Posted in Words, Writing

The Untitled Book – Chapter 3

Catch up:

Chapter 1 (Finn)
Chapter 2 (Mabel)

Summary of Chapter 2:
After Finn was kidnapped, Mabel secretly followed them through the portal and listened to their conversation. Ilten Bay, the man who kidnapped him, had pretended to be Finn’s uncle for years, raising him, until he was caught when Finn was about seven years old. Now he is forcing Finn to attempt the Trials, magical tests of Courage, Ingenuity, and Passion. Finn tries to reject and is almost killed. Finally, Ilten Bay takes him through another portal and Mabel follows again.

When I emerge, I find myself standing in a place that is completely flat and empty, even way off in the distance. 

There is nowhere to hide.

End of Chapter 2

Note that this is the very, very first draft of this chapter — I have done little to no editing.

Also note that this story switches perspectives every chapter, so that’s why there is a name at the top of this one.

+++++

Chapter 3
FINN

The short time I had to process the fact that I was nearly killed was not long enough. Sure, I’ve been in those kinds of situations before (you’d be surprised how much people would be willing to do to get one mediocre dinner roll back), but this is much, much different. I’m still in a trance when I half-climb, half-am forced through the portal Bay conjured with that thing. 

Oh, and the magic. I don’t know how to describe how I’m reacting to the fact that evidently, unless Bay is a ridiculously good con artist, magic is real. I guess all I can say is, how would you feel if you were just proven that?

We emerge in a place where there is absolutely nothing for what appears to be forever except us and the ground beneath our feet. For a while we stand, both facing forward, taking in the experience. It’s all I can do not to kill him here and now, but I wouldn’t know how to get back.

“Come,” Bay orders, gripping my arm and taking me forward, even though we’re already in the middle of nowhere. 

He speaks in a voice that sounds like he is trying to sound tough. “I am going to ask you a series of questions.” 

I follow his gaze to a deep purple ribbon on the hard ground. It reminds me of Mabel, the ribbons she wears in her hair. When will I see her again? Will I ever?

“I generated an empty world! An empty, flat world!” Bay complains to the ribbon. He kicks it in frustration, griping about how he “didn’t order a stupid bit of string.” I raise my eyebrows, thinking that if I could generate worlds to be however I wanted, I wouldn’t complain if a ribbon got in the way.

He shakes his head roughly and continues walking. “I am going to ask you a series of questions, and then you will begin your training.” He pauses, wanting me to say something.

When I say nothing, my emerald eyes fixed on his, he sighs and begins. “One. How old are you?”

My face burns with hatred at his amused smile. Finally, I give in. “I don’t know.”

“Thirteen. You are thirteen. Your birthday was six months ago, and I intended to bring you to the Trials then, but I had… other problems.”

“You mean you were finishing up your prison sentence.”

Bay blinks. “Yes. Two. What is your name?”

I pause and think. This man, this evil impostor who is the only so-called “family” I’ve got, is telling me about myself. Everything I’ve ever wondered. The question is — do I believe him? I guess I do look about thirteen, but he easily could have estimated that too. Truth or not, Bay’s proven to be a powerful person, and I don’t know what he’ll do to me if I don’t answer, so I say matter-of-factly, “Finn. My name is Finn.”

He lets out a guffaw just to get on my nerves. “Is that what they are calling you?”

“It’s what I’m calling myself. It’s better than ‘boy,’ your name for me.”

“Do you want to know what your real name is?”

Deep breath. “Yes, I do.”

Bay smiles. “Well, that’s too bad, because it seems you’ve already got a name so I don’t think I need to tell you.”

I can feel the rage cutting through my eyes. I lock my jaw and don’t look at him, don’t say anything, don’t acknowledge he is there at all.

“Three.” He stops walking and turns to look me in the eyes. “I want to get you as prepared for the Trials as possible. First is the Trial of Courage. What is your… greatest fear?”

I actually think about this question. What is my greatest fear? I’m not really scared of anything. Slowly, I answer, “I don’t know.”

Bay rolls his eyes. “You have to be afraid of something.” So, to satisfy him, I tell him that my greatest fear is death.

It’s not, though. I face death every day, and every day I manage to avoid it. And after years of this, I’ve sort of accepted that I will die soon. I will die today. If not, I will die tomorrow. My main and only concern about that is Mabel, will she be okay without me? Maybe that is my greatest fear, but I’m not about to tell that to a random criminal who lied to me my whole life and now plans to force me into risking my life. Like I said, I welcome death, but I want to be able to blame either myself or no one.

“The next Trial is of Ingenuity. Are you smart? Can you read?”

I nod. “Some.”

“Can you d — how did that get there?” 

I follow his gaze to a deep purple ribbon on the hard ground. It reminds me of Mabel, of the ribbons she wears in her hair. When will I see her again? Will I ever?

“I generated an empty world! An empty, flat world!” Bay complains to the ribbon. He kicks it in frustration, griping about how he “didn’t order a stupid bit of string.” I raise my eyebrows, thinking that if I could generate worlds to be however I wanted, I wouldn’t complain if a ribbon got in the way.

