened.

“Keep track of the things you see. We’ll need to be able to work around obstacles and complete our mission on Friday. Do you understand?” he finished.

We all nodded.

He opened his car door. “Very well. Let’s go kick some ass.”

Edited by Pretty.Odd., 29 December 2012 - 11:30 AM.

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#284 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:13 PM

Well, I'm not going to say much right now because I'm currently working on the second episode of BBC's "Sherlock" and want to get the most out of it. But here is your forty-first chapter, complete with murder and Batman. This chapter should have been a lot different, but it wrote itself and came out like this. It's actually tying together much more nicely than I could've come up with if I consciously thought about it.

So. There you go. Chapter 41. HAVE FUN AND ENJOY IT.


Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 41 — Let’s Hide a Body
"The skyline looks brighter tonight. Let's go smash out every light."
-"Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare," Matt & Kim

The inside of the MGMT Corporation headquarters was brightly lit and sleek, the complete opposite of the world around it. Nothing looked old or forgotten or abandoned; it was well cared for and polished. On either side of the massive entry room was a tall wooden staircase, and in the center of the linoleum floor was a tall waterfall that created a soothing sound like soft rain.

Ariadne spoke as soon as the first worker came up to her. He was tall, with light brown hair and dark eyes. Unlike most of the workers I’d seen in the Camp, he was much younger. To his left was one of the only female workers I’d seen. She was shorter and had thick, curly blonde hair and an uneasy smile.

“Are you folks here for the banquet?” the dark-haired male worker asked, smiling at Ariadne and me. H looked nervously at Matt and Westin next to us, and even more nervously at Cato and Armando behind us. I wondered what was flustering him so much.

“The…banquet?” Ariadne asked, smiling shyly back at him. She turned to Matt and he nodded quickly, trying to help her cover. “Um, do you mean the, um, the…?”

“The banquet?” the girl suggested. She twirled a strand of honey blonde hair in her hand and kept timidly glancing at Matt.

“Yeah, um, the banquet,” Matt said. “We’re here for that.”

“Well, aren’t you a little early?” the boy said. He couldn’t keep his eyes off Ariadne, much like the girl couldn’t keep his eyes off Matt. “There’s still an hour before anything starts.”

“I guess,” I said, shrugging.

Ariadne butted in, not trusting me with words. I didn’t blame her at all. “You see, sir, my mother—our mother—” she gestured to Matt and Westin and me “—always warned us not to be late. She was a good woman, my mother. Brought me up right. Brought me up as a loyal, obedient child. Since she died last year, I decided that to honor her memory, I would never be late for anything, because the one thing she’s always emphasized was to never ever be late. So we come early to everything, to honor her.”

It was the worst cover ever, but I figured that Ariadne could’ve said anything and the foolish guard would’ve believed her, just because he thought she was pretty.

“Ya’ll are siblings?” he asked the four of us. We nodded and he smiled. “That’s cute.”

“Isn’t it?” Matt said, patting Westin on the back. “Shame Mom isn’t here to see us here today.”

“Yeah, really,” the girl said. She just kept smiling at him, and I just kept wondering if it was possible to wipe the creepy grin off her face. It was downright unsettling.

“So who are you two?” the male guard asked, pointing to Cato and Armando who were standing behind us with their hands in the pockets of their dress pants.

Instead of letting them handle themselves, I decided to talk for them without much thought. “Those two are my friends, Ca—”

I realized halfway through saying Cato’s name that it really wouldn’t go over well if I mentioned that we were with someone who had the same name as the son of the CEO who was wanted dead. Ariadne elbowed me and I coughed as a cover, trying to think of something similar sounding.

Nothing came to mind. All I could think was Katie or Kate or Katelyn—all of which were girl names. And Cato was not a girl.

So I kept coughing, doubling over for extra emphasis. I needed to think of something eventually, but I was so concentrated on being convincing that I couldn’t concentrate on coming up with a name.

Westin slapped me on the back and, not anticipating his “help,” I fell to my knees and continued coughing because I couldn’t give up my act. Ariadne bent down and pulled me back up. I let out the loudest cough yet, my last hurrah, and stopped.

“Are…you all right?” the girl asked me. That had done it—her creepy grin was gone.

I nodded, covering my mouth as if I might start coughing again. “Yeah, yeah,” I said, taking quick, shallow breaths. “Don’t know what came over me there. Sorry.”’

Armando cleared his throat. “We’re their friends. Came along with them because we were eager to get here.”

The male worker raised his eyebrows. “All of you got identification papers so we can get you in?”

I looked over at Matt, who was looking at Cato with contempt. He hadn’t mentioned a thing about “identification papers.” The last time I’d been asked for “identification” was when Ariadne and I went back to the Resistance headquarters, and remember how well that went over?

Ariadne slapped her pocket and faked a look of disappointment. “Crap. Looks like I was in such a rush to get here that I forgot mine.” She shook her head, staring at the ground and pretending to be mortified. “Is there any way I can get in if I don’t have my identification papers?”

“Well, the rest of you have ‘em, right?” asked the girl, her hands in her pockets now.

“We all keep them in the same place in the house, and none of us even thought of grabbing them. We usually don’t need them, and I don’t think it really entered our minds,” Matt covered. They were all so natural with this lying business, and I was so bad at it. It was good to have them around to cover for me. I’d be hopeless without them.

Westin and Ariadne and I nodded along. “Yeah,” I said. “I don’t go out much.”

“What about you two?” he asked Cato and Armando. They shook their heads, and Armando started talking—only to have the worker cut him off. “It’s all right. I’ll make an exception for you guys.” He winked at Ariadne and she blushed again. “Just give me your names and I’ll enter you in the system in a second. You start,” he said, pointing to Ariadne.

“Um, uh, I’m Angelina…Jolie…Smith,” Ariadne said, using the first name that came to mind. Matt held in a snort and Cato buried his face in his hands.

“Like the…actress?” he asked.

“My mom—she was a big fan,” she said, taking a deep breath. “You know, she was a bigger Brad Pitt fan, but Brangelina or whatever, right?”

It didn’t make much sense to me, but the guy thought it was funny. “That’s cute,” he said. “Angelina’s a nice name. Do you usually go by that?”

“Usually people call me Angie,” she said. I’m sure the worker couldn’t tell, but just by her fake smile I could tell how bored she was with the game, how much she wanted it to end. “I hate being affiliated with the actress, so I go by Angie.”

“Cool,” he said, writing it down on a piece of paper he’d taken from the pocket of his grey uniform. “You next.” He pointed to Matt.

The rest of us made up generic names: Ariadne was Angelina Jolie Smith; Matt was Robert Smith (apparently a reference to a musician, he told me later); I was Ellie Smith (after Ellie from the Camp); Westin was Arnold Smith (I didn’t know why he picked Arnold of all names, but he was pretty zoned out, and you never knew when it came to Westin); Cato was Andy Wozniak (last name apparently referencing a very rich man).

All was fine and good until Armando tried convincing the worker that his name was Bruce Wayne, which, as Ariadne explained to me later on, is the name of a character from “comic books” and “TV” and “movies”—a very famous character.

“You mean like Batman?” the girl asked.

He nodded. “Like Batman.”

“What’s your real name, kid?” the other one asked.

“No, for real—my name is Bruce Wayne.”

The worker wrote it down and sighed. “All right, then, Mr. Wayne.” Armando laughed at that. “I’ll go enter you in. Just so you know, the banquet will be held in the main hall on the second floor—the room outside the big fountain. You’ll know it when you see it.”

“Thanks so much,” Ariadne said in her sweetest voice. It was a miracle she could ever sound sweet, since she was exactly the opposite of that.

“No problem. Hope to see you later,” he said as we marched toward the stairs on the left.

Cato led us forward. Our shoes squeaked against the shiny floor, and the workers gave us dirty looks. I made a special effort not to drag them and leave ugly black marks on the perfect floor.

The stairs we silently climbed weren’t creaky like the others I’d been used to walking up. They were solid, and the wood was a beautiful dark shade. No matter how high we got, the waterfall’s calm sound was still audible due to the echo.

“Does this place creep you guys out, too?” Ariadne asked. “It’s so…clean.”

“It has to be kind of sterile for what they do,” Cato explained like it was obvious. “Did you expect it would be dirty?”

“No, but I didn’t quite expect so much of the pristine glass and calming water sounds and stuff,” she replied. “It’s also really empty, and I pictured lots of people.”

“It’s creepy no matter how you look at it,” I agreed.


Sure enough, up the stairs and around the corner was a marble fountain of some kind of buff guy—“Neptune” or something like that, according to Armando, who thought it was the coolest thing ever—and a bunch of naked girls posing all dramatically. It was the creepiest part of the whole place yet. Their eyes followed me as I walked into the room behind it, making me feel immensely uncomfortable.

The room was definitely the banquet hall. The walls were bright white, the floor a white marble that matched the golden accents perfectly. The entire ceiling was a golden masterpiece, where the gold had been formed into flowers and waves like the ocean, wrapping around various shapes that all led up to the centerpiece, the jewel of the whole room: a massive golden chandelier with flickering lights that cast a warm glow over the whole room.

“It’s…incredible,” I said, whirling around in my white dress. For such an awful place, it really was beautiful.

“That’s the word for it, isn’t it?” Cato agreed, grimly placing a hand on one of the gold and white chairs that faced a singular podium in the front of the room. Besides the chairs and the podium, the only other things in the room were a bar in the back, a few tables with long black cloths over them, and a small, elevated stage. The rest of the enormous room was wide open.

“What do they even do with a place like this?” Ariadne asked, looking equally as mesmerized as Westin for once. “It’s so huge and open and weird for a place like this. What could they possibly need something like this for?”

“You should know,” a voice said from behind us. Slowly, I turned around to see a man in a black suit and a white apron holding a silver tray. He smiled at us. I couldn’t tell if it was a friendly smile or more of a threatening sneer. “I’m sure you’ve spent plenty of time in here over the past few tears. Mikael loves giving speeches,” he continued. I saw Cato tense up at the mention of his dad. “He’s been giving a lot less of them recently, I know, but he’s a busy man. You got lots of stuff to do when you’re a genius like that.”

Cato’s pride got the best of him and he couldn’t help it. No way could he stay quiet for once; he had to say something.

“Mikael Hahn is not a genius,” he argued, crossing his arms over his chest. “He’s a vile man, one who doesn’t deserve to be in the place of power he’s in now.”