Once he finally finishes his tantrum about his “stupid, horrible, useless” all-powerful tiny lethal portal-conjuring weapon, he finishes, “Anyway. Can you do arithmetic?”

“Um — Not well.”

Bay sighs. “I thought you would be smarter than this.”

I can’t believe him. “Maybe I would be if you had sent me to school!”

“Can you write?”

Infuriatingly, he just dismisses my comment, so it takes me a long time to say, “Yes. But I’m really bad at spelling.”

“Can you–”

I may not be that smart, but I know this word. “Ingenuity doesn’t mean whether I can read, whether I know my multiplication. It’s whether I am clever and inventive, and if I wasn’t, I’d be dead by now,” I interrupt. And because I’ve realized I’m not going to make it out of this alive anyway, I add, “How can I expect to prepare well for these trials if my trainer is an idiot?”

I almost hope that it just ends here, that he gets so mad he kills me right now, but he just ignores me, which makes me even angrier.

“Can you play any instruments?”

I pause. “Yes.”

Bay opens his mouth to respond, but his gaze lands on a ribbon “Really? What do you play?”

“Guitar. But I’m telling you, ingenuity–”

Bay glares at me. “My next question was going to be: how clever are you?”

“I’m pretty clever. But how is that answer going to help? Shouldn’t you give me a practice trial or something? Wait– ohh. That’s why I have to do these Trials. You’re not ingenuitive enough to invent a practice trial, so you would surely fail at the Trials. Speaking of which, who created these things anyway? And why?”

Obviously surprised by my comfortability in talking to the guy who kidnapped me and is forcing me to risk my life, he says, “I’ll explain that later.”

“No. You’re forcing me to do this thing, I want to know about it.”

Bay raises his voice. “Ten!” he barks. Clearly he is trying to show me that no, I’m not the powerful one here. I may be charismatic and dexterous, but he now controls me. “Finally, passion. What are you passionate about?”

“I don’t know. Playing my guitar, I guess,” I tell him.

He nods. “Okay. Well, let me portal us to somewhere with a guitar and you can show me what you’ve got.” After a pause, he nods and adds, “Thank you, for answering these questions and cooperating.” I roll my eyes. I would run away, but I received a handy piece of information that Bay generated an “empty, flat world” so I don’t think it would do much good.

Bay touches his waist, searching for his knife, but: “Did you take my knife?”

“No. Maybe you lost it.”

“I didn’t lose it! Where is it?”

“I didn’t take it!” I insist.

“Oh, I won’t have any of that nonsense. Give it to me right now!” he yells.

I can’t stand this. One of the things I hate the most is being accused wrongly. I do a lot of things, but if any punishment happens, at least I deserve it. I have a very strong sense of justice. “I didn’t take it. Search me,” I say coldly. “And besides, if I’d taken it, I would be gone by now.”

Bay checks in my shoes, makes me take my shirt off. After several minutes of this ridiculous scrutiny, he says gruffly, “Fine. Let’s go.” He takes off running, and I follow him, because what else am I to do?

Once I catch up with him, I exclaim, mimicking him, “This is an empty, flat world, right!? Why are you running? What are you looking for?”

“I could ask the same thing to you,” he replies, which confuses me even more. Then, though, he continues. “I am hoping there is another malfunction. A bigger one. One that I can use to get us somewhere else.”

“Just hoping? Otherwise what? And how will that help you?” I ask.

“Magic. Color magic, to be exact. I can extract color from things and use it to do magic.”

In any other situation, this would be really cool. But I’m frantic. I am fine with dying, but I can’t imagine dying of dehydration in a big emptiness with someone I hate. “Well, here!” I rip off a piece of my shirt.

“No, that won’t work!” he says like it’s the most obvious thing. “That’s too dirty.”

“Use your clothes, then!” I scream. How dumb is he?

“No, no. See, each color falls in a different category. Red controls the elements — earth, fire, water, and air. Orange is appearance — shape-shifting, invisibility, and the like. And so on. You get the idea.”

“Well, which one is portals!?”

“Location is purple.”

As soon as he says it aloud, we both realize. “The ribbon.”

He comes to a stop, panting. “So it took you that long to make the connection?” I say, irritated. Then, looking around at the vast ground, I start to understand a bigger problem. My heart nearly stops and I feel it sink into my chest. “Where was it?”

We both spin around and around, but of course there is nothing, no landmark, nothing to tell where the purple ribbon was lying. We could walk for miles and miles, and not know if we were moving toward or away from it. It is endless, and the chances we’d find the ribbon are incredibly slim. Whoever managed to take Bay’s portal knife, all the emotion in my soul is focused on hating them. Because I have to face it. Thanks to them, I am going to die here.

+++++

Again, this is the first I’ve ever written of this chapter, so if I do end up finishing the first draft and going back and editing, it will probably turn out very different. That said, I would still love feedback!

Thanks for reading!

Author:

A teenager obsessed with words of all kinds. When I’m not reading or writing, I like musical theater, drawing, and painting. (she/her)

4 thoughts on “The Untitled Book – Chapter 3

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