The waiter raised his eyebrows. “Now who are you to say something like that?”

“Oh, I don’t know—his son, maybe?!”

It must have just slipped out. There was no other explanation. We looked over at him nervously. What was he doing? He couldn’t tell people who he was. That would give us all away, and Cato knew that. He wasn’t dumb. Normally he was at least kind of rational—the most rational of the whole group—but it seemed as if he’d thrown it all out the window with that one statement that had the potential to screw us over completely.

“Wha-what?” the waiter stammered, taking a step toward the open door. “You’re…Cato Hahn?”

What are you doing? You think this is funny?” Ariadne growled at Cato. “We’re at enough risk already, being who we are, and now you—”

She stopped in midsentence, distracted by the waiter taking out a small black device from his pocket. He was still backing away, now talking quietly into the device. “We’ve got a major situation here in—”

Armando was quick—much quicker than the clumsy waiter. In a matter of seconds, Armando had knocked the device out of his hand and was holding him so he couldn’t escape. In one fluid motion, he cut the waiter’s throat neatly and precisely. For once, Armando wasn’t smiling when he did it.

“Well, you really helped us out there. Nice move!” Matt hissed at Cato, rushing over to help Armando dispose of the body. He was already moving it to the first place that had come to our minds—under the table, beneath the thick black tablecloth.

“God, we’re screwed now,” Ariadne said. She shook her head at a mortified Cato, who was looking at the ground and shaking his own head. “What were you thinking?”

“It kind of…slipped out.”

“It’s bad enough that we’re already easily recognizable as the people from the rebellion! Our faces are everywhere in the Camp, and I’m sure they’re all over LA, too. Now we have to hide a body, too, because you’re officially the dumbest person to walk the earth.”

I walked over to the table once Matt and Armando had finished and sat directly over the place where the waiter’s was lying dead. “We’re gonna die,” I said, sighing.

Westin nodded along with me. We were both on the same page with this one.

“We are not,” Cato declared, slamming his fist on the table, fed up with both us and himself, “going to die. It doesn’t work that way. I won’t let that happen, at least not without a fight. It may mean we need to change our plans—and that we will—but it does not mean we are going to die. We will not die.”

“Well, what’s your grand plan then?” Ariadne asked, looking hopelessly distressed again.

He spoke in a hushed voice, so no one but us could possibly hear him. “My father does not believe in having cameras around—he trusts his people too much for that. It’s ridiculous. Clearly not my decision. But at least we’re safe as far as that goes. No one but us and the waiter knows about the murder, and, frankly, the waiter is dead. Unfortunately, this whole hiding a body thing complicates things a lot. I’m going to need one of you to come with me, and the rest of you are going to wait here like the good law-abiding citizens you’re supposed to be.”

“Why don’t we just walk out and leave?” Matt suggested.

“Too obvious, too suspicious—definitely the dumbest thing to do in this situation. I know we came here to scope the place out, but that’s not an option anymore. Our one job is to get out alive.”

Intense,” Westin said.

“Very,” Cato agreed. “Now, who wants to come with me?”

No one volunteered—not even Armando—so I stepped forward. I decided to go for it.

“Well, then,” he said, grabbing wrist and pulling me toward the door. “We’ve got some work to do, don’t we?”
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#285 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:45 PM

There were some great typos from this one:

Cato and Alyce are trapped in the lab and he says something about "the lab" being too small. Instead I wrote the "lad" was too small. So I pictured my characters as hobbits. Scary.

Cato and Alyce are in the lab, and Alyce isn't hearing what he is. Instead of "I didn't hear anything," I wrote: "I didn't heat anything." And immediately I pictured my characters warming up leftovers and that just struck me as funny.

Also, this whole chapter, I couldn't stop thinking in a British accent. (Happens whenever I watch British TV/movies.) So you can try reading it with that if you want the FULL EXPERIENCE.

I predict three more chapters.

So, um, Cato and Alyce. Not happening no matter how much you want it to. NOT HAPPENING. I know, I know. My characters are blind and obviously have secret feeling for each other, but the time in the lab was just an act. I doubt it will be anything more than that...



Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 42 — Cato’s Plan 2.0
“When the soul of the city was laid to rest, and the night’s forgotten and left for dead, I happened on a house built of living light, where everything evil disappears and dies.”
-“The House That Heaven Built,” Japandroids

Cato always had the strangest plans. This one included a waitress’s outfit, a dark closet, and a hell of a lot of acting.

Okay, it sounds weirder than it really is when you say it like that. But Cato’s idea had potential, even if did mean an uncomfortable outfit (more uncomfortable than the dress I ditched in one of the forlorn closet’s cabinets) and hiding in a dark closet. Wear the uniforms of the people who had access to more of the building than we had, get the information we needed, let Ariadne, Matt, Westin, and Armando take care of the body. Aside from it being incredibly stressful to the point of having to constantly hold back tears, I was doing pretty well.

“I can’t see anything,” I complained, feeling around for something in the dark.

“We will be able leave soon. Give it another minute.”

I found something—Cato’s shoulder. At least I hoped it was his shoulder. I held it tightly and tried to balance on the heels Ariadne had coerced me into wearing.

“I hate the dark.”

“Agreed,” he said. I was glad he didn’t have a problem with the whole using-him-as-something-to-keep-me-from-toppling-over-and-killing-myself thing. Or at least I figured he was fine with it, since he didn’t say anything.

“All right. By this time, everyone should be in the banquet hall. The hallway should be empty, and we should finally be good to go. All you need to do is follow me. I’m going to require your total cooperation throughout this endeavor, so, please, improvise with me.”

“Okay, but what if something happens?” I asked.

He sighed. “I just covered that. You follow my lead and don’t screw up.”

Funny he was telling me not to screw up after his prideful incident had caused all sorts of unnecessary things to happen. I knew that he was trying to pretend it didn’t happen and make up for it by “fixing” things, but there are consequences that often prevent the stage of “making up for it.” Some things can’t be made up for.

But I knew he’d try to make up for it no matter what. That’s what people like Cato did—they went down fighting, no matter what the circumstance.

“And, anyway, nothing will happen,” he assured me.

He went for the door and twisted the knob. The light of the hallway engulfed us as we moved from darkness to brightness. It stung my eyes and sent me into a frenzy of blinking as I tried to regain proper sight. I reached for Cato again.

“Are you all right, Alyce?” Cato asked. From his rigid tone, I could tell how being so close to the Corporation made him tense and anxious. I wished I could help him relax, but I knew better than to try. There were some things—like his broken relationship with his father—that would never change.

“Yeah, yeah. Just the light making me dizzy.”

“Didn’t the dark have the same effect?” he asked. I nodded and he light out a near silent laugh. “Kind of ironic how that works, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I agreed. By now my eyes were adjusted to the light and I was able to stand on my own. I let go of his shoulder and took a long look at the hallway—empty, as he had predicted—that stretched on for what seemed like an eternity.

“Are you ready?” He started off in the direction opposite the banquet hall. I could still hear the roar of the fountain from here, even if I could no longer see it.

“Wait,” I said, turning him around by the elbow. He raised his eyebrows and I raised mine right back at him. I pointed toward the sound of the fountain and asked, “Aren’t we supposed to go that way?”

Still facing me, he replied patiently, “Do you know how many times I’ve walked this very hall? Alyce, I have this whole place memorized like Ariadne and the tunnels. I don’t think you of all people should be questioning me on any of this, because—chances are—I know what I’m doing and you do not.”

“Well, I guess I’m having some issues letting you do whatever you want after you let it slip to the waiter, okay?” I countered. “I’m just trying to be the voice of reason for once. I want to make sure you have a clear head.”

“My head is plenty clear, thank you.”

“History would tell us differently.”

He threw his hand up in the air, a gesture he’d been doing a lot lately. “Trust me, Alyce. I may be a little…nostalgic—in the worst possible sense, obviously—about this place, but I promise you, I am doing fine.”

I shrugged. “Okay, whatever you say, then. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to ‘trust you’ after all that, but if you stop making crappy decisions, I don’t think it’ll be a problem anymore.”

He rolled his eyes, clearly aggravated. “If you are once again referring to the murder thing, I assure you that nothing even close to that will happen again.”

As he was explaining this, one of the doors to my left flew open, and a man dressed in the same uniform Cato wore came out—right in time to hear Cato talking ever so casually about murder.

Whoa,” he said. His accent was much different than anything I’d heard before. It was more elegant than ours, and I liked it. “What’s this about a murder?”

“As, I was telling Ellie here a story about my great uncle from many years ago.” The fact that he had remembered my fake name and was able to cover so quickly was shocking to me. At least I could trust him with that.

“Well, you should probably get back to work,” he advised us. “Chris disappeared about an hour ago, and I haven’t seen him since. It’s like he’s been murdered…”

We both let out nervous laughs.

“Who are you guys, anyway?” he asked, leaning against the frame of the door very nonchalantly. “Don’t recognize either of you.”

“New recruits,” I lied. Cato seemed pleased that I was able to keep up with the lying, too.

“This is our first time working at a real event,” he continued.

“Oh, that’s cool. It’s a decent job—much better than having to pick up once the banquet’s done.”

We both nodded. Awkward silence followed.

Well,” the waiter said, “you should probably get in there before someone realizes you aren’t there. Good first impressions, right?”

“Right,” Cato agreed. He wrapped an arm around my waist and began walking in the direction I said we should’ve gone in the first place, leaving the other waiter behind as we left.

“What’s this?” I asked about the arm around my wait.

“An act,” he replied in a hushed voice. “Now that that waiter sent us in the wrong direction, I’m going to need you to cooperate with me.”

“I would’ve cooperated with you no matter what,” I said.

He smiled a little. “Good to know. Either way, the next part will probably require more of this lying business. If anyone asks what we’re doing, be very, very vague.”

“What do you mean, ‘be vague’?”

“I mean don’t give anything important away. Make it seem like we’re not snooping around the headquarters, looking for the best way to blow it up.”

“Okay,” I said, still very confused but not wanting to show it. “Should I, uh…keep quiet unless I have to talk?”

“That’s exactly what you should do,” he confirmed.

With that, we got into the empty elevator and rode up to the next floor. There was no music playing inside. The silence only added to the growing tension.

“I’ve always hated this elevator,” he said.


“It’s just so painfully slow.”


“This is just like I remembered!” Cato said with glee as he turned on the lights in an unoccupied lab. The door was unlocked, which struck me as odd. “This was always my favorite place…”

I stared around at all the sterile steel surfaces and cabinets, the test tubes, scalpels, and other various tools and equipment on the tables. The place reeked of cleaners and things to preserve what they were testing on. It felt like one of those places I was not supposed to be in—and one of the worst places to be caught in.

Cato shut the door, which closed with a loud click, walked over to one of the fridges. He opened that, sniffing the air. “Mmm. Formaldehyde. Love that smell.”

“You know, Cato, that’s creepy,” I said, also sniffing the air. The undeniable stench of formaldehyde emanated from the fridge. “Really creepy.”

“It’s not so much that I love the smell of formaldehyde—that would, indeed, be ‘creepy.’ You’re right. It’s what I associate it with that makes it special.”

“You know what I associate it with?”

Yes, I’m sure I do. But what I associate it with are the hours I spend watching people work in here. When I got really pissed off, I came in here and watched them do tests. So interesting to watch them work. I was so fascinated by it. It brings back a lot of good memories.”

“You like watching people mutilate and cut people open, then store their organs for future testing?”

“Look, you wouldn’t understand,” he said.

“I don’t understand. You’re right.”

“Well, now, wouldn’t you look at thi—”

Cato stopped in the middle of his sentence and twisted his head toward the door. I followed his example, but, unlike him, I didn’t hear a single thing.

“Did you hear that?”

Not this again, I thought. I’m always the one who can never hear anything.

“No,” I said.

He walked over to me as quietly as he could, shutting the fridge on the way over. He put a finger to his lips to indicated total silence. I listened harder, tried to hear over the hum of the equipment.

“I forgot to grab my stuff and lock up the lab,” someone said. “Give me a minute and I’ll be right out.”

So that’s why the door was unlocked.

My eyes got wide. I began to say something, but Cato silenced me. “There’s no way we can hide—the lab is too small. She’ll see us no matter what.”

“Then what do we do?!” I hissed.

“I don’t know!”

“You mean you don’t have a plan? You always have a plan!”

“Well, I don’t.”

“Oh, my God, we’re gonna die!”

Cato shook his head. I could see him calculating things much faster than I was. As a matter of fact, all I could think was that I was going to die and it was going to suck really, really badly.

Finally, as the voices drew unbearably closer, he approached me with a plan. For a second, I didn’t know what he was doing, but it became apparent to me when he pressed me up against the counter, one hand in my hair and the other on my waist, that we had a show to put on.

“Trust me,” he said before pressing his mouth against mine.

I wasn't sure if trusting him was my best choice, but it appeared I had no other option.

I didn’t know what to do at first. Here I was with the son of the CEO of the MGMT Corporation in a lab where they cut people open and did tests on them, making out with him because it was the only thing he could come up with to save our asses. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but I trusted him enough to go with it.

Embracing the act, I kissed him back just as aggressively. I ran a hand through his long black hair and he pushed me up against the counter even tighter. In felt so similar to the time with Phoenix in Warehouse 6, just less…real.

The thought of Phoenix made the incident particularly bitter. If it wasn’t for that, I might’ve even enjoyed it.

As things were beginning to progress and I was actually beginning to forget about Phoenix and take in the moment, the worker opened the door and let out a surprised gasp. I pretended to be shocked and pushed Cato (who seemed to be very enthusiastic about our latest roles) away from me. I gripped the counter and tried to steady my breathing.

“What the hell are you doing in here?”

Cato pushed some hair out of his flushed face and stared at the smartly dressed female worker in terror that was more or less real. He squeezed my hand, holding firmly. I couldn’t tell if that part was real or simply part of the act, either.

“We’re, um, uh…?”

“Yeah, you know what—don’t answer that. I got the gist of it.” She grabbed some stuff off the table and stuffed it in the messenger bag she carried. “Well, get out, won’t you? Come on. You’re not supposed to be in here, anyway. I don’t care where else you go to do that, just not here, thank you.”

I nodded, flustered by a lot more than just the worker. Between that and everything else that had taken place over the last couple hours, I couldn’t think straight at all.

“Um, we’ll go then,” he said, dragging me out by the hand, past the worker and her blonde friend who smirked at us the entire time.

“Don’t forget the condom,” she reminded Cato as we marched out, giggling to herself. He shot her a dirty look. Once they were behind us and we were off in the opposite direction we’d come from, I could see him smiling to himself, though.

Halfway down the hall, he dropped his hand from mine. No longer smiling, he said, “Nice work there, Alyce. You were very natural about it. Thank you for trusting me and playing along.”

I still couldn’t think much. It was all so strange, and I just wanted things to make sense for once.

“Well, um, I guess we did a good job, right?”

“We were convincing,” he added to that. I wondered how he really felt about the previous incident. So far, I couldn’t gather anything from what he was saying.

“Yeah,” I agreed, not sure what else to say.

“I’m sorry if that made you uncomfortable. I was panicked and it was the first thing that came to mind. Sorry.”

“No, no,” I said. “It’s fine. Nothing to worry about.”

He looked surprised, which was—ironically—surprising to me. “Oh.” He looked at the ground instead of me. “Oh…”

Beginning to wonder if he was capable of saying anything other than “oh,” I asked, “Did make you uncomfortable?”

Cato put his hands in the pockets of the white apron he wore as a disguise. If anything was making him uncomfortable, it was this conversation.

“Well, no.”


We both stood there looking at each other, half nodding with pursed lips. I didn’t know what he was thinking because (a) I wasn’t a mind reader and (B) I’m the most socially inept person you’ll ever meet. The situation wasn’t awkward, really, but it wasn’t particularly enjoyable either. I’d never seen him look at anyone like that until now, and I wanted to know what it meant.

So I asked him.

“What?” he responded. “What do you mean, ‘what does it mean’?”

“I mean, like, what are you thinking about?”

“What do you think, Alyce?”

“Well, it could be plenty of things. You could be thinking about all sorts of stuff, but I would never know any of it because you’re so quiet. The first time I really want to know what you’re thinking, and it’s also the first time you actually aren’t talking.”

“I always thought Ariadne was joking when she insulted your social skills. Apparently she wasn’t.”

“Now that’s just rude. You’re starting to piss me off, you know.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because I want to know what you’re thinking and won’t tell me!”

“It wouldn’t matter to you anyway.”

“Really? You think so?”

“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t mean it.”

Try me, Cato. See if it ‘doesn’t matter to me.’”

“I’m beginning to get a little—”

In the middle of his sentence, a loud siren cut him off and pierced the air. It sent me into a new panic, and I lifted my hands to my side to cover my ears. It was definitely the fire alarm, which could only mean one thing:

Someone found the body.
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#286 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:04 PM


I really love this chapter. It was going to cover more ground, but I had so much fun with the scene that I couldn't help it. Ariadne is arguably one of my favorite characters I've written, which is weird because I hated her for a long time.

If you want the full experience for this chapter, go listen to "Fire's Highway" by the Japandroids while you read it. I was going to use that song somehow for the quote, but I used "The House That Heaven Built" for the last one, so I couldn't... Either way, that song was on repeat for most of this chapter. I used "The Catalyst" for the quote because I needed to use that at some point, since it's basically the ultimate dystopian theme song and works well with the whole Corporation thing.



Originally I was going to do an epic car chase scene but settled for this. It worked out better to do this, anyway. :D

Okay. Read and enjoy and gimme feedback. I need some feedback. COME ON, PEOPLE.


Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 43 — Good Evening, Los Angeles
“God bless us everyone. We're a broken people living under loaded gun. And it can't be outfought; it can't be outdone; it can't be outmatched; it can't be outrun."
-“The Catalyst,” Linkin Park

“Damn, that is horrible timing,” Cato shouted over the wailing of the siren. Now the strobe lights were kicking in and practically blinding me. He pointed to a door on the left farther down the eternal hall. I nodded and we took off again.

“They found it. They must’ve found the body.” I couldn’t believe Ariadne could all be so careless and let something like that happen. Armando and Matt and Westin—I couldn’t see them caring too much about the incident anyway. They were probably hoping someone discovered the murdered waiter just for the controversy it would cause. But Ariadne always cared so much. She never wanted to fail—she couldn’t live with herself if she failed.

“You know what this means don’t you?” He held open the door to the industrial staircase. The stairwell was the closest thing in the whole building to the Camp. The rusty rails on either side of the stairs, the dusty surfaces that begged to be swept, and the low ceilings and dim lights all brought back memories of home. It was in a way comforting to be somewhere that felt so familiar, minus, you know, the pulsing strobe lights and deafening siren.

“It means that someone found the body and our chance of dying just went way up—again,” I replied, flying down the stairs behind him.

“Yes, and it also means that if we don’t hurry, Armando and them will get into that van and drive off without us, leaving us stranded here. Personally, I don’t want to have to walk all those miles with the Corporation patrolling the streets. Now come on.”

Neither of us so much as touched the rails; there was no care or going slow now. We had a train to catch.


On the second floor, the chaos was much more evident than it was on the deserted third floor. I couldn’t see the banquet hall, but I could hear the roar erupting from it from the moment he opened the door where the stairwell ended. There were shouts and the sound of glass against the perfectly polished marble floor. Above it all was a voice on a microphone that tried so hard to be heard over the people’s alarm, a voice eerily similar to Cato’s in both tone and quality. The voice’s owner repeated over and over again for the people to remain calm and stop panicking, but no one listened to anyone else—not even to their great leader, Mikael Hahn himself.

“Where do we go now?” I asked. The incessant siren and the lights were not helping me concentrate at all. With each moment, I felt myself growing more and more lightheaded. That only reminded me of the disease—one of the first symptoms, along with unusual numbness, was lightheadedness—and made me even more terrified than I already was.

“Well, honestly, I think they’re probably long gone by now, but we need to get out,” he said, pushing hair out of his eyes.

“So is there some different exit we can use besides the main one?” I’m sure the stairs on the way down were crowded, and I wasn’t in any shape to fight through a crowd.

He shook his head.

I looked at him in shock. No other exit? “You’re kidding me right?”

“Not kidding in the slightest.”

“Is your dad a lunatic?”

“Precisely,” he confirmed. “I know I’m just repeating myself at this point, Alyce, but follow me closely. I don’t need to lose you now.”

With those words echoing in my mind, we took off down the hall toward the stairs that would lead to the sole exit to the world outside MGMT Corporation headquarters. I couldn’t think about how my legs and lungs and heart burned, not about the way the strobes made me feel sick, not about the lightheadedness that scared me to death. If I thought about those things, I wasn’t going to be able to focus. I couldn’t settle into the flustered state I was infamous for going into. I needed to focus.

We took a sharp left and there in front of us was a full-scale, massive fight to get to the exit. People were yelling at the top of their lungs, some of them armed with the dishes from the banquet hall as their ammo. Mikael Hahn was nowhere in sight, and the voice I’d heard earlier had stopped talking entirely.

“Oh, my God, it’s like Black Friday all over again…” Cato muttered. He grabbed my hand. “Don’t you dare let go.”

“Don’t worry. I didn’t plan on it.”

So we dove into the crowd of people in their fine clothes, all drenched in sweat and scared out of their minds. Half of them didn’t even realize that there was no fire—it was just a decoy to get the attention off of us. They were essentially panicking for nothing.

Someone started wailing next to me. I turned to see them with bloody hands and glass in their hair. Obviously a plate-to-the-head victim. I noticed more of them as we pushed our way through. Once I tripped and sent about ten others down with me. Thankfully, Cato was there to get me out and keep us moving.

The stairs were an even harder situation. They were narrow and steep and, if you were pushed the wrong way, you could easily trip and start a game of human dominoes. No one was being in any way careful—in fact, the human domino thing seemed to be happening on the set of stairs on the opposite side of the room.

Cato pointed with his free hand and almost started laughing. I shot him a dirty look and he stopped.

“SOMEONE BETTER HURRY UP!” the old guy next to me yelled. I checked to see if he was carrying any silverware or glass—just imagine if he’d grabbed one of those knives off the table to help him fight his way through. Nothing in either of his hands. Just an old guy in a particularly nice outfit afraid of being burned alive in the so-called fire that the alarm had been set off for.

I realized most of the people were just like the old guy. They came because they had to, and now they just wanted to get out. They were scared, relatively innocent (note the “relatively”), nicely dressed civilians who didn’t want to get caught in the fire.

Unfortunately, they were also incredibly selfish civilians who were sick enough to beat people over the head with glass and use forks and knives and spoon to fight their way through the crowd.

If felt as if the train of people pushing their way through to the exit had stopped completely. There was still a lot of pushing and shoving and beating people over the head with silverware, but it felt almost as if we hadn’t moved. In our current position, we couldn’t move at all.

Cato looked over at me, clearly frustrated, and did what had to be done: he gave the person ahead of him a push with his elbow, right into the small of the poor guy’s back.

Unable to keep his balance, the person fell forward onto the next guy, who wasn’t expecting it and fell onto the next guy—and It just kept going and going down the stairs. Cato had started his own game of human dominoes.

I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to do now, so I called above the roar, “What now?”

“Move around them!” he called back. “It’ll be much easier this way!”

It was easier. It felt almost like they’d given us a crooked, winding path to the bottom. Still, it took plenty of awkward maneuvers, elbowing, and ducking from the glass-wielding banquet attendees. But eventually we made it down the stairs without any real damage.

Unfortunately, the real chaos was not on the stairs but on the area below. It became apparent to me that the Corporation workers were trying to keep the people calm and letting them out in a single file line, which was what was slowing the whole operation down. How they expected to get everyone out was beyond me.

Workers, these in grey uniforms like the ones in the Confinement Camp, rushed around and tried to obtain some kind of order. I saw a girl not much older than me flat-out punch one in the face. I doubted that would end well for her. No one here seemed to care who authority was anymore—they just wanted to get out.

The thing was, everyone wanted to get out of the damn building. The whole situation had turned into a violent competition to get to the doors as fast as possible. And it was practically over nothing.

Cato let go of my hand for a moment and pushed more people out of the way. I followed in pursuit, steadily making my way through the mass of people. The whole thing where I felt like I was going to pass out wasn’t exactly helping out at that point.

Right as I knocked one guy with a spoon and a (disgusting) bloody nose out, the alarm and the strobes cut off entirely. Everyone looked up at the lofty ceiling as if that would give them some kind of answer.

And then a familiar voice came over the sound system, echoing from the speakers above, and turned the place silent.

“Gooooood evening, Los Angeles!” Ariadne announced in a giddy voice. I searched for Cato in the crowd. I found him looking around, even more shocked than everyone else. We recognized the voice—they didn’t.

I didn’t know where she was, but Ariadne was hooked up to a microphone addressing the crowd from some undisclosed location with full access to the sound system. The entire room was silent, even more confused than before.

“Thanks for some great entertainment and a few more new additions to the daily body count!”

In the background, the microphone picked up the muffled sound of Matt, Westin, and Armando cheering. Still no one said a word.

“Well, you sick little bastards—don’t just stand there. Do something!”

Whispering and muttering began. People were starting to stir again, but no one moved toward the exit. They were too engrossed in the strange person talking to them over the PA.

Fine,” she pouted. I could hear the amusement in her voice. She was finally having some fun. She whispered something to Armando that I couldn’t quite make out. “All righty, then. Good evening, folks. You’re all amazing! THANK YOU, LOS ANGELES!”

And from the speakers came Ariadne’s all-time favorite: Led Zeppelin at its absolute loudest and finest.

It wasn’t loud like it was whenever we drove somewhere in the van. That was near silent compared to when Ariadne played her music on the sound system. The sound seemed to shake the whole building. My ears started to ring from the sound of classic rock and roll that I had learned to love.

It was a weird kind of beautiful, but it was definitely just that—beautiful.

Although I appreciated what Ariadne had organized, I was a little upset about it, too. The strobes and siren might’ve been gone, but the music only made my condition worse. I relied on Cato to guide me through the crowd and out of the mess we’d created. The chaos from earlier that had subsided when Ariadne spoke had come back in the most terrifying way possible.

Cato dodged a platter thrown by someone to his right. “You know what this means, don’t you?!”

“No!” I shouted back. The exit wasn’t far now. We’d be able to make it out all in a matter of thirty seconds of things went right.

“It means that they haven’t left the building! They didn’t leave us here to rot!”

I grabbed the platter that Cato had avoided hitting seconds before off the floor and used it to my advantage. Finally I could see why people, in their terror, had grabbed the plates and silverware on the way out. It was a huge advantage to be able to swing that wildly to let people know who was in charge. They got out of the way pretty fast.

“But now we have to wait for them!” I pointed out, wishing the music would stop already. It seemed less and less beautiful by the second.

“They’ll catch up fast—I’m sure of it!”

We got caught in a nasty line by the exit. The single file line was as slow as ever. Some people who were equally as frustrated as us at the slow nature of the thing were beginning to run now, so we followed their example. On the way out, I knocked out one of the workers enforcing the single-file-line thing, just for good measure. Ariadne would’ve been proud.

People had ditched the silverware and glass that was still intact in a growing pile in the parking lot. I discarded the platter there with the rest of them. The sound of the music was less outside the building. I imagined Ariadne was pretty proud of that one. It was one of her best acts yet.

The van was close now. Only from a short distance away could you see Armando’s graffiti on the side, marking that van as ours. “Thank God we made it out of that hell,” Cato muttered when we reached the van. Before he climbed in, I gave him the most sincere hug a person could give.

“Thank you,” I whispered. He hugged me back.

The sound of Led Zeppelin blaring in the distance, we made our way into the van without another word.
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#287 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:08 PM

I know I posted on here not so long ago, but I have some othe stuff today in regards to the end.

I want you al to know that I will be posting the last three sections (or so)--two chapters & an epilogue that I have no clue how to write because I don't know how one goes about writing that kind of thing--all at once. A LOT is going to be happening a short period of time, and it would be choppy if I didn't post them all at once. It's been my intention to do that for a while now. I just had to actually let you guys know that now.

Anyway, I have decided that I am not in an emotionally stable state at all right now and I probably shouldn't be trying to write THE MOST FREAKING EMOTIONAL SCENE I HAVE WRITTEN IN ALL MY SHORT FOURTEEN YEARS OF LIFE. And I haven't even begun writing it yet. I was trying to find the right music for this chapter, so I went to my original AiD playlist, and I put on Coldplay's "Paradise." I think we all know that I can't hear that song without either grinning like an idiot or weeping my eyes out for obvious reasons. That song IS Alyce in Dystopia and a big part of the reason it exists. You cannot understand how that song effects me.

Anyway, I am writing this on my stupid iPod through tears right now. You're going to feel the emotions, man. If I can actually manage to write them down in a way that isn't complete and utter crap.

Which brings me to my next point: The last couple chapters here are going to be a MESS. I am not a great writer and struggle writing average things, but the end to this book is going to be my biggest struggle yet. Hopefully it isn't too awful. So bear with me and try not to be disgusted.

I have to go write now. So bye.

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#288 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:41 PM


You don't even know how much I missed writing psycho Cato. So much more fun than sad Cato. His insanity is the reason he's my favorite character, and that bit of his personality was lost for a while.

But fear not! We will see the return in the last few chapters!

I hope you're as excited as I am.

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#289 24moon100


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Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:49 PM

I plan to read at least one chaper this weekend. I'm sorry to say I might not be able to be done by the time this concludes (what with softball starting up this week and all) so ill do my best. I really want to read some more. I'd also like to write. Dammit. There are too many things I wish I could do but can't do. I'm a mess. But anyway...

This is so exciting! How does it feel to be near the finish line? :)
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#290 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 16 January 2013 - 12:04 AM

I plan to read at least one chaper this weekend. I'm sorry to say I might not be able to be done by the time this concludes (what with softball starting up this week and all) so ill do my best. I really want to read some more. I'd also like to write. Dammit. There are too many things I wish I could do but can't do. I'm a mess. But anyway...

This is so exciting! How does it feel to be near the finish line? :)

Psh. It's all right. I'd be severely deluded if I thought you would be the "perfect reader," so to speak. It's totally fine. I do not mind in the least. :D

But you do need to write me a story sometime! I need a good Meg story! It's been a while since you posted anything.

Gah. I probably sound inconsiderate. I'm not. I get that you're buried in crap, lol. But I just mean that I NEED SOMETHING TO READ. You know?

And you cannot imagine how excited I am. I mean, I'm super sad about it, too. Like, really really really sad. But I just want to be done and say that I stuck to my grand dystopian novel that I stuck with for so long. It's a big accomplishment, you know what I mean? How many fourteen-year-olds do you see finishing full-length novels? Not many.

I scrapped my plot for the next novel and am working out a new and improved one. It includes the same characters, just some in different roles. The plot so far needs some work (as usual), but the characters are really fleshed out. I could also turn it into a series, if I wanted to. I've been wanting to write a series lately, which is strange because I said I'd never do that...

Anyway, yes, I'm excited beyond words. :D I hope to be done by the end of next week.

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#291 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:36 PM

Wrote a chapter and a half today! Just the final chapter (not an epilogue; an actual final chapter) to go and it's DOOOOOOOONE! I'll probably be finishing it up tonight or tomorrow. I'm guessing there will be some major revisions, so I'm not sure when I'll actually post. Tomorrow or Monday, I'm thinking.

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#292 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:40 PM


Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 44 — Nothing Left To Lose
“And you held it all, but you were careless to let it fall. You held it all, and I was by your side—powerless.”
-“Powerless,” Linkin Park

In half an hour, we had all made it back to the 7-Eleven, relatively unharmed and well. The sirens had begun their dreadful screeching again, and every once and a while we could hear cars drive by the gas station. To be safe, we parked our van a few blocks in the wrong direction and walked back, carrying everything left inside the van back with us. Being found was something we couldn’t risk.

Just to make sure we wouldn’t be seen, we crowded in the bathroom with all our supplies, weapons in hand. There was no such thing as “personal space” for the time being, but we were all ready to take a few ridiculous precautions to ensure our safety. We’d come this far, so why risk it?

Westin had already taken his next dosage of the pills and put on the usual lab coat over the suit he’d worn to the banquet. Ariadne had also put on her trench coat again. She’d rubbed off most of the makeup and was beginning to look a little more like her normal self already.

Cato was even more excited than usual. He couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. “Tomorrow, we are going to finish what we started. It will be glorious.”

“It’s gonna be way more than just glorious,” Matt added.

“Sure,” Cato said, waving his hand in disdain. “Whether it will be glorious or whatever Matt is insisting it will be, I’m sure it will be your biggest accomplishment yet.”

“If we live,” Westin muttered gruffly.

Optimism!” Cato retorted.

“Says the pessimist,” Matt snickered. I tried not to smile.

Anyway.” It was amusing to see how flustered Matt and Westin made him. There wasn’t a thing they could do to make Cato like them. “I’m sure you’re all aware why I’ve moved the day up for the bombing, correct?”

No,” I said. Ariadne was the one trying not to smile now.

“We’ve got to keep the momentum going, for one thing. We got them good tonight, and we can’t allow them to adjust. We need to prey while they’re flustered. We’ve wounded the animal, and now we have to finish it off.”

“You and your metaphors,” Armando said. “You’ve always been so into metaphors…”

I did not say anything about my lack of understand when it came to metaphors. Instead, I kept quiet and let them do the talking.

“Yes, I love metaphors.” He grinned some more. It was the first time in a while that I’d seen the psychotic Cato I knew all too well. He’d fallen into some kind of eerie calm for a while, but it appeared the madman was back. I wasn’t sure it was necessarily healthy for him, but I loved it. “But that’s off topic. To continue with my previous thought, I’d also like to point out that we’ve essentially scared the Corporation shitless now. The rebellion is no longer just in the Camp. It is here, in Los Angeles, and even more in their face than ever.

“While this is incredibly exciting for those of us causing the chaos, there is also a major downside that I completely overlooked. We all knew the Corporation finished development on the drug and they’ve got it ready for use. Alyce and Phoenix—” out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ariadne scowl “—saw that in the Warehouse. They’ve got their final solution right there, ready for use, and yet they haven’t used it. Seem a little strange to you?”

All of us nodded (except for Westin, who was too fascinated with the cracks in the floor to pay any attention to what Cato was saying).

Clearly they’ve been waiting for…” He struggled to find the right words. “They’ve been waiting for something. I honestly don’t know why they’ve waited as long as they have or what they’re waiting for, but I have a feeling that we’ve just unleashed a monster that we can’t stop unless we carry out with the plan. They’re scared of us. They need to stop us. So we need to get to them before they get to us.”

The room was silent. I started clapping a little, happy that someone here had a little bit of sense in them. Cato smiled smugly at me. I smiled back, in awe of how perfectly arrogant Cato Hahn really was.

“Does that make sense?” he asked condescendingly. Oh, how I’d missed that.

“None of us are morons,” Ariadne shot back, offended. “Just because we’re not praising you for being Captain Obvious doesn’t mean your idea isn’t good.”

“You think my idea is good?” Now he was just playing with her.

She sighed. “Are you deaf?”

“Not this again,” he muttered. Ending his interaction with her, Cato addressed the rest of us. “Any thoughts?”

Yeah,” Armando chimed in. “My thoughts are that it’s gonna be awesome.”

“You’re sick. Suicide mission seems ‘awesome’ to you?” Ariadne questioned skeptically.

“It’s not necessarily suicide,” he replied.

“You think you’re going to make it out alive?”

“You bet I do, sweetheart.”

Ariadne cringed at the way he called her “sweetheart.” Cato gave him a high-five.

“Well,” Cato said, “consider this your last night on earth, then—since you’re also being the most annoying, pessimistic downer ever and thinking there’s no way you’re going to make it out alive.”

“I’m just being realistic!” she yelled defensively. Her voice echoed in the small space. “There’s a difference!”

“Have fun preparing to die,” I whispered to her just to get on her nerves some more.

“Way to make a perfectly decent moment morbid,” Ariadne complained. “You people all have a knack for that—making something nice into something depressing.”

Armando rolled his eyes. “You can’t talk.”

“I live off of morbid things,” Cato replied. “You don’t get to be cheerful when you’ve got this much blood on your hands.”

“Oooh, Cato’s getting deep!” Armando said, feigning excitement. “This oughtta be good.”

“Are you kidding me? He’s always spewing all sorts of philosophical garbage,” Ariadne complained.

“It’s not garbage. Some of us are just more poetic than others.”

“He wears a suit purely for the ‘symbolism.’ You have to realize he’s a little crazy,” Matt said, shrugging.

“Yeah. There are people like Cato who can’t go a sentence without questioning the meaning of life, and then there are people like Armando who don’t give a damn about anything other than the daily body count,” Ariadne said, shaking her head.

“And then there are people like Alyce who have no clue what’s going on, ever,” Armando added, trying to take the focus off him.

“I don’t appreciate your mockery,” I replied. “Besides, I’d rather be constantly confused than a complete psychopath.”

“Being called a psychopath isn’t an insult, Alyce,” he informed me. “In fact, it’s a compliment. It’s what we strive for.”

“Psychopaths unite!” Cato yelled, high-fiving Armando again.

The whole night went on like that. We were all too scared and too hyped up on adrenaline to get much sleep. Also, there wasn’t a whole lot of space to sleep comfortably, so that kind of limited us. When no one else had anything to say, Cato would continue on with his monologue and talk about his childhood, which was a lot less interesting than I always imagined.

One by one, we began to drift off. Westin first, then Ariadne. Matt and Armando followed, and soon it was just me listening to him tell me about all the things his father had done to him. I fell asleep like that, listening to Cato tell me a twisted little bedtime story.

As far as last nights on earth go, it wasn’t half bad.


5:30 in the morning. MGMT Corporation headquarters. Supposedly our last couple hours to live.

Cato worked his charismatic magic. There was only one worker manning the entrance, different than the ones from last night, and she didn’t recognize us. No identification papers? No problem. Charm can get you a long way if you know what you’re doing.

“You there for the banquet last night?” she asked Cato, who was looking professional as ever in his expensive suit.

“Of course I was.”

“So you fought your way out?”

“Yes, yes. Rebels know how to put on quite the show, don’t they?”

“Yeah. Terrifying. Crappy music didn’t help at all, either.”

Ariadne glared murderously at the worker.

“You just let people like us in without identification after that?” Cato teased, practically letting them in on the secret. He was walking on dangerous ground, but I didn’t doubt him. This was all part of the game.

“Well, um… Yeah, not very smart of us, is it?”

“No. It’s ridiculously stupid.”

The worker just laughed. “Can I just get your names quickly?”

“Oh, honey, that’s the least of your problems,” he began.

The worker faltered, alarmed. “What do you mean?”

We all knew what he meant, but Cato was good with his double-meanings. “Hello? There are traitors out there. Our own people have turned against us!”


He sighed. “You think this was the Saints? Or the Resistance? Those are just jokes. No way could they pull something like that off. Clearly someone who is working for you was behind that. Who I am is none of your concern. You should be more concerned about your coworkers than about me, I’m afraid.”

She looked at him, a little shocked. “Um…okay. Why are you here again?”

I give up. Just let me in.”

“But you need to identify yourselves!”

“You should know me!” Cato shot back. “I’m a regular at this place. It’s practically my second home.”

“I guess you do look kind of familiar…”


“But I don’t recognize the rest of your group,” she added quickly.

Cato heaved a sigh. “Friends,” he explained. “Here to see my father.”

“Who’s your dad?”

“Just a worker.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, I still need identification—and I need to check the bag.”

Cato gave her a long list of names he’d come up with off the top of his head. All of them were different than last night’s aliases. She wrote them down on a pad of paper she kept in her pocket.

Matt held out the homemade bag—identical to the one Armando had given me on the very first Warehouse 7 raid so long ago—smiling at the worker. There was a fake bottom to the bag, and judging by the worker’s lack of care when it came to letting potentially dangerous people into the building, she’d never even know or bother to check. If she did discover the hidden explosives, I was sure Matt would take care of it. There was always a plan.

“Kind of ironic that a group just your size came through here yesterday. Different names, but no identification.” She handed the bag back to a very pleased Matt. Thank God the worker was dumb as a block.

“Irony is beautiful, isn’t it?”

“I guess.” She shrugged. “Just be quick. I’m not even sure I’m supposed to be letting you in here.”

“Oh, we won’t be long,” he assured her with a wink. “Just got some business to take care of.”


In the center of the Corporation headquarters was a boiler room. It was dark, musty, smelled awful, and completely abandoned—the perfect place for Matt to do his magic.

He checked out the room first, looking in places I would’ve never thought to look. He was thorough in his examination, looking for anything that could possibly throw off the plan.

When he’d finished that, he unzipped the bag and went to work with wires and all kinds of things I’d never seen before. Whatever it was, he knew what to do with it. It wasn’t the first time he’d messed around with explosives.

“It was my job in the Mojave,” he explained when I asked him about it. “I was the bomber. It’s kind of a prestigious thing, I guess. I’m the one responsible for blowing stuff up. It’s great.”

“What were you?” Ariadne asked Armando.

“Not all of us have specific jobs,” he explained, almost laughing at her. “Like me—I just screw with the Corporation and make them sorry.”

“I was a medic,” Westin said.

“No, you are a medic,” Matt corrected him. “We’re not dead yet, are we? We’re going down as Saints.”

“So dramatic,” Cato said sarcastically, faking a yawn. “Let’s get done with the sappy stuff and focus on the plan.”

“But I like the sappy stuff!” I argued. “It’s funny!”

Matt gave me a dirty look. “I don’t think he was going for ‘funny,’ Alyce,” Ariadne whispered to be.

“Ohhh,” I said, nodding. “It just sounded like he was mocking the Saints…”

“No way. They don’t mock themselves. They think their heaven-sent.”

“Heaven wouldn’t send people like them.”

“Yeah, that’s the point. I was just saying that they’re deluded. It’s a—never mind.”

“So where do we go from here?” I asked. Better to ignore Ariadne. I could sense her frustration. She was so hard to deal with when she was frustrated.

“Well,” Cato started, bringing his hands together in front of him, “Matt and Westin are going to finish setting up the bomb. Once they finish that, all of us will—”

“Wait, wait,” Matt said. “You think we’re just going to let the bomb sit here for someone to disable?”

“Who’s going to find it? Some random person stumbling through the boiler room?”

“You never know! Anyone could find it, and we’d be completely screwed over. I’m guarding this with my life. No way am I letting the plan fail.”

“You’re going to let yourself die like that?” I asked, horrified. I couldn’t imagine what was going through his head if he thought that was best. He deserved to live. I couldn’t let him do it. I absolutely could not. “Just…blow up with the bomb? You’re not going to try to get out?”

He stopped messing with the wires and turned toward me instead. “Yeah. I’m going down with the ship.”

Westin cleared his throat. His pale eyes, dark circles under them, were such a contrast from the blue they once were. The color had faded almost entirely. His skin was white as a sheet, and he was weaker than ever. This was the worst I’d seen him yet. It nauseated me to see him like that, because I had done it to him. We’d made him our test subject. We’d made him become the way he was now.

“I can’t fight,” he said, his voice raspy. “I’m as good as dead now. I’m with Matt—I’m going down with the ship. World’s better off without people like me, anyway.”

“Don’t say that,” Armando said. He was getting more and more worked up by the minute. “You can’t do this. You can’t.”

“You’re more than welcome to join us,” Matt suggested.

“I’m not done yet,” Armando said. “I’ve got things to finish.”

Cato didn’t say a single word. I knew he didn’t like the fact that they were being the martyrs they’d been trained to be, but he didn’t protest. He wanted things to end his way, and if their staying to protect the bomb from being disabled was going to help it end that way, he would support it. I knew him well enough to know that.

“You guys better hurry,” Matt said, pointing to the complex mass of wires and mismatched objects that was his finished product. “Only got half an hour before this place blows.”

My heart was heavy. Leaving them behind felt so wrong, but there was no other way. It had to be done.

“Wait,” Westin said, struggling to even speak. “If any of you make it out, make sure you tell them I died for this. I want to die a hero.”

Matt nodded in agreement. Armando was choked up now, trying his hardest to hold back tears. I prayed I never had to see my best friends die—no way could I go on without Cato or Ariadne or Armando. Losing Phoenix was enough. I couldn’t lose them, too.

“It’s for the greater good,” Matt said, managing one last smile. “Now go kick Mikael Hahn’s ass for me, will you?”

We filed out of the boiler room in silence, Armando quietly crying to himself. No one said a word for a long time.

Edited by Pretty.Odd., 19 January 2013 - 11:40 PM.

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#293 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:42 PM


Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 45 — A Flaw in the Plan
“Fist up, head down—hail, hail to the king.”
-“Kiss the Ring,” My Chemical Romance

“I want to look for Phoenix,” Ariadne blurted out halfway down a long, dark hall. “I mean, there’s still a chance he’s alive, right? They could be holding him captive here or something?”

Cato shook his head. “He’s dead, Ariadne.”

“There’s always a chance, isn’t there?” she argued. Even now, she refused to believe it.

“But it’s a very small, miniscule chance,” he said.

“It’s better than nothing!”

“You want to go search through the building looking for a dead person? Have fun. I’m not coming with you,” Armando said.

“I’ll go,” I said, shrugging. “We’ve got a little time yet, don’t we?”

“But he’d dead!” Cato argued.

Ariadne didn’t listen. “Cato, where would they hold prisoners?”

“Well, first of all, they wouldn’t have ‘prisoners.’ They make people execute their ‘prisoners.’ If anything, your friend Phoenix had a nice public execution in the Camp for everyone to see. There’s no way he’s here.”

Ariadne pushed Cato up against the wall. “Optimism, Cato,” she mocked. “Now come on. Tell me where they’d keep a prisoner.”

“Please, I require personal space,” he said in response.

“I’ll give you your damn personal space once you tell me where they—”

“Third floor, room 5C. Go there and look. You’ll find nothing, but since you’re so insistent, I suppose I can’t argue.”

She backed away. “Would it have been that hard to tell me earlier?”

“I just don’t want you to lose track of time and, you know…”

“I’m not an idiot! I’ll be fine,” she said, offended. In a moment she was walking in the exact opposite direction, dragging me with her. “Come on, Alyce. We’re going to go find Phoenix.”

I didn’t argue with her, even though I was sure he was long gone by now. I didn’t want to bring her down.


‘Authorized personnel only?’ REALLY? We’re this close to finding out if he’s here, and it’s freaking ‘authorized personnel only’!”

Ariadne clenched her fists and started cussing out the door.

“What, did you think they were just going to let you in?” I asked, scratching my head. “You’re delusional now, too?”

“I just want to go through the door!” she pouted, turning around.

I didn’t know why she was giving up so easily. There were still plenty of options. For someone so determined, I was surprised she wasn’t trying harder to get inside the room. She hadn’t even tried the door to see if it was locked.

So I tried it.

It was locked.

Instead, I tried knocking.

Nothing. No response. No voice at the other end asking for identification, wondering if we truly were authorized personnel.

I kicked the door a few times.

No such luck.

I prayed to the gods of vending machines.

It was the first time they let me down.

I even tried channeling my inner serial killer like Cato and Armando would tell me to do.

That just made me sad and angry.

With a final agonizing punch at the (incredibly hard and stubborn) door, I gave up. That was it. There was no point in trying to go on. I couldn’t open the door, no matter what. My inner serial killer was really pissed off.

I turned around and followed Ariadne, muttering to myself. I’d wasted time. Who knew what was happening to Cato and Armando while I was wasting away precious time. They could’ve been in a life-threatening situation that demanded our help, and I never would’ve known because I was too busy pulverizing an unmoving door.

“Waste of time,” Ariadne said. “Still don’t think he’s dead, though.”

“I do,” I said.

“Yeah, I know you do,” she replied. “Since you’ve only said it about a million times before…”

“Is this the door to the stairs?” I asked. All of the doors looked exactly the same. The hallways blended together in my mind since I wasn’t familiar with the place at all. I’d only been to the place once before, and Ariadne had seen even less of the building than me. We weren’t necessarily very qualified for what we were doing.

“I thought it was farther down. But I dunno. They all look the same.”

“I think it’s this one,” I said, narrowing my eyes.

“You sure?”

“Only know if we try,” I decided, pushing open the door.

It was not the door to the stairs. It was a room full of workers, all analyzing something on a counter that I couldn’t quite see. There was a strange buzzing noise that reminded me of the electric fence, and the place smelled sterile like the lab Cato and I had been in last night. All of the workers turned toward us at once.

“Um,” was all Ariadne could say.

“Do I know you?” one of the workers asked, staring her down. “You look really familiar.”

One with a black eye stepped forward. “I know you! You’re the *%^## who knocked me out in the sound system control room last night!”

Goodbye,” she said, slamming the door shut. She turned to me and pointed in the general direction of the stairs. “Run, run, run.”

So I ran, ran, ran down the hall, following her through the maze of hallways. The door opened behind us and workers poured out. I looked over my shoulder and saw the one with the black eye leading them toward us, yelling something about rebels and criminals and thieves.

“This is the door!” I said. She came to an abrupt halt, practically keeling over. I ripped the door open. We tore down the familiar stairs. I realized I’d never gotten to walk down the stairs—I was always in a rush when it happened. I was glad there weren’t any strobes or sirens this time around.

“Down!” one of the workers yelled when they opened the door. We were already halfway down the stairs by the time they had started them.

We exited the stairwell and sprinted through the halls, passing very confused workers who joined the pursuit when they realized what was going on. Ariadne almost tripped on her coat once, recovering quickly. I wondered if it was hard to run with the soles of your boots threatening to fall off at any given moment. She seemed to manage just fine.

“Did Cato and Armando go this way?” she hissed.

I nodded halfheartedly, trying to steady myself. “They were going as far as the hall would go.”

“All right. When we get in the room, make sure you lock the door.”

“I don’t have a key!” I protested. It was getting increasingly harder to talk.

“All the doors should just lock from the inside. You don’t need a key.”

We turned the final corner and saw one of the only wood doors in the whole place. Light streamed through the crack at the bottom, indicating that someone was inside. We were so close, but I felt like I couldn’t make it.

Ariadne ran harder, and I tried to follow. I tried to forget the pain, tried to forget the people who wanted us dead not very far behind. The door grew closer and closer until we were right there, right in front of it.

“You ready?” she asked. I nodded breathlessly. She turned the knob and pulled open the door, only to lock it seconds later.

The first thing I saw when she opened the door was Armando lying in a crumpled heap next to a massive desk piled with papers, a halo of blood around his head. I let out a gasp and the two people other people in the room brought their attention to me. Standing in the room was Cato and a man who looked incredibly similar to him, just older and less boyish: none other than Mikael Hahn.

“Alyce, you—”

“What are you doing?!” I cried out, unable to take my eyes off of Armando’s dead body. I kneeled next to him, holding him close to me. I waited for him to start breathing again, but he didn’t. He couldn’t.

Armando was dead.

I held him tighter. I didn’t even want to know what happened—I just wanted everything to end. First Phoenix, then Matt and Westin, now Armando. Armando, who was always so happy and so completely and totally insane. Armando, who was the first person I saw when I awoke from the coma. Armando, who showed me what it was like to really have fun. Armando, who was lying in a pool of blood, dead, a grin still on his face.

“Alyce!” Ariadne snapped at me. She pulled me to my feet, looking downright homicidal. “Alyce, get up.”

“Was he your friend, too?” Mikael Hahn, sitting in a chair at the far end of the room, asked. “My son here seemed close to him.”

“SHUT UP!” Cato screamed at him. His eyes were red and his face was pale. He shook as he approached his dad.

“How about you show your father some respect.” Mikael Hahn sat there, shaking his head to himself, no sign of worry on his face. There was such a contrast between his confidence and Cato’s fury. I wondered if Mikael Hahn was scared of his inevitable death, if his confident look was only a mask.

“You made a monster out of me,” Cato said, tears rolling down his face. “You made me do things no one should ever have to do. You destroyed me, Dad. You made me crazy.”

“You did it to yourself,” he replied coolly. “I gave you honor. I made you something my people dream of doing. I made you superior.”

“You made me kill innocent people!”

“They’re barely even human, and they certainly aren’t innocent.”

“God, you are so pretentious!” Ariadne cut in, walking toward Mikael, too. I stayed next to Armando, crying softly and ignoring the ruckus the workers were making outside. We barely had time now—ten minutes at best. Cato had to get on with his execution.

“I told you it runs in the family,” Cato said to her. He grabbed the knife from her.

“So the boy I killed—that was ‘Armando.’ The weepy one is ‘Alyce,’ right? And this is…?”

She marched up to him, fists clenched. Spitting in his face, she declared, “Ariadne, and you can go to hell.”

“WELL!” Mikael Hahn said. “You can do the same, miss Ariadne!”

“You’re the most disgusting thing to walk this earth, you know that?” she started, leaning in close to him. “I don’t even know where to start with you. You’re so sick to do what you’ve done to people. You killed my family—killed them and so many other people. You’ve completely destroyed America and so many people with your stupid idea!”

“I’m doing the world a favor,” he spat right back at her. “We don’t need contaminated, filthy people like you polluting the world!”

“And we don’t need insane, arrogant bastards like you slaughtering the innocent!”

“Also, my idea was not and still is not ‘stupid.’ America seemed to agree with it, didn’t they? They chose this. I was just the person with the solution.” He shrugged. “My people seem to be pretty happy.”

Your people aren’t infected with a disease and put into filthy prisons where they’re oppressed and starved and murdered!” Cato yelled back at him, furious. His eyes were huge, his mouth agape. He pushed Ariadne aside. “You’ve got less than ten minutes!”

“Is this another one of your games, Cato?” he asked, smiling slightly. “You should’ve given up years ago. This is so ridiculously s—”

“I’m going to blow up your precious little headquarters in less than ten minutes!”

Mikael Hahn’s face went pale.

“But first I’d like to say something.”

“Not again,” his dad sighed, rolling his eyes. “You’ve made your point. You’re going to ‘win’ now. You don’t have to go on about it.”

“It’s probably best that you don’t interrupt me,” Cato said. “The less you talk, the longer you live.”

“You realize you’re going to die, too, right?” he pointed out factually, in a very Cato-esque manner that sent chills up my spine. “You won’t be able to make it out in time.”

“You think so?” Cato said, his nose almost touching his father’s.

“No, I know so.”

I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but I knew something had gone terribly wrong when Cato staggered backward, clutching his stomach. Mikael Hahn looked down at him smugly as Cato fell to the floor, letting out a pained scream.

“So much for your plan,” his dad said, wiping off the blood on the knife he held on Cato’s suit.

Ariadne didn’t move. I was still on the floor next to Armando, in complete shock of what I was seeing. Cato was barely moving on the floor of his father’s office, blood staining his shirt and his hands. He was moaning and holding his stomach as the blood gushed between his fingers.

I started crying harder, realizing what had happened. Mikael Hahn wasn’t just going to let Cato kill him. His confidence didn’t come from a fearless attitude toward death—it came from knowing that he would not die. He’d had a knife on him all along, and he’d waited for the opportune moment. It was only a matter of time before he’d saved himself and killed his very own son.

“You were my biggest failure,” he said to Cato as he struggled more. The look of terror on his face send me into a fit of sobbing. I couldn’t watch this. I couldn’t watch him die.

“I know,” he managed to say.

Then he closed his eyes, and death took him.

Edited by Pretty.Odd., 19 January 2013 - 11:43 PM.

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#294 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:44 PM

Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 46 — The End
“When she was just a girl, she expected the world. But it flew away from her reach, so she ran away in her sleep and dreamed of paradise.”
-“Paradise,” Coldplay

“You realize you’re going to die,” Mikael Hahn said, reclining in his chair and smiling at Ariadne. He looked at both of us, waiting for someone to make the next move.

“Yeah, everyone dies,” she replied. She kneeled next to Cato’s bloody body and grabbed the knife he’d dropped next to him, the knife that was meant to kill Mikael.

“Oh, you know what I mean!” he shot back, pounding his fists on the arms of the chair. “I mean you’re going to die soon!”

You think?” Ariadne snapped. She looked more angry than she looked scared or sad. I was too traumatized to comprehend much else outside of the death of two of the people I loved most and a bit of what was going on. It was hard to see what was going on through my tears. I could make out vague shapes—the shape of Cato’s body on the floor, of Ariadne stepping steadily toward Mikael Hahn with the knife in hand, of the most loved and detested man in America preparing for his imminent death.

“Did you care for my son much?” Hahn asked her.

“Depended on the day, but I can sure tell you that I hate you for killing him,” she responded, standing next to the chair. The workers were still outside the door, their shouting muffled inside the room. If we were going to make it out—if it was even possible in the short time we had left—we’d have to fight through that crowd. The idea of escape seemed more and more impossible by the second.

“I hated him,” he said dismissively. “But I guess you knew that, right?”

“Just shut up!” she yelled.

“Make me.”

If you insist,” Ariadne spat, bringing the knife to his throat in a quick, deadly motion. Mikael Hahn didn’t even flinch, letting the knife sink into his flesh. He never fought back.

She wiped off the blood on her black trench coat, turning away from Mikael Hahn and his blood-soaked body. His head was hung, no longer held high as it normally was. She pointed to the door, and looked over at the clock on the wall.

“It’s worth a shot,” she said, helping me up off the floor. I wiped the tears out of my eyes. I didn’t even want to give it a shot. I didn’t want to go on without Cato and Armando. I didn’t want to go.

“Is it even worth it?” I asked, using her for support. If standing was difficult, how would I be able to run?

She did something very out of character in our last moment together. Ariadne, the coldest, bitterest person I’d ever known, pulled me into a hug. She held me close to her and whispered, “Give ‘em hell, Alyce.”

That was the last thing she said to me.

Silently, she unlocked the door that had held the workers back. Half of them had gone, but a small crowd led by the black-eyed man remained, waiting for Ariadne to come out of the room.

“THERE SHE IS!” the man yelled.

She smiled at me once last time, fighting her way through them. None of them were armed. She caught them off guard, but there were at least twenty of them and only one of her. In seconds she was engulfed by them, and I never saw her again.

I wasn’t even sure they saw me. Ariadne had been the distraction—the last effort to get me out. I pushed forward, not looking back. There wasn’t much time left, and I’d be lucky if I’d made it to the end of the hallway. Part of me still had that will to make it out, that need to experience the freedom I’d been deprived of.

But what was the point? What was the point of any of it without them?

That thought stopped me from going on. I realized, staggering down the hall with tears blinding me, that I didn’t want to make it out. I didn’t want to be in a world with no Phoenix and Ariadne, with no Cato and Armando, no Matt and Westin—no matter how good it could’ve been.

I didn’t want to die alone, but I certainly didn’t want to live alone, either.

In the middle of one of the abandoned hallways, I sank to my knees. I figured I had less than a minute left, and since there was no way in hell I was going to make it out, I might as well spend it holding on to the things I loved most.

I thought of waking up in the tunnels for the first time. My first impressions of Cato and Armando and Ariadne. I remembered that first walk to the overlook tunnel, the amazing sensation of being alive.

I remembered first hearing the words “Corporation” and wondering what the hell that was supposed to mean.

Then there was Warehouse 7. The vending machine—God, did the food I stole taste good at our Last Supper. Channeling my inner serial killer. I imagined Phoenix sauntering up to me, threatening to kill me after he’d saved me.

I remembered the shock of realizing Ariadne and Phoenix were working together. Then how they’d taken me with me, how Phoenix had saved me a second time and carried me out of the Camp.

And San Francisco. The hospital. The goddamned baby food. The Resistance. Sniper duty.

I remembered our shopping trip on the way out of the city, nearly kissing Phoenix. I remembered the bodies in the park and the drive back. Peanut butter, classic rock and roll, and the prank I’d played on Ariadne.

The day I got reacquainted with Cato and Armando and they showed us their pastime. Realizing the irony of the serial killer jokes.

Making friends with the son of the MGMT Corporation CEO. Preparing for an uprising. Sweet, innocent Peter and Ellie.

The first rebellion.

Learning to shoot a gun. My relationship with Phoenix progressing. Ariadne and I learning to tolerate each other. Led Zeppelin.

The second rebellion.

The Saints of the Mojave. The betting game. Matt and Westin and Orchid, who never really did come around.

I smiled at the memory of making out with Phoenix in the Warehouse, and then started crying even harder when I thought of his death on our exit from the Camp.

I thought of Ariadne in the van, of Suburbia and Obi Wan the plastic zebra. The banquet. The chaos on the way out with Ariadne blasting her classic rock through the whole MGMT Corporation headquarters.

I took the last few moments of my life to remember Ariadne and her unusual smiles, her duct-taped boots, rifle, and her black trench coat. Phoenix and his smirk and witty comments, the way he was always there to back me up. Armando and his ever-present grin, the strange way you couldn’t help but love being around him. And Cato. Cato and the way he smoked too much, the way he started a rebellion, the way he made me realize I wasn’t that bad after all.

I tried not to think of them dying.

I thought of all the things we’d done in the last couple hours and realized that my life had the crappiest climax ever. I wasn’t a hero. I was going to die in an explosion I’d practically set up, and my death wasn’t even heroic.

I wasn’t dying a hero. I was dying alone, in shock, realizing that Westin was right: the world’s better off without people like me, anyway.

I died resenting myself. I died wishing Cato wouldn’t have taken me from the Corporation, that I wouldn’t have woken from the coma in the first place.

I sat alone and watched the world burn.
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#295 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:16 AM

I know I'm practically spamming this thread, but I'm not quite done yet! I haven't given you the final info:

Title: Alyce in Dystopia
Final Word Count: 117,143
Final Page Count: 431 (still needs some formatting; more like 400)

PART ONE title: Awake
PART TWO title: San Francisco
PART THREE title: An Army of Broken Soldiers
PART FOUR title: Asleep

As you can see, I was into the parallels when it came to the beginning and end parts. I like how that works out.

Also: the end. Yes. I really did that.


So there you have it. The end. Not as great as I thought it would be, but I thought it was all right. Endings are hard, especially when it's a rough draft and you're very inexperienced with them.

Now I get to start a new one! I've been working on a plot and found something I like, but...it's too...eh. Not sure yet. I think there'll be about a month where I don't post anything new now. :D

Well, that's it then. THE END. Officially.

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#296 24moon100


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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:24 AM

WHAT?!? YOU'RE DONE??!!??!! This is...



Now I just have to finish reading. :P But I'll be reading a few chapters today. You know, after I nap. (I'm burnt out from softball, man)

You know what makes this occasion even more spectacular? You finished on my birthday! How freaking cool is that? Now it will be my birthday AND your finishing AID anniversary. SWEET!

Anyway, I know this is a wimpy congratz, but...I'm tired so...I'll be more sentimental later. :P


Edited by 24moon100, 20 January 2013 - 11:25 AM.

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#297 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 20 January 2013 - 01:05 PM

WHAT?!? YOU'RE DONE??!!??!! This is...



Now I just have to finish reading. :P But I'll be reading a few chapters today. You know, after I nap. (I'm burnt out from softball, man)

You know what makes this occasion even more spectacular? You finished on my birthday! How freaking cool is that? Now it will be my birthday AND your finishing AID anniversary. SWEET!

Anyway, I know this is a wimpy congratz, but...I'm tired so...I'll be more sentimental later. :P


AH! I know! I finished it so quickly! I was expecting it to be another week or two, and then...BOOM. I got around to it and FINISHED IT.

I'm currently trying to get my head around not having to update something. Every day I'm like, "Man, I should really update Alyce..." But I now I don't have to! Because it's done!

I think a month off is a good idea. I should focus on plotting for the time being. I also kind of want a break. LOL. I mean, I love writing, but I've been doing so much lately.

Haha, I'm going to be taking a nap soon, too. I'm so tired. I stayed up late to celebrate and couldn't sleep for the longest time, so I kind of need the sleep. LOL.

I know you already said it, but how does it work out that I finish my novel ON YOUR BIRTHDAY? I dunno. That's just awesome to me... :D

Have fun reading! I don't remember where you are right now... Did you just meet Peter and Ellie (ugh)? Things start getting better soon! Lots of action and--my favorite--CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. :P The last part of the novel was really fun to write. The ending is pretty rushed and goes by quickly, but I don't care at the moment. It's a rough draft--it's meant to be crappy. I've got plenty of time to fix it.

OKAY. Now I'm going to go work on another drawing. Thanks for celebrating with me! :D

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#298 24moon100


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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:14 PM

Dammit. I need to quit saying I'm going to do something and not doing it. I know I said I was planning on reading this weekend but things got crazy so I'm hoping time will open up soon and I'll just comment on a bunch at once. :)

Hopefully you understand. I've been really meaning to read. Really. ^_^
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#299 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:30 PM

Dammit. I need to quit saying I'm going to do something and not doing it. I know I said I was planning on reading this weekend but things got crazy so I'm hoping time will open up soon and I'll just comment on a bunch at once. :)

Hopefully you understand. I've been really meaning to read. Really. ^_^

Hahaha, I feel like I say the same thing every time. It's TOTALLY OKAY. I'm aware of how busy stuff gets and do not mind IN THE LEAST. ;)

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#300 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:29 PM

Okay. I've waited some time, allowed things to settle. Almost a month has gone by since I finished. Feels like I should still be working on the next chapter and I've just been procrastinating. Obviously that's not the case. Still, I keep getting this feeling that something's really wrong.

And I know just what it is. It's the end. Do I regret the ending itself? Not in the least. The way I wrote it? Yes. It's so rushed and I used all the wrong words. Rushed rushed rushed. I feel like I made a mistake in posting it so suddenly, but I was excited and thought it was "good enough."

Well, it's not good enough. Not in the least. And I feel disappointed in myself for writing it the way I did. I'm guessing this is pretty normal--I hear tons of things about situations near identical to mine on the Internet all the time. I just don't know how I'm supposed to deal with it when there's the whole process of moving forward I'm supposed to be working on. I can't "move forward" if I'm still stuck on something I wrote much earlier.

Am I going to do the lame "repost the ending even though it's been nearly a month" thing? No. That would be stupid. I gave you what I thought worked--for a rough draft.

And that's what I'm here to say (well, part of what I'm here to say). The terribly written ending (I'm so mad at myself for writing and posting such garbage) is beginning to overwhelm me. I would like to clear this up and say for the hundredth time: ROUGH DRAFT. Now, you've heard this many times before, but this time I'm mostly saying it for myself. I am beating myself up over it, and I just need to say something about it.

Rough draft.

Hopefully that little rant will help myself get to the peaceful "the rough draft is done and now you just have to edit" place that I've been trying to get to (unsuccessfully). I've been stressing over so much lately--the horrible rough draft, homework, basketball (FINALLY DONE), starting a new rough draft, art, maintaining decent relationships with people (it's much harder than you think), and finally: high school preparation. Open house was last week, tomorrow is registration. The talk of it has been constant. While I'm excited, I'm also kind of scared. Don't really know what to expect, and I'm afraid my social experience may be as frustrating as my current one.

Anyway, my second point is this: next project.

A while ago I posted something with info on the next project. Turns out I scrapped 75% of that and figured something new out. Let's clear a few things up:

-It will still be dealing with an apocalypse.
For once, I'm going for something non-apocalyptic. SURPRISE.

-It won't be set in post-apocalyptic America this time--it will be written while the apocalypse is taking place.
Modern-day America. Various cities across the country. That's all I'm saying.

-It's not original in the least, but I'm okay with that.
Still applies!

-It will be written from the first-person POV of a girl named Piper.
Yes, yes. Piper is still my protagonist. I'm also using some fun characters from a previous draft (which is something I've done, like, four versions of over time)--Veronica the pastor's daughter (who is going to be so fun to write) and my wonderful antagonist Mordechai Martins (who was once the president of the USA, but is now...not the president). There will also be some new characters (one of which I'm already in love with and I've barely even written anything with him yet). I have a decent idea of what the characters will be like. They're going to be fun.

-There are many ways the story could go, and there are practically infinite possibilities with it.
Still true. In fact, for the first time ever, I'm motivated to write a series. I'm not promising anything, but that's what I've got in mind at the moment.

-I'm going to need to do actual research this time.
And so much of it! I'm going to be drowning in research! Of course, the research I'm going to be doing this time will be much different than last time, but it's still going to require equally as much--if not more.

-It will involve many more characters than the small set I've used in AiD.
Four main characters. That's it. The rest are just side characters and probably won't be in it long.

-I'm not sure what I'd say for the genre of the thing. Once again, it could go in many different directions. Think dystopian/apocalyptic meets paranormal meets horror meets Artemis humor meets drama meets God knows what. To give an example of what I have a feeling it will be similar to: "Zombieland" (AKA one of my favorite movies ever).
There's still the road trip element of "Zombieland," but things have changed a lot now. I'm not sure what I'd compare it to; it's got a lot of different roots, ranging from the Batman trilogy (no superheroes, though) to Sherlock Holmes to Supernatural to Doctor Who. It's not sci-fi--just little things that inspired me from each. Characters and plots and settings and stories. It's not nearly as all-over-the-place as it sounds.

-No zombies, though.
Haha, still true.

-I'm 75% sure it won't work out like this, but I'm going to make a goal. As a character-focused writer, I'm going more for a plot-focused story on this one. I don't think that will happen, but hey. It's worth a shot, since this one, unlike AiD, started with a plot in my head instead of characters.
Since revisions, I actually took my characters and put them in a whole new plot. So it's actually the characters that gave me the plot again. But I still want it to be more plot-focused this time!

-The working title is "The Apocalypse Game," which I doubt I will use because, as I realized a few days after coming up with it, it's too similar to the popular "Hunger Games." I mean, they're completely different--waaaay different. But it's so similar, and I don't want anyone drawing conclusions or pointing fingers or anything.
"Revolutionary." That's all I'm saying, because if I say more, I reveal the plot.

Had to clear stuff up since the plot has changed so drastically. I'm starting a rough draft of the intro this week, hopefully. I've done a ton of prewriting--it's just a matter of getting it all together now.

Hate to spam the thread like this, but this is all I've got for now. Soon I'll have a whole new thread to spam, and I can't wait!

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#301 Pretty.Odd.


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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:48 PM


I kind of question why I'm even bothering with the editing; I already hate what I wrote and would like nothing more than to forget it. It's the epitome of imperfect. It's hard for me to even read most of it, which makes me wonder how people could possibly read it.

However, I would feel like I'd be letting myself (and my family and friends) down if I didn't edit it. So I think I have to go through with it.

I'm so overwhelmed by it right now. Just thinking about it makes me angry and a little freaked out. It's a big undertaking! I don't want to get so bogged down by this that I can't continue with my next novel (which is coming along just wonderfully, by the way), but it has to be done. If I don't get around to it now, I probably won't ever get around to it.

So it begins: phase two (sort of 2.5 if you count the repost)! I wonder how different it will be. I assume it will feel like an entirely different book. I read most of it and cringe. I hope that by the end I will smile instead of cringe.

Sorry for the practically pointless post. I just feel like I have to share these things, and here's the one place I can. I like documenting the journey. :D

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